"Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago" Day 1 - The Nerdy Stuff

This post has nothing to do with either Soul Coughing or the solo career of frontman Mike Doughty. Sorry. I highly recommend you check out the music, though. Good stuff. Anyway, this is the inevitable "Bill and Erin's Chicago Trip Wrap-Up Post." I'm breaking it up into two parts, but even then, it'll still be long. You've been warned.

Friday - United Airlines thought it would be fun to delay our flight for four and a half hours. We disagreed wholeheartedly. It was all related to nasty weather in Chicago the night before, which is understandable, I guess, but it didn't make us like it a whole lot. Being stuck in airport is bad enough, but being stuck in your local airport is even worse, because you're left thinking of all the things you could have spent the morning doing instead. Plus, I hate to fly as is, so getting that much more time to sit and think about it made things even worse. We did finally get there, though, but obviously, plans had to change. Erin scrubbed her planned shopping trip on the Magnificent Mile in the city, and I was left with a scant three hours to squeeze in Wizard World Chicago. I wasn't about to give up any portion of our plans for Saturday in order to get in more Con time, nor was I in any mood to give Wizard another 25 clams. So I figured, hey, I did the Louvre in under 2 hours - including time for lunch - so this will be no problem. And I'm happy to report that you can do a major comic con in 3 hours; you pretty much have to run, though, and be prepared for the fact that while you'll be able to see everything, you can't really look at much. I had a good time, though, and squeezed a ton of stuff in, surprisingly. I'll bullet-point this to make it easier.

  • I met Chris Staros and Owly creator Andy Runton at the Top Shelf booth, and I picked up a copy of Spiral Bound there, as well as an Owly book that I picked up for Liam. I had Andy address it to Liam, and told him that this would be my son's first comic book, and he seemed really appreciative.
  • I've been a listener to the Comic Geek Speak podcast for almost a year now, and have been a poster on their forum for almost as long so it was great to meet a few of the folks from that show - trivia guru Peter Rios, Moon Knight fan extraordinaire Kevin Moyer, and mom-to-be Tasha Deemer. We talked comics (obviously) and travel nightmare stories for awhile, and I told Tasha about the wonders of the Microwave Steam Sterilizer. No new parent should be without one. Sterilize bottles the old-fashioned way for a few days, and you'll agree with me.
  • Talked Gumby for awhile with the publisher of Bob Burden's new Gumby book; I forget the guy's name now. Crap. Anyway, I told him how I loved the two Gumby books Burden did with Art Adams for Comico in the 80s, and he said those are being collected with some new Adams material somewhere down the line, which is great news indeed.
  • Shook Peter David's hand. I had nothing for him to sign, but I just wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his work over the years, to which he replied "Wow! Thank you so much!" So, you know, I thought that was nice.
  • Paul Sizer, who does Little White Mouse, was giving away free copies of his latest LWM mini-series, as well as selling copies of Moped Army and the LWM omnibus. Took the freebies, bought nothing. I'm a bad person. Sorry, Paul. I told him I've been wanting to check out his work for awhile now, though, based on Johanna's glowing reviews in the past. So he pulls out this sketch he did for her - it's Johanna herself, wielding her giant hammer of snark. Awesome illustration - I hope she posts an image.
  • Speaking of awesome illustrations, I got an amazing Zatanna sketch from Jim Mahfood. I'll have to post an image later. I've been a big fan of Jim's since he did the Generation X Underground Special for Marvel and the Kevin Smith books for Oni, so getting a sketch from him was a huge deal for me. And he seemed like a very cool, laid-back guy to boot.
  • Randomly stumbled across Steven Kerzner, a.k.a Ed the Sock from Much Music and G4's "Ed's Night Party," along with his co-host and wife, Liana K, who was dressed as Poison Ivy. They seemed kind of bored - they were on the edge of Artists' Alley, and it didn't look like many people had come up to them. Too bad, as they were very nice, even when I seemed really stupid. See, they had their own comic, and it looked to have two covers, and I put one I was holding back to get the cover I liked better. Ed (even when there's no puppet involved, I can't help but think of him as anything but Ed the Sock) tells me that they're the same book. I explain how I'm used to variant covers and everything, and he then flips the book over to show me that it is literally the same book, one cover on the front, one on the back. I felt kinda dumb, but I'm used to that; I'm reasonably book smart, but the real world frightens and confuses me most days. Anyway, I asked to get a picture - meaning I was hoping to get a picture of Ed and Liana - but the next thing I know Ed has my camera, and Liana stands up to put her arm around me. I'm not usually the type to get my picture with comic con ladies, but rejecting a beautiful redheaded Canadian/extended cable TV personality - who has a cute accent and is dressed as Poison Ivy, to boot - just seemed like the height of rudeness to me. Who's with me on this?
  • Fun costumey stuff - I saw two couples (I'm assuming they were couples, anyway) in really awesome costumes. One pair dressed as Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, and the others, two young teens, were dressed as Anakin Skywalker and Aerith from Final Fantasy VII. When I got a picture of the latter two, the Aerith-girl smiled very sweetly and gave me a plastic flower from her basket. Astoundingly cute moment, and I saved the flower for Erin, because I'm cool like that. Also saw the inevitable stormtroopers, and I finally asked one the question I've always wanted to ask those guys - just how many people in a given day ask 'em about the droids they're looking for. He told me that only one person had asked him that on Friday, and we both decided we were proud of Geekdom for its restraint.
  • Only really picked up a few trades, some indy books in Artists' Alley, two sketches (the Mahfood one and one by Atomika creator Sal Abbinanti), and one back issue (which, admittedly, I was pretty psyched to find for cheap).

There were a few other folks I met, but I'm suffering from Vacation Hangover and airplane-clogged ears at the moment, so I'm drawing a blank on the rest. Sorry, folks I left out, if you're out there. I'm sure I'll type about your books after I read them.

Anyway, the amazing thing about all this is that as much as it seems like I crammed in based on the above, there was so much more I missed. I wanted to meet the Mouse Guard guy and pick up a couple of issues, but the booth was crowded when I got there, and I never got the chance to go back. I breezed through the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and ACTOR booths, but didn't really have the time to buy anything to support their causes. Found a couple of cool books at the In-Stock Trades pavillion (it was so much more than just a booth - great job there, guys!), but didn't get to look around much. Stopped at the ALA booth, but only had time to grab some bookmarks and talk for a minute with the woman there about how librarians are really weird.

Some other Comic Geek Speak listeners were gonna meet up for food and drinks later, but after a day spent waiting and waiting and waiting, followed up by a real "hurry up and have fun" experience, I was pretty wiped, so Erin and I went down the street to Gibson's steak house, where I had one of the bigger ribeye sammiches I've ever had in my life and a tasty local beer called Goose Island Honker Ale, as well as half of Erin's chicken sandwich. We went back to the hotel, took some showers, collapsed in a heap, and fell asleep about 9, which our bodies, still on Eastern time, interpreted as 10, but might as well have been 11 million o'clock.

Day 2 details to follow soon. Though probably less detailed, because this was sort of tiring to write, thanks to Vacation Hangover (day after full-body craptacular feelings caused by travel instead of sweet, sweet booze). Can you have less-detailed details? There'll also be some pictures at some point, too, I'm sure.

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