For the third year, C2E2 has hit the windy city of Chicago, Illinois and ENI reader, Peter has supplied us with a review of his experience for this years show. Now you may remember that Peter sent us a review of the show last year talking about dealing with C2E2 and Wizard World and some of the items that entertain and annoy us when we head to conventions. So lets see if Peter had a better or worse time and remember that if you head off to any convention then drop ENI a review and we'll let everyone know what is on your mind...
Another year has past and another C2E2 convention (April 13th to April 15th) is now over. While these events are always fun, this year's con did not live up to the expectations of its previous two year's worth. Whereas some of the negative points can not be passed onto the convention itself, other points could use some work for future events.
Next year's convention will take place two weeks later than this year's con - a good move based upon two aspects that occurred this past weekend: the Chicago White Sox home opener and a tattoo convention in Rosemont. Yes the economy does suck and no I am not claiming both these outside events did take away from attendance, the potential for more visitors was possibly hindered. Another omission was there was no true central drawing power. While the first year was the anti-Wizard World stance and the return of the big two of comic publishing to Chicago followed with the second year the "Green Lantern" movie and cast of the "Walking Dead" television show, this year's convention's central theme was ... the "Avengers" movie? Not too much hype, even from Marvel Comics. The "Before Watchmen" was very in-house to those that read comics and not to the populace at large. The various guests - while famous in their own rights, seems haphazardly tossed together in hopes of drawing in numerous small slices instead of one large slice. But this leads to a larger issue with the industry - too much is wrapped around the San Diego Comic Convention that it seems all ~lesser~ conventions suffer. I could be wrong since I primarily run the Chicago conventions; but when publications like Comic Buyer's Guide out of Wisconsin pass over Chicago to attend San Diego, we're going to be hurting.
This year's convention took place in the North building of McCormick Place. Or otherwise translated into a good hike from Parking Lot A as I did both Friday and Sunday, or a huge haul of a walk from the Lakefront parking as I got stuck with Saturday. Add some combination escalators / stairs or long ramps, and walking the convention floor is not one for the weak. Chicago has been noted for its quickly changing weather, and this past weekend was no exception. Friday was a bit cool which made being around Artist Alley without its carpeted floors borderline cold. Yet by Sunday with the outside temperatures warmer, crowded around the dealer tables made it feel a tad stuffy. When it came to attendance, Friday was nearly empty with Saturday being a regular cattle stall through the aisles. Sunday started off slow, but then seemed to go through waves of barren areas to large crowds huddling all-together. This seemed to have followed how the convention had guests scheduled with most of them Saturday, a handful Sunday, and a few on Friday.
People did not seem to dress up in costume as much as previous years. While there were the staple Batman and Superman folks, I did not see any Darth Vader costumes - probably a handful of Star Wars characters at best. And while I do commend many of the people that really put effort into the costume, there were some that it seemed was a last moment affair. Then there were others I had no clue, no idea what they were suppose to have been portraying. A white industrial bucket with a blue strip on your head...?
When it comes to artists or vendors, I have always been a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to dealing with them directly. On one hand, I have experienced moments when an artist or a vendor will look in my direction and then look away as if I was not good enough to purchase anything from them. I will keep on moving, remembering to avoid them in the future. But on the other hand, I have experienced the overly pushy artists or vendors that want me to stop and look at their wares while they ramble their sales pitch. While I feign interest, eventually I will thank them and move onward. The ideal artist or vendor for me will have something I may be interested in, give me a "hello", and then leave me alone for a bit. Fortunately this convention had many of the last type and only a few of the first type with none of the second type. So while I do not carry any lists of needed comic books, stumbling onto a rare gem has its perks. When I am ~not~ looking for something and find something I suddenly do want, then that is a proud moment during the convention. Especially when many of my favorite artists were not present, finding another favorite artist "hidden" away selling artwork I later bought was good. That is, how can you go wrong with a good Frank Castle picture?
There were numerous panels throughout the weekend, which did seem to be appropriate since this convention did have a little of everything as noted earlier. I was surprised that Cyanide & Happiness was to have a panel about their web comic on Friday. So while they shown clips of released videos - and an animation clip in the works - with their own comments afterwards, they were quite cordial in answering people's questions - even my stupid ones. On Saturday, I attended the "Before Watchmen" panel with information and teasers about the upcoming releases. Whereas I was able to get into the panel, the convention seemed to have miscalculated how much interest there would have been since people were standing along the walls. So while I was smothered between two fat guys, DC gave enough information to perk my interest and get me back into a comic book store after all these years come June. Then later that afternoon, there was a web based comic panel starting Cyanide & Happiness, Gutters, Hijinks Ensue, Least I Could Do, and Looking For Group. I'm glad the guys from Cyanide asked if I was to attend since I spent a good hour plus laughing my ass off at the various comments and written innuendoes that was definitely not for children or for those easily offended. Hell, if these online comics are anything like that panel, then I have more material to pursue!
I am going to be honest. My whole purpose to attending this year's show was to visit the Cyanide & Happiness booth once again. This year was special since the fourth member of the entourage came all the way from Ireland to be here. While I enjoy their works and have raved about them previously, sometimes I feel as if I am ... fanatical? I mean, who visits the same booth all three days and a few times per day just to see what they are doodling for someone? Yes, I do buy their plush dolls, posters, and t-shirts because I want them _and_ so I can get them to draw a sketch for me of whatever I want. Owning a sketch of my supervisor and I riding a cart at work based upon how they envision it is hilarious! Or asking the four of them to do a self caricature of themselves beating each other up and how they added little bits and pieces to each other's portrait just to one-up each other is not casual humor...
Since Dave was in the country, I brought in previously signed stuff on Sunday. At first, he was not available at the booth; and a later return trip was negative too. Yet while casually strolling around the con, they waved me over to get him to sign my stuff. The other three were surprised to see again the poster I bought during the first convention since I then found out it was not released through their web site but was a convention exclusive only. After getting it signed and wrapped in sturdy plastic, other convention goers noticed my shirt and / or poster and asked about the latter. So after explaining how I got the poster, I would subtly send these people towards Cyanide's booth. It did seem their booth was getting more popular as the weekend past.
Towards the end of the convention, I was watching a fine gentleman do wonderful tricks with bubbles - yep bubbles! As the first and only announcement over the intercom came at five minutes to closing to announce that point, I debated on whether to be a pest one last time or not. As the lights dimmed at three minutes to closing, I headed towards the Cyanide & Happiness booth. I watched Kris take off in one direction but approached both Matt and Rob and shook their hands, thanking them for attending this year and hoping they will be back next year (they will be back!). They thanked me for my support and offered to give me their table top of doodled drawing before realizing they would have to take the booth apart just to get it off. Since the convention was now closed, I casually headed in Kris's last direction, finding both he and Dave at a vendor's booth. Shaking both their hands, they thanked me again with me thanking Dave for coming to the country to attend this convention. He and I talked a bit with him mentioning how he enjoyed the city of Chicago and how Monday he will be flying back home. After wishing him save travels, I asked about next year's convention and he plans on attending, again mentioning he likes this town.
So while this convention was the poorest of the three in terms of a centralized theme and direction, on a personal note it was one of my best. But like all conventions, once it is over, the long wait until next year's con has just begun.