I know what your probably thinking and saying, why is he posting a review of the 2011 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo conventions a week after the show? Well, I must admit it was my fault between being busy and finding time to post this review that it comes down to a week later. The review comes from a ENI reader Peter, who talks about the differences of last year and this years show, dealing with C2E2 and Wizard World and some of the items that entertain and annoy us when we head to conventions. Also remember that if you head off to any convention then drop ENI a review of what you thought of the show with the highs and lows and we'll make sure to get your review to shine... Enjoy the following review.
This year’s C2E2 event occurred from Friday, March 18th through Sunday, March 20th. Whereas both the 2010 show and the 2011 show were at the McCormick Place in Chicago, each event took place in opposite sides of the building. While both rooms seem to be about the same size, the first show was located in the eastern side of the building and opened to the north. Thus within the main floor, visitors were casually exposed to parts of the city skyline - giving the whole a more open appearance. Wandering through the food courts and auditorium rooms, the lakefront was present to the east. Since the weather was pleasant later in the year, the lake was calm and soothing. Yet the second show was located in the western side of the building and opened to the south. The windows appeared more reclusive with nothing to see except the cloudy murky skies of a wet March day. While the entrance was wider, visitors were exposed to the dilapidated buildings to the west - a border between the have and have not.
Both C2E2 shows were carpeted throughout the main floor - save for Artist Alley, the temperature was quite comfortable, and plenty of ventilation was prevalent: quite opposite to the past few Wizard World shows in Rosemont. I noted many of the same vendors from Wizard World were set-up at C2E2 to sell their wares. The big difference between C2E2 and Wizard World has been the comic book companies were a part of C2E2 and not Wizard World. The former felt like a comic book convention while the latter leaned towards a publicized autograph session. Yes, there were autograph sessions during C2E2, but they were secondary to comics being the primary focus of the show. Another huge difference has been C2E2 offered a pretty hefty program guide - even larger than their first show. Hell, one year I attended a Wizard World show and they were out of program guides by the second full day of their show. And C2E2 had visitors walking around with a good sized badge attached to a cord for around your neck. Wizard World used to have plastic sleeves you pinned to your clothes until the last time I went where the sleeve was reduced to a wrist band. When I asked if I was suppose to wear this band all three days, I was told to get a replacement daily. Otherwise translated into standing in line, presenting proof to whom you are, then having it sweat against your wrist daily.
Now I have a major pet peeve when it comes to attending conventions - I am not fond of crowds of people. Besides adults bumping into you without a care in the world, there are children running amuck and getting underfoot. While there are numerous attractions to draw your attention suddenly away while you’re wandering aimlessly, people seem to have a tendency to stop without notice and look around befuddled as if they found themselves in the middle of a comic book convention and had no idea how they arrived there. But the worst in my opinion are those proud parents attempting to push their strollers throughout the corridors. Listen - the tyke has no idea what is going on, much less will remember the events years from now. And not every teenage girl in the surrounding areas was attending the show. So pay someone to watch the little rug rat for the afternoon and do not take up more space than you are allotted!
Unlike the first C2E2 show, this show had inconsistent sized columns and rows dividing the dealer and vendor areas apart. Perhaps the first show had fewer vendors overall, but walking around did not cramp people into tight confines. Yet this year the main entry into the convention was more than adequate to allow people to flow into the show. But once you left this main path, dealers had placed comic book boxes on the floor with people kneeling down, rummaging through them. With no “one-way” paths, there were sections that three to four people wide moving in both directions was a tight squeeze. But one column or one row over and the paths were quite wide again. Add the stroller folks to the mix and I came to a halt more than once.
But there were high points to this C2E2 show for me this year. This was a comic book convention at its roots. While there were the vendors selling DVDs, t-shirts, swords, and toys, they were dwarfed by those selling comic books and original art pieces. Unlike the Wizard World shows the past few years, you were not getting bombarded with announcements of a non-comic celebrity having an autograph session every few minutes. Visitors were dressed in their favorite comic book character; though I feel the colder weather hindered the potential output. Panels were plentiful and covered multiple aspects of comics and similar entertainment. There was enough to keep a comic book fan busy this year without having to search for something to do.
There are two gems I found within the convention that should be noted. The first was an artist, RAK are his initials, that had a small booth (if you can call it that) consisting of a border wall between walking rows where he had playing card sized drawings, along with poster board collages, of various comic book, movie, or television personas drawn in his unique style. He seemed quite genuinely grateful people were perusing and purchasing his wares. I went back another day to purchase more goods - which is not my usual style. And then there were three of the four ~authors~ of Cyanide & Happiness web comics (with a smaller and more refined booth compared to their booth from the first C2E2 show) greeting their fans and selling various books, posters, and t-shirts. They had an offer going that anyone buying two or more items, besides getting them autographed, would get an unique comic page drawn by all three of them simultaneously! Either offer them an idea or let them decide for you - and if you know their style of humor, then anything goes. I explained to them that I have been slowly corrupting people at work with their comics and shorts - especially “Beer Run” and “Noodles”. So they created “Noodle Run” for me. As luck would have it, the batteries in my camera died right at the moment they finished the picture, so I had to find my brother and get him to take this picture for me:
Overall, if you are looking to spend a good time at a comic book convention without feeling you are wasting both time and money, then I recommend attending a C2E2 show. While I have not seen the announcement date for 2012, hopefully it will be a bit later in the year to allow people to dress in character. And some comic book females are quite scantily clothed too…