I first visited the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (known as C2E2) last year and was very impressed! Held at McCormick place, which may be Chicago’s largest convention center, this con was all set to impress. With a star studded lineup of guests and vendors galore, C2E2 certainly doesn’t disappoint! Here’s the Good, the Bad and the Meh from C2E2 2012.
Honestly, I loved this con so there were a lot of good things!
- Organization! Reed Pop, the lovely folks that bring you C2E2 and PAX, have conventions down to a science. The full color programs are a great tool along with the mobile app, to help convention goers navigate the vendors and programming schedules.
- C2E2 Staff! I have to give a special shout out to the C2E2 staff. Those folks work hard! Not only do they work hard, but every staff member we spoke with was friendly and polite. If they didn’t know the answer to our question they quickly went to find it for us! The staff was simply lovely and made the convention all the more enjoyable.
- John Barrowman! Seriously, this man is FANTABULOUS! I admit I didn’t know much about him before his panel. I had seen Torchwood and enjoyed it, but that was about it. I left his panel wanting to watch everything this man has ever been in! He was amazing! I’m always impressed by actors who are appreciative and great with their fans. John Barrowman goes above and beyond. Yes, his autograph line was 2 hours+ long, but that was because he joyfully spent a moment with each and every fan. You don’t see that often.
- John Cusack!Speaking of amazing celebrities, the opportunity to see Chicago legend John Cusack in person was a once-in-a-lifetime treat! He was everything you would expect John Cusack to be. He even had gracious answers for some of the rather awkward questions during his panel. I left his panel with a new appreciation for him as an actor.
- David Newell! The name may not be familiar, but I guarantee most people will know him by his catch phrase “Speedy Delivery!” For more than 30 years, Mr. Newell played Mr. McFeely on the childhood classic Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. We met Mr. Newell at the Toonseum table on the vendor floor and the childhood memories came flooding back. The videos Mr. McFeely delivered to Mr. Rogers had always been my favorite part of the show. It was a honor to meet such a T.V. icon. His panel was also one of my favorite panels to date. He revealed behind the scenes stories, showed old clips and bloopers, and told the story of a man, Fred Rogers, who had touched children’s lives for generations. For me, this panel was the highlight of the weekend.
- Jake Rueth! Ever since I spotted Tiarala and Mythandros’ prints by Jake Rueth, I knew I had to have some. His art is colorful, whimsical and, well…it makes you smile. I purchased two prints from Mr. Rueth, my favorite, “Rainbow Shower” and the beautiful, “The Universe.” I can’t help but smile every time I look at these prints hanging in my home.
There wasn’t much bad when it came to C2E2. Overall, I have to say that nothing was particularly “bad” about this convention!
- Programming. While C2E2′s programming was more varied than say, Wizard World, Cyphan Con (a smaller convention) had more when it came to variety of programming. If C2E2 adds more panels such as costuming and gaming, their programming line-up would move from decent to excellent.
- Food. This is more McCormick Place’s issue than C2E2′s. There wasn’t much in terms of food options. The food offered was your general cafeteria-style fair. Nothing flashy and certainly nothing healthy. Setting up food carts on the convention floor may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but ended up emitting a lingering funk in and around the food area that was a little nauseating.
- Artists’ Alley. This is the one place where more organization, or a better labeling system, would have been helpful. PlayItGrand and I spent a good hour looking for Ant Lucia, the amazing artist behind the Star Wars pin-up posters, only to walk right past him. I ended up purchasing one of his prints from a vendor who was kind enough to direct me to Mr. Lucia’s exact location in the Alley. Thankfully, Mr. Lucia was incredibly gracious and even signed my poster for me.
- Costume Contest. Granted C2E2 isn’t as big as Dragon*Con for costumes, but their costume contest was rather disappointing. First, it was limited to the first 30 contestants/groups to sign up. Given the size of the stage this ended up making sense. The PA system for the stage, however, was muddled and it was very hard to hear what the announcer was saying. (I’m sure the foam encasing our heads didn’t help either). Rather than using a pre-show judging system like Chicago TARDIS does, C2E2 used an applause-based system to determine the winners. Again, this is great if you have a costume that allows you to play to the audience, but it doesn’t really have much to do with the actual quality of the costume. A team of “celebrity judges” would have been awesome, as well as categories like Best in Show, Best Construction, Audience Favorite, etc. would have made this costume contest 100 times better.
- The C2E2 App. After having experienced an app like Dragon*Con’s, C2E2′s was kind of a disappointment. Mostly the app wasn’t fully updated and offered a poor search function and only marginal information in some cases. This made it difficult not only to find where a guest could be found, but when they were appearing throughout the weekend. For example, guests were listed as signing from 10:00 until 7:00. That’s a large window of time. If it were broken down to the actual times the guest would/should be sitting at their table signing it would eliminate the need for fans to constantly be returning to the autograph area to see if the guest was there.
- The Mailing List. Apparently registering as press for C2E2 automatically puts you onto a mailing list for various vendors and companies related to the convention. Pre-convention this is a great resource. It gives you an inside to some of the cool previews available at the con. After the convention it’s just annoying. We’re still receiving e-mails from companies who have clearly gotten our information off of the C2E2 press list. I don’t think this is C2E2′s fault. Obviously they can’t control what these outside persons do. Perhaps in the future, Reed Pop’s Media Relations staff should give guidelines to those who receive the press list and request that they not send informational e-mails post-convention.
Overall, C2E2 is a great convention. The location is great and so are the guests. Fans are just as friendly as you would expect convention goers to be. And the variety of vendors, artists, and guests is refreshing. This is a convention where you go to have fun. The expert way Reed Pop runs this con makes it relaxing for the con-goer. There’s very little frustration here. No unorganized lines or crowds. No rude or inexperienced staff members. This is, quite simply, a FUN convention!