Chicago, Day 1: Seen & Heard on the Con Floor

  • The costumed crazies got off to a late start Friday. I didn't see my first "Star Wars" stormtrooper until 10:40 a.m. - but a minute later, a black-garbed TIE-fighter pilot was spotted around the corner from his Imperial brother-in-arms. Will someone please tell these folks that WWC is a comic book convention, not a science-fiction dress-up party?
  • The first sweaty Ghostbuster was sighted about 11:45 a.m., in case anyone was keeping track. Fill those packs with water, fellas. Hydrate.
  • The DC Comics booth is always a big attraction at Wizard World. Not only is it one of the largest booths, it's also prominently located right near the front doors. Monitors gave fans glimpses of the "Batman Begins" trailer and the new "Batman" animated series.
  • The View Askew booth has plenty of new merchandise available for fans of Kevin Smith's films and comic-book projects. T-shirts, DVDs, hats, action figures posters and bumper stickers can be found here - as can Walt Flanagan, who helps run the booth and also has acted in Smith's movies. "About half" of the booth visitors recognize him from the films, Flanagan said. "They're a little stunned."
  • Artist Michael Turner signed plenty of autographs at the Aspen Comics booth. He also talked about what a blast he's having on the "Superman/Batman" title with writer Jeph Loeb. "The story's getting crazier and crazier," Turner said. "Wait 'til you see issue 12."
  • Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada praised the "Astonishing X-Men" work of Wizard World guest of honor Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday during his regular Cup o' Joe Q&A session. "To me, this is a perfect comic book, guys," he told the crowd.
  • Quesada also promised the return of "What If" as a fifth-week event in December 2005. Writers will include Brian Michael Bendis, Kevin Smith and Peter David.
  • The coolest free giveaway so far has been the yellow cardboard Wonder Woman tiaras at the DC booth. There's a certain 2-year-old I know who adores hers.
  • So, have you ever wondered about those volunteers in the orange T-shirts who stand at the ends of lines and try to manage crowds? Wonder no more. Frank Boyle of Evergreen Park, Ill., had the honor of holding the "I'm soooo the last in line" sign during a morning Michael Turner autograph session. He doesn't mind the pressure of the job. "It's no big deal," he said.
  • Mad props to the aforementioned Bendis for his absolutely inspiring "Writers Write!" seminar. By dispelling the myth of writer's block, suggesting authors and playwrights to read and sharing tips about scripting dialogue, Bendis gave a roomful of aspiring writers one heck of a pep talk. His best piece of advice: "A great scene is one you get into late and leave early."

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