Another C2E2 has come to a close, and I wanted to take a little bit of time to wrap up my thoughts about how this year went. I have not been to C2E2 since 2020, and from what I had been told about the one in the middle, I had kind of lowered my expectations for I would see this year.
I am pleased to report that this year not only surpassed my expectations, but even blew 2020 out of the water. I had an absolute blast, and was so impressed by what ReedPop put together that I am still slightly buzzing, even days after getting home (and that’s after a very long train ride back to Detroit to boot).
So let’s dive into the good, the bad, and the ugly of this year’s con, and see what made it so great, and why you should go next year!
Where to start? I mean, for me, the number one thing I look for at a comic-con, especially a larger one, is the Artist Alley. I don’t go to huge cons to dollar bin dive; I go to see artists and creators I might not see anywhere else. In fact, I had to deliberately pull myself away from Artist Alley a few times just so I could experience the rest of the con.
C2E2 has one of the best Artist Alley’s in comicdom, if I do say so myself, and I was thrilled to get the chance to interreact with several creatives and artists I have been following for years. Ben Templesmith is one of my favourite artists and he always attends ReedPop events. He’s a delightful guy who is always happy to chat with people, and I strongly encourage checking his booth out whenever you have the chance.
I also picked up some gorgeous prints from Rachata Lin, Nathan Szerdy, and several exciting up and coming artists, all of whom were so incredibly nice and happy to chat about their work. Gene Ha signed and remarked my copy of Wonder Woman: Historia without even being asked, and I can’t wait to get it back from the graders so I can display it proudly in my collection.
I bought prints, posters, bookmarks, and even commissioned my first piece of art, a headshot by Archie Comic’s artist extraordinaire Dan Parent of one of my first childhood crushes Veronica Lodge. In my opinion this is why you should go to a con. The amount of raw creative talent in that building is astonishing, and seriously, if you’re thinking about going, make sure you go on Friday or you won’t be able to move through Artist Alley at all, because it gets packed quickly!
That’s not to say that the rest of the con wasn’t also great. There were a ton of booths selling some pretty impressive slabs and more than a few figures and statues I had to work hard to avoid. There were also booths offering various nerd related ephemera that I found pretty darn interesting, even if my money already belonged to the Alley at that point.
And of course there was the spectacular One Piece display that was fantastic to tour, as well as all the awesome cosplayers, performers, celebrities, and the after con events that kept me up way past my bedtime!
C2E2 is hands down on e of the best comic conventions in the US, and the fine folks at ReedPop deserve all the credit in the world for the spectacular job they did this year!
That being said, there are a few issues that irked me, and while they certainly didn’t distract me too much from enjoying the con, they did put a tiny bit of a taint on the experience. None of these are the fault of the organizers, and none of them really are a flaw of the con itself, but they are things to keep in mind if you’re planning on attending the next one in March.
This is a big con, so you have to know that you’ll be on your feet and walking all day, so make sure you have comfortable shoes. Also, please make sure you bring water. Not only because it is very easy to get dehydrated at an event like this, but also because water costs $4 a bottle and it was credit card only.
In fact, that was kind of disappointing, how many vendors were card only. Not in Artist Alley, where cash is always king, but in the related vendors in and around the con, especially restaurants and food vendors. They all charged a lot, and all wanted card only purchases. Not a huge gripe, but something to be aware of if you’re trying to control your balance.
I know, price of doing business in the big city, but I also know I heard more than a few people from out of town surprised by this policy. Plan accordingly folks so you don’t get caught off guard.
Other than that, there is only one other thing I can think of that was a problem at the con, and again, I can’t blame C2E2 for this at all because it’s not their fault, but I feel I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it
Post con there has been a lot of online fall out about vendors being shady about selling exclusive covers, and some practices that attendees found to be a bit questionable. One un-named-by-me booth had an exclusive reprint of UF4 that was gobbled up quickly by people who seemed more interested in flipping than collecting. Many people have taken to various social media platforms to complain about what they felt were unfair practices witnessed by this vendor, and for some, it’s cast a bit of a pallor over the entire con.
It’s the weird heart of the comic market. The drive to collect fuels a lot of us, but at the same time it’s easy to be resentful of people looking to just make a profit and who don’t really care about the comics themselves. Its a pretty common clash that’s been happening for a long, long time (I lived through the 90s, and I remember) but it seems like this recent dust-up has riled people up a good deal, and so a lot of harsh words have been thrown around, as well as some accusations that I will not get into, but are not hard to find on your social media platform of choice.
I have no interest in joining in this fray, but I will say that this is one side of all cons that I tend to avoid. I’ve been to a lot of cons with exclusives, and my general rule of thumb is to avoid books I don’t feel personally passionate about. Every now and then I try to snag something with the thought of reselling it, but each time I feel a little dirty about it, like I’m pulling a fast one on a fellow collector, so I have just avoided that kind of thing altogether since. Sure, I could be rich, but I know what it’s like to be on the other side, desperate to find an exclusive and not being able to, and I would hate to do that to a fellow collector.
It’s like any hobby, you get out of it what you put into it. It’s easy to get upset about some of the shadier aspects, but at the end of the day, you just need to keep your head on straight and let go of the things you can’t control. Work to fix what you can, but don’t let it break you down!
C2E2 is the best. I had a blast from start to finish, and I am already thinking about the next one in March. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend giving it is shot if possible, and if you’ve been before and have been hesitant about going back I think you’ll find that the show is back and better than ever before!
Back to my regular column this weekend. Until then, Stay Safe!