Lately my life is chaos. . . selling houses, moving and trying to buy a new house all while trying to plan a wedding. . . it is chaos, so it shouldn’t have been all that surprising that forgot to order my tickets to this show until the last minute, and really it’s not a shock that I spent preview night doing something other than going to the show. I wouldn’t have guessed I would be spending the night in my laundry room, hunkered down in front of my furnace trying to figure out why the blower would no longer turn on. The furnace guy wanted over $600 to fix the problem. I gave him his $99 diagnostic fee and ordered the failed part on eBay for $135. Why is any of this relevant. . . because life outside of the convention skews ones perception of the show. . . I went to bed Thursday night exhausted after spending all day at work, having written an offer to buy a house over lunch, and coming home after work to immediately meet with the furnace guy and spend 3-4 hours after he left working on getting the blower up and running.
The alarm clock wasn’t my friend Friday morning, but I rose, got my things together and headed towards the show. Traffic was bad — it always is in the suburbs on Friday during rush hour, but I didn’t realize I was driving head first in to a bunch of road construction around the convention center. It didn’t delay me too badly, but it was obnoxious. I happily paid the $13 to park in their parking garage — the last show I attended in Rosemont was The National Sports Card Convention last year. My friend and I decided to save some coin my parking in the very cheap lot down the street and walking. It seemed like a great idea walking to the show, but the walk back after the show sucked — a lot.
The ticket lines were very short, I was coming down the escalator into the ticket area about 5 minutes after 9. The blue wrist band was slapped around my wrist, I headed over to the freebie table and picked up a couple of magazines and walked right into the show. It dawned on my as I walked into the show that I was wearing a wristband and not a badge. This typically isn’t an issue for me as there are very few shows I ever attend for more than one day. . . but this was one of the few I tended to come back for more of.
Cruising through the dealer area on my first pass scoping out bargains and tables to come back to I noticed that many tables (10-15%) were still covered, or still being set up, which was kinda odd and concerning. Stopped by Derek Woywood’s table and checked out some of his new stuff — nice stuff, but nothing I had to have on my first pass. Dave Moulder was next — his table was jammed with stuff I hadn’t seen before. I hung out there for a while picking through stacks of cards and chatting with Dave, Donna (who cracks me up) and their kids. Eventually, after about an hour, I tore myself away from Dave’s table with a stack of great cards and I was thrilled with my first purchase of the day. By now all of the dealers were set up and ready to go, there were only a few empty tables scattered through the dealer area. I found Ed Webb at Sci-Fi Cards and his daughter set up at nearly the same place as they were last year. Ed and I had a good chat, as always and I thumbed through his discount bins. Walking away empty handed for now. The rest of the dealer floor yielded booths for Triangle Cards and K & J as well as a few other dealers selling scattered non-sport stuff.
Next stop was Artists Alley. . .
It was getting kinda close to lunch time and the show was starting to feel busy. A lot of fans gathered around many of the artists in artists alley. Right in the first row I ran into Nate Ohlendorf — purveyor of sadlittles.com and the upcoming Legends and Lore set. Nate’s a cool guy, we had a great discussion and I inquired about Legends and Lore artist return sketches. . . I asked for a ‘Sad Little Dragon,’ shook hands with Nate and headed down the aisle to return later. The rest of artists alley was really pretty busy. I saw a number of artists like Jim Kyle and Katie Cook who were chatting with other folks. Jake and Matt Minor were hanging out I skimmed through their sketch binder and talked with them for a bit. They are good fun guys to talk to if you are ever walking around a con and they are there strike up a conversation with ’em. By this point I was really hungry so I sorta flew through the rest of artists alley and headed towards the concession stand. Standard fare here, a bit short on chairs, which isn’t unusual for a convention — you’d think they would figure that out at some point and load the food area with seats. Ohh well.
Then I was off to celebrity/manufacturer land. . .
A TON of celebrities were all over at this thing. There were a bunch of empty tables for ‘Saturday/Sunday Only’ folks, but there were also a lot of celebrities, and the lines were really short for a lot of these guys. If I was ‘in’ to celebrities this would have been awesome as I could have hung out and chatted with these guys at my leisure. As it it isn’t my thing I just checked everyone out and smiled a lot as it really was pretty cool. The manufacturer section seemed a little light, I guess. . . this is another area of the show I don’t tend to hang out in much so I didn’t even know Marvel and DC weren’t set up until Jake Minor mentioned it to me. There was a lot of other stuff set up though. . . a bit smaller than last year, probably — but more than made up for by the massive increase in star power at the celebrity tables.
The final round. . .
Back through the show again, trying to take some pictures, and walking more slowly trying to take in each booth and search for hidden gems. Really, I’m a horrible journalist because I feel kinda dumb taking pictures of stuff. . . I hate asking people if I can take a picture, but I did manage to pop a few snaps off. In wandering I found a guy with a box of animation stuff — buried in there was an original animation drawing of Aragorn from Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings cartoon, for $20 I thought it was a cool pick up. I have no clue what it’s ‘worth.’
Nate was MIA when I returned to his table, but he left my sad little dragon with his table mate. It’s awesome. I really wanted to get a pic with Nate, but I never made it back again. Sorry I missed ya, Nate — spectacular card — thank you! Eventually I found by way back to Ed’s table and had a pack of Razor Ink Archives in my fingers. . . the first pack was good — Erica Durance. . . I should have quit while I was ahead: two more pack yielded Laura Bertram from Andromeda and Jesse Metcalfe from Smallville. After that I made a beeline to Dave Moulder’s table. He was holding some Ghost Whisperer San Diego boxes for me — for $65 a box I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t help myself at Dave’s table and wound up picking through stacks of cards again. . . mostly looking at stuff I knew little about, but thought was cool. It was my undoing, and I wound up with a HUGE stack of cards again. . . after cutting it down twice. . . it was still more than I wanted to spend so I had to cut back on my GW boxes. . . I didn’t pull a Jennifer Love Hewitt autograph, but Dave really hooked me up and traded me a bunch of stuff from my GW boxes and a little cash for one he pulled — thanks Dave! Ohh, and Dave — PLEASE come to Paul’s show — you still have a TON of stuff I want, and I promise I will bring you a crap-ton of stuff in trade.
By this point my wallet was empty, my bag was full and my feet felt like someone was beating them with a cane. It was only 5:00, but I was done. . . sadly I missed out on a lot of stuff. . . There are several artists I wanted to chat with, and a few dealers I didn’t really get a chance to scope out. . . perhaps I’ll head back tomorrow — you never know.
So, at the end of the day — it was a really great show. . . Sure there were typical Wizard things that were a bit off (like the wrist bands, not enough chairs, etc), but the dealer floor was excellent — bigger than last year, there were a ton of celebs, and a bunch of artists. It’s not quite what the show was before Wizard took over, but it’s the best Chicago Comic Con I’ve been to in years (probably since the last year Inkworks was there). Hope everyone has fun, and I hope the dealers do well at the show — they all seemed happy when I spoke with them, but that was only on Friday. . .
Now. . . back to Chaos, unless I can squeeze in one more day of diversion tomorrow. . .
More pics including a few shots of dealer tables and more shots of the floor are available here.