The Chicago Comics & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), the Windy City’s premiere pop culture event, brought comic book artists, sci-fi superstars and hardcore cosplayers together this past weekend for three geektastic days at McCormick Place. As someone who doesn’t read enough of the classics (Avengers, what?) and is adverse to the idea of having to dress up in anything other than leggings and a t-shirt, I mainly focused on attending the big name Q&As (John Barrowman AND Nicholas Brendon? Be still my heart!) and some of the general interest panels. These are my personal highlights from a weekend filled with fantasy, food, freakshows and much more.
Food & Comics Panel
An all-star panel featuring prominent food-lovers and comic-enthusiasts alike, this hour-long discussion about everything from grinders to graphic novels was easily my favorite event at C2E2. It also made me crave meatloaf for the first time in years.
The panel featured Chicago Tribune “Cheap Eater” columnist Kevin Pang, Top Chef Season Four winner Stephanie Izard, as well as foodies from the comics industry like Eisner Award-winning writer Brian Azzarello and Marvel Comics editor C.B. Cebulski. It was more a dinner table discussion than a formal presentation.
Addressing subjects such as nostalgia and gender disparities, the panelists discussed the common themes between the culinary arts and comic books, all while throwing in hilarious anecdotes and quips (mostly thanks to the brilliant illustrator/baking enthusiast Jill Thompson) that pointed out some interesting parallels between two subcultures that don't normally intersect.
It’s Alive! It’s Alive! The Monster Mash-Up of Creativity and Collaboration in Chicago’s Vital Horror Community
In an instance of impeccable timing, C2E2 also brought in Chicago’s WildClaw Theatre on Friday the 13th to talk about the horror community, representing horror onstage, in the media and everywhere in between. The discussion was an exciting open discussion filled with lots of B-movie references and fake blood, and it was compelling to see the league of zombie cosplay drones and Edgar Allen Poe lookalikes who showed up (I even almost got crushed by a green zombie on stilts!).
Nicholas Brendon Q&A
Buffy fans and whacked-out Joss Whedon nerds converged upon panel room N427bc to see Nicholas Brendon on the incredibly packed Saturday conference. Brendon, who plays Buffy’s goofy and extremely lovable sidekick Xander, entertained the crowd with plenty cock sock/sex scene discussion, musings on his extensive accessory collection (which includes 100+ pairs of shoes, Stetson hats and glasses) and, of course, his adorable Snoopy dance.
In fact, he was so adorable that at one point an audience member walked up to the stage and handed him a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-style chainsaw toy. Super useful for all that vampire slaying, right?
John Barrowman Q&A
Hunky Captain Jack Harkness (once again) proved that he has the ability to bring out both his male and female admirers in droves with his packed Saturday morning panel, which was standing room only in the McCormick Center’s largest theater space. I arrived to the convention center approximately three hours before my normal weekend waking hours to catch the Doctor Who darling at his (obscenely early) 11:30 a.m. timeslot and ended up standing at an awkward side angle where I could really only see his right (but very well-defined) bicep.
But it was ultimately okay because the ever-charming Barrowman made up for everything with his sass, passion and humor. Entertaining the crowd with sex jokes (“David Ten-inch!”), funny faces and even musical interludes (he sang “The Doctor & I” Wicked parody with an aspiring musical theatre actor during the Q&A), Captain Jack elicited a series of coos and giggles from the huge audience and despite all my complaining, was definitely well worth the jelly legs and sleep deprivation.
Steven Yeun/Lauren Cohan Q&A
As a huge Walking Dead fangirl, I was super stoked to ask some questions and finally see one of my favorite on-screen couples in real life.
The duo who learn to love each other despite a super unsexy, post-apocalyptic backdrop of blood, gore and guts, Glenn (Yeun) and Maggie (Cohan) are the couple that I always find myself rooting for in the show, if only because I think true love is saving your significant other from a terrifying walker. After all, what better way is there to show that you really care?
Featuring the kind people from Steampunk Chicago, the panel gave us a look at the steampunk subculture, which is usually described as 19th century aesthetics with sci-fi attachments (think Victorian top hats with gear-themed embellishments), as well as their philosophy, upcoming events and other issues within their community.
Being able to attend their steampunk circus-themed after party helped round out my C2E2 experience as well, since I got to make friends with a sword-swallowing burlesque clown and bob my head to some excellent gothic, psycho-cabaret bands.
Ink-Fusion Tattoo Festival
In a true test of fandom, C2E2 also gave convention-goers the option of permanently inking themselves at the event with their Ink-Fusion Tattoo Festival. Featuring an assortment of local Chicago tattoo artists, the tattoo fest allowed attendees to mark themselves up with anything from Bronies to Batman. And while I was contemplating getting a tattoo done (because a Doctor Who-themed tat would obviously round out my comic convention experience), watching a Gothic Lolita girl with purple hair cry as she got her tramp stamp done was just a little too much for me to handle.