Last weekend we headed up to Chicago for our end-of-summer family field trip. This Windy City trip was a little different from those in recent years in that it did not involve a sporting event, comedy clubs, bar-crawls, or stuff like that. On the agenda: Chicago Comic-Con and the Field Museum.
The Chicago Comic-Con, aka, Wizard World Chicago, has been a Beemsville favorite for years now. It’s always fun to look around at the memorabilia, talk to comics creators, see the folks dressed up as their favorite characters, and generally revel in the geek culture. In the past, objectives have involved networking, learning about making comics, or listening to favorite writers and directors speak about their craft. This year, we focused squarely on the kids.
With our two and nephew in tow, the kids decked out in costumes, we patrolled the convention floor, taking it all in, posing for photos, and looking for the best deals on books. I quickly realized that the prices on trade paperbacks and graphic novels meant a transition to shopping mode (50% off and higher on trades and hardbacks), and having come to the con with a goal of getting a bunch of comics reading material for my girl and the nephew, I was on the hunt.
Somewhat unfortunately, as anyone familiar with comics these days can attest, most of the reading material is geared at teens and above. You don’t really want your 7-9 year old reading most of the superhero titles these days (an ongoing an much discussed problem in the comics industry). But there are some titles for the little guys, and we found a new Super Friends book, Tiny Titans, and some Star Wars Clone Wars stuff. Also picked up some copies of the acclaimed Bone books (which my girl has already finished), Owly for my youngest, a big beautiful hardcover Marvel Superheroes reference book for the nephew, the Mice Templar trade, a Power Pack hardback, and a handful of trades for myself.
Because I’m not the mean guy, we also allowed each kid to pick out one cheap toy – it would have been torture to see all that stuff and come away empty. Based on the nephew’s recommendation, they chose wookie action figures. The kids were pretty good about keeping their hands under control, and with the exception of the odd adult-themed booth here and there and the proliferation of zombie tie-in stuff (some of it pretty scary/gory), the con was just fine. We particularly enjoyed the big lego exhibition, the themed vehicles (see above), and the immediate reaction of my girl and the nephew wanting to sit down and read as soon as they got some books.
The con had an impressive array of headliners, including Patrick Stewart and Bruce Campbell, both of whom I probably would have gone to hear speak under different circumstances. There was also some kind of Buffy the Vampire Slayer reunion and the usual mix of B-list and cult stars. I did note the lack of official presence by the big two comics publishers and many other publishers as well. Neither Marvel nor DC had the big high gloss displays you always saw at this con in the past. Dark Horse, Image, etc. – all absent. I have to guess this has to do with the New York Con, which is only a few weeks away from Chicago, has become more important. The general economic realities of the past few years must also factor in. This lack of presence by the publishers, as well as some of the rock-bottom prices for the books (I’ve never seen trades this cheap, including online ) , gives me some concerns for the comics industry. That, said, the con was full, and this was the Friday session. Saturday is always the biggest day.
We had a good time and the kids were troopers. Barely any whining. Lots of cool photos with various characters (if you want to see them, check the Facebooks). A good time was had by all. Check in a little later for the skinny on the Field Museum.