Chicago Comic-Con ‘09 | Preview night
4:00 am – Up and at ‘em. Have to finish packing before Comic-Con Roommate #1, LucasFilm artist Jess Hickman, arrives at 5:00.
5:45 am – Jess and I pick up Roommate #2, Grant Gould (Star Wars: Clone Wars web comic; Wolves of Odin) and we hit the road.
2:00 pm – Arrive at hotel. We’re staying at the Embassy Suites right across from the convention center this year, which is really nice because I won’t have to pay $80 a day to park in the convention center lot. Free breakfast in the morning too. Nice!
3:00 pm – Drop Jess off at the convention center to get checked in. In addition to my press duties, I’m also her booth babe for the weekend. While she was grabbing our exhibitor badges I tried to get checked in at the press area, but the guy sitting at that booth told me he didn’t really work there and wasn’t sure when the official press check-in people would arrive.
Grant is still at the hotel, so I’ll go check on him and try again for my press pass later.
3:30 pm – Back in the room. Grant leaves to get set up while I get connected to WiFi and check out the panel schedule online. Yikes. Pretty damn sparse, especially compared to last year where I went to panels spotlighting Wonder Woman, women creators, and comics for kids. This year, there are a couple of Marvel and DC panels each and one each for several of the smaller publishers. Most of the panels though are Q&A sessions with celebrities. Even Lou Ferrigno has a panel this year.
4:00 pm – Preview Night is open. There’s someone at the press check-in now, but they don’t have me on the list. She’s very helpful though and promises that I’ll have a press badge in the morning.
Inside the exhibit hall, things are very different this year. I knew DC wouldn’t have their usual, entrance-dominating booth, but I was curious to see what replaced it. Aspen’s off to one side, but most of the entrance is filled with autograph areas. There are some big names scheduled for later, but for now it’s just booth after empty booth promising appearances by Taylor Dayne, Erika Eleniak, Gary Coleman, and Todd Bridges.
Not all the booths are empty actually. Peter Mayhew’s already here and set up for business. So is wrestler The Smoke, who likes my hat. Thanks, Smoke!
4:20 pm – One of the few panels that looks interesting is the one tomorrow night for Crimespree Magazine. And there’s their booth. I talk to editors Jon and Jennifer Jordan for a couple of minutes and pick up the latest issue. I’ll try to get it read before the panel.
4:30 pm – The Ape and Moonstone booths are also in the main exhibit area. I’ll have to stop back by later to see what they’ve got. Right now though I’m drawn to the Top Shelf booth where I meet Chris Staros and Surrogates writer Robert Venditti. Robert good-naturedly pouts and kicks the floor when I ask him to switch out the Surrogates trailer they’re showing for the Owly cartoon. The cartoon is awesome and I try to make it up to Robert by buying the new Surrogates graphic novel.
I also have to pick up That Salty Air, Swallow Me Whole, and the second Korgi volume. Chris tells me that Christian Slade is working on Korgi, Book 3.
5:00 pm – Back in Artist Alley, doing a horrible job of helping with the booth. Not that Jess needs help. An hour in and she’s already sold a lot of stuff and is working on a healthy commission list. One positive side-effect of the disappointing panel schedule could be that attendees spend more time with publishers and in Artist Alley. Sort of the opposite effect of what folks reported from San Diego.
5:50 pm – Just heard John Hughes passed away. Grant and I were just talking about Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club on the way here. This is not the first time we’ve discussed how much we like someone’s work only to find out later that the person had died that day. We’re going to have to stop talking about people we like.
6:30 pm – Now I’m a proper booth-helper and went on a drink run. Noticed that the area next to the concession stand – usually filled with spillover from Artist Alley – is a gaming area and all but empty this year.
I haven’t made the full rounds of Artist Alley yet and probably won’t until tomorrow when more people are here, but I’m already hearing complaints about the way the convention has been treating artists. Like a couple of big-name, invited guests who hadn’t received any flight information three days before the show and couldn’t get a response to emails.
6:45 pm – A couple of fans at the table next to me are complaining about the lack of booths for DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, and Image. They seem to be faulting the publishers for “not caring about the Midwest” and my tongue’s bleeding a little as I resist butting into their conversation. Sounds like Wizard’s getting some blame now too though. I quit biting down.
7:00 pm – A mom just walked by carrying her daughter on her shoulders. The little girl must have been complaining about going home because mom said something about relaxing and settling down. “It’s going to be a long weekend,” she said.
Yes, Mom. Yes, it is.
11:00 pm – Rest of the show was pretty uneventful. Dinner with Jess and Grant at Maria’s Mexican Restaurant and back to the hotel to try to catch up on the three hours of sleep I got last night.
Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Maybe I’ll visit some celebrities; try to get into the spirit of things…