The Chicago Comic-Con, aka Wizard World Chicago kicks off today in Rosemont, headlined by William Shatner and lots and lots of old actors and wrestlers and even a few comics folks, like Jill Thompson and Michael Golden. There are also things like the Julia Jones VIP Package, which we don’t want to know anything about.
The complete guest list is here and programming here. The programming doesn’t really resemble a comic-con, with lots of TV and movie screenings and talks, a handful of comics stuff…and then, for some reason, this:
THE EVOLUTIONARY GROWTH OF DIECAST CARS AND DIECAST CAR COLLECTING
The Car Culture and America’s love for the Automobile is reflected in the production smaller scale replica counterparts.
As the car culture grows throughout the United States and beyond, so does the fascination with its smaller scale replica counterparts. As the car industry as grown through the years, so has the interest in diecast cars in varying scales and this interest has sparked the emergence of new manufacturers and talented designers of diecast replica cars and has created new ways to represent what the car lover and collectors have known for years. Majestic beauty in the form of sculpted metal.
Panelists – Chris “Night Stalker” Walker, Dwayne Vance and Eric Tscherne.
Wizard recently partnered with Creation Entertainment to brand their shows as even more of a “nerdlebrity autograph show.” Creation has been throwing shows like this for 30+ years, and the Wizard shows increasingly fit in much more with that niche than actual comics shows.
Speaking of nerdlebrities, the Chicago Tribune has a fantastic must-read behind the scenes look at the circuit and the dos and don’ts and players:
It’s a common sight at conventions — B- and C-list actors, wrestlers, the men who spent careers inside monster suits, “people who’ve been in something or done something at some point in time” (as Reed Exhibitions vice president Lance Fensterman put it) corralled in a ballroom, sitting behind a booth, waiting for a fan to walk up and ask for an autograph or a photograph, charging an average $20 (per signature) for the privilege. A few, the biggest names, just keep up with the demand, signing efficiently and grinning; while others, the marginal, can come off as too eager, said Paul Maiellaro, the organizer behind the Chicagoland Entertainment Collectors Expo, “ready pounce on the first person within three feet of them.”
The article mentions that seeing a “big” star — like Lou Ferrigno, making their own change can be disillusioning. Some get bit guarantees. Some get expenses. And some, like Felix Silla, even pay their own way just to get contact with fans and make a little extra change,
He played Cousin Itt on the “Addams Family” TV series, wore the Twiki robot suit on “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” and was an Ewok in “Return of the Jedi.” He’s 73. He mostly pays his own way to conventions. “If it costs me $300 or $400 in expenses, I’m leaving with what I make beyond that. But I don’t do it for the money. The money is just OK. I have a pension from the Screen Actors Guild. I get Social Security. Really, I do it because I finally get to show the fans who was beneath those costumes. But you know, I never got a dime of residuals on ‘The Addams Family.’ This is how I make residuals.”
Some, like Christopher Knight, are just giving the circuit a try, but as an experiment. He says he’s trying it for a year to see how it goes.
“I am a bit on the fence. I still believe in the mystery of celebrity. I think less is more. But some of the (celebrities at conventions), you wonder what the lure is — they show up so often everyone who wants their autograph in that city probably has it. Why go? Well, some, as long as they’re flown out, seem to do it for the satisfaction of being flown out. I don’t get that. It needs to be meaningful to me. Monetarily meaningful to me. I mean, this is a business.”
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.