With today, Wizard World Chicago 2010 is in the bag. I crashed last night, and just got up a little while ago.
Whoa! This is a long entry! You type fast! Well, yes, I do, but I cheated in this case. I was typing up thoughts and ideas as I went around the show floor on Kylie. I definitely need to get a hi-cap battery for her, his 2.5 hours doesn't cut it when I'm really on the move (they make fives, and if you go aftermarket, eights).
So, what does a fully charged MP3 player, a wallet full of twenties, and a smart ass attitude get you? Hold on to your wigs and keys, and join me for another run through the trenches....
HOW TO GET AS MUCH ATTENTION AS A COSPLAYER WITHOUT GIVING UP YOUR RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE – Okay, see this here? This is an official Caf-Pow glass from the NCIS fan shop on CBS.com. If you're looking for a Christmas gift for an NCIS fan and you have some extra cash, they also have a full-size Bert The Farting Hippo doll. I'm not suggesting anyone get one for me. I've already ordered one.
Anyway, realizing that the weather and the time could dehydrate me major, I took with a two-gallon cooler and loaded it up with iced tea and took my Caf-Pow glass. Any time I ran out, I returned to my car and refilled. Beat paying the convention expoteria prices.
On the Thursday preview night, five people asked me where I got the glass.
On Friday, another twelve.
I stopped counting after that.
So, either wear a Linux shirt or carry a Caf-Pow glass. Do both at once, and you'll have lots of conversation without having to pose for a single picture.
CHANGE OF PLANS – Didn't get around to those Thor sketches, I just didn't have as much money as I'd hoped, and time just backfired on me. Got a few sketches of Rhapsody and Melody, though. So the Thor stuff waits until next year, when I'll hopefully have more resources.
...AND I'M ON A CONVENTION FLOOR – Ladies, look at your man. Now look at me. Now look at your man. Now look at me. Now look at your man. Sadly, he is not me, he's dressed like a Sith lord crawled out of the remnants pile. But he can at least smell like me.
Not only is this the coolest costume, not only was he the most comfortable cosplayer in the wonky climate control of the convention center, but you know this is one con goer who at least showers!
(Side note: as you can see, the guy had a sense of humor. Not only did the Internet radio show on the floor interview him, but a Wonder Woman cosplayer got in on the act faster than you could say, "Chocolate thunder!")
I'VE BEEN WORKIN' IN THE COAL MINE, GOIN' DOWN DOWN – Got a little insider info about Archie and what they look for in pitches. I just contacted the editor to see if I can run an idea past him.
Also, I was talking with Ape Entertainment about another shoujo project I'm cooking up, Quantum Redshift. They are curious and told me to put together a pitch.
It'll be a while before I hear anything, but don't be surprised if Raff and the gang and/or Rhapsody and Melody wind up taking a little vacation for a while.
ON SECOND THOUGHT, BRING ON THE WESTIES – Getting there on preview night Thursday, there was some other sort of gathering. All the guys dressed in smart suits and the women dressed in something resembling a nun's habit. No big deal, you know me, religious tolerance and all that jazz.
Until I wound up in the elevator with one and saw the folder he was holding -- “Dianetics.”
Jesus tapdancing Christ!
Bit my tongue, I wasn't there to cause a scene. But I ran the convention under a Canopy Of Crazy.
I'm guessing there weren't any channers there. There were a couple of guys with Guy Fawkes masks, but if they tried to hassle the Scientologists, I don't know.
OBJECTIVISM WASN'T THIS HARD TO FIGURE OUT – What the hell is “bazinga,” why is it on T-shirts, and why should I give a shit?
DRIVEN TO WIN -- Driving up to the convention center is always amusing, as it is right at the major traffic hub for O'hare International Airport, the busiest airport in the world. I want to get to the con bright and early Saturday, so I am almost there. I just have to get past the final toll booth, an automated set-up that splits between River Road and I-190.
Well, traffic inspires all sorts of bad behavior. As I'm creeping up and patiently waiting for an opening into the right turn lanes (it took twenty minutes to go a quarter of a mile), I'm in the leftmost lane. A minivan trying to merge in front of an SUV almost fender bends. The woman driving the SUV gets out right in front of me to read the guy the riot act.
I then realize I'm in the leftmost line and my car, the Angry Red Dragon, is a compact. I easily move to the left and make it all the way to the stop light for the left turn lane. I go down to a hotel, turn around in the parking lot, and am on my way, unlike everyone jamming up the right turn lane. God gave us brains and opposable thumbs. Too bad only one sees heavy use.
ASPIRIN IS A MIRACLE DRUG, AND HOW! -- Man, this weekend really ground me down. Migraines and aching muscles. I am presently writing this having downed a couple of aspirin to keep the throbbing at bay. Seriously, it felt like the chair was moving one way and my head was moving the other.
SNUBBED – Didn't see the family truckster from Vacation anywhere. Some stars are just so demanding.
TO BOLDLY GO AWAY FROM WHERE MAN HAS GONE BEFORE – I have a copy of the Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator for the Atari 2600. It is signed by Sam Pahlanuk, the designer of the original arcade game. With Shatner at the ChicagoCon, I thought about getting him to sign it as well. After all, Pahlanuk's signature impresses me. Shatner's would impress everyone else.
My plan hit a snag when I was informed that, at a recent convention, Shatner was charging $60 for an autograph. So I decided to check when I got there.
$60. The most expensive sig at the convention.
AND NOW, A RANT – I try not to complain about celebrities charging for autographs. I mean, lots of people will just flip them and sell them on eBay. When you can sign an index card and suddenly make it worth more than a whole box of the things, I can see people wanting at least a little of the money for their effort. It is their brand that gives it value, after all.
However, there's a downside. And it's that people that genuinely want an autograph are priced out. I've already seen this with original comic book art. My own collection is small because it is all I can afford. The cheapest Pogo strip I've seen is $600. Greg Horn charges between $800 and $1200 for a commission. Don't get me wrong, you get what you pay for with him, and he's totally worth it (he doesn't just draw the characters, he creates actual scenes). And some of these things are totally worth the big bucks. But it's like sitting in the restaurant and not being able to eat. I just wonder how much of the money is the genuine worth of the item and how much is, “This person is just going to resell it, I might as well make some money off the sale in advance.” It's understandable, just a little sad.
THE INTERNET MAKES YOU STUPID -- There was a guy dressed as Pedobear there.
Just like at every major fandom convention from anime to comics.
The joke is officially over.
HIT THE ROAD, JACK, AND DONCHA COME BACK NO MO' – So, as I mentioned, Rod Blago, our former governor, was there to sign autographs for $50 each and have pics for $80. So, how did the male Paris Hilton do?
He gets there Saturday and they announce over the PA that Blago is there and available for autographs.
The ENTIRE CONVENTION HALL BOOED.
Now, there was still a crowd taking pics and meeting him, which is odd. Where are these Blago fanboys and fangirls coming from? At least William Shatner flew a starship.
WITH SINCEREST APOLOGIES – Mickey Dolenz was there. According to the sign, you could get your picture taken with him for $40.
Nothing personal, dude. I love the Monkees, I think you're swell (I got a set of signed drumsticks and talked to him a little), but for $40, I'd rather have my picture taken with Ami Dolenz. And I'd definitely rather have a picture with her than with Angie Everhart. Better quality B movies. Hell, Linda Blair and Richard Roundtree were there, and that's some real bang for your B movie dollars. Just one, Bordello Of Blood, and a bunch of erotic thrillers doesn't cut it.
HOW TO GIVE AN INDUSTRY PRO THE RED ASS – So, one of my friends, an industry pro, is there and working on his sketch commissions. A woman cosplaying as Tinkerbell is looking at his table. They are socializing and talking about how worn out they are from the weekend.
He tells her, “Well, you just have to sprinkle a little of that pixie dust on yourself and you'll be fine.”
She started reaching into a bag on her belt.
He held out a hand saying, “Nononono!” while trying to cover the artwork he was doing.
She pulled out a handful of glitter and blew it off her hand and onto him.
He was not happy.
Remember the flaw in the Golden Rule – do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.
WILL THE MYSTERY GUEST SIGN IN PLEASE? -- At the Star Trek booth, they had placards listing all the actors. Including Brent Spiner. I tried striking up a conversation with him.
Wasn't Brent Spiner.
He couldn't figure out where my confusion was coming from. He was sitting right under Brent Spiner's name placard, and he never told me who he was. In fact, at first, he played along as a gag and only stopped when he realized I was taking him seriously.
I plead innocence. I know lot of celebrities don't look the same off camera and out of make-up as on, especially when you haven't seen them in a movie or TV show in something like ten years or more (Colin Baker has really changed since his Doctor Who days. And I've seen candids of Elle Macpherson. She looks incredible when she's modeling, but that's because of body position and such. The candids, when she's dressed and standing normal? You'd never guess. In fact, she doesn't look curvy, she looks downright scrawny).
I eventually saw the real Brent Spiner and felt like a chump for being so wide of the mark. Didn't have the guts to say anything to him, though.
Continuing my trend of getting identities really really wrong, I saw a woman by the entrance who looked and dressed a lot like Spike Trotman, the woman behind the web comic Templar, Arizona. I went up and asked how the comic was doing. When she looked at me blankly, I asked if she was Spike Trotman.
She grabbed a fistful of her hair and snarled, “I'M A WOMAN!”
I know. So is she. It's her pen name
I have a general rule that I do not refer to a woman who pisses me off as a “bitch”. I consider the word inherently chauvinist, since it is only used to demean women. Men aren't called bitches. So let me use this to reaffirm and recognize her gender and say, What a bitch!
Oh, and if you show up at a convention and I don't recognize you and refuse to hazard a guess, now you know why.
UNDER DA SEA, UNDER DA SEA – So I found these resin statues at a booth.
Asuka seems uncharacteristically happy. It's a good look for her. And Rei may not be bursting at the seams with joy, but she doesn't seem her usual gloomy emo self.
What the hell are you staring at?
DREAMS DO COME TRUE! -- Ever since the days when I went to Acen, I've wanted to get a picture of myself with Sailor Jupiter. She was my favorite character on Sailor Moon. But when I brought my camera, the Sailor Scouts had fallen out of vogue, and then ACen and then the anime fandom pissed me off and I gave up.
So I'm wandering around on Saturday, and there's a girl cosplaying as Sailor Jupiter.
I politely ask for a picture with her. She agrees. So I now have that picture I've wanted for years.
There is only one thing left on my bucket list to check off. There's a woman in the Chicago area who goes to Wizard every year and was also at C2E2 this year. She cosplays as Ariel, The Little Mermaid. I would love a picture of her holding one of my Sound Waves comics. I don't know who she is and I have no contact with her, so I'm relying on dumb, blind luck for this to happen. Don't know if it will, but I can dream.
WE BUY SMART AND PASS THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU! -- Only the program book was a freebie this year. There was a show schedule printed ledger size, but that was it. You didn't even get a goodie bag per say. They had a rack of plastic bags by the door to take if you wanted one. It's a far cry from the days when they had video tapes and shit in there.
AND PEOPLE THINK I'M WEIRD FOR THE MERMAID THING – A guy got a picture of a couple of cosplay girls posing in a hot, lesbian embrace. He walked away, and I heard him say to his buddy, “I'm gonna masturbate to this soooooooooo hard.”
Ladies, line forms to the right.
THERE'S NONE BORN EVERY MINUTE – Over the intercom on Saturday came the announcement, “Megan Fox, please report to Booth XXX, your security detail is waiting for you.”
Everyone around me rolled their eyes. I went just to see who would fall for it. No takers.
I was next to another booth when an intercom announcement came on, “Miss Anderson, your car keys are at the lost and found. Miss Pamela Anderson, your car keys....” I didn't hear the rest. I tilted my head back and screamed, “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE KIDDING?!?”
I was applauded by everyone at the surrounding booths.
I understand it is a “pop culture” convention now, and that they trying to add some fun touches to the whole thing. But that just smacks of junior high grade pranksterism.
I KNEW IT! -- There were a couple of women cosplaying as current Power Girl, with the cape on one shoulder and the rope under the armpit. I got a picture of one and then leaned in and asked, Isn't that uncomfortable?
She was about to say something. Then the smile literally melted off her face and she said, “Yeah.”
Just something to keep in mind when designing costumes for comic book characters.
TOTALLY SELF-SERVING PORTION – Met the lead guitarist and vocalist for Ten Minute Vision. And he got to meet Peter G, Polish mangaka and sarcastic jackass. He's working on some new projects, and I showed him Sound Waves and Stress Puppy. So it was pretty awesome for each of us.
DON'T NEED A GUN TO BLOW YOUR MIND -- Scott Rosema totally digs Sound Waves!
READING IS FUNDAMENTAL – Not a lot of comics being sold in Artist Alley. Most people there were hawking prints or commissions. Percentage-wise, the lowest turnout for self-publishers I've ever seen.
In fact, the actual show floor itself was distinctly smaller. Artist Alley shrunk by at least two rows, and one row was occupied by the Star Wars fan group 501st Battalion and a guy selling original comic art.
The actual show floor itself? Wizard was in a regular booth space instead of their "midway" style booth, and they were sharing space with Geek Chic. Actually, Wizard just had a tiny little portion of the double booth, Geek Chic was totally spread out.
Lots of open space here and there in the dealer area, with no booths set up there. This was actually great for Saturday, as it gave some spillover room for people wandering the aisles. Also, a significant portion of the publisher's area was taken up with a snack bar in addition to the two standing structures already on the convention floor.
Lest you think this could be a bad sign, I'm not sure. The crowd turnout was pretty nice, and on Saturday, it was totally nuts. So Wizard should survive until next year. I just wonder if it will survive after that.
PERSISTENCE IS KEY – Rich Johnston, editor of Bleeding Cool and epic level prankster, was going to be there this weekend at the Avatar booth. I grabbed both of my Chase Variant comics (regular cover and Liefeld cover) and tried to catch him.
Johnston was constantly running the floor, so I never ran into him. But I made a point that, every time I completed a circuit that took me around the booth, I would ask.
Sunday afternoon. 1430. I stop by and ask if Johnston is there.
They point him out to me.
We talk for a minute, he appreciates me reading his site, and he loved that I had both Chase Variant comics for him to sign. He personalized them, and I went away very very happy.
COSPLAY CONFIDENTIAL – The most popular costume for the guys was a toss-up between Ghostbusters and re-imaginings of Storm Troopers. Last year's Storm Trooper in a kilt has apparently touched off a competition. The best was the Summer Fun Storm Trooper, whose armor had one of those umbrella hats, a lei, a beach towel around the waist, and a beach ball. The guy was a total ham posing for pictures. Behind that were a lot of John Stewart Green Lanterns.
For women, Supergirl carried the day, but Tinkerbell put up a good run for second, followed by Alice In Wonderland. On a technicality, Princess Leia put up good numbers. See, the only Slave Girl Leia was the woman from America's Next Top Model. All the others I saw were Leia in her “New Hope” threads or Ice Planet Hoth threads. Same character, but different looks, so not sure if that counts.
The best thing about this year, though, was the variety. First, several were going for indie comics. One guy dressed as Mike Aldred's Madman. Another did the Flaming Carrot (he asked me if there was a strip club nearby. I told him, Go eat some Wheaties, Jim Morrison. Sadly, you have to have read the comics to get those jokes). One woman was wearing a black long sleeve shirt and blue jeans. Looked very fashionable. Then she picked up a crimson trenchcoat. I dashed over with my camera and said, “I FOUND YOU!” Yup, Carmen Sandiego.
The biggest relief was that the costumes people were wearing were actually appropriate for their body type (well, for the most part. One Superman was way too skinny, which is the exact opposite of my usual complaint). So there were no hysterical blindness triggering episodes this time. One woman was what I believe is refered to as a BBW, came up with this Dolly Deathstar costume. Shoulda gotten her phone number, she seemed like a lot of fun.
Saturday was the busiest day to get snaps. I actually ran out of disks for my camera and had to resort to my cell phone.
And so ends this year's run. I'll post scans of the sketches I got a little later, right now, I could use another nap, I'm halfway done with the first script for Quantum Redshift, and I still have to do the Stress Puppy strip for today. So I leave you with the other convention pics I got but didn't fit up above. Peace. God.
here we go