C2E2 Report!

C2E2 Logo

I’ve been so busy since getting back from Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo that I’m only now getting this blog post up! Yikes!

The adventure started with my partner-in-crime Hal and I loading up the car (no small task with all the stuff I was bringing to the show!) and setting off on the 8-hour drive from Minneapolis to Chicago. Despite only getting a couple of hours sleep the night before with all I had to do getting ready for the trip, I managed to handle the first six hours of driving and didn’t have to turn the wheel over to Hal until after a refueling stop two hours out from the Windy City. We didn’t get in until late, and found that our hotel had an odd parking arrangement where they had a lot that you could have your car placed in by a valet driver, but this lot closed at midnight and we hadn’t gotten in until nearly 1:00am. This would have been nice to be informed of when I confirmed the room and our expectation of a late arrival. There was a parking space across the street, but it was a metered space that enforcement began at 8:00am, which meant I had to get up sometime after 6:00am when the hotel’s parking opened again, get the rest of the cartload of stuff out of the car, turn it over to the hotel’s valet driver to park, and then cart the stuff up to the room until we headed over to the convention center a few hours later.

With that unpleasantness behind us, we embarked on the adventure of the convention itself!

The whole thing took place within the utterly massive McCormick Place Convention Center in downtown Chicago. I had been to other conventions in Chicago but this was my first time at C2E2 and at this convention center. It’s Huuuuuuuuuge! Artists’ Alley was a very respectable size as well, and this was probably the biggest and most elaborate table set up I’ve ever done. And not bad, if I do say so myself.

I mean, we really pulled out all the stops, as you can see. I got a new banner, we had a digital slideshow, candy bowl, video camera and more. For the first couple days, I had a display of the different stages involved in creating a Young Justice cover draped over the front of my table. It was a fun idea, but not eye-catching enough to draw the kind of table traffic I’d hoped, so on day three I scrapped it in favor of displaying some of my prints.

More so here than at other conventions I’ve attended, space behind the table was at quite a premium. Convention set up is always about making table look interesting and inviting to the audience while underneath and behind is all your “junk” jammed in, but it was challenging here to just get up and get out of there to grab a snack or a bathroom break without disturbing other artists’ displays. I hope there is more of a pathway in future years!

 

Young Justice

A large chunk of the Young Justice past and present creative team were also at C2E2, and my booth was actually right next to Art Baltazar and Franco, who wrote Young Justice issues #0-6! Mike Norton, who penciled issues #0-4, was sitting behind me, and Zac Atkinson, who has colored the book since issue #0 was only a couple rows away. It was also nice to touch base again with Jim Chadwick, the book’s editor. But more about that later.

Cosplay in general tends to be impressive at these things, but I think one of my favorite memories of the weekend was getting to meet the Inner Mind Theater folks, who are internet-famous for their amazing Young Justice cosplay group. Check it out! 

It was actually kind of comical. I was completely geeking out over them while they geeked out over me, and that lasted several minutes. Of course I had to make sure they all walked away with free signed Young Justice comics, but it surprised me when they asked me to sign parts of their costumes! Make sure to look for the group among the interviews with the creative team in our Young Justice at C2E2 highlight video below!

Oh yes, we made a highlight video.

 

Catching up with People

One of the best parts of any convention is meeting or catching up with friends and peers from the industry, and that’s usually the part of the convention experience that happens fairly randomly in-between all the mores scheduled things you’re doing!

A priority for me was to track down Zac Atkinson, the colorist on Young Justice who I’d been working with for a year but hadn’t met before! Ah, the wacky world of comics.) I found him at his table and chatted with him for 15-20 minutes before rushing back to my own table.

I got to see Jim Chadwick again, (my editor on Young Justice). I’d met him for the first time this past February when when visiting DC Entertainment offices in Los Angeles. Jim sat with me during my Saturday signing at the DC Booth, then we met up with Zac for a quick lunch at a sandwich shop in the adjoining hotel.

On the way back from lunch with Jim and Zac I ran into Lynne Thomas (editor of Chick’s Dig Time Lords) and her husband Michael, who I’ve been friends with for a number of years and only manage to see once or twice a year – usually at a convention. Later they stopped by my table and I scored a copy of Lynne’s new book Chicks Dig Comics (which Lynne edited along with Sigrid Ellis).

Josh Elder & Russell Lissau who had been writers on The Batman Strikes! both stopped by my Artists Alley table. Not much time to chat, but it was nice to touch base with them both. I had seen Josh for dinner during my February trip to Los Angeles, but I hadn’t seen Russell since my last Chicago convention a few years ago.

Fletcher Chu-Fong is DC Comics’ Director of Events, which means he’s usually one of the key people in charge of DC’s presence at major events like C2E2 and other major conventions. I hadn’t seen Fletcher in a couple of years since I’d last been to a major show, and it was good to see him in what seems like his native habitat – the DC Comics booth!

It’s always great seeing the very funny Kenneth Hite, writer, game designer and raconteur. Joined by Hal, our friends Sarah and Ken (dubbed Ken2 for the evening) and Kenneth’s friends Matt and Cam,  made our traditional pilgrimage with him to Giordano’s – home of the best pizza on Earth. On a previous outing we had laughed ourselves silly trading off creative epiphanies in the character of a cigar-chomping amalgam of Silver Age DC Editor in Chief Carmine Infantino,  Jack Kirby, and Martin Short’s Irving Cohen.  We also were inspired by a large planter that vaguely resembled the crystal ship from Superman: The Movie to develop Flor-El, the Last Plant of Krypton who essentially was Swamp Thing in a cape. His Clark Kent persona wasn’t terribly convincing…

Twin Cities local writer and artist Zander Cannon stopped by my table to say hello. I never found enough time to complete my own tour of Artist’s Alley and to find Zander’s table. Maybe I’ll have better luck at MCBA Springcon this weekend!

I didn’t even know Len Wein was at the show until I saw his signature on a copy of the Program Book I was autographing for a fan. Happily I ran into him on Sunday at the DC Booth as he was literally on his way out of the convention to head to the airport.

Legendary artist George Perez walked past my table on Sunday and I managed to flag him down to introduce myself and say hello. I’ve been a fan of George’s artwork for as long as I can remember, but my admiration for his masterful work with massive crowd scenes has only increased since landing a gig as the artist of a monthly team book, and I told him so! He seemed amused and was very gracious.

I had wanted to say hello to editor Thomas Brennan from Marvel but was never able to find him any of the times I managed to swing through the Marvel booth! I had drawn an Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes story for him and was expecting to do more, and I always like to say hello to people I’m working with whenever I can. Oh, well, maybe next time.

 

Signings and Sketches and Panels, Oh My!

I got the opportunity to do some fun sketches for fans while sitting in Artists’ Alley. Here are a few:

I spent an hour on Saturday and Sunday signing and sketching at the DC Comics Booth, where it was fun to have a chance to meet fans in a slightly higher-profile setting! When signing at the DC Comics booth, an artist is sort of obliged to do free sketches. Now these aren’t meant to be sketches on par with the ones I’m charging for back at my table in Artists Alley. These are quick head sketches, drawn quickly and in sharpie, usually on DC branded comic book backing boards they provide you with. Throw out every bit of drawing technique you might have about sketching basic shapes and tightening up with detail as you go! Here’s a sharpie… GO! And you’re trying to chat with people and be charming and funny while trying not to put down a single line on their drawing you don’t like and wish you could erase or otherwise change. They don’t tell you that you’ll need these skills when you’re starting out. So practice your speed drawing accuracy, kids!

I was also asked to participate in the DC Comics for Kids panel on Sunday along with Art Baltazar, Franco and Jim Chadwick.  The audience was mostly young kids and their parents, so there wasn’t going to be a discussion about what a kids book is as opposed to an all-ages title, or why DC Comics chooses to produce the all-ages titles they do, and why they package and market them the way they do. Instead it it was trying to answer questions about whether we might be seeing more super-pets in upcoming issues. But that was fine. I’m always happy to see kids reading comics and it’s great seeing the love and enthusiasm for these characters continuing into the next generation. The whole panel was sort of flying by the seat of our pants, but it’s always fun to talk about a project you’re working on. Here’s a video of the Young Justice highlights from the panel:

 

 

Finally Sunday evening rolled in. I packed up, moved out, and posed for another photo with the big foam C2E2 sign. I think I felt about how I look here:

Oh! And ran into Paul Guinan and Anina Bennet (Boilerplate) when leaving! I hadn’t seen them in years, and therefore had to pose for a silly photo. It’s just what you do in that situation. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of said photo, so you will have to utilize your imagination if you want to see how awesome we looked. 

Rain spoiled Hal’s and my last chance to go walking and find an interesting place to eat, and so we stayed in and enjoyed mediocre delivery food and a slow internet connection from our luxurious hotel room. The next morning was rainy and windy. We had trouble getting stuff out to car but eventually got on road. Drove the 8 hours back to Minneapolis. That’s right, I drove the whole way. I’ll be happy to not drive again for a good long while after that.

C2E2 overall was fun and I would call it a success. I am definitely looking forward to returning next year! And I hope to see more of you there!

 

You can see all of my planned 2012 appearances on my (appropriately enough) Appearances Page.

Do you want to see me at your convention? Let me know! Send me an e-mail.