First, forgive me my errors and omissions: I’m a comics scholar, not a comics journalist, so this is not a standard con accounting. I got to spend about ten hours ensconced at C2E2, held in the behemoth but civilized-enough-to-have-a-salad-bar McCormick Place West building. Despite recently debunking the 1950’s anti-comics movement’s figurehead Fredric Wertham, I’m not enough of a nerdlebrity to score any exclusive invites.
Second, the basics. DC, Image, and IDW didn’t have exhibits, though I didn’t really miss them because the floor was packed with outstanding publishers like Archaia and vendors including Comixology. Artists’ Alley was filled with plenty of fan favorites like Tony Moore, Skottie Young, Art Balthazar, Jill Thompson, Rob Guillory, and John Layman. The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and Batman universes seemed to inspire much of the cosplay. I did spot someone dressed as BioShock’s Big Daddy, which was pretty cool, but the Halo dude doing Psy’s “Gangnam Style” moves was epic. Buffy/Dr. Horrible/Supernatural’s Felicia Day had longs lines for autographs. Former Chicago Bears footballer Israel Idonije brought out a crowd too when he launched his new comic book The Protectors.
And what does a comics scholar do at a con? This one hung out and chatted with folks. I gave a talk along with Josh Elder and Reading with Pictures about making comics work with the new US Common Core academic standards for K12 schools. I had ten seconds to meet Christy Blanch in person; you may have heard about the MOOC she’s doing on gender and comics. I stopped by the booths for the American Library Association (my people) and Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to say ‘hello’ and bond about fighting-the-good-fight against comics censorship. I joined in a “breakfast of champions” with some fine women, many of whom write for comics publications that aren’t BleedingCool. I checked out some terrific small publishers and independent artists like Yeti Press (RJ Casey and Eric Roesner), Matt Miner, Geoff Wessel, and Amy Chu. I had dinner with Vasilis Pozios, one of the psychiatrists behind Broadcast Thought, and a great conversation with comics writer Andy Diggle about kids, comics, and literacy.
So, thanks, Chicago and C2E2. See you next year.
Carol Tilley is an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois. If you’re interested, you can keep up with her comics research via her webpage (http://www.caroltilley.net) or Twitter (@CarolGSLIS).