From the moment you enter McCormick Place, you can feel the buzz.
Hundreds of feet from the actual convention floor the energy of c2e2 pours over the halls, escalators and walkways leading up to the behemoth. From cosplayers to families with infants, the chatter and excitement is abundant as the c2e2 signage beckons you to continue your quest toward your final destination — the show floor.
The show floor this year seems to have been expanded as I don’t remember the aisles and walkways being as wide as they were in years past. This was a much needed upgrade, as last year’s convention seemed very cramped and overcrowded — on a Sunday. But not this year, this go-round the aisles were set up to promote flow with much larger walkways in between them to help create more breathing room for traffic. However, while some areas still felt too small, the overall feeling for me was a big thank you to whoever said “let’s open this bad boy up a bit.”
This expansion seemed to benefit Artist Alley the most. What once were rows of near-twenty creators was cut in half to about eight to ten. This helped keep people moving and allowing those who wanted out of the madness to step inside a larger walkway for a breather. Of course the bigger named creators had their crowds but it didn’t seem to impact the flow of onlookers who were just passing by. This is a benefit for con-goers as well as creators.
Attending any comic book convention on a Saturday means you will be faced with crowds upon crowds of fans and c2e2 was no different. While the masses of fans were plentiful, c2e2 seems to carry its own buzz due to sheer existence in the Windy City — Chicago. This convention has a massive presence; however, it’s hard to determine where this “presence” comes from. It seems to have grown its own allure simply by being in Chicago because essentially this convention is made up of merchants, small publishers and creators. Which is great for a smaller show, but this is c2e2 and the price of admission is far from cheap for an experience you can get elsewhere.
That’s not to say that c2e2 isn’t a great convention, it is. Its well put together and organized and it attracts a lot of big name creators and actors but in terms of comic book attachment… where are the big players?
The absence of Marvel, DC and Image was prominent when walking the floor. Yes, Marvel had an “area” but it was meant for creator signings when those creators weren’t signing at their own Artist Alley tables. When I walked by it was empty and bare of any type of activity. Again, this was on a Saturday afternoon.
A convention of this size needs those big guys to strut their stuff and help promote and empower the fandom. Â Imagine how cool it would be for one of the big 3 to make a giant announcement on the show floor and let word of mouth carry it through the con? That’s a buzz you can’t create in a panel or an online article. And it’s a buzz that this show is missing.
I’ve attended c2e2 every year since it opened in 2010, this was the first year I debated not going. Every year it gets larger in space but not in its grandiosity. For this to be a show that people travel across the country to attend they need to take it to the next level. They need a reason for fans to attend other than the “spectacle” of a big convention in Chicago.
Will you have a great time at c2e2? Well, like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. Chicago is a great city to explore and experience with friends if you’ve never visited. And the convention itself has a great atmosphere and is very similar to other comic book conventions; but at this point, c2e2 hasn’t created a “must attend” reason outside of the norm. Once it does, they will blow the lid off Chicago.
As a fan, I hope that day comes sometime soon.
Thoughts? Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @theprophetlen