This was my second journey to C2E2 in Chicago, and both times I was behind a dealers’ table. I did get time out on the floor and elsewhere in the con, so I feel I got a good overview of what it was all about! It ran from Friday, October 18, through Sunday, October 20. Apologies that this column is late, but driving from Chicago back to Florida took longer than expected!
This year, as in the past several months, I was there helping at my friend’s booth, which also comics including Think Alike Production’s The Agency, Gateway City Comics’ Max Hunter, Escape Comics’ Under the Flesh and, of course, Stabbity Bunny and Wild Bull and Chipper from Richard Rivera.
WHAT IS C2E2?
Here’s information about the con from their website: ”The Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo – also known as C2E2 – is a comic book and pop culture convention spanning the latest and greatest from the world of comics, movies, television, toys, anime, manga and video games. From a Show Floor packed with hundreds of exhibitors and Artist Alley members to panels, autograph sessions and screening rooms featuring sneak peeks at upcoming films and television shows, C2E2 gives fans a chance to interact with their favorite creators and celebrities, and delivers a weekend of pop culture and fandom in downtown Chicago.”
It started in 2010, and is an event run by ReedPOP, which also manages New York City Comic Con, Emerald City Comicon, BookCon and many others.
As always, I was primarily there for their comics guests, which included, in no particular order, Aaron Kuder, Adi Granov, Amy Chu, Andrew Pepoy, Andy Price, Andy Schmidt, Annie Wu, Anthony Falcone, Art Baltazar, Arthur Adams, Bart Sears, Bill Reinhold, Billy Tucci, Brian Level, Cary Nord, Chris Burnham, Chris Claremont, David F. Walker, David Peterson, Doug Mahnke, Eddy Barrows, Fabian Nicieza, Frank Cho, Gail Simone, Geof Darrow, Gene Ha, Greg Capullo, Jamal Igle, Jae Lee, Jeremy Haun, Jim Zub, Kevin Maguire, Khary Randolph, Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, Mark Waid, Mike Mignola, Rafer Roberts, Phil Hester, Ray Fawkes, Royden Lepp, Ron Marz, Ryan Ottley, Scott Snyder, Skottie Young, Tommy Lee Edwards, Tony Daniel and Yanick Paquette. If I’m fortunate, you just might hear interviews with some of these folks in upcoming episodes of my weekly Wayne’s Comics Podcast.
There were many other independent comics companies there, far too many for me to mention, but it was good to see so many people telling their stories via comics! There were also booths featuring Marvel, Valiant, Devil’s Due/1First and several other “name” companies, and they seemed to do brisk business.
As far as entertainment guests went, there were many of them, including Chloe Bennett and J. August Richards from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Melissa Benoist and Chyler Leigh from Supergirl, D.B. Sweeney from Eight Men Out, Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell from Battlestar Galactica, Keiynan Lonsdale from The Flash and Sasha Roiz from Grimm, among others.
Of course, there were a lot of cosplayers and costumers around, with many of them dressed as Kylo Ryn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. What surprised me most were the number of guys dressed up as Rick from the Cartoon Network show Rick and Morty. That program must be particularly popular in Chicago!
We were fortunate enough to be able to stay in the hotel linked to the convention center, so it made getting around and moving things from where they were to where they needed to be much easier. I only went out of the building to park the van we drove from place to place. The last time I was there, I had to drive a van from the hotel I was at to the con, and it was torture! The traffic was terrible pretty much 24/7, so I was very grateful for these accommodations!
The people running the con were also very helpful. They had folks at the various exits and entrances who were well-informed and also were great to both fans and exhibitors alike!
I was particularly pleased with the hotel and convention people, who wore superhero costumes, mostly Superman, Batman, Robin and Spider-Man outfits but others wore red and black capes. Then, too, overhead on Friday and Saturday was piped themes from genre TV shows and movies. When we first came off the elevator on Friday morning, I heard the theme from the Fox television show The X-Files. At first, I wondered if that was what they thought we were, an X-File, but then came Spider-Man movie music, so I was relieved. It added to the con’s atmosphere, I thought.
Discussion panels ran from the time the con opened until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, which gave people things to do if they had run out of money and also if they were interested in the topics being presented. I heard many people on the floor passing by say how much they enjoyed them.
Of the three days Friday had the smallest crowds. Saturday and Sunday seemed to have similar attendance, which is somewhat unusual since it’s usually Saturday that stands out. At times it was tough to navigate through the place! I’m sure the organizers were happy with that, though!
Artist Alley was huge! I wanted to catch up with several folks I’ve interviewed in the past on my podcast, but I missed some when I went through aisles A to V. Lots of good people with excellent books and artwork to peruse, though!
THINGS TO IMPROVE ON
I’ve mentioned many of the positives to 2016’s C2E2, so it’s time to talk about some things I feel could go more smoothly next year.
I wish the indie comics folks would have been near each other. Instead, we were scattered across the floor, often near craft people or educational institutions. We had to fight to get attention, it seemed, a lot of the time. Then, too, as a podcaster, I roamed the place at times to find comics creators, and it took some real effort to re-locate one of the booths. Since I was a member of the press, he had given me a copy of the third issue of his title, but I wanted to go back and buy the first two. Yikes, that took a while! I had to find the issue, which was back in the hotel room to remember the company’s name, then locate it in the program. I realize that’s what the program is for, but I would have loved to have been able to find it without it since I had just been there a half hour earlier. Since there’s an Artist Alley, how about an Indie Alley?
We ran into real trouble when we tried to set up our booth. Most conventions stay open on the night before way late to accommodate exhibitors, often up to midnight. Not this place! They first said we had to exit by 4:30 p.m. Then another person said it was 5:00 p.m. Then another said we had until 7:00 p.m., and finally another thinking we could stay until 8:00 p.m. Well, we would discover these times about a half hour before they were to take place, so we couldn’t get things done in time. I’m glad they let us in really early, 7:30 a.m., so we could assemble our display! Phew! Next time, if you’re going to close really early, do a better job of letting people know that, then stick to it!
Getting out as an exhibitor was also a challenge. They had people grouped in colors, and even though I had gotten in a long line of vans, they didn’t call our color until about two hours later. When I was entering the building with the van, one of the security guards asked if there were many more behind me. I said, “Not too many.” She called out, “Good!” apparently anxious to go home herself. I would ask that the con organizers make it as easy as possible to get in and out for the exhibitors next year.
Still, I enjoyed the experience. I often like to say that I used to go to the cons to spend hundreds of dollars, but now I go to make connections for interviews to appear on my podcast. I believe that if you attended, you had a good time no matter what you were looking for!
Unlike most conventions, C2E2 has already scheduled their date for 2017, which will be held April 21 through 23, a little later than this year. I would still keep an eye on their app and the aforementioned website since they do a very good job of keeping fans aware of what’s going on. It was great fun and well worth the money to attend and enjoy!