By: Charity Wysong;
Photos: Charity Wysong, Vincent Kan Photography, and Martin Wong of Akiba Soul
This past weekend brought us C2E2 2016 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) held at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. While I’ve attended a plethora of anime conventions over the past dozen years, C2E2 2016 was both my first C2E2 and first general comic convention since 2004.
My first impression was that it is a huge event—larger than most others I’ve attended. Their official attendance count in 2015 was 71,000. As they're still growing, that number is sure to have been higher this year. However, as large as it was, and as crowded as it could get, it didn’t feel as nearly as packed as some cons half their size can feel, and the crowd was overall friendly and polite.
C2E2 had a ton to offer from an expansive exhibit area that included vendors, industry booths and artists, many industry guests such as actors, comic artists, and authors, fandom gatherings and photoshoots, panels, and so much more.
The vendor area was large and the perfect place to find whatever geeky item you were searching for (or didn’t know you wanted). There were clothing vendors, anime and action figures, tons of POP! Vinyl figures, plushies, comics, books, artwork, posters, and so much more.
I was personally excited to see that Weta Workshop was there, famous for their prop and costume work in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and many other films. They had replica props, highly detailed sculpted figures and even a section displaying armor and props from the upcoming WarCraft movie.
As an artist myself, I’ve participated in dozens of alleys over the last 10 years and the Artist Alley is usually my favorite place to be at a con. C2E2’s Artist Alley was huge and boasted nearly 200 marvelous artists ranging from industry professionals, freelance artists, web artists, and more. To be honest, it was very intimidating to see all of these amazing artists in one place, but at the same time it was nice to meet some of them in person as I’ve followed their work online and had only talked to in artist groups on Facebook.
The one drawback of this artist alley, though, was the eye fatigue. Almost every single artist was selling prints, which was awesome, but even with the multitude of art styles it was tiring to look at nothing but wall after wall of prints and posters. I walked the alley about 3 times and kept finding things I had missed previously.
One of my favorite hobbies is cosplay, and I knew cosplay at C2E2 was going to be good. Since I’m used to anime cons, it was definitely a nice change of pace going from seeing mostly anime cosplay and a little comics/other media to the opposite. That said, when I arrived on Saturday I was thrilled to immediately run into an amazing cosplayer of the dhampir “D” from the Japanese novel series and classic anime films Vampire Hunter D along with a Lich King cosplayer from WarCraft.
While I didn’t cosplay on Saturday since I wanted to take in the con without distraction, on Sunday I wore my Ariel cosplay, along with my two friends who went as the Frozen Fever versions of Anna and Elsa from Frozen as it was the annual “Kids Day” where children ages 6-12 get in for $5 and there is more kid-friendly programming. During this time it was wonderful to be approached by so many children looking for photos with their favorite Disney princesses! We also attended the Disney photoshoot where we met many sweet cosplayers and it was fun to see the creative spins they put into their costumes.
The weekend also brought many other fan gatherings centered around favorite films, shows, comics and other media as well as a huge cosplay championship contest, the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay, where cosplayers competed in skill and craftsmanship, judged by industry costuming professionals.
All in all C2E2 2016 was a fun experience and I highly recommend it.
Charity Wysong | Ranefea