C2E2: Quick Thoughts

Still on vacation, but I had a chance to check in with some internet time. I’m working on a number of writeups and interviews from C2E2, but in the meantime, Heidi has a wide-ranging wrapup of impressions on how successful the show was.

Speculation: did the doofy droid-sounding name hurt C2E2? There wasn’t any prior awareness to drive an abbreviation, and leaving out the word “comics” seems counter-intuitive.

I thought that several exhibitors had expectations were a bit too high. It was a great debut for a first show — but I don’t think it was being considered one. Instead, people seemed to be comparing it to the several-years-established New York show put on by the same group, Reed Exhibitions. I knew several locals who came over only on the weekend, because they wanted to see what it was like before they took off work on Friday (which was considered slow by some, although I found it plenty busy and comfortably hopping). I don’t think success can truly be judged until next year.

And I was often reminded that a publisher wants packed aisles and crazy excitement, while I as a customer would rather have room to walk around and not too many conflicts on where to spend my time, so their desires and aims might be different from mine.

Also, it was very expensive, due to it being in the city (an element I didn’t care about, since I was there for the convention, not to sight-see). To stay in the only close hotel was $2-300 a night, depending on how early you booked and what deal you got, and frankly, their quality didn’t justify the price. (I had to argue with staff to get some of the amenities promised in my directly-booked rate, and the extras that make for a luxury hotel were missing.) Parking was $27 a day, and the breakfast buffet was $20. While you could find better deals elsewhere, the shuttle didn’t run long enough to make that viable. (It ended its last trip while my Friday night panel was still going on, for instance.) That meant cheap hotel savings were eaten up by cabs.

In the show itself, everything was so spread out, from the impressively large show aisles to getting from the show floor to the panel rooms, that I literally could not walk further without pain by the time of my Friday night panel. On the other hand, having a convention hall with windows in it is apparently so rare and neat that everyone remarked on it.

Typical of other big shows, we had an unfortunate run-in with an overzealous security guard who decided that, although they were letting in general attendees on Saturday morning, press weren’t yet allowed onto the show floor. I had to ask for two levels of supervisors to get that bit of stupidity resolved.

But enough griping. There were tons of people to talk to and things to see, more than enough for a three-day show. My favorite memory is getting a chance to have dinner with several other blogger/journalists after the panel, because that kind of sit-down chat/share experience is so rare. I’d definitely recommend checking out the show next year, especially if you have friends/relatives in the area you can stay with.


11 Responses to “C2E2: Quick Thoughts”

  1. Torsten Adair Says:

    I was concerned as well about hotels. I stayed on North Michigan (across the river from the Tribune) and found it very easy to commute with the #3 bus. My hotel was not luxury, but it did have a complimentary breakfast. If you need supercheap lodging, there’s an AYH youth hostel near Columbia College.

    Reed should add more Con hotels to the show. Also, I think some hotels offer a convention rate, if you ask. My hotel had lots of Bath & Kitchen people.

    I’ll return, ESPECIALLY if the wide aisles remain! Great show.

  2. Anthony Says:

    This was my first big show, and I enjoyed my time there. I don’t know how C2E2 compares to other shows, however…

    Like the poster above said, I took the #3 bus to/from the show; IIRC an L train line also runs near the center. A 3 day pass good for both runs $14. I also stayed at a hostel downtown for about $38 a night. Given I grew up near Chicago/now live in Milwaukee, I didn’t need to go sightseeing either.

  3. Russell Lissau Says:

    It was an absolute pleasure to meet you at C2E2, Johanna! I look forward to chatting with you again soon.

  4. Steve Wallace Says:

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I think it was fine for a first year convention. I think they could change some of the layout to drive traffic a little better but that’s hindsight.

    Also, parking at the convention center (under the lakeside building) was 19 a day.

  5. Johanna Says:

    The hotel question brings up another point — where do you hang out after? I never had a chance for an evening drink, but I heard others complaining that they missed having a central location to meet up.

  6. Anthony Says:

    In my case, since I went to the show alone, I spent all my non-show time alone as well. Mostly went back to my hostel to write up on my blog the day’s events/drop off my stuff, though I did follow such with going out to dinner afterwards (Friday it was somewhere downtown, Saturday went up to near Wrigleyville).

  7. Matt Kramer Says:

    It was a wonderful surprise meeting you and KC at the con! Whenever I tell people about the highlights, meeting you guys is definitely up there. I’m extremely appreciative of the time that KC took to talk to me!

  8. Russell Lissau Says:

    Johanna:
    To answer your question, my group of 8-10 creators went to different locations Friday and Saturday. Most went to Tank Noodle in the Uptown neighborhood on Friday for Vietnamese food, and on Saturday a bar in the Lincoln Square neighborhood near where we were staying. Some split off and went to karaoke; others did sushi in the Loop. The great thing about this city is that there’s no shortage of sights to see, restaurant or entertainment — and no need to be bottled up in a single bar like in Rosemont. (Although the Hyatt bar in Rosemont is a great gathering place.)

  9. Marc Alan Fishman Says:

    Johanna,
    It was a pleasure to meet you both after your panel, and again at our table in Artist’s Alley. Though you were incredibly blunt with us, we three Unshaven Lads are not without thick skin. Not only that, but we’d had a far more positive response from the fans we met and made. Those who purchased our book early, did come back with positive things to say. If Kyle’s pitch to you was over zealous, I apologize. No doubt we’ll continue to make books, and hopefully one day we’ll be good enough to make your site.

    In terms of the show, C2E2 was easier to say than “Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo” … but yes, without “comics” in the name it makes it less than easy to discuss with someone. Being local meant me and my cohorts didn’t have the immense expense of the hotel as visitors did… But we’re guessing Reed’s choice for the show floor was to “keep it cool”. Whether that can be considered a success or not, depends on one’s choice for the night life I guess.

    In any event, it was a pleasure meeting you, and I’ll be sure to check out your blog from now on.

  10. Anthony Says:

    I forgot to state that as well: it was nice to finally meet you in person, Johanna!

  11. Johanna Says:

    Oh, yes, I should have remembered to say that — it was wonderful meeting and talking with everyone! Thank you all for reminding me of that. And Marc, I admire your attitude and dedication.




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