I think I’m going through withdrawal. . . Chicago Comic Con is over, the doors have closed, and everyone has gone home. I was fortunate to spend the entire day Friday at the show, and I was amped about returning on Saturday. Sadly my time at the convention was cut rather short by a light pole falling on my wife’s car Saturday afternoon. Thanks Buffalo Grove! She is fine, of course, or I wouldn’t be writing this. (although the car is totaled, which is why this was written days ago, but not published. . . buying a car sucks.)
Perhaps I can take with me that Friday felt like Saturday at the convention. The floor was hoppin’ the place was busy, not crazy, but busy and there was energy, lots of energy. I literally had to keep reminding myself that this was Friday. The crowds on Saturday were nuts, there were literally aisles I didn’t even bother trying to go down because they were too crowded to walk through.
We strolled up to the ticket counters as the con opened on Friday bought are tickets and were directed to the ‘line’ which was in hall D. Except that the line filled up all of Hall D, and extended all the way through the atrium at the convention center. We were towards the end of that monster line, and it wasn’t moving. At about quarter past 11 (the doors were supposed to open at 11), someone in a Wizard shirt walked along the line shouting “The main doors are now open!” Of course the line dispersed as we all headed for the much closer main entrance. . . only to be greeted at the Wizard security and volunteer staff . . . think La Fours from Mallrats. . . arms crossed blocking the entrance as if they were protecting some holy grail from a riotous mob of heathens. They informed us that the doors were not in fact open and that we needed to return to the line. Obviously this didn’t go over well with the crowd, but after surprisingly little protest the line into Hall D (the waiting room, apparently) began to reform, which is precisely when Team La Fours returned to tell us that the main entrance was indeed now open. I was of the first people back to main entrance, but it was immediately obvious that the guards at the entrance of the hall weren’t informed that it was open, but whatever, I just kept walking with the few hundred other folks around me. . .
Once in the doors I made a beeline to Nathan Ohlendorf and Jason Keith Phillips tables. I chatted with Jason for a few and checked out his amazing work — pick up this dude’s sketch book, it is impressive! Nate wasn’t around yet, and I was anxious to scan the floor, so we took off for the dealer area. . .
I was concerned about the lack of card dealers at the show, not a single was was listed in the exhibitor list, and only Derek Woywood admitted to being in attendance on Card Talk, but quickly after leaving Jason’s table I ran across Juniors. . . a card dealer that was actually listed on the exhibitor list, but I didn’t realize they were a card dealer! Juniors had an impressive spread, and I spent quite a bit of time at their table on Friday buying Breygent’s SDCC Mystery packs. Triangle cards was set up at the other side of the convention hall. Tony only had a small area where he was set up, but he had an vast array of cards available. Another dealer who mainly had other merchandise had a makeshift end cap of card binders. I don’t recall this dealer’s name, but it’s where I broke the ice with my wallet at the convention. Tucked in the back of one of his binders were a pair of Conan sketches from Rittenhouse Archive’s 2003 release Conan: Art of the Hyborian Age. One of the sketches was a killer color Conan sketch by Warren Martineck. I had to have it, and the price was excellent! My next stop was Derek’s table, he had some boxes on shelves, and some great prices. Unfortunately he was unable to have a display case set up at this convention, and while I tried to go through his higher end cards it was very difficult to go through them out of a box. I ended up buying a couple of boxes from Derek, including a cheap box of Terminator Salvation for $15, that yielded a great Treece sketch as well as a Jane Alexander autograph!
The artist and dealer areas were noticeably larger than last year, and the variety of products available was excellent. According to the dealers I spoke with business was bustling on Friday, and some even had an excellent preview night. By Saturday the dealers I spoke with were thrilled. I am definitely hopeful to see Juniors, Derek and Tony back in Chicago next August!
We took a quick stroll through Artists alley and I was really impressed with the number and quality of artists there. I was hoping to buy something from Stout, Easley and Elmore, but wasn’t able to find anything that tickled my fancy with those guys. The only art I purchased was a Magic the Gathering original watercolor for a mere $40! What a steal! I did find Nathan Ohlendorf in artists alley finally and picked up some of his Vampress Luxura sketches (which are really great), as well as packs from his newest release Dynamo 5.
Eventually we made our way to the rear food court, which actually had real food, as well as enough tables for people to find a space to sit and eat! That was an excellent change! We munched on some food and popped open packs of Dynamo 5, after we were done eating we ran into NSCF (nonsportscardforum.com) admin Anjee. The three of us opened some boxes Anjee picked up, then took back off for another trip around the floor.
I have to be honest it’s a bit of a blur, there was so much going on and so much to see. . . eventually the three of us were exhausted so we decided to break for the night and get some dinner. Of course I busted out the Breygent SDCC packs at dinner and we opened ‘em up finding lots of fun insert cards, including a sketch by Rhi Owens! Woo hoo! These packs really are great, the lenticular cards are among my favorite, but I am not a big fan of the line art hand colored cards. . . some artists did really interesting things on the line art cards, but others not so much.
We got home Friday beat, but ready to rest up for another day, and I did make it to the show Saturday briefly. I don’t think it mattered how long I would have been able to stay it wouldn’t have been long enough. I was hoping to see Bruce Campbell’s panel, but didn’t make it to that. . . in fact I didn’t spend much time in the celebrity area at all.
Epic. . . it’s not a word I throw around lightly, but perhaps this show was epic. . . I know I wish it wasn’t over. Wizard is on quite the roll with the Chicago Con, I hope they can maintain their direction for next year. My only real complaint was the whole debacle getting in to the convention — perhaps they weren’t prepared for such a large crowd.
Any dealers or collectors who missed this show really missed out. . . for a collector or pop culture fan this show was like Christmas in August. The most curious thing to me about this show is the utter lack of buzz about this convention (or most others, actually) on forums. I saw plenty of artists and other collectors at the show, and the dealers seemed very happy with the convention, but there is barely a peep about this show on any non-sport card boards. . . I wonder why. . . Perhaps it’s a shift of people moving away from posting on forums, but it’s clearly not a shift of people moving away from collecting. . . or going to conventions. . .