C2E2 2012 was the best con experience I’ve had. Period. It was a perfect mix of comics and pop culture goodness, and good friends.
We’d originally planned to stay at the Omni because I have a bunch of free nights saved up from all the travel I do for work, but at the last minute (as in, the day before the con!) we decided to opt for convenience over saving a buck and were able to sneak into the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place. And it was the best decision we could’ve made. Being situated at the hotel attached to the convention center is brilliant, especially when travelling with a kid and when you’re bringing along some hardcovers for your favorite creators to sign. The ability to quickly run back to the room to drop off a weighty omnibus or have some quiet mid-day downtime is invaluable.
As I left Tracy and Jack at the car while I went to check in, Jack told me to get the highest floor I could so he would be able to see the city. At the front desk, I explained the kiddo’s request and he was rewarded when the clerk moved us from our 17th floor reservation to a room situated on the hotel's top-most floor: the 33rd. The city and lake views we were afforded were breathtaking: Lake Michigan, the museum campus, Soldier Field, the Chicago skyline lit up at night. Gorgeous!
I loved being on the con floor with Tracy and Jack, exploring vendor booths, discovering new artists and creators, bumping into friends and acquaintances we hadn’t seen in years and meeting up with folks we’ve only known online up to this point. The ReedPOP group does a great job putting on these shows (they’re the same folks responsible for our Star Wars Celebration V experience a couple years ago), and the venue was great. Nice wide aisles, big artists’ alley, and the one panel I attended was well organized and in a comfortable space.
Equally amazing were the after-hours: Dinner and drinks with good friends. My Chicago comics friends are the most genuine people. No pretention, just hanging out and catching up over good food, even better beer, enjoying great conversation and the love of comics that brought us together.
High-points abound, but most were intangibles. Things like sharing some beer with George, meeting and getting lost in a conversation about movies and music with Rich, running into Joe Quesada on the con floor and giving him a copy of Deus ex Comica and snapping a picture together, attending the wildly entertaining John Barrowman Q&A panel with Tracy (which was equally wildly inappropriate for Jack – thank goodness for iPad distractions), breakfast with Rick and Noelle and Alan, dinner with the Kramer’s and Seewald’s, seeing how excited Tracy was after meeting John Barrowman and telling us how she made him laugh, getting to spend some substantial time catching up with Zack, and hanging with Pat.
That’s not to say there weren’t some cool tangible takeaways from the con. I had Joe Quesada sign my “One More Day” issues and my badge, Jason Aaron signed my Ghost Rider omnibus, and Bill Sienkiewicz scribbled his signature on a couple of my original “Demon Bear Saga” issues of New Mutants. I was able to snag the last copy of Black Heart Billy that Rick Remender brought with him to the show, and pick up a couple of music-related comics (the Bandthology one-shot from my friends at King Bone Press, and the Pretentious Record Store Guy three-issue mini from Carlos Gabriel Ruiz). Zombies were ubiquitous (read: overexposed) at the show, but the only time I gave in was when Jack and I stumbled on illustrator Mike Roll’s table and couldn’t pass up Apooka (“The World’s Most Adorable Zombie”).
Luck put Mark Morales’ table next to Gabriel Hardman’s, and when I was talking with Gabriel about a commission, Jack was understandably transfixed by Mark’s work. When Jack asked Mark how much a sketch was, Mark told him it would be free for him. After some amusing negotiations between my 10-year-old and this amazing inker, they settled on a Punisher sketch. Ripped off in virtually no time at all, Jack was completely blown away by the piece and I was impressed with Mark’s generosity. I believe he knows he’s got a couple of fans for life with that gesture.
Plenty of people and events have been left off this list (Jon, Bobgar, Cam, Lawrence, the list goes on), but only because there were far too many cool people I was fortunate enough to hang with this weekend. (Not to mention all the people I missed. Yes, I mean you, Ryan.) I hope they all know how much I appreciate their friendship and camaraderie. Growing up, I had only one friend who shared my love of comics. Today, I’m fortunate to not only remain good friends with him, but to also have a wife and son and whole host of other friends who share in this remarkable geek culture.