Over the years, I've logged a few hours at Wizard World or Chicago Comic Con or Geekfest or whatever you want to call it. I've seen a few strange things. A vendor playing up the fact that he brought along the midget who played the Jawa that shot R2-D2 in Star Wars: Episode IV. Running into writer/artist/genius Rob Liefield as I was leaving the men's room, catching the look of utter puzzlement on his face as he saw my Justice Society t-shirt. Clandestinely snapping a photo of Gil "Buck Rogers" Gerard at the autograph line just so I could show my friends how much the years have been unkind to him. But nothing beats one of the main attractions of this year's gathering.
That's right. Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, impeached from office and fresh off of his conviction on one federal count and a hung jury the 20-some odd other charges, set up a booth at the convention center...then charged comic book fans $50 for an autographed photo and $80 for a candid, posed shot with him. And plenty of people bought it.
Wish I could have seen that. Not to get the photos, mind you. If I refused to pay $25 for my picture to be taken with adult film star Aria Giovanni, there's no way I'm coughing up the 80 bones for governor Rod. It's just such a surreal occurrence that I'm actually remorseful that I was not there to witness it.
And calling it surreal in the land of Chicago politics is saying something. After all, our motto around here is "vote early, vote often." However, the more I think about Blago's appearance at the con, the more it begins to make sense.
Blagojevich has become a comic book character. He belongs in four-color print, fighting the system like a modern day Robin Hood, his implacable hair as his only shield. He is as much a larger-than-life character as any denizen of Marvel or DC or even the independents...and he is just as unbelievable. The people of Illinois watched him drive the state into a financial abyss and gave him a 25% approval rating at one point. Much of that seems irrelevant now as the citizenry has watched him on The Apprentice, proselytizing his innocence and pledging a comeback to Donald Trump. Blago's radio talk show on WLS is gaining audience members, especially among the Tea Party set who see him as someone who fought Obama's federal government and stymied it. He has fully entered the cult of personality and when someone does that in America, people have a tendency to overlook much. Plus let's face it, he's hilarious to listen to. Campaigner and BS-er that he is, I wouldn't be a bit surprised that he pitched himself to many a comics company for a series. He does, after all, have legal fees to pay.
Should there be any doubt left that Rod Blagojevich belongs in comics, check out this footage of him over the weekend with Adam West. Now there's a Batman team-up just waiting for the pages of The Brave and the Bold.
Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets