Great hay was made this weekend at the first ever Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo — or C2E2 as we cool nerds say. I wheedled a day for myself on Friday and took the boys for free on the kid-friendly Sunday session. This is the first time such a con was held at stately McCormick Place, which is most notable for having windows to let in sunlight directly to the hall. (Most of these little comix get-togethers involve windowless, cavernous convention halls, the better to soothe the collective pasty complexion of my fellow geeks.)
The hall was also incredibly spacious, which was a boon for ease of mobility — even if it siphoned a bit if the energy away from the typically elbow-to-elbow crowds of similar comic conventions.
In addition to sunlight, here is the best of what I saw at C2E2:
Muppets and Mebberson!
When I saw artist Amy Mebberson sketching at the Boom! Studios booth, I had a chance to gush at her about how much my daughter and I had enjoyed reading “Muppet Peter Pan” together. I must have laid it on pretty thick, because she felt compelled to gift this sketch to me in honor of my daughter. (She signed the art to her — right after the “Hi-Ho” there — though I protectively, obsessively ‘Shopped it out for this post.) I noticed then that she had been selling such sketches for $10 apiece and I immediately insisted I should pay her for it; this embarrassed her, and probably made me look rude for essentially declining her gift. Eventually, awkwardly, we settled on $5. I should have just accepted her offering — but then again, she’s a working artist and deserves to gain from her work, especially by a fan who has genuinely enjoyed her creations.
How to Cook your dragon
I’ve yeehawed about Katie Cook’s art here before, and this time I was coming to a convention prepared: Youngest Daughter likes her Princess Leia sketch Cook did for her in ’08, and had a special request for me when I asked “What do you want her to draw for you this time?” Her answer: Astrid from “How to Train Your Dragon.”( I love my little nerd girl!) And leave it to her to identify with the strong females in every movie she ever sees. Cook’s booth was packed 10 deep half the time, but eventually I got through and she made time to do this quick dragon-doodle.
Cursed Pirate Girl sails again
Speaking of subjects I seem to yammer on about, Cursed Pirate Girl is another comic I’ve crowed about more than once but you cannot blame me. No, I am blameless. This is just comics-making at its pinnacle of achievement: Books rendered lovingly, meticulously … and gradually …by an artist who’s motivated only to make it look good. Jeremy Bastian must meet no one’s timeline or editorial agenda other than his own. So, of course, I fanboyed all over him, saying everything just shy of “I’m your No. 1 fan …” If Bastian had a red button under his desk to alert security I did not see him press it. Still, it was great to give back some of the positive emotion I had uncorked for myself when reading his work.
Bastian was selling four different portfolios of CPG-themed work, each loose-leafed pages in hand-stamped sleeves of homemade paper. I chose this version (“Tedious Treats of Whimsy”) for the frame-ready print of the Girl above; just look at the rest of the juicy contents:
The Flash-built website for this pin-up artist is resistant to all my clever attempts to do a screengrab (probably because his works are too tempting to copy and run with), so I will insist that you visit it now. The images above are just a small sampling of this wonderful cheesecake-meets-camp-horror pastiche. Pin-up art may be a bit beneath your tastes, but every now and again a modern hipster finds a way to throw some ironic tweak into the old WW2-style nosecone design. I find it much more smart & funny than sexy; your mileage may vary. If you visit the Spookshow Pinup site, check out one called “Blinded Bye Science” featuring a beefy Frankenstein monster and a leggy Bride. If I didn’t have a non-ironic-tweak-appreciating wife, that’s the one I’d have blown up on my wall.
Archaia and DC Comics had plenty of goodies to share (Marvel, if you did, too, I didn’t seem ‘em). Between freebies like this and the upcoming Free Comic Book Day (May 1 — mark your calendar), there is no better way to get people roped into your product. DC had copies of capes-and-tights titles as well as younger fare such as the superfun Tiny Titans (below) — DC also masters the giveaway of cheap little hero-logo buttons. Those things always go in droves. Note to Archaia Studios: I love that you had scattered copies of the beautiful, beautiful “Mouse Guard – Winter: 1152″ around communal areas, but was confused why you chose to share issues 4 and 6 of the 6-issue series. The middle and final chapters don’t seem a natural onramp for new readers.
David Maliki won me over by offering me a cardstock handout and saying, “Want a free comic?” I took it from him, saying: “Who could say no to that?” “You’d be surprised,” he deadpanned. Ha. He had a spiffy display for his books of Wondermark strips, those found-art gems made famous in The Onion. He also had posters of his Internet-sensation Supernatural Collective Nouns comic, which is highly grin-worthy; as I’m not currently in a poster place in my life, I bought one his books instead.
Me Play Video Game
Marvel got big ups for its demo of the Iron Man 2 vidgame. Both boys gave it eleven stars, partly because this is as close as they will get to this movie for several years. Another big hit: Nintendo’s “Photo Dojo,” an upcoming DS game that allows you to snap pictures of yourself in classic fight poses, record your own battle cries (“I kick you!”) then inject them all into a silly martial combat game.
The net effect: We left the con with big goofy smiles of our own. If I had the ear of con organizer Reed Exhibitions, I’d say: Great start! It was a bit heavy on the used-comics retailers — so many booths with plain white longboxes full of old floppies! — and a little light on the other pop-culture ephemera that goes along with comics, especially games and gaming. (Neither Wizards of the Coast nor Wizkids had a significant presence there, which is always a nice complement to the four-color action going on in every other booth.) But on the whole, I hope this inaugural year was a success, and that I’ll be returning to the Sunny Confines again next year for more!