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Scenes from Wizard World Chicago ’08: A Strip Club with a Convention Booth

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You have, perhaps, heard the old joke “they were throwing a porn convention and somebody brought some comics” referring the amount of adult material that used to be sold at comic conventions? You may remember there used to be a lot more ex-Playboy Bunnies and the like selling autographs at comic conventions? Comic conventions have cleaned up a lot in the last 10 years, in terms of what some would call “being family friendly.” Still, even in the days with the ex-playmates and dirty magazines, I’d never seen a strip club have a booth a comic convention before.

Yes, that’s right. Wizard World Chicago has a booth in the dealer’s section for The Admiral Theater (booth #2011 as listed in the program – yes, the booth is listed in the program, nobody snuck in). Now, a comic convention being a comic convention, you might not realize what it is right away. Short PVC skirts aren’t that unusual at conventions. In fact, the ladies… no, I think the sign said “meet the girls of the Admiral,” if memory serves. In fact, the girls in the booth weren’t dressed particularly scantily for a convention. Compared to the slave girl Princess Leia costumes you frequently see at conventions, these… exhibitors is a good word… might as well have been wearing trench coats.

Still, if you’ve made any attempts to promote Wizard World to an under 18 audience and you’ve let a strip club open a booth, even if their ladies are fully clothed, you are an idiot and asking for trouble. All it takes is one mom to take Little Timmy to get his Batman Strikes or Archie comic signed, Little Timmy to say “Mommy, what’s The Admiral Theater” and you’re going to have an angry mom calling the media and all her friends. You can make your own call on whether it’s worse to have tabloid media talking about the sex trade at the comic convention or all the moms in the greater Chicago area talking about what perverts read comics. Real smooth one there, Gareb. I hope you don’t give the industry a black eye.

Of course, the question that’s more interesting to me is why the booth is there? Does The Admiral get so much business when Wizard is in town that they decided to advertise with a booth instead of leaving coupons in the men’s room? Is there data out there that comic conventions and strip clubs are complimentary goods? Are the dancers comic fans? [Insert your own barter-for-booth joke here.]

Back to the normal convention notes, the crowd was pretty quiet today. I’m thinking it was a little behind last year’s Friday. On the other hand, an unusual phenomenon that happened last year, was also happening this year: Artist’s Alley seemed to be busier than the publisher booths in the front of the convention hall. Unless their booth was stuck at the far end of the annex by the food court, everybody seemed to be happy with the amount of traffic they were getting on a Friday.

Max Brooks and Warren Ellis both continued to be much more accessible than you’d have thought. If you’re in a 75-person line over the weekend, you missed out on a short wait.

Chuck Dixon showed me some completed art for an Airboy special that should be scheduled by Moonstone any day now. The artist match is perfect for Airboy. I initially thought he was showing me pages from the old Eclipse series.

Len Strazewski and Jill Thompson continue not to have been paid for the reprinting of their work in the recent Speed Racer tpb from IDW. Nor have they received as much as a copy. There seems to be a little confusion as to how many hands the property passed through between Now Comics declaring bankruptcy and IDW acquiring the reprint rights. Suffice it to say, the creators are a little miffed.

Speaking of webcomics, while I saw several with booths, Drunk Duck (which is to say, Platinum Studios) was nowhere to be seen after such a large presence last year. Given the problems DJ Coffman had getting paid, I wonder if anything should be read into this?

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