Wizard World Chicago – Jon’s take part the first

After our experience we decided to head down Thursday instead of Friday.
Thank God we did. Traffic between Milwaukee and Chicago was a nightmare. Thank you Illinois Construction crews.This year the crew doubled from just Ruth and I to Ruth and I and Our new Comics Editor Timm Hintz (who you’ve been reading here) and his wife and expert photographer Christy. (Christy is a trooper doing the whole con while a bit more than five months preggers)

We did arrive in time to get over to the convention center for the preview night. The fisrt thing we noticed was Warren Ellis signing, and NO LINE! We grabbed a copy of Crooked Little Vein and ran to get it signed. Had I known I would have brought my first editions from home! Warren was all smiles and very cordial. I also learned he has a sequel coming out from Harper Collins next year, and the paperback is coming out in August with additional materials. Not sure what the extra features are, but the postcard has cooking tips on it…
The Avatar Booth where Warren was signing was even bigger than last years. They had people walking about to help with purchases, Anna Mercury was just hanging around, but she looked good doing it. We started our purchasing early and got some of the cool NO HERO shirts and a few trades. William Christianson, the mad man behind the whole Avatar line was running things like a military operation and was beyond organized. No waiting, and even a clipboard to sign credit card slips.

We proceeded to get the lay of the land and made our way around of Artist Alley which was only about half full so far.
We eventually came back around and managed to do so with out spending too much money. DC and Top Cow once again had the most impressive areas.

Top Cow looks almost like an outdoor concert stage. And with scenes from Wanted and other trailers playing it sounded that way too. In the last year Filip Sablik was promoted and we’ve been working with a very happy man named Mel Caylo. We finally got to put a face to the name. Mel is even more happy in person. In fact everyone at Top Cow seemed to be in great spirits. Part of this may have been the movie Wanted opening Friday night. We got in the spirit and got t-Shirts. We came back a few times during the show and kept finding more trades we wanted. Top Cow is really putting out some wonderful books.They are great reading, but they are also gorgeous.
Darkness relaunched this spring with Phil Hester writing and moving our antihero to South America. It’s been a great run so far. And Witchblade is getting better and better. Also, we heard that the Madame Mirage trade comes out this fall. I loved this book, and said so. I was told that if schedules permit there may be a sequel. I vote we start sending Rd Bull to Paul Dini.

We headed back to the Hyatt for dinner and an early bedtime. I stepped out for a quick look around with Timm and our “Be back in an hour” turned into three as we ran into R.D. Hall and Mark Kidwell with their spouses in a secret smoking lounge area we found. Ruth and I met Mark and R.D. last year and we think they rock. After a bit of time with them Timm agrees. We still got to sleep kind of early and we were able to rest up for Friday.

This is where things start to get blurry. Things moved faster and so did we. Events from here on may not be in order, though I’ll do my best.

We started out the day with a big breakfast and headed in to the convention center. We did a circle and dropped of Crimespree Magazine media Kits, we also did our best to meet as many people as we could.

The folks at the Scream Company were great. They are doing Mark Kidwell’s Bump and as a result had some stars of the upcoming movie there. They also had a new comic by James Zahn called Death Walks the Streets, which is already optioned for film. It’s a cool book and I’ll have more on that later. We bought t-shirts for Bump which has great art on the front and a great quote on the back. “From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go BUMP in the night, Good Lord deliver us” They also had some outstanding statues of the treehugger that are more than a bit creepy. Keep your eye on the Scream Factory.

Devil’s Due Publishing was there and I got to meet Tim Seeley who does Hack/Slash. I love this book and have all the trades. That didn’t stop me from buying the first omnibus collection! The current issues also feature a cross over with Mark Kidwell’s Bump. I also met Chris Kirby who did a really great book called Lost Squadron, a world war two story with ghouls and demons. Fun stuff. Chris is a nice guy and a hell of a writer and I’ll be keeping my eye out for more by him.

We also spent some time with the folks at Ape Entertainment. I haven’t read the books yet (Hey! We just got home!) but they look great. We came home with a copy of Femme Noir, Horrorwood, and White Pickett Fences by Matt Anderson and Eric Hutchins. We met Matt (while smoking of course) and he’s a freaking riot. Funny as Hell and he really knows movies. Great dude to spend time with. I’m really looking forward to digging into the work this Ape Crew is doing.

Dark Horse had a contingent at Herocon so we missed seeing Jeremy, but the crew they sent was cool and we enjoyed talking with them. The Hellboy II bags were gone really fast. They also had out some of the stuff from Free comics day which ties in with the movie. Dark Horse rocks and they are really doing some original and terrific books. The truth is they don’t need to sell me at all. I’m already an addict.

Dabel Brothers had a table and we stopped by to see what’s up with their title The Dresden Files. The first issue sold out here in Milwaukee before I could get it so I picked up an copy while they still had them. Based on great books by Jim Butcher the series should be great. And once again we met some really cool cats. We spoke with Neil who is handling marketing and he was really helpful.

Moonstone had a nice setup with some wonderful artwork from upcoming projects including The Avenger. Joe Gentile’s taste in older pulp heroes is wonderful because he is doing what he can to keep them alive. As a fan I really appreciate that. We also got a really cool Kolchak coffee Mug! And I just finished the whole set of the Twighlight Crusade, really cool stuff involving a war between Heaven and Hell and the players in between.

Zenescope had a nice location but they seemed a little subdued this year. Last year they had all sorts of lovely ladies in costume and this year there were just the two. However last year they gt me over to the table and got me to try their Grimm Fairy Tales title. I’m now thoroughly hooked. I picked up the hardcover of Return To Wonderland which is a totally new collection of the miniseries. While based loosely on Alice and crew it’s wholly original and really worth checking out. Zenescope puts out a top notch product and I would recommend you check it out.

We spent a lot of time over at the DC Comics arena. They had a nice group of creators signing during the weekend including Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jill Thompson, the crew from tiny titans and more that I can’t even remember. Film clips showing through the day, tons of free buttons and tattoos. This was always a busy area to be in and with the sheer volume of great books they do it’s no surprise. DC and Vertigo (and Wildstorm too) are still my favorites.

All the publishers we talked to were really great. We also hit a couple panels and we did some major shopping. We’ll have more n this stuff soon.

I need to go read!