c2e2Friday

The 5:15 AM wake up call to make it to the gang’s 6:00 AM departure spot should have been the first indication that C2E2 2013 would be met with a constant tiredness. As we made our way to Chicago, I already started comparing this year’s con, which hadn’t even begun, to last year’s. This year I only had a total of 4 writers/artists that I just HAD to meet, and then about 3 or so that I would have liked to chat with, but not seeing them wasn’t a matter of life or death. Last year’s C2E2 had “Bigger Name” people like Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, and Adam Hughes, to name a few (and DC Comics-related) writers and artists. Sure, there was going to be some repeats from last year, Like Tony Daniel, J. Michael Straczynski,  and Rick Remender, but with the newness New 52 now passed, I guess DC didn’t need to send over such big wigs to represent and defend their new universe. 

Despite not having much initial interest in the comic book guests attending this year, I was still very much looking forward to the general con experience, hanging out with my fellow comic book aficionados, finding unique and new stories to read, and of course, standing in the presence of Natalie Dormer, who plays the future Queen of Westeros Margaery Tyrell on HBO’s Game of Thrones. Before I get into my encounter(s) with the lovely Ms. Dormer, I have to say that in terms of entertainment guests this year, C2E2 had an interesting mix.

Burt Ward and Julie Newmar of the 1960’s Batman fame (poor poor C2E2 must have been so proud when they initially had these two actors AND Adam West, but alas, he canceled a few days before the show), Ron Perlman, several members of Jack Sparrow’s crew from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, and three members from The Walking Dead were all featured guests. More impressively, C2E2 even got Kevin Smith for An Evening With Kevin Smith (I’m assuming that Kevin Smith is a big deal here). Before it was announced that Natalie Dormer would be attending the con, I really only planned on possibly meeting Ron Perlman, depending on how long his autograph line would be. I will say now that I never got to meet Ron Perlman. Was it because the line was too long? Heavens no. Was it because I threw all of my autograph money (and more!) at Natalie Dormer? Yup, yes, absolutely, that is the reason why.

Me and my con buddy arrived at C2E2 a little after the doors opened, and our first task was to get a very special autograph and photo op tickets. Natalie Dormer’s line was not long at all, it being early on Friday and all, so the two of us hardly had time to simultaneously freak out and compose ourselves before it was our turn to meet this stunning actress with an enchanting English accent. We exchanged pleasantries. She asked me if my hair naturally does that (Yes, it does. who would do this on purpose?). I told her that her character was the next best thing since sliced bread (not an exact quote) and we parted ways (until the photo op at 5:00 PM). It was with this encounter that I was overcome by adrenaline and over-excitement. And it was only noon! On a Friday! Would anything out on the con floor be able to maintain this natural high I was experiencing (Spoilers: No)?

My next stop and time killer was to stroll through artist alley, to see if I could find any of the few people that I wanted to meet. Luckily for me, the wonderful, charming, and cheerful Kieron Gillen was at his table with very few people standing around him.

“Hello,” He greets me, “How are you?”

“Good,” I reply with a grin on my face, “How are you?”

“I’m powerful,” he responds, throwing around other wonderful adjectives as well. By the end of the con experience, Gillen would become my favorite comic book guest that I had the utmost pleasure of meeting. We talked about how issue 4 of Young Avengers was one of our favorites of the series so far (it was my favorite, his second favorite after #5, which of course he and a select few have had the pleasure of reading), and he just gushed about how excited he was for the rest of his current arc. Now, I had at that point only read issues 1 and 4 of YA because I wasn’t really feeling the other two issues, but after meeting Gillen, I am now a biased fan of the series and have faith that this guy will produce awesome, butt-kicking arcs as the series progresses. Gillen and I crossed paths again that day, where it appeared that he was leaving for a panel, recognized me, and waved. I can only pray that I was able to close my mouth in time to smile and give him a nod of acknowledgement (I fear that my prayers have not been answered).

After meeting Gillen, I moved on to my next targets: John Layman and Rob Guillory, the dynamic duo behind one of my favorite series that I have recently discovered, CHEW. For have such a silly/cartoony style, Rob Guillory was way more soft spoken than I was expecting him to be. We discussed the ending of the latest trade, and I told him that although I thought it was sad, it made for a great story. And then of course I just had to tell him that I was a big fan of his art style. John Layman was talking about important matters on the phone while signing the comics for the dude in front of me, so I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to chat with this writer whose writing I admired so.

Thank the Old gods and the New that his phone call ended. We talked about how the series had just finished a sad arc, but was now heading in more funny direction. I told him that I’ll have to see for myself. Going back to the phone call during the con, I noticed that this year a lot more of the people in artist alley were on their phones. I don’t want to name names, but when my con buddy went up to an artist to get something signed and thank him for doing a free sketch from last year’s con, the artist barely glanced up from his phone during the conversation. There was even a delay to say goodbye when my buddy thanked him and told him to have a good con. Way to connect with the fans who BUY YOUR PRINTS AND COMICS, DUDE. After that, I stood in line with my pal to get some of his comics signed, explored the floor, and before we knew it, it was time for our photo shoot op with Natalie.

Natalie recognized me from earlier (Bless her) put her arm around me and smiled (You got to give the entertainment guests props for getting close and putting their arms around complete strangers as if we’re old chums). As if she read my mind, she said, “See you later!” as I walked out of the booth. My buddy went right after me and I heard her say “It’s like a reunion, isn’t it?” Please read all of her quotes with an English accent. It enhances the story. An hour later we returned to her booth to get our photos signed, I asked if she could write her favorite line that she’s had on the show (she wrote her character’s house’s coat of arms; “Growing Strong”) and she said she wanted my hair. And with that, the first day of C2E2 was over.

Saturday

Shockingly, Saturday’s tale is shorter than Friday’s (partly because Friday’s tale was SO freakin’ long). The con was packed, even more so than last year’s Saturday in my opinion. I was skeptical that I would experience the same euphoria as I did on Friday. I didn’t have many guests to see, the panels weren’t of major importance to me, and I was going to be walking around with a backpack for hours and my back and shoulders were still killing me from yesterday. The highlight of Saturday, other than hanging out with friends, was the glorious strength of the building’s air conditioning system. I never felt like I was overheating, whereas last year I felt like I was going to need to buy a Princess Leia bikini just so that I could attempt to cool down. This was, honestly, a crazy highlight of the entire con for me.

Since Brian Azzarello was no where to be found, I decided to attend the DC Comics – New 52 Panel (Brian Azzarello was not at this panel, much to my disappointment). This entire panel was a big ol’ waste of time. They talked about series that I didn’t even read, and that weren’t major titles. They even briefly discussed Vibe (I’m not dissing the series, but no one clapped when the panelists brought it up). There were a few good bits of information (Nightwing is moving to Chicago!), but other than that, the panel was a major snoozefest. I actually fell asleep. After the panel, I checked out the Archaia booth and took advantage of their Buy-One-Get-One-Free deal. I met the super friendly and sweet writer Andrew Rostan, the creator of An Elegy for Ameliea Johnson. He was a wonderful conversationalist and I hope that I enjoy his book.

At this point in time I was dehydrated and coul barely manage to carry my backpack, which had very little in it, I might add. I decided to end my day by attending the Dark Horse panel, assuming that I could take another little catnap. Well, I was more than happy to stay awake for this panel. The panelists did an amazing job of teasing all of their new series and storylines, and I can see my comic collection gaining many new Dark Horse titles in the very near future.

Thanks to the Dark Horse panel, my Saturday ended on a little more impressive note than it had started. All I had left to do for Sunday was meet Brian Azzarello and reunite with Natalie Dormer at the Game of Thrones Q&A.

Sunday

And on the third day the Con gods said, “Let their be personal space (again).”

This extraordinary final day of the con started with the extraordinary Kieron Gillen, as me and my con buddy returned to his booth to say hello and ask a few questions. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to meet him, y’all seriously missed out. I hope he comes back next year. I also returned to Rob Guillory and John Layman to get issues 31-33 of CHEW–that I had bought on Saturday–signed. Rob recognized me. It’s totally because of my mane of hair.

Next, I waited in line to meet Brian Azzarello, the writer of Wonder Woman, aka, Paloma’s Favorite New 52 Series. He seemed pretty chill and cool, and when I told him that Wonder Woman was my favorite series, he said, “Mine too.” Comic writers and their cheeky humor, am I right?

Since by that point I had basically accomplished all of my comic guest goals (even got Ryan Stegman to sign a copy of X-23 that he did the art for), my con buddy and I decided to attend the Marvel: Next Big Thing panel because it sounded promising (and mainly because it was in the same room as a directly before the Game of Thrones Q&A with our new bestie Natalie Dormer). Even though I have somewhat dropped out of the Marvel Universe because I have no clue what’s going on anymore, the panelists (including my boy, Kieron Gillen) were pretty funny and entertaining, and at the end everyone sang along to a ukelele cover of the 90’s X-Men cartoon’s theme song. I am excited to see where Miles Morales is going in Ultimate Spider-Man (during the panel, they revealed a major spoiler, much to the dismay of my friend).

Finally, the main event of Sunday, what me and my buddy have been waiting for: our reunion with the magnificent, deific Natalie Dormer. My pal and I sat in the front row, and while the crowd was giving them another warm welcome of hoots and hollers, she saw noticed us amongst the hundreds of faces, said “Oh, hello again. Hi, how are you doing?” The cheering died out just as my pal and I high-fived, our C2E2 experience made at that point. Natalie and James Cosmo were charming, funny, sweet, and all those other things you hope the actors of one of your favorite television shows are.  what a wonderful way to end C2E2 2013.

As I struggled to stand up from my seat, my body was now reeling from the physical and mental strain that I had put on it all weekend. I could practically hear my shoulders begging me not to put on my backpack again. But, I must admit that the soreness and pain was all worth it. Although last year’s con had way more comic guests that I admired and actually knew, and more exciting or at least worth-my-time panels, this year’s C2E2 was still filled with fun, new comics, and the feeling of being starstruck by brilliant writers and artists (and goddesses actresses and actors). I hope that next year can live up to the insane levels of over-excitement and fatigue of C2E2 2013.

 

About The Author

I am a Grand Valley State University student majoring Mathematics and minoring in Elementary Education and Spanish. My life changed forever in the sixth grade when my mom bought me the DC Comics Encyclopedia. From that moment on, superheroes and comic books became a major part of my world. I love reading in general, almost as much as I love math (Just kidding, I don't love math. I like it.). I have been a Batman fan for years, and I have the countless number of Batman-themed gifts, birthday cards, and paraphernalia to show for it.

Besides the caped crusader, I have a very special place in my heart for the X-Men, especially for X-23.  I really love it when a story makes me cry (Here's looking at you, "The Tornado's Path" from Brad Meltzer's Justice League of America.). Outside of comic books and writing, I love being a librarian (Well, technically a library assistant), especially when I get to tell patrons that we only take cash or check, or when people ask me about our puppets. If I'm not reading during my free time, I'm most likely chillaxing and eating Skittles. Or taking my adorable Boston Terrier, Leo, out for a walk.

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