Wizard World Chicago 2011

I convinced myself to go.  This is the first time I have been to this con since before it was Wizard.

This con IS NOT C2E2!  There are a lot of similarities like all cons, but there were many differences, not all of them good ones.

August 11th through 14th in Chicago, I chose to do just one day as I really had only a couple of things on the list that interested me.  And that is where my issues with this con start.  The site is awful.  There is a list of guests and really not much else.  The site fails to give any other info, at least that I could find.  True there is a very thorough FAQ page and info on the actual nuts and bolts of the show, ( what, when, where, how type stuff ) but nothing on who the vendors were or specific locations for most of the guests.  I don’t have any interest in the celebrities that were going to be there.  I like Gil Gerard as Buck Rogers very much and I still think Mimi Rogers is one of the most stunning women in the world, but I have little need to meet them and get an autograph.  For the casual fan like me, this part of the show was very well set up.  The above mentioned Gerard and Rogers, as well as most of the other guests were easy to see and approach.  There were no long lines designed to discourage, like at some of these shows.  I got good looks at Ms Rogers, as lovely as ever, and most of the others there.  They were all very pleased to see their fans and I imagine the experience was great fun for the people there to see them.  The only person on my list in this section of the show was Mike Grell (Jon Sable Freelance, Green Arrow the Longbow Hunters).  He was running a little late ( a common hazard for anyone wanting to go right as these shows open for the day) but it was no big deal.  There were 4 of us waiting when he arrived and he was very nice to speak with.  I try to be brief when I am meeting someone like this.  I know there are other people waiting to see the person I am speaking to, and for some of them, this is a valuable source of income, and my yammering on would only impede that.  Mr Grell was charging to sign books.  The first one was free and each additional book was $1.  A very reasonable fee really.  I had only one thing to be signed.  It should be said that I do not pay for autographs.  I do not begrudge these people a living or feel that they are being in some way crass.  I just do not want to pay to be able to appreciate someone or take away a memory of meeting them.  Had I had more than one thing for Mr Grell to sign, I simply would have stopped at one thing.  No biggie, no harm, no foul.  Now if some of these celebs were not charging, I may have had more interest, in meeting them up close, but not a lot.  TV and movie celebrities hold little fanboy interest for me.  While I might pay for, say Linda Carter, or someone I was really interested in as a kid, that list is very short and I have never had need to get in line when I have had the opportunities.  All in all, this section of the show was well put together.  I was able to move around and see the guests to whatever degree I would choose.  A quick walk-by, or something more direct and personal.  This is what the Wizard shows seem to be focusing on more and more in recent years, and it is the prime reason that C2E2 and other comic-centric shows are more my speed.

As I said, my list was short for this show.  Just a handful of creators.  My other issue with this con is that I had to cover the entire hall just to scope them out.  This was partly my fault and partly the show’s.  The maps given as you enter the line after getting the wristband (the ONLY swag you get without paying extra for VIP tickets) have VERY small type.  The names and locations of the guests on one side and the labeled map on the other.  Without my reading glasses, I had no hope of being able to use it.  Had this info been available before hand like it was for C2E2, then this would not have been an issue.  I started right as the doors opened and went right to the Artist Alley section that this con calls “fan tables”.  Two of my targets were not yet seated, so I knew I would be making several trips.  Franchesco! was there, drawing away and chatting with a fan.  I have met him now a few times at these shows and he is always, without fail, one of the nicest people to meet and speak with.  His art brings me back to my youth spent reading comics, and his style so much fun that I always look forward to seeing the con sketchbooks at the table.  His style always reminds me of Rick Leonardi, and when I mentioned this, he seemed to appreciate the comparison.

Cover to The Art of Franchesco! 2011 sketchbook

Next was a quicky with The Crow creator James O’Barr.  Brief and a little awkward would describe this one.  I would guess he is just not all that at ease talking to the fans.

Micheal Golden and Bill Sienkiewicz were there and very nice to see, as were artist Bill Rinehold and writer Peter S. Beagle.  Mr Beagle and I ( a signature for the wife, who is a fan of The Last Unicorn and could not attend the show) spent a few minutes discussing movies that always get to us.  His is the Chaplin film City Lights.  I can completely agree, as the last scene always gets me too.

I made sure to stop by the mighty Kurt Wood’s booth and get a couple of sketches from him.  Don’t worry Kurt, I will be sure to post for all to see once I get a chance.  See the link to his site to the right on this page.

Among the things I saw that I had not been specifically looking for was a booth for “Bachelor Pad” Magazine.  The is a great quarterly that is a throwback to the early days of the pin up girl in printed periodicals.  As much like the old peek a boo type mags as you could ever want, with fun stories and articles from fiction and instruction to stunning good girl style photos.  And no, there is no porn here, just a fun take on a style that is now sadly more a part of our past than our present day.  I plan to support this magazine and see if I can’t get more people into it and maybe we can bring this cool retro sexiness back into the mainstream again.  I am including a scan of the cover to issue #11 here so you can see.  It is done without permission and if they want I will take it down.  This cover is as racy as it gets and it is all good clean-ish fun.  If you think you might like it, go to www.bachelorpadmagazine.com for more info and subscriptions. (see link on the right)

The main focus of this trip for me was Matt Wagner, creator of Mage, Grendel and writer/artist of books like Trinity.  I was going to get some things signed.  I got something FAR better.  He had several copies of some of the recent hardcovers and was doing original painting in them to benefit The Hero Initiative a charity that helps comic creators in need.  (see link at right)  They were very expensive and very beautiful.  I thought long and hard and, in the end, gave in to my desire to have a piece of original Matt Wagner art.  Had it not been for a cause I support, the price may well have been more than I would have been willing to pay, but for this stunner I couldn’t say no.  It was done on the inside end paper, just inside the cover and is included here so you can enjoy it too.  And with this image I will leave you until next time…

All mine!

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