Comics/Graphic Novels

Convention Diaries: C2E2, Friday March 19, 2016

This past weekend, I made the trip from Indianapolis up to Chicago to attend the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2). Despite having grown up in the Midwest and having gone to undergrad in Chicago, this was my first C2E2. And, come to think of it, I have somehow avoided ever coming to McCormick Place before, though I have driven past it on Lake Shore Drive hundreds, if not thousands, of times. So, Friday was a bit of a learning experience for me, as I figured out the layout of the convention floor and panel rooms.

The excitement began before I even made it to McCormick Place, though. I took the Green Line train down, and there’s about a half mile walk from the station, so I got my first glimpse of my fellow conventioneers on the walk over. Right behind me: an awesome Barbara Gordon as librarian cosplayer, complete with a Gotham Central Library nametag (alas, the tag didn’t come out in my picture).

There were still a few minutes left before the show opened, so I got some pictures of cosplayers and checked out the ReedPOP store.

(The Spider-Woman sweater turned out to be $65, so I held off.)

Once in, I headed over to Artist Alley, where I had a great conversation with Vanesa Del Rey, an up-and-coming artist who I was familiar with from the amazing expressionist art in Scarlet Witch #1. We spoke for a few minutes about the forthcoming Spider-Women Alpha, due out in a couple of weeks. She was selling original art from the issue, and let me tell you—it looked absolutely stunning (you can see some colored, but unlettered, preview pages over at Comics Alliance). Del Rey also told me about her process: she pencils on the computer, then inks with a brush on paper; her work is thus an interesting mix of solid reality and expressionist fantasy. I’m seriously in love with it. (Why didn’t Panels give me an original art budget?!?) Since I appeared bearing a copy of Scarlet Witch #1, Del Rey not only signed it, but also drew an amazing little Wanda in the white space of the cover:

I spoke with a few other creators, including Robbie Thompson about Silk, one of my absolute favorite ongoing series right now. I mentioned to Thompson that I liked how he had integrated Cindy’s therapy into story, and he said that he was really glad, and that he hoped it would help to normalize therapy. He then went on to talk about that how he viewed comic conventions as informal therapy for social anxiety, since you’re required to be out interacting with people.

Next, I decided to sit in on the Comics and New Literacy: Exploring Classroom Innovations panel, which talked about how comics can be a great way to explore difficult subject matter. A social studies teacher on the panel noted that The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, had perhaps the best explanation of the Ninth Amendment he had ever seen. (I live-tweeted the panel, so if you are an education-type, check out the Storify.)

The only problem? As you can see in the picture, the panel was all men, especially galling considering over 3/4 of public school teachers in the United States are women (including over 60% of secondary school teachers).

After that, sat in on the From Page to Screen panel.

I ended my day with a trip back to Artists’ Alley, where I picked up an amazing commission from Jill Thompson. We also talked about decoupaging (I showed her a picture of my Sandman-themed dressers, featuring some of Thompson’s art from Brief Lives.

(Pro tip: use a couple of coats of crystal clear polyurethane to seal your important decoupage projects to avoid the tackiness you can get with Mod Podge when it’s humid.)

That was it for Friday, but I’ll be back soon with my report on Saturday, including the very exciting Women of Marvel panel.