— Johnny Depp as Paul Kemp from
The Rum Diary, 2011
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August 30, 2014
Inside look at Comic Con Chicago
— Posted by Jim Alexander
This past weekend The Wizard World Chicago Comic Con took place. I was fortunate to be on hand and cover the four day weekend for The Movie Blog. Living minutes away from the convention center, sure made things a lot easier on partaking in the daily madness. The following is my sole experience, opinion, and commentary on the event. You might agree or disagree with my thoughts but this is what I experienced…
The Comic Con officially started on Wednesday night for me. It was media night at a local restaurant/bar. Jerry Milani who is the man that runs the event and is in charge of linking the celebrities with the media. Jerry had arranged an interview with Lou Ferrigno and Jason David Frank. To those of you unaware, it’s the the original Incredible Hulk and Green/White Power Ranger. The solid interviews. Ferrigno is who he appears to be on TV, pretty damn intense. Lots of talk about power and strength? JDF, was extremely personable and fun. For someone I grew up watching on FOX Kids every day after school, the nostalgia was revisited while chatting with him. He is a veteran of these conventions, but a solid dude.
Thursday arrived. Morning started out by heading to the Music Box Theater for a screening of Michael Rooker’s Web PSA on safe driving. Michael Rooker sure has a gift for talking. Jerry, had to pry us apart as Michael would have given me an hour long interview. Really a solid dude. Hard to fathom he’s a pretty big celebrity, humble and grounded guy. Thursday marked as the preview day of the ensuing madness. It was a slow moving night at comic con. Few panels, limited amount of celebrity guests. Most notably John Cena was there, and seemingly everyone flocked to see him. I had attended a panel for podcaster’s and journalists that was hosted by Southgate Media. They were very informative, and helpful. Learned a lot of tricks about podcasting that will aid me in our upcoming podcast for The Movie Blog. Stay tuned, it’s coming soon!
Friday was a big day for me. Overall it was the best night to be there as a press member. It’s not too packed. Half of the featured celebs arrive by Friday, and everything is fairly accessible. My first interview encounter happened in the bathroom stalls of all places! An awkward area to speak to anyone, much less the voice of Batman himself Kevin Conroy. I had asked if Kevin if he would be interested in an interview for the site to which he politely declined as Warner Bros. wasn’t contractually allowing him to do interviews. That would be something I would come to learn over the next couple of days. How restricted some of these people are to speak to media outlets. I approached the handlers for BooBoo Stewart from Twilight/X-Men Days of Future Past. My take away from our interview was that not only was he pretty interesting and a huge comic book fan, but he was a really nice, soft-spoken guy. Up next was a long time favorite of mine Shawn Ashmore. Shaw will go down as one of my favorite interviews I have ever conducted. As nice of a guy as you will come across, not only in Hollywood. Super down to earth, gracious, and fun. Interviewing actors, directors, and producers isn’t always the most most pleasurable experience. Some are dry, bored, and generally uninterested. Shawn was just a pure class act. If you ever come across him on the streets definitely introduce yourself to him. He made time for all the fans that came around to him that I witnessed.
Next up, Saturday. The day of madness at comic con. By far, the busiest day of them all. Packed with thousands of people, hard to get around anywhere. Lines are miles long. Kids, parents, geeks, even some of those old creepy guys, they were all there on Saturday. Every celebrity scheduled was in attendance. Hard to get one-on-one time for media, as the celebs are ushered back and forth between autograph appearances and photo ops. I invested my time into checking out some panels. There was a pilot screening of the upcoming FOX show Gotham. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show, figured it would be a boom or bust kinda deal. After seeing the pilot, I have no doubts this will be the hit show of 2014. Following the screening, there was a autograph signing with some of the cast from the show. I spent a few minutes chatting them up. A real solid bunch of rising actors. Very personable and cool. Excited for the show. I continued trying to pry away some celebs for a few minutes, most were to no avail. The handlers are either completely ignorant and rude and won’t even allow any press to get close enough to ask the talent themselves if they are open to an interview. I was told to come back the next day on a couple people. One of them being Evan Peters (more on that in the next paragraph). I managed to get into the packed panel for Guardians of the Galaxy. Michael Rooker and Dave Bautista tore down the house. One of the funniest and very entertaining Q & A panels I’ve ever been a part of. Saturday was a bit hard to enjoy due to the sheer amount of people and general craziness.
And then there was Sunday. The final day of the convention. There is no denying I was exhausted and slightly out of it mentally. There really is no need for a four day convention Friday-Sunday should be more than enough. I got the start to my day by visiting the X-Men Q & A panel. The panel featured BooBoo Stewart, Shawn Ashmore, and Evan Peters. The panel was very entertaining, mainly due to Shawn and BooBoo. The fans lined up to ask questions, some silly and some actually good. No matter what the question was Shawn and BooBoo did their best to interact and answer the fans. Evan Peters did not. He struck me as aloof and odd. Never met the guy to this point, haven’t seen all his work, but he either wasn’t in a good mood or was on some sort of hallucinogens. If I recount he didn’t answer a single question. Instead he decided it would be cool to hum, make weird sounds, and answer “No” or “I don’t know”. The guy struck me as either a major goof or a tool. After the panel concluded, my curiosity led me straight to Evan’s handlers to see if he would be up for a quick interview. He definitely had a long line of fans trying to get his autograph. After the line fizzled out, I approach his handler for permission (yeah, it’s that guarded). They agreed to letting me approach him for an interview. Now, this is a solid opportunity for the talent to do a quick interview and get some free publicity. As I asked Evan if he would be willing to give a few minutes for The Movie Blog, he gave me a weird look and in disgust said I’m not interested. I will preface my upcoming statement by saying that I don’t expect everyone to want to conduct an interview. I get the fact that they might be tired, or just not feeling it, however there is a right way to go about that. He could have simply told his handlers that he wasn’t doing interviews. It appeared to me he was just trying to be a douchebag and deny me to my face. Witnessing the panel beforehand told me all I need to know about the guy. There is a way to conduct yourself in the business, act like you have some class. His cast-mates certainly have that. Use your powers “Quicksilver” and go away…
Overall, Comic Con was a heck of an event. If you have yet to experience it, do it. I had a press pass, so luckily for me I had my admission covered, although the prices to attend the event are pretty steep. It amazes me that people throw down chunks of cash to attend the entire weekend. It’s like $50-60 a day. The money being spent at these conventions is insane. People come out with luggage’s and stacked boxes on a dollies packed with items bought. Where do all these geeks have all that cash from? The cosplay peeps were representing in full-force. From multiple Joker’s to Elsa from Frozen, they were all dressed to impress. Some did impress, others not quite. They are an interesting group of people. It’s like Halloween, but Sci-Fi version. The one thing I found fascinating was the Sci-Fi Speed Dating. It basically consists of geeks interacting with fellow geeks. Costumes are apparently encouraged. Women get in for free, while men pay $20 to participate. Rules are that you must be single and over 18. Wonder if there were some successful love connection being made? Like I said these conventions have it all. One big change I noticed at this Comic Con compared to past ones was the actual selection and pricing of comics. There were around 15 comic book vendors, which pales in comparison to previous years. There were more vendors selling t-shirts, and video games than comic books! Isn’t this supposed to be a comic book convention after all? The prices of the comic were much higher than in previous years. Last year I found multiple vendors selling comics for 25 or 50 cents, this year only one vendor sold “recent” comics for a dollar. Most vendors prices for comics starting at $5. Surprising, are we in a comic drought? Anyways, I had a great time on the behalf of The Movie Blog. I will be posting the interviews I conducted, so make sure to check those out.
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When it boils down to it, Jim's passion is entertainment. Aside from being an avid sports fan, that follows all things NFL, NBA, and Soccer. He currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago. At the core of his interests...movies! Whether trying to catch the newest flick coming out this weekend, or the latest On Demand release, to heated debates with his friends and colleagues about the most recent "Box Office Blunder". The passion for movies lies deep within him. When he isn't writing, he immerses himself in his other interests; Acting and Radio Broadcasting. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimRko.
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