#1: Artist Alley

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The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo is this weekend!!! I’ve been counting down my top picks for C2E2 2013 all month long and we’re finally at the end of the list. These are the top 5 people, events, and programs at my favorite comic con of the year. We’ve already made it through Kevin Smith, a host of local talent, some ridiculously awesome cosplay, and a duo of Comics Who Write Comics. At the top of the list we have what all die-hard fans are most looking forward to … Artist Alley!

For those of you who don’t know, Artist Alley is home to a host of creative talent, from legends in the industry to unknown up-and-comers. Small press, established successes, unpublished newbies—everyone has a home in Artist Alley. Rows and rows of table space create a grand bazaar of comic nerdom—with creators offering their books, comics, prints, and autographs to all who pass by. This year, C2E2 features over 350 artists selected from hundreds more who applied. Also new in 2013, C2E2 has an Artist Alley Stage—featuring illustrators sketching live and projected onto a screen so you can observe your favorite artists at work!

While the entirety of Artist Alley is what I’m most excited about, I have to admit there are a few creators in particular I’m psyched to see. Here’s the short list of artists I admire, respect, and can’t wait to see what they’re featuring at their table.

Dirk Manning: Artist Alley Booth H8

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Dirk Manning is responsible for Nightmare World, Tales of Mr. Rhee, Love Stories about Death, and his new book in print Write or Wrong: A Writer’s Guide to Creating Comics. You can check out all this stuff online and for free at his website, so be sure to visit and take a look. I met Dirk at Dan Con last month—he’s a great guy, friendly, and happy to talk comics.

David Wong: Artist Alley Booth E9

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David Wong (aka Jason Pargin) is the Senior Editor of Cracked.com and the mad genius behind the horror comedy novel John Dies at the End—and its sequel, This Book is Full of Spiders. His info page on C2E2 is literally blank, but I am really looking forward to meeting this guy. John Dies at the End was an impulse buy based on an employee recommendation at 57th Street Books. But once I sat down with it, it really re-awakened my love of reading (non-graphic) novels with a style and humor I hadn’t seen anywhere else. Oh, and if you haven’t yet, go watch the John Dies at the End movie. It doesn’t disappoint.

Ryan Browne: Artist Alley Booth R1

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Based right here in Chicago, Ryan Browne is the writer and illustrator of such bizarre and hilarious work as God Hates Astronauts, and his improv comic Blast Furnace (which was the first Kickstarter project I ever backed)—both of which are free to read online. If you haven’t read GHA, I’m not really sure how to describe it other than to say it has superheroes, owl gangsters, magic bears, a voodoo pugilist, and Carl Winslow from Family Matters. If that’s not interesting to you, I don’t know what is.

Brad and Wesley Sun: Artist Alley Booth L14

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The Sun Bros are in Artist Alley too! If you’re wondering why you can’t find Sun Bros Studios in the program, it’s because Artist Alley doesn’t feature company names in the listings—check under Brad and Wesley instead. We’re really pulling out all the stops for our table—Chinatown and the debut of Apocalypse Man of course, but also some brand new 11×17 art prints! If you’ll be at C2E2, stop by our table and say hello. And if you’ll be at the con on Friday, come see us at CSC-1: Kickstarting Your Comics at 1:30pm in Room W473. C2E2 is only a few days away an we can’t wait to show you everything we’ve been working on. See you at the con!

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