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Wizard World Chicago 2018 Photos, Part 5 of 6: Who Else We Met, What Else We Did

David Krumholtz!

It’s David Krumholtz! You might remember him from such films as The Santa Clause, Serenity, and Addams Family Values, plus the CBS series Numbers!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found ample enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. A few guest cancellations dampened our spirits somewhat, but we persevered and enjoyed our couple’s outing anyway, especially since Anne’s entire weekend admission was free as a consolation prize given to her and a couple thousand other fans after David Tennant’s last-minute cancellation last year.

Despite the Saturday morning photo op debacle, we ended up having a lot more fun than expected, in terms of meeting both fine actors met and comics creators I zealously paid in exchange for new reading material. The weeks leading up to the shindig weren’t without their stressful moments. Anne had most been looking forward to meeting TV’s Henry Winkler, a.k.a. Dr. Saperstein from Parks and Recreation, among other acclaimed characters. Despite Anne’s free pass, we weren’t officially committed to WWC till I paid for my own ticket two weeks before showtime. Naturally the Fonz canceled literally two days later.

I, in turn, had been hopping up and down in anticipation of meeting comics maker Ryan North, best known for writing the last four years’ worth of Marvel’s amazing colossal Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, plus a short but amusing Jughead arc last year.. A few days before WWC, after months of silence from North on the subject, a curious fan approached him on Twitter, only to be told that he wouldn’t be coming and had submitted cancellation of his appearance to Wizard World before they’d added him to their website in the first place. I took a few hours to compose myself and remember the pros of self-restraint. I realized I had to move on and also try not to think about the part where we would be missing a hometown show, HorrorHound Indy, which changed venue and rescheduled for the same weekend. Simply put, we had to make the most of WWC.

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My Favorite Steve Ditko Comic, According to Me at Age 7

Killjoy!

If you only know Steve Ditko from Spider-Man movie credits, there’s a lot you don’t know.

Comic book fans are in mourning tonight over the news that legendary artist Steve Ditko was discovered dead in his apartment on June 29th. To the majority he’s known for a variety of creations and co-creations to his name — not just Spider-Man, but Dr. Strange, Squirrel Girl, DC’s the Question, the Creeper, and a long list of lesser-known quirky, oddly dressed champions of justice.

If anyone asks what the quintessential Ditko comic is, the correct answer is Amazing Spider-Man #33, an unconventional story then and now. Our Hero spends nearly the entire issue trapped under several tons of wreckage, unable to free himself easily, despondent that this may be his last hurrah, but slowly, surely, convincing himself he can find some way to save the day.

When I heard of Ditko’s passing, Spidey #33 wasn’t the first comic that popped into my head. As my brain is wont to do, it went obscure and reached farther back in time to a comic I hadn’t thought about in years.

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My Free Comic Book Day 2018 Results: The Best and the Least Best

Maxwell's Demons!

A boy and his toys go to war. From Maxwell’s Demons #1, art by Vittori Astone.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: on May 5th I once again had the pleasure of once again observing Free Comic Book Day, the least fake holiday of them all, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration.

This year my Free Comic Book Day involvement took on a different form. My local shop offered a special deal that sounds crazy on the face of it: for a fair sum of money, we could pre-purchase a bundle of all 52 Free Comic Book Day comics that their stores planned to order. Normally these would all be free, but you’d look like a schmuck for casually walking in, picking up all 52, and walking right back out. Instead they set aside copies of all those comics, bagged ’em up, and let buyers pick them up late Saturday afternoon, once all the furor and hubbub had subsided. I went for it. I liked the idea of playing the role of patron, donating extra cash to help facilitate Free Comic Book Day for other folks in town, in a way that would help my shop offset the costs.

I spent the rest of Saturday night and nearly all of Sunday reading all 52 and then posting my impressions on Twitter after each comic, along with photo excerpts from every single comic. I took photos rather than scans because (a) our scanner sometimes ruins the hard work of comics colorists, (b) I wanted to capture the feel of comics on actual physical paper, (c) I wanted to test my new phone, and (d) snapping pics was faster than scanning. This reading/photography project took until 11:30 p.m Sunday night to complete, and would’ve taken until sometime Tuesday if I hadn’t cut corners somewhere. I had to put this entry off for a few days because I needed a break after spending so, so much time with them all.

This entry, then, is a condensed version of that epic-length tweetstorm: my ranking of the twenty best books of the bunch, followed by my six least favorites of the entire stack. I never trust a comics reviewer or website that shares nothing but relentlessly glowing opinions — nor, conversely do I trust a critic who hates all comics and can’t be pleased — so this is my way of not becoming that which I disparage.

Up first: that happy Top 20. On with the countdown!

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Happy Free Comic Book Day 2018!

Free Comic Book Day!

One-third of this year’s FCBD reading pile.

It’s that time of year again! Today marked the seventeenth Free Comic Book Day, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. It’s one of the best holidays ever for hobbyists like me who’ve been comics readers since the days when drugstores sold them for thirty-five cents each and Jean Grey had never died before.

Each year, America’s remaining comic book shops (and a handful in the UK that can afford the extra shipping charges) lure fans and curious onlookers inside their brick-and-mortar hideaways with a great big batch of free new comics from all the major publishers and a bevy of smaller competitors deserving shelf space and consideration. It’s easy to remember when to pin it on the calendar because it’s always the first Saturday of every May and virtually always coincidental with a major movie release. Some folks were concerned about a break in tradition when Avengers: Infinity War moved up a week, but millions of psychologically devastated viewers still have it fresh in mind and haunting them to this day, so there’s no danger of anyone forgetting about superheroes in the near future.

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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 2018 Photos, Part 4: Last Call for Cosplay!

Princess Lolly!

Princess Lolly from Candy Land, the classic board game that taught us kids all about colors and sugar.

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. If it’s a convention, that means it’s time for more cosplay photos! Anne and I are fans of costumes and try to keep an eye out for heroes, villains, antiheroes, supporting casts, and various oddities that look impressive and/or we haven’t seen at other cons…

Part Two featured the majority of Marvel characters we met; Part Three covered more Marvel, DC Comics, Star Wars, and a bit of video games. This time around: all the cosplay that’s fit to print and left to post. Same disclaimers apply as in Part Two. Enjoy! Some more! Still!

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