Over the weekend, I attended the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2). Although the amount of star-studded celebrities was fewer in numbers than previous years, attendance, nevertheless, rose higher than it had before. Boasting entertainment guests like Kevin Smith (director of Clerks), the cast of Batman, Felicia Day (The Guild) and more, this year felt more comic-oriented- especially with the huge presence of Marvel.
Of the two biggest stars in attendance, Kevin Smith only came on Saturday for his “An Evening with Kevin Smith” show, and Adam West cancelled last-minute after catching a bug. Despite this, lines were still packed. Saturday, being the busiest day, especially was packed when comic book painter Alex Ross arrived. Other notable guests included Peter Davison (Doctor Who), Jason David Frank (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers), Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille, King of Queens), the cast of Pirates of the Caribbean, Ron Perlman (Hellboy), and more.
The Marvel booth was the biggest draw for attendees, with a huge stage set up for photos, dance-offs, giveaways, and contests as they kicked off Phase II of their Cinematic Universe with the promotion and marketing of the highly-anticipated Iron Man 3. You couldn’t go anywhere without hearing cheers coming from the Marvel booth, dominating the entire entrance of the showfloor. Throughout the three days of the convention, artists and writers from Marvel Comics dropped in every hour or so to do some autographing. Names like Brian Azzarello, Kieron Gillen, J. Michael Straczynski, Tony Daniel, etc. made an appearance.
Surprisingly, DC Comics occupied little-to-no space at the Expo when compared to last year, where they had a huge booth set up, and guests like Geoff Johns coming in to autograph for fans. Instead, Dark Horse Comics powered up for the event. Fresh off the Star Wars/Disney deal, which relinquished all rights to Star Wars merchandising (including the comics, usually published by Dark Horse), they hoped to diversify and build up new brands, as well as existing ones. Emphasizing titles like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, they drew in a big crowd of fans.
Out in Artist Alley, comic book artists were busy with commission requests from attendees. Acclaimed artist Skottie Young signed every single comic, print, and lithos handed to him, free of charge, all while busy with drawings. Disney favorites James Silvani (Darkwing Duck) and Amy Mebberson (Pocket Princesses) came back to Chicago once again after touring the west coast, from Disneyland to WonderCon to Emerald City Comic Con. Even senior Pixar story artist Jeff Pidgeon (also the voice of the Little Green Men) was in on the action, selling his widely popular Happy Beaver toys through his company Pidgeon Toys, all while downplaying his Pixar fame.
If there ever was a true comic book convention, C2E2 would be it. By combining the entertainment and comic industries, and making them interchangeable, everyone was able to share their love of superheroes, movies, and superhero movies. With comics, toys, art, games, costumes, and more, C2E2 is sure to get bigger and better as time goes by.