Two Notes from Wizard World Chicago 2017

John Barrowman!

Longtime MCC readers will remember our jazz-hands photo op with TV’s John Barrowman from Wizard World Chicago 2016. Somehow this gentleman keeps coming back into our lives again and again…

It’s that time once more! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found much enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. Friday night left us near death by the end of our day, after a few miles’ worth of walking up and down the aisles and hallways, with breaks to go stand in lines of varying lengths and value. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

We’ll be posting our photos ASAP after we get home — including some new jazz hands and, yes, all the cosplay we caught on camera — but will regrettably come up one major actor short of our original hopes.

For us the big, big draw at this year’s WWC was scheduled to be the Tenth Doctor himself, David Tennant. My wife and I also know him as the barely seen Barty Crouch Jr. from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and more importantly as DS Alec Hardy from the harrowing British small-town crime drama Broadchurch, whose third and final season just recently finished airing on BBC America. We were excited at the prospect of adding to our Doctor Who photo-op collection.

Then came heartbreaking news: David Tennant canceled. Anne and I found out the hard way when we arrived at registration Friday morning — via posted paper message, though not quite the harsh Dear John letter we dreaded at first.

Tennant Cancellation.

Like many fans, at first all we saw were the first few lines before we flew into a fit of despair. NOOOO. WHYYYY. BOOOOO. EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE. WIZARD WORLD SUCKS. IT’S FANDOMFEST ALL OVER AGAIN AND I FEEL PTSD COMING ON.

Then we calmed down and checked our phones. Tennant had canceled because of emergency illness in his family. He also recorded an extremely apologetic video on Facebook…

…and that shut a lot of us up.

Then we read further down the posted notice and realized Wizard World had chosen to take unprecedented steps to placate anyone who had pre-ordered Tennant’s photo ops, autographs, and VIP weekend badges. Refunds would be issued back to the credit cards of anyone and everyone in that list. In addition to their refunds, Tennant VIP ticket holders would be granted free weekend admission and would get to keep their huge bag of freebies. BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE! Those same souls who had pre-ordered Tennant’s photo ops, autographs, and VIP weekend badges would also be given free general admission for Wizard World Chicago 2018 and free admission to the 2017 Wizard World show of their choice in another town. As of this writing those options include Nashville, TN; Madison, WI; Biloxi, MS; Montgomery, AL; Oklahoma City, OK; Springfield, MO; Austin, TX; and Winston-Salem, NC.

Such an offer is unprecedented in our entire history of conventioning. Longtime MCC readers will note this gracious offer is the exact polar opposite of FandomFest, where 31 guests ultimately canceled and the showrunners’ executive response amounted to little more than “lol ok whatevs”. We were impressed. 97% of the fans with whom we were in contact were understanding and impressed. The consensus was that neither Tennant nor Wizard World were at fault for the situation, so there was no use raging against them.

The other 3% were fans who had bought dual photo-op or VIP combos jointly tying their perks to Tennant and one of the other four Doctor Who costars on the guest list. Unwinding their concerns while still affording them perks for their remaining celeb proved trickier in some cases. But anyone who accuses Wizard World of not trying to meet them halfway is probably trapped more by their own circumstances than by any perceived corporate harshness. I can’t speak much more to that except to say that it is absolutely impossible for any company to please everyone all the time, least of all under such unusually disappointing circumstances.

Our prayers are with the Tennant family during this deeply lamentable time, but I do hope those let-down fans found reasons for cheer in their weekend nonetheless. Thankfully several other actors and many fans contributed to a satisfying weekend for us, not all of it focused on Doctor Who despite some grumbling about the guest list.

On Saturday afternoon we ran across another missive aanother nd surprise, this one 200% more pleasant. As many conventions do, Wizard World sent an ad for Wizard World Chicago to their presumably humongous email list trying to goad still more fans into attending the show, which is very much not sold out. The email has links to buy tickets and photo ops, a boast of their Certificate of Authenticity system for autograph hounds, a promo for a film debuting at the show, and I stopped short when I got to the section touting their new, improved autograph/photo-op redemption system. (Results were mixed, but we’ll come back to that in a future entry.)

Because every section of an email ad needs pretty pictures, Wizard World’s marketing department drew from their vast catalog of photo ops that fans have had taken over the years. The fine print all throughout Wizard World’s purchasing programs explicitly informs attendees that by agreeing to spend money on these opportunities, in return Wizard World reserves the rights to use those materials pretty much anywhere whenever they feel like it. If you don’t want to sign over that singular image of you with Famous Geek Star, then you’ll need to bring your own camera and hope they sell selfies at the autograph table.

So my casual reading of this ordinary marketing email screeched to a halt, complete with cartoon braking sound in my head, when I realized I recognized the faces in the photo. And now so do you.

WWC Email!

Of all the thousands upon thousands of photos they have on file, someone of discerning taste reached into the colossal pile of files, plucked out our WWC 2016 jazz-hands photo op with John Barrowman, and chose us as their stock photo couple of the day.

Before exclaiming about this to anyone, I did some double-checking. I can confirm this wasn’t targeted email using any images tied specifically to me because I haven’t used this particular email address to buy anything from Wizard in years. I also checked with other fans on the unofficial WWC Facebook page and confirmed that, yes, our slap-happy mugs popped up in their inbox as well. Sadly the pic doesn’t include our names, nor do they raise awareness for MCC by linking to that previously posted copy shown above. But still — we’re in a thing that thousands of people got to see! That seems cool, regardless of whether or not more than ten recipients worldwide know our faces at all.

What adds another layer of amusement for us is that ever since WWC 2016, John Barrowman has somehow become a recurring Easter egg in our convention experience. A month later at Cincinnati Comic Expo we spotted him a couple tables down having a blast as usual. Last May at Motor City Comic Con he crossed our paths no less than three random times throughout the day, none of them at his own booth. We missed him in person at WWC 2017, so we thought perhaps the running gag was over.

But no, here we and Mr. Barrowman are again, if only in a flashback granted a wider audience than it’s ever had before. Wizard World just keeps on giving and giving to us this weekend. We may actually have to take them up on that offer of a free pass for another show.

In the meantime: new WWC pics coming soon!

3 responses

  1. I’ve been reading your convention stuff for ages…and you’ve taken pictures of my family several times, but we have yet to actually encounter you. I had tween Groot and baby Groot today, classic green arrow and Riddler will be with me on Sunday…eventually I might catch you.


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