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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C2E2 2019 Photos, Part 6 of 8: Artists Alley Plus

Afua Richardson!

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.

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 5 of 7: Comics Creators Cavalcade

C2E2 Books!

This year’s new C2E2 reading pile. Part one.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped 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 cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.

In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz…

…which as always includes the densest Artists Alley in the Midwest. Eleven double-length rows of writers, artists, cartoonists, painters, print makers, button sellers, novelists, professionals, amateurs, up-‘n’-comers, elder statesmen, internet sensations, and quiet ones you gotta watch. Diversity fans could find something to their tastes in virtually every conceivable corner of the medium. I tried to walk it twice per my annual ritual, and saw every table at least once — with or without their assigned artist at them — but had to bow out a few rows before the end of the second run-through when exhaustion and budgetary conscience both began tearing me down.

Many talented creators put up with my wife and me within the space of a valuable moment of their time at C2E2 in between finishing commissioned sketches and other, more desirable endeavors. I made a point of throwing money at them and once again added several pounds to my reading pile and our convention bags. Anne did what she could to help me out when my back began failing under the accumulated weight, but now I owe her a new bag for the damage done. Next year I need to remind myself to wait till the end of the day before splurging on any hardcovers.

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C2E2 2017 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Comics Creators Cavalcade

C2E2 2017 Comics!

This year’s new reading haul. I may have to work more overtime to pay this weekend off.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The eighth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped 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…

…and the densest Artists Alley we’ve ever seen. Eleven double-length rows of writers, artists, cartoonists, painters, print makers, button sellers, novelists, professionals, amateurs, up-‘n’-comers, elder statesmen, internet sensations, and quiet ones you gotta watch. It was an array so nice, I had to walk it twice, and I still missed a few people I’d wanted to meet. Some had autograph lines longer than the voice actors’. Some just weren’t at their tables when I passed by. A few called in sick, but are hopefully feeling much better now.

But before we got that far, we managed to make time for a pair of panels — one about comics, the other about Star Wars.

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C2E2 2016 Photos, Part 8 of 9: Who We Met and What We Did

John Ratzenberger!

“Did you know the Visigoths actually invented comic book conventions back in the fourth century as an excuse to get together with family and draw unflattering caricatures of the Romans? True story…”

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: my wife and I spent two days at the seventh annual Chicago Comics and Entertainment Exposition, where Midwest comics fans in particular and geeks in general gather together in the name of imaginary worlds from print and screen to revel in fiction and touch bases on what’s hot or cool at this moment in pop culture.

Last year Anne and I discussed the notion of no longer considering any conventions an automatic buy-in until and unless the guest list gave us a solid reason to commit. They’re expensive and the guest lists aren’t always tailored to our specific areas of fandom or nostalgia. When C2E2 added TV’s John Ratzenberger to their 2016 roster, he was the first sign that I knew we’d be there. From TV’s Cheers to every Pixar movie ever, ol’ Cliff Clavin has been a part of our lives from childhood to adulthood. We met him twice at C2E2 — once at his autograph booth, where he confirmed he’ll indeed return for Finding Dory, and once at his photo op, where we sensed he was not a jazz-hands kind of guy. ‘sokay, no harm done.

Right this way for the comics creators and the other big ’80s star we met!

How Much Would You Pay for Midwest Convention Space?

Who N.A.!

Who North America is a regular staple at our regular cons. They seem to be doing okay, even though they have to pay for four or five times the space.

This past Wednesday I walked into my comic shop and waded into the middle of a conversation about booth space prices. Awesome Con is staging their first Indianapolis show in October, and the guys weren’t too keen on what was being asked, how much extra a corner booth would cost over an endcap, and why the con’s rep promised them a “locals” discount over the phone that appeared nowhere in the marketing materials. Much snickering ensued.

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Indy PopCon 2014 Photos, Part 8 of 8: What We Did and Who We Met

The General Lee!

Hey, kids! It’s the world-famous General Lee from TV’s The Dukes of Hazzard! Everyone likes TV cars, right? TV cars are pop culture and therefore totally on-topic at Indy PopCon. Please enjoy this eye-popping, gas-guzzling, moonshine-runnin’, crooked-cop-defyin’, Southern-fried, toy-selling idol of millions and be sure to Like and Share the heck out of it on all the best social media so I can finally take one evening this week to go rest and relax without fear of the oncoming post-convention traffic plateau. Remember, the power of my recuperation is your hands.

At long last, the week-long marathon reaches the end of its journey here on MCC! Presenting one last round of photos from the first annual Indy PopCon at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. Yes, we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover realize we’re still reliving this shindig long after the rest of the Midwest has gone back to their daily routine and stopped reminiscing about last weekend. And I can’t deny it’ll be nice to move on to other subjects and writing forms after this. We’re almost there, I promise.

Part Eight, then: the sights we saw (besides costumes) and the personalities we met.

Right this way for the last Indy PopCon 2014 hurrah!

Wizard World Chicago 2013 Photos, Part 3 of 3: Actors, Artists Alley, and Things

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover, we spent Part One and Part Two sharing nothing but costume pics my wife and I snapped at this year’s Wizard World Chicago comics-‘n’-entertainment convention. In the miniseries finale, we present visible proof that con have other reasons for us to attend, including but not limited to comic books. My biggest victory: after my purchases this weekend, I’m now one issue away from a complete set of reading copies of Power Man & Iron Fist. (Curse you, elusive #123!)

Also, panels can be fun. Unfortunately due to time constraints we only attended one: a Firefly Q&A with costars Alan Tudyk, Emmy nominee Morena Baccarin (Homeland), and Summer Glau (now recurring on Arrow). As one would expect, Tudyk was the chattiest and funniest; Baccarin, the most dignified, but engaging in her own right (and expecting!); and Glau, the undisputed quietest. Best moment: Tudyk reciting a line of his racist character’s dialogue from the recent 42 using the voice of his King Kandy from Wreck-It Ralph.

Firefly panel, Wizard World Chicago 2013

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C2E2 2013 Photos, Part 5 of 6: Actors and Creators Who Made Our Day

Continuing our coverage of last weekend’s fourth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2”), this episode covers the sci-fi actors and comic book creators we met this year. With one exception, all of these were folks we’d never met before. My wife wanted to meet a few veterans of the Star Wars saga; I wanted to meet writers and artists responsible for great works.

Highest priority on my own list: British music journalist turned comics writer Kieron Gillen. His two-year run on Journey into Mystery turned Kid Loki into one of the funniest, most heartbreaking characters in the Marvel Universe. His creator-owned Phonogram (two miniseries and counting) is a sharp fantasy mixing music, magic, and the people who live for both. Current gigs include Iron Man and Young Avengers, which both tend to rise to the top of my weekly reading pile.

Also: my favorite photo of the weekend. If you haven’t read at least one of his books, you’re what’s wrong with comics.

Kieron Gillen, C2E2

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Wizard World Chicago 2012 Notes on the Go: Saturday Report — A Few More Actors, One Q&A, and Photos from Artists Alley

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.

Neal Adams

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