Bagged & Boarded: Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) 2012
by Jeff Ritter
Published: April 30, 2012
I’m not a big traveler. I enjoy doing it, but the cost of fuel alone makes big trips a bit prohibitive. On the other hand, I really enjoy going to comic conventions. Meeting many of the outstanding writers and artists responsible for some of my favorite comics helps me maintain my passion for the hobby. This year the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, better known by the droid-like abbreviation C2E2, was my chosen destination. As the Windy City is only a bit over 5 hours from St. Louis and with my cousin Patrick living just a short walk from the Blue Line “El” train station in Logan Square, I figured what I saved in fuel and lodging I could spend at C2E2. Chicago is a much more pedestrian town than St. Louis. We drive everywhere. I knew parking in Chicago was expensive, so I utilized the CTA system and took one of convenient chartered bus that C2E2 had running to get from the downtown theater district to the convention.
C2E2 was probably three times larger than any other comic convention I’ve ever been to. The McCormick Place convention center looks big enough to have its own zip code, and only in its third year C2E2 hasn’t quite filled the entire convention hall yet. When I arrived on Friday the 13th, an auspicious date as any for a gathering of superhero, sci-fi, fantasy and horror enthusiasts, I was at first in awe of just how big this show was. I wandered down the central aisle, just getting the lay of the land. The comic publisher booths were right in front: DC, Marvel, Archaia, First Comics, Zenoscope…hold on. First Comics? Didn’t they disappear about 15-20 years ago? As it turned out, I was right. But they’ve recently started to rise from the ashes. They haven’t put anything out yet but they’re in the process of organizing their relaunch with a mix of some classic First Comics titles and some new books as well. I should point out that not every First Comic you may have enjoyed in their heyday will be coming back. Many of those titles have reverted back to their creators and several have been reprinted in omnibus collections with other publishers. Still, it was good to see that familiar logo as I walked in. I grew up reading mostly Marvel and a little bit of DC if Batman was present. When I discovered Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, John Ostrander and Tim Truman’s Grimjack, Steve Rude’s Nexus and Mike Grell’s Jon Sable, Freelance, it opened my eyes to what you could do in comics.
A short walk later, deep in the heart of the vendors area and surrounded by t-shirt towers and long boxes of back issues, I noticed a fellow and his lady walking in my direction. What are the odds that I’d run into an old friend from St. Louis within 10 minutes of getting off the bus? Sure enough, it was Thompson Knox, a former classmate from college who has a couple of independent comic credits to his name. We shook hands and he introduced me to his lovely wife. We hope to get together and catch up soon. For me, reconnecting with friends and making new ones is the greatest joy of the event. I’ve met some wonderful people at conventions over the years. I’m glad this one brought me back into contact with Thompson.
Not more than a few strides from where Thomson and I parted was Artist’s Alley. That’s a common term in comicon jargon, but this was less like an alley and more like two blocks! The show opened on Friday in the early afternoon and by the time it closed at 7:00 PM I had not made it through the entire Artist’s Alley section of the show much less perused anything else. My first stop was to shake hands with writer Bryan J. L. Glass, author of the novel Quixote and the Harvey Award-winning writer of The Mice Templar, published by Image Comics with artwork by Michael Avon Oming. He’s had a couple of projects come to fruition with Marvel in recent years, including the miniseries Thor: First Thunder. Perhaps less lucrative but no less important, Bryan is also one heck of a nice guy. He was still getting his table set up so I wished him a good show and planned to stop back by as I weaved through the long rows of tables.
I didn’t get very far before I was stopped by a gentleman named Onrie Kompan, who asked if he could show me his graphic novel, Yi Soon Shin, Warrior and Defender. This raised a point that I wanted to be sure to discuss here: salesmanship. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it, in my opinion. I don’t go for the hard sell tactics. I absolutely despise being ambushed at a mall by cell phone kiosk clerks and those girls that want to polish my manly fingernails. That may be what dudes do in Eastern Europe, but that is not how we roll in the American Midwest. I also can’t stand going into a store or restaurant where the people
behind the counter just stare at you as if to say, “How dare you interrupt my streak of doing absolutely nothing!” When it comes to promoting your self-published comic book or graphic novel you at a convention, you don’t want to be too pushy, but you can’t just sit there looking disinterested either. There were a number of tables I passed throughout the convention where the people behind the table – people who spent money to be there and to produce their comics or books – just sat there with a look like, “Please don’t come over here.” Onrie was certainly not a wallflower but he didn't turn me off with a hard-sell either. He came across as someone who simply believed in the volume he had produced and wanted to share it with everyone who was willing to give him two minutes to hear his pitch. Once he started showing off his book I was quickly impressed. It is hard to put together a single 22-page comic in full color as an independent creator. Here was a fully colored and very well drawn graphic novel about the Koreans battle for independence against Japan in the feudal era. The story, written by Kompan, features the historic Korean admiral Yi Soon Shin. I freely admit that most of what I know about Korea comes from M*A*S*H. It really had not occurred to me that 16th century Korea even had a navy.
Still, I was somewhat apprehensive. Another common fallacy I find in self-published comic books is reaching too far. Marvel and DC are hard pressed to introduce a new character and publish more than 36 issues. How long did the last Ghost Rider or Moon Knight series last? DC cancelled several of their New 52 launch books before issue 6 had even hit the stands? If the Big Two can’t do it, what makes small time comic creators, even very talented ones, think they can hook people into buying their ongoing series? I don’t mean to be a downer but that’s the reality of the industry. Fortunately, Onrie seemed to have his bases covered. He explained that the series is planned as a trilogy so there’s a definite ending planned. To me this was a good pitch. He didn’t give away the story but gave me enough to pique my interest, he showed off the quality of the artwork (the artist was not present) and of the finished product, and he assuaged my fear of getting emotionally invested in a project that might be too open-ended. I look forward to reading his book in the next couple of months.
At the very next table, I met Mike Rooth. He’s a Canadian artist who is working on a comic called 40rty Grit. They didn’t have a finished product to show off but they had one heck of a banner. The central character of the book is a tough-as-nails gal who smokes and smashes whatever is in her way. The art of the protagonist on the banner really caught my eye. Mike was selling sketchbooks of his art as well as prints as custom waterproof coasters. I was impressed with his style. He could draw superheroes as well as beautiful fantasy and sci-fi pieces. I would end up getting a sketchbook in which he drew a killer Black Widow for me. More importantly we discovered that we were both diehard pro-wrestling fans. I grew up on the old Wrestling at the Chase shows in St. Louis while he regularly watched the Hart family’s famous Stampede Wrestling shows out of Calgary. I hadn’t been at C2E2 an hour yet before making a new friend, and I look forward to seeing 40rty Grit when it’s ready.
I finally made it to the end of the first half of an aisle in Artist’s Alley, after close to an hour of checking out interesting new products and chatting about the halcyon days of pro-wrestling in the 1980s. I noticed a large board that gave the table row and number of every artist in the alley. I used that handy list to track down the Harvey Award nominated husband and wife duo of Adam Withers and Comfort Love. I met them a few years ago and was impressed by both their artistic ability and their forthrightness. They truly understand what it takes to put out a successful self-published comic. Their first series, The Uniques, is available in three collected editions plus an anthology volume, and is very good. Fans of comics like Marvel’s Runaways or New Mutants would find a lot to enjoy. They have temporarily (I hope!) putTThe Uniques on hold to work on a new concept called Rainbow In The Dark. If you have Ronnie James Dio screaming in your head now, blame them. I couldn’t get that song out of my skull for the rest of the show. What really sets Adam and Comfort apart from any other artists I’ve met is how symbiotic they are. Their artwork is very similar to each other’s, so much so that in some cases both of them may have drawn parts of the same character in a given panel. If Comfort, for example, was having a hard time getting the position of an arm right for a character swinging a weapon, Adam might take over while she finishes the cape and legs on a character he’s working on for the next page. By the time they finish an issue much of it is indistinguishable. If you were to ask me, “Who drew this panel? Comfort or Adam?” my answer, despite sounding facetious, would be simply, “Yes.” On the way back to Pat’s place after the show, I was sitting on CTA Blue Line train car, trying hard to not look like a Cardinal fan in Cubs country. I glanced up at the route map over the door to check my stop and noticed an advertisement panel directly beside it. There was an anime convention coming to Chicago shortly after C2E2 and the artwork for this marquee was instantly recognizable to me as coming from the talented hands of Comfort and Adam.
The McCormick Place public address was announcing the close of the show on Friday before I’d completed a full circuit of Artist’s Alley. That’s not to say that any of my time was wasted. Between looking the wares of professional and upcoming comic book creators alike I was taking mental notes of art styles and commission prices. One of the absolute coolest things about comicons is getting a piece of one-of-a-kind art made just for you. Having attended perhaps 5 conventions so far I have already amassed a good number of exceptional sketches. I have a sketch of DC’s Starfire by the multi-talented artist Tom Fleming and a fully colored Boba Fett piece from Top Cow and DC artist Kenneth Rocafort that have caused industry veterans to ask me to name my price for them. C2E2 was no exception. I spent Friday planning what commissions I wanted, both in terms of subject matter and artist. I think a little forethought is essential. I probably wouldn’t ask someone who’s samples are all that of cherubic-faced toddler versions of superheroes to draw a high tech Iron Man armor sketch for me. A lot of convention-goers I’ve talked to say that they like to get the signature character an artist is known for, such as Ghost Rider from Javier Saltares or the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern from Darryl Banks. I’m quite the opposite. I figure that at least some of these artists get pretty sick of drawing the same old thing. The first sketch I ever got was DC's Green Arrow, in the “Longbow Hunter” hood, from Mike Grell. I am extremely proud of that sketch, and it’s probably the last time I’ll get a sketch of a character made famous by that same artist – at least until I meet Walt Simonson. I have had extremely good results by challenging the artists I’ve commissioned. I like to ask what character they haven’t drawn before (or at least not a lot) that they’d like to try. Some folks don’t have an answer to that, and that’s fine, I’m never at a loss for subject matter. Most of the time, during the course of
our negotiation, a name will come up that ignites a spark of eagerness in the artist’s eye. Their eyebrows raise, the corners of their mouths turn upwards in a grin and you can see the wheels turning behind their eyes as they begin composing the page in their minds. Every single time I’ve seen this phenomenon happen, the results have been well worth the price. On Saturday I dropped my sketchbook off with Adam and Comfort. I was not about to let another convention go by without getting a commission from them. I decided to make my own little “Birds of Prey” crossover, and asked them to draw a two-figure sketch of DC’s Hawkgirl and Marvel’s Songbird, my favorite Thunderbolt which drew a big smile from Comfort almost immediately. From the start of the convention Saturday morning until the close of C2E2 on Sunday evening, I would have the sketchbook in my hands for maybe a grand total of 10 minutes. I wasn’t worried; it was in very good hands.
I met Lora Innes at the first convention she ever did as a professional. She was at C2E2 in support of her web comic The Dreamer, which is also available in trade paperback collections from IDW. It’s the story of a regular, modern teenager named Beatrice who dreams of being in the American Revolution whenever she’s asleep. Bea spends her nights avoiding the Red Coats and marching with the likes of Major Alan Warren, Lt. Colonel Thomas Knowlton and Captain Nathan Hale and her days dealing with math exams and school dances, and if her dreams are only that or something more. The Dreamer never gets too sappy with the high school stuff or too dry with the history and that speaks to Lora’s talent as a writer and storyteller. Her art is fantastic too. I’m always happy to show off the sketch she did for me of DC’s Harley Quinn. I think she captured Harley perfectly, giving her this simple grin that makes you wonder just what she’s up to. Joining her at her table was Alan Evans, who’s female pro wrestling series Rival Angels has the same clean and expressive line work as Lora (Lora has also contributed to the series). Capturing the kinetic energy of the squared circle in static comic panels is never an easy feat, nor is getting the figures to look right when a wrestler applies an intricate submission hold. Alan’s pages showed that he had the talent to accomplish this feat. I look forward to reading his series.
I found my friend Sara Richard in the section of Artist’s Alley I hadn’t made it to on Saturday. Sara’s art style is fiercely modern yet whimsical. She has a strong affinity for dinosaurs, and recently published her first children’s book, called Kitty & Dino. The tale is told primarily through pictures – there’s scarcely any words in the book – but that decision allows her storytelling to really shine. It looks link the kind of warm, cute, and funny tale that as a child I would have read even long after the cover fell off. I told her when we first met that her style should be gracing covers at Marvel or DC on a regular basis, and that opinion has not changed. I think she’d be a perfect cover artist for Fables at Vertigo. (If you’re reading this, comic editors, I promise I won’t ask for a finder’s fee. I'll accept one, but I won't ask.)
Mike Perkins is an extraordinary artist who hails from England. I think I first discovered his art on the Captain Britain mini-seriesfor Marvel a few years back. He has a very realistic style,similar to that of Jackson “Butch” Guice, with whom he worked with on Ruse at CrossGen. I greatly enjoyed his run on Captain America, and having made a full circuit of Artist’s Alley I thought that out of all the professionals I’ve met, a Mike Perkins piece would be my goal for this year and a great addition to my sketch book. I knew Mike could do a great Captain America, but I wanted something different. I love D-list characters and lame duck villains. The Rhino might be a little higher than the D-List but he’s never someone you think is really going to win no matter who he fights. Let’s face it, the dude runs into things with his head for living. Despite that, he’s one of my top two or three favorite Marvel villains. When I brought him up to Mike, he got that look on his face that told me I was in for a treat. He had some other commitments lined up so I arranged to bring my book back at the end of the day.
Not far from Mr. Perkins was the table of Harvey nominees Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, two fellow St. Louis natives. They’ve collaborated on The Damned and are currently producing the remarkable horror-western The Sixth Gun, both for Oni Press. Separately Cullen has received several assignments at Marvel, including Iron Fist, Fear Itself: The Fearless, and Wolverine, while Brian has penciled Queen and Country: Declassified for Oni as well as Hard Time and one of my favorite issues of the much-missed Gotham Central series for DC. They are always happy to sign an autograph and Brian can draw pretty much anything, and all of it very well. I have a wonderful sketch of Marvel’s Darkhawk by Brian that always draws approving responses when I show it off.
Tyler Walpole may not be a household name amongst the cape and cowl set, but the many fans of Dragonlance, a series of novels based on the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game should recognize his name. One of the characters that really gained traction with readers was Drizzt Do'Urden, a member of a race of dark elves called the Drow, who are generally regarded with distrust by other races. Devil's Due
Publishing produced a series of comics based on Drizzt’s adventures, and Tyler Walpole was one of their outstanding cover artists. His skill as a fine artist was evident in prints for sale at his table. When I learned
he was doing commissions at the convention, the wheels of my mind started turning. It would an honor to have Tyler’s art in my sketchbook, but what should I get? As I said, I’m disinclined to get characters that artists are known for, so Drizzt wasn’t really a consideration. The superhero set is well-represented in my sketchbook, so I thought I would stick with the fantasy genre that Tyler does so well. I thought about it a little while Tyler chatted with another patron. Then suddenly I had an idea. I asked Tyler if he remembered a
character from the old days of Dungeons & Dragons, one that had an appearance or two on that old Saturday morning cartoon, and an action figure. The character was called Warduke. Tyler got that telltale look in his eye that said he was already plotting the sketch out in his head. “Yeah, that would be fun to do, let me see if I can find some reference material…” As Adam and Comfort finished their tandem sketch for me, I left Tyler to look for Warduke material. I found out later that he used a picture of the old action figure for his reference, but the final piece would be much more visceral than a hunk of molded plastic.
As Saturday wore on I had more or less decided I was done. In years past I would try to maximize the number of sketches I could afford, passing on opportunities to get artwork from bigger name creators and trying to squeeze in as many less expensive, up and coming artists as I could. My approach has changed in recent years as the economy has forced many artists to price their time at roughly similar levels. While I’m proud to have the amazing sketches I’ve accumulated so far, I decided I would treat myself to just a few pieces from people whose work I greatly admired. Mike Perkins, Tyler Walpole, Adam Withers and Comfort Love certainly fit that criteria. I spent the remainder of Saturday and most of Sunday shuttling my sketchbook between these artists, meeting and chatting with as many of the creators as I could in Artist Alley, and browsing the vendor tables and publisher booths. I even caught a glimpse of Val Kilmer signing autographs, and Sean Astin engaging in conversation with his fans. I did not get close enough to see John Cusack and missed Anthony Daniels by just a few minutes (though I did see R2D2 rolling past the vendors tables), but the “E2” portion of C2E2 had not been my priority.
Getting a big news scoop wasn’t a priority either though it didn’t stop me from asking the folks at the First Comics, Zenoscope and Archaia what the latest was with their companies as well as seeing if creators like Bryan Glass and fan favorite artist Billy Tucci and any news to share. Nearly everyone had something they seemed to want to say, but nobody could. I got a lot of responses along the lines of, “Well, I have a couple things that are in the works that I’d love to tell you about, but I am under a vow of silence until after San Diego.” The San Diego Comicon is the biggest event of its kind in the country. I understand that the publishers want the biggest audience possible for their big announcements. What I don’t understand is why they think that’s the best way to get the word out. I’ve spoken with a number of people who have made the trek to that show and every one of them said it’s extremely crowded and caters more and more to the entertainment side of things. By sheer numbers there probably are more comic fans there than at any other show, but how many of them can squeeze into a conference room to hear Joe Quesada and Jeph Loeb discuss the latest Marvel movies and possible television series, or Dan DiDio discussing the DC Universe reboot? Putting the muzzle on creators seems awfully short sighted for an industry that craves new readers. Let them put the word out wherever they are. If Billy Tucci is going to draw a Captain America title or Bryan Glass is going to script a new team book featuring Hercules and a handful of other demigods, why not let them say so as soon as possible? Get the buzz going and get people excited, and maybe sales numbers would rise. For the record, I have no idea what Billy Tucci and Bryan Glass are working on – I just made that stuff up. But my point is you’d be amazed what word-of-mouth advertising can accomplish, and it’s easier on the budget than taking out full page ads in your company’s own titles when you could be bringing in outside revenue selling those pages to other advertisers. If I tell my friends, “Hey, wait until you see Mike Perkins’ art on Iron Man this fall, and Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt are going to be taking over Avengers Academy when Christos Gage finishes his run. Those are going to be some great comics,” my comic-reading friends who trust my judgment about such matters might be inclined to pick them up. They might tell their friends, and they in turn would their friends. With Facebook and Twitter and The-Trades.com I could have thousands of people eagerly awaiting these titles, and it wouldn’t cost the publishers a dime. Again, I just made that stuff up about Iron Man and Avengers Academy, so don’t quote me on that either. I don’t have any breaking news to share. The Big Two did have panel discussions that dropped a few morsels of information, but none of it was particularly earth-shattering. The Defenders, for example, is getting a new creative team. That hardly seemed like news, most 6 issue story arcs end up having a fill-in artist for one chapter nowadays, and most books don’t keep the same creative team beyond a year anymore. Maybe someday comic companies will come to realize that they have to think outside the box (or the comic shop) to attract new readers.
On Sunday I attended a panel discussion on writing comics and getting into the industry by Dirk Manning. Dirk is the mastermind behind the horror anthology comic Nightmare World which he self-publishes online with printed collections published by Image Comics. He discussed his methods for attracting artists to his project, the “dos and don’ts” of self publishing, and the use of both electronic and print-on-demand publishing. His discussion was peppered with humor, often self-deprecating, and solid information. Every novice comic creator has visions of producing the next Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men or Teen Titans in full digital color and sell thousands of issues and be an instant success. It doesn’t work that way. Yes, color comics sell better than black white comics, but they’re also much more time consuming to make and more expensive to reproduce. These were the kinds of tips that Dirk Manning shared. I overheard a younger guy say as we were filing out, “That wasn’t anything I didn’t already know.” I wonder where his comic is? Even if you’ve read a books about writing and creating comics by the likes of comic writing experts Scott McCloud, Dennis O’Neil, or Peter David, the points Manning made should at the very least serve as reinforcement. I would love to write comics for a living, and when I get my own project going you can bet I’ll be following Dirk’s advice. After all, he’s got the books to prove it works.
Throughout the weekend, I found one cool book after another. I was able to pick up several books from Archaia Studios, which I am planning to review in the near future. Two of them were part of the Mouse Guard series from creator David Petersen. Despite being called to duty at the Archaia booth he was gracious enough to sign the inside covers of both books and include a quick sketch of one of his characters in each as well. I must confess that while I own the first volume I have not yet taken the time to read it. Now that I have as much of the series as has been collected to date, I look forward to diving into his world. Mouse Guard and The Mice Templar often draw comparisons by default. It’s hard not to as both series feature animal characters. If you ever get the chance to talk to Bryan Glass or David Petersen you’ll soon learn that the use of mice as the principal characters is where the comparison ends. There’s certainly no reason not to be a fan of both series.
Two books that really excited me were from Anina Bennet and Paul Guinan. Anina has been in and around the business for some time, including a stint as the editor of many of my favorite First Comics titles during their original run. Anina and Paul also created the well-traveled comic “Heartbreakers” which has been published by Dark Horse, Image and IGN. They were at C2E2 to show people their newest titles, two very handsome volumes of similar design. The first is Boilerplate, History's Mechanical Marvel and the second is Frank Reade, Adventures in the Age of Invention. In both cases Paul’s art and photo manipulations put their characters firmly in their respective time periods. Paul's art in these books is phenomenal and gives the characters a sense of reality that traditional comic book art couldn't accomplish. While these books are more along the lines of prose and pictures than comics, they should appeal to fans of science fiction, steampunk, adventure and historical fiction. I will be reviewing both books in the coming months and hope to do an interview with Anina as well.
Marvel veteran Jim McCann and artist Janet Lee were on hand to promote, among other things, the Eisner Award-winning Return of the Dapper Men
, published by Archaia -- a company with apparently no shortage of talent. I originally met Jim during the course of an online discussion I had with Marvel editor Tom Brevoort a few years ago, and I thoroughly enjoyed his all-too-brief association with Hawkeye and Mockingbird. It was great to finally meet him in person. I've had my eye on his book for some time and was pleased to finally purchase a copy. I had seen snippets of Janet's art from the book in various places before, but was excited to find out that she did all of the art in the book by layering elements on wood blocks. The wood itself occasionally makes an appearance, lending natural wood grain where appropriate. The whole process produced a unique kind of art, creating a speration of color and line weight like nothing else I've seen. I can't wait to read it, so look for a review and possibly a creator interview in the near future.
There is no such thing as enough money when it comes to comic conventions. It was a struggle to reign in my impulse to buy something from everyone. That’s why I recommend browsing on the first day. See what commission prices are like, see what products strike your fancy, and see what you may want to wait to buy at a future show. In many cases you can buy products or arrange commissions with these folks over the internet. Sure, there were ATMS available and many of the creators could accept credit card purchases, but I deliberately left my cards at home on this trip -- I didn't want to be tempted to buy every amazing book I saw and then not have enough money to buy gas for the drive home. I have a number of books and commissions I'm interested in, from the likes of exiting up-and-comer Jeffrey Edwards, the newest artist at Boom! Studios, the amazing Stuart Sayger of IDW's Bram Stoker's Death Ship fame (his print of Dream from Vertigo’s The Sandman has to be seen to be believed), Royden Lepp's Rust, Visitor In The Field from Archaia, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, by Michael Mendheim and Simon Bisley through Heavy Metal Magazine, the amazingly bold wall art of Epyon5 and of course the most offensive comic at the show, Abe The Aborted Fetus from Z.M. Thomas and Trepidation Comics. Yes, you read that right. That title alone probably has some of my readers gnashing their teeth and wringing their hands. One of the greatest things about comics is that if you keep an open mind at give a comic a fair shake, it might just surprise you. This book features some great characters, a fun, loose art style and a ton of irreverent humor. No matter which side of Roe V Wade you're on, you should be able to lauch at yourself at least a little, and I think that's what this book is about. As soon as I can a copy I'll let you know.
C2E2 was a fantastic weekend of comic book revelry. Every day was a feast for the eyes, from provocative artwork to fantastic costumes worn by souls far braver than I. There was a young person dressed as Beaker from The Muppets that was absolutely outstanding. The X-Men fans were in force, and there were several excellent Rogues and Storms walking about. The upcoming movie, "Marvel's The Avengers" no doubt inspired the several lovely Black Widows and the occasional Iron Man, Captain America and Hulk. I even saw a Lady Loki who looked wickedly ravishing. Star Trek and Star Wars were well represented too. One fan who must have been a legit 6' 6" or more had an amazing Durge costume, and a beautiful young lady from New York could give both Nichelle Nichols and Zoë Saldana a run for their money as Uhura. People watchers would be hard-pressed to find a better range of costumes than at a major comic convention. The gorgeous Ashley Riot was there pulling double duty--she had a table in Artist Alley to show off her lovely manga-influenced art for her relatively young web comic Indigo, Tales of the Exorcist
as well as engaging in a little anime costume fun. If I had to pick just one that really stole the show, it would have to be the fellow who wore the Mysterio costume, complete with the fishbowl helmet! I don't know how he was breathing in that thing, but he completely nailed the costume.
I scored outstanding sketches from Mike Perkins, Tyler Walpole, Mike Rooth, Adam Withers and Comfort Love. While I'm not an autograph seeker myself, the lines for the celebrities were constantly full so there's no doubt that you could meet your favorite stars if that's your thing. For a show of this size there seemed to be very few cancellations. Everyone I had set out to meet was there, such as the ubiquitous Bald Guy (who did a fantastic sketch of Inara from Firefly
for me at St. Louis's Project Comicon show) and Rick Remender, one of my favorite writers. I got to shake hands and say hello to all-time greats like Gary Gianni, George Pérez and Len Wein. Mr. Wein was one of the most gracious and humble industry legends I have ever met. It was wonderful to finally meet these masters of the medium. There were many surprises like the talented brothers Jeffrey and Philip Moy, and writer Ed Dunphy, who might be one of the rare exceptions to the exception to the rule about doing color indy comics succesfully. Werewolf fans should seek out his new series, Mongrel
. I don't even particularly like werewolf stories and I thought the first issue was great.
I look forward to attending C2E2 again, and making new friends while reconnecting with old ones. Even a jaded old comic critic like me can't help but feel recharged after a show like this. Check out the C2E2 website and stick it in your "Favorites" folder so you can make plans to come to Chicago next year.