Pop culture geeks and cosplay fanatics hit the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, August 8–11, 2013.
Photo: Max Herman
Comic book fanatics and pop culture junkies began gathering yesterday in Rosemont for the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, four days of cosplay, booksigning and live appearances from big names and cult icons alike. Highlights range from headliners like Zachary Quinto (Spock from the Start Trek reboot) and James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins) to throwback stars like James Marsters (Spike from Buffy) and underrated '80s brat packer Andrew McCarthy (remember Weekend at Bernie's?). On opening day, spandex-and-cape-clad fans turned out in droves. Photographer Max Herman was on hand to capture the best costumes, from anime girls to sci-fi monsters.
While admiring the attendee's impressive cosplay and strolling through Artists's Alley to check out some fantastic illustrations, sculptures and crafts is a joy, Wizard World's logistical issues make for a frustrating outing. With the World's Fair of Money residing in the convention's former hall, the show floor was split across two levels. The first floor is home to the aforementioned Artist's Alley and the con's major draw: rows of celebrities selling autographs and photo ops for as much as $80 (that's the price for a Zachary Quinto autographed 8x10). In previous years, traffic jams would build up in aisles around the VIP booths as those of us unwilling to shell out money to meet the stars would try to catch a glimpse or maybe a snap quick photo from afar. Thankfully, the increased space provided by the additional level of show floor, has been utilized to widen these aisles so that the understanable desire to gawk at Firefly's Summer Glau doesn't lead to a pile-up of angry nerds behind you.
The con's second floor, where attendees can shell out their cash for all manner of nerdy merchandise from comics to toys to clothing, was a bit of a mess. The spacious aisles from downstairs were nowhere to be found and the temperature was oppressively warm, making it difficult to comfortably browse through vendors' wares. This level also included the panel rooms, where guests like Man of Steel's Michael Shannon and The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus would appear for Q&A sessions with fans. While the main room was quite spacious, a large chunk of the seating was reserved for those who purchased pricey VIP packages. Despite the Wizard World website stating that convention rooms wouldn't be cleared between panels, organizers made an exception in anticipation of the popular Firefly panel (featuring the show's stars Morena Baccarin, Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk), frustrating fans that had been parked in the room for several hours with the intention of securing a good seat.
After a decade and a half of putting on this convention, Wizard World's organization leaves something to be desired. Fortunately for them, their paying guests are often the biggest draw as one of the best ways to spend your time at the con is to lean up against a wall and watch the parade of Deadpools, Ned Starks and Ms. Marvels go by.