No death-defying escapes this convention, I’m happy to report.

The ebb and flow of the Wizard World Chicago convention is much more relaxed and focused than the multimedia explosion that is San Diego. More than a few pundits remarked that this was the comics convention that there were actually comics at, but that’s a bit of sarcasm even I’m not touching. Still, it was fun being able to walk from one end of the show floor to the other in less than a half hour, and the subdued intensity of the show allowed me to meet a couple fellow SBC staffers. Hanging out with Markisan, j. hues, and Michael Diaz confirmed this website’s official tagline…

…we are the internet’s most diverse comics webzine. Believe the hype.

Things started quietly on Friday, and I almost experienced a twinge if boredom, smelling the familiar remnants of San Diego in the air. By the Ultimate Marvel panel at 12:30 pm, the cloud started to lift, and as expected, they dropped news of the new Ultimate FF book co-written by Bendis and Millar, that will be an obvious hit.

This was the first in a series of announcements that Marvel was making to possibly counteract their Distinguished Competition’s wave of contract signings that has them positioned to make serious noise in 2004, but the House of Ideas wasn’t behaving like they really cared all that much. Even at this stage in the con, you could tell that the air was no longer electrified from a few weeks back, when an anxious and rightfully excited DC dropped their pants to show everybody what they were working with. Using the same analogy, Marvel’s current “response” seems to be a strip tease, refusing to show the whole package until it’s fully prepared.

Whether it’s an act or not, spin doctoring or whatever… Marvel ain’t sweating. Quesada even remarked that it took three years for his competitors to even launch a credible response. This suggests a few possibilities of course, including but not limited to, Marvel is running scared (hardly likely), Marvel is gearing up for war (more likely), or Marvel really doesn’t give a damn (also very likely). One word describes things right now though…nonchalant. However you choose to examine the statistics, you have to agree that 2004 will contain some very exciting Wednesdays, as the Big Two duel for control of the Diamond charts.

After the panel wrapped, I finally got the chance to meet the ever so generous Mark Millar, and fellow Padawan learner Mark Peyton. We didn’t get to chat that much, but make plans to hook up later at the Millarworld drink-up in Hyatt sports bar, and even though I won’t be partaking, as I was driving home that evening after the festivities, it sounded like the highlight of the day.

The Arcade booth was relatively calm all afternoon, as Rob Liefeld’s plane was on the way in, and he wouldn’t be showing up to the booth until Saturday. Still managed to sign a couple copies of Genesis, meet the infamous Rich Johnston, and bump into such luminaries as Florida based retailer and former Future Comics media man Mike Savage, Newsarama frontman Matt Brady, and Sanford Greene, artist of Dark Horse’s upcoming Galactic series. Greene is also setting up a studio with Keron Grant, LeSean Thomas, and Ed McGuinness called Figure 4 Productions. He warned me about it in San Diego, but I was still excited to hear that everything came together as planned. May attempt to plan a feature on this, especially since I haven’t interviewed any artists here as of yet.

Killed a few hours at a pizza place until Hyatt time, where I hooked up with my man Jim, the retailer from Normal, IL that kept me in cool comics for five years. A bit later, I finally met Markisan and his boys Matt and Dan. Really, really, really cool cat that I spent another hour just talking with about comics, the community that is SBC, and keeping back the haters. Markisan, along with editors Craig Lemon and Jason Brice, were highly supportive a couple weeks back when some dude from my old comics shop took it upon himself to feed bullshit to Rich Johnston about me. Wasted far too much time being pissed about it, and slightly embarrassed I even devoted space talking about it here. But it’s been another learning experience, and I’m told that if I start making serious inroads in the comics game… it will only get worse. Apparently nothing will stop haters from hating. Ah, well… come and get me.

But Markisan had my back on this, and I was pleased to find out that he was as cool in person, as he is online. Careful observers might’ve also seen him talking with fellow rumor monger Rich Johnston, without a single punch being thrown.

Talked with Millar before leaving, and asked if he’d have time for a signing at the Arcade booth sometime during the weekend, and things were looking hopeful, as he still needed to visit there and meet Liefeld for the first time. On the way to the parking lot, ran into Markisan once again and received even more evidence that the man is the shit, without question.

Saturday, I’m nearly three hours late getting there, and there’s actually a long and amusing story that centers around missing paychecks, shoes that didn’t fit, and the need for more contact solution, but ultimately, if you weren’t there, you would probably disagree. Hit the floor and made a sweep past Arcade to find that Rob was nursing a line of nearly two dozen waiting patiently for sketches. We touch base and he promises to drop a bomb in my lap before the weekend closes out. A familiar face in a bright
Future Comics shirt appears, and it belongs to j.hues.

You remember this guy right?? Used to write a column called Rolling With the Punches here on SBC?? We did a couple team-up columns?? Works for Future Comics right now, a company that just turned into an all trade operation?? That j. hues. I figured you hadn’t forgotten about him.

I pretty much spent the day with hues and his lovely fiancée Kelly, whether I was at the booth, or in whatever panel I had dashed off to. Anyone that recalls RWTP knows that it was the spot to find clever satire and biting sarcasm, and it’s even better in person, so it was no surprise that I spent the majority of the day laughing my ass off. Especially after six adults tried to decide where dinner was going down at, disagreed for fifteen minutes, and eventually split into two separate cars to get there. And then on the way back, get lost after losing sight of the car we were following. But it was fun regardless, and I will definitely be making a passionate effort to attend the couple’s wedding later on this fall. They have an obvious chemistry and connection that I admire.

Sunday was the wrap-up, everyone said goodbye, and two days of running back and forth along the con floor started to catch up on the body, suggesting that you really haven’t been sleeping well enough. But I spent some time with a few cool people from Millarworld, Scott, Aaron, Tim, and Peyton, and touched base one last time with Millar, who did make it to the Arcade booth to whisper confidential stuff into Rob’s ear before a scheduled signing at the Marvel booth. I would tell you what they were talking about, but if you don’t tell them I can read lips, then neither will I… 😉

Overall, another nice con experience that I didn’t almost die for, and a few things that just may payoff in the weeks to come, and an explosive device dropped into my lap that I’m not allowed to even think about.

Back in seven, presuming I can kill the virus swimming through my computer…


Special Thanks to everyone I shared space with in Chicago, and to my boy Nate Lee…


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