Another C2E2 has come and gone, and with it comes the long wait for it to return. This was the fourth iteration of the spring Chicago convention, and it has grown exponentially since 2010. I remember going to the first one in 2010 and easily needing less than a day to see everything. Fast forward three years, and we now spend a weekend at the show. It now feels like there’s always something that we have to miss when we leave on Sunday.
Hit the jump to see our final thoughts and the best of the costumes!
The Show Floor and Attendance
Last year, our biggest complaint was the autographing area. They had the area poorly designed near the front of the show room, and there wasn’t enough space for the line queues to snake around, causing massive congestion. This year, the autographs were in the back, with plenty of room for people to line up and wait. Long lines were easily shifted to one corner, allowing for better passage by all attendees. Well done, ReedPop.
The congestion is indicative another positive for the show — the room space was well utilized to handle the booths and people. Could they have fit more booths in the room? Oh, most definitely. Could they have shrunk the room space and saved money? Indeed. Instead, they let the convention breathe with plenty of room for costumers to have pictures taken, buyers browse without constantly being nudged and bumped, and people to mingle with their friends. Was there any congenstion? Sure, there were a few areas where crowds gathered, but those were the exception, not the norm. Again, kudos to the convention organizers.
Rogue Z and I were a bit disappointed by Friday, though. As we walked around the show floor, the traffic was noticeably absent. It was, as they say, “quiet. Too quiet.” For some reason, Friday’s attendance seemed lower than last Friday’s attendance. While this made it easy to see everything in the room in a day, even with it being a larger room, it made for a less party-like atmosphere. The number of costumers were down, and the artists in Artist Alley we talked to mentioned that sales were extremely slow, to the point they were concerned about their weekend take. Hopefully the explosion of people on Saturday more than made up for that, and one artist, Steve Palenica, said on Saturday that things were a lot better than they had been 24 hours prior.
Rogue Z and I noticed that some companies had smaller booths than in past years. Dark Horse and Diamond Previews seemed to have less items on display than in 2012, and DC didn’t even have a booth at all. Hopefully this is a trend that won’t continue; C2E2 is growing and it seems like companies would want to take advantage of the increasing attendance.
There was a subsection of the floor called “The Block”, which was C2E2’s attempt to bring together “art, design, collectible toys, pop-tech and fashion of the underground pop culture scene along with the tastemakers, trend setters, artists, thinkers and the brands that they create”, according to the website. To me, I’m not sure how successful this was. It looked very similar to other areas of the show floor, just set off by aisles and signage. It’s a great idea, and I would like to see C2E2 expand on this concept, perhaps by differentiating it from the rest of the dealers even more so, thereby drawing added attention.
I remember a decade ago where it was a rarity to find a sci-fi shirt. I think there were at least five dealers at C2E2 with their own collection of snark/pop-culture/sci-fi/geek shirts waiting to sell you their wares. With these dealers as well as the TeeFury and RIPT Apparel style online dealers, one has to wonder how far this market has been diluted.
As we said, Artist Alley was slow on Friday, but it really picked up steam on Saturday. In fact, this was the one area where there were congestion problems. It was nice to see all the artists, writers and creators getting love, and I hope that it was worth the time and money to set up shop. One nice feature that C2E2 added this year was a live sketching stage, where various artists would come up, draw on a piece of paper and it would be projected onto a screen behind them. The only problem was that in the lit area, the sketches were a little hard to see. I hope ReedPop invests in a better projector (perhaps use a camera-based projection system instead of the old classroom underlit through mirrors projector), as I could easily see this expanding. Perhaps something along the lines of “Quick Draw!” that Mark Evanier hosts at San Diego Comic-Con….
Like any comic convention, there are hundreds if not thousands of costumers of all ages and skill levels. Me? I can’t sew to save my life, so anybody who can stitch fabric together (no matter what the skill level) has one up on me. I’m a novice when it comes to prop building, so I’m always on the lookout for excellent props. The problem is that I’ve been going to comic cons for over a decade now, and I’ve seen the costuming element absolutely explode over the past five years. What was once a rarity is now the norm. And all those years of seeing costumes (and being in costume) has admittedly made me a bit jaded.
So, after what seemed like a bit lackluster Friday in costumes, Rogue Z and I were hoping Saturday would knock our socks off. And did it ever. You can see all our costume pictures in our C2E2 Costume Gallery, but these are the ones that stood out as impressive.
I’ve always loved Ralph McQuarrie’s concept painting of Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader. I loved that we got both characters in costume, although at different parts of the day. Hope they met up at some point.
By far, though, the most impressive costume was this Cyborg Darth Maul. Love or hate the character, the fact this costumer figured out a way to make a Darth Maul with Cyborg Legs left us speechless. The amount of time to get into Maul makeup is impressive already, but add to that the effort needed to make legs that look great and are functional? Holy crap. Our hats are off to you.
C2E2 has quickly become one of our favorite conventions, and we’re not the only ones to think that. The increased attendance as well as the organic growth of parties and photoshoots is testament that ReedPop has another hit on their hands. If the city of Chicago could figure out a way to get more hotels on the premises, C2E2 could easily rival Dragon*Con and San Diego for overall attendance, not to mention the costuming scene. Our thanks to Lance Festerman, Roger Bilheimer, Kristin Henchling and the entire staff of ReedPop and all who volunteered and work the convention.
See you next year, C2E2! Stay awesome.