Reed Pop hosted its sixth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) this weekend at McCormick Place. They featured guests like Jason Momoa and Ming-Na Wen, Scott Snyder and Chip Zdarsky, and the seemingly ubiquitous Stan Lee. Though I don’t believe official numbers have been released yet, I heard from multiple sources that attendance was notably larger than the 63,000 from last year. While it was so crowded as to have perpetually congested ailses, anecdotally, it certainly seemed more packed with people than I’ve seen in previous years. I heard as much from publishers and creators in Arists Alley as well.
Reed Pop has developed a reputation for putting on good shows, and C2E2 is certainly no exception. They have great relationships with people setting up tables and booths (I heard multiple people state on Saturday that they’d definitely be putting down a deposit for 2016 before the weekend was out) and really seem to treat the attendees with a great deal of respect. They bring in a diverse mix of celebrities, creators and retailers, easily allowing attendees to embrace their personal favorite fandoms regardless of what type of geek flag they fly.
In fact, there are almost several conventions going on simultaneously. While I was aware that a number of actors were available for signings and photo ops, and they were the subject of standing-room-only panels, I scarcely dealt with that personally, as I was happily talking with people in the comic book industry. Part of that was due to Reed Pop’s handling. They did a good job organizing traffic flows both with the overall layout as well as specifically popular areas. There were notable improvements from last year, and I suspect their end-of-the-con Q&A sessions are to thank for many of them. As I noted above, they seem to respect the fans and actively listen to their suggestions and complaints.
The show has one of the stronger anti-harassment and inclusion policies I’ve seen, with posters throughout the show highlighting what is and is not acceptable. That progressive approach is reflective in the crowd; I noticed a very healthily diverse attendance, and heard from folks who noted in some fashion that they don’t feel “othered” at C2E2 as they do at some other conventions. And with kids day on Sunday, the show floor is flooded with smaller children, many of them in adorable costumes.
I could talk about the specific panels I attended, or the individual artists I spoke with, but that would naturally only be a reflection of my personal preferences. Would you be interested in the Black Nerd Girl’s Journey or Social Media for Creators? Maybe, maybe not. But speaking broadly, literally everyone I talked with—creators, cosplayers, retailers, attendees—was having a fantastic time, however they might have defined that for themselves. I think that speaks volumes to not only the success of the show, but also the attention to and respect for fans that Reed Pop displays. C2E2 is a show that celebrates fandom in the best senses of the word.