C2E2 (Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo) Otherwise known as “that really good Chicago Con.”
If I lived in some old school Kansas dystopia, where everything was black and white, and then was transported to a technicolor dream-like land with colors and odd things I am not accustomed to seeing, I’d be screaming in panic to get out. That is, I would be if that place was OZ. If it was C2E2, I’d be sticking around for a while. Kansas could wait, at least for three days. I’ve been going to C2E2 for several years now. I look forward to it like a kid looks forward to Christmas. I count the days and those days seem to get longer.
The website is always my first exposure to what the con has to offer. There have been small changes between this and last year’s site. The guest list was a little harder to find and the loading times were a little excessive. Still, it was not a major issue. I was able to do my pre-planning of everything I wanted to check out. What really made up for the online hassle was the program guide. Whoever put together the program guide up should have some top-notch job working at NASA. I could go on about just the program guide, but sadly, I only have so much screen space.
Day One – Friday: Vendor Booths
Friday has always been the cool, mellow day. People are at work, kids are at school, and you can just walk around and be “chill.” I took in all the booths first. The variety of vendors was as I have come to expect, from comics to Lego, there is a little bit of everything. What makes C2E2 different from all other cons in the Chicago area is the quality of these booths. Of course there were a fair amount of whatever is the current fad, however the cliché con merchandise was off set by unique items you don’t normally see unless you are cruising eBay late at night because you can’t sleep. Instead of playing the Russian roulette that is shipping, you could see really cool stuff, buy it there on the spot, and know what you are getting is what you are getting without worrying about damage during transport.
Day One – Friday: Artist Alley
My second mission was to check out Artist Alley. There must have been a great vibe in the air because all the artists I ran into could not be more friendly. If I was a betting man, I’d put down five bucks against finding an artist that was being plain old nasty to people. For most people, art is just about the image they see, but some like myself can’t help but attach an artist’s personality to their work. My inner fragile fanboy has remained intact knowing that the artists I love are also really nice people. Knowing they are all “cool cats,” makes me wonder if the well-run venue had anything to do with it.
Day Two – Saturday: Cosplay
I’ll be honest, this was not my favorite of days, it was extremely crowded, but that is a good issue to have. C2E2 really struts it’s stuff on Saturday. My objective that day was to check out all the cosplay. After all, it is the best day for cosplayers to come out and be seen, and just like every year before they did not disappoint. As usual, there was a wide variety of characters on display. There were, of course, the typical three to four Jokers and Harleys, all of whom were done pretty damn well. One in particular just knocked an “old school” comic Joker out of the water!!! I was also able play a little personal game of mine I call “name that character.” I have never had an easier time figuring out who was cosplaying what character, and this is coming from a guy with an absolutely horrible memory.
Day Two – Saturday: The Line Experiment
This year the person I was looking forward to the most was Frank Miller. I don’t know who got him for the con or how they got him, but, it was jaw-dropping. I was fully prepared for at least a six hour wait in line, being treated like cattle. However, to my surprise, there was none of that, NONE! Yeah, the wait clocked in at a little over an hour, but for Frank Miller that is like some Olympic world record speed. I admit I am a person with a few unforgiving disabilities, but this time the people working the line didn’t even have to be accommodating. The people in the line were not all crushed together. It was just run so smooth, and it really showed in the faces of my fellow line-mates, everyone was cheerful and excited to get a signature from Frank Miller. I’ve been to other cons where people looked like they were serving a ten-to-fifteen year prison term, and they payed to subject themselves to the treatment they were receiving. Then, when we got up to Frank Miller, I expected the moody, grump and generally unpleasant personality he has been rumored to have, but I think he had a bigger smile on his face than I did. So, I say bravo C2E2!!!! They were able to turn self-subjected line-waiting punishment into something that was actually enjoyable.
Day Three – Sunday – The Family Day
Sunday at C2E2 has always been an odd cross of Friday and Saturday. The crowds are not as thin as Friday, but not as packed as Saturday. It is also pretty much known that is the family day. In years past I have avoided family day. I don’t have a family, and they are to hard to make on short notice. But I must say, observing the kids running around and their parents, I didn’t see any typical hysterical parents trying to keep track of their kids. I didn’t even see any parents looking tired and worn out, which is really a crazy thing to me. If I had little clones I would totally take them to the convention and I really wouldn’t worry all that much. There was even an area for families to go so they could regroup and hit the floor again. The retro gaming area seemed like a parental life saver for all days of the con.
My overall take away was that I can’t wait until next year. That program guide has now become a must-have for me. The schedule was really good and you could find a panel or workshop for just about any interest. After this year, I feel like I don’t have to dread waiting in lines. Plus, I want to see if the bar could possibly be lifted any higher than this year.
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