Con Recon: C2E2 2019
Heyump! To start, I already wrote this article once and technology ate it. But I love you guys so much I took a couple days of aggression out on the bag at the gym and I'm back for more! So I'll dive right into it!
I want to lead off by thanking Dark Red for paying for my entire Con and then some, but I'll get into that later!
This year marked the 10th anniversary of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, aka, C2E2. And I'm proud to say I've been there since even before day one. As a Chicago resident and having a brother that used to work at Goose Island, back in 2008 I was able to sneak into their launch party; hard to believe that was over 10 years ago. Some of you may know me as @accustomfigures in the virtual world, and I've been lucky enough to partner with Reed Pop every year for C2E2. Each year the Con definitely has its hi's and low's, but every Monday after I am happy and satisfied, and this year was no different.
Tickets for the con are available a couple months out. It's always packed but I've never seen it sell out. They are extremely affordable; $85 for a 3 day weekend pass. If you're going to go 2 days, buy the 3 day pass. As part of my partnership with Reed Pop I get 2 free weekend passes, but I'd gladly pay for it if I had to.
The con floor is massive! It's easily about 60% retail, 30% Artist Alley, and the rest is gaming and stuff. C2E2 has always emphasized comics over entertainment, and I love it for that. There are always deals to be had weather comics or toys or otherwise. I've been to cons like Wizard World and felt like there wasn't anything to buy, or like all the comics were just someone's 50 cent garbage. Not the case here.
The floor is a grid. It's very easy to navigate, and the program has a useful map in it. There's also a free C2E2 app you can create your own schedule for the weekend on, and search for anything you need to find from artist's booths to food.
MOST OVER PRICED BOOK:
The most over priced book was Immortal Hulk #15 cover A. I know that might seem like a nitpick, but it was week of release, no spec other than the story and the Ross cover and I didn't see it for less that $10, $15 in most cases. It reminded me of exactly a year ago at C2E2 when all the Red Goblin madness was going on. Granted, Immortal Hulk is a far superior story.
BEST BARGAIN/FAVORITE PURCHASE:
Part 1: On Friday a guy quoted me $250 for an Immortal Hulk #2 1:50 and an Eternals #1 (1976). I passed even though both were beauties. On Sunday we worked a deal for the $250, but I also got him to throw in 3 high spec Valiant variants worth about $100 now, but $300 soon (fingers crossed). I wouldn't normally buy a variant that has already gotten this high, but Dark Red came through and I splurged. Gonna get both graded anyway. I didn't see any largely priced or over priced books because I wasn't really looking for them. There's been so much spec on smaller books recently that I kept my head down and dug.
Part 2: I had no plan to do this, but I always check out the publisher booths. The first one I hit was Aftershock because the Valiant booth was missing (more on that). They had the Dark Red #1 C2E2 exclusive. I bought 3 and immediately flipped them on eBay. I went back and bought 7 more and flipped all of them by Saturday. On Sunday I found the other 2 variant Dark Red exclusive covers at another booth and flipped 4 of them. By Sunday afternoon I had quadrupled my total investment. Dark Red exclusives ended up paying for every book I bought including the $250 Immortal Hulk deal and the stack of books in my photos, plus all my food and travel for the weekend, and I got home Sunday night with more money than I had before the con. I was pleased.
Part 3: You can see in the photos the other books I got. I didn't pay over $5 for a single one (most were a buck), including the 2 copies of Young Avengers that were priced at $8 and I haggled down to $4. Haggle, people. Haggle.
PS. I'm a huge toy collector, mostly vintage. I usually have a big haul, but that was definitely slim this year. Nabbed 3 vintage Joe's and a 1981 Merman, and the soft vinyl Immortal Hulk exclusive Tarbus the Tardigrade!
Part 1: Artist Alley at C2E2 is a thing of wonder. It always is but this year I was surprised that is was so packed and bustling because the week before C2E2 was ECCC in Seattle that started the Con season, and next week is Wonder Con in Anaheim, so a decent chunk of exhibitors, publishers and creators skipped C2E2. Which really sucks as Chicago is the greatest city in the Multiverse, and C2E2 is by far the most efficient, diverse, fun and accessible Con I've been to in my 20 plus years of Con going. Artist alley was packed and had a great energy! Everywhere I looked people were mixing it up. I wasn't interested in the “Guests of Honor”, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, so the biggest names to me were Marc Silvestri and Liefield. But I'm not an autograph hound like I used to be, and no one does free sketch doodles like they used to.
Part 2: My brother and his buddy had a great Liefield interaction. They do a drink and draw here in Chicago, @chidrawgo, and they've been advertising our next meet up as “Come celebrate Rob Liefield's Half Birthday!” Rob got wind of it on IG, so at the Con my brother and his buddy went up and introduced themselves half expecting Rob to say “you're the basterds making fun of my half birthday!” Instead he loved it and did a couple birthday cake doodles on their drink and draw flyers, and they all had a laff! Great guy.
Part 3: Valiant. You all know I love Valiant, but I've lost a lot of interest since Dinesh left. They seem to be unraveling. This was the first time in 10 years that Valiant didn't have a booth. They were relegated to a tiny, embarrassing shelf at the Graham Crackers booth. With Dinesh they had the first booth you saw on the Con floor, it was huge and energetic and they were selling the fudge out of their brand. Not this year. So I went to their panel as I usually do. It was a new Marketing guy, really young, 3 months on the job, doing his best. The Power Point failed so there were zero visuals. The panel was comprised of Cullen Bunn, aka, the most bland writer in comics (and in person), Tini Howard who an hour later revealed she'd signed an exclusive with Marvel, Tim Seeley, who might be fine? I find him extremely safe, and was so not interesting that he ended his Bloodshot summary by just saying “farts.” And that kind of summed up the whole panel. Nothing interesting nor inspiring was said. During the Q&A I asked why no booth. He said they didn't have the resources, but then followed up answering another question about their new owners, DMG, and their roll in the publishing by saying they were giving them everything they needed. Odd. I think we've come to the point where if the Bloodshot Movie tanks Valiant IPs will be sold again and the publisher will fold. But I've been wrong once before.
IF I WAS THE PROMOTER:
The only disappointment was that it was the 10th anniversary of C2E2 and there was no sign of that being the case. If I was Reed Pop I would have hyped the heck out of this con. I would have made sure that every publisher and exhibitor that decided to skip because of ECCC and Wonder Con knew that they were missing out on the best Con of the year. I would have had a stage where they were hyping the con and giving stuff away. There was zero presence of that.
I saw none. Every dealer I interacted with seemed on the up and up, and happy to be there. I got most of my stack from one booth. A guy I buy from every year, and he's a gem.
Was on to the fire fleeking! There was tons of it, but this year seemed to be more quality over quantity. My favorite was a large dad and his quadriplegic son. He decked out his son's wheel chair and his son as Bran, and dad was dressed as Hodor, and they looked amazing! Kudos to that guy.
There's always a great buzz at C2E2, and I always have the best time with the folks there. We all banded together for the Svengoolie 40th anniversary panel, which was preceded by William Zabka. “Sweep the leg, Johnny!”
Over the years I've made some solid friends in the industry that I keep up with throughout the year, but due to distance this is where we get to see each other. I was always around my brother, a friend, or someone that was just enjoying the day same as me. It was a lot of fun. And I ate 3 churros.
Over all I'd give C2E2 2019 a 9/10. If the missing publishers and exhibitors had been there (Dark Horse, Image, Valiant, Super7…), and Reed Pop had done a better job with scheduling and hype, it would have been perfect. But Chicago is an A+ city with the best public transportation in the country, tons of great food and attractions. And it's perfectly safe, folks. Don't believe the hype. Come visit!
Big thanks to Inigo, Ben, Adam and the rest of the CBSI crew for allowing us to do these articles.