Convention season 2011 has officially been kicked off in Chicago. Just like last year the C2E2 machine rolled into action well before the show, the convention updates were frequent and useful. It’s no comparison — C2E2 is the best run show in town. . .
There was as small amount of entertainment trading card buzz for C2E2 2011. 258 West Authentic, Sad Littles and Cryptozoic were all in attendance in some form, I can’t remember the last time we had three trading card manufacturers at a Chicago convention. Last year, on Sunday, the show floor was pretty sparsely attended so I wasn’t sure what to expect walking into the 2011 show. Adding further to the mystery of what to expect we opted for public transportation, which meant driving 20 minutes to an hour long train ride, walking 4 blocks to the other train station and hopping on the shuttle to C2E2. The shuttle was late, and by the time the bus had arrived the numbers in the crowd had eclipsed the number of seats on the bus. Thankfully Anna and I made it on — it was the first time we’ve taken public transportation from our new house. The shuttle driver explained that a lot of local streets were closed due to filming of The Dark Knight. . . good story, but who knows if it is true. Door to door it was about 2 energy zapping hours.
It was mildly annoying getting our tickets as we started looking in the wrong place, and had to ask several conventioneers where we should be going, but once that was resolved we burst through the gates into. . . chaos. Hoppin’, flashin’, jumpin’, energetic chaos. The show floor was a mob — it was difficult to walk down most of the aisles due to the crush of people, we found ourselves taking baby steps through the show most of the day. . . you simply couldn’t move any more quickly.
The show floor seemed slightly smaller than last year. . . or, perhaps more accurately it seemed more open last year. I think there was probably about the same amount of stuff, maybe it was all just a little closer together.
Stop number one was at the Sad Little’s table where I was able to catch up with Nathan Ohlendorf, Jason Keith Phillips, and even met Nate’s wife. The Sad Little’s table was hoppin’ every time I stopped by. I really like the products they have been putting out and I’m very excited about their switch to sketch packs with their upcoming Vampress Luxura set. As you may know Sadlittles.com is done after Femforce, and Nathan’s group is now The Sketch Card Studio. Their new website was just relaunched (I mean, just — Friday — the interviews/blog are still there, but lots has been added), so check it out: thesketchcardstudio.com. Nathan was giving out Dynamo 5 promos, and had quite a bit of Sad Littles product for sale.
Jason Keith Phillips was constantly pen to paper cranking out great work on sketches (his Luxura cards are sweet!), commissions and everything else. I picked up at couple of his Star Wars APs, and checked out a bunch of his art. In addition to being a skilled artist Jason is a very nice guy. You can contact him through his site.
Ed Webb’s Scifi Cards table was up next. Like always Ed had a great spread of cards, and a constant flow of people. His table was on the end in one of the few place you could actually walk. It is always good chatting with Ed (yes, he’ll have another article on webjon soon!) Ed confirmed something interesting about this show. . . most of the folks stopping by his table weren’t regular card people, which means two things. First, not a lot of regular card people showed up, which is sad, and second this show is reaching a lot mainstream fans who aren’t collectors, which is incredible! In fact two of my wife’s sorority sisters randomly said they were thinking about coming to this show after having never been to anything similar. One of them actually showed up! This was definitely a mixed convention crowd. . . the mainstreaming of Comic Con to every imaginable news medium definitely seems to be washing the stigma away from comic cons! My wife’s friends actually are envious that she’s been to all these conventions now. . . two years ago they wouldn’t have been so enthusiastic — in fact they may have felt sorry for her.
Marco had 258 West Authentic set up next to SciFi cards. Between their autograph sets, and celebrity signings they seemed to be doing a brisk business all day. In fact Marco was so busy I didn’t even get a chance to talk to him! Unfortunately the Middleman celebs didn’t seem to be a huge draw, but the True Blood gang had steady traffic. I picked up a bunch of Marco’s cards, including the Glee and True Blood sets. Great cards as always!
The last manufacturer on my list was Cryptozoic, who just announced a slew of new set announcements, unfortunately they were only set up with their gaming product at C2E2, and didn’t have any information about their entertainment card releases at this show. It seems odd to me that they would make all of their trading card announcements at a gaming card convention, especially when they were set up at a major comic convention on the same weekend. I hope these guys know the difference between gaming an entertainment cards!
Sadly that brings us to the end of the trading card journey at C2E2. We did make return visits to these locations and didn’t have any trouble spending the show budget. . . there were a lot of trading card artists in artists alley, and while we did stop and say hi to a few folks the crowd made it tough to spend too much time in any one place. We walked the exhibitor section as well, which was decent, but not the focus of our trip.
The return journey matched the start of the day — two hours on public transportation capped off an excellent day at the convention. C2E2 has made huge strides since it’s first show in 2010, while I’m sure the show will evolve even further in the coming years, it certainly seems to have found an audience.
By the way — I hope you all enjoyed the live photoblogging from C2E2, the photos and captions were all done by Anna. It’s a surprisingly time consuming process, and I couldn’t have done it without her!