As reported earlier, my fair city got the ball rolling toward their first Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) that will be happening a year from now (April 16-18, 2010) at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago with a launch party at John Barleycorn's in Wrigleyville that happened Thursday night. Hosted by Show Director Lance Fensterman, Sales Manager Larry Settembrini and Programming Manager Peter Tatara of Reed Exhibitions, this 3-hour mixer gave fans and local comic book retailers a chance to meet as well as drumming up excitement for the first big event happening this time next year.
I was invited to attend and able to bring along my Best Shots colleague, Jamie Trecker. United we make up the Chicago representation of Newsarama's weekly book review feature. The fine folks at Reed Exhibitions put together a very impressive spread on the top floor of John Barleycorn's, a popular pre- and post-game venue for Chicago Cubs fans. Fortunately the Cubs wrapped up their day game hours earlier, so the Mardi Gras-like atmosphere the neighborhood in known for during baseball season had long dissipated. Jamie and I weren't really sure what to expect with this party, but we were pleasantly surprised to see hundreds in attendance in Barleycorn's spacious upper floor.
Overall it was a casual event that allowed people to mingle, but one bit of news was announced early on by Fensterman, and that was that next year's Comic-Con will have their first guest of honor, Alex Ross, fitting in that he is from the area. He will eventually produce some art for the convention to be unveiled at a later date. The room's stage area was used for the emcees to make this announcement, along with calling names for raffle drawings they held over the course of the evening (prizes included Blackest Night #0 signed by Geoff Johns, The Unwritten #1 signed by Peter Gross, and the Inauguration Day Spider-Man signed by Joe Quesada) and several rounds of the Rock Band video game for guests to play.
Industry folks in attendance included John Shableski from Diamond Comic Distributors, Steve Rotterdam of DC Comics and Josh Blaylock from Devil's Due. Jamie and I got to spend some time with one local creator, Brian Azzarello (whose wife, fellow artist Jill Thompson, was also in attendance). Most of the conversation was shared between Jamie and Brian as they quickly found that they had a shared love of soccer. On the outside looking in, I was amused to see that Brian was just as familiar with Jamie's work (not related to Newsarama) as Jamie was of his.
The couple of hours we were there went by like a breeze, helped all the more by the open bar that was in full effect. I think I speak for Jamie as well as myself when I suggest that if last night's lauch party was any indication, Chicago is in for a very exciting 2010 and onward. We had an excellent time and were very impressed with what Reed Exhibitions put on for the local fans.