I have no idea who keeps saying that the Wizard Chicago is dying as the show keeps getting bigger as far as I can see.
We were staying out in Algonquin with Sarah's cousin and her husband, so there were sadly no after hours con antics this year. That was a little disappointing, but oh well, we survived.
Thursday we showed up about 4:30 expecting the registration process to be a pain. It was anything but. Well, they had the press line mislabeled so I had to wait in line twice, but if that's the biggest issue there is during the registration process, I'll take it. There really weren't a lot of people there on Thursday. I was wondering if this would be an indication for the rest of the days. It wasn't. But we walked around the vendor area a bit and then walked over to Artist's Alley. We got right in Art & Franco's lines with no wait. I chatted with them a bit as they were drawing and they were fun as always. After that, Sarah walked over to talk to Tom Kelly who had a couple sketches for her that she had pre-ordered. I then got on his list and got a Flaming C from him. I'll post that later. It was almost 6:30 at this point so I made my way over to the HERO booth to get a sketch from Mike Grell. I chatted with him a bit as he was drawing and lined up an interview with him. After I got the sketch, we left for the evening as it was pushing 7:00 and we wanted to be rested for the next day.
I don't know how this happened, but we didn't know the con didn't open until noon on Friday, as we showed up just before 10. And it seems that there were about 500 other people who didn't get this message either as people were getting turned away left and right. Somehow the security let us get on the convention floor though. We were quickly turned away by the staff, though. So we drove around downtown Chicago for a while. I know... I thought that downtown Chicago was inaccesable from Rosemont as well. Who knew that it was just a 20 minute drive?
We got back to the con a little after noon and immediately went to Artist's Alley where I got on some more sketch lists. We spent most of the afternoon walking around the vendor area. I got a mountain of 50 cent books. We also ran into a friend who was working one of the booths and she told us to check out a booth on Sunday as they'd be blowing out books 2 for a quarter. So I didn't do a lot of shopping for comics until then, but I did score some awesome toys. I got some Dr. Who figures, Lord of the Rings figures, and the Validus build-a-figure. Sarah also picked up a Rowlf puppet. Before we left for the day we swung by Buffyfest to get a book signed for a friend who couldn't make it to the con. We also met up with the Seewalds and walked the floor with them for a while and then went out to dinner. Overall, Friday was a good day and it was pretty packed for a Friday.
Saturday was insanity. Pure, simple insanity. We didn't even get on the con floor until almost 11, so that cut into some plans. We spent it wandering around Artist's Alley and the vendor area as there was no way any sane person would go to the Autograph Alley on Saturday. Didn't do a lot of shopping as there were some specially inflated prices for the day, but I got a few sketches done. I think Saturday would have been my least favorite day at the show, but it was still fun.
Sunday was a nice, relaxed day. It wasn't as busy as Friday or Saturday, but it was still pretty busy for a Sunday. I got a few more sketches done and did a bit of shopping, but the highlight of the day was talking to Mike Grell. I had originally thought I'd get a 15-20 minute interview from him, but I had to cut the recording off at around the 40 minute point with only about 3/4 of my talking points covered as his handler was getting antsy. The rest of the day was spent walking around Artist's Alley where Sarah got a ton of sketches.
Overall, the show was pretty good. It definitely didn't appear to be dying as a lot of people were saying. I'm definitely looking forward to next year and I hesitate to say that I prefer this show to C2E2 as there are more shopping opportunities and more artists. As others have said, this was the biggest Artist's Alley I have ever seen at a show. Here's hoping it's similar next year!