Chasing autographs is usually an activity better suited to our comic cons than to our vacations. This time we had an excuse to peruse one along our path through Montana. We weren’t allowed to take it home, and its signer was unavailable for a jazz-hands photo op with us, but we appreciated the chance for a close look at preserved physical evidence from a real historical figure who’d later go on to costar in a long-running comics series. The giant object containing his personal graffiti was pretty keen, too.
Fans grieved hard enough years ago when Chewbacca died in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, crushed by a moon. Hearing today of the death of Peter Mayhew, the man who brought George Lucas’ original Wookiee to life, was far more sorrowing. Everybody loves Chewbacca. Not even The Star Wars Holiday Special could damage him or our appreciation for the heart and muscle and loyalty he brought to the other, much shorter heroes of that faraway galaxy.
[Star Wars fans were saddened to learn today of the passing of Kenny Baker at age 81. His long list of credits include Labyrinth, Time Bandits, and even Amadeus, but every piece ever written about him will focus on his longtime career as the soul of R2-D2. We previously told the story of the one time Anne and I met him, in 2002 at Star Wars Celebration II here in Indianapolis. If memory serves, he was the first Star Wars actor we ever met. The following is a modified reprise for the occasion.]
My wife and I are now at home recuperating after spending the last two days at Wizard World Chicago. As usual it was a whirlwind cavalcade of comics, costumes, actors, fans, merchandise, art, commerce, geek glee, exhaustion, frustration, and disappointment. All of those elements, for better or worse, are unavoidable in the average convention experience. Some pleasures make us giddier than others; some situations grieve us more than others.
To its credit, we’re not knee-jerk Wizard World haters. For all the flak they draw online for a variety of reasons, they get a lot of things right that other fledgling convention companies take years to figure out. We’ve personally attended conventions where management was poor, tempers were boiling, and mutinies were nigh and not entirely unjustified. We’ve heard still other horror stores from other Midwest cons. Numerous entertainment companies are out there competing for the chance to become the San Diego of the American heartland. Wizard World is not in last place.
As expected, MCC will be providing you, the Viewers at Home, with copious photos from our Wizard World Chicago 2014 experience over the next few days, though I honestly have no idea how many entries in all. I haven’t yet uploaded my pics or looked at my wife’s as of the moment I’m typing this sentence, and we still have a Doctor Who season premiere to watch On Demand. Also, there are adult, non-internet chores begging for my attention. I’m pretty sure some of you will be pleased with the results, even though we skipped the costume contest. We had our reasons, some of them logistical.
In general, this weekend was successful on a number of levels for us. But not on every level. Pictured here are Exhibits A and B for the prosecution — the front of one card, and the front and back of another. Together these limited-edition artifacts cost us $40.00 to bring home unredeemed.
My wife and I have just a few days left until we take off for tiny, action-packed Rosemont, IL, for Wizard World Chicago 2012. Even though this will be our fourth WWC, we’re still preparing and weighing our options. I, for one, have my comics want-lists to update and mull over. Do I really feel like rooting through countless musty longboxes for single issues I’ve been missing since childhood? Do I really think this will be the year I find Steelgrip Starkey and the All-Purpose Power Tool #5 and achieve closure with Alan Weiss’ underrated working-man sci-fi miniseries at last? Or should I aim instead for the bargain boxes stuffed with $5 trade paperbacks, 90% of which are Marvel Ultimate comics?
Then there’s the matter of autograph pricing (is Scott Bakula’s autograph really worth three Amber Bensons?), autograph materials to bring along for the actors (which season of Buffy or TV’s Angel was really Juliet Landau’s best?) as well as for the comics creators (must dig out Hourman #1…or was there a more apropos issue?), and the little things such as emergency snacks and note-taking supplies. Lots to do, lots to put off till the last minute because that’s when I do all my best thinking, unless you count everything I’ll forget because of the time pressure.