C2E2, Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, made its third appearance on the Chicago scene this past weekend, April 13th – April 15th at McCormick Place.
Having been to GenCon last summer, a HUGE event with over 130,000 visitors, and Wizard World’s Mid-Ohio Comic Con, a way, way smaller event, we were curious to see how C2E2 would compare to those. I must say, it compared very well! I think, as fun and as huge as GenCon was, this convention was better. It definitely topped the Mid-Ohio Con (which we have taken off our list of conventions to attend).
One of the best parts of this con for us was that I had been able to book a room at the Hyatt, which is attached to the convention center. No more driving around, looking for parking spots and paying out the nose to park for a few hours! We were able to run back to the room (ok, more accurately we were able to send Jay back to the room for us!) anytime we needed to. The hotel was beautiful, the staff super great. BIG time disappointment was the internet situation! After taking a ton of pictures we were anxious to start uploading them to our site (and facebook), but with an average speed of 36kbps (yes, that is less than dial up speed!) there was no way that was going to happen.
Saturday night a storm rolled through and took out their DISH tv as well. Sheesh! This is 2012 and you are the HYATT for goodness sakes! GET CABLE! As a super-geeky-techy family this was like living in the dark ages, in a cave, without sustenance. I think Jay was having internet withdrawal symptoms as he kept wandering around muttering about pings and upload/download speeds. It didn’t help that our 3G/4G phone connection was more like -1G all weekend. But…..I digress!
Friday, we had to wait for Courtney to get out of school before heading to Chicago. The drive was uneventful until we saw this
Holy cow! I have seen wind farms before, but this was HUGE! Hundreds of wind turbines, in every direction, quite literally as far as the eye could see. What an amazing sight. We even woke Courtney up to witness it. On the way home it was kind of spooky, since it was dark we could see the lights on top of the turbines. About 99% of them were blinking in perfect unison all along the horizon. Quite a sight. I kept waiting to hear the music from Close Encounters, signaling an eminent alien arrival.
By the time we got checked in, and got Pyramid Head dressed, it was after 7pm and pretty much everything was closing down for the night. That was a bit disappointing since GenCon is a 24 hour a day convention, but we have come to discover that is not the norm at these things. So we just kind of sauntered around, taking pictures and getting the lay of the land, oh yeah, and getting lost! We thought it was a pretty simple layout, but having gone up on one series of escalators, and down on another, we got lost! Turns out there are half floors. Glad we discovered that when the place was empty, instead of Saturday when it was packed!
Soon after, we decided to call it a night. We drove around a bit, got a bite to eat, and headed back to the now-packed hotel to get some rest for Saturday.
Saturday, the BIG day at the convention! We got an early start, since it takes some time to get Courtney in to her cosplay as Lady Hawke. If it is not done in the right order, you have to undress and start again, so I actually made a list during one of our pre-con trial runs. Between the clothing, wig, contacts, makeup, HUGE belt, chain mail, armor, boots. etc. I can sure understand why knights used to have squires! Jay waited patiently (ok maybe not, as he woke up 2 hours before us and had already been out and about taking pictures of people lined up for the Walking Dead group!) and kept us up to date on who was arriving, as he spied out our hotel room window.
Saturday I can sum up in one word….AWESOME! Of course, I won’t leave it at one word. Courtney’s Dragon Age 2 cosplay of Lady Hawke was a big hit. Some people didn’t know who she was but could appreciate the costume anyway, and the detail that went in to it. Her impressive staff with the glowing orb on the end also drew the eye. We barely made it on to the convention floor before Courtney was approached by photographer Anna Fischer who asked if Courtney had time to step outside for a short photo shoot. Seemed legit, and Courtney was willing so off they went. By the way, we later saw her work and are very glad Courtney went as she took one of the best Hawke photos I have ever seen.
We were having a great time just hanging out, visiting the booths and checking out all the great costumes when suddenly Courtney let out a little squeal and went hurrying across the convention hall. Turns out she had spied (finally!) a group of cosplayers dressed as Dragon Age 2 characters, just like she was. We had heard (via a facebook friend we met at last year’s GenCon) that they were going to be there and now she found them! There was much rejoicing and even a few hugs, as well as “Hail and well met, good fellows!” since they had been looking for her too! So the rest of the day and night were spent with this awesome, funny, talented group of cosplayers who welcomed us with open arms. They even entered the costume contest together, though since there were 6 of them, and the maximum group allowed was 4 (boo!) they split up to two groups, three girls, three guys. The girls wound up as semi-finalists and in my opinion, second place (though they deserved first!). If they had allowed them all in together, they would’ve won hands down!
Saturday evening we had dinner at a wonderful Kosher Deli/Diner called Eleven City Diner
To say it was yummy would be an understatement. HUGE portions, great server, friendly atmosphere. The ambiance and decor actually reminded me a lot of the few times I have eaten in NYC. Prices were not cheap, but not really out of line of the other food places we saw in Chicago, and when you leave you are FULL! And they had a fantastic 4G signal in the area, so we all had our noses buried in our phones, when they weren’t buried in our food. We headed back to our hotel room to collapse (since none of us could walk at this point) and rest up for Sunday.
Sunday dawned cloudy and cool, with a subdued vibe at the convention center. Courtney dressed appropriately somber as Little Sister, from BioShock. While it takes less time to do her clothing and hair, the makeup is more time consuming since she needs to be deathly white, yet dirty, all over. Many people didn’t recognize her as Little Sister so she got a lot of, “ohhh what an awesome vampire/zombie/corpse you are!” Those who did know the game were freaked out, especially once she turned her spooky yellow eyes on them and pointed the Adam Syringe in their direction.
We caught up with the guys from the Dragon Age group the previous day and went to watch a screening of the Dragon Age movie. Words cannot describe this movie. It kind of reminded me of watching an old B list movie back in the 80’s, where after a few minutes the audience is laughing in all the wrong places and yelling one liners at the screen. The movie was horrible, but the company was good and we had a lot of laughs. The voice actors who stuck around after to answer questions were super nice.
After milling around, delaying our departure, we were about ready to start heading out when a couple of people came up asking for pictures with Courtney. I told her to give them an “action” shot and have them be “victims”, if they were willing. Two or three people took her up on the offer when a woman holding her tiny baby approached and asked if Courtney would mind “doing the same thing” to her baby that she had just done to the other folks? When Courtney said, with great shock, umm no she wouldn’t mind, the woman gently laid her tiny baby on the floor by Courtney’s knees. BEST MOM EVER! As many beautiful and amazing photos as I have seen at this convention, I think these are still my favorites!
Then, it was time to say our goodbye’s to our new friends, take a quick look at Lake Michigan, since we hadn’t seen it before, and head home.
I have to say, in closing, the folks we meet at these conventions are some of the nicest, funniest, most tolerant people I have ever met. They don’t judge. There is no right or wrong. Fat people in skinny latex Spiderman outfits? It’s all good. Young or old, white, black, green or blue (literally!), it’s all good. New to cosplay? No problem, they are always willing to help or point you in the right direction. Been doing it for years? They will recognize and applaud the other person’s ability and skill, without resentment. Maybe we have just been lucky to date, with the people we have met and the conventions we have attended, but I am very glad my kids have gotten me and my hubby involved in this!