After spending our Friday at Wizard World Chicago in a series of lengthy lines, our goal Saturday was to finish our autograph want list once and for all, and then roam the place at a leisurely pace, revisiting Artists Alley, perusing the dealers and exhibitors, and admiring all the costumes.
Our longest line of the day was once again the general admission line, for which we arrived over two hours before opening. Even though we had no pressing needs that demanded an early presence, we just felt like showing up early. It’s part of the experience, and sometimes it’s fun to hang out with other fans equally motivated to do likewise for their own reasons. The early Saturday wait was much more enjoyable than Friday’s. For the morning’s entertainment, we were regaled with the humor stylings of a WWC volunteer who was very low on sleep and high on Red Bull. For the morning’s shopping bonuses, a volunteer with a megaphone (it’s as if someone with power actually read what I wrote yesterday) passed out lanyards, which fans could redeem at the WWC merchandise booth for…things. I don’t know what. The megaphone wielder was distant from us and kept yelling in the opposite direction away from us. Much of the crowd near him hollered and cheered; those of us well behind him were left ignorant and without bonuses. This is still an improvement over Friday’s silent screams.
After one important initial errand, my wife and I sauntered through Artists Alley before the crowds descended upon it, to see if anyone could lure us toward them with their wares or even a simple “hi” broadcast in our direction. The winners of our unannounced WWC Saturday “Take Our Money, Please” contest were the following creators:
* The one and only legendary, trendsetting, boundary-redefining artist that is Neal Adams. At five minutes after opening, he had no line yet. I couldn’t believe the luck. I cheerfully bought a hardcover reprint of the 1978 Treasury Edition Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, which may sound a little odd today but still looks amazing on the inside.
* Fantasy authors Chris A. Jackson and Anne L. McMillen-Jackson, with whom we had an interesting discussion about the perils of co-writing with your spouse. My wife picked up a copy of Mr. Jackson’s Weapon of Flesh, and we were delighted to learn they’ll also be attending GenCon next weekend here in Indianapolis.
Tom Stillwell, creator of the all-ages super-hero webcomic Honor Brigade.
Russell Lissau, writer of kids’ comics (The Batman Strikes!, Strawberry Shortcake) and one of many contributors to Reading with Pictures, an ambitious, laudable anthology designed as part of an effort to design new school textbooks using the graphic-storytelling medium. Sounds like a fantastic idea to me. (More details here.)
Trevor A. Mueller, marketing director for Reading with Pictures, which deserves much more attention. Even as my wife and I hung out near their booths while Lissau sketched inside the copy I bought, more than one interested schoolteacher approached their tables.
Geof Darrow, one of the conceptual designers who worked on The Matrix, and who co-created the comic that became the short-lived Fox Kids animated series The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. He’s a mainstay of our two regular Chicago comic conventions. I didn’t see his name on the guest list, but it was nice to see him on hand. Every time I see him, I buy one more issue of his intricately lunatic series Shaolin Cowboy. Only a few more years, and my collection will be complete!
Brent Peeples, artist and co-creator (with Joshua Hale Fialkov) of the Image sort-of antihero series Last of the Greats. (He had the kind of booth I normally don’t approach, but I’d heard good things about the book and was interested in giving it a shot. I certainly earned a quizzical look from my wife…)
Billy Tucci, best known for his popular creation Shi, but who’s also published A Child is Born, a painted comic about the birth of Christ. This, literally and without hyperbole, is the best-looking Christian comic I’ve ever seen. This subject matter is also a little more up our alley than, y’know, “boobies”.
Victor Carungi, part-time writer who’s been self-publishing for a while as Paper Street Comics. I’d bought Careful… on Friday and found it an eminently professional, visually appealing horror comic. Even though I guessed the final twist a few pages before the big reveal (the whodunit math clicked in my head before it was supposed to), I was impressed enough that I made a point of seeking him out Saturday to try his other collected work, Pencilneck (more of a crime drama). Paper Street also does all-ages comics and a few other genres.
After much debate and discussion, we ended up attending only one Q&A, a combined Super-celebration for Lois and Clark‘s Dean Cain and Smallville‘s Laura Vandervoort. Their segment was scheduled from 2:00 to 2:45. Due to an issue involving an occupied WWC volunteer and a lost child, they were introduced onstage over ten minutes late and were moderated into wrapping up a few minutes early. Disappointment was not avoided, though they were both a treat to watch interact and answer questions. Discussion points:
* Audience members nationwide agreed that Supergirl won Smallville by dint of merely wearing the big ‘S’ and actually flying. Vandervoort and Cain agreed flying harnesses aren’t fun to wear during filming, but Vandervoort was happy to film scenes that were more than just Kara and Clark hanging out in the Kent loft for the 50th time.
* Vandervoort shares the sadness of V fans about its cancellation, and lamented how the show “didn’t know where it was going.” She was surprised to learn that her Ted costar Mila Kunis was a fan of the show.
* Cain spoke of his Superman audition process, in which his final competitor was Kevin Sorbo. The mental images of what might have been are interesting. Regarding the show’s surprise cancellation, it apparently boiled down to a lot of “numbers-crunching”. Tangential note: Cain has come to enjoy being a producer on films rather than someone else’s mere hired gun.
Beyond all that, we spent the rest of the day wandering the exhibit hall. I filled in some late-’70s/early-’80s gaps in my collections of Incredible Hulk, Dr. Strange, and The Flash. For happy autograph experiences, we added encounters with Amy Acker and Joey Lawrence to our list. Outside of autographed items, my most prized purchase was a copy of the hardcover collection of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s recently unshackled Flex Mentallo. I normally avoid hardcovers and wait for softcovers, but surprise overcame fiscal prudence.
One more thing: that “important initial errand” was a stop at the photo-op booth to pick up the results of our final activity on Friday.
…so in general, I’d say the convention was worth our time.
The next two (maybe three?) entries will be photos, photos, and more photos from our Wizard World Chicago experience. I can’t decide whether to start with actors or costumes. I’m open to voting on the matter.