I’m finally getting my Wizard World Comic Convention report posted. What follows will be in words and in lots of pictures so I really pity you people still on dial-up. But be patient they WILL load. Some of the shots are quite good and some not so good. This was mostly due to two things- 1) We managed to drop our Olympus 35mm film camera on the con floor damaging the lens/zoom. Some of the pics were taken after this incident. And 2) I often don’t have the patience to wait for our Olympus Digital to do it’s thing (write to disk, refocus, yadda-yadda). ..so I force the shot anyway and it results in a crappy out of focus image with odd artifacts. I should also mention that some of the pics were taken by me (mostly the crappy ones!), some by my daughter Kristan, some by my wife Teresa and the one of me and Bendis by a kind fellow I met in line. Lastly many of the pics are linked to larger versions so you can just click for a better view.
So…on with the Bendis….I mean business at hand.
We drove all the way from Evansville, Indiana to the Chicago (Rosemont) Wizard World Convention. But we didn’t drive OUR car…we rented a rather cushy Buick LaCrosse(dumb name, but not a bad car). 6 hours…pretty long drive but flying was way too expensive for us.
We stayed at the Hyatt which was connected to the Convention center via sky-walk so we wouldn’t have to drive or anything. This was a pretty nice Hotel…certainly the nicest/fanciest we’ve ever stayed at. The elevator in the center was like something out of Logan’s Run but with modern special effects and a better budget! Click the two below for larger versions:
And check out the view from our room’s window (click for a big one):
The above looks a bit like a Michael Whelan SCI-FI painting to me.
Not long after we arrived at the Hyatt but before we actually located our room we (actually Kristan and I, the Wife went to ask for directions) sat down to rest in the center lobby area. Guess who walks by rather rapidly? The man him-self: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS!!!!! He just walked by! I couldn’t believe it and the truth is I wasn’t totally sure it was him at first. We were sitting there and I did a double take as he went by and Kristan goes:
“Did you see that bald guy, that was Brian Michael Bendis!”
She was being sarcastic as I had been talking rather incessantly the last week or so about meeting the prolific Marvel comics scribe (and arguably the whole family’s absolute favorite comicbook writer). And I replied:
“I’m pretty sure it WAS!”
Being a short man I’ve always had this list of “Short Heroes”…that is men I admire that also happen to be less than 5 foot, 8 inches in height. Never did I imagine that the great Brian Michael Bendis was short enough to make this list but I think he is! I have yet to get any official confirmation but he seems at least as short as me and I’m only 5 foot 4 inches. Can anyone out there confirm his height?
Saturday at the Convention I waited in line for about 2 hours and 20 minutes for his autograph. My back was hurtin’ and my feet/legs were sore but it was worth it. I even got pics:
(click for larger)
It turns out that Brian Bendis is not just the greatest guy currently writing comics but he is also a super-nice guy. He was happy to pose for pics, sign my books and chat for a bit. Just a really cool guy. Certain other comic-creators could learn a lot from him on how to treat the fans. Made the whole trip worthwhile for me.
I also got artist Marc Silvestri to sign some books and pose for a quick pic: (click for larger)
He was a really nice guy too and you can tell he LOVED getting his picture taken!
Shots of the Marvel booth.
Marvel EIC (and artist) Joe Quesada signing at the Marvel booth:
Kristan reluctantly posing in front of a Pulse display on the outside of the Marvel booth:
And who did we find milling around the Marvel booth with NO LINE in front of him? That’s right Astonishing X-Men artist John Cassaday! I got him to sign a comic and Kristan had her picture taken with him. She thinks he’s “HOT”:
John was also a nice guy to talk to and he didn’t try to back out of the pic or the autograph even though it was not an official signing event. Nice.
Here is a shot from the stairs leading out the back side of the con:
I’ve never been much for crowds so I could not help but wonder how much funner and EASIER to get around in would this thing be if they capped the tickets at about 20% less then what they sold? I know it will never happen but a hobbit can dream can’t he?
Here is Teresa (Wife unit) and Kristan (daughter unit) reluctantly posing at the con:
Kristan got Mercedes McNab’s (harmony from Buffy/Angel) autograph and picture:
She was really sweet and much prettier in person than on TV (kind of odd I thought). Kristan also got an autographed Lorne action figure and several pictures with actorAndy Hallet. This is another nice guy that knows how to treat his fans. Wizard (and Time and Space Toys) really underestimated this guy’s draw power as his lines were impressively LONG.
I ventured through Artist Alley several times hoping to find several favorites. Sadly I never did see Walt Simonson, Gene Colan or Sean Chen. But I did get autographs from the following:
Mike Mayhew (great guy, we chatted about the cover to Pulse #8 which he autographed…this is one of my all-time favorite covers, this one is also autographed by Bendis!):
Mike Turner (caught him at the Aspen booth, just as he was about to take off)
Angel Medina (signed my copy of Warlock and the Infinity Watch #1)
Adam Hughes (signed the last 3 issues of Tomb Raider for me)
Tommy Castillo was selling signed copies of Toe Tags#1 AND a Zombie Head sketch (on a backing-board) for $20.00. What a deal. I couldn’t resist:
(click for larger)
We bought several action figures and I plugged several gaps in my Marvel Conan and Uncanny X-Men runs from several of the very numerous Dollar Boxes. I also got two Marvel Masterworks Hardcovers for about half-price. I found good deals on some nice copies of Marvel Spot-Light and Amazing Spider-Man that had appearances by some of my favorite “third tier” characters – Deathlok, Man-Wolf, Devil-Slayer and Moon Knight (got his first and second appearance!). I’m happy!
Saturday night we ordered pizza from Giordano’s. Kristan and I went down to the lobby to meet the delivery guy and who do we see standing around talking just inside the main-doors? Most of the Marvel editorial staff it seems: Quesada & several others including my new number one short-hero Brian Michael Bendis! I sooooo wanted my picture standing next to him if for no other reason than to finally discover his actual height. So I gave the digital camera to Kristan (it was still in my belt bag) and we made our way over there. By this time I was already carrying our pizza. I got about 5 feet away from Bendis and I said “Brian”…but I don’t think he heard me over the several conversations that were going on at once in the little Marvel crowd there. In the end I chickened out and gave up. I was afraid if I ever did get his attention he might think I was trying to give him a free pizza or something or worse Quesada would come over there and gobble it all up! That guy looks like he could put away as much as me!
Sunday as we were leaving the hotel we seen legendary comic artist Walt Simonson and his wife Louise sitting in the lobby! I waited until he finished a sketch for a fan and then asked him to sign a couple of books: Uncanny X-Men #171 and Conan #135. Louise commented that the Conan cover was one of their favorites and they have it hanging in their house! They were both really nice and didn’t seem bothered by the impromptu autograph session at all. It was great. We talked about his current Elric project he’s doing for DC with Michael Moorcock. I said I grew up reading Moorcock’s Elric stuff and Walt said: “I did too!”.
Here are some goofy pics we took on the way out of the hotel:
Me and my woman in the parking garage elevator:
From the parking garage:
Over all it was pretty fantastic. We did not have ONE bad encounter with a creator/celebrity. They were all cool and friendly. Wizard World did mishandle some of the ticketed events though. Instructions were kinda vague and they herded the crowds around in a senseless maze of lines and “pre-lines” for the Kevin Smith Q&A. One Orange shirt volunteer was even rude to us at one point. Not cool.
But we did have a lot of fun and it was great meeting some of the folks that make the comics (especially Bendis!).