As a Chicagoan C2E2, Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, is my local con and luckily one of my favourites every year. It’s a big con, run by ReedPop, so we get excellent guests but it’s not an announcement heavy con which makes the atmosphere so much more chill than other large cons. Between that and the massive size of the venue and the midwesterness of the attendees C2E2 is just a nice relaxing con despite the actual size of it.
This year I spent a lot of the con spreading the good word of Looking For Leia, a 6 part docu-series highlighting the women and girls of Star Wars fandom (check out the campaign and give them a follow!), so I didn’t get to attend as many panels as I normally would but that doesn’t mean there weren’t still highlights!
1) The SyFy Wire Live Stage:
The main floor is a major draw for a lot of congoers, you can spend the entire three-four days of any con wandering the floor carefully going through every vendor and artist in artist alley and never making it to a panel. This year Syfy Wire had a stage set up to do interviews on the show floor meaning you really didn’t have to leave! The hosts from SyFy Wire and SyFy Fangrrls were great and it was super easy to hear and see them and the guests. And even better everything on the live stage was live streamed and is available to watch! As a big ol This Is Us fan (we well as a Gilmore Girls and Smallville fan) my favourite was getting to see Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley without having to wait in line for their spotlight panel!
2) The Cosplay
We all know the big cosplay cons are San Diego Comic Con and Dragoncon but C2E2 is definitely no slouch in this department! I am always blown away by how talent cosplayers have and how creative they get. There were some AMAZING Black Panther Looks this year (soooooo many Museum!Killmongers which was excellent) and as always a lot of Star Wars and Marvel. A friend of mine went as someone from The Adventure Zone and considering how many times people dressed up wanted to take pictures with her there was a large contingent from TAZ too.
3) Gina Torres
There’s always that one guest at a con you’re planning on going to that when they’re announced you sit up and go YES YES YES and for me C2E2 2018’s guest was Gina Torres. Honestly if I wasn’t about to move cross country I would’ve coughed up the money for an autograph and a photo-op but alas I had to be good and settle for going to see her panels. And what good panels they were. From Firefly to Suits to Star Wars Rebels to Justice League Unlimited she is a legend and can do it all. Petition for Gina Torress to reprise her Star Wars Rebels role Ketsu Onyo in Episode IX.
4) The Beverage Options
This might seem silly but let’s be real we’ve all been to cons where they’re charging $10 for a Coors Light and the “house” coffee is actually folgers. C2E2 on the other hand is partnered with local brewery Revolution, one of my favourites in a beer heavy city, and your $10 gets you 20oz of incredibly good beer including Galaxy Hero, the official C2E2 beer. Beer not your thing? There’s also Wild Bill’s Old Fashioned Soda where you can buy a refillable mug and get your carbonation fix in a form more interesting than Pepsi or Coke. And the coffee at the kiosks on the floor? From local roaster Metropolis.
5) Yellowface, Whitewashing and Set Dressing: Asian-Americans In Geek Culture
This seems timely given the current conversation reignited by The Simpsons casually dismissing the amazing documentary The Problem With Apu in their latest episode however that’s mostly because this conversation is actually never ending and there will always be ways white people try to justify their ownership of Asians in media. After all this excellent panel of Asian Americans was a follow up to last year’s More Than A Sidekick panel and there will certainly be another one next year because these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. For some recs of ways to support diaspora Asians check out this excellent thread and when the video of this years panel is posted I’ll update with a link!
The Security + Harassment Policy: This year C2E2 changed up how traffic flow into the con would work to accommodate metal detectors and it was a welcome change. In previous years there would be a bottle neck and security did bag checks every time you went in and out of the show floor. By doing them at the entrance to the con it allowed for both a more thorough check and a smoother process later on in the day. And of course all ReedPop cons have their Cosplay Is Not Consent signs posted everywhere as well as a thorough harassment policy that all cons should implement.