photos and text by Dena Saper
The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) is a beloved event for comic book enthusiasts, Whovians, Walking Dead fans, and Game of Thrones fans (Thronies?). There are also gamers, Star Wars fans, and Trekkies. People wear costumes – some are wildly creative and clearly took hours of work, some were thrown together in the kitchen that morning (tin-foil on cardboard-horned Loki, I’m looking at you), most are somewhere in between. I’ve been meaning to attend for the past couple of years, but somehow never did until this year.
The night before, I prepared myself with a video on what you’ll need to attend a “Con” in comfort. Jen and Trin In the Morning made sure I knew to bring shelf-stable snacks, water, ALL THE TAMPONS, and my meds. Armed with my supplies and a light windbreaker, I met some friends early Saturday morning to ride to the convention center.
McCormick Place looks sleek and modern from the outside. Even the hallways are polished and lined with fountains. The convention floor itself was a different story. After years of hearing my friends talk about how wonderful C2E2 was, my heart sank when I entered what looked like a huge garage sale.
Dark Horse and Big Dog comics had large booths with professionally made signs that I’m sure graced the ComicCon floor in San Diego (or they will, I’m not sure when that Con takes place). DC and Marvel also must have had enormous booths. As someone who isn’t a fan of the whole “capes and cloaks” genre of comics, I didn’t really notice.
I did notice that Image Comics did not seem to have a booth. The only comics I read are from Image, so I was a bit put off by their absence. Surely some of their artists were in “Artists’ Alley” (a rat’s maze of tables where the comic book artists sat while their fans made their way through to get their books and memorabilia signed), but I didn’t bring anything to sign.
Rather than roving the convention floor as a pack, my friends and I agreed to split up and meet by the Dark Horse booth every ninety minutes or so. As I wandered aimlessly through aisles and aisles of booths I couldn’t help but be struck by the huge amount of crap, and all of it was for sale (except for the Tardis). There were many great booths. I bought some art, some socks, and lots of toys. Unfortunately, I had to search through aisles and aisles of corsets, fake swords, and cheesy colored contact lenses to find them.
At the end of the day, my friends and I met up for the last time. This time we sat on the floor to get off of our throbbing feet. My friends said C2E2 seemed smaller than previous years. They were also disappointed to learn that the costume contest had been moved from the afternoon to the evening. Despite one of our group having woken up three hours early to put on her costume, we were not going. We were tired, cranky, achy, and maybe even a little hangry. We were all ready to leave.
I’m not sure if I’ll be back next year. Some of my friends speculated that this was the last C2E2 because ComicCon was spreading to other cities. If that happens, I’d be willing to give that con a try. If I do attend another comic book event, I’ll do more research to see who will be exhibiting and signing. I’ll wait until the schedule comes out to buy my tickets so I don’t miss panels that interest me. I’ll also bring more bananas.