The hype for Reed Exhibition’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo started early, it started promising, then it promptly fell flat. A website was erected months and months before the show promising Chicago the ‘show we deserved’ — whatever that means. . . sadly the updates to the site were slow, and sporadic with certain key things like autograph signer lists not being posted until days before the con. Buzz on trading card forums was practically non-existent, and even after the show few have posted reviews, or comments about it. . .
From a press standpoint this show was one of the most impressive I’ve attended. I applied for a press badge early and received lots of pre-show information from manufacturers and other companies attending the show letting me know what they had planned for the con. Their press releases were intriguing, but the lack of collector interest in the show was hampering my desire to go. I initially planned on making the trek on Saturday, but I had another obligation come up on Saturday. I really wanted to go on Friday, but couldn’t get off from work. . . and secretly dreaded Friday traffic from the suburbs into the city. I finally did make it on Sunday, but it was a last second decision to go, and as I loaded my stuff into the car I had reservations . . .
The show was in the city, which meant traffic was going to suck and parking was going to be outrageous. . . plus there was no buzz at all. Surprisingly the traffic on Sunday morning was very light. . . until I got into the circle. . . Reed seemed to tout holding the convention at McCormick Place as a huge bonus for the show, and I’m sure it was — if you lived in the city, but even from the suburbs, on Sunday morning the drive in was nearly enough to make me turn around and head for home. Door to door took a bit under 2 hours — we did stop for Starbucks on the way, so without that stop we would have been at about 90 stressful minutes of driving. We had no trouble finding parking in McCormick Place’s $19 lot (I won’t complain about the $11-13 lot at Rosemont anymore, I promise!). Anna’s ticket into the show for Sunday was $30, so between parking and admission we had already spent nearly $50.
Our first experience with the show was with the staff showing us where to go for badges and such, they were all nice, friendly and courteous. . . something I’ve never found at a Wizard Convention where the help treats attendees like convicts in a prison camp. The convention center was nice, open, almost airy, the floors were carpeted . . . it really made Rosemont look like a bit of a dump, but honestly who goes to a comic convention for the ambiance of the hall?
The dealer/artist and exhibitor sections were ample, and there was definitely a different variety of exhibitors and dealers than you get at a Wizard’s Chicago Comic Con, so that was nice. The downside was that it all felt very comic-book centric, which is the purpose of a comic show, after all. . . but there was only one card dealer at the show, and I only found one other dealer with a few cards. My sole purchase was a box of Monty Python and the Holy Grail widevision cards — a steal at $7, but I left the show with a wad of cash I brought specifically to buy cards with. Kevin from K&J was the only non-sport card at the show, and when I walked by he seemed to be doing a brisk business — or people were standing 2-3 deep in his booth gawking. This certainly was a missed opportunity for some card dealers.
We started cruising the cavernous convention floor shortly after the show opened, and it was rather empty. . . but by 1:30 there was a very good crowd. . . at some points it was hard to walk around. I was impressed by the number of attendees on a Sunday.
Initially it felt like the C2E2 was meant to compete with San Diego Comic Con. . . a comparison never works out well for the challenger, and this show was no exception. The celebrity aspect of this show was mind-blowingly weak, the two biggest celebs I saw when walking around were Peter Mayhew and Lance Briggs. . . Briggs drew a big crowd, Mayhew was just chilling and didn’t even have a line for his autograph. The coolest celebrity aspect of this convention was the Iron Man prop auction. They had a pile of exceptionally cool props from the first Iron Man movie, including the head and torso of Iron Monger. We sat in the live auction for a bit and watched a bidder in the room buy the Monger torso for $17,000. We seriously considered sticking around to buy something cheap, but the auction was moving pretty slow so we got on the road and headed home. . .
So the bottom line — how was the show? It depends on how you rank it. . . if you rank it by the money that I intended to spend, but couldn’t it was a horrible show — and for me it was fun, but it wasn’t a great show. . . If you were a comic collector I think you would have been in paradise, there were a ton of comic-related guests, exhibitors and dealers — many of whom I’ve never seen set up in Chicago. The artists alley was really similar to the ones they have at the Chicago Comic Con. The celebrity aspect was weak, but the Iron Man stuff was very cool. Attendance seemed good and the show staff was excellent. I’d go again, especially if they moved the location to somewhere easier to get to. Hopefully next time they can bring in more artists who don’t tend to do shows in the mid-west, non-sport card dealers (preferably those that don’t typically set up in the mid-west) and celebrities.
Let’s not forget this was the first Chicago show for this promoter. . . with that in mind this was a very good show. Hopefully it sets the tone for more great shows in 2010!
More pictures are available here.