My Experience at C2E2 2023 – Another Blog Approaches
Way back in 2020, I managed to attend C2E2 right before the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. Now, 3 years later, I have somehow managed to return, this time as a member of the press. A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same, so let me share with you my experiences.
The Show Floor
The massive show floor of McCormick Place was filled with vendors and sponsors. This year, some of the main attractions included a rideable Appa from Avatar the Last Airbender and a giant inflatable Cookie Monster mecha from Sesame Street. Sponsors also included Wild Bill’s Soda, who sold refillable drinks and metallic mugs.
Some of the bigger stores near the front of the show included Pro Wrestling Tees, as well as a booth to CGC grade and preserve rare comics and trading cards. In 2020, the Pro Wrestling Tees booth was partnered with pro wrestling promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and offered signings with some of their stars, as well as a second booth that exhibited some of their newly released action figures. This year, likely due to the fact that sister promotion Ring of Honor was having a show in Los Angeles, only 2 stars from AEW were present: Brody King and Danhausen. Wrestler Christian Cage, also from AEW, was available elsewhere.
Local comic book stores Graham Cracker Comics and First Aid Comics were present and sold a variety of comics and manga. A variety of other comic sellers were also available, with robust stocks of back issues and older collectable comics from as far back as the 1950’s. The only booth that I was sad to see not at the show was the Bluefin Premium Bandai booth that was there in 2020. The booth had a massive stock of Gunpla and other plastic models that would be difficult to find otherwise. Thankfully, there were still several stores who had model kits available, such as Galactic Toys.
All in all, the show floor had everything someone into nerd culture could want. From clothing to figures, anime to comics, and even a gaming zone, the show floor was great fun to explore and a massive danger to my wallet.
Artist Alley is where I spent most of my time over the 3 days I was there. Every convention has an artist alley, but C2E2’s was particularly impressive with the mix of mediums, styles and products available.
In case you don’t know, an artist alley is a portion of the show floor dedicated to independent artists. They set up small shops and peddle their goods to the oncoming crowds. Common items include prints, posters, keychains, stickers and buttons, as well as larger items such as bags, clothing and books.
What makes C2E2’s artist alley so enticing in particular -- at least to a comic book fan like me -- is the amount of big name talent present. From names such as Scott Snyder, who wrote nearly a decade's worth of Batman comics, and Dan Mora, who is one of the biggest artists in the industry at the moment, to Daniel Warren Johnson, darling indie comic creator behind books such as Extremity and Do a Powerbomb.
That isn’t to say that the artist alley was dominated by comic creators, though. Many smaller scale artists influenced by anime and video games were also present. For many of these creators, conventions such as C2E2 are great ways to advertise their art and create connections within the industry, while also making a good amount of money.
I spent the majority of my 3 days here. It’s always the place to find either niche or unique items from less popular properties.
As with any convention, panels were a key selling point. From writing and creating comics to fan meetups and celebrity Q and A’s, there's something for everyone. This year, the headlining panel was with Captain America and Knives Out star Chris Evans.
I personally attended multiple panels involving creative writing and comic creation, multiple of which were headlined by Kyle Higgins, writer and head of the Supermassive line of comics available in Image Comics. If you're interested in this, please be sure to check back in a couple of days for my own personal write-up.
My one complaint regarding the panels is that the informational pamphlet that included the times for the panels was printed with incorrect times, but that seems to be because the schedule was changed on the day of so there wasn’t much they could do.
Over the 3 days I attended the convention, I saw quite a few little stories that I would like to share.
Kevin Eastman, one of the creators of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, along with Peter Laird, had a line that spanned nearly an entire side of the showroom. I intended to get a copy of the artbook for TMNT: The Last Ronin signed, but quickly realized that if I waited in line, I would have had to wait nearly an entire day, so I decided against it.
On the second day, while waiting in line to get some stuff signed by artist Dan Mora, I saw someone pretty young waiting in line ahead of me. They went up to Mora and, instead of presenting them with anything to sign, presented him with an art portfolio and asked if he could give him any advice. Mora then spent a couple minutes going through all the art and giving compliments and pieces of advice which I thought was very sweet of him.
When getting some comics signed by Daniel Warren Johnson, I talked to him about the Ring of Honor show that took place the night before. We had a short chat about wrestler Eddie Kingston -- who rules by the way -- and I tipped him $20 for his artbook since I thought it was cool.
For me, the third day of the convention, even if it was the shortest, was the most fun. I got to bring my sister along who had never been to a convention before. While there were some foibles regarding directions, it was incredibly fun to see her react to all of the strange things that are only socially acceptable during a convention.
And I think that's the note I want to leave off on in regards to C2E2 and conventions in general. In 2020, I went to C2E2 on my own for 3 days and while it was a great experience and I had a ton of fun, it ended up feeling exhausting. Going to conventions with friends and family, though, might be some of the most fun you can have. I cannot recommend it enough.