OK, the first thing I have to say is, next year I will go for 2 days or maybe the whole 3 day extravaganza! Last year I didn’t feel rushed, this year I just didn’t manage to see anything like all I wanted to do. Next year at least 2 days. The reason I did just the one day this year and last was, I am not a crowds person. Friday is the least crowded, so there. Next year I will just have to deal.
This little powerhouse was the first and one of the best costumes we saw all day. I should mention at this point my lovely wife Faye took all of these pictures, and they all look great!
It turned out to be a very nice sunny and more or less warm day for mid March. We took the train into Chicago and walked a few blocks to the Artists Cafe on Michigan Avenue downtown. After a very good breakfast, we hopped the bus and got to the con way earlier that I had intended. I like getting there early just not 2 and a half hours early. But that put us only 30 or 40 people from the front of the line, so that’s OK then. As always at these kind of things, you can find people you have never met and have a perfectly nice chat while waiting in line. Never mind they are total strangers and you will never see them again, even at the con. These are people who are “one of us” so it’s OK. I did actually see a few of my line buddies through the day.
More of the people who give these conventions their flavor. This was the scene just outside the con floor while people were beginning to mill around. I didn’t see all that many good costumes on Friday last year. This year they were everywhere! Many were very elaborate and most were really very good. there were a few stupid looking one and there is alway some fool that puts no real thought into it at all and just wears some crappy store-bought plastic mask with a string holding it on. But for the most part, this was a great and creative bunch.
Then, as the 501st div of Star Wars guys ushered the waiting line of fans in, I failed completely to be a grown up and be nice as the pictures below demonstrate. In the first one I can just be seen sneaking up on the Stormtrooper, next all you see is me being a bit of a weenie and showing that even an adult can act like a doofus.
Yes, I am an immature nerd!
Then the con silliness and fun really got going with me meeting a giant Uglydoll…
This is the kind of fun that I largely missed out on last year but that I caught this time around. While seeing more of the color and fun this year was great, it is absolutely why I didn’t manage to get as much of the other stuff into my experience this year. Last year I was all about Artist’s Alley, and to be fair, that was most of the goal this year. This year what changed was having the wife along. I invited her because last year was SO much fun and there were so many things that I knew she would enjoy. I wanted to even things out a bit this year since I knew deep down that the alley would not be as interesting to her as she really has only a cursory knowledge of comics and the people who make them. That is why it will be a 2 day adventure next year. This day was just too rushed. Next is a friend of ours, Kurt Wood. He is also my dealer as he provides me
with a large dose of comics at the shop he runs in Milwaukee. ( see the link for Collector’s Edge Comics on the sidebar of the homepage) He is also a great and really fun artist. His stuff can be seen at his homepage on the links section.
Then it was deeper into the alley. Like every year, I have a list of ones that I want to make a point to get to. I usually manage 3/4 of that list or a little better. Longer than expected lines, or a change in their schedules causes me to miss some each time, so that is just the way these things are.
One of my favorites for the last 20 years or so is the wonderful Jill Thompson. Her art has Graced the pages of Sandman (including the fabulous Lil’ Endless Storybook), Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing and
her creator owned Scary Godmother series of books. I have been to see her 3 or 4 times now and have managed to get stuff signed and have enjoyable and informative chats every time. She is always very generous with the fans.
Meeting different artists and writers has always been fun for me. It is always exciting to tell people that they improve my day with their life’s work and they almost always are appreciative and grateful that you like what they do. They sit at these uncomfortable tables for hours and they rarely lose the ability to make each fan feel like they and they alone are the reason they do what they do. Jill is no exception.
I didn’t get pictures of everyone I saw. In some cases it was because Cameraperson Faye was distracted elsewhere, but more often it was because I am such a helpless fanboy that I forget.
One I didn’t forget was Stephane Roux. He is one of the best cover artists in the industry today, most know for the great covers he is doing for DC books like Zatanna.
He and Jill were both on their second year at C2E2, and seeing them, like many of the others that returned for the second year of this con gives me great hope for the continued existence of this new show. Stephane is always eager to meet the fans. Not every artist is as comfortable as he is. It takes real skill as an artist and real people skills to work on a commission sketch at the same time you are speaking to and making eye contact with the fans. Many very experienced and talented people just have never mastered it. Doug Mahnke is another artist we saw this year. As talented as they come, he is most recently known for his run on the Green Lantern books. While Doug is a really fine artist, he is lees comfortable with the fans, I think. Another favorite of mine that has to specifically and deliberately split things up between time for drawing for fans and time for meeting with them more directly is Adam Hughes. There are few that seem to attend as many cons as he and his wonderful wife and equally talented artist Alison Sohn. But it is clear that he wants to work on the commissioned sketches and set aside specific and limited times to sign and devote direct attention to the fans. To be fair, even the superstar artists like Adam make a sizeable portion of their income from the commissions done at these shows, and while there are fans that begrudge them the lack of attention paid to fans at times, the shows can a big deal to these guys. Adam does not ignore people when they come up while he is drawing, far from it as he can be very talkative, but when he is working Alison tends to be the one you spend time talking to. She is a very fun and witty person and she believes passionately in what she says. this year she was pushing hard to get donations for Japanese earthquake relief. When the signing times that Adam has set aside arrive, he pays great attention to the fans and clearly enjoys the time spent getting to know them.
Next up we take a moment to mention 2 real fun moments for me.
Christian Alamy is another artist on the Green Lantern books with Doug Mahnke. They were seated next to each other in the alley. I had a hardcover for him and Doug to sign and then broke out something that he clearly had not seen in a long time, a copy of The Endless Gallery. That is the floppy open on the table in front of him here. He was so excited to see it, he interrupted Doug in his meet and greet next to him to show him the page he had done years ago in this pin-up book. He thanked me very warmly and was a real treat. The next one was later in the day outside of the alley in the exhibitor’s section. Specifically at the Dr Who Store booth. A guest in the booth was the grand and glorious Ian McNiece. He was there as he made appearances in the 5th series of Doctor Who as Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Signing and posing for pictures with the fans, he is clearly a fine and likeable man. While I am a Doctor Who fan of several decades, I was not here to talk about his excellent turn as the PM. No, I wanted to thank him for one of my favorite films, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but came down a Mountain. When I mentioned that and another old film of his, A Life Less Ordinary, he leaned back in his chair and howled with laughter and clapped his hands. He loved being reminded of something that he had done so long ago and we chatted about the films briefly. As far as I am concerned, both films are better for his presence and The Englishman is funny almost entire because of his performance. He is fabulous as the much stressed elder surveyor to Hugh Grant’s leading-man character. It was a highlight of the con for me to so delight 2 people with examples of the far-reaching and lasting effects of their work.
I will end this first part of my experiences at C2E2 2011 with another silly and fun example of the costumes the fans were wearing. Even the Mighty Skeletor wants to get autographs of his favorite artists!
I hope you enjoyed this first look at C2E2 2.0 in Chicago. I will be back with what will likely be 2 more posts about the day in the next few days as I continue to marshal my thoughts about the day. See you soon.