Back from the C2E2 convention in Chicago. Good show in a good city, even if the attendance was less than anyone predicted or hoped for. Signed lots of books, saw lots of friends, got to do a panel with Bears linebacker and big-time comics fan Lance Briggs, debuted Magdalena #1 to a very positive response. All in all, had a great time.
I usually come away from cons with renewed excitement for the work. Writing in particular is a solitary pursuit, and feedback from the audience is pretty minimal save for the online community (which only represents a sliver of the readership). So getting to interact with readers in person is great. This time I was particularly struck by the contact between the comic show of C2E2 and the other convention that took up space in the McCormick Place facility: the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show & Conference.
The “bath show” was certainly a larger affair in terms of floor space, with lots of big, splashy displays (at least the ones I could see as I walked past). The attendees were a pretty uniform bunch – almost all white, everyone in a suit and tie or at least blazers and slacks, same haircuts. In other words, pretty dull. To be fair, I wouldn’t be enthused to have to look at bathroom and kitchen fixtures for three days either. But none of them seemed happy, nobody seemed excited. They just seemed … like drones.
The kitchen and bath show was held in two huge halls to either side of a wide interior walkway. The drones milled and chatted and stood in line at Starbucks, talking about slate countertops and porcelain sinks. All of which is fine, if that’s your thing. It only became troublesome when someone decided the folks headed for the comic con shouldn’t mix with the “bath bunch.”
In order to reach the C2E2 hall, you had to proceed down that wide walkway between the two halls hosting the kitchen and bath show. On Friday, that was fine. But on Saturday and Sunday, security was stopping anyone with a C2E2 badge from accessing the more convenient walkway. Instead, everyone was funneled to lower levels before emerging again closer to the comic hall. Not a big deal, I suppose, but in talking … uh, arguing … with security guards about it, I got the definite sense that the kitchen and bath people found the comic people somehow distasteful. I heard a few tales of encounters between the button-down bathers and folks in Stormtrooper uniforms or superhero costumes. So the comic people got shunted off to the side, so they wouldn’t sully the corporate-centric kitchen and bathroom displays.
But here’s the point. All the comic folks seemed excited, or at least pleased to be there. There was some joy. The kitchen and bath people … not so much. The comics community is not huge, comparatively. But everyone, from pros to fans to retailers, has a genuine affection for the medium, for what we do. And that’s something to be proud of.