I’ve grown to love Wizard World Chicago. Yeah, it’s too close to San Diego (though they’re correcting that next year) and there’s not as much to do as at some of the bigger shows, but its being smaller and everyone’s still being tired from SDCC gives it a laid back feel that I’m learning to like a lot. Especially after attending the hectic San Diego con last year.
I drove down to Chicago from Minneapolis/Saint Paul with some friends, sketch card artists Grant Gould, Jessica Hickman, and Darla Ecklund. All three of them have worked on some pretty nice trading card sets including ones for Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Wizard of Oz, and upcoming sets for Marvel and DC. Since they have tables in Artist Alley, they were nice enough to let me make my home base there. Grant shared a table with Katie Cook, another great sketch card artist.
Once we got there and everyone was set up, we learned that they’d all been put on a row of tables that had intentionally been made up entirely of female creators in a “Women of Comics” section. Grant was the only guy in the row, but he didn’t complain. Also on the row was another sketch card artist, Cynthia Cummens.
Once I got settled, it was time to start wandering. At the Barbarian Battles arena I checked out a fight between a very young, Mjolnir-wielding Captain America and a much taller opponent. Cap won, naturally.
Back in Artist Alley I tracked down Jonnie Allen at the AKA Comics table and picked up my long-awaited copy of The Miscellaneous Adventures of Stykman #3. The first couple of issues have only been in stores for a couple of months now, but I was fortunate enough to get to see them both last year. Happily, the next couple of issues will be out by the end of the year, and Jonnie tells me that a trade paperback is coming after that. There’s also been some Hollywood interest, which is exciting. I’ve said it before, but Stykman is a great all-ages book (in the correct sense of “all-ages”) and deserves a bigger following. Jonnie also tells me though that Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrell from Battlestar Galactica) and the folks at G4 are big fans, so hopefully the word will continue to spread.
I also picked up the latest mini-comic from Cori Doerrfeld, who’s one of my favorite artists. Cori has done some wonderful children’s books, but she also has a darkly comedic side that she lets show through in her unique adaptation of Little Bunny Foo Foo. I’ll do a thorough review (with scans) of all these books another time.
I visited with Rich Koslowski (Three Fingers, The King) and picked up his new, illustrated novel The List. Cannot wait to dig into that. I also congratulated him on his Marvel Comics Presents gig writing the new Guardian character from Omega Flight. I’m a huge Alpha Flight fan and a huge Koslowski fan too, so that’s a dream pairing right there. Rich also had some cool Guardian prints he was giving away with purchases of one of his books, so I made sure to grab one of those.
Next I talked to Stephen Sistilli, the artist on Arcana’s Koni Waves. Stephen has a wonderful style that reminds me of ‘60s spy posters and comics. He’s a great talent and someone I’m going to be watching. I made sure to pick up a Koni Waves collection and art book.
There were a lot of folks there with books coming out from Archaia Studios Press next year. I talked to Jeremy Bastian, the creator of Cursed Pirate Girl, and Tom Pinchuk, writer of Hybrid Bastards!. Both have exciting books and I saw some great preview art from each. I’m very much looking forward to them. Pinchuk also had available the first issue of a self-published, sci fi series he wrote called Ruin, so I picked that up. The first issue of another Archaia book, Awakening by Nick Tapalansky and Alex Eckman-Lawn, just came out and Nick was around with that issue to sell, so I grabbed it too.
One of the cool things about Artist Ally is that you can pretty easily find some creators there who you’d have to wait in nasty-long lines to see during scheduled signing times out in the main areas. Matt Wagner and Phil Hester were both there, but I’ll have to talk to them tomorrow. I did get to meet J. Scott Campbell though and pick up one of his sketch books. His girlfriend, dressed in a Leia outfit, was there too and nice enough to pose for a picture.
I also ran into fellow Newsarama bloggers Lisa Fortuner and Melissa Krause, and it was very nice to finally get to meet them face to face. And I got to spend some time with the very cool Kody Chamberlain (Tag, Punks).
After a while I moved over to the other side of the convention center to the small press area. I went to the Ape booth and talked to Steve Bryant for a minute and congratulate him on the success of Athena Voltaire. I’ve been an Athena fan since its web comic days and I get a thrill every time I see a new issue on the racks of my comic shop. While I was there though, I also talked to Micah Farritor about his Ape book White Picket Fences as well as his run on Rick Remender’s Strange Girl. I love Micah’s stuff and I got caught up on White Picket Fences while I was there. (I wish I could remember the name of the other WPF guy I talked to at the Ape booth. I’m sorry!)
Next I moved over to Moonstone and picked up a back issue of their Bulldog Drummond one-shot from a while back. I’ve been watching some old Bulldog Drummond movies lately and want to see Moonstone’s take on the character. I also got to meet editor-in-chief Joe Gentile. Moonstone’s publishing a Western comic I co-wrote called Dust to Dust (Jesse James vs. Machine Gun Kelly, if you’ll excuse the plug), so we chatted about that a bit and by sheer coincidence the book’s artist, Joel Vollmer, came by just as we were talking. I didn’t even realize Joel was here this weekend.
I roamed around a bit after that, visiting vendors (like Tonner Character Figures and their amazing collection of collectors’ dolls) and looking at costumes. Eventually I ended up at the X-Men panel where we had to wait a while for the technical part of the presentation to get set up. Fortunately, Skottie Young (New X-Men) was on hand to entertain the crowd with ring tones from his phone and a hilarious primer on Chicago food.
After that I went to the DC Nation panel, which was particularly exciting for the father and son I was sitting next to. After Dan Didio let a profanity slip, he was reminded by the other panel members that there were kids in the audience, pointing to the kid near me as an example. By way of apology, Didio asked the kid to come up on stage and sit next to Bob Wayne for the rest of the panel. Any time someone asked a question Didio didn’t want to answer, he’d point to the kid who’d say, “Mayyyybe.” Ran into Melissa again afterwards, but I was hungry and she and Lisa were going to the Marvel panel next, so we didn’t talk long.
After a quick hot dog and Pepsi, it was back to Artist Ally again, this time to meet R.D. Hall, writer of Arcana’s American Wasteland series. R.D.’s an online buddy whom I’d never met in person, so it was great talking to him. Hope to hang out with him some more over the next couple of days.
Finally, I got over to Joel Vollmer’s table where he showed me some art from Dust to Dust. As any comics writer will tell you, it’s indescribably thrilling to see your thoughts and words translated into pictures on a page and this was no exception. Joel’s a talented guy and I’m way excited that he’s illustrating the book.
Overall, a fulfilling day. I’m pretty sure I’ve now met and talked to everyone I came here to meet and talk to. Which is good, because tomorrow will be chaotic and I’ll need to be able to chill even more and just see what happens. With any luck, I’ll be back here afterwards to tell you about it.