Elegantly dressed as Ramonda, Queen Mother of Wakanda, artist Afua Richardson (World of Wakanda, Genius) made the rest of us on the premises look like slobs.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…
…and traipse together through their Artists Alley, consistently the best assemblage of comic book creators available in any large-scale Midwest entertainment convention. Scores of writers, artists, colorists, editors, and otherwise collaborative bookmakers gather in lengthy rows, some narrower than others, and tempt me to spend and spend and spend on new reading material, or at least brake for autographs on items I previously bought and brought along for the ride. This year was naturally no exception, which is why — more than jazz hands, more than the cosplay, definitely more than publishers’ freebies — Artists Alley is my favorite part of every C2E2.
Presented in order of meeting, because it’s easier for me to think that way:
Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr, the writer/artist team behind the Jurassic-cooking SF epic Voracious. I met Naso last year at C2E2, loved Volume 1, and had to brake for Volume 2.
Kyle Starks, Rick and Morty comics purveyor and co-creator of the new Image action series Assassination Nation.
Starks’ Assassination Nation partner-in-crime Erica Henderson, trying something extremely different from Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. We previously met at C2E2 2017.
Poet/musician Cecil Castellucci, writer of the recently concluded DC/Young Animal title Shade the Changing Girl/Woman. She’s now got a Female Furies miniseries in progress.
A survivor of the poorly attended Awesome Con Indy 2014 like us, Jeremy Whitley is the creator of the feminist fairy-tale series Princeless and currently getting a fair amount of press coverage for his work on Marvel’s Unstoppable Wasp, in which we recently learned our young heroine is bipolar.
Table mates still reeling from their convention debut at the previous weekend’s Emerald City Comic Con. Shaun Manning brought along a few graphic novels he’s written, including the Morrissey-referencing Interesting Drug. Andrew Rostan was a five-time Jeopardy! champion who’s just released an autobiographic novel about his experience appropriately called Form of a Question, which should fit neatly on the shelf next to Ken Jennings’ Brainiac.
I somehow missed that artist Ben Dewey (The Autumnlands, Beasts of Burden) was even on the guest list. Anne will testify I sped over the very minute I saw his table, naturally covered in fine arts.
The longest Artists Alley line we waited in belonged to Stephanie Hans, painter of Kieron Gillen’s new Image series DIE. As previously promised, I absolutely have to write about my reaction to it at length sometime.
After catching him on a Friday panel, we kicked off my second Artists Alley run-through on Saturday with a stop for Domo Stanton, now drawing the new DC/Vertigo series House of Whispers.
Editor/creator Alison Wilgus celebrated the release of her new OGN Chronin (part 1 of 2), involving time travel to 19th-century Japan.
Con attendees were shocked to hear of the hospitalization of C2E2 guest Joyce Chin on Saturday morning. Many of us lined up to offer kind words and wads of cash to her husband, legendary artist Arthur Adams, to whose awesome work at least half the founders of Image Comics owe their artistic careers.
Poet/professor Dr. Eve Ewing signed for a special hour at one of the larger tables over in the celebrity autograph section. Her Marvel series Ironheart is recommended reading, and she’ll be helping with a Marvel Team-Up relaunch soon.
Lockjaw! Quantum and Woody! Black Panther! Deadpool! Stephen Colbert! These characters and more have had words put in their mouths by Daniel Kibblesmith (well, okay, technically not Lockjaw).
Additional fine folks not pictured above:
- Tana Ford, artist on the Berger Books SF miniseries LaGuardia written by Nnedi Okorafor. I previously griped here on MCC about how I’d missed #2. It was literally the only back issue I cared about finding at C2E2, and Ford blessedly had copies available.
- Mike Norton, whom I previously met years ago at Wizard World Chicago (either 2010 or 2011, I forget which), but I picked up an issue of his current series Grumble, which I’d somehow never heard of before this weekend. I miss out on so many projects simply because I refuse to come within 500 yards of comic book message boards, whose constant debates by and large tend to give me abdominal bleeding.
My Artists Alley plunder as of 11 a.m. Friday. And then we stopped and had lunch because my back was already hurting from the quickly acquired, heavy load.
All my pretties from making the rounds on Saturday. Next time I must remember to keep our ibuprofen in my bag, not back at the hotel.
My favorite Artists Alley souvenir this year came courtesy of Ben Dewey. I bought a copy of The Complete Collection of the Tragedy Series: Secret Lobster Claws and Other Misfortunes, a hardcover souvenir reprinting the entirety of his rather focused Tumblr. Then he asks me what my favorite animal is. Somehow a confluence of Mike Baron and the Dead Milkmen in my head prompts the answer, “badger”. He whips out a mostly blank bookplate and proceeds over the course of a few quick minutes to adorn my new book with a fully inked and realized image of a most dapper badger, better dressed than I’ve ever been and ever will be.
The frame and “FROM THE LIBRARY OF” were preprinted. All else materialized while we watched. I never ask artists for sketches, so I’m blown away whenever this happens unexpectedly.
And these are just folks plying wares at their booths. As if they weren’t enough, we also attended more panels this year than usual and had fun seeing creators on stage…
To be continued! Other chapters in this special MCC miniseries:
Part 1: Paul Rudd! From “Clueless” and Marvel and Stuff!
Part 2: David Tennant!
Part 3: Marvel and DC Cosplay
Part 4: Disney and Star Wars Cosplay
Part 5: Last Call for Cosplay
Part 7: Who Else We Met, What Else We Did
Part 8: Geek Commerce on Parade