11:50 am Hello Chicago! This year thought I would skip O’Hare and try the much smaller Midway airport. I had one carryon (mostly my Girls Night Out comics and a banner stand), so took the CTA into downtown Chicago. Cost $2.25, instead of plunking down $40+ for a taxi.
Walked the few blocks from the subway station to my hotel to check-in and drop off my bag.The show has already been open for three hours now I need to get down there.
2 pm Whoops- sidetracked by the Lego store right outside my hotel. Best pick-a-brick wall I’ve ever seen! Grabbed a lunch to go at Asian fast food outpost Wow Bao. $6 for two buns – teriyaki chicken bun, Thai peanut noodles and a coconut custard dessert bun.
I ate while walking down the fabled Magificent Mile to the Graham Crackers store on East Madison. The plan was to duck into the store while waiting for the free shuttle to the con, but the bus was already there!
3 pm Arrived at the humungoid McCormick Place. Setup my shared table in Artist Alley with Brian Shearer. 5 minutes later father looking for comics for his daughter- score!
5 pm Initial excitement slowly turns to boredom. I build a Lego house for my Deadpool minifigure. Time to take a walk and get coffee. Ran into James Tynion IV and we go in search of a Starbucks. A tall frappucino seems ridiculous at $5 so instead I shell out $3.75 for a latte. We walk the floor a bit, run into Christy Blanch, who has been making waves with her super popular online course “Gender Through Comics” at the Marvel booth, before heading back to our respective tables.
7 pm floor closes. The con spills out into the adjacent hotel filling up the hotel bar and spilling out into all the nooks and crannies. I join the crazy cab line outside the hotel. C.B. Cebulski, Tom Brevoort, Jill Thompson, Brian Azzarello, guests at the dinner are already there but fortunately we are headed to the same place, the annual C2E2 dinner organized by ReedExpo.
8 :10 pm the lengthy and slow moving cab line means we’re late arriving at the Little Goat. Expectations are high since last year’s dinner was so good. Boom! and former Top Cow publisher Filip Sablick is there, and the other guests Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5) and Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, Tron) proved to be amiable dinner companions. We head back to Hyatt bar where CB bought a round for our group and chatted for a while.
8:15 am arrive early at the Hyatt for breakfast with a bunch of cool comics women. Carol Tilley arrives next, then Marvel editor Ellie Pyle, the Beat’s Heidi MacDonald, CBR’s Brigid Alverson (one of the few journalists left in this business) and finally Tina Coleman in a bright wig. We had a spirited discussion on Chicago and salty meats. I had an okay corned beef hash. $3 tofu scramble, which was more accurately just diced tofu with a bit of seasoning, but if you’re a vegetarian on a budget it would do the job.
10 am Increased security and bag checks means delays in entering the show floor. Fortunately I had an exhibitor’s pass. Lots and lots of first time con goers. A young boy gripping a sketchbook is on the hunt for artists. He’s definitely not a first timer.
3 pm Starved. Everything tells me not to go to the food court but I do anyway, because I’m too low on energy to go outside. Brian told me already his horror story of paying $27 for a mediocre sandwich drink and snack. I tried to minimize the damage and spent $3 on a very regrettable donut to tide me over until dinner.
7 pm show floor closes. We head to Kroll’s a few minutes walk away for a meet up of comics creators including Andy Schmidt, Ryan Browne, Josh Fialkov, Ed Brisson, Nick Dedual, Shaun Manning, Paul Allor. Respectable alcohol menu – I try to drown out the bad donut experience with an Abita Purple Haze beer.
8 pm Many pros like Jim McCann (writer Mind the Gap, Lost Vegas) already know Chicago’s Chinatown is a reliable nearby spot for decent and cheap food. We walk to the Sun Bros’ haunt, the Phoenix Restaurant. The decor was non-existent, but they had a smattering of late night dim sum and decent fried noodles, a welcome change from pricey convention hotel food. For more of a Chinese diner experience, St. Alp’s Teahouse on the first level of the building had a great and very typical fast casual Hong Kong selection.
10 pm We head back to the Hyatt bar. As expected much more crowded than the previous night. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is there. We manage to snag seats by the bar which becomes very important – as it quickly becomes impossible to get any of the harried bartender’s attention. A wedding party shows up looking bemused and incredibly out of place.
As the night wore on, the crowd thinned. Food popped up everywhere. Ross Richie was sharing pizza leftover from the Valiant crew. Jill Thompson passed around some of her homemade cookies. Meanwhile shot glasses were appearing and Nick Barrucci seemed to be in the middle of it.
2 am Last call – suddenly everyone seemed to have two drinks in hand.
2:30 am Regretting the choice of staying outside the convention. Fortunately got a cab easily and made my way back uptown.
11 am Floor is already bustling with people, especially at the Athleta Comics booth where Israel Idonije, the 6′ 6″ defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears, is doing photo ops with some very excited kids. Feeling very small, I duck behind him to deliver a croissant to a hungry looking Ron Marz before heading back at my table.
2:30 pm Once again starved. My table mate Brian graciously heads out of the convention center and returns with a filet o’ fish for me. (Filet o’ fish is my go to comfort food.)
5 pm Everyone cheered as the overhead lights dimmed to signal the end of the convention. Packed up, said my goodbyes and shared a cab with Brandon Peterson to Midway airport.Despite some traffic, we made good time. After a huge checkin line, security was a breeze and we hit Gold Coast Dogs. The Chicago Style dog with everything on it proved to be the perfect note with which to end the convention.
8 pm boarded my plane for home.