Wizard World: A Weekend of Fun and Fantasy in Chicago

Coming from all walks of life, attendees enjoyed a weekend of excitement and comraderie at the Wizard World comic convention in Chicago.

A crowd waits to enter the convention.

The Wizard World comic convention is an annual touring expo sponsored by the Wizard Entertainment Group. Spanning the course of four days, Wizard World brings together some of best and brightest talent from the comic book, toy, webcomic, film and television industries and places them under one roof to interact with their fans and one another. This year, the convention was held at the Donald E. Stephens Center in Rosemont on August 9-12 and featured such names as Joe Quesada (Editor-in-chief of Marvel comics), Stephen Silver (character designer for the “Kim Possible” cartoon series, among many others) and Lou Ferrigno (from TV’s “Incredible Hulk” and “King of Queens”). When walking around on the show floor, one couldn’t help but feel the creative energy twist and swirl around them, as all the artists and other creative minds mingled and shared their ideas.

One of the "booth babes" posing in front of a character from the video game "Bioshock."

And fans had plenty of opportunities to bask in these ideas and fully absorb them as events such as signings, panels and speeches were spread out over the course of the weekend. At every event, the atmosphere was very lose, offering a “down to earth” connection between the artists and the fans. Every panel, whether big or small, included a question and answer period after the main presentation, allowing fans to pick the brains of their favorite artist or celebrity in an open-discussion forum. Even before the panels, the presenters were willing to speak freely with their fans. One panel in particular, involving the afore mentioned Joe Quesada and a few of his artists and writers, was slightly held up due to a delay at the airport (resulting in half the panel not being able to attend). So, instead of hiding behind some curtain or in another room, the panel members who were there sat at their table and chatted with the audience. They joked, told stories, talked about their cellular phone ringtones and discussed the best place nearby to get a pizza. This kind of intimate atmosphere could be felt everywhere at the show, where even on the busiest day, artists and celebrities were willing to simply chat with their fans and enjoy the comraderie with everyone at the event.

An artist makes a sketch for a fan.

A few costumed attendees, also known as cosplayers, posing for the camera.

And there certainly was a sense of comraderie at the convention because everyone was there for one reason: to celebrate the worlds of science fiction and fantasy that have captured the imaginations of millions for so many years. Everyone seemed to have their own, unique way of enjoying the event. Some leisurely strolled through the aisles, simply taking in all the sights and giveaways at the event. Others were there to add a few autographs to their collection, shop for bargains at the many vendor booths, or compete in one of the many tabletop gaming tournaments being held. Then there were those who –in order to add an extra layer of fun-- enjoyed the event by transforming themselves into their favorite fictional character. These costumes ranged from ultra simplistic (a cardboard box with the word  “costume” jokingly written on the front) to extravagant (a sculpted “suit” consisting of wetfoam and aluminum tubing that almost completely covered the wearer and extended his height to over 7 feet tall) and they were all interesting in their own, unique way. But no matter how one enjoyed the event, everyone there could relax, be themselves and relish the cultural resonance of the convention.

The ever-crowded DC Comics booth.

As mentioned above, one way of enjoying Wizard World was by shopping. At the convention, numerous vendors selling everything from antique action figures to autographed pictures of Cindy Crawford covered most of the show floor and charged prices ranging from mere cents, to thousands of dollars depending on what you were looking for. But for the keen eyed shopper, there were numerous deals to be had. Some vendors offered used, or opened merchandise, while others had special, limited time only sales, and almost every vendor was willing to haggle over the price of an item. There certainly was something for every kind of shopper at the convention, and everyone seemed to walk away satisfied.

Toy company Mattel had a large presence at the convention.

In the end, events such as the Wizard World comic convention are rather special. Few events can galvanize people from all walks of life to come together and create a sort of harmony as they celebrate their vastly different, yet ultimately similar, interests. But as the convention may be over, that harmonious feeling is still burning bright  in the hearts of all who attended. Because as everyone exited the show, they were bestowed with one final giveaway: the pleasant memory that they had all shared in the same awesome experience.

A few attendees enjoy a preview of the upcoming Playstation 3 game "Eye of Judgment."

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