It’s been a week since C2E2 in Chicago ended and I think I’ve finally stopped drinking and recovered enough to write about it.
It was another enjoyable con that managed to honor comic books and creators, while expanding its reach into other areas of pop culture, like film and television. While shows like Wizard World Chicago seem to have all but abandoned the “comic book” part of their comic book conventions in favor of Hollywood flash, I’m happy that C2E2 has continually committed to keeping comics front and center.
I spent most of Friday morning in Artist Alley where I browsed indie creator tables and picked up a cool, little anthology comic called Changes by local writer Warwick Johnson. I also made a stop at Houchen Bindery where I finally pulled the trigger on getting some of my favorite comic series bound. It was hard to hand over my Ann Nocenti Daredevils because her run is largely responsible for making me love comics and completely at fault for making Daredevil my favorite character.
On the most recent episode of the I Kick Your Face Comicast I talked about how much Ann’s work meant to me when I was 12 and how her DD run still resonates with me today. Needless to say, I am beyond excited about getting to hold two hardcover volumes of her stories in my mitts. And I know they are in good hands with Houchen’s Tim Benson, whose favorite comic run of all time just happens to be the Nocenti DDs. Friday afternoon I attended panels on creating comics with my buddy Jason Muhr. Jason is the artist on our co-created series, VORACIOUS, which is currently in the hands of publishers. He was also only one of 12 artists called back by Marvel to have his portfolio reviewed at C2E2. Hopefully one of the companies we sent VORACIOUS to will take a chance on us, but while we wait to hear back we have been trying to learn as much as possible about the industry, and about marketing and self-publishing. C2E2 dedicated quite a few panels to creating comics and establishing a brand. Although I am familiar with much of what was presented, I thoroughly enjoyed Write or Wrong: How to Manage Your Brand as a Creator, thanks to the energetic and interesting Dirk Manning. Having worked hard to become a writer in the medium, Dirk offered attendees some excellent strategies for not only breaking in to comics, but carving out a lasting presence and marketing yourself successfully.
After that session, I headed to the bar with my mighty tankard in hand.
And this is where I stayed for most of the afternoon.
I caught up with my friend and superstar writer Brian Azzarello, who I’ve known since my first Chicago con in 2000. Azz is like an urban wizard. He knows every dive bar in the city because he often writes in them, so it was not a surprise to see him on a stool with a pint in hand. When I got to the bar I found out Azz had just been announced as the co-writer (with Frank Miller) on Dark Knight III: The Master Race. Obviously he deserved a delicious beverage.
Azz and I talked about Dark Knight and then he introduced me to Batman writer Scott Snyder and Wytches artist, Jock, who is one of the nicest people I’ve met in comics. We had many beers. So many that Jock ended up showing us some of his art tools and what he could do with them. I drunkenly joked that he should draw Azzarello as Batman and this is what happened… Yeah, I know. I’m having it framed. Hanging with some of the best creators in comics was definitely the highlight of my time at C2E2. Next year I plan to head directly to the bar. No artist alley. No cosplay pics. Bar. Immediately.
In the evening I attended the live recording of Kevin Smith’s podcast Jay & Silent Bob Get Old. It was a riot. Lots of great banter, discussion of Daredevil on Netflix and a wild segment called “Let Us Fuck,” in which Jason Mewes performs sexual skits with (un)lucky audience members. I am pretty sure I will never be able to unsee his performance of “Hulk Smash That Ass.” Saturday I did not attend C2E2 because I was at Dark Lord Day. Once a year, 3Floyds, AKA the best brewer in America, puts on a festival in Munster, IN filled with killer metal bands, food and a Russian Imperial Stout that will absolutely destroy everything you thought you knew about beer. So I have no idea what the hell happened at C2E2 that day. The details of Dark Lord Day are also a bit hazy.
Incredibly, I managed to make it back to C2E2 on Sunday morning for a few final hours of geekery. I was surprised by how packed it was. I don’t know what the final attendance numbers are, but it felt like there were more people on the floor than last year. I snaked through the crowds and headed back to artist alley where I spent time talking to the amazingly talented writer/artists Ben Templesmith and Matt Kindt. Both are really kind dudes and always gracious with their time. Ben signed my hardcover copy of the Squidder and Matt autographed Revolver for me. They also drew some beautiful sketches in my books without me even asking.
I finished my C2E2 early, at the bar of course. I had lunch with Jason and my old buddy, Matty Ryan, who helped create the brand new digital publishing platform Farrago Comics. I knew Matty when I was just a little San in Syracuse, NY. We played soccer together and his Mom was our coach, so catching up with him and reminiscing about kicking balls was a lot of fun. So was talking about his new venture which is incredibly innovative and creator focused. Definitely give Farrago a shot. The app is free and so is all of the content. I really hope to see Matty and his chums grow what they’ve built because it’s a unique model for delivering and enjoying comics.
A few more laughs and a couple more rounds of beer with Matty and Jason, and my C2E2 was done.
Oh, and Azz was there on a stool. I’m pretty sure he just lives in the bar. In every bar…