This past weekend I attended C2E2, their third and my first. As a veteran of 10 Wizard World Chicagos, I wondered how it would measure up. I was amazed and pleased with the staggering size of the show and the massive attendance. I was there for all three days, and it took me that long to walk the entire floor, meeting the guests I wanted to meet and attending the panels of interest.
Some grumble that the media focuses on those attendees who are dressed up as characters, known as cosplayers. But it's hard not to when there's always one in your field of vision. 10 to 15 years ago, there was an occasional person in costume, sometimes a sexy woman. Today, it's like a hip thing to do for nerdy yet attractive young women to dress up as their favorite characters at a convention. Where was this when I was 25?!?
There were other bizarre goings on, such as folks selling leather corsets, Japanese snacks, and this fellow hawking "mustache monocles."
Last year at Mid-Ohio, I was shocked to see a couple of tattoo artists and people actually getting tattoos. Here at C2E2, there was an entire tattoo area, with 10 or 12 tattoo artists, and they were usually always busy. It left me wondering if some came to the con attending to get tattoos, or make the spontaneous decision when they walked by the tattoo section.
For me, the best part of the show is meeting the pros - the writers and artists who create the comics. Here's Kevin Maguire, one of my favorite artists since the late '80s. Here he's just signed my copy of his now iconic cover for Justice League #1 (1987).
I was surprised to come across Jim Keefe, the current artist of "Flash Gordon". You can check out Keefe's work at his website.. I also met another classic comic strip artist - Gary Gianni (pictured below). Gianni recently turned over the reigns of the Prince Valiant comic strip, which he has drawn since 2004. Here Gianni's signed his latest Prince Valiant book, along with a special sketch.
Joe Kubert was the first guest announced for C2E2 back in December. Upon hearing this, my reaction was 'When is it and how soon can I get tickets.' I've met Joe once before and even had the privilege of doing this interview. Kubert had a Q&A session that focused on the benefits of attending The Kubert School, the art school he founded in 1976. It's a family business in which Kubert's two famous artist sons, Adam and Andy, teach the first and second year students, while Joe teaches the third year. The questions did turn to his career and current projects. His "Joe Kubert Presents" anthology from DC, announced over three years ago, is finally due in August. He later hinted to me that his work would be the subject of an upcoming IDW Artist Edition (shhhhh!).While he talked, he did a drawing demonstration that was projected on a large screen. He drew Nite Owl from the Watchmen. He's inking Andy's pencils on the upcoming "Before Watchmen" one-shot. The drawing was raffled off to benefit St. Jude's. Guess I didn't win, though, as they haven't called.
It was so inspiring to hear a man who's been a professional artist for seven decades so excited about drawing. "I've never taken any stuff to get high or anything like that," Kubert said. "But when everything is coming out right, that's a high." He told us that he draws every day, is still learning new things, and is enthused about how comics create animated movement with still pictures. "You don't even realize you're looking at still pictures," he said, using Hal Foster's Tarzan as an example. "That's magic," said this humble master of the form. "That's really magic."
As I wandered down my last aisle in my last hour at the show, who did I stumble upon but Dot Com! Kevin Brown is in his fifth season playing Dot Com, part of Tracy Jordan's two-man entourage on "30 Rock," one of my favorite shows. This is one of the best celebrity encounters I've had at a con. He was selling "Dotcom for President" buttons and t-shirts. For $5, I got a signed button and a picture with him. I guess I could have gotten the same thing from Anthony "C3PO" Daniels, only it would have been $85. My advice to celebs (and I'm talking to you, Herb Jefferson), have a cheap item to keep the people & $$ moving.
My pal Ted went sketch happy and picked up a trio of drawings. First up, a try at Green Arrow by some guy named Neal Adams...
Ted's also a fan of requesting Big Barda as a sketch subject. Here she is in a humorous vein by Chris Rich-McKelvey of Bald Guy Studios.Finally, a very patient Ted waited a total of about three hours for this drawing by a very popular Amanda Conner. I'd say it was worth it!