Previously, Pittsburgh's annual comic con which takes place in September was organized locally by an independent group. This year, Wizard World took over the Pittsburgh convention much to the dismay of loyal convention goers.
You see, Wizard World has become more of a entertainment convention than a comic book convention despite still having the name "Comic Con". On top of this, prices continue to sky rocket due to the popularity of celebrity guests.
Our first ever Wizard World convention took place last summer in Philly. You can read all about that trip and the disaster that became of it HERE. Still, we thought this was a good opportunity to potentially meet bigger named stars and since it was the first ever WW Pittsburgh, we thought we would give it a chance.
My husband and I decided to purchase 3 day tickets because in the end, it was cheaper that way than spending $55 per person/ per day and you got a discount for three day tickets. We were really only there for Saturday and Sunday, but we felt the price was significantly better. We usually make a day two trip out of the September convention to begin with so it was no biggie.
As the convention got closer and closer we started to panic a little bit. They weren't announcing any celebrities that we were interested in seeing and a lot of the artists and merch people that had signed up to do Pittsburgh Comic Con before it was sold to Wizard World had backed out completely because they refuse to be associated with any Wizard World conventions. Mostly because of the way they are handled, but it's also well known for being one of the more expensive conventions to "booth" at in the nation. This surprisingly includes San Diego Comic Con.
As conventions go, there was a ton of space in the convention center. Actually, it seemed like there was too much space for all the more booths and people that were there. We went straight to the back of the convention center where the celebrities can always be found and dove right into the sea of fans. That's a lie. There were hardly any fans. We arrived at Sean Patrick Flannery's booth as he was out for a break and I swear, there were a total of 8 people in line at any given time. Pretty small considering this man played a MacManus brother in The Boondock Saints, but I guess he's not Norman Reedus status.
He's a great guy and boy is he handsome! We had him sign my Dexter complete box set and he chatted with us about it. For whatever reason, he had never seen the box set with the blood slide blu-ray cases inside and he was blown away by it. He sat there for a good 5 minutes just playing around with the box and pulling the slides out.
The only other person we cared to get in line for was Eddie McClintock (Star of Syfy's, now canceled, Warehouse 13), whom we met at last years Philly Comic Con. Eddie was such a nice and sweet guy, that I had to get my hug from him again.
We got to his booth and just as I feared, he had two people standing there besides us. This made me a sad panda because this happened at Philly and it's a shame to see such a great actor with very few fans. People were really missing out by not being in line to meet him because the fan interaction with him is incredible! He is the only celebrity I have ever known to not sit behind him table. He is out on the floor 100% of the time and he hugs every single one of his fans. Every. Single. One.
He also chats with you for about 10 minutes each time you meet him. You don't get that with anyone else. Usually, you get 3 or 4 minutes of interaction while they are signing and getting a photo, which by the way, isn't even allowed at a lot of conventions with a lot of celebs. They want you to pay upwards of $80 extra for a professional photo. One thing about Sean Patrick Flannery that my husband and I were surprised about it that he allowed table photos and they were FREE!
Eddie was beside Ghost Hunters star Steve Gonsolves and between their two booths was a sign stating "No photos beyond this point" meaning no photos at the table.
While I use to be a huge fan of Ghost Hunters, and I've actually met Dave Tango, we decided to pass on meeting Steve this time around.
At any rate, I never asked for a photo with Eddie because I didn't think to. There was no sign with a price for photos and of course, the sign before the booths was there... so I didn't ask. I did discover that other's had their photo taken with him at his booth so that was a bummer, but of course, it's my fault for not asking. I got one with him last year so I have that. There is this really adorable photo of him from the official Wizard World Facebook Page:
|Photo courtesy of Wizard World Facebook Page|
So after our two meet and greets, we roamed the convention floor for a while. One thing I did notice is that the way the photo ops were run in Pittsburgh is way better than the way they were run in Philly. Previously, in Philadelphia, they just threw the professional photos on a table and you had to go pick through them to find yours. It was a disaster and turned really, really bad. In Pittsburgh, it was much more organized. We didn't get pro photos, but we were told that gave you a number or a ticket of some sort and personally handed you your photos so there was no stolen photos and no clutter of people reaching to find theirs in a pile.
There were a few iconic car replicas that you could get your photo with. I was unable to get a photo of the Delorean, but it was there as well.
There was a bike beside this that you could get your photo on as well. I can only assume it was a replica of Daryl Dixon's motorcycle, but I'm not 100% sure of it. It was a nice little set up they had for it though.
The guys at this full size pirate ship were dressed as characters from Pirates of the Caribbean and were getting photos with people inside the pirate ship where the proceeds benefited the children's hospital I believe. They were a fun group.
On the second day of the convention, my husband and I debuted our costumes. He went as Judge Dredd and had been working on the costume since last year's convention.
Everything is handmade except the boots and gloves and everyone loved it!
My costume took many turns and forms in the last few months, but I finally came up with something that I was happy with.
I also realized that this is the first time I've ever gotten a full length photo of any of my costumes other than the one I wore at the Wonderland photoshoot! My husband and I had many people stopping us both for photos and had lots of compliments on both of them as well. I'm not as use to that kind of attention as my husband is. I tend to throw together outfits that don't get a whole lot of attention because they aren't "characters" per say that anyone would recognize so this was a first for me.
The view from the convention center was nice. It probably would have been better had it not been all rainy and cold outside.
You can see the convention center is right next to PNC Park and there's lots to do and see in the city. It's been many years since I've been in downtown Pittsburgh so I kind of went a bit "touristy".
As far as the convention as a whole, it definitely was put together a lot better than Philadelphia's was or is, but I think there's still a lot of work and changes that need to be done. First off, it's a comic ook convention and yet, there were only about 4 booths that were actually selling comics and at least two of them had no idea what they were even selling. I hate that. If you are selling comic books and you are at a comic book convention, and you somehow still know absolutely nothing about the comics you are selling, you are in the wrong place.
A friend of ours who is a comic artist had let us in on a little information which was that a lot of the Wizard World conventions he goes to is always full of "first timers". Basically, all artists and merch booths there are there for the first time, but they never return after that. Why? Because of how poorly Wizard World puts on a convention and how expensive the booths are. Typically, at a convention like this, artists and crafters tend to lose money. As a matter of fact, our friend had told us that they barely made enough to recoup the cost of their space. Crowds were very low and surprisingly, there were very few children at the convention where previously, kids filled the convention centers. Even despite Sunday being kid's day, there were very few kiddos to be seen. Whether this is because it's the first one or because Wizard World has officially run the true comic book fans out of the Pittsburgh conventions, I don't know, but what I do know is that Steel City Con, with their 3 conventions a year, is looking like it's going to blow the big name Wizard World convention out of the water.
The only thing that would keep my husband and I going back to this one is the announcement of celebrities we really want to meet and even then, it would only be a one day event for us.