It’s been almost 11 years since my first comic convention. The date was August 13-15, 2004. Myself and the head Monster, Aaron, travelled all the way to Chicago. We drove all night long after I’d worked that day, but I was 24 and was young enough (and dumb enough) to take on such a thing. I’m not sure if Aaron had any idea what we were in store for, but looking back I can honestly say I had no clue what I was doing but that made it an even better adventure.
Wizard World Chicago was a big deal and though I was in way over my head I loved it. I went with too much money and very little smarts, but I knew that we would be leaving Chicago as very happy nerds.
I do wish I had taken pictures. These days, when I go to a Con I’ll blast pictures of everything cool from cosplayers to toys I can’t afford. Back then the only pictures I took on the whole trip were from the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower). While the city of Chicago is very impressive at night from atop the tallest building in the US, Wizard World was equally impressive to the eyes of this dork.
That single regret aside, I came away with so many other things. In those days I collected everything I loved. I am much more selective now, but then I bought anything that caught my eye. I know I left Chicago with Batman ‘89 toys, Captain Power, Thundercats, Bravestarr, vintage Masters of the Universe, 200X Masters of the Universe, vintage TMNT, Ghostbusters, and the “Quiver” story-arc from Green Arrow.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten more about the Con than I can remember, but I do know Aaron and I both stood in line to meet Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. Smith was and still is pretty much a cinematic hero, at least to me. Meeting him was a high point in my nerd life and I’ll always keep the Jay and Silent Bob comic and toys that I got signed that day. We also sat through a Kevin Smith panel, listening to him tell his vulgar stories and fat guy jokes straight from the horse’s mouth. It made for an awesome experience.
Joss Whedon was another guest at Wizard World Chicago that year. I was highly impressed by his resume at the time (Toy Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Astonishing X-Men,) but I opted to spend my time shopping the floor. I’m almost 100% certain Aaron went to meet Mr. Whedon who has gone on to become THE man for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
[Editor’s Note: Hey guys! This is Aaron. Even though I’m glad Travis included me in going to Kevin Smith’s panel with him, I was actually standing in line to get Joss Whedon and John Cassady’s autograph on my Astonishing X-Men comics I brought with me and you could only choose one event ticket a day, and Whedon won out that day. I do regret not going to see Smith speak, but I was right there with Travis to shake his hand and get his autograph the next day. My signed comics are prominently displayed in my game room and, just like Travis, it reminds me of my first awesome road trip with one of my best friends. Sorry for hijacking the article for a moment Travis. I return you to your regularly scheduled article.]
Wizard World Chicago will always have a soft spot in my geek heart as my first Con and I’d love to find the time to make it back to Chicago for another convention one day, but at least I can look back on the memories of my first Con until I do. In fact, Aaron and I did make it back to Chicago for Wizard World again the following year but life and adulthood happens and we didn’t get to make it an annual trip beyond those two years. One day we’ll make it back and I hope I can look on it again as the naive nerd I was back in 2004 and not with the jaded eyes of a learned geek that I have seen so many become.