My big question heading into the show this year was, “How much is it going to feel like a comics convention?” With Chris “Thor” Hemsworth and much of the cast of Chuck being around this weekend, would C2E2 start to feel like San Diego or – God forbid – Wizard World Chicago from a couple of years ago with movies and TV taking over the center of attention?
It’s only Friday, but so far so really damn good.
After last year’s C2E2, I had high expectations for the convention this year and everything got off to a great start. Press registration went smoothly again and some of the Artist Alley creators who hadn’t attended last year told me how impressed they were with the professionalism and just general niceness of the staff they’d worked with.
One major difference though is that the convention’s in a different part of McCormick Place this year. Instead of the impressive Lakeside Center with it’s unbelievable view of Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago, it’s in the West Building. Still a very nice space with lush carpeting and plenty of room, just not as jaw-droppingly grand as last year. I’m not sure why that is, but one artist brought it to my attention that the setting sun through the giant picture-windows last year could sometimes make it difficult to see and interact with fans. So whatever the rationale for moving, there are positive and negative things about both spaces.
A welcome addition this year was a smart phone app just for the show. I tried it out and it was helpful if not spectacular. With all of its maps, schedules, and lists of guests and exhibitors, it more than replaced my need for a program. I didn’t pick up a printed program and never felt lost all day. It also let me highlight booths and creators as favorites so that I could filter them into a list and then check people off as I talked to them. Other than that though, there weren’t a lot of bells and whistles to it. I would have loved an interactive map that let me view all my pin-pointed favorites at once or browse the convention virtually, preferably adding my location to the map, but I feel a little ungrateful saying that after finding the app so useful in other ways all day. Maybe next year, though?
As long as I’m on technology, free wifi at the show is awesome. I kept having to log back in after I hadn’t used it for a while, but that was a small price to pay for access all day. Very cool.
The show had a soft open at 10:00 for professionals only. The public wasn’t allowed in until 1:00. Though some Artist Alley creators had to keep reminding themselves that the real crowd hadn’t shown up yet and that it wouldn’t be this slow all day, it seemed like most everyone appreciated the time to walk around, visit with each other, and enjoy some of the show before their customers showed up.
After 1:00, things got much more exciting with all the costumes and activity, but it was still a pretty relaxing day. I saw one panel in the afternoon (Dirk Manning’s Write or Wrong Q&A), but other than that it was a lot of finding and catching up with friends and finally meeting online acquaintances face-to-face. Which is the best part of comics conventions.
Tomorrow’s going to be another story. Not only will all the TV and movie people be here, but I’ve also got panels scheduled from 10:30 am (Firebreather!) to at least 5:30 (webcomics roundtable). And that’s only if I’m too tired or hungry to make it to the later Middleman reunion and the Dwayne McDuffie memorial. I should rest up for that, but I’m not going to. Heading back downstairs for some more catching up and visiting.