This past weekend from April 6th – 9th was the 9th annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo better known as C2E2. If you’re like me, you probably thought the event had been around much longer because the name is ubiquitous in the con world. If you asked people to name as many conventions as they could, after San Diego and New York, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was the third one mentioned. This year’s event was once again held at McCormick Place, the largest convention center in the country, less than three miles from the heart of downtown Chicago and walking distance to Chinatown. This year had featured guests like Brian Michal Bendis, Mark Millar, Dave Bautista, Phil Lamarr and Alan Tudyk.
Getting to the convention center can be as easy or asdifficult as you want it to be. Parking nearby is limited which can make driving yourself frustrating. This year, ReedPOP the company that puts on C2E2, partnered with the app SpotHero to help their attendees find the perfect place to park. If you find yourself parking far away, it isn’t a big deal with the mass transit system in Chicago. There are multiple buses and trains that stop in front of or near the convention center. Chicago isn’t the warmest city in late March and early April so you may want to check the weather before deciding how far you are willing to walk.
One of the best things about C2E2 after its great guest list and panel selection was its layout. There is a very large security and registration area to help people get through the line and into the con as quickly as possible. The main exhibit hall was laid out better than any I have seen so far. There are food options near the entrance, at the center and rear of the hall, reducing congestion and wait times if you choose to eat while you’re there. The walkways are wide enough where people can stop and talk to a vendor or artist on either side of the aisle and there still be room for people to walk down the center. I am sure ReePOP could have taken in more vendors and artists to pack the place but I think this is the best of both worlds. They were still able to fill the place with hundreds of tables but the fans were able to move freely except during peak attendance on Saturday.
Not everything was perfect of course. In the future, I would like to see them expand on their anime and tabletop gaming areas. People who are primarily fans of either subject may have felt underserved. I know they had a tabletop gaming area but somehow I missed it while I was exploring. This is truly a comic con first, than film and tv, followed by all other areas of entertainment.
C2E2 goes all out to be an all ages event. The family area offered a great mix of alternative entertainment and floor space for kids to have a seat and take a break from they typical con activities. My favorite of the attractions in the family area was the Exotic Wildlife Sanctuary, where kids could learn about animals and even pet a baby kangaroo. In a close second was the nerd-themed circus. Balancing acts, aerial acts, and acrobats all in costume wowed the children with their near superhuman feats. One of my favorite sites was watching kids in the video game area getting to experience some of the games their parents grew up with, classics such as Duck Hunt and Goldeneye. Then there is the incredibly sweet story of a mother and daughter who have been attending the event every year. Each year they have an artist draw them two of them, in the artist’s signature style, charting the girl’s growth and the time the two spend together.
I haven’t been to San Diego or New York for their comic cons, but I hope to go someday but, right now, I’m back home after the 3-hour drive and having trouble seeing how anyone will top the best convention I have ever attended.