Wizard World Chicago 2005 Day 1

Wizard World - Chicago August 5-7, 2005
This year I made myself a promise, I was going to enjoy myself. I wasn't going to wait in line or make myself crazy trying to get interviews for the website. The past two years, when I went, I spent my time trying to secure this exclusive figure or tickets for that event and it made the whole thing a bit of a bad time. This year I was convinced that I was going to do things differently. I was curious as to what the tone of the event would be especially since the recent flap about Wizard supposedly scheduling their anticipated Atlanta show the same weekend as Heroes Con a mere 250 miles away down the same highway. Not the best planning, and while Wizard claims that their plans were only tentative (something that's a bit hard to believe since the dates are featured in this years Chicago program), this all came to a head a few day before the convention and Wizard said that there would be no show in Atlanta in 2006. While it is the right move on Wizards part, it may have been made only because their hand was forced. Either way, with this dilemma taken care of, it seemed like there was nothing to prevent me from enjoying the weekend. And for the most part there wasn't, if you omit the searing pain I was feeling in my legs for some strange reason (my younger counterparts claim it's my advancing age), it was actually one of the best conventions I have attended. While there were noticeable absences from some of the vendors who were regulars, new vendors were around to help fill the floor. One thing that I must commend Wizard for is the expansion of Artists Alley. The past few years the alley has always seemed overcrowded, too many people in too little space, but this year with expanding things into the gaming section, it allowed the artists more room and made traveling the aisles a lot easier. In fact the whole floor space seemed to be reworked somewhat making traveling down the aisles, even the aisles of merchants that much easier.

Friday- I've always battled with myself on the first day as to where I should park, I know Saturday and Sunday, I'll be parking in the super secret cheap parking lot, but Friday is the day I tend to grab all my freebies so I usually park across the street (even though it takes about 30 minutes to get out of their Friday evening). I pulled by the front of the convention center about 8:15, and there was a line. I thought that this would mean that it was going to be packed; it just meant that they weren't letting people in until 8:30. I was actually in the second cattle pen this year, normally I don't get in that early, but figured since I have nothing else to do, I may as well see where I end up. I had made a few contacts with some people that I was hoping to run into like Will Norris, whose Comic Keeper database looked interesting. I was hoping to snag a demo copy of the software so that I could try it out and do a bit of a review of it for the page. Luckily, I got there early since there were only two copies left on the freebie table. I've been playing around with it and it has promise for a low cost comic database with reports, that is if you aren't handy with excel and pivot table reports. Another person I was hoping to run into was Michael Diaz, he writes a weekly column forwww.silverbulletcomicbooks.com , normally he has some contacts that help him update his reports from the show, but this year he wasn't sure so I offered to help. Fortunately for him, he found out that one of his fellow reporters from the site was going to be there so they could work together, but it would have been nice to talk to someone else working for a comic book site and see if I could pick up some pointers.
Well they started to let people in at 9:00 (advance ticket holders) and the day began. Two lines formed, one for the events, which I wish I had more enthusiasm for, but the whole idea of waiting in line to wait in line again is not something I support, and then those of us that want to just walk the floor. I went through the doors and immediately headed for the TokyoPop booth, they typically have the largest bags, so they are great for carrying you swag around in. From there I went to the DC boot and secured all the buttons, bookmarks, and posters I could want, and then off to the Lion's Gate booth. Lions Gate was a new booth this year, they were highlighting their current slate of genre films, like The Devils Rejects, the upcoming Saw 2 and Waiting. I was able to get a few posters from them and then it was time to walk around and see some stuff before the rest of the group showed up. I had about 30 minutes before the regular public got in so I did a quick run through of Artist's Alley to find out where our usual stopping points were, David Mack and Andy Lee. I also wanted to find out where Gene Colon and Walter and Louise Simonson were going to be since I am a big fan of the history behind the books. Someone who I wasn't sure would be there or not surprised me and showed up, that was Art Nodell, creator of the Green Lantern (Alan Scott). I always enjoy seeing him at the shows; he was one of the first big names that I remembered seeing, back at my first convention. It was good to see him there.
After finding all those folks, it was about 10 minutes until the rest of the public was going to be let in. I decided to go out into the lobby and see what the crowd was like and pick up my press badge. I picked up my badge and took a few pictures and decided to head back in until the rest of my group got there, and that is when I hit my first snag. You see, I was wearing both the badge I paid for (a three day pass) and the press badge and it gave one of the door guards a bit of trouble. Apparently the press badge superseded the paid-for badge. The lady, while being quite polite, stopped me and said I couldn't go back in. I asked why, since I just came out of there. She pointed to my press badge and said that unless I was escorted by some sort of staff, the press wasn't allowed in until 10:00. I then made sure she saw my paid-for-in-advance badge and said that I had already got in with that. She told me that I had to choose which badge I was going to wear to get in. I told her that I just came out and picked up the press badge, and she immediately assumed that I picked it up off the ground. Apparently there is some black market for the hard to get WW press badges. I assured her that by picking it up I meant walked over to the booth 10 feet from where she stood and picked it up there. After saying it the first time, you would think I wouldn't repeat the phrase "picked it up", we then went down the, I grabbed it off the ground, road once again. Mind you the whole time she is being unbearably polite so it's hard to get mad at her. So finally I asked her, "You mean that if I take off the press badge and put it in my pocket for the next ten minutes, I can walk in the door without any issues." She told me I was correct, but to make sure I had her confirm that my press badge was my own personal Scarlet Letter, disallowing me from my nerdapalooza for another 10 minutes, and again she confirmed my suspicions. At this point, I gave up, that's right the man was able to keep me down. The power of the press was nothing compared to the logic dictated by the Wizard World Security. I decided my feeble little mind was better off waiting in the lobby until the rest of the people I was waiting for showed up or 10:01 (I wasn't taking any chances- in fact I avoided her door all weekend). Anyway, since I had the initial head start, I was going to be able to help them figure out where to visit first.

My pals showed up around 10:30 or so and we were ready to take the floor. We had a first timer there, Rick, who was like a kid in a candy store. There was way too much for him to see that I think he kept losing track of where everyone else was, which was bad since Rick had neither a watch or a phone so tracking him down would have meant stopping by every booth that had anything to do with zombies, swords, or Star Wars (may as well search the entire floor then). Rick commented that we should have got him one of those tethers that parents use for their kids, but I knew that would be bad since he would just end up tying up the ankles of all the folks around him like one of those yippy dogs on a lease, although I've never seen Rick in a sweater so I don't know if that's a fair comparison. We spend the day walking around and talking to some artists and trying to line up some interviews via e-mail, which we will bring you later. Saturday was a good day of walking around and watching Rick take everything in and lining up some interviews and sketches for later.

The Crowd

Who is that guy with the pitchfork?

Erik Larsen

Mignola Batman

Batman Begins

Al's Briefcase

Item #1 on my Christmas List

Identity Crisis

JLA Classified

Batman Knightfall

Did I mention the Mignola Batman?

...and who disguised as...

Nice Looney Tunes Figures

Item #2 on my Christmas list

Clash of the Titans

Look out behind you!


Hellboy Figures

Hey, we know these people. Viitor Books- The Melhorn Crew, Arla, Bob and Brian with their new book the Tommy Toiletpaper Sampler. Stop by booth 1883 in Artist's Alley.

Wait- you mean to tell us our chances with the "ladies" would improve if we weren't wearing these costumes?

Al's Evening wear

This was the last guy in the event ticket line.
Al n' Ann's Collectibles

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