Soon upon us will be summer and with warmer weather turns to comic conventions. We have seen a few this year with Toy Fair, Wizard World and who can forget about the San Diego Comic-Con coming up in July. But this past weekend, Chicago had their very own C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) and avid ENI reader, Peter has sent us his review again of this years convention. Peter has sent us a review every year on the convention of what he liked, didn't like and why he keeps going every year. So let us know what you think if you happened to attend C2E2 and thanks again Pete for sending us your convention review...
Talk about dreadful - I do not know which is the worse feeling: that a year has past since the 2012 convention _or_ that this past weekend's convention at C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo on April 25th through April 27th) is gone! So after three days of bottled water and a pocket full of jaw breakers, here is my personalized yearly review of this convention.
This year's convention took place in the West Building of the McCormick Place center. Unlike the other three compass point buildings, the West Building is isolated and secluded into itself. Thus there were no intermingling of various other convention-goers unlike in the past. So if you were looking to get your comic geek into full swing, the chances of stumbling into a professional businessman were nearly none. Of course, stumbling into other people was extremely high, especially on Saturday, but I will get to that shortly.
Initially, the convention floor looked huge - especially when you enter through the entrance / exit and see banners stating aisle 1400 towards the right. With its high ceilings and visuals heading deep towards both the east and the south directions, the rectangular convention floor appeared the largest cubic area yet. As with previous conventions, Marvel Comics had their grand display booth upon entering with various other independent and smaller publishers half-circling around them. Thus to get to the heart of the convention meant most people had to wander through the publisher's area to get to Artist's Alley, merchant vendors, or signing booths. There were two extremely wide pathways heading both east and south as a staple in previous C2E2 conventions to funnel people along. Many of the vendors were spaciously spread apart; but there were some sections where the vendors were nearly on top of each other - we're talking Wizard World narrow. What I feel might have happened was the floor planners forgot about how much room the food court commands. Again from the entrance, southeast direction, off-centered from the overall rectangular room, and two stories tall are a large number of food vendors and means of sitting down and eating. More chairs and tables lined in front of the Variant Stage and wrapped along the south wall towards another food court parked opposite end of the entrance. And dotting around the towering food court and peppered in front of the groups of face stuffers were all these smaller vendors hoping to make a sale. Looking at the floor map, it appears everyone was evenly balanced apart; but reality told a different tale.
One excellent aspect C2E2 has always done that is up and beyond the Wizard World convention has been their free ninety-eight page glossy paper booklets handed out throughout the convention period. Besides the labelled maps directing where the various rooms are per floor of the building, there are detailed lists of the artists "living" in Artist's Alley, along with every publisher's and vendor's alphabetical and numerical location. There are lists of the featured and spotlighted comic, entertainment, and literary guests. Every show feature is detailed along with a daily time frame of events, panels, and other fun and games with each and every one of these points highly detailed. And as I have mentioned in previous years, their various badges are quite sturdy and freely hang from the neck band handed out by the convention organizers and other vendors throughout the floor.
Compared to last year - which was lower than the previous year - this year there were fewer people dressed in their favorite comic book character. I can only speculate that people are finding it too much of a hassle to play Halloween in April. Or perhaps the genre is slowly changing. The cover of C2E2 booklet has Iron Man and Marvel had a huge banner hanging down with a battered Iron Man 3 advertising the upcoming movie. In this day and age of electronics, where were the monitors looping a small segment of the movie as a promotional piece? Where was the push that comics have infiltrated into movies and people should take notice of the history leading to that point? And where the hell was Marvel's competition - D.C. Comics, that did NOT have a booth at this year's convention? Chicago not good enough but San Diego is where it is at?
But people did attend the convention in force. Friday was a decent turn-out with enough people to mingle among the convention floor but not hold up passage through any corridor. Saturday though was a different story. Cattle being herded into stalls had more room than what was available. Entering the convention floor during the first two hours meant walking the length of the West Building and wrapping back around to get into a temporary entrance. Throughout the day, the main entrance and exit were segregated into one-way passages. And the floor itself - if you needed to be anywhere at a certain time, then you had to leave early since floor space was a premium - even the main aisles heading both to the east and to the south were packed. Yet Sunday was a combination of the previous two days - especially during the "prime" time of the day. Movement was manageable but still had people crowding around and caught up in it all. Add that it was also "Kid's Day", many children were running about enjoying themselves. And at the end, when the lights went out at 5:00 p.m., I would say a good couple hundred people were leaving instead of trickling out as with previous conventions. Even the artists in Artist's Alley and vendors were still around for the most part, with only handfuls starting to break down their booths during the last hour of the convention. If the convention would have lasted one hour longer, I feel there would still have been a good couple hundred people milling around the booths and tables. For a convention that had some popular stars in attendance but nothing I would claim as a "must see or else", this convention was active and lively. A good sign since there was a little bit of something for everyone!
Overall, it was an enjoyable experience. Getting to meet Alex Ross once again since my friend had her "Wicked Witch of the West" from the "Wizard of Oz" personalized to her was a pleasant treat. Unlike many artists that become popular and are too aloft to the "little people", Alex Ross has always appreciated his fans - even those who remember him back when he had his long facial hair before shaving it away (he was surprised I remembered)! And of course a personal thanks to Cyanide & Happiness for all they bring to the fans. If their raw humor is the type you enjoy, then you can not go wrong when they have an open panel for any question you wish to ask. Of course, their sketches are always unique since who else would create something ~different~ when "mountain climbing" and "porn" are you randomly chosen subject matter?
So if you are looking to get away from reality for a while, to fall into the ambiance of comicdom and not feel embarrassed dressing up as a fat Luke Skywalker, then C2E2 is the convention for you to attend. With so many events and panels available across three days (and into the night), along with many, many vendors selling comics from the golden age through the modern times, there is something for everyone. Even vendors selling clothing, posters, toys, and tattoos - yes tattoos, fit right into the whole ambiance and aura of a good old time away from the daily grind of reality. So make plans for next year - Friday, April 25th through Sunday, April 27th and be a geek like the rest of us, even for a brief period of time. And yes, people will not laugh at you in your costume!
Thank you for reading.