Convention Report | Wizard World Chicago 2005

wwc05hTales from the wild and wooly world of the biggest comics convention in the Midwest.

 

Some people are content to be passive comics fans. Not this guy. As one might expect from a guy who badgered the editors of his favorite pop culture rag until they added a comics section, I eat, drink, breathe, and sleep comic books, and there's few places where it's more enjoyable to bask in my obsession than Wizard World Chicago.

 

Because no comic convention is complete without the Fett man. Photo by Jason Green.Despite being bought out by Wizard, the Walmart of comics conventions, WWC somehow remains the best of both worlds: a 50,000+ person gathering of epic proportions (the nation's second biggest con, behind San Diego's Comic Con International) while still maintaining the freewheeling, flea market atmosphere of a smaller convention. Nowhere is this more notable than in Artist's Alley, where any comics creator can rent out a table in the hopes of selling some books and spreading the word. Comics royalty like David Mack (Kabuki) and Adam Hughes (Wonder Woman and JSA Classified cover artist, whose convention sketch list filled up within 10 minutes of the doors opening) rubbed elbows with the likes of Franchesco! (She-Dragon) and Steve Lieber (Whiteout), and for every famous creator, there were at least a dozen independent self-publishers, spread across the gamut of artistic styles. When you can find a book about a superhero with the power to control gravy (called Gravyboy, natch), you know you've seen everything. The Alley grows larger every year, this time spilling into three separate locations. Some artists were hard to find, but the search is half the fun.

 

The big dogs weren't slouching, either. DC brought the convention's guests of honor: Sin City creator Frank Miller and artist Jim Lee, who have united on All-Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder, the summer's biggest success story. At the pair's panel, Miller and Lee announced they would be continuing the book past their initial 6-issue run to riotous applause, and Miller attempted to bait editor Bob Shreck into announcing Wonder Woman's addition to the All-Star lineup with limited success. The big buzz of the convention, however, came from Marvel, where it was announced that not only had superstar writer Jeph Loeb (Superman/Batman) been coaxed from DC, but that Loeb would launch a new, as-yet-unknown project featuring the first art by fan favorite Joe Madureira (Battle Chasers) in 4 years.

 

A 6-foot tall Pikachu welcomes con-goers to the gaming area. Isn't he just too cute for words? Photo by Jason Green.It says a lot about the changing face of Image Comics that this year's booth was staffed not by any Image founders, but instead stocked with new blood like Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Tony Moore (Fear Agent), and Mark Englert (Capes). Other publishers also loomed large on the con floor, especially manga publisher Tokyopop, whose oversized goodie bags and Takuhai magazines were quite literally everywhere.

 

This barely scratches the surface of all there is to see and do at Wizard World. A pair of five-hour car rides is a small price to pay for three solid days of geekdom overdose packed with signatures, sketches, and shopping by day and playing drinking games to Marvel Comics trivia by night (if only I were joking…). Be sure to check back next month for the fruits of my labor, when I grill writer Jeph Loeb to get the skinny on his new, top secret project for Marvel, and keep an eye out for November's column, where publisher and Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen fills us in on the future of Image Comics. | Jason Green

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