A show so big we need two reviews!
Part one: Holly's review
Adventure is out there! For me, it was in the form of C2E2, Chicago’s BIG comic and entertainment expo. This was my first time traveling out of state for a convention. It was also my first time attending a large nationally known and revered convention. While I was covering the convention for The Variant, my main reason for attending was to speak on a panel with cosplayer Jenna Say What?! and fellow Variant team member Rj Marchese. We discussed deep issues and how we as individuals have used cosplay and comics to overcome some past experiences. It was a huge honor to speak at C2E2 and experience this convention first hand.
When we first arrived at the location Thursday afternoon, my mind was already blown. The convention center C2E2 was being held at was about ten of the Raleigh (my hometown) convention centers put together. I know, I know. I sound like a small town girl (LIVIN’ IN A LONELY WORLD…ok, I’ll refrain from anymore Journey references) with her eyes finally being opened to “an actual big city” for the first time. Which in all honesty, I was. Just in the walk from the curb to the entrance of the convention center my excitement started building…and built even more so when we saw the con banners and sign greet us at the door way.
We picked up our badges that afternoon, and I was throughly impressed with the friendliness and helpfulness of the volunteers. All throughout the weekend, volunteers and staff members kept a positive energy and made an effort to help con goers, and maintain a terrific atmosphere. One volunteer recognized my group everyday of the convention, and always made an effort to approach us to say “Hi!” and strike up a short conversation with us! An attitude that carried throughout most of the con floor.
Speaking of the con floor, let’s talk about the dealer room and artists alley.
It took a full day to walk around the dealers area (artists alley not included). A full 7 hour day to the whole area, down every aisle. Saying it was big, is an understatement. While there were several actual comic vendors there, the dealer floor was actually overcome with Pop! Vinyl vendors (an observation of my friend.) While not a big disappointment for me (as I’m a Pop! collector), I can imagine how it would be disappointing to those looking for key issues of their favorite comic series, or vintage toys…A hope to find a vintage treasure, and then to be greeted with endless Pop! Vinyls.
Artists alley was great in size, as well as talent. I am a self admitted print lover and (totally not, but kind of) print addict, and I can tell you I was in a continuous state of geeking out from the beautiful artwork available. The incredible talent and guests occupying artists alley really MADE the convention experience a fantastic one for me. Among the many, many, many comic artists and writers were Chris Claremont, Fabian Nicieza, Greg Capullo, Gail Simone, Marguerite Bennett, Amy Chu, Chad Hardin, Chris Roberson, Marguerite Sauvage, Ed McGuinness, Stacey Lee, Jim Zub, only to name a super small percentage. I was delighted to find that the majority of the creators were incredibly friendly as well as willing and open to chat with fans about past, current, and future projects. I was pleasantly surprised to discover some of my favorite artists were in attendance as well, including; Megan Lara, Tim Shumate, Karen Hallion, Mako Fufu, again only to name a small handful.
One thing that I was really thrilled to see was a “Cospitality Lounge.” A large, open area (away from the showroom floor, that housed beanbag chairs, workshops, repair stations (complete with volunteers to help), and….wait for it….actual changing rooms for cosplayers. C2E2 really went above and beyond in regards to cosplayer amenities.
In summary, C2E2 was a fantastic comic and pop culture convention, with a great cosplay atmosphere, I would highly recommend any one (of any age) to attend.
See you next time!
Part two: Rj's Review
As we rode the escalator up, we all saw the giant sign hanging from the rafters: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo C2E2. Top o’ the world, Ma I thought to myself as this was my first out of state convention and my first time at a major comicon of any kind. No, I actually take that back. When I was a kid we went to New York Comicon. Of course back then in the 80’s it wasn’t called NYCC and wasn’t in the Jacob Javits Center. It was just a comic show at the top of a hotel in downtown NYC. I remember it well because it was my first experience with a creator. My favorite comic was G.I. Joe and Ron Wagner who was the artist back then was at the show. I waited in line for about 30 minutes for a Snake-Eyes drawing and when it was my turn Ron went on a lunch break. My mom was with me and she didn’t understand. Hell I was maybe 10 so I didn’t understand. She proceeded to stand there and fuss out Ron Wagner though and that was my first major con-going experience. This however was something All-New and All-Different.
We went to C2E2 because my friend Jenna asked us to go with her to put on a panel. She submitted for the panel and then got accepted so now the pressure was on triple fold.
Be a panelist at one of the biggest conventions in the country if not the world and don’t screw up.
Be a cosplayer at one of the biggest conventions in the country if not the world and DON’T screw up.
Be a comics writer and The Variant editor at one of the biggest conventions in the country if not the world and DON’T SCREW UP.
This trip went off without a hitch.
OK so first of all, this place was HUGE. Like three football fields size Huge. From one end of the room we couldn’t see the other. It was that damn big. The comics creators there were second to none. I met Chris Claremont. I got to shake the hand and thank the man who got me through my entire childhood if not most of my life. To me 80’s Uncanny X-Men by Claremont and Silvestri is the end-all, be-all of the X-Men. There have definitely been some greats but none have topped that 80’s run and to this day it’s the gold standard for me when it comes to X-Men books.
Now if the father of my beloved X-Men weren’t enough, sitting right next to him was Fabian Nicieza. So Now I also had the father figure of my cosplay Deadpoolicorn here as well.
Mind blown to say the least.
Both of them were amazingly nice and I got to talk to them for about 10– 15 minutes each. I got books signed. My partner in crime Holly got her Lockheed that she made with her Kitty Pryde cosplay signed by Chris Claremont. Let me repeat that. The creator of Lockheed, SIGNED HER LOCKHEED. I’m psyched just writing this.
We met the gracious and amazing Gail Simone. She greeted us and took a picture. Her husband was incredibly nice as well and we talked and joked around and got books signed.
We met the Marguerites, Bennett and Sauvage who are currently teamed up on DC’s Bombshells. Marguerite Bennett gave us some peanut M n M’s but was quick to let us know that no one else had actually taken any from her. She goes by the Twitter name @EvilMarguerite so I could see why and I reminded her that we were taking candy from an “evil” stranger. We met a bunch of other creators as well and everyone was super-cool. This was just day 1.
So day 2 we decided to walk the vendor area of the floor. We got there at 11 and we finished up walking the vendor area by around 7. Wait. What? Yes. It took us about 8 hours to walk the vendor room. This was us systematically going up and down each row and stopping at anything and everything we saw that we wanted to look at. By the middle of the room we were confused and we got turned around in the stranger areas where there was a bus blocking the row but we continued on. Earlier in Holly’s part of the review she mentioned a print addiction. This was NO exaggeration. We stopped at every booth in Artists Alley to look at prints, sometimes three or four times as we also strayed off our row by row trek of the dealer room. One thing I did notice and will note though is that this was one of the largest and most attended conventions in North America if not the world. As such I felt that the amount of vintage toys and comics was SEVERELY outweighed by the amount of stands selling Pop-Vinyl figures. You know Pop-Vinyls right? Those almost bobble-headed un-poseable figures of almost any and every pop-culture character or icon you can imagine? One of the biggest stands right in the front of the conventions was run by Funko who makes them with huge Groot and BB-8 pop vinyl statues at the entrances. I really felt that this if anything would be a convention that I would be able to get any weird vintage toy I could have possibly even wanted. I counted only about 3-4 booths that sold anything vintage and by Saturday anything sought after at a good price had already been scooped up. This was my only gripe.
Sunday was more business related than anything. We struck out for pictures and with a ton of Variant business cards to give out and we got a ton of amazing cosplay pictures and gave out all our cards. We got creator pictures and met all kinds of publishers. While completely exhausted and limping around from so much walking (my knee went out sometime Saturday night) I still felt that I could have done so much more. The sheer magnitude of C2E2 was overwhelming and that was the kicker as instead of planning every second we wandered around basking in the ginormousness of it all. Truthfully though, that’s what a good con should be. You should have so much stuff to see that you can’t do it all in a weekend. It keeps you from re-doing the same exact thing day after day. It keeps you busy and it keeps you from realizing that by the time you blink, it’s Sunday. I had an epic time with some epic friends and met some epic people. If I have my way I’ll see you next year Chicago.