C2E2: The Experience [April 13-15, 2012]

The Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) is a huge convention.  Bigger than I imagined it to be in a space more massive than I envisioned it.  So … Much … Walking …

With an array of celebrities, artists and vendors, there is something to perk everyone’s interest.  Sci-fi. Fantasy. Horror. Fake mustaches. Bubbles. Everything. Panels going throughout each day of the convention and out in the open, a feast for the eyes with all the costumes and people who thought they could pull them off.  There were some amazingly well done costumes on some horribly scary people as well as horrible costumes that barely covered 1/4 of the body on some really attractive people. It was so diverse, it was also awesome to see people expressing themselves in the form of their favorite comic/movie/television character. It really is a place where people can let their geek out and be natural and accepted. People from around the country flocked to Chicago this weekend purely to indulge in this. My Nintendo 3DS was constantly maxed out with people in my plaza, I progressed a great deal on Find Mii II this weekend.

So what, right? My random ramblings are a perfect example of what this weekend is. There is just so much to see, do and buy. It was my first time at C2E2 and I would be more than happy to return next year. There is just not enough time in one weekend to experience it all, especially for a novice convention goer such as myself. I have been to quite a few in several different states, but my experience is no equal for the professional con goer type that dominates these events. I admit I failed in my focus. I should have plotted out more precisely what I wanted to do and when.  Having a plan going into these things… Is pointless. It may help guide you but in the end you have to gauge it day by day. Having the C2E2 app did help greatly. By adding events and artists and even vendors to my favorites, it helped me to navigate a bit better and make it to events on time. Once you add an event as a favorite, a notification will come up when you are getting close to the event time.  Unfortunately for me, I was not staying at the convention hotel, I was across town by the Gold Coast and a 15 minute event warning was not nearly enough.  Even if I had been at the convention at the time of the reminder, it was still anybody’s guess as to whether I could make it on time. McCormick Place is a beautiful and vast building. Very vast. I did enjoy the complimentary C2E2 shuttle that came right to our hotel doorstep. It did so for many in the area.  I think it is brilliant to have such a shuttle considering so many that come to these things have no idea where they are going.  It was bliss to just sit back and relax and know I would end up at the right place. A taxi ride would have done the same, but that $7 or so could go towards a drink at the hotel bar.

I hope I get the chance to go again next year.  There are so many wrongs I would love to right and allow myself to see much more and not exhaust myself in that first day.  Especially since the cheapest shoe insoles I found were at this swanky two level Walgreens for $12.  It was a great time, I loved visiting the Doctor Who vendor and I am now the proud owner of white Dalek cuff links. That is one of the many joys of a convention.  Sure there is a hefty fee to get in, but it covers your shuttle, your fancy little name badge and your ability to buy cuff links for $15 locally that would have cost twice as much online once imported from the UK with shipping fees. There are many great finds to be had, in addition to the savings you receive through buying from a local vendor instead of online.

A convention like this is not just about the vendors, though that is what I love so dearly.  It is also about the artists and celebrities. Many well-known actors, writers, artists, and publishers attend these conventions to give us something to pine for.  Those times you are strolling through the hotel lobby and run into that one guy in that one show that you just eternally love forever and getting to say, ‘Hey’ as you pass by anxiously.  Plus the ability to get their autograph at the convention center as they sit in their little booths waiting to be fawned over.  It is amazing to see so much celebrity in once place and, for the most part, they are quite welcoming of fan attentions.  They appreciate your thoughts and they want to know your name.  Of course there are the Val Kilmers and Bruce Campbells who will charge you dearly for their name scribbled on something you adore, but if you are a true fan, you don’t mind waiting for hours in line to do so. It is a part of the con experience.  It is like waiting hours at a theme park for a few seconds on a roller coaster. In a flash it is over, but the memory endures.

The memory and the photos are the key reasons for attending these events. C2E2 is a well-done convention and extremely organized and professional. They offer a day pass as a purchase option, but only a weekend pass will do. You need to be there every day to truly experience what this convention is.