Today, my family jumped into the minivan and headed to, as my Uncle Rich and Aunt Pat used to call it, “beautiful downtown Rosemont,” to the Donald E. Stevenson Center to partake in the 2022 Fan Expo, a comic book and fantasy art convention. First, Rosemont has come a long way from when I was a child – I remember, “beautiful downtown Rosemont” being just a small minimall. Now, it’s quite a massive set of buildings including convention halls, hotels, parking garages, restaurants, and other attractions.

Within the convention center halls during the four days of this convention (I only attended one, which is plenty for me), the place buzzes with people, all of whom have a keen interest in literature, movies, and kitsch full of superheroes, fantasy warriors, and all sorts of fantastic creatures. Many (including our youngest child) arrive in cosplay dressed as one of their favorite characters. There are celebrities whom you can meet for a steep price. But, it’s all good fun, and it’s a very enjoyable experience. Moreover, it’s exactly what our kid wanted for her birthday, so we went for it.

Artist Alley: My Favorite

I will say, it was a treat to have watched a panel with Corey Feldman and Kerry Green of The Goonies and to get a photo with another “Goonie” (plus a hobbit and a Stranger Things alum) Sean Astin. I also thoroughly enjoyed the poke bowl which was custom made with fresh ingredients.

However, wherever I visit a comic book convention such as this or C2E2, I love going to Artist Alley. Here you will find some of the most remarkably talented artists, crafters, authors and makers you’ll ever wish to meet. I love meeting some of these creative minds. There’s always something to learn and something over which to marvel. 

At this convention in particular I couldn’t help but to pick up a few graphic novels. The one which really caught my attention and that of my daughter was The Samurnauts by Unshaven Comics. First, I loved their pitch… It was simple and effective. One of them held a sign that said, “Ask me about our comic.” It worked. Second, all of the dudes in the booth had plenty of gray hair in his salt-and-pepper beard like me, so I was amazed that these middle-aged guys collaborated to create something. Finally, this book literally has everything: spaceships, aliens, kung fu monkeys, time travel, old-time Westerns, zombie-cyborg space pirates, and ghosts. Maybe I’ll let you know what I think after I dig in. I also picked up a few more publications too. I was also treated to meeting the cartoonist Joe Wos who drew the original Charlie the Tuna for Starkist who drew a snail for us and signed a Peanuts book on which he collaborated with my hero Charles Schulz. Moreover, the family walked away with some chotchkies of their own.

I enjoy supporting artists. I also enjoy the imagination and talent they share and the entertainment value. But, I also very much feel a calling to one day create something. Today is not yet that day, but I hope and aim to find the right starting point and do something to contribute my art to the world.

BTW, if you want to support a talented artist with a big heart and brilliant mind, consider contributing to Justin Casteneda’s Kickstarter for his newest project!