So, C2E2 just recently happened. Owned by ReedPOP! (who also owns San Diego Comic Con, New York Comic Con, etc.) this gem is held every spring at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago, attracting 70,000 attendees. As a long-time guest, I can confidently say it’s an obvious stop for any Midwest congoers (or at least, should be).
Vendors pull out all of the stops
Vendors who attend C2E2 are perfectly aware of how big a moneymaker it is. The exhibitor’s floor is littered with elaborate displays (many larger than my apartment…). For example, Simplicity, a major pattern company that produces patterns specifically for cosplayers, boasted an enormous retro-themed diner display at last year’s con. The checkout station was behind a milkshake bar, and there was a jukebox that let customers flip through their available patterns. Simplicity representatives were dressed as retro waitresses and offered us mints as we entered–simply adorable.
Huge array of talented artists
Dealers aside, the assortment of independent artists at C2E2 is incredible. The booths of independent publishers line the showroom perimeter, plastered with print spreads that range from watercolored scrolls to borderline-pornographic artbooks. In the Artist Alley, you can find prints, comics, and assorted knickknacks from over 450 artists… Plus, writers who’ve worked on major franchises, such as David A. Rodriguez, who has worked on the Destiny video game franchise.
David, primarily a young adult novelist, loves that ‘[his] hometown is host to such a great show that draws so many different types of fans.’
Big name entertainment guests
I’m sure I’m not the only one sick of seeing the same rotation of English dub voice actors and actresses as guests at American conventions. C2E2’s massive influence and resources allow them to bring in some huge entertainment guests over the years, including Chris Hemsworth in 2011, Jason Momoa in 2015, and Millie Bobby Brown in 2017. Increasingly, they’ve also started including a solid array of anime guests–this year’s lineup included Veronica Taylor, the original English voice of Ash Ketchum, and Rooster Teeth creators.
Increasing focus on cosplay
C2E2 loves its cosplayers, and has been pretty blatant with this love in the past few years. The con offers “Cosplay Central,” a special area on the con floor just for cosplayers, which includes mingling opportunities with C2E2 cosplay guests (of which there are always at least two), cosplay-specific workshops and panels, changing rooms, cosplay repair services, and cosplay studio sets just for photoshoots. Additionally, C2E2 holds the annual Crown Championships of Cosplay, which is the “largest and most prestigious cosplay competition in the world,” C2E2’s website declares. Having won their national preliminaries at international ReedPOP conventions, champion cosplayers are flown in on ReedPOP’s dime from China, Australia, Indonesia, and more, to compete in the C2E2 finals for $10,000.
Not too shabby, eh?