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Wizard World Chicago 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Objects of Affection

cat nurse!

Space taxidermy! Me and a Sister of Plenitude from Doctor Who.

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.

Now that site traffic has subsided to its normal insignificant levels and all our visitors and new acquaintances have retreated to their respective internet corners, we wrap our miniseries with one last photo gallery in honor of what it’s all about: all that stuff around the convention. Everywhere we walk in an exhibit hall, we’re surrounded by millions or nifty items , whether for sale or for display only. Two organizations in particular brought their finest collections to entertain, to educate, to raise funds, and/or to treat fans to deeper glimpses into revered elements from their favorite fictional multiverses.

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Jon Schnepp 1967-2018

Schnepps + Payne!

Once again, photo courtesy of the Department of Not Sure Why We Didn’t Just Take Their Photo When We Met Them.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Anne and I attended the 2016 Superman Celebration in Metropolis, IL, whereupon…

…We also had the pleasure of meeting director Jon Schnepps and producer Holly Payne, the minds behind the recent documentary “The Death of ‘Superman Lives’: What Happened?”, the astonishing true story of that time Nicolas Cage, director Tim Burton, and writer Kevin Smith tried and failed to make a, uh, truly unique Superman film together. I’ve been wanting to see this for months even though I’m afraid to see it for myself.

We chatted for a minute at their table. I can’t remember a single thing about the conversation except that they were good people not that different from us. The last time I saw him in person was later that same weekend as we were wandering around the town’s “Super-Con” — the Superman Celebration’s equivalent of an exhibit hall for toy shops and comics dealers. During our lap around the building, we passed by Schnepp — no guards, no entourage, no disguise — standing at one table, rifling through their back-issue box like any ordinary average Joe who hadn’t made an actual film, accumulated Cartoon Network credits to their name, or once filmed themselves being wrestled to the ground by an unchecked, filthy rich studio exec.

After I watched writer/director/producer Schnepp’s candid, illuminating documentary about a massive failure of a Hollywood production, I eventually remarked

We rarely get complete stories as to why a given high-profile film turns out awful, let alone a tell-all about one that collapsed under its own bloated before it could harm the innocent public. Copious interviews with would-be director Tim Burton, several attempted screenwriters including but not limited to a candid and incredulous Kevin Smith, producer Jon Peters checking in from some bizarre mental plane far removed from our own, fans, pundits, and other crew members who put in hundreds of hours of labor before someone realized they were collaborating on a fiasco and had to be stopped. It’s a shame Nicolas Cage himself couldn’t chime in with his thoughts because I suspect they would’ve made Peters seem rational by comparison.

Cage’s absence notwithstanding, I had to respect the force of will it must have taken to coax such revealing cautionary tales out of the participants themselves. I never took the time to watch Schnepp’s signature work on the Adult Swim series Metalocalypse (my loss, I’m guessing), but from the strong showing in that documentary alone I’d assumed we would see more great things from him in the future.

Then came the events of the past week.

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“Ready Player One”: The Movie Based on the Book Based on the Lists Based on the Collections

Ready Player Cyclops!

A grimdark timeline in which the only survivor of X-Men: Apocalypse was Cyclops.

Everyone loves crossovers! Who doesn’t get excited every time two to 10,000 pop culture characters of varying degrees of familiarity get stuffed into the same frames or panels and generate mechanical synergy for the amusement of fans and the enrichment of corporations? As a young teen collector of both Marvel and DC Comics I was bedazzled by the one-two punch of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths, each of which tossed piles of IPs into dogpiles and let them take turns teaming up and punching each other into oblivion. This brilliant concept in apocalyptic storytelling wowed me at the time, but began losing steam over the decades as all the other annual Marvel and DC crossover events kept (and keep) producing diminishing returns for increasingly transparent financial cravings. Meanwhile in other media, we had the innovative novelty of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and mash-ups like Kingdom Hearts, Soul Calibur, and Super Smash Bros. We had obscurities like Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue, while the previous generation arguably had their own predecessor in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Despite the amount of behind-the-scenes wrangling involved, the method is simple: pick lots of famous faces that each have had tons of stories and years of character development dedicated to them, cultivated by their creators and successors with some combination of time and care; strip away everything from them but their outer shell and a one-line descriptor of their most superficial traits; throw everyone into an arbitrary arena; make them fight and fight and fight; then, profit. Hurray! It’s a crossover!

To those who love crossovers and other spectacles a la Battle of the Network Stars, by all means keep loving what you love. After a couple decades or more of them, they’re not an automatic draw for me.

And don’t get me started on the crossover’s close cousin, the whole “Easter egg” fetish that’s become a mandatory element of every geek-related product ever, to the point that viewers spend so much time expecting recognizable tokens and high-fiving each other for spotting them that they become the point of purchase and the only reason to pay attention. Some works are so oversaturated with Easter eggs, they’re less like a narrative and more like an extended Highlight for Children “Hidden Pictures” puzzle.

That brings us to Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One, adapting the novel by Ernest Cline that I couldn’t bring myself to touch after reading a lacerating review of its nostalgic self-indulgence that gave me more than enough signifiers to tell me it was Not My Thing. As if that weren’t enough, someone on Twitter (I wish I could remember who or in which recent month) shared numerous excerpts from the novel that confirmed it’s entirelty about the hero name-checking, listing, and pumping himself up with his never-ending stream of collector callback consciousness. Unless someone wants to pay me to bypass my gut reaction, count me among the viewers who saw the movie but didn’t and won’t read the book.

Frankly, I only saw the movie because I knew friends or family would ask me about it. In their defense and to my surprise, I’ll give them this: Ready Player One was a lot less anathematic to me than The Big Bang Theory.

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 7 of 7: Random Acts of Pop Culture

Cards Against Humanity!

We don’t play Cards Against Humanity, but their advertising is always the best.

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…

…and it all comes down to this: photos of stuff and things around the exhibit hall. If you’ve never attended a comics or entertainment convention, or if you missed this year’s C2E2, or if you just really like photos of stuff and things, please enjoy this gallery of geek sights and eye-catching outtakes, guaranteed to have 65% fewer words than Part Five and 85% fewer words than Part Six. Yay pictures!

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C2E2 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 7: Who Else We Met and What We Did

Svengoolie!

Warrior Woody Woodpecker cosplayer interviewed by Chicago’s own late-night horror-flick host Svengoolie. Can it get more comic-con than this?

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…

We’ve covered our latest additions to our jazz hands catalog. We’ve shared nearly five dozen cosplay photos. We’ve saluted the comics creators who successfully divested us of cash. That wasn’t all the fun that C2E2 had in store for us this year.

(The following narrative of our two-day C2E2 walkabout will make more sense if you’ve already read Part One and Part Five. As you go, you should see where the photos from those entries slot into the storytelling.)

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Keeping the Ships in Order

TARDISes!

I like to imagine myriad Doctors from across the multiverse fighting over which TARDIS is whose.

Pictured above is a forgotten scene from Indiana Comic Con 2016, a perfect example of how much work goes into planning and executing a convention, and how organized and squared everything appears to onlookers if you pull everything off without a hitch. Every large-scale convention requires a lot of moving parts — much in plain sight, a few under the hood, plenty moving across the counter if buyers and sellers each play their parts. Maintaining the order is no simple feat.

As the routines go for those behind the counter, so goes a different set for those of us approaching the counters, bringing our offbeat interests to the party, our want lists, our spending impulses, and other critical factors that make comic, toy, and collectible shops a viable career track for anyone. Planning is vital for the sake of the geek economy.

Right this way for not much more than this!

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