William Shatner, Stan Lee Highlight Wizard World New Orleans

Wizard WorldNEW ORLEANS – Rare meet-and-greets and Q&A sessions with legends William Shatner and Stan Lee, panels with movie and TV stars James Marsters, Mary McDonnell and Adam Baldwin, and several themed parties headline a broad, diverse schedule of special programming at the 2012 Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con, January 28-29 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Unique Jedi lightsaber classes, sessions with stars of classic favorites, a screening of the new film THE VICTIM and artist schools to costume contests are some of the activities that reflect the wide variety of interests shared by Comic Con attendees.Some of the top sessions include: Once-in-a-lifetime, extremely limited meet-and-greet opportunities with pop culture legends Shatner and Lee, including photo ops and special gifts Q&A panels with Marsters (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Angel”), McDonnell (“Battlestar Galactica”), Baldwin (FULL METAL JACKET, SERENITY), and Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk”) Cult classic BOONDOCK SAINTS reunion featuring the personable duo of Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery Young stars Chandler Riggs and Madison Lintz of the hit AMC series “The Walking Dead” Informative, interactive sessions with superstar artists including John Layman, Rob Guillory, Tyler Kirkham, Carlos Pacheco, Vic Mignogna and others Jedi Lightsaber classes, in which fans can learn the same techniques used in STAR WARS films, taught by sword master Nick Gillard, who choreographed the fight scenes for three of the blockbuster films Screening of the new feature film THE VICTIM, with director/producers Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc Party time… including the Official Kick Off Party on Friday night, Saturday After-Party and popular Masquerade Ball Wizard World New Orleans Drink And Draw, hosted by artist Tommy Castillo, during which some will drink…some will draw…and the best will take on the challenge of doing both The popular adult costume contest and fun kids costume contest with great prizes Unless noted, New Orleans Comic Con programming will take place in the designated panel rooms at the Morial Convention Center, and is included with admission to the event. Notable events requiring additional ticket purchase include the Shatner and Lee meet-and-greets and lightsaber classes. Seating for panels is strictly limited and available on a first come first serve basis and each room will be cleared between panels.The full schedule is at http://www.wizardworldcomiccon.com/programming-neworleans.html.

Library Champion and Privacy Advocate Cory Doctorow Guest of Honor at Capricon 32

CapriconWHEELING, Illinois – Since 1980, fans of science fiction, fantasy and other forms of speculative fiction in every media from literature to television, films, and graphic novels have gathered in the Chicago area for a celebration of the speculative fiction community. Capricon 32 celebrates that diversity by letting attendees choose their own adventure in the genres of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Alternate History. Capricon 32 is a four-day science fiction convention to be held at the Westin Chicago North Shore in Wheeling, Illinois February 9 to 12, 2012This year the guests of honor will be:Author Cory Doctorow, Artist Les McClaine, Fan Steven H Silver, and Special guest Javier Grillo-Marxuach.Author Guest of Honor Cory Doctorow is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of the bestselling Tor Teens/HarperCollins UK novel LITTLE BROTHER. His latest novel is FOR THE WIN, a young adult novel; his latest short story collection is WITH A LITTLE HELP. He is a contributor to The Guardian, the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Wired, and many other newspapers, magazines and websites.

Chicon 7 Extends Submission Deadline for Hugo Award Base Design Competition

CHICAGO – Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), has extended the submission deadline for its Hugo Award Base Design Competition to January 15, 2012.The Hugo Awards for achievement in science fiction and fantasy have been presented by Worldcons for over 50 years. An instantly recognizable rocket forms the central element of the prestigious trophy, while the base design changes yearly, often reflecting the country, state, or province in which the convention takes place. Chicon 7 has invited artists and designers from around the world to create a base that is worthy of the Hugo Award and with a theme appropriate to Chicago and the Midwest.The winning designer will have the opportunity to introduce the base design as part of the Hugo Awards Ceremony. The base will also be included in the long archive of Hugo base designs, including the Hugo History exhibit that travels to each Worldcon. In addition, the winner will receive a full five-day attending membership to Chicon 7.Entrants are asked to submit initial drawings, sketches, and/or a fabicated sample of their proposed designs by January 15, 2012.

Wizard World Comes to Chicago

By Tom Wray and Phillip PowersWindy City BannerWizard World, Chicago’s largest comic con, took place this last month and it was huge. There were celebrities, cosplayers and, of course, miles and miles of comics. We attended as members of the press and were in awe of the magnitude of it.First of all let’s talk about the celebrities that were there. Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek” fame was there as was Levar Burton. Vivica A. Fox from “Independence Day” and “Kill Bill” was there as well as Kai Owen and Gareth David Lloyd from “Torchwood” and Peter Mayhew who played Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” movies just to name a few.

2011 Hugo Winners Announced

World Science Fiction SocietyRenovation, the 2011 World Science Fiction Convention, has announced the 2011 Hugo Award winners.BEST NOVELBlackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)BEST NOVELLAThe Lifecycle of Software Objects by Ted Chiang (Subterranean)BEST NOVELETTE“The Emperor of Mars” by Allen M. Steele (Asimov’s, June 2010)BEST SHORT STORY“For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)BEST RELATED WORKChicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It, edited by Lynne M. Thomas and Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)BEST GRAPHIC STORYGirl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne and the Guardian Muse,written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors byCheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, LONG FORMInception, written and directed by Christopher Nolan (Warner)BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION, SHORT FORMDoctor Who: “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang,” written by StevenMoffat; directed by Toby Haynes (BBC Wales)BEST EDITOR, SHORT FORMSheila WilliamsBEST EDITOR, LONG FORMLou AndersBEST PROFESSIONAL ARTISTShaun TanBEST SEMIPROZINEClarkesworld, edited by Neil Clarke, Cheryl Morgan, Sean Wallace;podcast directed by Kate BakerBEST FANZINEThe Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James BaconBEST FAN WRITERClaire BrialeyBEST FAN ARTISTBrad W. FosterJOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITERAward for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writerof 2009 or 2010, sponsored by Dell Magazines (not a Hugo Award).Lev GrossmanThe 2011 Hugo Award winners were announced on Saturday evening, August 20, at the Peppermill Hotel and Casino in Reno, Nevada. Jay Lake and Ken Scholes presided as masters of ceremony, with additional presenters including Renovation Guests of Honor Tim Powers, Boris Vallejo, and Ellen Asher, along with leading genre writers George R.R. Martin and Robert Silverberg.The unique 2011 Hugo trophy base design was revealed at the ceremony by designer and Hugo base design contest winner Marina Gelineau.See the Final Ballot Details for a full breakdown of votes, subsequent placements, and nomination counts.

Anthony Michael Hall To Attend Wizard World Chicago Comic Con

ROSEMONT, Ill., – Actor Anthony Michael Hall, who gained fame for roles in 1980’s “Brat Pack” films SIXTEEN CANDLES and THE BREAKFAST CLUB and later starred in “Stephen King’s Dead Zone” among dozens of film and television credits, will attend Wizard World Chicago Comic Con at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, August 11-14.  Hall joins such other distinguished celebrities as Patrick Stewart, Bruce Campbell, Christopher Lloyd, Morena Baccarin, Felicia Day,  Lou Gossett Jr. and James Marsters at the event, which will bring together thousands of fans of all ages and dozens of celebrities and industry professionals to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Hall began his career in commercials and on stage as a child, and made his screen debut in 1980. His films with director-screenwriter John Hughes, beginning with the popular 1984 coming-of-age comedy SIXTEEN CANDLES, shaped his early career. Hall’s next movies with Hughes were the teen classics THE BREAKFAST CLUB and WEIRD SCIENCE, both in 1985.  His performances as lovable geeks in these three films connected his name and face with the stereotype for an entire generation.Hall diversified his roles to avoid becoming typecast as his geek persona, joining the cast of “Saturday Night Live” (1985–1986) and starring in films such as OUT OF BOUNDS (1986), JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988), EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990) and SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION (1993). After a series of minor roles in the 1990s, he starred as Microsoft’s Bill Gates in the 1999 television film “Pirates of Silicon Valley” and played pitcher Whitey Ford in Billy Crystal’s “61*.” He had the leading role in the USA Network series “The Dead Zone,” from  2002 to 2007.  During its run, the show was one of the highest-rated cable television series.Chicago Comic Con is the seventh stop on Wizard World’s 2011 North American tour.  Hours are Thursday, August 11, 5 – 9 p.m.; Friday, August 12, noon – 8 p.m.; Saturday, August 13, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Tickets are available in advance online at http://www.wizardworld.com/chicago.html at a savings over tickets purchased at the door.  Advance adult single-day tickets are priced at $25 ($35 on site); four-day all-session tickets are $50 ($60 on site), and tickets are free for children age 10 and under when accompanied by a paid adult (limit two children per adult).  VIP packages with special entry and exclusive items are also available on a limited basis.About Wizard World:Wizard World produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys and social networking.

The Chicago Casual Traveler: Opera House of Sandwich, Sandwich, IL (Grundy County)

Destination of the Day: Opera House of Sandwich, Sandwich, IL (Grundy County)Residents of Sandwich are very proud of their opera house, and they should be. A jewel of a theatre with programming to match. Upcoming shows include the Karkowska Sisters Duo (2 April), Elisabeth Von Trapp (yes, that VonTrapp!, 16 April), Boogie Woogie Babies (14 May), and New Odyssey (5 June). If you are planning an extended stay the nearby Best Western Timber Creek Inn & Suites and Convention Center is a great option. Address:Opera House of Sandwichhttp://sandwichoperahouse.org140 East Railroad StreetSandwich, IL 60548815-786-2555Getting There:Public Transit (always confirm schedules)–Not availableAuto (always confirm route)–Take I-88 to the Route 31 exit-Continue on Route 31 to Oswego-At Route 34, continue to Sandwich-At Pearl Street, turn north and continue to theatre

Art Gallery Opening At Center On Halsted

 Writ on Water IV by Jason Messinger  Chicago by Armando Pedroso From Center on Halstead:Join us for two exciting shows opening Friday, April 1. Armando Pedroso’s painting exhibit will take place in the 2nd floor gallery, and Jason Messinger’s painting exhibit will be in the 3rd floor gallery. Cash bar available. $5 suggested donation. Both shows run from 4/1 – 5/17.

First-timer fun at C2E2

Story and photos by Tom WrayWe’re gonna take a break from politics and travel for a little bit. Along with being liberal and gay, the publisher happens to be a bit of a geek. Okay, he was lucky to keep in the squees as he attended the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo today at Chicago’s McCormick Center. As a perk, this was the first time I’ve actually attended a sci fi con. I’ve been to conventions before, at the same location.