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C2E2 Is a Joy and a Treasure

The people of San Diego have Comic Con. Atlanta has Dragon Con. New York has NYCC. And the people of London get all the Amanda Tapping conventions, which isn't fair but fine.

Chicago has C2E2, which is a giant comic convention held in our giant convention center, McCormick Place -- the LARGEST convention center in North America, and while not named after Cyrus McCormick, famous for inventing the mechanical reaper, it WAS named after someone in his family. I had never gone to this convention in my six years of living in Chicago, primarily because A) I didn't know how to get to McCormick Place, B) I don't like comics, C) I needed to make someone go with me.


ALL OF THOSE PROBLEMS WERE SOLVED THIS YEAR, as my friend Emily wanted to go (and I made Doug go); we found out about a shuttle that took you from downtown to McCormick; and I read that Jaime Murray from Warehouse 13 was going to be there, whom I like MUCHLY. So we were a merry party of three, losing each other frequently, whereupon we shouted each other's names into the crowd until we were reunited like the end of Homeward Bound (except for that one time when Doug was buying a flask that looked like an NES cartridge and wandered off and Emily and I gave him up for lost and looked at Doctor Who buttons for ten minutes).


This is just the entryway to the building --
not even to the hall

The convention floor was huge. Huge. With panels held on the second floor (we attended one and wandered into a couple of others) and all the exhibitors and booths on the main floor. We got there at about 10:30 and Doug and I trudged back to the shuttle around 6, our brains gone and our legs useless. Because we saw EVERYTHING. Or, okay, not everything. But we saw like...3/4 of the convention floor. I think. Still not sure. Pretty big place.

But okay, imagine you're a person who gets excited about ANY POP CULTURE REFERENCE, and then put yourself in a comic con and watch as your brain explodes. (you: "how would I watch--" "Don't worry about it.") But the entire day consisted of me seeing someone dressed as something I liked and then chasing after them with my camera.





We went to a quiz panel called Geek Geek Revolution, because Pat Rothfuss was going to be there and I had specifically purchased The Name of the Wind (which I have not finished reading but think is excellent) in HARDCOVER for him to sign, and then I found out his only signing day was Friday and so I was basically determined to stalk him until my book was signed.

So there we stood, waiting in line outside the panel room, with Emily and me desperately plugging our phones into whatever sockets the line passed for two minutes at a time, and we were finally right outside the door about to go in, holding our phone charging equipment and multitudinous bags, when I realized Pat Rothfuss was standing RIGHT there, trying to have a conversation with someone, and I PANICKED, shoved my phone stuff into Emily's hands, said something like "GOINTHEREWITHOUTME" and stood, pen in hand, fingers digging into my backpack for this damn hardcover I'd been carrying around all day, and to his credit, Mr Rothfuss did not even blink at the presence of this tiny, anxious-looking person shoving a book at him while saying "I'M HERE BECAUSE OF YOU." He just said he had to sign really quickly, did so, and boom.

I'll explain the other one in a sec

The panel turned out to be hilarious, which is good because we only went so I could jump out at Pat Rothfuss after, and since my goal was completed before, now we were in this room for we didn't even know what (I have nice friends). But the quiz panel was Seth Fishman (sci-fi writer, wrote The Well's End), Kevin Hearne (writes Star Wars novels and knows a LOT about Dune), Pat Rothfuss (score), and Lydia Kang, author of Control and the SOLE female representative. A lot was riding on Lydia.

They asked questions related to sci-fi, fantasy and nerd culture, and if an audience member turned in a question that would stump the panel, they got a tote bag of books from Penguin. Questions That Stumped involved Sailor Moon, Fight Club AND THE X-FILES (guess which one was mine). But seriously, how do you NOT know which X-Files episode Bryan Cranston guest starred in? It was NOTABLE at the time because he was the dad from Malcolm in the Middle and here he was playing a serious part, what? What, Bryan Cranston? You don't do dramas.

How we all knew him then

Lydia Kang kicked EVERYONE'S ass. It was so satisfying. She has a ridiculous amount of nerd knowledge, spanning fantasy, sci-fi and random movie trivia. She knows what the "K" in Ursula K. Le Guin stands for. She knows the first fantasy book to make it onto the NYT bestseller list (Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks). She will rattle off all the Starks' direwolf names for you. She is awesome. And the panel was joyous and nerdy and Seth Fishman got last place so they made him wear a Jar Jar Binks mask.

these are my people

This is what I love about fan culture. And I can't write about it objectively at all, because it makes me so happy. Fan culture is entirely wrapped around people being excited about something. All these people were gathered in this GIANT place because they love things. Not all the same things, but if you talk with a nerd at a nerd convention, you're probably gonna find at least one thing you have in common. Like how much you want to pet Falcor from The Neverending Story (SO MUCH). So the atmosphere is jubilant and bouncy and people keep running into people dressed as something they love, and they get SO JAZZED and it's like that all day. Fans aren't afraid to make themselves vulnerable, lose all possible claim to looking like a badass who doesn't need anybody, and to just jump up and down going "THEY'RE COSPLAYING THE FAIRLY ODDPARENTS."

And while I'd heard all sorts of negative crap about misogyny and terribleness from gamer guys and sci-fi people, it was 100% not in evidence at C2E2. At least from the fans. The attendees seemed pretty evenly split, gender-wise, and I didn't see any guys being gross around the inevitable Slave Leias, or yelling at a girl for dressing up like Thor, or being jackasses in any way. Everyone just seemed excited to be there. The only grossness I saw was from some of the older men in Artists' Alley, because wow, guys. Really? We're still drawing women like that? It's 2014. Maybe stop being dumb and talk to an actual lady and learn that they're people. Just like you! Amazing.

If I could be around fans all the time, that would be almost beyond the reach of my happiest imaginings. But I'm resigned to one time a year where I can see this:






And the one time a year when I can take pictures of Doug doing this:

"Diplomacy: The Game"

The only reason Emily wanted to go was because the artist Karen Hallion was there, and we've both bought prints from her. She most famously does Disney princesses + the TARDIS drawings, but I bought this (which she siiiiigned) and Emily got the Belle/TARDIS print that she already has a shirt of, and we basically fangirled all over Karen Hallion and she was fine with it, so thanks for not being weirded out by your fans, Ms Hallion.

Part of the reason I could barely move Sunday was because I spent seven hours carrying around bags filled with books. I did not realize comic conventions gave you free books. DID NOT KNOW. I'm now terrified of BEA, because I left C2E2 with these:


Which are the ones I got for free. I also bought these:


Because the savvy lady at the Quirk Books booth HAGGLED with me. She said "All the books are discounted," and I'd been wanting to get The Thorn and the Blossom because it is packaged EXCELLENTLY, but when she said it was $15 when the list price was $17, I went "Meh" and started walking away and she said "I can let you have it for $13." SOLD. I did not even know haggling was a possibility, so color me excited. I got the X-Files comic book because it's season 10 and the creator was right there, and Emily pointed it out to me, and then yelled at me for spending more money. How about you not point out X-Files things if you don't want me to buy them, Emily. How about that thing.

I also got Jaime Murray to sign my copy of War of the Worlds, because, you see, she PLAYS H.G. Wells on Warehouse 13. Because WH13 is awesome and was all "How about if H.G. is a lady?" So that was damn exciting. 

To close it on up, I show my backpack pre- and post-con. It was good times.




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