This weekend marks the second year for C2E2 and I must say that for their second year it’s quite an impressive con. It was held at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. McCormick Place is a MASSIVE convention center that’s perfect for a con like this, even if it’s probably easier to find you way through David Bowie’s labyrinth than it is to find the right parking garage.
After navigating the parking structure, which navigation and Chicago’s sometimes strange definition of a “right hand turn” didn’t make any easier, WhiteRabite and I made it to the con. We were excited. We picked up our badges, got things straightened out with autograph and photo-op tickets and went to hit up the autograph line.
I feel this requires a little bit of a backstory. Several weeks ago, WhiteRabite, The Casual Costumer, TiaraLa and I started having a Middleman night. For those that don’t know, The Middleman was a fantastic series based on a graphic novel that ran for one season in 2008 on ABC Family. WhiteRabite heard about the show through a friend, bought the DVDs and said that we HAD to see it. So we decided to have a Middleman night once a week. We have a vegan dinner (because The Casual Costumer and I are vegans, not because the character Lacey is a vegan though that would be a nice touch eh?) and watch the show.
WhiteRabite wanted to have her DVD signed by the cast…and she could because they were ALL THERE! I have to honestly say after talking to them they were seriously one of the nicest ensembles I’ve ever met. Jake Smollett who played Noser, gave us a card for his site, The Laugh Squad and you’ve got to check it out! It’s some seriously funny stuff. Javier Grillo-Marxuach talked with us about the show and we told him about our “Middleman Night.” His enthusiasm was contagious. Next we talked to Natalie Morales (Wendy Watson) and Brit Morgan (Lacey Thornfield III) who were in one word, awesome! Brit asked us what our favorite episodes were. WhiteRabite said the Tuba Man (which I haven’t seen yet) and I said the one where Lacey dresses up as a giant yellow teddy bear because it was just so insanely random! Later during the panel a fan asked the cast what their favorite gadgets were and Brit said Lacey’s giant yellow teddy bear costume! I may have squealed a little bit! Everyone was so friendly and very very funny. We had a great time meeting them and it was really great that we got a moment to talk to each of them. As we were leaving the autograph area, a fan dressed as The Middleman came up with a GIANT poster for the show that he wanted them all to sign. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen!
After meeting them we went and explored the convention floor. It was one of the largest vendor rooms I have ever seen. It was GINORMOUS. The vast majority of the vendors were comics related, but there was still a lot to look at and we got to meet some really cool people. We talked with Jim Martin, puppeteer, actor and one of the directors on Seseme Street. He was so nice and it was great to talk about the shows we grew up with that he worked on including The Great Space Coaster and The Puzzle Place.
At the booth with Jim was the Toonseum which is a museum devoted to celebrating cartooning and promiting a deeper appreciation for cartoonists and their work. We spoke with Joe Wos, the Executive Director of the museum and learned so much about the history of cartooning and the museum’s current and upcoming exhibits. Check them out at http://toonseum.org/. If you’re in the Pittsburgh area it’s well worth a visit!
There was an incredible chalk artist doing a picture right on the floor in the convention hall! Around the picture were smaller images of all of his other designs including Bioshock! He was amazing to watch and I wish I would have gotten his name. This man was incredibly talented.
Once we were done exploring the convention floor, WhiteRabite and I went in search of food and PlayItGrand. We met up with her in the lobby and had just enough time to check her in before we headed back to the vendor room for my photo-ops. I couldn’t resist, I had to get a photo-op with the exceedingly awesome Mary Pat Gleason, who played Ida on The Middleman and the surprisingly tall (and squeal worthy) Matt Keeslar (The Middleman). Mary Pat was just lovely and she remembered me from when we spoke with them earlier! She’s simply adorable in person and such a wonderful woman. I can’t wait to see how the picture turned out! When I say Matt Keeslar is tall I mean he’s TALL. I’m about 5’9″ and was wearing sneakers and I came up to his shoulders. I suppose I just didn’t expect him to be that tall in person, but TV is deceptive like that. He was very sweet and somewhat soft spoken. We had to wait a moment while the camera guy adjusted his equipment and I may have gotten a little squeeze/side hug from Matt. I managed to contain my squeals until I was well out of earshot of the photo-op though my little happy dance may have been visible. These wonderful people really make me wish I would have gotten the full cast photo-op!
With my photo-ops done, PlayItGrand and I had just enough time to head up to the Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Tahmoh Penikett (Dollhouse) panel while WhiteRabite went to check out the Quidditch match. I kid you not! There were teams playing Quidditch! Anyway, PlayItGrand and I were able to get a good spot for the panel. We were happy to find out that the host of the panel was Chris Hardwick, host of G4’s Web Soup! Needless to say, this panel was very funny. The fan questions were really well thought out and the stories Eliza and Tahmoh told were fantastic. Don’t worry, we got it all on tape for you and we’ll be posting it soon! I think my favorite was either Eliza’s story about elk hunting or when she realized there were small children in the audience. You’ll understand when you see it.
After meeting up with WhiteRabite, watching the Quidditch match on video, and wandering around the con some more, we headed up to The Middleman panel. First let me say that in my convention experience it’s rare to have an entire cast AND the creator at a convention let alone in one panel. It was such a unique treat! The panel room was full and erupted into thunderous applause and cries of “ART CRAWL” as the cast entered. They took their seats and Javier Grillo-Marxauch (the creator of The Middleman) promptly took over as host of the panel, which apparently was originally supposed to be hosted by Mark Sheppard but he was busy wrangling the cast of Leverage.
There has only been one other panel that I’ve been to where I’ve laughed this hard and that was the 2009 Farscape panel at Dragon*Con where David Franklin (Braca) took the microphone and decided he was going to run up and down the rows of people during the Q&A. Javier wasn’t as all over the place but he was certainly just as funny! His first question to the cast was, “can you complete this sentence, ‘the dread pyramid of….?'” They all could!
The fans had some really great questions for the cast too but I don’t want to spoil them for you. The cast’s interaction was fantastic. It was great to see a cast that was clearly still just as close as they were when the show was made. SpaceGypsies will be posting this panel soon so never fear faithful Middlefans!
The Middleman panel was our last panel of the day. It was a great way to end a day at a great con. Stay tuned, there’s more C2E2 coming your way!