It all happens so quickly. . . It’s winter, then spring, then OMG Chicago Con is next week! As quick as it approached it’s over again. It always happens so quickly. Thankfully after having two major cons in a row cut short by family tragedies I was able to spend two days at the con, I have to admit I spent a lot of time looking over my shoulder and nervously checking my phone. This year everything made it out unscathed. . . except my wallet.
The 2012 Chicago Comic Con had a markedly different vibe than last year’s con. The first thing we noticed upon walking into the convention hall was that the long familiar arrangement of exhibitors on the left at the entrance, dealers in the middle and artists on the right was gone. In fact the entrance to the show was now into the middle of the hall, and straight when you walked in was a lounge area with different chairs and cushions, Star Trek props, and charging stations for your phones and things. It was a sweet idea, and that area was always busy. Behind the lounge was a few dealer tables, and behind them was the autograph section. The autograph section was essentially an island in the middle of the convention hall, and it was surrounded by dealer tables. The artists were now spread along the back of the hall with their tables going perpendicular to the dealer tables. A low rent district (less expensive tables) of dealer tables was in an adjacent area to the main hall. The low rent district is a fantastic idea, I’m all about having as many dealers as possible, and the number of dealers at the convention seemed larger than ever. It seemed like there were fewer exhibitors this year, but that could be due to them being more spread out than in previous years. The exhibitors that were set up seemed less vibrant than they have in previous years. I’m not sure, really how to describe it, but the exhibitors seemed slightly toned down.
I was thrilled with the fact that this years show took up so much floor space, there were tons more dealers, among them were a half dozen card dealers including Junior’s, Derek Woywood, Triangle Cards, Dave Moulder’s Toys and Games, K and J, and another dealer who I never could figure out the name of. There really was a fantastic card selection, and the prices were great. We spent most of the day Friday walking up and down the dealer aisles checking out cards, and haggling on prices, it was awesome having so much selection and so many places to buy from. When we finally made it to the artist area we were already exhausted, but we noticed that a large percentage of artists now have their own printed cards or sketch cards. Year after year we’ve noticed more and more artists peddling their own cards, but this year it felt like the year of the non-sport card. One of the exhibitors who was promoting a movie called Shadowland even created their own set for distribution at the show! Unfortunately there wasn’t a single non-sport card manufacturer at the show, however I did just read that Sadlittles.com is getting their wheels in motion for new sets in 2013, so perhaps we’ll see them in Chicago next summer!
The folks at Wizard decided to bring in some renowned fantasy artists to the show in 2012. My interest was piqued seeing the likes of Brom, Jeff Easley, Ken Kelly and Clyde Caldwell on the guest list. I’ve been after a Brom piece ever since he outbid me on one of his own paintings on eBay about 10 years ago! Thankfully Brom had quite a bit of artwork for sale, unfortunately a lot of it had already sold on Thursday. I hadn’t realized Thursday was more than a preview night until it was too late to go to the show, so I missed a few things that were available on Thursday — I’ll have to pay better attention next year! I was able to pick up a nice pencil piece by Brom. It sounded like Brom was having a great show so I am hopeful they’ll be back again as well! Jeff Easley was our next stop, he’s got to be one of the nicest, most low key guys around — I love his work, and I always enjoy buying from him. . . Saturday was no exception! I brought home a great little pen and ink piece from Jeff, it is the gem at the top of this post and was a bargain at $50. By the time I made it to Caldwell’s booth my art budget was already strained, so I didn’t pick up any of his work, but did look at a bunch of great pieces he brought as well. Sadly Ken Kelly was unable to attend. I was tempted to buy a few other pieces, including some great dinosaurs by Christopher Herndon. I really like Herndon’s work and will probably add a piece to my collection one day. There were certainly loads of other great artists there, but these were the folks I spent the most time checking out. If I had more money and more time I would have looked through many many more booths.
Exhausted we headed home to break our bounty of sealed products from Juniors and Derek. Sadly we used up all our luck buying art from Easley and Brom so the pulls weren’t great.
Saturday I headed back to the convention with family, we walked the dealer floor picking up tee-shirts and non-card stuff, it was a nice relaxed way to walk the convention floor and check out a lot of booths that I normally wouldn’t spend a lot of time at. Our big Saturday goal was to check out the Bruce Campbell panel. It has been years since I’ve been to a panel at a con as I normally am knee deep in cards at either a dealer or artist booth. Campbell was hilarious, a great sport (especially when you consider that he’d probably been asked every question he was asked on Saturday in other panels dozens of times), and really everything you’d hope for out of him. One of my favorite exchanges was with a female attendee who asked how Bruce felt Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) and Ash (Evil Dead) would get along. Without missing a beat Campbell responded “How do they get along in your fantasy world?” The entire room cracked up for that line and many others.
After the panel it was time to go, but not without running back through a few booths to pick up more Mars Attacks and more Breygent Mystery Packs. . . thankfully my Saturday pulls were much luckier than my Friday pulls.
I was extremely tempted to go back to the show on Sunday, but I was exhausted so I never made it back. The show was great this year, although I do miss the more lively vibe of the 2011 show. I think part of the change in vibe may have been the layout. A lot of the convention seemed less open, the way the tables were laid out didn’t seem ideal, there were several of aisles that were blocked off, or areas where tables crept into nooks and crannies leaving groups of tables out of the main flow of traffic. It is awesome that Wizard is trying new things with the layout — the lounge was great, the food area was big enough so that even in busy times it wasn’t impossible to find a place to sit, hopefully they can tweak the layout a bit more to make it flow better, and perhaps a bit more open.
Wizard 2012 was awesome, I picked up a lot of great stuff and I can’t wait for next year — I’ll pay closer attention to the show hours, and honestly I’ll probably take more time off work so I can spend it at the con!