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C2E2 2015

Before we get into this year’s event, you can check out my previous years’ coverage of C2E2 here.

Also, click the video below to hear my C2E2 2015 Rivet report, featuring interviews with Sgt. Slaughter, Mike Norton, Art Baltazar and Gorilla Tango:

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Here we go again… welcome to C2E2 2015.

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Here’s a look at the convention floor before doors opened Friday morning. The space is enormous.

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Once doors opened, a quick left turn led fans to one of C2E2’s more memorable displays:  Acrobatica Infiniti: the “Nerd Circus.” It drew a crowd throughout the weekend, thanks to cosplaying acrobats contorting and spinning in a ring perched above the booth’s table. Here’s one in a Star Trek “red shirt;” unlike typical “Trek” red-shirt crewpeople, she survived.

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From a different galaxy, far, far away came cosplay Princess Leia, perched in her ring with space weaponry at the ready.

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What if this isn’t an acrobatic pose, and I just happened to catch a picture of Wonder Woman crouching in her invisible jet? Suffering Sappho!

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While I’m on the topic of cosplay, I mentioned this in my Rivet report, but this is serious:

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For what it’s worth, the people I saw approaching cosplayers at C2E2 this year were nothing short of respectful.

And, yes, the cosplayers looked amazing this year.

A pair of Spider-Men webbed their way into my path.

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And this guy totally captured the spirit of Beast Boy, from the Teen Titans.

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I AM GROOT (and Gamora).

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I didn’t take as many pictures of creators this year, though I did manage to run into old pal Ryan Browne, just as he was wrapping up a busy Sunday afternoon at the Image table.

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(That’s his cat on the cover.)

I love running into familiar faces at C2E2. It was great to see old Emmis Interactive colleagues Tj Mapes and Paul Friemel kicking ass with their company, RIPT Apparel. Their t-shirt designs are clever, well done, and totally plugged in to popular and comics culture. Tj and Paul are model entrepreneurs, and I’m a fan.

I also ran into Chris O. Biddle, co-owner of the Uptown Underground. We’re working on seriously some fun stuff together, coming soon. More on that in a week or two.

I’m not much for selfies, but I couldn’t resist this:

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One of my biggest highlights this weekend? I won a giveaway prize.

I’m an unabashed Swatch enthusiast and wearer; have been since I was a teenager. Swatch had a nice corner display at the show, and invited attendees to enter a raffle for a free Swatch. I won’t enter contests just to win free stuff, but I will enter contests if the prize is something I truly would like to win. Two hours after I filled out a raffle slip, I got a call from a Texas number: I won a Swatch, and it was waiting for me at the Swatch booth. I finally found out what it was like to be “caller 101.” It’s awesome. Here’s what I won:

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As for my haul, I got a Dr. Strange t-shirt:

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Also a handful of half-price trade paperbacks, and a hardcover collection of Creepy comics.

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Since I tally up my C2E2 expenses every year in this blog, here’s how this year’s expenses broke down for admission, parking, my purchases and lunch (I’m not factoring in what my kids bought, because a lot of it was bought with their money, which they saved for this weekend).

 Item Cost    
Admission (self)  Free (Press)
Admission (son)  $40
Admission (daughter)  $5
Essential Fantastic Four Volume 4  $8.50
Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 2  $10
Superman: The Man of Steel Volume 3  $10
Fantastic Four: Epic Collection  $20
Creepy: Volume Eighteen  $25
Dr. Strange t-shirt  $25
Pre-show donuts at Glazed & Confused  $18
Dick Tracy sketch from Jim Brozman, benefitting Hero Initiative  $2
Robinson’s Ribs lunch for three  $34
SpotHero parking (2 days @ $11/day)  $22

Total: $219.50 (and roughly another $60 spent on the kids). I managed to stick to my $100 retail budget, and saved on parking by skipping the $21 McCormick Place parking for a nearby spot (Indiana and Cermak) which was essentially half the price.

Robinson’s isn’t my favorite lunch option, but I could’ve done a lot worse on the con floor for a lot more money.

As for Glazed & Infused, this is the second year in a row my family’s gone to C2E2’s 3rd day with close family friends. Both times, we’ve started our day’s adventure at the Fulton Market location. It’s a lovely tradition. I’m still lusting over the Green River-glazed key lime pie donut I had this morning.

C2E2 2014

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(My C2E2 audio wrap-up for Rivet Radio is at the bottom of the page)

Like Giant-Man or Colossal Boy, C2E2 just keeps … growing.

My legs hurt from walking the massive showroom floor. My feet resent me. Each year, C2E2 carves out more real estate than it had the previous year, creating more space to walk and explore. For those of us who eat lots of pizza while reading comic books, the brief flirtation with cardio fitness probably isn’t a bad thing.

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Though the space was bigger this time around, the starpower wasn’t. Outside of Stan Lee, the celebrity guests weren’t necessarily “must-see” or “must-meets.” And from a “why wouldn’t they be there?” perspective, it seems strange that DC Comics was again absent from the showroom floor this year.

So what brings the (estimable) crowds to McCormick Place? Could it be that the idea of the event is bigger than the details? It’s certainly been enough to keep me hooked these past few years; the panels and autograph signings always seem like too much work to consider.

I went on Sunday this year: “Kids Day.” This was the last time my son could get in on the deeply-discounted $5 ticket (To his disgust, he absolutely hated the fact that the Kids Day laminate featured a Hello Kitty design). You take your breaks where you can get ’em.

We went with another family this year (hi, Jack), which helped balance out the costs of visiting the con. I normally plan to spend a max of $100, and fail miserably. Between this year’s two-family entourage, and the fact that my son saved his money and paid for his own stuff this time around, I actually came in under budget. My total expenses for the day are itemized at the end of the post.

I tend to get the most out of walking Artists Alley each year. It’s an oddball mix of known professionals and totally green artists and publishers. There were hidden surprises in practically every row this year, like Eisner Award-winning writer Mark Waid (Kingdom Come, the Flash). I had him sign a Daredevil comic for me–five bucks all in.

As for the retail side of things, I can’t resist trade paperbacks. My favorite vendor at the con had a massive display of paperback and hardcover collections, all for 50% off. I walked away with three of the b&w, reprint-only “Marvel Essentials” titles–they’re my favorite cheap way to build up a nice reading library.

I’ve been tempted in the past, but this year I finally bought an autographed print from Neal Adams. The man pretty much created the modern Batman, so I figured $20 was the least I owed him.

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Nostalgia’s a powerful thing. I stopped in my tracks whenI stumbled across this display of Mego action figures. I owned every one of them when I was a kid. Every. One. And now the Falcon’s worth $450.

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And hey, let’s hear it for cosplay, a comics convention favorite. Is there a Deadpool in the house? Let’s hear it for Li’l Deadpool!

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Batgirl was pretty fabulous:

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Captain America takes his job seriously:

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Walking on stilts at a crowded convention can’t be easy:

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The Rocketeer squeezes out pulpy goodness!

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Not the droid I was looking for:

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Next year, I’m committing myself to all three days. I’m going to plan a sensible (but allowing for fun) budget, and wear much more comfortable shoes.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how this year’s expenses broke down:

 Item Cost    
Admission (self)  Free (Press)
Admission (son)  $5
Essential Avengers Vol.2  $7
Spiro’s Greek Myths #1 (indie publisher/Artists Alley)   $5
McCormick Place parking  $21
Essential Peter Parker Vol. 1  $7
Essential Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 4  $7
G-Man #1 (signed by Chris Giarrusso)  $1
Pre-show donuts at Glazed & Confused  $18
Signed Neal Adams print-Batman #244  $20
Signed Mark Waid Daredevil comic  $5

Rivet Radio audio recap:

http://www.rivetnewsradio.com/share/77757/

Previous years’ coverage:

2011

2012

2013

C2E2 2013

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When reviewing last year’s C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo), I wrote, “Everything about the event felt bigger this year: bigger hall, bigger stars, bigger attendance.”

This year, the convention adds another pen mark to the growth chart on the wall. McCormick Place carved out more space for the 2013 show, a canny decision forced by the size of last year’s crowds. The result was more forgiving aisle and walkway space, alleviating some of the can’t breathe, shoulder-to-shoulder bottlenecking that defined the con’s peak hours last year.

I picked up my pass at 9:30 this morning, at which point the line to get in (doors opened at 10 a.m.) was easily a few hundred deep. I hate waiting in line for anything, from roller coaster rides to restaurant dinners, but at least there was visual entertainment. As I cooled my heels, I saw four Harley Quinns, a Ghostbuster, the Martian Manhunter, Captain America, the Falcon, and Black Canary.

Cosplay was everywhere this year, much more so than I can remember in the past two years. Every comic character seemed to be represented at C2E2, from the obscure to the well-known, A-Z from Ant Man to Zatanna. The amount of care and effort put into some of the outfits falls somewhere between Broadway show to Hollywood production. Here’s Spider-Man and gal pal Mary Jane (with Poison Ivy and someone Catwoman-ish to their left):

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Running around with the cosplaying Hawkmen, Jokers, and Deadpools were some of the most scantily-clad characters in comics, including Starfire, Emma Frost, and the aforementioned Zatanna. It was like walking through the dorkiest gentleman’s club in the Midwest (cue: “Welcome to the Jungle”… “All right guys, now approaching the stage, please welcome … POWER GIRL”). I had had to make a point to distract and whisk my 11 year-old past those particular cosplayers (“Hey, son, did I just see Stan Lee? No? Oh, my bad.”)

The naughty cosplayers all came dangerously close to violating this rule, spelled out in the C2E2 program guide:

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I’ll reserve judgement on the guys lining up to take pictures of and with those girls. Maybe they just happen to be huge fans of the characters, and were thrilled to see those super-heroines brought to three-dimensional life.

Speaking of cosplay, I don’t know what this was, but it was awesome:

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… and I’m not sure what this was, either. A Star Wars character?

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The first publisher I noticed when I walked into the hall was Dark Horse, whose bright, well-organized space was positioned in what was arguably the event’s prime location. Curiously, DC Comics was nowhere to be found at C2E2 (outside of its writers and artists making panel appearances). Seems like a huge missed opportunity to me, but it’s a move consistent with several years of awful editorial decisions. Call me bitter; I hate super villains who rape, and I miss Superman’s red underpants.

We made a few panels, including one featuring “Toy Hunter” Jordan Hembrough. The worst part of panels tends to be the Q&A portion, which gets tiresome fast. Usually the first 3-4 questions are fine, but then a handful of attendees force themselves out of their seats to ask a question for the sake of “having a moment” with the panel guest. Whenever I hear a fan say, “I have a two-part question,” I start clock-watching, if not heading towards the door. Understanding that iPhones take lousy long-range pictures, I ask that you please forgive this shot of the Toy Hunter panel:

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Just like going to Vegas, I always set a budget before walking into a convention. My budget for purchases this year was a combined $100 for my son and me. What I foolishly failed to include in the budget was the cost of parking, food, and admission. For the past three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to have media access to the event. Furthermore, for the past two years I’d gone to C2E2 on Sundays so my son could also go for free (children are admitted for free on Sundays). Since I’m committed to a Sox game tomorrow, “free day” wasn’t an option for this year. What I never bothered to check was how much a paid admission actually cost. The answer: $40 for the privilege of walking in the door to spend more money.

My son was on an action figure mission, and shortly after we walked in, he found a wall of DC Universe figures. “It’s Black Manta! I never see him anywhere!” he said. “There’s no price tag on it,” I said, knowing that meant I’d have to go “Turkish Grand Bazaar” on the dealer and haggle, which I enjoy as much as waiting in lines. “How much for Black Manta?” I asked the dealer. “Ummm … forty-five dollars,” he said. I explained to my son that we’d see Black Manta again, and probably for less money. Sure enough, within ten minutes we found the Aquaman nemesis for ten dollars less. The scourge of the seas is now the scourge of my son’s bedroom:

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Black Manta sez: “I will kill your baby, Aquaman.”

In addition to Black Manta, I got that Hawkman t-shirt I never needed, a black and white collection of Marvel Horror comics from the 1970s, and an autographed Dick Tracy poster from comics great Joe Staton:

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I also picked up an Iron Man trade paperback from my pals at Challengers Comics. They’ve got the con thing figured out: they stocked only the most in-demand trade paperbacks and sold them at a discounted price. Beyond that, they staffed their area with cute girls. Elementary? Perhaps, but I was impressed.

The Artists Alley is always a favorite haunt for me, as it’s really the best opportunity to meet and interact with creators from across the industry. I also enjoy the comfort of seeing familiar faces there, as I did today in Ryan Browne (God Hates Astronauts), John Siuntres (Word Balloon), and Sal Abbinanti (Atomika).

Random thing I thought was amazing: The freaking Mach 5. Go, Speed Racer. Go.

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So, how did I do with my Vegas budget? Total bust. I went $20 over on product, and way over with everything else. This trip hurt.

 Item Cost    
Admission (self)  Free (Press)
Admission (son)  $40
Iron Man “Extremis” TPB (thanks, Challengers)  $12
Lunch for two (burgers, fries, bottled water, cookies)  $36
Black Manta action figure  $32.78
Two t-shirts from Graphitti Designs  $41.41
McCormick Place parking  $21
Essential Marvel Horror, Star Trek Gold Key, War Machine TPBs  $17
Autographed Joe Staton Dick Tracy poster  $20

Hurts so good, I suppose. I thought that C2E2 was beautifully run and much more navigable and manageable this year.

Previous years’ coverage:

2011

2012

C2E2 2012

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Since the last time I went to C2E2, it’s become a really big deal.

Everything about the event felt bigger this year: bigger hall, bigger stars, bigger attendance.

You’ll probably read and see lots of reviews from mainstream sources over the next day or two about how C2E2 legitimizes nerd culture, or some such thing. In a world where Hunger Games, the Amazing Spider-Man, and the Avengers are anticipated to be among the highest-grossing movies of the year, the notion of “nerd culture” is unfairly reductive … if not altogether ignorant. C2E2 reflects pop culture and has the admission sales to prove it.

I got there at 10 a.m. today, right when doors opened. I had a feeling that the crowds would thicken up in short order–since I get easily claustrophobic, I decided the earlier, the better.

I have an irresistible temptation to start buying every cool thing in sight when I walk into C2E2. Sure enough, the first booth I saw was Graphitti Designs, the company that makes the coolest (and frequently, the most obscure) comic-themed t-shirts. Within seconds, I was ready to part with $21 for a Swamp Thing logo shirt. They didn’t have my size, so the money burning a hole in my pocket got a reprieve. In hindsight, I feel vindicated–Graphitti marked their shirts up $2 from what they cost on the Graphitti website.

The beauty of events like C2E2 is running face-first into a happy surprise. After failing to get my Swamp Thing t-shirt, I turned the corner and ran into a DC Comics autograph table where Len Wein, co-creator of Swamp Thing, was signing autographs next to legitimate comic book legend Joe Kubert. The line to meet them was only “two deep;” that’s it. Two people. I didn’t question it, and got right behind those fans. It was a thrill to meet the near-90 year-old Kubert and the ever-personable Wein. Wein, it should also be noted, co-created a few other familiar characters you may have heard of: Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Storm, and the Human Target.

I was totally unprepared to meet them, so I had them sign both my C2E2 program (instead of, say, this or this):

It didn’t occur to me until I walked away that I should get a picture of Kubert. Here he is, peeking out from behind the bearded gentleman in black:

Within seconds of leaving Kubert and Wein, I ran right into Kevin Brown, a.k.a. “Dotcom” on 30 Rock. He was there promoting a “Dotcom for President” campaign. I’m not sure I understand what he’s running for, but he was easily the nicest celebrity I met today.

 Dotcom: You were a switch hitter?

Jack: Switch hitter, pitcher, catcher. Whatever the boys needed.

Props and costumes used in Captain America were on display near the entrance. They were featured in an auction geared towards those with lots of disposable income (as well as large open spaces in their homes):

There were smaller props on display, too, like Thor’s hammer and the dreaded Cosmic Cube:

And then there’s Cap’s-shield-on-ice, first seen as a completely-missed Easter egg in The Incredible Hulk.

Moving C2E2 to a larger hall at McCormick Place this year was a good call; there was a lot more humanity trickling through the aisles and displays this year. From what people told me today, the crowd situation yesterday was insane, a can’t-breathe-totally-packed-oh-my-God scenario.

One of the benefits of the new hall was easier access to food. Last year, con-goers had to walk up to a second floor food court to get their $5.75 hot dog/soda combos. Not a hardship by any means, but it was nice to only have to take a few side steps for my encased meat needs.

The real fun of C2E2 is Artist Alley, where creators, wannabes, and big-name pros mix it up with the masses. Artist Alley is a great place to meet people on their way up (like Ryan Browne, whose work I adore), and those who’ve already “made it,” like cheesecake artist Adam Hughes. I made a point of going to Hughes’ table–he wasn’t all that personable when I met him, but I still bought his sketchbook (his signature, seen in the corner, is “AH!”):

And when I say Adam Hughes draws “cheesecake,” I mean, well …

Drawing a crowd in Artist Alley was recent Shark Tank success story Steve Gadlin and his “I Want to Draw a Cat For You” work:

I interviewed Steve about his business a year and a half ago. If you’ve never heard the interview, check out my summary and the audio link here.

Some celebrities charged a shit-ton for the privilege of getting something signed by them. Anthony “C3PO” Daniels wanted $40 for the pleasure. I settled for a long-range photo instead. That’s him, blurry with white hair, in the back:

Meanwhile, back at the DC booth, I was reminded how much I love Mad Magazine.

No story here. I just like having an excuse to drop Alfred E. into my blog.

Hey look, it’s that guy from One Tree Hill and Freaky Friday! The line was insanely long to meet Chad Michael Murray.

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Chad was there to sign his Archaia comic Everlast. I think it would be awesome if former House of Pain star Everlast wrote a comic book called Chad Michael Murray.

The Ted DiBiase-less Virgil was manning an Artist Alley table. Here he is, organizing something or another:

On the way out, I walked right past Neal Adams, one of the most influential comic artists of the past 40 years. Seriously–Batman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, X-Men, Superman, Deadman–the impact of this guy’s work can’t be overstated. I decided to wait in line to buy a sketchbook from him, but there were too many fans abusing their window of opportunity: they wouldn’t fucking leave the table.  That seemed to be a common trend at the con today: fans not knowing when to make their exit. I got impatient and resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t meet Neal. This is all I got for a souvenir:

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And for reference … Neal Adams is a comic book god:

Surprisingly, I didn’t spend as much money on comics and memorabilia as I did last year. For perspective on my spending, I was pretty psyched to pick up these two Essential Marvel collections for four bucks each:

I could’ve spent longer on the floor–maybe even taken in a panel or two–but by 2 p.m., it was hot, sweaty, and maybe even a little smelly in the hall. Showbiz 101: quit while you’re ahead.

C2E2 is an awful lot of fun. The close proximity and access to writers, artists, creators, and stars that it provides makes it a truly memorable experience. See you there next year.

C2E2: Day Three

C2E2 2011 is now officially history.

I spent the majority of my day there today, and here’s what I experienced and saw…

From the second the gates opened at 10 a.m., the con was busy, packed shoulder to shoulder in some of the more bottlenecked areas.  That said, it didn’t feel as claustrophobic as I remember Wizard World to be in Rosemont.  The worst of the congestion was easy to avoid, especially once I stuck to cruising the perimeter exhibits and Artist Alley.

Here’s a view of the floor, about an hour after doors opened:

One of the first things I saw when I walked in was pro wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler tucked into a back corner, sitting all by himself.  I grew up on wrestling, so I was totally psyched to have an audience with the King.

The 60+ year-old Lawler has aged remarkably well.  I’m not sure whether he’s had some work done or is simply blessed with killer DNA, but the WWE Hall of Famer looked great.  I asked the gregarious grappler for an autograph, and his signature set me back ten dollars (Lawler’s got to make his convention expenses back somehow).

Here’s what I got for my ten bucks from the former AWA champ and Andy Kaufman sparring partner:

Retail is the driving force behind the convention floor’s activity.  Many gloved and webbed hands were seen exchanging money for services and collectibles.  Located in the center of the floor today was Chicago’s
own Challengers Comics & Conversation.

Note (below) the giant sign in the background: “We Accept Credit Cards.” That simple fact set Challengers apart from most of their retail peers, who were strictly cash-only.  How a retailer can drop anchor at a major con for 72 hours and not take credit cards is beyond me, especially with all the credit card processing apps now available on iPad/iPhone. To further punctuate the need for retailers to accept credit cards, the ATM machine on the floor fleeced visitors for $3.50 per transaction.

Pictured: Challengers proprietor/all around swell guy Patrick Brower.

Keeping myself to a strict budget today, I managed to find a few bargains without really looking for them.  I happily grabbed this beat-up but totally readable, cover-intact, copy of Flash #151 (1965) for $5:

I also picked up this shrinkwrapped HC collection of Marvel Westerns for $6 (cover price: $20.99).  Don’t ask me why, but I’ve been wanting to buy it for a while:

Artist Alley is something that I love to wind my way around, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to engage with creators in a unique, one-on-one,way.Pab Sungenis, the self-proclaimed “World’s Crappiest Sketch Artist.”  Just like the guy who draws awful cat pictures for money, Sungenis draws insultingly simple stick figures of super heroes. Seeing as I’m the type of guy P.T. Barnum could always count on, I bought a sketch of the Invisible Kid, and made Sungenis pose with it:

Sal Abbinanti (pictured below) is one of my favorite people in comics, and certainly one of the hardest-working.  It was a pleasure reconnecting with him at his Artist Alley table and getting caught up on his long-running labor of love, Atomika.

Skottie Young was one of the first brave and talented souls to commit to doing an interview for my long-defunct comics podcast, “STUN!”  Since then, his industry stock has soared.  He was swamped almost every time I saw him.  That’s him in the orange shirt, surrounded by fans:

Much of Chicago’s comic creator elite was on site today.  Though I didn’t see or interact with them, I was aware that Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother, Sandman), Art Baltazar (Tiny Titans), and Chris Mitten (Wasteland) were in the house.

Speaking of Chicago’s industry elite, I managed to shake hands and say “hey” to both Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash) and Mike Norton (lots of stuff for DC).  Both offered cheery, friendly, greetings, and were located in deservedly prime spots (Seeley at the Dark Horse display, Norton at the closest-to-con-floor position of Artist Alley).

One of the artists I was truly excited to meet at C2E2 was Kevin Maguire, to whom I credit my return to reading comics in 1987.  I’d given up comics a few years before then, back when I was in junior high school. I can’t properly explain why I walked away from comic books at that age, other than I thought that’s what I was supposed to do.Late one night during my senior year of high school, I was at my local 7-11. Out of habit, I was perusing the “spinner rack” for new comics.  I wasn’t looking to buy anything, I just wanted to peek at what I’d been missing.  As I rifled through DC, Marvel, and Archie Comics’ offerings, one title stood far and above its rackmates, demanding that I buy it right then and there: Justice League #1.Justice League #1 was the title’s relaunch, featuring a never-before-grouped-together lineup of Batman, Captain Marvel, Doctor Fate, Mister Miracle, and Blue Beetle.  The artwork I saw had character, style, and implied humor.  I just had to buy it.

I followed up that purchase with the next few issues of Justice League, and within a few months of that, I was avidly collecting again and had become a huge Maguire fan.  I never got to meet Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, or Neal Adams; their high points were hit during a previous generation. Kevin Maguire was more representative of my coming-of-age.  Today was an exciting opportunity to finally meet him.

For 45 minutes, I just…lurked…near his table, waiting for him to show. Every other artist in Artist Alley had arrived and was either pressing fan flesh or sketching to pass the time.  I wondered if Maguire would show up at all.  I decided to check back after lunch.

I returned to Maguire’s table around noon, taking my place behind two fans who were staring at him, waiting for him to make some acknowledgment of their presence.  A DC Comics representative was making industry small talk with Maguire behind the table.  Neither the DC rep nor Maguire ever concerned himself with the fact that fans were being
ignored.

After what was I SWEAR TO GOD TEN MINUTES, Maguire finally grabbed a stack of Justice League comics from one fan, then another stack from the other, and signed them with not so much as a smile.

Rather than engage me with a “hello” or a smile, I was put in a position where I had to speak up. “Hi, Kevin, my name’s James.  Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you,” he said.
“So, do you have any prints that you’re signing today?” I asked.
His partner/colorist (a British girl whose name I don’t know), said “yes, we do.”
“Great, I’d love one!” I said.
“They’re fifteen dollars,” she said.
“Fine,” I replied.

The print in question is the sort of thing that an adult male can never hang anywhere in his home, let alone feel good about.  Here’s the softcore alien porn image I ended up buying from Maguire:

I suppose that’s how all alien girls dress and sit.  It’s not like there are finishing schools in space, after all.

As Maguire signed the alien porn poster, I told him my Justice League #1 story, excitedly telling him that I have him to thank for reintroducing me to comics.

“Sorry to hear that,” he said in a deadpan way that I’m pretty sure was meant to be funny. He continued, “Yeah, I’ve heard other people say the same thing about that comic.”  Maybe he meant to say, “Hey, thanks, that really is nice to hear.  Thank you for the kind words.” Hard to know for sure.

Celebrities need to understand the way they communicate in public has an impact. For many people walking the floor, these artists and writers are the biggest celebrities they’ll ever encounter.  When those artists and writers come off as indifferent, or as if being at the con is anything but pleasurable, those attitudes make fans feel like schmucks for caring in the first place. Maguire’s behavior certainly had an impact on me today.

After leaving Maguire’s table with my alien porn poster rolled up under my armpit to hide my shame, I ran into fellow Chicagoan/podcasting superstar John Siuntres. John’s riding high on the recent USA Today acknowledgment of his Word Balloon podcast as being the best comic podcast in the country.

Siuntres at the Word Balloon table:

I stepped away from the con floor for a minute or two and was rewarded with the single greatest sight in the history of comics, conventions, and rock music: Moon Knight singing “Run to the Hills” by Iron Maiden on Rockband.

Only at a comic book convention can something this truly wonderful and ludicrous occur.  Moon Knight wailing a Maiden song from the “Number of the Beast” album?  Crossed off my bucket list today.

The “big two,” DC and Marvel, had expectedly giant presences at the con.For Kids Day today, DC had tons of premiums for kids, including free copies of “Batman: Brave and the Bold,” “Superboy,” and “Mad Magazine.”

If I hadn’t known for sure before today, I’m pretty clear on what DC’s big focus is going to be for the rest of the year:

The Marvel area was cramped and tough to navigate around, and I didn’t get to explore it as much as I’d wanted to.  I did manage to catch a quick pic of the rock star-like Brian Michael Bendis doing an early afternoon signing:

S.H.I.E.L.D. had its own display (really?),  represented by an Acura spymobile. I have to assume this car will show up in both the Thor and Avengers movies.

If Acura put a rocket launcher/gun on the roof of all their models, I’d buy one right now.

Here’s the autograph signing area.  Tahmoh Penikett (Helo from Battlestar Galactica) for $30?  $40 for Eliza Dushku?  Couldn’t pull the trigger. One Dushku could so much easier be four Jerry Lawlers.

C2E2 isn’t the San Diego Comic Con, and it shouldn’t try to be.  The Hollywood aspects and events of the weekend are more distracting than additive. Perhaps I’d feel differently if the stars were more A-list (or at least better than D-list), but for this weekend’s con, the actors seemed unnecessary.

Cosplay was everywhere at C2E2. I’ll never understand the need to dress like comic book super heroes, but it amuses me to no end to see people dressed like them. Straight outta Thanagar, it’s the winged wonder, Hawkman:

Avengers Assemble! The Black Knight, Vision, and Scarlet Witch turned a few heads today.

I stayed away from the Scarlet Witch; I know the trouble she can cause.

My only complaint?–McCormick Place can be unruly to negotiate in and around. I grew up going to the McCormick Place that sits on the east side of LSD. The new (and infinitely superior) west side facility offers no clear direction for visitors. Pulling off Lake Shore Drive, there were no obvious signs directing traffic to the main lot.  Once I found my way to the garage, I almost accidentally merged on to the Stevenson in the process (the lanes are that close).  Signage or traffic cops would go a long way for conventioneers.

I had fun today without worrying about building an itinerary around the day’s events and panels.  I set my own pressure-free pace, letting the experience and moment push me along.

I’ll happily do it again next year.