We got this open letter from Patrick Brower of Challengers Comics + Conversation in Chicago, and it’s a little hypeish, but it sounds like this weekend’s Windy City Con was a fun, successful event, so let’s share in the good feeling, shall we? (Pictures here.)

Windy City ComiConQUERED

An open letter to Chris Neseman, Brion Salazar and, quite frankly, EVERYONE who attended the 2009 Windy City Comicon

I cannot count the number of comic book conventions I have been to as a fan and as an exhibitor/retailer, I mean its many, many shows over a 19+ year career in comics retail and 15 years as a fan before that. This past Saturday Around Comics hosted the 2nd annual Windy City Comicon in Chicago and I don’t think I’ve ever had a better con experience.  I mean it.  Windy City is a con the puts the focus on the creators and only has a handful of vendors on the floor.  Well, I guess 20 is more than a ‘handful.’ But with 80 creator tables, 20 vendor booths seems like a small number in comparison, but it works out just right for the space.  Doing the math, 80 Creators + 20 Vendors + 6 Panels = 1 huge day of fun for everyone involved.

What made this show so great in my eyes was the tireless dedication of both Chris Neseman and Brion Salazar, the founders of the show.  All day long they were making sure everyone, guests, vendors and volunteers alike, had what they needed.   They came by our booth often to make sure we were okay and to see if we were having a good day; and we were.  It was a great crowd of several thousand people.  I have probably never seen a happier convention crowd.  I was in shock at how excited and friendly the attendees (and the creators) were.  As for the creators and my fellow vendors, everyone was on an even playing field and there was a strong sense of a ‘we’re all in this together’ mentality which you never get at other shows.  And the load-out went WAY easier than I expected.  Chris Neseman was literally running up and down the 3 flights of stairs to help people and I watched him help several vendors load their vehicles.  Where else does that happen?

The creators I talked to said they did as well at Windy City as they do over a 3-day show such as Wizard World/Chicago Comic-Con.  That may not be true for 100% of the people set-up but I talked to MANY people and they all had similar answers.  And we did pretty amazing, too.  My only regret is Challengers’ booth was so busy I didn’t get to walk around and talk to nearly enough of the assembled talent as I wanted to.  I enjoyed catching up and talking shop with Eric & Caitlin from Chicago Comics, James from First Aid Comics and Terry from Third Coast Comics.  3 more good shops Chicago has to offer.  I wish I had time to talk with the rest.  Here’s to next year!

On a more specific note, Challengers was honored to host the official Windy City Comicon 2009 Pre-Party at our store, and about 1 million people showed up over the course of the night. Okay, that’s a lie but I don’t think we’ve ever been that crowded, and so full of comic creators!  The following (incomplete, and I’m very, very sorry for those I forgot) list was assembled not to show off, but to help us remember all the industry folks who attended.  If you were there and we omitted you, please let us know and we’ll add you to it.

Tony Akins, Jeremy Bastian, Kyle Bice, Katie Cook, Jenny Frison, Alex Grecian, Sean McKeever, Kevin Mellon, Jose “Nino” Mesarina, B. Clay Moore, Moritat, Chris Moreno, Mike Norton, David Peterson, Robbi Rodriguez, Brent Schoonover, Tim Seeley, Richard Starkings, Chris Staros from Top Shelf, Greg Titus, Adam Withers and Comfort Love, Chris, Sal & Tom from Around Comics, John Siuntres from Word Balloon, Ben and Max from Nerd City Online.

I truly hope this comes off less self-serving and more ‘the Windy City Comicon guys run a GREAT show and if you missed it, you really missed out.’  And it’s a public ‘thank you’ to Chris Neseman and Brian Salazar for ALL their hard work and effort hosting this amazing show. Chicago is damn lucky to call it home.  Thanks, guys.


  1. I was a guest at another show in the Chicago area this weekend and missed Windy City, but I heard it was an incredible time — and quite profitable for attendees.

  2. The event was a triumph from start to finish. For those who love the comradery of smaller shows, hanging with artists without having to fight 2 hour lines just for 30 seconds with them, and great sales on comics and other geek merch, Windy City was an A+.