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Chicago Comic Expo Celebrates 'Nerd Culture'

By Quinn Ford | April 27, 2013 9:37am

MCCORMICK PLACE — If ever there was a time for Chicago's criminals to take a break, it would be this weekend. What with all the superheroes in town.

Fans from across the country descended upon McCormick Place Friday for the kickoff of the 2013 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo. And comic-book heroes from Wolverine to Iron Man roamed the halls. Villains, too, with appearances by the Riddler and "Star Wars" Storm Troopers.

The three-day expo, which runs through Sunday, features a number of panels with comic book creators and stars of television shows like "Game of Thrones" and "The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."

The expo also has almost anything a fan could want, including action figures, swords, tattoos and, of course, lots and lots of comic books.

Marc Nabke, of Milwaukee, said he dressed as Master Chief — the main character from the video game Halo — because, well, he loves Halo. Nabke, 31, said it took him five months to make the costume, constructed out of paper.

"It's a little hot," Nabke said, taking a break from posing for pictures with fans. "The helmet's the hot part."

Nabke said he wishes there were more comic book conventions because they are a chance to meet people with the same interests.

"You know, being a person that's into 'nerd culture,' pardon the stereotype, you meet everyone that's just like you and likes the same things," Nabke said. "It's cool to be surrounded by people who get you. It's a good feeling."

The expo, held in Chicago since 2010, features hundreds of booths as well as stand-up comedy shows and the obligatory costume contest, among other attractions. The expo has also teamed up with local chefs and brewers for the event.

Some fans Friday said they were first-timers at the event, but others claimed they were veterans of the comic convention scene, like Stephan and Vince Scalabrino. The two brothers came dressed as "Masters of the Universe" characters He-Man and Skeletor.

Stephan, dressed as He-Man, said the television show was his favorite when he was a kid.

"I'm obsessed with 'Masters of the Universe,' very obsessed," Scalabrino said. "I had all the action figures. I had a He-Man lunchbox, everything."

The two were bombarded at the convention by fans wanting to stop for pictures, which the brothers obliged.

Vince Scalabrino, dressed as Skeletor, joked he wished the two got paid considering all the attention they get.

"A little kick-back, a little something for Skeletor!" Scalabrino said.

He also said he cannot wait to bring his "Skele-baby" to the expo when she is old enough.

"She's only 13 months, but as soon as she's old enough she's going to be here," he said.