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Entries in Chicago (6)

Monday
Aug022010

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.

Tuesday
Jul272010

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!

Monday
Jun142010

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.  

Eats

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.  

Drinks

aliveOne - my favorite local bar.

Hopleaf - excellent selection of Belgian beers.

Sights

Cubs game at Wrigley

Comedy revue at Second City

Museum of Science and Industry

A neighborhood festival

A day at Oak St. Beach

Sounds 

Concert at Millennium Park

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

Show at new venue Lincoln Hall

 

Monday
Jun072010

Saying Goodbye to Chicago

On the Chicago River in 2004, the visit right before I moved. The Trump building is now where the Sun Times building is here.As some of you know, I have recently been wrestling with the decision to leave Chicago, a fabulous city that I've called home for more than 5 years.  After weighing my professional options, personal feelings, and overall desire for change, I have decided to say goodbye to the Windy City and move to Philadelphia, my hometown. 

I have always known that I would want to reunite with my friends and family on the East Coast, and this summer feels like the right time.  I look forward to the energy and motivation that will come from this transition. 

I have made many amazing friends in Chicago, and I will sorely miss your frequent company.  You have welcomed me into your lives and I will be ever grateful for your friendship.  You know that I will be back in the Midwest often, and now you have the perfect excuse to visit the city I've been extolling for so long. 

Thank you so much to everyone who offered their support and advice throughout this process.  It feels good to know that I have friends and family who care about my future. 

So, in a few short weeks, around July 21-22, I will be packing up and heading East.  So spread the word and get ready for my return to Philly!  

Thursday
Mar042010

Burroughs Film Kicks Off CIMMfest

The Chicago International Movies and Music Festival returns in its second year March 4 - 7, sporting an impressive lineup of events that highlight the blending of two complimentary mediums.  The innovative festival kicks off with the Chicago Premiere screening of William Burroughs: A Man Within


The startling documentary by Chicago-born director Yony Leyser features never before seen footage of the legendary beat author, as well as exclusive interviews with many of his close friends and colleagues, including John Waters, David Cronenberg, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and Jello Biafra, among others.  Actor Peter Weller provides narration. 

Watching the trailer for this movie gave me the chills.  Having gone through a prodigious beat phase in my teenage years, I dutifully read Burroughs' Naked Lunch and Junky along with Kerouac and Ginsberg.  The works could not have been more different, as instead of the open road and collective consciousness, Burroughs offered almost schizophrenic talk of heroin abuse and assholes, queer life and firearms.  He lived a life of struggle, with addiction, being openly gay, and the consequences of shooting his wife.  His was an unenviable fame.

To view the man in the taut, sallow flesh was something else entirely, to actually see the man within these seminal works once banned by the U.S. Government.  And though I knew of his import in the popular culture, I had no idea he touched the lives of so many film and music icons.  This film will be a powerpunch opening for CIMMfest, enhanced by live performances from Thee Majesty & Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Penny Arcade, both of whom are featured in the film.

This opening night morsel only whets the appetite for the eclectic events throughout the weekend at locations like Schubas, Lincoln Hall, and St. Paul's Community Center.  Other highlights of the weekend include documentaries on The Mountain Goats, Paul Stanley from KISS, System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian, and cult legend Robyn Hitchcock, who also gives an exclusive live performance. 

Check out the full list of films here for what is Chicago's newest addition to an already stellar array of festivals.