It’s a major celebration of books in the Midwest, running from Thursday through Sunday of a busy week in summer. Books and related items are spread over six rooms, and people flood in to enjoy being with people who share their manias and excitements.
Yes, if this Wizard World Comic Con really works at it, it may become as big an event as the Newberry Book Fair. Fortunately, their book binge is in late August, so it doesn’t get shown up by the older event.
Oh, I know: a lot of what went on there this last weekend doesn’t seem to be terribly bookish. Lou Ferrigno was there, signing autographs for people who loved his portrayal of the Hulk on television. But what was that television program based on? A book (a comic book is a book.)
There was a mighty long line to see Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny from the X-Files. But what was David Duchovny doing, besides signing autographs and answering questions about where to find the truth? (Out there.) He was giving readings from his latest book, that’s what.
And William Shatner, author of a dozen or so bestselling novels AND a bestselling autobiography, was one of the headliners for the weekend. Sure, he did some other things besides write books–no one will forget those Priceline commercials any time soon–but it was all about the books, I’m sure.
People were dressed as characters from books, bought paintings of characters from books, found people to pitch their own book ideas to…it was a grand and glorious book weekend for those people who feared they might go into withdrawal once the 2016 Book Fair shut down that Sunday night at 6 P.M. And I didn’t realize this until several hours into my industrial espionage, but at no time that I was observing all those women dressed as Harley Quinn (research is a grueling job, but someone has to do it) did I see anybody pull out their phone to text anyone, call anyone, or check the date of an original Star Trek episode. I did see two kids with tablets, going through their inventories of graphic novels, but other than that, people used their phones for what Alexander Graham Bell intended them for: taking pictures of their kids with Batman.
My theory is that, having found themselves in a big room filled with like-minded booklovers, nobody felt the need of a machine that would only hook them up with reality.
Now, the similarity between the two events cannot be pushed too far. Some things that work for the Comic Con would not do for the Book Fair, and vice versa. The videotapes at the Comic Con cost far more than ours do, and we gather all of ours in one place for easier shopping. We do not have areas where one can buy edged weapons–I’m glad of that–and they have no space for squirrelling. They have framed artwork, but a lot of theirs has the artist sitting right in front of it, which can be awkward, especially given the custom of my customers to voice their opinions of the art loudly and succinctly.
It would do us no good to have a booth where customers can be made to look like zombies, because you might not be able to tell the difference afterward. They DO have people who hand out maps and bags to the customers, but only after they get money, whereas we give you your bag so you can run up a larger tab.
They sell a whole lot more underwear than we do, and danged if I can understand that, since their customers don’t seem to be wearing a lot of it. But we sell more birdcages with Beanie Babies inside.
The Comicon was a lot of fun but, by and large, I like the Newberry’s book weekend better. Although if Carrier Fisher should want to come to ours instead next year, we’d let her.
We’d even give her a map and a bag.