C2E2 2010: The Con Chicago Deserves

That was of course the tagline for  the newest comic convention from Reed Exhibitions, (the group that runs other conventions like New York Comic Con, and PAX) which is better known as C2E2.  While I have never been to PAX I have attended NYCC and it was a very similar feeling to its east coast sibling.  The exhibitors who came, the layout, the style of the brochures, the type of guests and events planned.  However even though there were many similarities, you could tell that this is a very new con, one which is trying to find it’s comfort zone, and it’s general attitude.  So while it was very good there was a lot of room to improve.

The panels and screenings themselves were for the greater part phenomenal.  Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman in the 90s animated series) hosted a discussion panel, which recently got a little bit of media due to him accidentally leaking information about the videogame.  However this wasn’t even the highlight of the panel which was essentially the Conroy having an intimate discussion with the audience and telling various personal stories ranging from working on Venture Bros. to volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11.  There were many such events going on all day, many educational, some with teasers for upcoming comics, but one notable factor was not only that there was always something going on, but that there was always room to come in, which meant that you didn’t have to rush around frantically.  The one exception to this was a special event Saturday night called An Evening with Neil Gaiman. The legendary writer known best for his fantasy novels and comic series Sandman, hosted an event for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to a packed auditorium, the first such event he has hosted for nearly a decade.  After DC’s Jim Lee gave a short introductory Gaiman walked on stage to thunderous applause.  Still the event remained rather intimate. The soft-spoken British author read a few of his poems and short stories in a way which only a master story-teller can, and then after a short intermission proceeded to answer questions the audience wrote down for him before the start of the event.  They ranged from topics like the author’s personal life, to questions on the industry, to the truly bizarre, but each one was answered honestly and given the same amount of respect, which was very refreshing.  

Those were just two of the great panels, and besides just panels there were guests from every comic book imprint, and publisher, as well as from webcomics, movies, TV, and so on, too many to recount, but most signed, and participated in various events.  However while there was a decent range, the amount of comic book guests vastly outweighed the guests from all other forms of media.  This isn’t too surprising though, as this show was billed as a comic book convention.  Still I went with friends who weren’t as into the comic book scene as I was, and while they certainly enjoyed themselves and found events and panels to go to, there was significantly less for them to do.  At last year’s NYCC there was a much wider range of guests, and a greater variety of stalls notably in the video game genre.  Whereas NYCC not only had booths for a many different video game publishers as well as a separate gaming room, C2E2 had a small booth for Nintendo, and a few previews of the Iron Man 2 game at the Marvel booth.  This is just a matter of finding the right balance.  Reed has been very good about listening to criticism and comments from the fans, in the past and there is no reason to think that will change now.

There were other problems as well, such as the ridiculous amount of walking due to the sprawling placement of rooms and the vast size of the convention center, or the general lack of good food (though this is prevalent at most cons).  Of course there are many other spectacular things to say about this convention, like the fact that there was natural sunlight.  The point being that it’s a convention still in its infancy.  It was still one of the best conventions I have ever been to, without a doubt, but there are a lot of things which the can improve about it, so this one felt more like a dress rehearsal for next years convention.  With all of the news lately about the so-called “Convention Wars” that have been raging between Wizard Entertainment, and Reed Exhibitions, C2E2 rises as a serious contender.  I wouldn’t be surprised if in a year or two it becomes the biggest convention in the Midwest, possibly even surpassing NYCC.  It’s off to a good start, and I’ll definitely be back next year, so for everyone who missed C2E2 2010, I strongly recommend that you keep an eye out on this one.