Alice McNamara said she spent more than an hour getting ready for her trip to the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con in Rosemont on Sunday.
McNamara, an Elgin native who now lives in Chicago, arrived at the con dressed as Storm, the weather-controlling superhero who's part of the popular Marvel Comics group, the X-Men.
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"I had problems with the wig," McNamara said, pointing to her silvery hair. "It was hard to get it to look just right."
McNamara was one of thousands of fans who flocked to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center during the weekend for the annual pop-culture convention. The event featured dozens of comic-book dealers and creators as well as a variety of movie and television stars.
In keeping with tradition, many fans arrived dressed as their favorite pop-culture characters. McNamara said the costumes add a communal feeling to the event.
"I usually buy some comics or something while I'm here, but part of the fun is just being around other people who like what you like," McNamara said. "I mean, I can't really go out dressed like this every day."
Steve Wingate of Buffalo Grove brought his 6-year-old son, Taylor, to the show.
"He's gotten totally hooked on 'Star Wars,'" Wingate said. "When he saw all the costumes and toys and stuff here, his eyes practically popped out of his head."
In recent years, the Wizard World show has emphasized celebrity appearances over comic books, something that bothered some longtime attendees. This year's celebrity guests included actors William Shatner, Bruce Campbell (the "Evil Dead" films) and Tom Felton (the "Harry Potter" films).
But one local dealer said that comic books -- be they old, new, tattered, or in mint condition -- are still the backbone of the show.
"Comics are what unites just about everyone who comes here," said Matt Streets of Graham Crackers Comics, a retail chain that includes stores in Naperville, Wheaton and St. Charles. "Even if you're interested in William Shatner or someone from 'Star Wars,' chances are you'll find some comics you like here, too. We've been coming here for years, and it's still a huge show for us."
And Wizard World touches on other pop-culture interests, too. The Northern Illinois Lego Train Club, a group of suburban Lego enthusiasts, displayed some of its creations at the show.
"This is our second year here, and it's a great way to raise awareness about what we do," Woodridge resident Matt De Lanoy said. De Lanoy brought his meticulous Lego re-creation of the bedroom belonging to Andy in the "Toy Story" movies.
"We don't get mobbed or anything during the con, but we get a nice stream of visitors," De Lanoy said. "That's perfect for a group like us."