I went to C2E2 (Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo) this past week, and enjoyed it very much. Chicago in general is one of my favorites cities. It has that "big city" feel, but without all the filth and harsh/unfriendly bustle that usually comes with. The whole place is very clean, and people are generally really nice.
This is only the fifth year for C2E2, but they could have fooled me. It was very effectively run, and almost everything made sense from a logistical standpoint. I was impressed. It's pretty damn big too. One of the things that I always lament about smaller conventions is that you see pretty much everything on the floor in one day. This definitely wasn't the case for C2E2. The building where its held is freaking huge. There was never a moment when I felt cramped or forced to move in a certain direction, despite over 50,000 people attending. The whole space wasn't even taken up in that section of the complex. A café raised above everything on a pseudo-second floor also helped separate those that just wanted to sit down for a minute, as well as scope out the entire floor from above.
The floor was split (very effectively) into sections. People selling original/licensed artwork were in one place, people selling more conventional things (e.g. comics, figures, etc.) were in another, Photo Ops/autographs were in another, and Panels were in a totally separate section of the complex. That was probably one of my favorite parts. You didn't have to shove past people simply walking around in order to reach a panel. Anyone in that section of the complex was there to hear or see somebody. It was great.
Though I was a few minutes late, I did manage to catch Stan Lee's panel on Sunday. Having never heard him speak live before, I wasn't sure how he would be in real life. Would his celebrity persona turn out to just be an act? How would the man who created and crafted so many brilliant comic book ideas and narratives be in real life? Thankfully, I was utterly convinced that he's the real deal. He spoke very candidly about his experiences, and seemed genuinely happy to field all questions. Even though I'm sure he's been answering the same ones for over fifty years, his energy and personality really made it seem like it the first time they had been asked. Just a really nice guy. It was great to finally get to see him in person. Everything I've read that he's written only makes me want to seek out more. I can easily see why the 1960s were one of the best decades ever for comics. And I was impressed at how lively and aware he was, despite being over 90 years old. It was such a cool experience!
Anyway, I spent a ton of money on stuff, and wished that I had unlimited funds for even more stuff. I saw a lot of really great artwork and new ideas all vying to make it to the forefront. There were lots of panels and people that were worth checking out, with all kinds of topics. And there was a ton of cool cosplaying going on. My favorite was probably the G1 Transformers group (I love that someone loved Shrapnel enough to cosplay as him), but there were a ton of really impressive ones besides those. All in all, I will definitely go back next year if I'm able.
Driving around Chicago was a lot of fun too. Lots of stuff to see and do. If it had been a little warmer, the beach would have just been icing on the cake.