The Sleep Deprived Crank
by editor Michael Hutchison
Discussed this month: Wizard World 2001... Comic book guy contest... Chuck Dixon... Site changes...My Reading List...and more!
I'm loading up the van for my trip to Wizard World 2001. Melinda, my ubertolerant wife, is going to be going along, and artist Erik Burnham is dipping into his thin wallet for the cash to go with us. Yay! I'm all for splitting gas money.
My van now has plates that say FANZING. If you see me on the highway, give a honk!
This is my third Wizard World in a year, and my feelings about it are certainly different from past conventions. It's only a few days away, and I'm honestly questioning why I'm going. The artists and writers are all people I've met before, I've got all the comics I need (except for a few rarities that I can't ever find anywhere, such as Young All-Stars #31 or the finale of the recent "Justice Leagues" Fifth Week Event). My list of Elongated Man comics that I need is now complete.
Quite frankly, conventions in general and WizardWorld in particular can get to be annoying. The overpriced food (and lack of any restaurants nearby) are a source of frustration. You're trying to get to comics on the floor as people press in from the aisles, your deodorant gives out after two minutes...and you get to finally meet a major celebrity like an editor at DC Comics only to have him sniff the air and collapse from the bodily funk.
Okay, I'm kidding. My only real concern is the same one I have every year: finding my way to the convention center on the spaghetti-like mess that Chicago calls a highway system! I swear the thing was designed by union thugs who were more concerned with using as much cement as possible than with streamlined efficiency. I have traveled south to the convention (from my mother-in-law's at Fox Lake) at least five times in the last two years and not ONCE have I found this mythical exit that everyone else swears is there. I've used the map from the Wizard site, Mapquest, Mapblast, the Atlas...it's all confusing as hell. Both Melinda and I put our heads together and try to make sense of it, but there's just no way to do it right. The signs for the exits never seem to match what's on paper, the highway we're on splits off in eight directions within 1 and 1/2 miles, and we're going 70 mph with trucks bearing down on our tails while we try to consult the directions. We always overshoot...or wind up in the O'Hare parking lot (TWICE that's happened!)...or go East and have to turn around three miles later. I don't think there is actually an exit off the highway if you're coming from the north!
So why am I going?
I decided that before I should go, I should make up a list of the reasons I'm going:
I was going to show a current picture of me. Instead, I think I'll print off a copy and paste it to my refrigerator as a diet aid.
In keeping with my tendency to spend my editorial space discussing medical ailments in public, I may as well admit it: I've grown fat. It's taken a few years, but all the time spent on the computer has gotten to me. I saw a dietitian and she altered my daily food plan to include more fruit and reduce the daily caloric intake by about 1000 calories. The end result is that instead of going up a pound a week (or so), I should go down a pound a week (or so). In other words, it's gradual weight loss that should last for life instead of being an unbearably restrictive diet that gets broken a few weeks later. Hopefully, in two years I'll be thinner than I was in all of the 1990s! It would be nice to not resemble the "Comic Book Guy" on the Simpsons!
Or would it? Unfortunately, I won't get a chance to compete in WizardWorld's "Comic Book Guy" look-alike and sound-alike contest! It's this Friday night, the same night as the Dixon Dinner. Too bad! Not only am I the roundest I've been in my life, but I do a killer impression of the guy. I could clean up on that contest.
A decade of weight increase, and I miss out on the chance for it to finally pay off! Sad.
I'd like to repost an exchange I had with Chuck Dixon recently on his message board:
Chuck Dixon's Reply
Chuck certainly doesn't pull any punches! One thing it does make me want to do is spend some cash at Martin Nodell's table this year.
Over the last month, we got VERY close to debuting the Dixonverse Annual at this year's Wizard World. For those of you not following that, the D-verse Annual was a print fanzine that a number of us amateur writers and artists were going to publish as a sort of comic book devoted to Chuck Dixon. Unfortunately, we're about one or two weeks away from printing at this point, so we won't make the dinner with the completed project.
I contributed two items to the Annual. The first is an 8-page Elongated Man mystery that I'm quite proud of. The second is a full color Twinkies ad parody that Bill Wiist and I did. It is now featured on the www.fanzing.com home page, and I plan to use it as a flier at Wizard World. Hopefully it will generate a lot of attention.
A few more changes to the site are planned for this next week. First off, each page now has invitations to discuss the material in the forum or e-mail us. Secondly, I plan to put up an "About Us" page that explains who Fanzing is, what we do, what our mission is (but NOT a mission statement; I hate those things) and featuring our Trophy Room which was somehow wiped out at an undetermined point in the past.
I'm still reading "Return of the King", the last book in the Lord of the Rings. It's slow going. I'm at the beginning and the book isn't really zipping along yet. I'm beginning to think that the best part of any trilogy is the middle!
I'm hoping to finish it, because I have just a huge load of books awaiting my attention. I've recently purchased two of William F. Buckley's Blackford Oakes spy novels off of Half.com (I LOVE Half.com, since you can find like-new hardcovers for a buck or two!), as well as the very non-political "Buckley: The Right Word," in which Buckley explores and expands the vocabulary of the reader.
I also have a few thick political books to read: "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus," which details the year that Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson competed for the presidency, a period of which I know little...and "Reagan: In His Own Hand," a book that puts to rest the notion that Reagan was just a doofus who had his speeches -- and his ideas -- handed to him by others; it details his writings and speeches down to the corrected typos, scratched out sentences and such. A more casual and fun book (which my dad absconded with before I could read a single chapter in its entirety) is Larry Elder's "The 10 Things You Can't Say In America".
But before I venture into any of these weighty tomes, I think it's incumbent upon me (see, this Buckley stuff is already taking effect) to read "Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission." This true story of a top secret mission to rescue Allied P.O.W.s from a Japanese camp in 1945 is already beckoning to me from my nightstand, so I'm going to publish this issue and go read a bit. Good night!
This column is © 2001 Michael Hutchison.
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