C2E2 2011: An Overview

Can you find Where's Waldo? No really, he's there.
As fans take inventory of their convention purchases, cos-players put away their weekend attire, and vendors and artists pack up what little is left of their merchandise, we all begin to process the long and exciting weekend that was C2E2. This being my first time at the new-to-Chicago con, I opted to go only one day (Saturday), and I have plenty of reasons to get a weekend pass next year. I spoke with many con-goers that were at the show last year, from artist Erik Rose to retailer Pat Brower, and across the board everyone has said that this year the show had much larger crowds (early estimates for attendance have confirmed this). Though I can't compare, it certainly felt crowded, especially when one tried to browse the merchandise. From personal experience, cons don't usually look  over-picked until Sunday afternoon. Logic dictates that the majority of good deals at conventions are going to be on merchandise that isn't moving in stores; hardcovers, books that were over-ordered, or old sets of toys. But I'm more likely to buy a $5 trade that I've seen at every other booth if I am also purchasing it with something I was actually looking for (Morning Glories was sold out EVERYWHERE.) Seeing the same books became a running joke; as my husband put it, there sure are a lot of Amazing Spider-Man: Back in Black HC's. The difficulty in finding sought after titles, combined with the frequent elbowing, bag swinging, and shoving that came with navigating the show made actual shopping a little difficult. However, it was nice to see large crowds for the convention in general and not for things like Rob Blagoavich sitting in the Batmobile.

The venue for C2E2, McCormick Place, is hands down better suited for cons than Rosemont, the home of Wizard World Chicago. There are windows, more food options, and with frequent free shuttles running from the loop to the convention, it was easier to get to, as well. McCormick does have some disadvantages. If you are an out of towner, the hotels aren't as cheap downtown as they are near O'Hare and Rosemont. Also, from what I've heard from vendors, the booths at C2E2 are a bit pricier. I'm sure for this reason many vendors opted for less square footage than usual, and it showed. Considering this show will probably prove to be a good moneymaker for vendors, here's hoping next year will see larger booths with more merchandise. The aisles between artist alley were large, but if anyone had a line for signing, you better hope the person sitting next to them isn't the one you were looking for. Overall it seemed like show organizers planned according to last year's crowds. Even the Hi-Chew booth ran out of candy to sell! I can't imagine how vendors and artists got through Sunday, as everyone already looked pretty exhausted by Saturday's end.

Despite the large crowds and smaller than anticipated selection of merchandise, I still had a blast at the convention. There were tons of cos-players, and the artist alley was the biggest I've seen yet. There were a few locals I would have liked to see, such as Sarah Becan, and Make Yourself Happy creator Lucy Knisley (she was signing at Challenger's booth on Friday, but did not have a table in artist alley). Alas, now that I have gone to C2E2, I know that what this show has to offer is more than a 1 day pass can provide. Next year I will know to shop on Friday, meet and greet with creators Saturday, and pick up the deep discounts Sunday. Of course going one day meant less time for panels, too, but many con-goers live blogged and tweeted announcements in real time, one of the most frequent being Girls Read Comics Too (I am not as technologically prolific, as evidenced by the blog's posting schedule). Here is a rundown of some notable announcements:
Greg Rucka to take on Punisher: Max, Mark Waid will write Daredevil
I'm excited about these announcements for several reasons. Rucka was awesome on Detective Comics, and I can't wait to see what he does with Punisher. Waid has delivered a lot of hits recently with his creator owned work at Boom! Studios, but quotes from the panel announcement indicated that he will continue with the "superhero swashbuckling" feel the book has maintained during Andy Diggle's run. He will "keep it gritty" but not "want a stiff drink" gritty. Personally, I kind of like my Daredevil as punching bag. Rucka was not present to comment on the announcement.

Marvel still not lowering prices
Though they hope to keep minis and one shots at $2.99 (minus any back up stories), there is no budging on titles that are already at $3.99 in order to keep up the quality and attract talent. That statement seems like a bit of PR bull, but at the same time I can agree that most artists and writers are probably keen to have 22 pages to tell their story rather than 20, and I am happy to support good content. Still not willing to be pay $3.99 for Uncanny X-Men until it gets better.

DC still keeping lower prices
"For as long as possible" says Dan DiDio. Enjoy it while you can folks, inflation will catch up! Word to Marvel and DC: what ever happened to the quarter / ten cent raise?
Editor in Chief Dan Didio takes full responsibility for Batwoman delay
I'm sure J.H. Williams is happy to hear this stated publicly as many have speculated that his beautiful, albeit time consuming artwork was the cause for delay. Apparently DC plans to release the book later in the year when the market is more favorable to its release. When exactly is that? Given that everyone calls this a "much-anticipated" title, they will have a hit no matter when they release it. But the longer they wait, the more it will be referred to as "much-delayed".

Bendis and Bagley to release new Icon series Brilliant
This new creator owned series will be centered around a group of college students competing to crack the code for superpowers. Bendis has stated that this will not be a "superhero" title. Considering his track record for Icon titles (Powers, Scarlet) this will be a book to keep your eye on when it is released this July.

Here are just a few photos from the convention of cos-players, fans, merchandise and mayhem. More after the jump!
These were only a handful of the adorable mini-cosplayers on Saturday. On Sunday all children were given free admission to C2E2.
Sights like this make me love conventions.
From left: Princess Zelda, Princess Leia, Batwoman, and Buffy herself.
The view from the food court offered the perfect opportunity for people watching.
The quarter bins were a hot ticket on Saturday.
Really disappointed I don't know anyone who fits into the Darth Maul sandals.
Archaia hosted an adorable kid friendly play area, which felt like the play areas Blockbuster used to have.
Cliff Chiang in artist ally works on a sketch commission. Other finds in artist alley, mini-paintings and cards have been popular the last few years, and of course, self-published works are always plentiful.
This kid is my hero. He brought his comics to the con in a break pads box.
Cinderella doesn't know it but she is totally being sized up by this pint-sized cos-player.
I went as a kind of incognito cos-player. My Morning Glories Academy student costume didn't get much notice; unlike sticks out like a sore thumb Waldo. Another subtle costume, Bruce Wayne at right.