There aren’t too many people who realize this, but every convention has to go through its test phases before it turns into the perfection many attendees find it to be. Comic-Con, Anime Con and other popular entertainment conventions took a few years until they understood what kind of event they would become, and in some ways they still change over the course of time.
C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, has been around for merely three years but has gone through some major revamps throughout that time. The Windy City contains a number of entertainment conventions, the most notable being Wizard World, but residents must have figured that wasn’t enough. This past weekend, a section of the McCormick Place convention center played proud host to C2E2, as an exuberant amount of geeky fans and creators took over the place.
Now I’ve been to my fair share of comic-centric entertainment conventions, and they don’t always work. Thankfully the only weird part about this entire event is that kooky name, which tricks people into thinking it’s not a comic convention at all. Seriously guys, you may want to consider altering that a bit. Now I could have inserted regular, slightly boring pictures into this list but in the convention spirit of self-expression, I decided to sketch out each one of my highlights from show. What are you waiting for? Start reading…and looking.
10. The Cosplayers
First off, can I just say that I’m happy I didn’t see any Furries out at C2E2. I can’t stand people who dress up as those characters, because it’s kind of creepy. They’ve always been a weird combination of mascots mixed together with fan fiction that borders on bestiality (I know, for some of you that’s a plus…eww). Anywho, a number of the outfits were really inventive, and while there may have not been a huge number of cosplayers, compared to what we see in the bigger conventions, it was made up for in quality.
I’m also really happy to see that not everybody was dressed up like a Doctor Who character. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the show to pieces, but there are too many women out there who dress up as the Matt Smith. Did they forget that there’s ten other incarnations they can pick? At least the guys in the picture above used a little imagination to mix together characters with each of the Green Lantern universe colors.
9. Sci-Fi Speed Dating
Are you a nerdy/geeky guy or girl looking for love? Well, there are plenty of you out there and one of the random events happening at C2E2 was here to aid many in their epic quest for love. Okay, so I’m not entirely sure where the science fiction portion of the speed dating service was at this event but it was really cute to sit in on. For two hours straight, a group of random geeky folk, from cosplayers to gamers, would go on these three minute dates where they’d find out more about the person. At one point we saw Princess Bubblegum smiling away at Green Lantern while at the other end of the room an X-Men fan mingled with a gamer guy.
It is possible to find love even if two geeks are attracted to different genres. Believe me, it’s mighty hard trying to look for an honest-to-God, kind-hearted geeky guy who can keep up with me. No, I didn’t participate, but some of the staff started glancing my way after a while with their peer-pressure filled eyes, and I eventually had to step out, but I still do recommend it!
8. The Block
Obviously you’re wondering what I’m talking about when referring to The Block, and no it’s not an Attack the Block reference. The Block is the creator/artist corner of the general floor area at C2E2, and by artist I’m not talking about the comic-book kind. There’s a whole section of booths that show off some unique artwork that’s still pop-culture-centric but unique in its own ways. On one corner you may find a booth filled with wooly hand-sewn animals, from a five feet tall T-Rex to various characters from The Walking Dead. Across from that booth was a man doing a live painting of some random creatures for the entire convention to see.
A couple of booths down was a series of paintings on various comics, including poignant scenes like the creation of the Hulk without any of the illustrations in the panels, only the text and background coloration. It’s too bad that this actually wasn’t a whole block but just a line of booths; the name is catchy, though. The greatest thing about this section is that it gives those who are unable to experience all of the art culture Chicago has to offer and showcases it through here, which made me happy because I didn’t have too much time to explore downtown and check out their Picasso painting.
7. Ink Fusion Tattoo Festival
There were several booths squeezed together in the corner of the monstrous room, which is normal. What they were doing behind each one of those booths was the surprising factor – I’m referring to the tattoo corner of the convention, where attendees could get some geeky ink and immediately show it off afterwards on the floor. There were a variety of fan-centric flash art you could permanently ink into your skin, from a sexy Harley Quinn to a detailed portrait of Deadpool or a picture of Tony Stark played by Robert Downey Jr.
Actually, that would be a little strange having a picture of an actor playing a fictional character on your arm for the rest of time, but the Iron Man films are fun to watch, so who cares. The tattoo artists are all professionals who have been working in the field for years, so you won’t be getting any crooked or deformed tattoos of your favorite characters that you’d want to post in Ugliest Tattoos on Fail Blog. They’re only as ugly as you want them to be.
6. The Panels
C2E2 adds a little bit more variety when it pertains to the panels, just because they don’t necessarily specify themselves as just a comic-book convention. In some ways it just gives them the right to be cool and do whatever they want. There weren’t an insane amount of panels on every floor, but the ones they did provide for attendees were very diverse. In one you would have “DC Comics: Superman 101” and a couple of doors down would be Star Wars Origami. I’m not incredibly coordinated when it pertains to creating origami so I can’t make a cool Yoda paper figure, but everyone else was having fun. The small size of C2E2 is beneficial when it comes to the panels, mainly because you can hop between three that may be going at once with ease. All you have to do is take an escalator and voila, you’re there. No half-mile hikes of San Diegan proportions here.
5. Big Fat Comic Book Announcements
No comic convention is complete without a few pieces of news popping out. Since C2E2 isn’t littered with movies, the comic announcements took center stage. Throughout the weekend we probably found out the most news from Dark Horse Comics as they released the name of three new titles coming out later this year: Witch Hunt, Itty Bitty Hellboy and The Occultist. Marvel had its fair share of surprises too as they announced X-Men: Battle of the Atom, a crossover book that combines the latest group of Uncanny X-Men with the founding group that debuted in the early 60s.
On a sadder note, Marvel is going to do away with X-Factor in a six-issue story arc that’ll begin this June. DC Comics has some exciting Batman news up its sleeve too as the writers revealed how excited they were for the comic book world to read Superman Unchained and the New 52 version of Batman’s origin in Batman: Zero Year, both expected to come out later on this year. The only thing I’m not excited to really hear about is that they’re reworking Batman’s origin once again, but it’s being written by Scott Snyder so it more than likely will be pretty damn good.
4. C2E2’s Guests
For a convention that’s only been around for 3 years, they certainly know how to put their connections together to bring in some really big A-name talent. Some of those who were there this year included Ron Perlman, Patton Oswalt, Peter Davison and many others. At one point I even found out that the Green Ranger (Jason David Frank) had his own Q&A panel in commemoration of the Power Rangers 20th Anniversary.
At another point, Ron Perlman was asked the one question a number of us have been thinking over the years; will Guillermo del Toro make another Hellboy movie? Perlman replied with “You owe it to the world to finish this trilogy… I’m pushing 70 so he better fucking do it.” We live in a time and age where people like Kristen Bell or Zach Braff could coax fans into donating a ton of money into a Kickstarter for a new movie, so c’mon, Guillermo, do the same! There’s still a rabid fan base that would love to see Hellboy 3. Let’s exploit the Kickstarter system and get a fund going! $70 million should be chump change to true fans, right?
3. C2E2 Music
Yes, believe it or not C2E2 was host not only to the latest in pop culture entertainment but a DJ. You could find DJ JFX316 scratching up some vinyl, remixing famous video game themes and keeping the lobby of C2E2 really lively. One of the biggest downfalls of hanging around the lobby area during a convention is that once you sit there, you may accidentally pass out from exhaustion. There are some who hunch over to the side just to give their feet some rest, but they’re going to head back onto the general floor eventually. How else are they going to stay charged up and excited for the convention?
This is where DJ JFX316 comes in. He’s set up right in the middle of the lobby, pumping out these cool tunes that everyone, young and old, was bobbing their head to as they walked past. It got people excited and just generally pumped to be at C2E2, including myself when I found my personal power battery getting drained. It was the equivalent of drinking a shot of espresso that kicks up your adrenaline so bad that you want to get up and start break dancing in your Stormtrooper outfit. There were a couple of people breakdancing in front of the booth on Sunday, but sadly, they weren’t dressed up. Now we recommend that Comic-Con tops this by having a costume themed dance contest in the lobby.
2. C2E2’s Artist Alley
C2E2’s own version of Artist Alley is their biggest achievement yet. When you’re at Comic-Con you see the poor Artist Alley gradually get smaller as the big bad companies gobble up the floor space. At C2E2 the artists are obviously in control, if you take a good look at the crazy amount of space they gave for all of those hard working comic book artists and writers out there. Just like at other conventions, you’re able to step up to one of your favorite artists or writers and gush about how much you love their work. I gasped when I found Morning Glories artist Joe Eisma in his own booth where I proceeded to gush about my love for the comic and get an autographed copy of issue #26.
There was another magnificent thing about Artist Alley that attracted many people over, and that was the drawing booth. Every couple of hours there was a new artist randomly drawing something with a projector showing off his/her latest creation. We’re just happy that the artists kept it fairly G-rated with their drawings, both for the sake of all the kids there and those of us who don’t care to probe the darker impulses of certain creative types.
1. The Variant Stage/The Interactive Room
All the world’s a stage, or so it’s been said, but those behind C2E2 decided they wanted to let some of the thespians in the crowd come up and do various performances. This is where the Variant Stage came in: a cool stage in the middle of the general floor where a wide variety of acts are performed for all to see. The acts ranged from stand-up comedy to nerdy poetry and a re-enactment of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode.
Now, if you were looking to get a little more active during the convention you could always toddle off to The Interactive Room. Okay so there’s one section that’s blocked off for gamers to play Magic or whatever, but if you felt like getting on your feet you could join in on the Superhero Fitness Hula Hooping Challenge. The Interactive room continued to showcase a variety of strange events which included How To Play Quidditch 101, Star Wars Academy and Modern Swordplay. I would think that it’s vital to know how to use a real sword. You never know when you’re going to need to fend off a horde of red dragons. Or sweaty “admirers.”