Donald E. Stephens Center
5555 North River Road
Rosemont, IL 60018
DC or Marvel? Superman or Spider-Man? Comix or graphic novels? Brian Bendis, Grant Morisson, or Jeffrey Brown? Whether you’re a casual toy collector who just happens to enjoy Marvel’s newest movies, a die-hard X-Men fan, a lover of everything Batman, or prefer to read books made by Top Shelf and Fantagraphics, there’s a corner for you at Chicago Comic Con (previously Wizard World Chicago… which was previously Chicago Comic Con, actually. It’s confusing, I know!). If you’re wondering what awaits you at Chicago Comic Con, need to know how to get there, or need to be convinced that it’s the place to go this weekend, then this article is for you.
Wait, where is it?
I know what you’re thinking: wait, what’s a Rosemont? Where is it, and how do I get there? And what’s the name of that one Green Lanter, the one that’s a squirrel?
Ch’p. His name is Ch’p. And he’s not a squirrel, he’s an alien. And some might say he’s more Chipmunk-y, but that’s beside the point…
Rosemont is a Northwest Suburb of Chicago! The best part about it? It’s right off the blue line elevated train, making the Donald E. Stephens center, where Chicago Comic Con is held, just a couple blocks away. This makes things convenient for those of you who live, or are staying, in the city. Simply hop on the “L” anywhere, take it to the loop if you’re not on the Blue Line, and you can find your way to Rosemont (by going towards O’Hare). It’s that easy.
For those of you driving, I90 will practically take you to the Donald E. Stephens Center’s front door. Pro tip: parking in the parking garages across the street is more expensive than parking in the CTA lot where the Blue Line train stop is. So park there instead!
The Con Floor
Special Guests & Publishers
When you first walk into the con you’ll immediately be confronted with the big hitters. It makes sense that the front of the gigantic con floor, which has gotta be the size of multiple football fields, would put their stars up front. This is where you’ll see the bigger publishers, Marvel and DC (though they’re usually not too present at Chicago), Top Shelf, and plenty of others. You’ll also find your stars here (and I use the term “stars” loosely). Wanna see the actors from the Buffyverse? The front of the con floor is where they’ll be. Feel like talkin’ time travel with Christopher Loyd? He shouldn’t be hard to find.
Sandwiched between the stars and Artists’ Alley are the retailers. If you are lookin’ for a t-shirt that sports your favorite fictional love on nit (is it She-Hulk? Do you still love She-Hulk?), you’ll find it here. This is also where you’ll find old Cerebus back issues, or maybe the Legion of Super-Heroes is more your thing. If you’re lucky, you’ll see your favorite comic shops represented here, like Chicago’s very own Chicago Comics.
This is where I spend most of my time, to be honest. Sure, I could spend my con days pushing through crowds at the front of the convention hall to see Lou Ferrigno charge too much for an autograph, but that just isn’t me. I’d rather walk along Artists’ Alley, where the real writers and illustrators hang out. Where you’ll find amazing work you’ve never heard of. Sure, for every talented person present there’s two hacks, but you can just ignore the hacks. It’s easy.
There are some that never venture into this area, assuming that the fact that conventions stick Artists’ Alley in the back, away from the rest of the world, because there’s nothing worth experiencing there. These people are wrong. There is something worth experiencing, something less fake and more rewarding than the rest of the place at least. When you do venture into Artists’ Alley, make sure to say hi to Kurt Dinse, Geof Darrow, and Mike Deodato Jr. for me. (They may, in fact, punch you for mentioning my name though).
For those of you coming from out of town, you have no choice but to try some great food while you’re here. Here’s two places that are just a hop and a skip (and a short car ride) from the convention grounds.
Gene & Jude Hot Dogs
2720 River Rd
River Grove, IL 60171
Just down the road, this cheap establishment is the perfect place to experience great Chicago hot dogs. It’s small, so expect to eat on the hood of your car, but you won’t care as you munch on their french fries. Make sure you don’t ask for ketchup on your dog though, they’ll laugh in your face. Seriously though, they won’t give it to you (so bring your own, if you’re a cretin, that is).
9415 W. Higgins Rd.
Rosemont, Il 60018
Giordanos’ deep dish pizza is guaranteed to make you feel like you’re about to burst. That vomit-y feeling you get, that’s your reward, friends. It’s gigantic and filling and amazing all at once. If you’re not in pain after eating this wonderful pizza from the heavens, then you’re not eating it right. Those of you who don’t like deep dish or “Chicago style” pizza can go back to wherever the heck you came from. In fact, don’t even come here if that’s how you feel.
What are you waiting for? Go to Chicago Comic Con. Take pictures of everyone dressed up. If you’ve never been to a con before, you can see what we’re talking about by “dressed up” by checking out this gallery. Whatever you do, just make sure you make it all the way through Artists’ Alley. You don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to, but at least give the place a chance. You won’t regret it!