C2E2 2018 (Chicago)
Back from the dead like Jason! What's up gang! So, I just ran the 3 day marathon that is C2E2 here in Chicago where I be livin. For the past 5 years I have partnered with Reed Pop (I sponsor them on my social media for AC Custom Figures, and they put me on their Partner page and provide me with weekend passes).
It's a great exchange that I look froward to every year! I had a blast this year, I met Svengoolie, yo! But it was unique for me because Friday was very frustrating, which usually doesn't happen, but I'll get into that later. On with the show!
PRESALE/EARLY ENTRY: Yes! You can buy your tickets almost 2 months in advance, which I would suggest as it's extremely affordable and nearly double at the door day of. A 3-day weekend pass is just $75, and I think individual days were $30. However, as I mentioned, day of/at the door passes are more.
My brother paid $45 for his fiance on Sunday, and that is the short day (10-5). Oh, and I bypassed security and the line of hundreds of people all 3 days by just looking like I was supposed to be where I was. #earlyentry
HOW MANY RETAILERS: TONS! McCormack Place here in Chicago is THE convention center for our city of 7 million people. This was the biggest C2E2 to date of the 9 years it's been going, and the Con itself is housed in just one massive airplane hanger/warehousey kind of room.
I would say about 3 football fields laying side by side. One football field is for retail, one for artist alley, and one for gaming and celebrity signings. Not to mention all of the dozens of rooms where they hold the panels, each seating 2-300 people. Those rooms are separate from the Con floor. So the short answer is the retail is adequate. I'd say well over 100 different retailer booths, 70% comics, 20% toys, 10% misc.
I read an interview with some Reed Pop suit just a couple days before the Con and he was talking about how 2018 will be the biggest so far based on pre-sale #s, and that by 2022ish they want it to eclipse NYCC (also Reed Pop), and that they are pushing for C2E2 to be more comic driven rather than celebrity. I like that.
FLOOR LAYOUT: A grid. Very easy, every booth numbered. The free program was all mapped out. This was the first year since the first year that Marvel, DC, and Image were all represented with massive booths. Along with Valiant, Boom, IDW, Aftershock, Lion's Forge, and others all located at the main entrance in a very spacious layout. Food and bathrooms in the center, sides, and below, with a petting zoo at the back (WTF).
MOST RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED BOOK: No one's going to give a shiz about this but it's the truth: everyone knows I'm the Valiant fan on CBSI. None of the retailers there have Valiant books. If I find any it's usually 90s stuff in the dollar boxes. However, this year I found a guy that had all the keys, and tons of cool variants in one box.
But they were WAY over priced. I scoffed and walked on. I have no idea where he got his prices from. They were near double. Ok, I'll throw you a bone. All of the Red Goblin stuff was way over priced as well. As to be expected. I'd say about 10-20% over eBay. Especially #795 regular cover.
HIGHEST PRICED BOOK: There was a booth that was selling it's grading service for video games. The most ridiculous thing I've seen. But to showcase their service some collector had lent some amazing books to these Patrick Bateman looking D-bags that knew zero about comics, in order to bring people in.
So in their locked glass case they had ungraded copies of Amazing Fantasy 15 for I think $95,000, Detective 38 for $60,000, and Captain America Comics #1 for $120,000. Really cool to see them.
BEST BARGAIN PURCHASE: I found a lot of great stuff, and you can see my entire haul below. For comics, I had my list and mostly stuck to it. I raided the $1-2 bins and pulled out a stack of Cap #34 (first Bucky as Cap because I'm convinced Evans is done and Stan is taking over), and I pulled a Cap 6 (first Winter Soldier) out of the $2 bin as well.
I almost never buy high dollar books at Cons, especially newer ones, but since Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw commissioned me to make 2 more Cosmic Ghost Rider figures I thought I would haggle with this dude over his Thanos 13. Beautiful copy, and I talked him down from his $55 price tag to $40. Why not? But even better than that was the Superboy #195 I found (1973 first Wildfire from Legion). I'm not a Legion fan, but Wildfire was my first favorite superhero when I was a kid.
I have no idea how/where/or why I saw him, but I love his look! $25, and once I get it pressed I'm guessing it will grade a 9.4 or higher! Aside from these two books, everything I found was either free (Valiant) or $1-2 dollar bins.
FAVORITE PURCHASE: It's a 3 way tie. Sorry. I am a HUGE vintage toy fan. Mostly 80's stuff (IG: mom_gave_them_away). I finally replaced my childhood 1978 MEGO Buck Rogers Twiki. He's about 2″ tall and usually sells for $45 in the condition I found him in. I got him for $20. Then there is my 1978 Mattel Battlestar Galactica Colonial Viper, complete with pilot AND rocket firing missile! This was the toy that started ALL of the toy safety hazard warnings and recalls in the late 70's and 80's because some dumbass kid choked on one of the missiles.
After that the adults outlawed fun. So to find the missile firing version WITH the missile and pilot in nice condition is hard. The missile itself sells for $15 and the pilot about $20. A complete ship is around $80 in the condition I got it in. I paid $35. And last was not vintage, but as an action figure customizer I like to find new customizers and support their work. I was hoping to spend some money at Super 7, but sadly, they weren't there this year. But I did find some guys I had been watching on Instagram and got hooked on their stuff.
Warlords of War is a 3″ He-Man homage, and Kabuto Mushi is a 4″ insectoid looking line. Both are modular and can exchange parts. Amazing quality stuff, and really unique. If you like modular, translucent sci-fi mini figures go find them on IG!
FAVORITE COMIC PURCHASE: Superboy #195. See BEST BARGAIN ABOVE.
RAREST BOOK: By far Captain America Comics #1. Never seen one in person.
MOST SURPRISE HIGH PRICED BOOK: I have to say Amazing Spiderman #795. No matter how many copies you invested in thinking it was the first Red Goblin, it just simply isn't. And I have no horse in that game. My buddy I was with on Saturday wanted a first print copy just to complete his run and no one had it less than $20.
I told him to buy a second or third print to read and wait on the first. It will drop. These retailers were just sad cliches asking $25-35 for it, and I watched and talked to them throughout the weekend; they weren't selling. Yet no one wanted to be the one to drop their price and sell.
ANY ARTISTS: F YES! C2E2's Artist Alley is infamous. It might be the largest comic book artist alley of any Con. Hundreds, and more than half were names. Being from Chicago I am acquaintances with Tim Seeley (he's actually a fan of my figs), Mike Norton, and Ben Templesmith.
Eric Powell and David Mack recognize my brother and I, and are always good for a conversation. Chris Burnham is a buddy of mine that dropped and rolled on the sweaty Con floor a bit when he found out my brother was engaged. I'd say 98% of the creators there are solid, appreciative, nice folks. You can chat them up and they chat back, and dig it.
This year DC and Marvel brought their big guns. Jim Lee was there for just half of Friday because he was having a kid. Then there was Bendis, Mark Millar, Chris Claremont, Tom King, Jock, and a bunch of other A-listers, tons of indi players, and most of Image's and Aftershock's crew.
HOW TO MAKE THE SHOW BETTER: Here is my frustrating Friday. It started that morning with a couple things that had nothing to do with the Con, so I won't go into it. The main kicker was the my CGC experience. CGC always does a “walk through” service where you can drop your books on Friday or Saturday and pick them up Sunday.
I save up all year and bring books to get graded. I also find they are more lenient on grading with the walk through service. The line was 30 people deep all day, so I kept checking back, and when I saw that it was 20ish I got in line. I was in line for over an hour. Felt like my good knee was going to explode. I finally get up to the counter and the girl tells me they aren't doing walk throughs today (Friday), and that I had to get back in line on Saturday.
I calmly asked here where the sign was that said that so that folks aren't standing in line over an hour for nothing. She turned bright red and said there isn't one. I asked her if I missed the announcement to the folks in line. She said there wasn't one, followed by an “oh, shit” mumbled under her breath and immediately came around the counter and addressed the people in line that had also been waiting over an hour.
I stood there with my head in my hands for a minute and then wandered aimlessly for 10 minutes until I found the churro stand. All she had to do was take our books with the little slip info, put them in a box marked “SATURDAY”, and have them graded on Saturday for a Sunday pickup. Asinine.
Not really the Con's fault, but they do provide line proctors for everything else. Something should have been done. I didn't get any books graded.
SELLING COMICS: I never sell at Cons. No reason I shouldn't get the same price a retailer gets in this day and age. On the other hand, if I were a retailer with a booth at the Con I would be the guy actually selling my books and not acting like I have the cure for chicken pocks.
I would be selling my AmSpm 795's for $15 a pop and reinvesting the money in something that wasn't a pan flash trend. I would have all my books in NEW bags and boards, and I would absolutely know what was in my dollar bins.
SWINDLING: I didn't see any. But there was a Con goer stealing books and reselling them to other dealers. One of my buddies snapped his picture and he split. Security was hunting him the whole weekend.
HOW MUCH OF THE CON WAS COMICS: I'd say all of it was inspired in some way by comics. Literally however, about 70% or more, and growing.
COSPLAY: Tons of Cosplay. TONS. I'd say 30% of the people there are dressed as something. I got some pics of some good ones, but hands down the best was the life size Falcor from The Never Ending Story. It had at least 4 people in it!
HOW PUMPED WAS THE CROWD: I didn't encounter a single negative or rude person. Everyone I engaged was worth my time, kind and courteous. Everyone seemed excited about something, and the Marvel booth, or platform, is all about hype and insanity. I think at the end they were reenacting the Lion King scene with someone dressed as Black Panther auctioning off a real baby.
HAGGLEABILITY: Strong. I did not pay asking price on a single thing, and I bought a lot of stuff that ran the gamete from toys to shirts to comics. I'm never rude, but I always haggle even if the price is already low, and if they won't budge I walk. I was ready to drop $25 bucks on a handful of vintage Smurfs. SMURFS! He wouldn't budge, so I used my patented catch phrase: “Take it to your grave.”
FINAL GRADE: 9/10 only because of CGC. There was no excuse for that. Other than that it was, as it always is, a great weekend. I spend all of my time either with my brother or a friend. I run into friends I haven't seen in a while, and I make new ones. I saved the best part of the con for the end here.
C2E2 has some of the best panels. I always used to think of them as a waste of time, but they have a good schedule, an app where you can plan your weekend and it will send you alerts, and now I always go to at least one per day. This year I went to a future of Valiant one of Friday where I got to hear how my favorite publisher is doing and talk with Matt Kindt and some of their brass. Not to mention 4 free Gold books over the weekend. Then Saturday I went to Svengoolie's panel.
If you don't know who he is look him up. He's a horror host that started on public tv back in the late 70's kind of like Elvira only family friendly. I watched my first horror flick with him in 1984 (Romero's 1969 Night of the Living Dead) and I've been a fan since. His panel had the longest line of any artist or writer or celeb that I've ever seen at a Con. I got to sit front row right in front of him, and shook his hand and thanked him after.
It was a bucket list moment. Favorite part of the Con. Oh, and I met a pretty girl. So there's that.