Wizard World Chicago Report

I had a great time at Wizard World Chicago this past weekend, even though I was only there for less than six hours on Saturday. I didn’t have a booth and wasn’t scheduled to do any signings, so I just floated through the place, saw the people I wanted to see, bought a passel of comics, and left.

Of course, it wasn’t that simple.

When I walked into the main hall, the DC booth was right there. I stopped by and spotted Jim Lee and Alex Sinclair signing books, alongside Christopher Jones and a few other comics artists. Jim invited me into the booth, and I sat there and watched him sign books for twenty or thirty minutes while chatting in a few of the rare spaces that opened between fans presenting him any of the hundreds of comics he’s worked on through his long and distinguished career.

Jim’s arguably the most popular artist in comics these days and has been in the top ten for ages. His current project is All-Star Batman and Robin, which Frank Miller of Sin City fame is writing. I haven’t read the first issue yet, but it looks incredible.

Alex is Jim’s colorist on just about everything he does, as well as many other amazing books. I believe he mentioned he’s working on four books a month, which blows my mind. His work just brings Jim’s to life.

Chris sat at the other end of the table, so I didn’t get to chat with him much. He’s the artist on the hilarious Dr. Blink, Superhero Shrink, which my pal John Kovalic writes while he’s not writing and drawing Dork Tower or illustrating what seems like a dozen games at once. I didn’t realize that Chis also illustrates The Batman Strikes for DC, which means I now must track that down for my son Marty, who’s just getting into reading comics.

After that, I wandered around the hall and met Adam Fortier of Speakeasy Comics. He happened to be talking to a guy for whom I’d signed a copy of Blood Bowl the week before at Games Day Chicago. When he found out I’m working with the Black Library, he confessed to being huge Games Workshop fan.

Only a few gaming companies came to the show, but they were there in force: Pokémon USA, Upper Deck Entertainment, and WizKids. WizKids pretty much owned the open gaming area. The only things I saw being played there were HeroClix and Mechwarrior.

I roamed through Artist’s Alley after that, which occupied the back half of the hall. While there, I ran into a number of friends like Steve Sullivan, one of my fellow Alliterates.

I also met Emily Fiegenschuh and her husband Vinod Rams. Emily creates the beautiful covers and interior illustrations for all of the books in the Knights of the Silver Dragon series that launched last year with my first novel, Secret of the Spiritkeeper. Vinod is a fine artists as well, who creates the covers for other books from Wizards of the Coast, including the Dragonlance: The New Adventures series. They just moved to Madison, Wisconsin, so I’m hoping to get to see more of them soon.

The most unusual encounter of the show happened with Dave Aikins. I spotted him sitting behind a stack of Dora the Explorer books. Since my quads are such huge fans of the show, I just had to pick up a copy, and he was kind enough to draw a sketch of Dora saying “Hola!” to them all. While he worked on the sketch, I glanced around at his other work and saw a different but familiar style.

Turns out that Dave illustrates games for my friends at Twilight Creations. Better yet, I’ve written a few story-adventures for their When Darkness Comes… game, and Dave illustrated those stories, including one that featured four heads in the trunk of a car. Juxtaposed with the Dora books, well, let’s just say that Dave is obviously a man with a wide variety of art styles and interests and does an excellent job at them all.

Just as I was leaving, Liz Fulda (of Sphinx Group) and cutting-edge artist John Galati ambushed me in front of a graphic novels display. I caught up with them for a while before promising to see them at Gen Con Indy, which starts in just over a week.