by Amy Chu
Friday Day 1 A Good Start
11:50 am Avoiding the craziness at O’Hare airport by arriving at Chicago’s much smaller Midway. No delay – off to a good start. Instead of plunking down $40+ for a taxi, I opt for public transportation to downtown Chicago for a mere $2.25.
1 pm My hotel on Michigan Avenue is just a few blocks from the subway station so I check-in. The show has already been open for three hours so I’m trying to hurry. The view of Lake Michigan and the Hancock Center only increases my excitement. Chicago has great eats, way more than just deep dish pizza. I throw down my bag and head out.
1:15 pm Hold on- there’s a Lego store right outside my hotel! I’ll duck in for just a minute….
2 pm Oops, behind schedule now, but I have a nice selection of bricks to play while sitting in Artist Alley. I stop at the Asian fast food outpost Wow Bao and order a combo to go. The filling and delicious teriyaki chicken bun, Thai peanut noodles and coconut custard dessert bun only sets me back $6. I eat my lunch while walking down the Magnificent Mile to the Graham Crackers store. I planned to check out the store while waiting for the free convention shuttle, but the bus was already there. Browsing will have to wait. I boarded with a group of young and excited cosplayers.
3 pm Arrived at the gigantic McCormick Place convention center. I’ve attended three out of the four years C2E2 has been in existence and it’s really grown in leaps and bounds. A junior version of New York Comic Con (by the same organizer ReedExpo), it lacks the flashiness of San Diego and the charm of Heroes Con, but like the city of Chicago, it’s great, big and solid with something for everyone. The increased security since the horrific Boston events which cancelled Boston Comic Con is immediately noticeable, with extra signage, bag checks and bomb sniffing dogs.
Artist Brian Shearer, currently working on IDW’s Transformers series, has been manning the table now since opening. I feel a little guilty and quickly set up my small offering of comics. Five minutes later a father looking for reading material for his daughter strolls up. First sale of the day made.
5 pm Excitement turns to boredom. Being a writer in Artist Alley is quite different from an artist who can make much more selling sketches and commissions. I build a Lego house for my Deadpool minifigure. Time to take a walk and get coffee. I run into another writer James Tynion IV, and after a few false turns we find the Starbucks. The line is huge and slow, which gives us plenty of time to talk about his new horror webcomic The Eighth Seal on Thrillbent, along with his other titles at DC – Talon, Red Hood and his backup duties on Batman. Finally at the front I balk at paying $5 for a tall frappucino, and end up shelling out just a little less for a latte. We walk the floor a bit, and run into Christy Blanch at the Marvel booth. Blanch, who teaches at Ball State University, has been making waves with her incredibly popular free online course “Gender Through Comic Books.”
7 pm Before we know it, the floor closes for the day. Fans, retailers, artists and pros spill out into the adjacent hotel and quickly fill up the hotel bar and all its nooks and crannies. I grab a quick beer with Brian and Marvel artist Craig Yeung (X-Men Legacy) before leaving them to join the lengthy taxi line outside the hotel. My next destination is Stephanie Izard’s new restaurant, the Little Goat Diner, for the annual C2E2 dinner. Marvel’s senior honchos C.B. Cebulski and Tom Brevoort are already in line, and we are soon joined by artist Jill Thompson and her husband, writer Brian Azzarello.
8 :10 pm The demand for taxis means we’re a little late getting to the Little Goat. I have been to four of these Reed Expo organized dinners and my expectations are pretty high. We walk up the stairs to a beautiful private dining and cooking classroom. A dozen people were already enjoying drinks and conversation, including Boom! VP and former Top Cow publisher Filip Sablik, and actors Mira Furlan (Lost, Babylon 5) and Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5, Tron). We sit down to a six course super hero themed meal with wine. Izard, a comic fan, is in the kitchen herself busily preparing dishes. Each course was designed after a comic book character and we were to try to guess which one. Furlan, who most people recognize as Danielle Rousseau from Lost (but who will always be the Minbari Ambassador Delenn to me), and Boxleitner proved to be amiable dinner companions. The dinner was just as good if not better than last year’s at the Girl and the Goat across the street. Full from too much delicious roasted goat leg, and drunk on multiple and varied beverage offerings, we admired the moon from the rooftop deck before heading back to Hyatt bar to rejoin the con crowd.
Amy Chu is the writer of Girls Night Out and The VIP Room, and publisher of Alpha Girl Comics. Follow her on twitter @amychu.