ReedPop! managed another year of putting together a stellar convention in the Windy City, bringing in a slew of entertainment guests, notable comic creators, and enough Funko Pops to fill the entirety of McCormick Place.
With so much to do and see, it was tough picking which panels to attend and which to skip… particularly considering pre-purchased photo ops and autographing sessions further limited the amount of time available to explore. With that in mind, I opted to focus Saturday on panels and ops while Sunday was reserved for zig-zagging my way through the dozens of Batmen and Elevens to poke around Artist Alley and the Block.
A great call considering the epicness of Saturday’s Main Stage panels.
After all, how many people can say they’ve started their morning listening to Stan Lee and Frank Miller trade barbs and tell stories about the creation of some of the most famous superheroes in the comic universe? The comic legends had a panel full of anecdotes and ribbing that could only ever come from two men who have been as immersed in the comic world for as long as Lee and Miller have been.
Miller told a great story about his father waltzing him into the Marvel offices as a boy and introducing him to people despite the fact that neither were technically supposed to be there. Even cooler was the fact that he met Stan Lee himself on the impromptu visit and got a note that his drawings weren’t quite up to Marvel standards just yet but he should keep at it.
Not bad feedback considering he was only, “At the ripe old age of eight or nine,” at the time.
On the other end of the couch, Lee was more interested in cracking jokes at Miller’s expense than delving too deeply into his role as the Godfather of Marvel comics. Commenting, “I don’t think you’re ready for a primetime panel yet… Watch me, see how it’s done. Then you can come back later,” Lee further cemented himself as the convention master.
Though, that’s not to say that Miller didn’t get in a few jokes of his own. After Stan the Man confessed that he couldn’t hear anything that was spoken into the mic due to the speaker set-up, Miller made a point to make a few digs for the audience to laugh at and Lee to be perplexed by.
- Miller has not seen any of the screen adaptations of his work and doesn’t plan to.
- Lee has not one but two cameos in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Volume II
- What would it take for Miller to take on the role of Director again? “A phone call!”
Immediately following the Lee/Miller panel was my personal favorite of the weekend: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge! AKA the British duo responsible for bringing Agents Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons (more commonly dubbed FitzSimmons) to life.
Listen, we all know that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is my favorite show and FitzSimmons are my favorite characters so… I don’t really have to tell you how utterly giddy I was sitting in row two of this panel (a total miracle caused by a faulty overhead projector, being ushered out of the room prior to the panel starting, led back into the room, and then being told to sit in any unoccupied seat: VIP Reserved section included).
The panel was the first to exclusively feature the pair and seemed to be one of the most anticipated of the weekend. I kid you not when I say that the queue outside the Main Stage had to be broken in half a dozen meandering lines because of the sheer volume of people looking to get in the room. But let me tell ya… the wait was worth it! Both Henstridge and de Caestecker were in top form, cracking jokes left and right and answering each fan question with enthusiasm and a fair share of tangents.
- Clare Kramer (Moderator): “Iain, Framework Fitz is a lot darker…” Elizabeth Henstridge: “And sexy! Right? Those suits? Really. And the hair, the hair.”
- Speaking of hair… after Henstridge made a joke about the cast being healthily obsessed with each other minus Iain who’s, “Made some comments…” that indicate his obsession with his colleagues might veer on the side of unhealthy, de Caestecker proceeded to joke, “I just like to keep your hair sometimes. I’m making something, I’ll show you what it is when I finish it, god.”
- When asked what their favorite FitzSimmons scene to shoot this season was, Henstridge coyly replied, “Mine hasn’t aired yet…”
The rest of Saturday was essentially spent standing in lines, thus is life when you’re attending any comic convention. Unsurprisingly, the lines I was in were for the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. autographing and photo op sessions and I’m pleased as punch to say that both de Caestecker and Henstridge are exceedingly kind people. Isn’t it great when the actors portraying your favorite characters are decent human being as well? The same cannot be said for everyone but, if there are any people out their contemplating seeing any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. cast at an upcoming convention, I can confirm that you shan’t be disappointed as each and every one of them is an utter delight.
Sunday was all about the convention itself, meaning I spent the day restraining myself from purchasing a dozen of everything from each booth in the Block and perusing the stellar talent situated in rows A through Z of Artist Alley. As you can see from the above pic that I snapped while in line for some famous Chicago pizza, McCormick Place was hopping with literal mobs of people in every direction.
Something to be expected for a con this massive.
There was certainly a decent amount of ducking and weaving (I might have become the next Glenn Rhee had I not ducked from a swinging Lucille) but nevertheless, I persisted, and successfully managed to navigate my way from booth to booth.
What’s particularly great about any Artist Alley at a ReedPop! event is the fact that there is a genuine blend between bigger name creators and those who may still be on the brink. It’s a great opportunity to interact with creators whose work you already love while simultaneously being exposed to new stories and art that might otherwise be overlooked were it not showcased in such a manner. No Angel creator Eric Palicki was in attendance, as were Mockingbird’s Joelle Jones, and Faith’s Jody Houser.
Unsurprisingly, the lines for artists such as Skottie Young, Jamie McKelvie, and Katie Cook were insanely long but each person leaving with their books signed seem to think that the wait was more than worth it. I myself was more than willing to wait around to get the books I lugged from New York signed and, while my back was aching by the end of the weekend, I left almost every booth with a grin. (There was one artist who was so high-and-mighty/rude that I no longer have any interest in buying his/her variants but… I won’t get into all that…)
In addition to the indie creators and those situated in AA, the Marvel booth had some unbelievable talent pop by throughout the course of the weekend including Rocket Raccoon’s Matt Rosenberg, Captain Marvel and Black Widow: Forever Red author Margaret Stohl, and the man behind most of the CW superhero shows (and a slew of comic books as well) Marc Guggenheim. In fact the vast majority of the major comic publishers had some stellar in-booth signings. While I personally only managed to attend a few of Marvel’s, I saw many an excited comic fan showing off the Dark Horse and DC comics they managed to get signed.
Equally fun to see at the Marvel booth were the endless number of people looking to get a picture taken in front of the massive Guardians of the Galaxy wall. People young and old were snapping pics but… this DC takeover might have been my favorite.
I ended the weekend feeling utterly exhausted and entirely elated. I love comic conventions of every shape and size but have a special place in my heart for those put on by ReedPop! As a New Yorker, the first convention I ever attended was NYCC and have grown to love both the annoying and wonderful aspects of it. C2E2, though certainly massive, seems slightly smaller than NYCC due largely to the fact that McCormick is an infinitely better site than the infamously cramped Javits Center. At a giant warehouse lacking the literal mazes that Javits has, it’s far easier to navigate C2E2 and (fairly) easily make it from section to section without feeling too overwhelmed.
While meeting actors from my favorite television shows and creators of my favorite comics is a major draw, it’s all of the people who are just as excited to be there as I am that makes cons so fun to attend. C2E2 started and ended on a high note and I have every intention of making my way back to the Windy City next year for the 2018 event.
Didn’t get a chance to attend C2E2 this year? Check out the ReedPop! Twitch channel to watch all of the Main Stage panels that you missed out on! Including the Stan Lee/Frank Miller and Iain de Caestecker/Elizabeth Henstridge panels mentioned above! (Other panels include Zachary Levi, Will Wheaton, Millie Bobby Brown, Michael Cudlitz and more!) And keep your eyes peeled on the C2E2 website for information regarding next year’s con, already set for the weekend of April 6th!