Monday, August 24, 2015

Wizards of the Coast Chicago Comic Con 2015 Wrap Up

So I've mentioned I was at the Chicago Comic Con a few times; it's why I wasn't around the blog so much on the weekend.  I had such a blast- it was way better than anything I could have expected, and I just wanted to talk about it here.  This was my first time going to any sort of Con and it was well worth the money and time spent.

The name comic con makes one think about exactly that- Comics.  In recent years it has surely expanded, with SDCC becoming a mecca of all geekdom and becoming the place where big franchises release spoilers and news about their upcoming movies.  And while Wizard World wasn't nearly as large as SDCC, it does have the same amount of variety to it.

The biggest surprise was how family friendly it was.  No one there was mean or rude and even the security and food workers always kept a good humor.  People traded smiles and took pictures with cosplayers and just had fun.  It's not just for nerds and geeks, but a really good time for anyone and everyone of all ages.  If you get the chance to go to a comic con, I really recommend it.

Thursday was the first night of the con.  My friend and I arrived an hour or so after it opened and didn't really have much in mind except getting the layout of the place so that we'd be set with our plans on Saturday.  It's a rather large convention area and it took about an hour and a half/two hours to actually walk the whole area and see all the general things.

There were two huge rooms set up for shops and booths.  You could buy almost anything imaginable that had to do with fandoms there.  There are also a wide array of independent artists selling their work, and while I didn't have the money to spend on their work, I did find it all really great and wish I could have.  Predominantly there were comic booths, and if you go to a con and plan to buy any comics, don't stop at the first stall.  Walk around and take in all of them, because some had better sales than others.  I didn't end up getting any comics or graphic novels from these stalls, but I did pick up a little Funko Pop! Green Arrow (because I'm a big fan). 

In these rooms there are also many places to get food.  Don't bother.  It's ridiculously overpriced and not particularly good.  The nachos were the best part.  Even the drinks are cheaper in the vending machines you'll find in the hallways.  But what will you eat?  They don't check your bags at comic con (or at least not at this one) and so you can bring in whatever food you want.  While we made the mistake of eating there the first day, we packed many snacks for the following days.

We also discovered what we would call the "One Dollar Man".  It's actually a really great premise and where I ended up getting all the comics I did pick up.  He had a booth where you could trade or buy comics, but that was more an afterthought to his real draw.  There was a wheel marked with numbers, and for a dollar you could spin it.  No matter what number you ended up on you won something.  We actually visited his stall every day we went and I ended up with some cool variant covers and a little Ultron figure.  My friend ended up getting many variant's as well and a huge Easter Basket (which we ended up giving to a family because it was a pain to carry around).

Upstairs there was something called the gaming room.  At first we avoided it, because when you look in you see a bunch of people gathered around TV's playing video games.  Not really our scene.  But then we ventured in and discovered the greatest secret of the con!  (I say secret because it was rarely packed, and when it was, it was the same people over and over again).  Classic Arcade Games.  You know, like Pacman.  In vintage arcade game style.  And these were actually old games, probably taken from now-closed arcades.  And they were all free to play for as long as you wanted.  It was so much fun and such a surprise.  This was another room we made sure to stop at each day.

We only saw one panel on Thursday, and that was one about the Mars Mission.  Apparently the goal is to be on Mars by 2033.  Everything going into it was really interesting.  The woman talked about the concept of the space elevator, and progress on warp speed (there has been some negative energy found in nature that makes scientist believe it's possible), and how people will be landing on Phobos first (one of Mars' moons).  Overall, we ended the day happier than when we arrived.

This was our busy day.  We arrived an hour before it opened so that we could make sure we would get in line for Stephen Amell's (of Arrow fame) panel ASAP.  He was, really, the whole reason we went to the con in the first place and the whole reason we were there on Saturday.  We raced up the stairs (cutting some people off... sorry/not sorry) and jumped into the line.  It was about halfway down the hall (which was rather large) and was quickly lengthening.  Pretty much everyone in front of us was a VIP, which meant they got assured seating.  Silly little us thought we would have to wait in line for two hours to get in, if we got in at all.

So we're standing in line, breathless and excited, talking about how we couldn't believe it might actually happen (getting to see Stephen Amell) when our old English teacher (who we both really like) walks up and says "So I guess we're line buddies!"  We exchange greetings, and I'm thinking "Oh, that's cool, we're waiting in line for the same person" thinking she meant she was in the same line but further ahead (she was a VIP for Stephen Amell).  No, she was actually right in front of us.  Her husband had been keeping her spot while she stepped out for a moment.  It was really nice having another pair to talk to and they enlightened us that someone else was going to be doing a panel in the same room, first... someone we thought was doing a panel in a completely different room at the same time: Ian Somerhalder (of Vampire Diaries fame).  And, the best part, his started an hour before Stephen, and as long as you had seats in the hall you wouldn't be kicked out.  You could stay there all day if you wanted and no one would care.

So, completely on accident, we end up seeing Ian Somerhalder's panel.  And, we even got seats only about twelve rows back and one row to the side (VIP's get the middle).  Here are some pictures so you get the idea (I did have to zoom in on him, but it still wasn't very far at all).

To be totally honest, his panel wasn't that great.  He hadn't slept in about 48 hours, and you could tell.  It was like he was high because he kept changing thoughts in the middle of the sentence and looked like he was ready to fall asleep.  I kinda felt bad for him.  Also, pretty much everyone was waiting in the room for Stephen Amell anyways, and when Ian ran a little long you could practically hear the groan.  It was still really awesome to be so close to someone I'd only previously seen on screen, though.

And then, Stephen Amell comes out.  And it was pretty much one of the best days of my life.

 He was such a nice guy and did a really great panel.  He didn't give too many hints for the next season of Arrow but he did talk a bit about his dreams (like having a Beer called Captains Ale and the upcoming SummerSlam (that was Sunday)) and also a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes.  He really was pleasant to listen to and it makes me respect him so much.

Unfortunately he had to leave after his session was done.  We had considered going to the Arrow Fan Panel which was in a different room, but decided to stay in the big hall for one hour longer.  Because, the next thing we saw, was the premier of Supergirl.  And since there's no VIP seating for that, we went to the second row right in front of the screen.  Right before the pilot started, a lady from CBS came out and told us we were the first group to actually see the pilot like this.  Which is super exciting and not something we knew going into the episode.  It wasn't really anything special, I'll admit, but mostly because it was a pilot and had a lot to cover to lead up to the series.  I'll probably watch it again when it's live in October and will definitely watch the series.  I can say, right now, that if you're a fan of Arrow, Flash, or Smallville, you'll probably like this one a lot.

After that we went to see the Green Power Ranger (aka Jason David Frank).  I, personally, know pretty much nothing about Power Rangers, but my friend's a fan.  Jason was such a nice guy.  He was really funny, and great with kids, and just generally super down to earth.  He did have a couple moments where he rambled about passion projects, but overall he did a really great panel.  My friend even asked him a question (she has more guts then me, because I'd be a nervous wreck).

We rounded out the day with some more wandering and stopping in to listen to two other panels, if only for a few moments.  We caught the tail end of a guy talking about his career as an animator for He-Man and She-Ra.  I remember watching He-Man (though my brother was the true fan).  It was one of the most interesting panels we saw the whole weekend and also one of the most informative.  Then we saw the first ten minutes of a comic-writing panel, which derailed into one of the panelists becoming very angry and passionate about the difference between movies and comics and the overuse of the word "cinematic".  It was actually kinda scary so we left.

Before we left the con we actually had one person request a picture.  It was really awesome because now we are on some random person's phone.  Saturday was the only day we cosplayed (is that the correct verb form?).  I went as Annabeth and my friend went as Reyna (characters from Heroes of Olympus).
 Here's us posing together on the Red Carpet (because it's an awesome place to pose).

 Here's a pic of the hat and Camp Half-Blood beads I wore.

And here's a pic of the sharpee tattoo I drew on my friends arm.  It turned out super well and we were honestly shocked at how good it actually looked.

Sunday we had less to do.  One of the panels we were going to go to had cancelled, opening up an extra two hours of our time.  So we wandered about.  We discovered that you can actually walk around the area where all the signings are taking place and see the famous people.  You can't take any pictures (understandably) but I ended up seeing quite a few people.  Ben Mckenzie and Sean Pertwee from Gotham were there, as was Brett Dalton from SHIELD.  Jeremy Renner (aka Hawkeye) was there and we actually waited an hour just to see him signing stuff.  He looked awesome and was even wearing the Hawkeye glasses.

We actually discovered this one particular spot where you can stand and have famous people walk right past you.  Summer Glau just walked past at one point and we just stopped and stared.  Then, a little later, Nathan Fillion passed within arms length.  Like normal people!  Who would have thought?  I'm just kidding.  But it was really, really awesome.

We ended up running into my cousin's for a little bit, though they were mostly doing their own thing. Then we learned that there were puppies there!  So we went into the puppy pen and played with them and petted them and it was amazing and now I want a puppy.

There were two panels we actually saw and they were both really cool: We learned some self defense/karate from the Green Power Ranger himself (and it's actually really helpful stuff) and then went and saw Rachel Caine (who's one of my favorite authors).

She did a panel on being an author and writing in general and it was super inspiring.  She's probably the most informative and best speakers on writing that I have actually seen.  If you ever get the chance to hear her talk about writing it's one of the best opportunities you'll have.  Also, she says she'll answer questions via email, and she wasn't lying.  Go to her website and if you have a question about writing she's really awesome and will respond when she can.  It's a great resource to have, and makes me wonder how many other authors I read will actually do this and whether I should take advantage of it more.

So that was my adventure at comic con.  It was really, really great.  I will definitely be going next year (I've already started saving up because it drains your money so fast) and when that one gets closer I'll post some tips about what to do for your first time.

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