Celebs, costumed heroes pack Rosemont convention
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Combine the passion of a Blackhawks fan convention with the crowds of a Saturday at Meijer and you have Wizard World Chicago Comic Con, a four-day event at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont that wrapped up Sunday.
Visitors, many of them attired in the costumes of their favorite heroes and heroines, filled their bags full of memorabilia, collected autographs, took photos, and participated in question-and-answer sessions with dozens of celebrities such as Stan Lee, Dennis Rodman, director Robert Rodriguez, "Man of Steel" villain Michael Shannon and "The Karate Kid" himself, Ralph Macchio.
Attendance figures have yet to be released, but the event's CEO, John Macaluso, said they had a great turnout and more than 100 hours of programming.
"It's the biggest show that we have ever put on," he said.
The event took up two floors of the convention center. The top floor offered a wide variety of dealers, while the bottom floor had fans lining up to get autographs.
John McGowan and Melissa Villarreal, of Round Lake, came to the show Sunday to see the art.
"I like the statues and stuff like that. Deadpool is my favorite (character), and so that's what I'm here to get," McGowan said. "The artists are so nice, and they are really personable."
Some of the fun, he said, was indulging in the fine art of negotiation with dealers.
"You've got to haggle with these guys a little bit, because some of them are a little overpriced. It's fun to try to, like, talk these guys down," he said.
Villarreal came in search of more 1990s vintage items, like "The Crow."
"I really liked the Artists Alley. They have lots of cool stuff at, actually, really good prices. All original art. Just fantastic," she said.
Monica Stempniewicz, 21, of Mount Prospect, and her 15-year-old brother, Artur, attended a question-and-answer session with cast members from "Smallville." She particularly enjoyed seeing all the costumes at this year's Comic Con.
"I'm a really big fan of couples that go as Joker and Harley Quinn (from "Batman")," she said.
Dennis Burke, of Downers Grove, attended with daughters Julia, 15, and Allison, whose visit to Comic Con was her 13th birthday present.
"She wanted to come here instead of getting some kind of gift," Dennis said.
Allison Burke said she got autographs from James and Oliver Phelps, who played the Weasley twins in the "Harry Potter" movies, and used her birthday money to buy posters, shirts, and a "Hunger Games" pendant.
Among the celebrities in attendance was "The Exorcist" star Linda Blair, who offered autographed cans of organic pea soup in exchange for donations to her charity, the Linda Blair Worldheart Foundation, which rescues homeless/abandoned dogs.
Blair said she has been doing events for many years, but what makes the Comic Con special is the diversity of offerings.
"You have got the gaming. You have got the anime. And you have got the comic books. There is something for everyone at these conventions."
Not everyone was enthusiastic about what they experienced, however. Brad Parkkonen called it "underwhelming" compared to the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, C2E2.
"C2E2 is bigger and more glamorous. So I guess I was expecting that, almost. C2E2 has, like, Marvel booths, and it's all about the movies coming out," he said.
"This one is definitely more about selling things than it is about the Con goers themselves," said his friend, Jon Onopa, dressed like Ant-Man. "(At) C2E2, they had the 'Star Wars' fighting and more than one costume contest. Things for us to do other than just look at stuff."
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