Comic conventions have presented themselves as a space of inclusion for fandom for all; from anime and cosplay to gaming and comics, conventions have served as a celebration of pop culture. Following the accumulation of Wizard World Comic Conventions, Fan Expo HQ has been cherishing the love for multimedia entertainment across North America. Their determination to reignite a love for the most prominent forms of arts and entertainment bound from city to city.
Fan Expo's first-ever convention in the Chicagoland area promises an exciting weekend packed with industry talent, fan-run panels, cosplay, autograph sessions, photograph sessions, vendor halls, and more. As the convention tentpole prepares to celebrate 50 years in the market, they are determined to bring as many thrills to the Windy City as they can. Convention attendees can visit the Community Zone on the show floor that will showcase the pop culture organizations in the Chicagoland area.
Chicago POC Cosplayers aim to secure inclusion, growth, and diversity within the cosplay community. Founders Chris "Papa Bear" English and Allen "Venture Bros" Mikel set out on their mission to raise money through the art of cosplay, and have used Chicago POC Cosplayers to call attention to their fundamental pillar: cosplay is for everyone regardless of race, sex, body type, and religious beliefs. The fundraising venture has partaken in charitable events that support Autism Speaks, Shady Oaks Camp for People with Disabilities, and similar causes. Chicago POC Cosplayers are determined to uphold their status as trailblazers in the costuming community while fighting for equality.
League of Enchantment Chicago strives to connect with local hospitals, community organizations, and fundraising events in order to bring joy to those in need. Per their official mission statement, "[League of Enchantment Chicago is] here to make a difference in their lives all through the power of cosplay." Members span across the Midwest in both Michigan and Chicago chapters. More information about event appearances and donation opportunities to support the 501c3 Nonprofit Charity can be made in person at Fan Expo Chicago or found on their website.
The Midwest Garrison has designated itself as the Illinois-exclusive subset of The 501st Legion, a costuming club that shifts its focus to replicating Star Wars villain cosplay. Each costume is expected to abide by cinematic-quality standards and honor the in-world creations by Lucasfilm. According to the Legion Charter, "…The Legion is an all-volunteer organization formed for the express purpose of bringing together costume enthusiasts under a collective identity within which to operate. The Legion seeks to promote interest in Star Wars through the building and wearing of quality costumes, and to facilitate the use of these costumes for Star Wars-related events as well as contributions to the local community through costumed charity and volunteer work…” Outside of their appearances at events such as Fan Expo Chicago, The 501st Legion orchestrates fundraising campaigns, participates in charity work, and logs hours volunteering.
Midwesteros finds community through the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. They aim to bring fans from all backgrounds together through a common interest in the fantasy series through group screening events, photoshoot meetups, and conventions. The Windy City Ghostbusters intersect charity with an enthusiasm for the Ghostbusters saga. A registered 501c3 charitable organization, all proceeds are donated to La Rabida Children's Hospital and Treehouse Animal Shelter. Members of The Windy City Ghostbusters craft their own in-universe props and costumes to be worn at events and in parades. Their appearances are in exchange for donations made to causes of their choice.
The Community Zone will be a dedicated portion of the show floor that encourages new connections to be made between the general public and charitable associations. Chicago POC Cosplayers, League of Enchantment Chicago, The 501st Legion, Midwesteros, and The Windy City Ghostbusters are only a few names that will fill the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. from July 7 - July 10, 2022. Admissions for Fan Expo Chicago 2022 are still on sale online prior to the convention's four-day run. Premium Packages, 4-Day Passes, and Single Day Passes can be purchased here.