The Wizard World Comic Con Chicago is now one of about two dozen stops on a Wizard World Comic Con Tour, and the growth has been incredible. When we first started attending, the entire event was in one Hall at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, with panels held in a series of ballrooms. Fast-forward, and the event now takes up three Halls, the ballroom area, and has a much more streamlined and welcoming entrance area that's packed with excitement - music pumping, cosplayers stopping for photos, and a cross-section of attendees making their way to all the events. For THE ROCK DAUGHTERS' first proper Comic Con, it was a little bit overwhelming (keep in mind, they're just 3 and 6), but dressed as Batgirl and Spider-girl, they fit right in. Some highlights of our visit...
"Daddy, will there be STAR WARS at Wizard World?"
That's what little Finley asked me before we headed out to the show, and I assured her that there would be.
While the STAR WARS guests (a staple of years past) were absent, the presence of the legendary 501st Legion was certainly felt. The girls caught up with Darth Maul, a First Order Stormtrooper from the upcoming STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, an Imperial Astromech Droid, several Mandalorian Warriors, Jedi Master Shaak Ti, Han Solo, Chopper from STAR WARS REBELS and many other familiar characters from a galaxy far, far away... all cosplaying to various levels of awesome.
Also, I picked up nine Vintage Kenner STAR WARS Figures from a place called "JB Comics"
If you're here, you probably know how much I love KNIGHT RIDER. The girls have already been indoctrinated into that world, and while my wife isn't as into it as I am, the little ones know to get excited when K.I.T.T. is around. Over the years, we've seen a number of K.I.T.T. replicas and screen-used cars, but this weekend we encountered one of the most beautiful replicas that I've ever encountered - a car known as Notchback K.I.T.T. While the vehicle is perhaps one of the most screen-accurate (seriously, I've seen some really good and some really terrible interiors, and this one is beautiful - and functional), it's also got one distinctive feature that's not screen-accurate: the "notchback." Unlike the K.I.T.T. that fans are familiar with, Notchback K.I.T.T. keeps the unique and rare hatchback that was only offered for one year - 1988, and with only 718 Pontiac Trans Am GTA's produced with the feature. The family behind this interesting spin on one of TV's most famous rides is also behind America's Footprints, and spends much of their time (and the donations taken for pictures with the car) to do some good.
A couple of old friends of mine, both Kurtzman and Kosar are special FX masters. Bob has worked on over 400 films, directed WISHMASTER, wrote the original story for FROM DUSK TILL DAWN (and personally hired an unknown writer named Quentin Tarantino to pen the screenplay), and is someone I've been lucky enough to have as a friend for over a decade. His Ohio-based Robert Kurtzman's Creature Corps was the base of operations for the PRODUCT OF HATE music videos that I directed awhile back. Kurtzman not only appeared as part of the Bruce Campbell Horror Fest, but also gave a panel discussing his long history in the special FX and makeup industry.
Kosar, a local to the Chicago area, was named the Season 4 champion of SyFy's FACE OFF back in 2013. Now, through his Kosart Atelier School for the Entertainment Arts he's teaching others how to master a craft in which many have taken interest, largely thanks to FACE OFF itself. When we stopped by his booth, he was working on a Lovecraftian Innsmouth Fish-man, and the girls were a little weirded-out.
Baby Groot, Harley Quinn and Cosplay Galore:
Cosplay is bigger than ever, and it's a lot more mainstream. This year, I'm calling BATMAN villain Harley Quinn as one of the most popular (perhaps the most popular) for women. We found one of the best ones - a girl decked-out similar to Margot Robbie in the upcoming SUICIDE SQUAD film, and she became a quick ally of little Batgirl and Spider-girl.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is also huge now, and with Michael Rooker on-hand, folks were eager to show-off their costumes. We spotted a ton of characters, but only one fully-functional Baby Groot!
Disney... especially Disney•Pixar's INSIDE OUT was massive this year. While I didn't get photos, there were countless versions of the "emotions" from the recent INSIDE OUT roaming about. Also, the Princesses were big, as were the residents of Arendelle.
After heading over the MB Financial Park for dinner at KINGS, the girls couldn't resist catching up with "Elsa," who happened to be not with Anna, but with Princess Jasmine. We also found out that Aladdin is sporting a different look these days, and he's a big fan of MARVEL's THE PUNISHER.
There were Ghostbusters everywhere this year, and I even spotted some with a version of the GB logo that was "throwing up the horns." But then we ran into this one, who had just finished his shift and was getting ready for dinner. Pretty cool how the new PKE Meters look like iPhones...
While these were just a few highlights for our family, there's so much to do at Wizard World, you have to be there to experience it. From panels and celebrity guests, to costume contests, parties, shopping and more, there's truly something for everyone. Visit WizardWorld.com to find a Wizard World Comic Con coming to a city near you.