This past week saw the debut of C2E2 the Chicago comics and entertainment expo at McCormick place convention center in down town Chicago and the great space was the show. Now here is the after action report from this local artist’s perspective. Just let me start off by saying that as a exhibiting artist I had a great show. I talked to lots of great people, promoted my properties, met with publishers, and was busy all day every day doing sketches and selling art. I was always busy and had barely a few spare moments, not to mention the busy nightlife jam-packed with fun networking events. C2E2 rocked for me.
Here is a run down of some of my impressions about the event.
1st. The Convention center space was huge, clean, bright and very spacious no one was crammed not the dealers, the publishers, or the artists. Many people got the impression that there was low attendance which was not the case 28,000 people attended the event. The fact that Reed (the people putting on the show) planned from the beginning for enough room for the convention to grow was what threw people off. Also the event was not crammed full of fringe related vendors. There were no non-directly comic book related celebrities, reality TV stars, and strange or bizarre adult related entertainment booths. So with none of those distractions clogging the aisles with slack jawed gawkers, there was more room to get around the show floor.
2nd. it was easy to get to and from the convention center via the L trains red line (which was only 3 short blocks from the site). Also on set up and break down days I took my car which was just as painless as taking the train. I hit no traffic and found parking in and around the convention very easy to find. I had heard some people say the convention center was hard to get too or that there was no mass transit which is flat out wrong! The main bus lines stopped in front of the convention center, the red line train was 3 blocks away, and all major roads lead to the event. I realize not everyone comes or lives in the city but you can get maps and info online, from your hotel, or in any major bookstore. If anyone had trouble getting around in the downtown they really need to get out more.
3rd.The wealth of events after hours was just great, every night there were at least 3 open parties as well as a host of family friendly events. Plus lots and lots of happenings at the hotel bars and local restaurants. For example on Friday night I went and got food at Reggie’s (a great rock club and bar which is only two blocks from the convention center and for the really lazy they had a shuttle to and from the convention center). At Reggie’s I listened to the bands Kirby krackle, and the Fuglees then I went to the Double Door via the red line and blue line L trains, where I attended the nerd city comic party event, which was great.
Some of the vendors grumbled about slow sales but what do they expect when the Internet has better deals. The retailers who did well either had great discounts or hard rocking events. A good example of this is Challengers comics they hosted after con events at their store which they promoted at the show and had exclusive items and creator’s such as Mark Waid at their shop every day of the show. Another example is Chicago comics which had exclusive Alex Ross art at their booth. These shops made it so you had to go to them and get something you couldn’t get anywhere else
Think about it, now when there is cheap or free content on your phone and the ipad as well as the ability to order cheap discounts from the Internet. The only reason to pick something up at the show is a impulse buy or it must be exclusive to the event and sold only at that show.
If you wanted more of a family friendly event or not one for clubs there also was the Neil Gaimon event that evening plus many many more all three and numerous tourist sites to take in such as navy pier (which had a shuttle outside the convention). Plus the shopping on Michigan ave is not to be missed with places such as Macy’s, the Lego and apple stores. If you wanted something to eat the restaurants were a plenty in and around the convention center here is a short list. Reggie’s, all of china town, Mc Donald’s, White castle, Ray’s chicken, Loe Malnati’s pizza, all of Michigan ave and numerous restaurants in the hotels attached to the convention center. Plus tons and tons of places deliver you are not isolated in a dead zone out by the airport.
Yes there were some flubs at the show but these are all first year flubs or just to ahead of the time thinking. One example is some people complained that they wished there were better-displayed booth numbers for the artist alley and a better more detailed show map. Both points I agree with, but I also wish to point out that the c2e2 app for my phone was a major help it had a great map and enabled me to pin point locations of my favorite artists, publishers and locations on the show floor as well as had a list of all the after show events. The app really was a lifesaver.
Another flub I feel was not really the show organizers fault really and that was getting the city of Chicago behind this show. Most of the attendees were real comic fans who love comics and are regulars at their local shops as well as listen to many of the fine comic book podcasts. Those were the places that really promoted the show and got the word out. I had numerous people come by my table and get something because they heard about me from a podcast.
The city of Chicago which could use the tourism dollars just treated the convention poorly and has no idea how much comic geeks like to enjoy all the area has to offer. For example all the restaurants around the convention center had signs saying welcome kitchen and bath show(another convention going on the same time as c2e2). Even though many attendees wanted to go to places like china town, hot Doug’s, kumas corner, the Webber grill, Wrigley field, Harry careys, The whistler or the violet hour. Their was just no geek love from the ìsquaresî or so called hipsters of the city of Chicago (who all seemed to be occupied with going to record stores even though we all down load music in the year 2010) but the people tuned into the Chicago comics scene were in full force hosting great parties or events and making c2e2 a great time.
In a year or two once the city gets wise and embraces the show (ie exploits the event). when every goon who buys a superman logo t-shirt at a hot topic will be in attendance and every restaurant has some comic book tie in theme, people will complain about how the convention space is too packed and you have trouble getting around on the show floor or the poser’s who will try and tell you that star dog is better than hot Doug’s as they wait in line for a panel.
C2e2 was a great downtown show and will only get bigger and better, so I’ll see you their next year in your superman t-shirt.