Thursday, April 29, 2010

C2E2 Very Late Thoughts and Impressions Part 1

Yes, yes, I know I am WAY behind the times here. I'm just getting around to blogging about C2E2 NOW. Things have been busy around here, and I apologize.

So let's see. The con IN Chicago, the very thing many industry folks have been crying for for years, literally. FYI: I was there as an exhibitor for our sister publishing company, Moonstone.

Let me give you a few general impressions I had leading up to the show. As a retailer, Amazing Fantasy Books and Comics, all four of our locations, pre-sold tickets for the show. We did VERY well. We sold MORE C2E2 tickets than we have for Wizard in the past few years. That alone was impressive. Something I really appreciated, again as a retailer, was how easy it was to get in contact with the show people, Reed Exhibitions. I would make a phone call, and either A) get my guy on the phone the first time around or B) leave a message and my guy would call me back in a timely fashion. This is the way people organizing a show should be, you know professional. Made me very happy. You know what else was cool? Reed sent out a very snazzy digital count-down clock for each of our locations. Very eye-catching. And it really did the trick, people would come into the shop and ask "What is that clock counting down TO?" And then we would proceed to give them the scoop on the all new C2E2 convention coming to town. Did I mention that Reed did not charge anyone for these cool promotional items, and that these clocks are RE-USEABLE? I'm using it right now to count down to Free Comic Book Day at the Frankfort store.

Upon walking into the convention hall, the thing that struck me first and foremost was the NATURAL light coming in through the windows, and did I mention the beautiful Chicago skyline visible from the con floor? Wow. Amazing. The ceilings were way high and maybe that was why the second thing that I noticed right away jumped out at me: NO con smell. Not even on day three. How is this possible? Maybe it was the high ceilings? Maybe it was the con organizer's not so subtle hints that all attendees should take a shower before attending the show? Honest to God, I think it was mentioned on C2E2's official website for "how to get ready for the show" or something to that effect. And I saw it in the official program book also. I can honestly say that was the first time I've seen a convention organizer come right out and say what everyone has been thinking for years. To be fair I think they also mentioned "eat breakfast, and get a good night's sleep before the show" in the list of things to do before the big con. Cute. Made me giggle too.

The hall itself was very spacious with SUPER WIDE aisles. Again, weird. I'm so used to tripping over people with strollers. And at every show I go to, I feel just awful for people in wheel-chairs, they get shoved and pushed, etc. Not so at this show, the aisles were wide enough for multiple wheelchairs and strollers to be able to pass each other without a problem! Will the aisles always be as wide as this year's show? Hard to say. Over time, in theory, the show will grow every year, so eventually those aisles will eventually become the more condensed versions we are all used to, but until then I'm going to enjoy the space. Because of the wide aisles, this was the first year at a con that I can recall, that we didn't have at least one of those moments that someone decides that our booth is a good place to set all their shit down to stuff something or other in their backpack or rearrange their bags of purchases etc. Do you know what I'm talking about? If you've ever been a vendor at a show, you know what I mean. Some people are oblivious to the world around them. At an average comic convention, any flat space, with or without product on that space mind you, becomes a "table" or "counter" for the average attendee to use as they see fit. Check off two great NON-problems at this show.

Reed reported attendance to be about 27,500. Not too shabby considering that the New York Comicon's first show was under 20,000 I believe. Wizard Chicago normally pulls about 40,000. I've seen some reports of Wizard Chicago attendance to be as high at 70,000, but I'm in disagreement on those estimates. I've been to San Diego with attendance over 100,000, and Wizard Chicago has never felt even close to that, but I digress. This attendance number is very respectable, and will only grow in the years to come. Any bets on what next year's C2E2 #'s will be? I'm thinking about 50K.

Signing and directions to C2E2. I have to admit, my experiences at McCormick Place prior to this show were scanty at best. I think I've only attended one show there in recent memory and that was the National Library Association show that I went to last year. So, granted, I had no idea where the hell I was going, and it showed. I ended driving into the wrong garage one day, and boy was that fun trying to get to the right one. Dear god, I won't make that mistake again, I think it took me ten whole minutes to navigate between the two. Ok, once I managed to get INTO the correct parking garage, where to go? They really need some signs in the parking garage with arrows "C2E2 this way" or something. Thankfully, on day one I ran into someone who told me that there was a Kitchen and Bath show happening in the other part of McCormick Place, so I was able to walk in the right direction at least. Even after getting to the right area, the space is so huge it was hard to know exactly where we were suppose to go. I figured it out eventually, I just felt like a complete moron until I did so.

As a valued member of the Moonstone Team, I participated in TWO panels this year. Lots of fun! I will post about those tomorrow, time permitting.

I hope everyone who had a chance to attend C2E2 enjoyed the show and plan to attend next year!

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