As we continue to move further away from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are starting to see conventions return to normal. A few weekends ago (August 5 -7) we saw the return of the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) to McCormick Place. Traditionally C2E2 has been in the Spring, but after a move to December in 2021, the date was moved to late summer this year. Compared to last year, the convention this year felt closer to its pre-COVID state, though perhaps not quite back to its full strength quite yet. You can check out my full thoughts on C2E2 2022 below.
One of the biggest draws for any convention is the guest lineup and the lineup for this year’s C2E2 offered something for everyone. Star Wars fans were treated with appearances from several stars from different Star Wars shows and films. The Star Wars lineup was headlined by Rosario Dawson and Billy Dee Williams. Moses Ingram, Rupert Friend, and Vivien Lyra Blair from the Obi-Wan Kenobi series were also in attendance and participated in a panel for fans. Also joining the convention from The Mandalorian were Mercedes Varnado and Brendan Wayne.
My interaction with Wayne was a highlight of my C2E2. He was extremely friendly and willing to take the time and talk to fans about his experiences on The Mandalorian and other projects. I won’t be surprised to see him at other conventions in the future, as he truly seemed to enjoy the experience. I highly recommend taking the time to get an autograph and meet him if you get the chance.
However, it wasn’t only Star Wars fans with an excellent guest lineup. Professional Wrestling fans were treated to appearances by The Undertaker, CM Punk, Mick Foley, Trish Stratus, and Lita. Fans of Anime were able to meet Steve Blum, Max Mittleton, Janet Varney, and many others.
LONG LINES FOR DAWSON
Overall the photo ops and autograph lines moved along pretty well. I did not notice many extremely long lines throughout the weekend, with one notable exception. The line for Rosario Dawson was a nightmare. I personally waited in line for nearly 5 hours on Saturday and most I talked to averaged about the same. This year there were no times assigned to fans who pre-purchased autographs. This made it a mad rush to the queue line when the convention floor opened. Even with the long lines, Dawson was very pleasant and friendly to fans. She took a few moments to chat with everyone.
I believe the overall experience would have benefited from a more scheduled approach so fans could arrive at a designated time to reduce the queuing process. The lack of time slots could have been a result of the issues the process had last year when they were attempted.
COMIC GUESTS AND ARTIST ALLEY
Artist Alley is always a highlight for me and a big part of my C2E2 experience. As in years past, this area featured several established comic guests like Charles Soule and Chris Claremount. There were unfortunately some notable cancellations on the comic side with Scott Synder and Jonathon Hickman both unable to attend. While their attendance was missed, there were still plenty of great writers and artists to meet. One of the best things about Artist Alley is getting to find lesser-known and independent creators. C2E2 this year was no different, with tons of creators willing to talk to fans about their work.
On the artist side of things, C2E2 fully delivered. There were tons of great artists to visit to pick up prints, originals, and commissions. Artist alley and the artists on the convention floor are truly one of the best parts of C2E2. Fans were shoulder to shoulder for much of Saturday, which is typical for Artist Alley. Attendees had their pick of great art to choose from covering all the fandoms one could imagine.
C2E2 CONVENTION FLOOR
C2E2 this year, certainly felt a bit bigger than 2021. Last year you could tell right away it was a bit empty compared to previous years. This was completely expected though as we were still dealing with COVID-19 and many exhibitors not traveling to shows. However this year, the absence of Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse comics was still noticeable. The largest booths on the floor this year belonged to Bandai Namco and online community marketplace Whatnot. While both of these exhibitors had impressive displays that dominated their areas of the convention floor, it didn’t fully mask the absence of the bigger comic publishers.
Another notable absence once again this year was the beloved red carpet that had previously graced the convention floor. Many attendees last year assumed the missing carpet was due to COVID-19 changes. This year, however, it was again missing but this time an official statement was provided with an “In Memoriam” sign at the entrance of the convention. The feedback online regarding the demise of the carpet was a mixture of sadness and skepticism. Time will tell if C2E2 and ReedPop reverse course and bring back the famous red carpet.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON C2E2 2022
It appears C2E2 is starting to return to normal, but still has a little work to do to get back to where it was. Overall, I would call 2022 C2E2 a success with just a few minor complaints. It was a fun experience and was great to see all the fans enjoying the guests, artists, and vendors on the convention floor. The cosplay was top-notch as always, with tons of great cosplay walking the floor. The lobby area was filled as usual with attendees snapping photos of and with their favorite cosplays.
In my opinion, the presence of the major comic publishers is still sorely missed. Hopefully, they will return with the convention shifting back to its regular Spring date in 2023. Even if you aren’t a huge comic fan, having Marvel and DC on the floor, brings a certain gravitas to the convention experience.
There is a quick turnaround for C2E2 2023, and tickets are already on sale. Fans will be eagerly waiting to see more information and guest reveals over the coming months. I hope to see many of you in Chicago in the Spring for the next C2E2.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
What were your thoughts about C2E2 2022? Are you planning on returning next year? Also, what guests would you like to see make a C2E2 appearance? Well, That Hashtag Show wants to hear from you!