Finding fandom: Comic exposition lets people share their interests


Amon Gray

Convention attendees mill around the lobby of McCormick place. The event took place from Aug. 5-7 and offered a variety of activities including sale of memorabilia, signings, panels and more.

Amon Gray, Sports and Leisure Editor

When I stepped into the lobby of McCormick Place Aug. 6, I immediately saw a hastily put together Captain America, a meticulously crafted Master Chief, and a man wearing a T-shirt of an anime character I didn’t recognize. The enormous sign hanging over all of them read “Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo C2E2.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 C2E2 event was moved to March 2022 with the 2022 event held in August.

As I rode the escalator up to the convention floor I saw more and more recognizable characters. The line buzzed with excitement. Everyone was speaking with the speed and determination of someone explaining every scrap of information they knew about their favorite franchise. 

I passed under the archway onto the main floor. It was a lively crowd, but there was also room to walk around. The stands for Marvel and DC Comics were replaced by an enormous display from the anime series “One Piece,” featuring an inflatable replica of the pirate ship from the show. 

After a quick look, I began my journey through the shelves and shelves of merchandise, compulsively buying comics, replicas, posters and anything else that caught my interest. By the time I approached the back of the convention floor, I struggled to carry a lightsaber replica, several signed prints from artists and a hand-knit Baby Yoda Christmas ornament.

About a third of the people were cosplaying, with costumed characters about evenly divided among movies, comics and anime. Even the lower-effort costumes had an authenticity and passion behind them. Seemingly everywhere I looked someone was shaking hands with someone else dressed as the same character. 

I climbed the stars to a raised cafe above the crowds. From there, I ate a hot pretzel and watched the lines for autographs with the celebrity guests slowly snake below me. Many were eagerly waiting to meet members of the Star Wars cast, anime voice actors and WWE wrestlers. 

After walking down the stairs I entered the Artist Alley featuring isles and rows of hundreds of artists selling commissions, prints and original art. Many of their works featured favorite characters in every imaginable artistic style. 

I learned about a concept artist’s experiences working on one of the Star Wars movies and bought a signed print of his work.

Overall, C2E2 in August 2022 was an incredible Where’s Waldo of nerd franchises brought to life by passionate fans and creators. The next C2E2 will be March 31 to April 2, 2023, and tickets are on sale now.