First of all: Holy SHIT. The C2E2 show was this past weekend in downtown Chicago, and, for me, it was incredible. I saw 21 people I consider genuine friends at the thing, so in honor of them, I'm listing out the 21 things I loved about the show. Here goes, in no particular order:
1. IT WAS DOWNTOWN - I've been to Wizard World Chicago maybe 8 times in my life, and as the first show I've ever been to, it'll always hold a special place in my heart. But the thing is in Rosemont - a northern suburb - and I only ever took the 30-minute drive downtown ONCE. With C2E2 located a 5-minute cab ride from downtown proper, it meant we had more access to GREAT food, bars, ridiculous site-seeing and more.
2. FOOOOOOD - We hit so many great restaurants all weekend, I kind of can't believe I didn't gain 40 pounds at the show. We popped by the Sweet Water tavern for fried mac and cheese and a wide beer selection, Texas de Brazil for the most succulent Brazilian BBQ I've ever stuffed my face with, Portillo's for a hotdog AND an Italian beef croissant, and SOOO much more! Best con food and selection I've ever had.
3. ROCK 'N' ROLL MCDONALDS - I stumbled past the famous Wesley Willis institute one night. See above.
4. MY GIRLFRIEND ATTENDED - It feels WONDERFUL to be at a place financially in my life where I can have my girlfriend Sam visit a show with me in a new place. She flew up Saturday and we had a great time wandering the city together.
5. MIKE PERKINS - I got nothing here. Mike Perkins is just a fucking rad guy, and I can't get enough of him and his work. LOOK AT THIS RIGHT NOW.
6. PEPTO BISMOL - All the food and irregular sleep and con hours and beer did a number on my tummy. Thanks for bein' a friend, Pepto!
7. THE DC STAFF - DC Comics represented with some amazing giveaways and an awesome attitude from all the staffers working this weekend! It was great to get to spend more time outside the office with my peers, so thanks to the whole booth staff for being so cool and polite and fun alllll weekend long! I want to marry you all.
8. PIZZA PARTY - Speaking of DC people being rad, we had a "thank you" pizza party for the booth grunts at the end of the show and we all got along great, talking crap about terrific '80s films and playing with our boss's iPad. I'm kidding. He didn't let us touch it.
9. AMAZING GUESTS/EXHIBITORS/RETAILERS - What a terrific concentration of quality guests, exhibitors and retailers! C2E2 hauled in all the big mainstream publishers (DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW) along with top-notch creators from each including damn-near the entire Green Lantern franchise creative team, a slew of great Marvel creators, dudes like David Finch and Mike Mignola and Guy Davis and a GIANT webcomics presence PLUS smaller publishers like Top Shelf and Avatar. And with retailers ALL OVER sporting quarter bins and 1/2-off trades from day one, not to mention recent books marked down and dollar-bins out the banana, this was a primo show for finding a deal or a book you've been searching for. I didn't hit any panels, so I can't speak to that, but MAN, what a combo of fun.
10. ARCHITECTURE - I'm not sure I've ever seen a city as beautiful as Chicago when it comes to layout and buildings. Downtown, the buildings are a mix of glass and metal next door to classical brick and mortar. Some even combine the two for a nu-classical style all while sitting right next to Lake Michigan, a sprawling city park, a serious public transit rail with its girder support-beam legs clomping down side avenues (see above), and a spread-out feel I've never seen before. The city is dripping with a character I wish I was close friends with, and that's a fact that extends out to neighborhoods like Wicker Park's East Village feel and Wrigleyville's frat-powered bar scene. I wanna live here!
11. L TRAIN - Chicago's public transit rail system is cleaner than the NYC subways and feels more safe. I took the line all the way from the airport to downtown instead of a boring cab and didn't smell pee once.
12. BILLY GOAT TAVERN AND GRILL - Located underground between the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, this bar and grill was frequented by Bill Murray and John Belushi and is the basis of a famous SNL sketch I won't go into right now. As an SNL fan, I'm psyched to have had the chance to visit it with a crew of fun friends. Read more here!
13. BOAT TOUR! - The Monday after the show ended, I stuck around with 4 friends to walk the city, so we took a boat tour of the city's skyline from the Navy Pier!
14. QUIMBY'S BOOKSTORE - I dunno when it started, but I've wanted to go to Quimby's Bookstore for an awful long time and finally got the chance this weekend. Alt/lit-minded and boasting a ton of mini-comics, the shop is located in Wicker Park, which is just a 10-minute cab ride away from downtown. There are MAYBE 5 comic shop destinations I've ever had, and this was one of them. Time to check it off my Bucket List!
15. DOUG MAHNKE ART FOR SALE - You're a psycho if you don't like Doug Mahnke's art and the guy had a BUNCH of it on sale at the show this weekend! Final Crisis, Green Lantern, JLA/Cyberforce, The Mask, Major Bummer, Lobo vs. Hitman...the guy's fucking awesome. I ALMOST grabbed a page from Frankenstein, but decided against it and now regret that. But the dealer gave me his email, so I plan on finding a piece THIS WEEK!
16. MY FRIEND KIEL - You'd be LUCKY if you had a friend like my BFF Kiel in your life. The guy (who now calls Chicago home) waited for me in a car nearby to finish a work dinner one night before driving me to a party. The next night, he took me to a local eatery to meet up with his rad girlfriend Jamie before paying for my (and several other's) train ride to his local comic shop where IDW was having a party with beer (beer in a comic shop? Dangerous for me...) before heading to his apartment where he gave us his last few beers. Then he DROVE US BACK TO THE HOTEL. i love you, Kiel.
17. DC SHIRTS - The DC staffers who work the booth all wear matching DC shirts and this year I got a Brightest Day shirt and a Reverse Flash shirt from Graphitti Designs! WOOOOOOO!
18. LAID-BACK VIBE - I dunno if it's just Chicago or the time of year or what, but the attendees were all really nice and laid-back folks who were just happy to be buying comics. Friday through Sunday felt slow and easy, but steady. I heard someone say Chicago was a blue-collar town and that's why Friday afternoon may have felt so lite - the people couldn't take the mid-day off. But that doesn't mean they weren't polite and fun and their easy-going vibe is much-appreciated!
19. FRIENDS! - I can't explain how great it was to see Dylan and Kelly, Mel!, Jeffrey, Parr and CJ, Ryan, Alejandro, Jim and Michael, Adam S., Mike, Chris, C.B., Kiel and Jamie, Kevin, Warmoth, Jonah!, Tony, Josh, Caleb, Tim, Mike D., Mike S., Eric, and Brendan. High-five, everybody!
20. NEW FRIENDS! - So, I met a bunch of my older friends around the show, but the new people I met were awesome, too! Thanks for taking the time to chat Scott, Guiseppe, Allesandro, Brian and Jill, and Michael. You guys are DOPE and it's cool to have nice people to break up the show with.
21. ALL THE GREAT CRAP I BOUGHT - I'll post another story about this soooon!
So, thanks, C2E2! If I can't fly out for you next year through work, I'll still be there on my own dime. You win.