Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2010 has ended. As a frequent attendee to the Rosemont convention since 1994 I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs. Before Wizard took over the Chicago Comic Con was easily considered the only sibling to the monster San Diego Comic Con. Chi-Con never tried to be San Diego, but it managed to have a similar vibe — it captured that cult love of all things comic book. Since that peak in the late 1990s the show has been on a steady decline, when Wizard took over many people felt the soul of the comic show fade, and weather it was economy, the promoter, or simply the evolution of the hobby the show withered for the good part of a decade. It started picking up in the last few years — I had a great time at the 2009 show, but the for the most part the fans didn’t seem to show up.
This year the fans showed up. . . in droves. When I arrived on Saturday about 2 hours after the doors opened there was a HUGE line outside the convention center. . . the line at the ATM machine was about 20 people deep, and it was difficult to navigate certain parts of the show floor due to a San Diego like crush of fans. The space was JAM PACKED with celebrities, exhibits, dealers and artists. It was supposed to be a big deal that Marvel and DC weren’t there, and while it would have been nice to have them at the show, to be perfectly honest I didn’t even realize they weren’t there until well after the show ended.
Of course my main objective at a show is non-sport cards, and for that Chi-Con 2010 was a strange show. There was only one exhibitor listed on the website. For whatever reason they didn’t even set up at the show. Derek Woywood had a small corner in a big booth — so small in fact that my first pass through the dealer area I didn’t even notice his set up. In fact when I finished going through the dealer area for the first time I was pretty disappointed. . . I hadn’t found a single trading card dealer. A couple of folks with a few random vintage cards were set up, but that was it. Half way through my second pass I ran into Derek. He had an impressive amount of stuff given the small space available to him in the booth. I thumbed through a couple of boxes of chase cards, but didn’t find anything I had to have. . . then I noticed some boxes of Pop Century on the shelf. The boxes were very fairly priced like all Derek’s boxes. . . but I didn’t jump on ‘em quite yet.
After leaving Derek’s booth I headed to the front corner of the convention. Oddly, behind the exhibitor section there were more dealers. These dealers were sort of mixed in with the celebrities and exhibits, focused on finding card dealers I totally missed this section of the convention until Derek pointed it out. Triangle cards was set up on an impressive six tables back in the corner. Initially slated to share a booth someone else Triangle hit the jackpot when they were given permission to take over tables that remained empty after the start of the show. Tony had some deals at his table too, I picked up a couple of David Mack sketches from Iron Man 2.
The day had certainly turned around. . . starting with the fear of not having any cards to finding a couple of sketches and some boxes things were definitely improving. The last stop in the convention was Artist’s Alley, with the goal of finding Sad Little’s booth. Nate was manning his booth, and we had great conversations about what was new with Sad Littles since I interviewed them for my last article in Non-Sport Update. The company has been doing well, and it’s nearly impossible to not root for Nate. The guy made a sets of exclusive promo cards for Chicago-Comic Con. . . most manufacturers don’t even bother to show up, but Nate brings free stuff. In fact he gave me a handful of promo sets to give out. If you’d like one, and couldn’t make the show drop me an email or post a comment. After a long conversation I walked away from Sad Littles with a pile of stuff to open. . . now were talkin!
The rest of artist’s alley was a bit of a blur. Bill Maus was there and had P’ups artist exclusive cards for $40 a pop, not a bad price. There were other sketch artists as well, but at this point in the night I was broke, and tired so I headed for the door. . . but not before picking up a handful of Pop Century boxes from Derek.
Chicago Comic-Con 2010 was a BLAST. Unfortunately it seems like card collectors have given shows the cold shoulder this year. Chatter on various web forums about Chi-Con was virtually non-existent, so while the show was packed with fans, I really have no idea how many card people made the trip. I personally appreciate Nate, Derek and Tony putting in the effort and cost to set up, and I hope it was worth their time — they all seemed satisfied or happy when I spoke with them. . .
Other notes about the con. . . bringing in big name celebrities definitely brings in fans, and it gives the show a good, exciting vibe. They had a bunch of tables set up this year near the food — finally lots of tables! The volunteers for the show seemed much more ‘together’ and in general happier than they have before. Saturday at noon I had to park on the top floor of the parking deck. . . that’s never happened to me before. There may have been other spots somewhere in that deck, but when I left the show the entire top floor was covered with cars. Some dude was in a Stormtrooper suit at a urinal. . . I desperately wanted a picture of that because it was SO FUNNY.
The entire show from top to bottom felt better than it has in 10 years. . . I can’t wait for 2011!