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Comic-Con, C2E2, and Joe Quesada's Nerd Rock

Note: The Creation of Adam is happy to welcome guest blogger Amanda Hicken from
Clue into Cleveland, an excellent blog that unlocks the treasures of that oft-overlooked Ohio city.  Follow her on Twitter @ADHicken.

From July 21-24, thousands descended upon the San Diego Convention Center for Comic Con 2010. If you're a comic book fan like me, San Diego Comic Con is the once-a-year mecca for all things comics.  There were over a thousand exhibitors and artists including heavy hitters like DC and Marvel, as well as small press, movie studios, and comic retailers. In addition to the booths, attendees were treated to a bounty of exciting exclusives such as  Marvel's big reveal of the Avengers' director and cast (love Joss Whedon and Mark Ruffalo). 

Since the first Golden State Comic Con in 1970, the SDCC has blossomed into something that's much more about comics. In its current iteration, other forms of popular art -- such as tv, movies, toys, and video gaming -- receive just as much focus as comics (if not more, on occasion).  Networks often use the convention to preview new shows or boost fan support with panels of current favorites like ChuckDexter and Community. And at last year's SDCC, an entirely new audience comprised of Twilight Moms stormed the floor in a Team Edward v Team Jacob Battle Royale (kidding ... slightly). 

However, the flipside of this popularity is that the Comic Con has come under criticism for overcrowding. From travel expenses, sold-out events and the occasional scuffle, the SDCC may not be for everyone. If you can't make it to Comic Con, though, you don't necessarily have to miss out on meeting your favorite comic book artist or writer. There are a number of other conventions across the country and throughout the year with plenty of action for comic fans.  

At C2E2: Amanda and Frank Cho, writer and illustrator of Liberty Meadows, Mighty Avengers, and Hulk. One of these opportunities is the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo.  Since moving out to Cleveland a couple of years ago, I've attended some of the smaller, local conventions like Northeast Ohio's Tiki Con.  However, I hadn't been to a large scale convention until Scott and I took a roadtrip to Chi-town a few months ago for C2E2. April 16–18 was a weekend of firsts -- not only was it my first major convention and first time in Chicago, but also the inaugural C2E2.  

C2E2 was organized by ReedPOP, who produces the popular New York Comic Con, and was held in the Lakeside Center of the sprawling McCormick Place.  Estimates had attendance at 20,000-30,000 -- a much more bearable crowd than SDCC's 100,000+. 

However, just because the crowd was smaller didn't mean attendees missed out on a quality con.  With 290,000 square feet of exhibit space, there was plenty to see. DC and Marvel were there with the most prominent booths and a full schedule of signings and events - featuring talent such as Geoff Johns, Andy Kubert, Marjorie Liu, Jeph Loeb, Greg Pak, and Fred Van Lente - as well as costume contests, new video game demos, and a DC talent search.

In addition to the exhibitors' booths, there was Artist Alley which allowed guests to meet their favorites - such as Alex Ross and Frank Cho, as well as introduce themselves to new talent.   Transylvania Television and writer Eric Rampson gained Scott and I as fans that weekend. And we got to add something to my Hulk collection when we purchased a piece of the original line art from artist Ryan Stegman’s Incredible Hulk/Red She-Hulk  issue, right before he was signed to an exclusive by Marvel.  

There was also a number of opportunities to speak with comic heavyweights at the weekend's panels and events.  As a Marvel fan, hearing XMen teasers and Editor in Chief Joe Quesada hold his own against a long line of questions and debate was a thrill.  By far, though, my favorite panel was Bill Willingham.  Willingham creates amazing stories (Fables, Jack of Fables, and his writing on the Angel comics is fantastic). And during his panel he did not disappoint -- offering up a lot of info on his upcoming storylines and answering the audience's questions with straightforward and humorous answers.    For once - standing in line didn't seem so dreadful. 

After the convention floor closed for the night on Saturday, there were a few opportunities for socializing. 'An Evening with Neil Gaiman' allowed fans to join him for dinner as he took the stage to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. There was also the Kirby Krackle show at REGGIE'S rock club which is where Scott and I met with some Chicago friends on Saturday night. 

Kirkby Krackle, featuring Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada.A nerd rock band from Seattle, Kirby Krackle has been making the convention rounds because of songs based on their love of comics.  On top of their great songs and enthusiastic performances, we also got to see Marvel's Quesada play a few songs with them.  

Rockstar Quesada was a stark difference from Editor-in-Chief Quesada who we had watched deftly answer questions at the Cup O' Joe Panel. The afterhours version rocked out with Kirby Krackle with complete abandon.

Seeing this - along with catching one of the exclusive Red Hulk guitar picks they were tossing to the audience - made the afterparty one of the highlights of my convention experience.

For its first year, C2E2 was a definite success.  It featured a lot of big names in the comic industry and exciting events - all of which you could actually enjoy because the crowds weren't too overwhelming. As my first major convention, I really don't think I could have found a better experience.  C2E2 2.0 will be back next March and I can't wait to make another trip out to Chicago for it. In the meantime, there are sites that can help you find conventions in your area.


Moving: Phase 1 Complete

It’s been a busy month for me.  Moving from Chicago to the suburbs of Philadelphia was a big move that had been a long time coming.  Thankfully, all the logistics worked out as smoothly as possible.  I rolled out of Chicago the same way I rolled in, nearly six years ago. 

Somehow all this and more fit into my Elantra.Special shout-outs to Nick for his help unloading furniture and Amanda and Scott for opening their home.  And of course to Dave, the best roommate ever, for helping with the Tetris-like packing of the car, not to mention the four great years of cohabitation.

There were so many people who made my last few months (and years) in Chicago special, and I know I spent that time exactly as I wanted to, the best way possible.  I drank in deep the liquor of Chicago summer, and created special memories to the very last minute.

It was appropriate that the Phillies were in town during my last weekend in Chicago, and Wrigley Field became a natural canvas for my transition.  One night I went to a game with Chicago friends, and then the next day met up with friends visiting from Philly.  I was in both worlds for those few days, and that made things a bit easier, but still bittersweet.   

I’m looking forward to my life in Philly, and there’s plenty to do as I try to find work and an apartment, but I definitely felt sad as I wrapped up this chapter in Chicago.  As I’ve been reflecting on that time, I thought I’d share an incomplete list of some of my favorite memories and things that I’ll miss from life in the Windy City. 

  • Cruising down Lake Shore Drive
  • Day-drinking in Wrigleyville, game or no game
  • Nights downtown for birthdays or visitors
  • Watching Gators games with the Florida crew
  • Playing sports in the park
  • The New York Deli across the street from my apartment
  • Walking underneath the Bean
  • Trips to the suburbs
  • Movies at River East
  • Rooftop beer gardens
  • The Signature Lounge at the Hancock Center
  • Lollapalooza in Grant Park
  • St. Rita football on Friday nights
  • Sean’s Rhino Bar at 103rd and Western
  • Second-City Comedy
  • The back room at aliveOne
  • Team GOON
  • Concerts at Metro and the Vic Theatre
  • NFL Football at Trinity
  • Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup
  • The El and the Loop
  • Air & Water Show
  • St. Patrick’s Day Pub Crawls

I could go on, as I’m sure many people could.  Feel free to add in the comments!


Adventure on the Mississippi

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you know that I took a spontaneous trip to St. Louis, Missouri this past weekend.  I wanted to visit and reconnect with my friend Sean while I was still in the Midwest.  It was a great decision, as my high school buddy and I had an amazing weekend, filled with good food and better beer. 

I love visiting new cities, and although I had been in St. Louis for a few hours last summer during my road trip, I was only able to knock out The Arch and eat some fried chicken.  This time around, Sean and I made ample use of his GPS and Yelp app to find plenty of cool locales at which to wet our whistle. 

Another neat aspect of our STL adventure was that Sean is relatively new to the city, having moved there for work in January, and because he travels a lot, he was exploring and learning the city with new eyes as well.  I think we both feel a lot more knowledgeable about St. Louis after this weekend. 

It was a lot of fun to catch up with an old friend, of course, swapping stories of our time in jazz band together, but we also met up with some of his friends in the area, and got plenty of tips on which neighborhoods to hit up. 

There were lots of highlights, including McGuirk's in Soulard, The Dubliner on Wash. Ave., Modesto Tapas in The Hill, and Mandarin Lounge in Central West End.  The main touristy thing we did was take the tour at the Anheuser-Busch factory, which was interesting and well-organized.  Plus, free beer! 

Instead of naming every place we visited, I went ahead and put together my first custom Google map.  Click on the screenshot to see the public map and follow my weekend step-by-step. 

Drink St. Louis - Custom Google Map by ARMYou can see the rest of my pictures from the weekend over in my photo gallery or with captions on Picasa.  On my way home on Monday, I decided to stop in Springfield, IL to see the state capital.  I had never been, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  It was a nice little downtown area with lots of interesting Lincoln monuments. 

So, my trip to St. Louis was an all-around success, and I'm so glad I was able to make it there before I head back to the East Coast.  Thanks for the hospitality, Sean!  I know I'll be back again. 


Summer TV, or Why I'm Pale

Does anybody miss the days when summer television was purely reruns, when you could casually catch up on the year's sitcoms in between backyard BBQs and late-evening trips to cool down with an Italian ice?  I actually wouldn't mind forgetting about TV for a few months, but instead, my DVR is still working overtime.  With audiences irrefutably fragmented, programming now runs year-round, for better or for worse.  Thankfully, there are a few shows that I don't mind watching while hibernating in the air conditioning. 

True Blood
HBO | Sundays 9/8c

In Alan Ball's hands, vampires don't suck. (Wow, really?)  True Blood is pure campy fun, and there are plenty of hot bodies bringing steam to the screen.  I trust that the overwhelming amount of new characters and storylines will come together in some sort of cross-species orgy. 

Lie to Me
Fox | Mondays 8/7c

Tim Roth is excellent as Cal Lightman, an expert in deception through scrutiny of facial expressions and body language. His skill set makes him a useful asset to the federal government and a frequent target of people he's burned in the past.  A bit far-fetched at times, but sharp dialogue and Roth's work with his co-stars keeps it fresh.  

Burn Notice
USA | Thursdays 9/8c

If you haven't caught on to the sexy spy show by season 4, you deserve to be blacklisted by the government.  The combination of sly comedy, big action, and unfeasible escapes makes for a fast ride agaisnt a sexy Miami backdrop.  And who wouldn't want Bruce Campbell and his chin on their side?

Top Chef D.C.
Bravo | Wednesdays 9/8c

Tom and Padma are back for season 7 of the best competition reality show on the air, this time in the nation's capital.  From the looks of last night's premiere, we have another cocky cook in Angelo.  I'm also happy to see more African American chefs than in past seasons.

ABC | Tuesdays 8/7c

Now here's a lighthearted summer gem.  There is nothing funnier than watching people fall.  Wipeout provides endless belly laughs as contestants try to conquer a ridiculous but difficult obstacle course.  John Anderson and John Henson are alternately sympathetic and sadistic, but the ultimate selling point: Big. Red. Balls.

So, while I will try to cut down on my hours in front of the idiot box in favor of more active summer pursuits, I'm more than happy to trade in my Full House and Seinfeld reruns for some quality original programming. 

What are you watching this summer?


Chicago Bucket List

Museum of Science and IndustryWith about six weeks left here in Chicago, I've been thinking about what I should do to take advantage of this wonderful city.  A bucket list, if you will, for my remaining time as a resident of the city by the lake. 

Thankfully, the arrival of summer has brought with it many of the events that make Chicago great. Some of my ideas reflect the season or favorite places I need to revisit, while others look to the classic city jewels that one tends to admire only when guiding visitors or faced with my dilemma of leaving too soon.  

Please feel free to leave suggestions of any additional sights, sounds, or tastes you think I should take in before heading Eastward.  


Hot Doug's - gourmet sausage and duck fat fries, need I say more?

Wakamono - great sushi place in my neighborhood.

Ann Sather - classic brunch spot.  


aliveOne - my favorite local bar.

Hopleaf - excellent selection of Belgian beers.


Cubs game at Wrigley

Comedy revue at Second City

Museum of Science and Industry

A neighborhood festival

A day at Oak St. Beach


Concert at Millennium Park

A night at B.L.U.E.S.

Show at new venue Lincoln Hall