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Wizard World Chicago 2008 (part the first)

Monday, June 30th, 2008 by Dave Wachter

It’s monday afternoon. I finally got a decent night’s sleep, my first in weeks and a welcome turn from the scant few hours I found resting during the controlled chaos weekend experiment of convention goodness that was Wizard World 2008. The memories toss inside my head like the numbered balls in the lottery, randomly bouncing off the inside of my skull battling for supremacy until one lucky moment in time struggles it’s way to the top spot and readies itself as it turns to face the camera and have it’s meaning revealed.

I spent the vast amount of my convention time behind the table, playing good little soldier, hocking my wares, pressing the flesh, making with the conversation and sketching, sketching, sketching, and sketching. This is how I experience most of my convention hours at every show, at the home base, staying in one spot as much of the convention passes in front of me with little parts of the whole breaking off from the tidal flow and washing up on the shores of the table I shared in Artist Alley. And, despite my occasional(sometimes frequent) complaints, I’m more than happy to do it. Especially when I’m fortunate enough to be parked next to a legend of the convention circuit, and more importantly, one of my greatest friends, the magnanimous Pat Loika.

Action at the Dial R table was constant throughout the weekend. The rare lull in the action I used to catch up on the sketches, though I always felt like I was falling behind and struggling to keep up with the requests. Despite the fraying of a few nerve cells, this was a welcome problem to have. Loads of fantastic people came by to get a sketch, to pick up a book or two, or just to say hello and tell us about their own experiences at the show, some of which were bizarre and all were entertaining. I dare not attempt to name everyone who stopped by. I’ve tried this in the past, but feel it would prove too difficult this time around. I fear leaving somebody off the list and it would require hours of thought to complete the task. So I’ll just say this: comic book fans are the greatest damn people on the face of the planet. Despite the chaos and confusion that can come from an event of this magnitude, not a single soul was mean spirited or selfish. Everyone I met was gracious, kind, bringing energy and excitement with them over to our little corner of the con floor. So many warm thoughts, kind words and generous deeds that they become difficult to describe as the memories of each entangle with each other to form the larger picture of one of the greatest con experiences I have had.

This is my fourth year of making the convention scene as an exhibitor and for the first time I can proudly make this statement: I sold out. Chicago marked the debut of the new title from the team that brought the world Scar Tissue: James Andrew Clark and myself have developed a western titled The Guns of Shadow Valley. I brought with me the Convention Preview edition, basically it’s 17 and a half pages of issue one, and a few pages of exclusive extras(including a letter from a prospector back home to his family beautifully penned by Mr. Clark), designed to bring attention to this new endeavor of ours. I left a blank area on the back cover, roughly the size of a postcard, so that I could do a head sketch for every issue that sold. Making a new comic is like taking a little piece of yourself and putting down into a form that reveals itself to the eyes and scrutiny of other people. Thoughts of worry and doubt always creep in as you first make efforts to expose your work to the public. All the excitement, frustration, the battles, the victories and the losses, the desires and hope, the long hours behind a keyboard and hunched over a drawing table, are all contained within those few pages of fragile paper, ink, and a couple of staples. By Sunday every copy was gone. Not a single issue to take back home. The premier showing of The Guns of Shadow Valley sold out! The sense of pride and satisfaction I have from this almost feels boastful, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to bathe in it’s glow for a little while. People seem to really respond strongly to the book and I couldn’t be any happier about that. So many people saying so many nice things about my work, it just makes me fell so damn good. We’re going to have to order a bigger print run for San Diego!

There’s more to come. I’ve only scratched the surface so far. I have the day off work, dedicated to my recovery. I’ll most likely be spending most of that time collecting my thoughts and trying to recount all the crazy shit that went down this weekend. Until then, here’s some pictures:

The Dial R Studios table:

Pat Loika!!

Spiral when she was young:

Cullen Bunn, great guy and the writer of the incrdible series from Oni Press: The Damned:

Chris Mitten, uber-talented artist on Oni’s Wasteland, and an extra nice guy:

The floor from the retailers area:

Indy and Indy Jr:

Phantom Rider/Ghost Rider sketch: