Monday, August 23, 2010

Wizard Chicago 2010: Yeah, whatever

I wasn't originally going to go to Wizard's Chicago show this year; the lineup of guests and such interested me very little.  But sometimes fate, or certain disreputable individuals, conspire to lure one in.  Apparently, when I described the show as "increasingly irrelevant" in my C2E2 roundup, that rankled the Wizard folks, so they invited me to come interview their CEO, Gareb Shamus.  I guess that's an opportunity I couldn't pass up, so I got to go listen to him give his spiel about how great the show was and ask him why the hell Rod Blagojevich was a special guest.  You can read the results over at IndiePulp, along with my thoughts on the convention proper, which can be summed up as "I don't think I ever need to go again."

As much as celebrity, pop culture, and other such nonsense dominated the con, I was determined to find some good comics, and while the artist alley section, which is usually my favorite place at these shows, was dominated by crappy pin-up artists (and zombies.  So many fucking zombies.  When will that fad ever end, goddammit?), I managed to find a few artists that I liked, or at least had an art style that caught my eye in the midst of the various Jim Lee and Mike Deodato wannabes.  Mike White has an appealingly cute style on his comic Amity Blamity (formerly Pigtails & Potbellies), which is coming out in print next year from SLG, but is being serialized online now.  The humor isn't anything to write home about, but that little girl and pig are pretty adorable.  Adam Fotos' Dragon and Goat seems kind of similar, with cute characters and nice coloring, but pretty rote, newspaper comic strip style humor.  Jason Week's Billy the Dunce, on the other hand, is quite nicely illustrated and fairly funny, from what I can tell.  The current storyline features a cool fight scene, so that's always nice.

Matt Chicorel was the only creator I actually bought anything from, that being the first two issues of his minicomic Buzzpop.  He has an appealing style full of characters with long, thin limbs, sort of like a less-cluttered Jim Mahfood, and he appears to be weaving together a sort of narrative about various slacker crime-fighter characters that mostly just hang around and talk.  It's enjoyable, and while much of the two issues were filled with concert posters and the like, the quality of the comics themselves showed a marked increase over the course of a few years of work.  I'm curious to see how he developed after that, but I can always read what he has posted online and try to acquire the next two issues.  The first issue was also shared with Travis T., whose Drop Dead Dumb isn't bad, but hopefully he is able to do something besides imitate Daniel Clowes.

But aside from the mainstream guys who usually make it to these shows (I always like to talk to Chris Burnham, and Geof Darrow is nice to see, although I don't think he's put out any comics in about five years.  Not much interest in the likes of Billy Tucci, J. Scott Campbell, Joe Maduriera, Greg Horn, and Arthur Suydam though), there just wasn't much to see. So, determined to come home with some sort of comics, I scoured the dealer stalls for deals, and came home with the following pile of stuff:

You can see Lauren Weinstein's The Goddess of War, both issues (or are there more?) of Howard Chaykin's Time^2, a book called Epoxeye by John Pham, Young Lust #8 (featuring a bitchin' Daniel Clowes cover), Video Noire by Eduardo Risso and Carlos Trillo, the collection of the Brian Azzarello-written Deathblow series, Farel Dalrymple's Pop Gun War, All Flee! by Gavin Burrows and Simon Gane, Mat Brinkman's Teratoid Heights (which was only two dollars!), volume 6 of Osamu Tezuka's Phoenix, four volumes of Astro Boy, two volumes of Iron Wok Jan!, and one volume each of School Zone and Swan (all the manga volumes were also two bucks.  Score!).  Oh, and a free crime novel by Andrew Grant called Even that came with the purchase of Deathblow from the Crimespree booth.  Not a bad haul.

So I didn't come away too unhappy, and those are some quality additions to the collection, if I ever get around to reading them along with everything else I have yet to get to.  So there you go: comics could actually be found at the Chicago Comic Con, if you knew where to look.  But next year, I'm not going to bother looking.


  1. That Deathblow book is deeply weird in a way I kinda like. I'm definitely curious to see what you think of it. Some parts are Azzarello on overdrive, others are not much like him at all.

  2. There's also a Time2 prelude in the 1986 American Flagg! Special #1 - it's a comic book, not an album, and a few of the Flagg characters show up, but it's basically a soft launch for the Time2 series...

  3. My favorite quote from any panel I've ever been to came from Brian Azzarello during that Deathblow run: "A lot of people have been coming up to me and telling me that they don't get 'Deathblow' but they like it. Well, I'm here to tell you – by the end you're going to get it, and you won't like it one bit."

  4. Jog: I thought that was the case, probably from reading the piece you did about the series a few years back...

    Kiel: That's a great quote. Man, Azzarello can turn a phrase, can't he? I love all the wordplay like that in 100 Bullets; we'll see if he works some in here.

  5. Matthew!!

    WHAT is that Epoxy book from John Pham?! I know he had a 3-issue run on a series by the same name, but I've never seen the cover you have pictured there...

    I'm fascinated by your haul, man. I feel like you and I would be TERRIFIC comic convention bin-diver buddies. :)

  6. haha, and a Young Lust!!! I just grabbed one in San Diego last month. GREAT cover!

  7. Isn't it cool? I didn't even know what it was, but I thought it looked great. It only says Epoxeye in small print on the spine. Maybe I'll write something about it when I get around to reading it.

    So, yeah, let's do some hunting at C2E2 next year, huh?

  8. Oh man, who published it, and how many pages is it? I wonder if it's...a collection of the three issues?! MADNESS!

    PLEASE write about it when you knock it out. I'd love to hear what you think and learn about what's inside. I grabbed issue #1 at the Brooklyn Art Fest late last year, and I've kept an eye out for the others since.

    And dude, if I make it back to C2E2, we'll definitely need to walk the floor for an hour together. AT LEAST. :)

  9. Yes, it looks as though C2E2 and Wizardworld definetely served different ends of the comic spectrum. While a show at McCormick place was certainly welcome, and surely one I'll be attending every year, wizard world has pretty much descended into a morass of old celebrity autograph booths. But there sure was a lot more to be found in old comics buying, which is pretty much where this con began before Shamus bought it. I think Chicagoans like the idea of wading through dozens of out of state dealers and their stock, fresh to our local eyes. I managed to find some 60's undergrounds, and actually got a copy of a Will Eisner maintenence digest from the armed forces from '58. Shamus certainly pissed off a LOT of Illinois residents with his short sighted appearance of Rod Blago, the disgraced ex governor, trolling for autograph money. I still have a fondness for looking for dealers with old stock I haven't seen locally, feeling like Scrooge McDuck swimming through his money vault. While I feel the organizers of wizworld are scam artists looking to make a buck on squeezing every cent they can from people, the thrill of wading through the morass to get to the dozens of silver age books I was able to obtain for a dollar appiece to three for ten is a fun that's hard to replicate. Now if it didn't cost thrity damn bucks to get into the door, I might of found it a perfect day...

    Vernon Wiley

  10. Thanks for your take, Vernon. It's true, there was a ton of great stuff to find, if you wanted to try to look for it. There was one dealer that had a bunch of really old comics, collections of early comic strips, original Pogos, old tie-in merchandise from pre-WWII strips. It was a ton of cool stuff, and I wish I could have afforded some of it. You could also spend tons of time just paging through original art at the various dealers that had binders full of the stuff. That's not usually what I go to conventions for, but I probably ended up enjoying it the most this time, since there was so little worth doing elsewhere. I'm glad we had a good time doing that; it means it wasn't a wasted weekend, right?