Home/Events /Geekin' on 66 - Encompassing all of Geekdom - Free comic con
Geekin' on 66 - Encompassing all of Geekdom - Free comic con
Date & Time
9/1/18 - 9/3/18
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Thommy Evans, the owner of Chic, Geek and Antique, is inviting people from Kankakee to Chicago to come to Wilmington for an Island City version of comic con, Geekin' on 66. It's not far to come, he says, if you want to do all this cool stuff.

Evans is "dedicated to his geekdom." As a child of 5 or 6, he bought his first comic books. He bought what he wanted to read, and started trading up with his friends. Then he realized that as a cute, 7-year-old he could get people to sell him old collections that they no longer cared about. He got his father to take him to conventions to sell his books, and by 12 he was a fairly large comic book dealer, pulling in as much as $30,000 profit per year  - as much as his parents, and he only worked six weekends a year.

Now, he's making his mark in the comic con realm.

Comic con is a phrase that refers to any convention for all things comic or geek. It's a pop culture gathering encompassing comics, video games, board games and role playing once found only in cities like Chicago, New York and San Diego, where the biggest, most storied event, the International Comic Con is held.

Evans and a friend are organizing Geekin' on 66, a free event that will take place on Sept 1st, in various locations in and around downtown Wilmington. It will run in conjunction with the Downtown Merchants Association's monthly flea market.

"It's basically all the guys that you would picture sitting in their mom's basement when they're 35, because that's where they still live, with no girlfriend - anything that would remind you of that back in the 80s  - that's now the forefront of culture," he explained. "And that's becoming what this thing is all about."

Geekin' on 66 is very focused on the cosplayers, the people who show up in full costume, but mixing in lot's of interest for comic book geeks and the video game geeks.

"... We try to more define ourselves with ... anything pop culture: Comic books; video game geeks; people who play 'Magic the Gathering' and 'Dungeons and Dragons,' they're called role play gamers; then there's table top gamers who do board games ... We're trying to put all those together so that we're encompassing all of geekdom," Evans said.

Comic book hall is sold out, with than 20 main exhibitors located at Water Street Fitness, 315 N. Water St. The exhibitors include Gaming Goat, Maille Man, Cooper's Comics, Limitless Adventures, Grim Comics, That Star Wars Guy, Joshua's Wood and Tipsy Badger. The first 300 people to check in will receive a goody bag with a comic books and smaller items. One in three bags will be instant win bag for bigger prizes like vintage comic books, signed comic books, graphic novels, action figures or gift certificates to local restaurants, including Nelly's and City Pizza and Subs. City Pizza and Wilmington Pizzaria are offering pizza deals.

HDC Cosplay and Fabrication will host a costume contest from noon to 1 p.m. Contestants must register by 11:15 a.m. at the HDC Cosplay table near the competition stage. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded in children and adult categories. Prizes will include action figures, Steampunk style goggles, a leather convertible hip pouch, a replica Hans Solo DI-44 blaster from "Star Wars: A New Hope," and gift cards up to $100.

Evans has asked participants to tone down their costumes just a bit.

"We tried to soften that blow and say, maybe wear a more family friendly costume if you're coming out, to try and make it as family friendly as we could while still not making it a Disney convention," he commented.

Gaming Goat, of Joliet, will hold a "Magic the Gathering" tournament and a Pokemon tourney for kids at 221 N. Water St.

The Wilmington Area Historical Society museum at 114 N. Main St. will host a playable vintage video game exhibit where visitors can play the classics on Nintendo and Game Cube models, Pong and many handhelds including an Asteroids predecessor.

"It's nice nostalgia for somebody who grew up in the 70s or 80s to go back and play the old video games and go , 'wow, I can't believe this is so cool.' It's kind of fun to relive your childhood with something like that," he said.

A board game tournament and superhero photo op at the library make the convention family friendly, without alienating the other groups.

The historic, art deco Mar Theatre will show the original, circa 1977 "Star Wars: A New Hope" on the big screen at 1 p.m. Admission is just $1. See the one that started it all at the theater, located at 121 S. Main St.

Evans said even the non-geek Wilmington resident will want to attend Geekin' on 66.

"Joe Schmo, who lives here in Wilmington and could care less about geek stuff, is going to come downtown because he wants to see these freaks in their costumes, and how weird it's going to be seeing them walking down the street," he said. Schmo's wife can visit the antique shops, the florist or chat with friends over lunch.

Based on Facebook responses so far, it looks like Geekin' on 66 - the only convention with its own superhero, the Gemini Giant - will exceed attendance at similar conventions held in Joliet and Kankakee.

"I think so far we're proving that we're a little bit bigger than a small town convention," Evans concluded. - Description courtesy Free Press Newspapers, cartoon courtesy Thommy Evans.
Downtown Wilmington
222 N. Water St
Wilmington, IL

(630) 334-2285