Convention Report: C2E2 2015

 In conventions

This past weekend was C2E2, short for Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo, and it was another incredible year of awesomeness! I had a bunch of buddies come in and crash with me Thursday night, so on Friday is when the real festivities began. I’ll start there….

In the morning we all got up super early (so early, in fact, that some of my guests had already left to go set up their table). We had a quick bite of breakfast and then headed over to the show floor where, much to my surprise, we didn’t have a table! This isn’t uncommon, as the 10×10 spaces don’t typically come with a table. Sadly, I had thought we were getting one, and hadn’t brought mine from home. But thankfully after a few quick calls and some paperwork, we had a table just in time for set up before people started streaming into the show.

The Reading with Pictures booth, in all it’s glory!

I started my day of sales, and sell hard I did. Thankfully, we had a few friends and volunteers to help out at the table as well. We were also doing a charity pub crawl, which we were promoting throughout the weekend as well. So there was much promoting going on – about the educational non-profit that is Reading with Pictures, about our books and initiatives, and about the other books we had on the table – namely, Albert the Alien!

Some good looking’ guys at the Reading with Pictures booth. From left to right: Steve Horton, Alan Evans, and Trevor Mueller

Pizza face masks! We were giving these away as part of our pub crawl charity event

Because I was primarily helping out at the non-profit booth all weekend, I had been asked to try to make a lot of my personal sales for the weekend pre-orders. I talked to a lot of fans in advance of the show to secure commissions, book orders, and other revenue-driving items. I was worried this may not be a success, but much to my surprise people were really into it. In fact, some kept coming back to order more commissions over and over again. Here are some examples of what I did for the show on Friday….

A fan posed for a commission of him hulking out…

…and received THIS!

Posing with Rachel – who had a sweet sword!

Evil Kitteh commission of a fan’s boyfriend’s cat as a super villain

Chung Li vs Agent May commission (they were both played by Ming Na, who was at the show)

Spock sketchcard commission

The convention was a big success, with a lot of interest in the organization and in attending our pub crawl for charity. After a few hours I finally got a chance to break and walk around a bit. I had a great meeting with some publishers and editors, and got to shake hands with a few really cool people (my friends at Aspen, buddies at Penguin and Zenoscope, and a slew of others).

After a few hours, the floor finally closed and a group of us got together for our annual sushi tradition. Heading to my favorite sushi joint in the city, we all piled into cars and cabs and made our way to grab some affordable and delicious food! We were even joined by some new friends, which is great – you always bond best with people over good food.

Dinner at Niu with Blake and Carolyn Packard

John Bivens drops some hilarious jokes at dinner

After a nice long dinner, it was finally time to return home and get some much-needed sleep. We were all pretty tired and it was only the first day of the show. Tomorrow would be the biggest day of crowds and potential sales, so we all wanted to be on our a-game.

Saturday started off with a sprint and kept getting faster as it went. The pre-orderers kept coming by to get the stuff they wanted, or to get some books – the sales kept coming and it was awesome! I also got a slew of commissions throughout the day, including…

Harley Quinn commission

Goku God commission

…and many more!

Thankfully there was a little time to pull away from the table (since I had some handy-dandy volunteers helping us out at the table). Garret showed up in an Iron Fist cosplay, and we even got some of my friends and cosplay fans to help promote the charity events.

Even Buddy Christ was helping us out with the charity event!

But there was also time for fun and games, which is what helps us get through the long days at a convention.

Having fun with John Bivens between sales at the RWP booth

A slew of cosplayed friends stopped by the table, and some of their outfits were super inventive and awesome. I took a few pictures of the cosplayers (not something I normally do, but I couldn’t help it – they spend so much time on their outfits, the least I can do is take a picture and talk about it a little). Below are some of the cool ones from my friends who stopped by.

Slave Chung Li and Pimp Jabba

Mockingbird from Agents of SHILED (her Hydra outfit)

Captain America made an appearance at the table

Some more fun cosplayers – and good friends of mine – in their awesome outfits!

I eventually got a chance to step away from the table for a bit and go out to Artist Alley to see friends and colleagues. It always takes me FOREVER to get through artist alley because I know so many people. I think it took about 3-4 hours and I was only halfway through the hall. But I would have to return the next day, because at that point I needed to return to the RWP table and give some relief to our fine volunteers and helpers.

After the floor closed we all packed up and headed to ChinaTown where we enjoyed some fine food and good company. We were joined by the Walkers from Nostalgia Critic fame, as well as a bevy of other artists and writers from the show. The night ended late again, with us headed back to my place for much needed sleep. At this point I had started to lose my voice, so tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.

Sunday morning was a slower morning in the household, because one of my house guests had left the day before, and another was leaving for home right after dropping me off. The show floor was quiet as I walked in and started setting up, and chatted up a few folks I hadn’t had a chance to speak to previously. I even had a few friends stop by the booth with their kids.

Sunday is kids day, and for most creators that means lower sales. Unless, like me, you make a kid’s comic book. Then Sundays are awesome! I had kids running up to the table shouting “ALBERT! LOOK, MOMMY, IT”S ALBERT! I WANT ALBERT!” Such a great feeling!

Hanging out with the fine folks of Kiren Rise

Posing with Sera McClain, who has appeared in Albert the Alien!

The Judges approve of Albert the Alien!

After only a few hours, even though I brought another half box of books from home to some additional online pre-orders I had received, we were eventually sold out completely. I shut down the table, left a sign thanking everyone for their support, and went to walk the show floor and complete my run around artist alley.

The previous day I had only made it about half way through the alley, and this morning the traffic was a little easier to navigate (the other side of the show where I had been the other day was where all the big kid’s creators were, so I’m sure those isles were packed). I talked to some friends, exchanged some books with some people, and generally rubbed elbows, shook hands, and kissed babies (not really).

A friend of Albert the Alien artist Gabo had some really cute figurines on display, which I tried to text and convince my wife we needed in our place. She’s tolerated my collection of comics and movies, but she told me she draws the line at figurines. I think I can sway her eventually… 😉

Chubby Batman is the coolest!

Hanging out with the very talented Eric Palicki!

After a few hours the show floor finally closed, and it was time to pack up and head home. I could barely keep my eyes open when I got home, because the weekend was so awesome. A very special thank you to all of the staff and volunteers at ReedPOP for another fantastic year of partnership between you and Reading with Pictures. Thank you to the ALA for being awesome partners to our non-profit, and for being great table neighbors throughout the weekend. And thank you to all of the friends and fans who supported me this weekend with your company (and your hard-earned dollars). You guys are why I do this too many weekends out of the year. And I love you for it!

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