Convention Report: Wizard World Chicago 2019
Back at my hometown show.
Wizard World Chicago has always held a special place in my heart, and I’ve been a returning guest of honor of the show for many years in a row – and this was another stellar year for me at the con. Granted, while sales at the show can vary greatly depending on where they put you in artist alley – and also, on what is around you to draw folks in, or to dissuade them from coming near your table – it’s all relative. But the people who put it on, the fans who show up, and the people I get to hang out with at the show are all highlights for me. The sales are just a bonus.
Thursday night was preview night, and I had the honor of tabling next to my buddy Booker Jackson. I had met Booker at this show last year, when our mutual friend Kelvin Goodner had let him set up at his table for a day or two. Booker had never done a con before last year, and now he’s doing conventions all over the country and has a stellar portfolio and lots of art for sale. Plus, he does commissions all weekend. The man is a comic art making machine! And we had a lot of fun all weekend talking about music, art, and remembering our good friend Kelvin (who sadly passed away earlier this year).
That night I did a panel on self-publishing, which I didn’t know how well it would be attended on preview night. To my surprise, there were a lot of folks in the audience all eager to learn about how to make their own comics.
That night after the show, I met up with my pal Doug Walker and his family, as well as Brad Jones and his wife, to grab some dinner. Doug was eager to tell me about his plans to have me back on his Nostalgia Critic show, reprising my role from the IT review I had done a while back. He was telling me about their plans to do another live event and wanted to invite me, but sadly it was the same weekend as New York Comic Con. I told him I would be there in spirit, and cheering the group on from the toehr side of the country.
Friday fun day – and fireworks!
Friday was the first full day of the con, and since I was staying out at Rosemont, I was able to grab some breakfast and see some of the TV celebs that I knew at the hotel restaurant. I headed over the con to set up, and was joined by my volunteer for the weekend, Nikita Rauba. Nikki had been helping me at cons throughout the year (C2E2, Anime Midwest, and now this one), and she’s a ton of fun to have at the table, and one hell of a salesperson! It was nice to give my voice a break, too, and also have the coverage during my panels.
That day I did a Crafting Fictional Worlds panel, talking through the world-building elements of sci-fi and fantasy, as well as how to ensure your stories are grounded through character. It’s a fun panel, and I got a lot of really engaging questions from the audience.
After the panel ended, I headed back to the table for more selling. After the con, I met up with my friend Lauren for drinks and Nikki joined us for a bit. The area where the restaurants are in Rosemont had a fireworks show that night, with some live music playing the whole time we were enjoying dinner. It was a little loud, but not too bad. After dinner, Nikki took off because she wasn’t feeling well, so Lauren and I headed back to the hotel bar to hang out some more (and the people watching at the hotel bar can be a lot of fun – a mix of cosplayers, staffers, and the occasional guest celebrity walking around and having engaging conversations). We stayed up way too late (Lauren’s a bit of a night owl…and I used to be, too, until I had kids), so I called it a night at that point and headed back to my room for some much needed sleep.
Is it Sunday yet? No? Okay then.
Saturday came way too early, and I met up with Nikki at the table to start selling bright and early. I guess I can’t really do all nighters like I used to, and so I was struggling throughout the day to keep my eyes open. Thankfully, Nikki is excellent company and helped keep my spirits up – although, she was still not feeling particularly well.
Her and I did our sales thing throughout the day, and as the day went on she had a chance to go shopping and bought a hoodie from Harry Potter that she was super proud of. That night, I did a Making Webcomics panel and talked a lot about how the models have changed and the popular sites have migrated to platforms like Line Webtoon. It was a great time, and Nikki was able to close down the table and come join in.
We skipped dinner that night, because Nikki still wasn’t feeling particularly great. So I grabbed a bite by myself and headed back to the hotel room to get some writing done.
NOW it’s Sunday…
The final day of the con is usually family day, which is when my sales go through the roof. I do have that kids book on my table, after all. And without fail, this Sunday was an incredible sales day. Despite Nikki calling in sick, I somehow had enough voice left in me to sell books throughout the rest of the day. No panels to distract me, just selling comics and talking about stories.
I had to leave the convention a little early, because my daughter had a birthday party to attend for one of her friends, so after the con ended I packed up and went to a kids birthday party. I eventually got to relax…eventually.
Guys, Wizard World Chicago was and continues to be a very fun show for me. The organizers have always treated me well, and putting me up in the hotel was an added bonus so I could spend more time with friends and less time in my car commuting to and from home each day. Nikki was invaluable as a volunteer again, and always good company, and I loved connecting with friends I haven’t seen in ages like Doug, Brad, and Lauren. Cons hold a special place in my heart not only because I get to connect with fans or sell books, but also because it’s sometimes the only time I get to see friends who also exhibit at them. An opportunity to catch up, reconnect, and spend time with people I care about.
I’m hoping to be able to return to Wizard World Chicago again next year! But for now, I sleep….