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I'm Jeff Couturier — a designer, developer and illustrator in Chicago. I also make comics, listen to punk rock and like to fall down mountains on a snowboard. I write about those things (and others) here.

Recap: Wizard World/Chicago Comic Con

Wizard World / Chicago Comic Con is over, and now that I've recovered from that marathon I have a few thoughts on the overall experience.

This was my first time with a table at a convention, although I've attended countless comic cons. It's definitely different from the other side of the table, namely in that I didn't get to see much of the convention itself. Wizard World was a four-day convention, running Thursday afternoon through Sunday, and boy was it busy. The only time I got a chance to leave my table and walk the convention floor was Sunday, just before they let the public attendees in. All the rest of the time was spent behind the table, talking to folks and drawing sketch commissions. I sold a lot more books than I had expected, which was great. I also had far more sketch commissions than I anticipated, but they were all a lot of fun. While each day at the con was around 12 hours long, time flew and we really had a blast. I split a table with my excellent friend, Denver Brubaker. I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the experience anywhere near as much if I had to do it without a wingman.

Overall it was fun and I'd say I had a successful convention, but there were several issues with the Wizard World itself. It was poorly organized and the artists alley floor was a complete mess. They used a strange shotgun approach and put craft vendors mixed right in with artists. The two are very different, and it's damn strange to have someone selling nothing but shoes next to an artist selling their books and illustrations. I think this dramatically hurt both the craft vendors and the artists, and none of the artists I spoke to could understand or justify the reasoning behind it. There was also a severe lack of signage to guide attendees to various parts of the convention. It took up two floors, which was also odd, and the artists alley was on the bottom. Many attendees either had a hard time finding the artists alley or never found it at all. Tables and attendee tickets were also really expensive, and no one seems to understand why. The artists themselves seemed to be treated as secondary and unimportant by Wizard World organizers. No one from WWC staff ever stopped by our table to see how we were doing or if we needed anything. They handed out update fliers early every morning stating the floor would open for us artists to set up at 7:30am. Twice, Denver and I were there at 7:30 and were turned away and told we couldn't setup our tables until after 8am. A half hour doesn't seem like much, but when you plan on using that time and are then told you can't have it (for no apparent reason), it's damn irritating. The second time around I asked staff what the deal was, and no one seemed to know. One nice lady let us in anyway, but there were clearly some miscommunications. Another huge issue was the less-than-useless WiFi hotspot. Getting online was nearly impossible, so I was only able to use my Square reader (for credit cards) once. Because we were on the bottom floor, phone signal for both calls and data was non-existent. I couldn't even make a phone call. When you're stuck sitting at a table for 13+ hours a day, having at least some connection to the outside world is rather important.

EDIT: Oh! I forgot to mention the biggest problem. Wizard World neglected to put my name in the damn show flier. That's right, the little booklet they hand to every person walking in the door with names, table numbers and a map - I wasn't on it. Pretty awesome, huh?

Would I get a table there again? If I had to do it alone, certainly not. Even if I were to split a table again, I'm not sure it's worth it. It just isn't a solid show. With other excellent cons like C2E2 in the same city, WWC really needs to get their act together. The general buzz from both attendees and exhibitors is that WWC is too expensive, pretty lackluster, and just not worth bothering with. This year didn't improve that perception.

Even with all of those complaints, I still had an excellent time. Mostly, I think, because it was my first table. I was riding high on adrenaline and excitement the whole time. Denver is a blast to hang out with, and the rest of the creators are a fun bunch. Now I'm really looking forward to my next con table experience. Hopefully that will be C2E2.

And now, some photos:

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Biking the Chicago lakeshore

It's a great day for a ride along the lake. Even though it's only a fifteen minute bike ride from home, I don't get over here often enough.

Good Riddance, Facebook

Facebook has slipped up for that last time, for me. I've stuck around despite their repeated mis-steps and severe fuck-ups when it comes to how they handle our data, and I've given them a dozen chances too many to get it right. Last week they leaked a few million users data (among them, a close friend of mine) to 3rd parties and didn't even apologize. A couple of days ago it was discovered that their Android app collects your phone number wether or not you give it permission:

The first time you launch the Facebook application, even before logging in, your phone number will be sent over the Internet to Facebook servers. You do not need to provide your phone number, log in, initiate a specific action, or even need a Facebook account for this to happen.

FB claimed they never used this data. We are supposed to believe they just collected it in order to throw it away. As one comment on Reddit said, FB didn't "accidentally" go through the effort of adding the phone-home code. It took intent and effort.

They have no respect whatsoever for their users. It is a pattern that they clearly have no intention of changing, a pattern that is systemic and at the core of Facebook's ideology. My continued use puts advertising money in their pocket and lets them sell my meta-data. I'm not okay with that anymore. It's not worth it to continue using Facebook when this is how the company operates.

I'll continue to use my Twitter account heavily, and will use my Google+ account a bit more in lieu of Facebook. That's not to say G+ is a shining example of user privacy. It has plenty of issues as well. The difference is that that Google continually makes an effort to be transparent, empower its users and fight for them, even if they don't always succeed.

Flipbooks in Gateshead Libraries

Via MilkAndCookies.com:

This is a short trailer with music by Andy Jackson for the flipbook Exhibition originated by Anton hecht that is running at Gateshead libraries. The exhibiton features a number of illustrators and artists who chose a book into which to install a flip aniamtion. The books are placed in the library on the shelves and visitors are given the names of the books and then find the books ont he shelves to experience the exhibition

Goodbye Roger Ebert

“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs, no need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhapy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” - Roger Ebert

Cobra Commander

This week's sketch jam topic from my comic artists minigroup was G.I. Joe, so I drew Cobra Commander. I couldn't decide between the hooded and helmeted versions, so I did both. You can see the rest of the entries here.

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Dorothy and his "Tin Man"

In his Oz, Dorothy isn't afraid of any stupid little flying monkeys.

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This is a sketch (done quickly on my iPad) for my comic artists' minigroup. We're doing weekly sketch-jams on the same topic, this week's topic being The Wizard of Oz. Take a look at the other awesome entries here.

As I drew this, I wasn't thinking about Proposition 8 being before the US Supreme Court today. But since it is,  it seems appropriate in hindsight to say this about Dorothy here: just try telling him he can't marry whomever he wants.

Here is my sketch from last week's minigroup sketch. The topic was Batman... Mine is purging Gotham of the donut menace.

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Also, I've made some new comics over at Horde of Neurons that haven't been posted to this blog yet.

 
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