C2E2 had an entirely different vibe for me in 2013, there was more entertainment that seemed geared directly towards me — it started with Kevin Smith — how awesome is a Kevin Smith Q and A? Then Comedy Mutant with Brian Posehn . . . Walking Dead guests. . . Game of Thrones guests, and for the first time for me the dealer area wasn’t the main attraction at a show.
Certainly I was watching the dealer list, I was really bummed to see the lack of cards at the show until Junior’s and 258 West Authentic Signatures were added late in the game. I spoke with Henry and Marco quite a bit at the convention and both seemed satisfied with how they were doing. That’s a huge improvement for Marco compared to his last C2E2, but it seemed like a step down for Henry. . . in fact both Henry and Marco seemed to be selling more of everything else at their booths than cards. There were cards scattered at other booths at the convention, but it was so crowded on Saturday that I barely even looked at booths I didn’t have pre-planned — I just didn’t have time for it. Simply walking the aisles without looking at anything was very time consuming.
We spent little time in the signing area as it wasn’t our area of interest, but there were huge lines with the big name celebs, they seemed to be doing very well. There seemed to be more people in line for the big name autographs than I’ve seen before. The lesser known celebrities seemed to be doing as well as they have at other shows I’ve been to.
Artist alley wasn’t experiencing the crush of people the dealer area was, it was steady, even busy but still walkable. We looked through several artist’s booths and had an original sketch done by Katie Cook as well as a cat from Steve Gadlin — the I Want to Draw a Cat for you guy from Shark Tank. Both were super personable and great to hang out with for a few minutes. We also chatted up Jason Keith Phillips about his Dredlok comic that he’s trying to launch through Kickstarter — he’s only about $150 away from his goal, so get out there and pledge by Saturday! Other than that there weren’t a ton of artists I was familiar with. We paged through some stacks of original art, but didn’t find anything we had to have.
Next we wandered through the front area of the show, which was sort of a mix of dealers, press and exhibitors. The Blacksparrow Auctions booth was a highlight here, seeing the Hunger Games costumes was very, very cool. The vintage toy display was also amazing. I really enjoy that they have these displays and auctions at C2E2 and hope to see them continue.
Hungry, we headed to McCormick Place food court, which provides about the best variety of food I’ve seen offered at a con. It’s not cheap, but there are lots of options and we didn’t even have too hard of a time finding a place to sit. As we’ve discovered over the years, eating real food and taking a short break from a convention greatly enhances the experience.
It was a late lunch so time was short before Comedy Mutant started. We headed back to Juniors and to 258 West Authentic Signatures for some shopping. Henry always has a fantastic selection, I picked up some individual sketch cards as well as some boxes of Game of Thrones and Red Sonja. Marco had a nice spread of 258 West Authentic cards sprinkled amongst his signed photos. The photos are doing very well for him, while the cards have been a bit slower sellers as they are headed to a smaller audience. I urged Marco to continue producing cards, and start with getting a Matt Smith — you know, The Doctor from Dr. Who — to sign cards. If you are interested in Matt Smith signed cards let Marco know. . . if we all ask nicely maybe there is a chance it could happen! I picked up Marco’s latest a Tom Hiddleston auto for $40 — that’s what 90% less than Hiddleston’s Thor autograph? I was going to pick up some Supernatural gift boxes that Marco brought. He didn’t think he’d sell any, but by the time I made it back to his booth he only had one left. . . and someone bought that before I had a chance to claim it! I didn’t fret though and bought a Vampire Diaries triple autograph card for $75. . . what a bargain!
About 30 pounds heavier and late for Comedy Mutant we took off for the IGN theater and walked in right on time. . . It was about 10 minutes before show time and as we walked in the crew opened up empty ‘reserved’ seating for anyone in the room. We were in the right place at the right time and wound up about 8 rows back from the center of the stage! I don’t know that I have ever seen comedy included so extensively at a comic convention, but as a big comedy fan I thought it was fantastic, especially when a show like Comedy Mutant was included in your admission! The comics definitely had a geek vibe throwing out several references that I didn’t even get. As Posehn wrapped up his hilarious set I started planning how to get good seats for Kevin Smith. . . I knew it was going to be crowded.
As people poured from the Comedy Mutant show I asked the crew what the plan was for Smith and discovered they’d start lining up for Smith’s show immediately after Comedy Mutant — an hour and a half before Smith went on. We decided to make a break for food since it was already 6 PM and Smith’s show would probably go until 10, unfortunately the food court was closed so we made a mad dash for the pizza stand and picked up some last minute provisions. We headed back and found we still had relatively decent spots in line. About an hour later they started letting people in to the IGN theater again. We found seats we were really happy with, on the side, but on the aisle so there was no one sitting directly in front of us. We were only about 10 rows back from the stage and were really excited. About 15 minutes after Smith was supposed to go on some folks from C2E2 came on stage and told the audience they wanted to make a quick promo video before the show — they admitted they were holding us hostage, which wouldn’t have been so bad if things weren’t already behind schedule. The video promo thing was actually relatively quick. . . they announced Smith who came to the stage for his Q and A.
Kevin did a quick intro and it was awesome, we had great seats and were really enjoying the show. . . until he pointed out the microphones and asked people to come up to them to ask questions — after all it was a Q and A. At that point there was a stampede of people rushing to the mic to get their 30 seconds to ask Smith a question. If you’ve ever seen the director’s Q and A in person or on DVD you know that once a question is asked Smith tells tales somewhat related to the question for 20-30 minutes, so probably 4-6 people would actually get to ask questions at this Q and A. Unfortunately that didn’t stop about 40 people from lining up, and standing directly in front of us and about 400 other people for the entire 2 hour show. While Smith was funny and enthusiastic as always after a short time my neck was sore from trying to look up over the people in front of me to see the screen or bobbing around them as they shifted back and forth in front of me for two hours. I looked for some staff to ask if they could have these people either sit down, line up against the wall or limit the number of people standing to ask a question to like 2-3 (all things that I’ve seen done at other Q and As), but the crew all seemed to vanish as soon as Smith hit the stage. If the Q and A was free I probably wouldn’t complain much, but after spending nearly $50 on tickets and spending over an hour in line and doing a promo video for C2E2 I was pretty ticked, and what should have been the highlight of the show for me was ruined, and it certainly didn’t need to be. In fact there were over 100 empty ‘reserved’ seats right near the front of the stage that never filled in for the show — they could have had the people standing in front of us sit there and it would have been a better experience for everyone. While we did enjoy Smith, trying to watch over the people in front of us was uncomfortable enough that we would have left the show or moved to different seats if it wouldn’t have caused a scene.
It is unfortunate that the show ended on a down note for us. The rest of the show was very well run and a blast, we are certainly looking forward to C2E2 2014, and are even thinking of how we’d do things different next year. . . I think that attending on Friday is a must to avoid crowds and give the dealer area the time it deserves, I also plan to be on top of any tickets that I want to buy in hopes that I can get into the top tier of tickets and not have to worry about issues we had this year. I also plan to plan better, I thought I had a good idea of what I wanted to do during the show, but realized at the show that I had forgotten some things. Thankfully I was able to download the C2E2 mobile app and look things up — like Junior’s booth number. Maybe, just maybe we’ll stay at the convention hotel next year. . . it would be nice to have a place to drop your bags, crack a few packs and relax a bit between events.
That you C2E2 — see ya next year!
PS — thank you for all the comments on the photoblogging! Anna really appreciates all the kudos and comments. Sorry the blogging didn’t have an ‘end,’ her batteries finally died during Smith’s Q and A — I think about the time he was saving Shecky from the owl.