C2E2: My Wrapup

My last few comic shows have been arts festival-style, focused on artist appearances and their self-created comics, so it was a bit of a shock to attend a much bigger, much louder, more traditional “let’s look at stuff” comic convention in C2E2 2014. I think of these types of shows as similar to Disneyland — people attend to see the sights, whether it’s cosplayers, big booths, celebrities, or presentations of what publishers have coming next. (ICv2 felt similarly: “The nature of comic conventions is changing as they grow and the types of attendees broaden.”) I was only able to attend C2E2 Friday, due to a conflict with tickets for a comedy show, so my experience may be skewed for that reason as well.

C2E2 con hotel check-in
The con hotel staff had been outfitted with superhero t-shirts, and all the check-in desks had Marvel art (because DC didn’t get back to them in time). Clearly, the hotel was playing along with the experience.

My goals at a show these days are twofold: To catch up with friends, and to find reading material, most often from self-publishers, new to me. This show was not great on either count. To be fair, the first becomes harder as everyone gets older, since shows these days require a good investment of time and money, and with so much on the internet, it’s easier to stay home. (Less money spent, and no aching feet from hiking the huge show floor!) I don’t want to denigrate the folks I did love seeing and catching up with, because those conversations were terrific, but overall, there were fewer chances to do so than I hoped for.

The second, finding great new comics, was not promising, either, since so many of the artist alley participants were either 1) big-name creators who needed a place to sign items for fans or 2) aspiring creators selling prints and pinups, not comics. The first happened because few big publishers attended the show, so artists didn’t have those locations for signings. Marvel, Dark Horse, and Boom! were the standouts who did appear, and it was a pleasure to finally get a chance to meet DH’s Aub Driver, one of the nicest and most effective publicity people in comics.

Highlights of the show for me:

  • Finding out that Thom Zahler (Love and Capes) has written an episode of Ultimate Spider-Man that will be airing by the end of this year.
  • I got one of the promo eyeballs.
  • I enjoyed the two digital comic panels I attended, and I learned new ways to look at the medium.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see several book publishers at the show, including Penguin and Random House, although attendees seemed shocked that they were giving away free books!
  • A fabulous dinner with Brigid Alverson, Sean Kleefeld, Michael May, Anthony Del Col (Kill Shakespeare), and Beth Scorzato of Papercutz.
  • Celebrities: I met Israel Idonije and Molly Quinn (Castle, Supergirl)!
  • I bought nothing, so at least that saved me some money, which I spent on food. $25 for a con hot dog lunch for two! $36 for hotel breakfast for two! I can afford it, but when you’re wondering how well exhibitors are doing at the show, this much money going to meals is a contributing factor.

I’m not sure C2E2 can be considered a national-level show yet, and the overall feel was similar to a Wizard World. The difference is that WW gets older celebrities — Dean Cain, Adam West, those kinds of nostalgia names. Every time C2E2 sent out a “new guest announced!” email, I found myself wondering “who?” A lot of that was because I don’t watch The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, but the “entertainment guests” were generally younger and lesser-known.

So, looking back, although the change in what comic shows are about makes me melancholy, overall, if more customers are exposed to comics and buying them, that’s a good thing. (The shopping part, though, is the part I’m not sure about.) When comics was a small shop, shows were about catching up; now they’re spectacles. Changing times. I’d go back next year, although maybe just for a very long Saturday.

11 Responses to “C2E2: My Wrapup”

  1. Hal Shipman Says:

    We went on Sunday and that may be it for me and cons. Other than the John Barrowman panel a year or two ago, I’ve never been to a decent panel at C2E2 (though Sunday was not the best day for that by any measure).

    I had the same experience with Artist’s Alley. It’s always been a low ROI for me, but I’ve usually found at least one cool thing that was a surprise, making the whole thing worthwhile. This year, though, the tits, tits, tits focus was a bit much.

    Overall, the signal to noise ratio seemed to finally hit the tipping point. Shopping, I can get better deals on-line or in my LCS (Chicago Comics) [especially considering the cost of tickets and parking] and I can get any news the next day from the Net.

    We’ll probably stick to SD and NYC in the future, as there seems to be more to actually do at these bigger ones.

  2. Johanna Says:

    As there are more cons, talent gets spread out, so it’s less likely that there will be a large group of people you want to see. That drives customers to bigger shows, which have a greater proportion of interesting guests. So do we end up with just a few gargantuan events, then?

  3. James Schee Says:

    The cost of travel is just so expensive now. When I went to my last con nearly a decade ago, Baltimore, it cost around $1200 for plane and hotel adding in food. Now just pricing plane tickets to Heroes always costs nearly that much.

    Guest lists are so spread out too, and I dislike a really crowded area. Which makes me wonder if I’ll ever make a show again.

  4. James Schee Says:

    Super jealous you got to meet Molly Quinn though! Lol

  5. Johanna Says:

    That was in our hotel lobby, after many minutes of deliberating whether I should bother her. I’m glad I did, she was very gracious.

  6. Anthony Says:

    I went to C2E2 on Saturday, the busiest day. Living in Milwaukee made it cheap to attend vs. airfare, etc. at least, as well as just going on one day.

    I went to enjoy the atmosphere and guests/panels. Bought some artwork/souvenirs, but not as many comics as in the previous years (as someone above noted, I can get better deals online, plus my shift to digital).

    My one gripe this year were the restrooms, which left something to be desired (without going into detail).

    Got to meet (again) Thom Zahler and Yale Stewart!

  7. Johanna Says:

    I’m glad you had a good time! I too enjoyed meeting Yale, which I forgot to mention. (I went the opposite way, from Chicago to Milwaukee, after. You’re right, it’s not that far a trip.)

  8. James Schee Says:

    Is Love & Capes series over now? Haven’t heard anything on it in a long time, and apparently there isn’t a Free Comic Book Day issues this year from what I can tell.

    I loved the series, and while I can understand if the baby caps the series. But I hope not, as it is so fun! Which is an aspect highly lacking in the comics industry.

  9. Johanna Says:

    Yes, the Love & Capes series is done for now. When I spoke to Thom, he said he wasn’t calling a permanent halt, but he had some other things he wanted to do until he found the right next story.

  10. Torsten Adair Says:

    Always a pleasure when our paths cross! I had only one quest this show: lego minifigs in mystery bags, for a nephew. Found them the last day of the con. I go to network, and to discover. I didn’t find much in the back issue bins…perhaps my zen skills were off. But I did buy two new graphic novels, one I had not heard of.

    But yeah, I agree about the cost. Instead of going to San Diego, I stay home, surf the web, and then use the money I saved to buy the occasional exclusive on eBay. NYCC is local, so less cost there. But it’s getting unbearable…

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