I like Reed Pop! a lot. The division of the Reed company who runs their conventions, I’ve worked with them for years, and they’ve done a ton of favors for me. So yes, you can say I’m a bit bias toward them. However, in the future though, I’d really appreciate it if they wouldn’t schedule shows on back to back weekends.
Earlier in this month, I attended both PAX East in Boston, and then spoke at C2E2 in Chicago the following weekend. A costly, but worthwhile adventure, I’m quite grateful that my 9-5 offers a generous amount of P.T.O. And that my tax return was received the first week of April. The fates smiled on me this month.
As a 3 year veteran of PAX East, I’m impressed with how much content the Penny Arcade Crew and Reed Pop! Manage to squeeze into the BCEC, and still manage to make the convention very homey. Oh sure if you want to attend any of the “big” panels (anything put on by Triple AAA developer/anything in main events) or get your hands on the hottest games yet to be released (Borderlands 2, Diablo Max Payne 3) there’s going to be anywhere from a 1-4 hour wait, but there’s plenty of stuff to do that’s as equally entertaining that doesn’t require standing in line for so long. It’s also the only convention that has a Pokemon pub-crawl on day 0, a chairty event for Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play foundation, where nearly 100 20-30 yr olds storm a series of Boston bars to drink for charity. They usually end up raising an insane amount of money for the cause, and have a great amount of fun with little-to-no problem; which is awesome. In terms of personal highlights/victories, this year I was able to see Megaman/Rockman homage band “The Protomen” perform their entire 2nd album live with a 5 piece orchestra, score a beta-key for Diablo 3, and get drunk with one of my favorite Japanese gaming creators Suda 51 (No More Heroes, Killer 7, the upcoming Lollipop Chainsaw). I’m also grateful that despite being a massive show, PAX maintains a strong sense of community that is absent from most conventions I attend.
After my 4 day Boston odyssey, I had 3 days to prepare for Chicago, which consisted of me putting some time in at my day job, unpacking/repacking and getting over the PAX plague. The flight started off on the wrong foot, as a my flight was delay 4 hours (also, LaGuardia is THE worst airport to be stuck at in New York. At least JFK has free wi-fi/charge stations. Also never fly Spirit Airlines), there was bumper to bumper traffic in Chicago upon my arrival (the 45 minute drive from the airport to my hotel took nearly 2 hours) and the hotel room wasn’t ready for another 90 minutes after I checked in at the Essex. #firstclassproblems I know, but when you’re running on about 5 hours of sleep, it’s super annoying. I did manage to secure some thin-crust pizza though; which was amazing, and take in some sights; which included an unexpected trip to Chicago’s famous Graham Comics where comics legend Neal Adam was doing a signing.
As for C2e2 itself, I’ll admit that I’m extremely jealous of how much better the locale is for this convention as opposed to the Javitis Center. It’s larger, brighter, and cleaner (even come Saturday afternoon, the bathrooms were spotless) than NYCC. With about half the attendance rate of the New York show, there’s a lot more space to move around, and generally fewer lines. Sadly, the variety of panels were lacking and every DC/Marvel panel I attempted to attend were filled up by the time I got to the rooms. I did check out the Captain America/Thor movie auction though, and felt poor within seconds. Mew-Mew’s asking price was a bit on the insane side.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’m someone who actively cosplays, which lead to some cool moments at the convention. Since several Reed staffers know me as “The Cosplay Guy” (which sounds better than what several volunteers were calling Shia LeBeouf), I ended up sitting down with the Chicago Tribune‘s Christopher Borrellili, one of the only journalists who appreciates the hobby for what it actually is, as opposed to just writing an article that calls us nerds in dress-up (said article can be found here). Although I’m totally not known in the community for my elaborate costuming , I’m known for usually being the DRUNKEST, if anything.
To fill the name-dropping quota. I managed to meet George Perez when his line was short early on Friday, got an awesome Daredevil sketch by Reilly Brown, a Wolverine by the ever-awesome Skottie Young, plus a chance to chat up some great writers like Sam Humphries (who’s let me know “Sacrifice” is due for trade late summer/early fall), Nick Spencer, Gail Simone, Rick Remender & Dan Slott. Again, despite being a trade show of sorts, there was a relaxed atmosphere which made talking to creators a lot easier. Most of the time that is. I tried meeting Amanda Conner on Saturday and that line did not move.
While doing 2 shows on back-to-back weekends is extremely expensive and draining, it was well worth it. I plan on returning to both shows next year, and hope to hell that there’s some space between them.