Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Apollo and the Clone Wars

Ashley Eckstein and Matt Lanter!

“Snips and Skyguy”, as the delightful Star Wars panel was billed.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

If we reused headline formats from our past comic-con write-ups, this one would be the Friday edition of “What We Did and Who We Met”. Once we emerged impatient and unscathed from Chicago construction traffic, Friday was a laid-back stroll around the exhibit hall because most of the action was scheduled for Saturday, when nearly all the scheduled guests would be around. Friday, they weren’t so much, but we had the pleasure of attending a pair of Q&As with actors who graciously dropped in a day early.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 2 of 4: Fandom Artifacts

Black Label me!

Now I come in a deluxe version with slightly more points of articulation! Soon to be on clearance at Target!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: this past weekend Anne and I attended the inaugural Fan Expo Chicago, the comics/entertainment convention formerly known as Wizard World Chicago, and before that the unbranded Chicago Comic Con. As a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont for our first time in four years to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

Before we attempt any real storytime and show off our latest round of jazz-hands photos, why not run through a gallery of Stuff We Saw Around the Show Floor. In hindsight we took far fewer exhibit hall pics than expected because we’re well acquainted with what comic-con booths look like and weren’t in a constant state of mind-blown-ness. We did dawdle a bit more than usual at the handcrafted displays of two charitable fan clubs, who brought their homemade replicas of props and vehicles and whatnot, which as usual made us regret letting our own artistic skills atrophy since high school.

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Fan Expo Chicago 2022 Photos, Part 1 of 4: A Dash of Cosplay

Moon Knight!

TV’s Moon Knight welcomes you to a comic-con resurrection!

Once upon a time in 1972 humanity invented a major entertainment show commonly called the Chicago Comic Con, and comics collectors saw that it was good. In the late ’90s it was taken over by Wizard Entertainment, previously a specialist in geek magazine publishing. Wizard World Chicago continued the comic-con tradition for the next two decades, though with a decreasing emphasis on the “comic” aspect as nearly all the publishers withdrew their participation one by one and the show became all about meeting actors, with a nominal Artists Alley still attached in mild deference to its distant origins. Anne and I first attended WWC in 1999 (a Major Life Event for us), then made it an appointment getaway every year between 2010 and 2018. The company had been hemorrhaging cash and fan loyalty for years even before we decided to skip the 2019 edition in favor of our very first Dragon Con, which we consider yet another Major Life Event. The subsequent pandemic did Wizard World no favors, as you can imagine.

After one last gasp of a WWC in late 2021 that we understand was a pale shadow, Wizard World handed off their entire nationwide comic-con portfolio to Fan Expo HQ, a British-owned company whose Canadian comic-con wing has roots dating back to 1995 and who began acquiring inroads into the U.S. market in 2016. This past weekend, that corporate consumption process culminated in the very first Fan Expo Chicago, which is technically the inaugural edition and yet self-branded as a proud continuation of that chain of comic-con provenance, with a 50th-anniversary logo featured in their decor and con souvenirs. Their initial guest-list game was strong enough to lure us back to the suburb of Rosemont to see what we could make of this latest iteration. Would it be an all-new all-different Chicago Comic Con, or Wizard World under a bed sheet with two eye-holes poked in it?

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My 2022 Reading Stacks #1

Barry Windsor-Smith Monsters!

Maybe not the best place to start while writing over July 4th weekend…or is it?

Welcome once again to our recurring MCC feature in which I scribble capsule reviews of everything I’ve read that was published in a physical format over a certain page count with a squarebound spine on it — novels, original graphic novels, trade paperbacks, infrequent nonfiction dalliances, and so on. Due to the way I structure my media-consumption time blocks, the list will always feature more graphic novels than works of prose and pure text, though I do try to diversify my literary diet as time and acquisitions permit.

Occasionally I’ll sneak in a contemporary review if I’ve gone out of my way to buy and read something brand new. Every so often I’ll borrow from my wife Anne or from our local library. But the majority of our spotlighted works are presented years after the rest of the world already finished and moved on from them because I’m drawing from my vast unread pile that presently occupies four oversize shelves comprising thirty-three years of uncontrolled book shopping. I’ve occasionally pruned the pile, but as you can imagine, cut out one unread book and three more take its place.

I’ve previously written why I don’t do eBooks. Perhaps someday I’ll also explain why these capsules are exclusive to MCC and not shared on Amazon, Goodreads, or other sites where their authors might prefer I’d share them. In the meantime, here’s me and my reading results, which I should’ve begun tracking months ago…

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Yes, There Are Scenes During and After the “Lightyear” End Credits

Lightyear!

To finity and no farther!

“In 1995 Andy got a new toy for his birthday. It was from his favorite movie. This is that movie.”

That’s paraphrasing (i.e., possibly misquoting from fading memory) the first lines from Lightyear — its high-concept, low-bar mission statement and its disclaimer to deflect any viewers who might’ve refused to relax without some form of canonical context, no matter how tenuous or superfluous. Critics’ memories of the exact verbiage differed from one site to the next. The erstwhile animation trailblazers at Pixar were hoping those same fuzzy memories might forgive/forget the shamelessly unnecessary Toy Story 4 and embrace this, their latest merchandise revival to be contrived from the greatest animated film trilogy ever.

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Happy Birthday, Captain Janeway: A Fantabulous 50s Coda

Anne and Captain Janeway!

Anne wasn’t born in May, but she gets to be the lead photo because she’s cuter.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

…and then we returned home and all lived happily ever after. But the birthday celebration didn’t quite stop there as it should’ve. The following weekend, we took my mom down to southern Indiana to visit family, a semiannual jaunt for us because long drives are no longer her thing. Due to scheduling issues, Mom and I hadn’t made time to hang out for my birthday as we normally do. So we made that time — we did the visiting, we treated her to dinner, and we crossed a high-priority geek sightseeing item off our to-do list, which gave her a rare chance to tag along for one of these weird little jaunts she sees us posting about sometimes on Facebook.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 10: Sir, This is a Wendy’s

Wendy's Way!

Every icon has to start somewhere.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

We saw comics and art in museums, and we had food in a museum, so why not make our logical final stop in Columbus a food museum? Well, technically, in a way, kindasorta? There’s only one small exhibit room, but the subject is rather large.

After the record store we returned to Dublin, home of the Wendy’s flagship store, which was opened in 2013 and built with an extra side room to house numerous artifacts and souvenirs from the company’s 52-year history. So they’re only a few months older than we are.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 9: Arts in Columbus

ART downtown Columbus!

The Columbus College of Art & Design’s Art Sign will celebrate its 21st birthday this coming Thursday.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The miniseries’ end is near! But first, the stuff we skipped and some stuff we didn’t get to yet. Mostly it’s about the birthday guy doing some self-indulgent geek sopping, chancing into a few flourishes of local art along the way, and a few loose ends that fit nowhere into the miniseries except here, the catchall chapter.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 8: The Columbus Cuisine Collection

Paella Barcelona!

Paella Barcelona: a party for the palate containing chicken, shrimp, chorizo, calamari, clams, mussels, and more, more, more.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

As with all our road trips, mention must inevitably be made of the culinary experiences. We don’t use the “foodie” label explicitly, whose baggage includes an implication of a lifestyle chic enough to afford and live on 21 fancy dishes a week. We tend to suppress our desires to try Something Different — fueled in part by our longtime Chopped viewership — until special occasions come up, such as this very two-day birthday outing. Columbus had no shortage of options waiting for us.

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The Fantabulous 50s Weekend, Part 7: All Around the CMA

Columbus Museum of Art!

Foreground: Jeff Koons, One Ball Total Equilbrium Tank (Spalding Dr. J Series), 1985. Background: Anselm Kiefer, Tutein’s Tomb, 1981-83.

[EDITORS’ NOTE: The following entry knowingly contains Art. Viewer discretion is advised.]

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a short-term road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

I’ve just now lived to see 50, and after weeks of research and indecision, we planned an overnight journey to the next state over, to the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, which had cool stuff that this now-fiftysomething geek wanted to see. Columbus, then, would be the setting for our first outing together as quintagenarians…

The Columbus Museum of Art had drawn me in with their big exhibit celebrating the pre-1960 works of hometown legend Roy Lichtenstein, but other rooms commanded our attention as well. A sampler of those works, many by Big Names, seems in order as a companion piece.

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