Among the 200 honored guests at the 12th Annual Chicago Comicon, a convention for comic-strip and -book lovers that runs today through Sunday, will be Arthur Adams, who is drawing Gumby and Pokey for their soon-to-be-released comeback comic books, and Charlie Athanas, the artist on Shatter, the first comic to be drawn completely by computer. Also on hand will be Max Collins, the current writer of Dick Tracy, and Julius Schwartz from DC Comics presenting a slide show on the birth of Superman. On Sunday, an auction of original art from such strips as Dennis the Menace and Family Circus will start at 1; proceeds benefit Literacy Volunteers of Chicago. The convention runs 10 to 7 Friday, 10 to 6 Saturday, and 10 to 5 Sunday at the Ramada Hotel O'Hare, 6600 Mannheim Road, Rosemont. Admission is $5 a day; call 743-4493 for details.
The Chicago Historical Society's Independence Day celebration picnic starts at 10:15 today with a brass band concert of good ol' American tunes. Cardinal Bernardin gives a "patriotic oration" about 11:30; there'll also be more speeches (including CHS president Ellsworth Brown's reading of the Declaration of Independence), an official Coast Guard posting of colors, and balloons and flags and Vienna hot dogs galore. All this takes place just east of the Historical Society building, Clark at North. It's free, as is admission to the museum today; details at 642-4600.
Between bites of cheesecake at Taste of Chicago, you can see Michael Jordan coach three basketball amateurs (winners of a Budweiser contest) as they take on three pros (James Worthy of the LA Lakers, Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks, and Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks). The Budweiser 3-on-3 Basketball Challenge starts at 2 near Buckingham Fountain; 819-3394. Meanwhile, at and around the Petrillo Music Shell, the WFMT Folk Festival will be in progress from 12:30 to 10:30 PM. At 3:45, musicians will lead the audience in the "world's largest square dance." Joan Baez goes on at 10. Details at 565-5004.
The 40 members of the Ave Sol chamber choir hail from the Latvian Republic of the Soviet Union; they're selected for their ability as a cappella soloists. The 18-year-old choir has won numerous awards in various international competitions, and its repertoire ranges from Latvian, Spanish, and Japanese folk music to black spirituals. The group performs today at noon at the Navy Pier Auditorium. Free; 917-7771.
Flower power is in full force today at the Wisconsin/Illinois Lily Society's annual show, which runs today noon to 5 and tomorrow 9 to 5 at the Chicago Botanic Garden, Lake Cook Road east of Edens, Glencoe. Admission is free, and parking is $2 a car; 835-5440.
Fans of the longest-running science fiction show in TV history, the BBC's Doctor Who, can line up to see memorabilia at the Doctor Who Celebration and Tour, noon to 9 today and tomorrow at Navy Pier. Featured is a 48-foot trailer full of the show's most famous monsters and villains, brought to life with special effects, and a replica of Tardis, Dr. Who's time-travel ship, which is shaped like a telephone booth. $2 gets you in; details at 583-5000.
The carillon at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel has 72 bells strung together, which weigh a total of 100 tons; each bell was lifted by pulley into the tower after it was built in 1932, Tonight at 6:30 the chapel continues its Summer Carillon Festival with a program of all-American music; two carillonneurs will harmonize with the Chicago Children's Choir. Free refreshments will be served, and folks are encouraged to bring picnics to the lawn surrounding the chapel; those arriving before 6 can hear the recital from the carillon room in the chapel, at 5850 S. Woodlawn. The free concerts continue throughout the summer; 702-7246 for details.
If that monthly envelope from Illinois Bell is the bane of your existence, hear Judy Mandolini, a Bell manager, give Ten Tips to Help You Save an Your Phone Bill today at 10:30 at the Skokie Public Library, 5215 Oakton, Skokie. Free; more at 673-7774.
In response to the AIDS problem the Illinois house and senate have passed bills that (1) require doctors, hospitals, and clinics to report any AIDS, ARC, or sero-positive patents to the state health department and (2) enable the health department to request information on those patients' sexual partners over the past seven years. Chicago playwright Jeff Hagedorn responded to AIDS by writing a play about it. High Risk In Romance is about people who create fake identities in order to be tested without fear of reprisal. It was first staged last year, but Hagedorn has reworked it for its opening tonight at Sheffield's, 3258 N. Sheffield. The show is produced by Syzygy, the same company that recently put on Hagedorn's Layman's Guide to Safe Sex. Show time is 7:15, with a $3 cover; the show continues Mondays through August. Info at 645-0600.
In a program of reverse anthropomorphism, dancer Jan Bartoszek will interpret animal movements for children today at Lincoln Park Zoo. She'll be accompanied by Paul Winter, who composes music that uses animal sounds. The program, called Hoofing It, starts at 11 at the zoo's Crown-Field Center Auditorium, 2200 N. Cannon Drive. On Thursday at 11 storyteller Pat Pelletier will tell about the roles animals played in native American life in Wildlife, Art, and Folklore. Registration for both programs is required; to each is $3 for members and $4 for nonmembers. Advance registration at 294-4649.
Performers from the Society for Flamenco Studies present Flamenco, a program of Spanish Gypsy music and dance today at noon at the Daley Civic Center Plaza, Dearborn and Washington. Free; info at 346-3278.
See some masterpieces of bookbinding at an exhibition of New Work by Chicago Hand Bookbinders, a group of local practitioners of hand binding and book conservation and restoration. The show runs today through August 26 at the Northwestern University Library, 1935 Sheridan Road, Evanston. Hours are 8:30 AM to 10 PM Monday through Thursday, 8:30 to 5 Friday and Saturday, and noon to 9 Sunday. Free; 943-9090 or 491-7599 for more info.
If you can find the time, a lecture on making better use of your time runs 7 to 10 tonight at Moraine Valley Community College, 10900 S. 88th, Palos Hills. It's About Time to Make Time promises to teach you to "delegate, set priorities, and eliminate time-wasters in order to organize your life." The program costs $15. For info: 371-3800.
A course in ceramic art starts tonight at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. Participants may choose to make pottery and sculpture, ceramic forms from molds, or miniature ceramics and jewelry. The 12-week class meets 6:30 to 9:30 PM every Wednesday and costs $65; beginners are welcome. To register, call 583-8970.
About a year ago, a program in Austin called Youth for Positive Change started up, its goal to keep neighborhood kids out of such troubles as gangs, drugs, and pregnancy. YFPC tries to get them involved instead in sports, field trips, and carnivals. The group's latest effort, the Austin Community Talent Show (subtitled "Youth Are Worth Saving"), was put together with the help of neighborhood teenagers. The show runs 7 to 10 tonight at the Michele Clark Middle School, 5101 W. Harrison. It'll include performances by local lip-synchers, rappers, singers, dancers, and actors. Admission is free; more at 261-5735.