A little while ago I wrote about why the small cons have an advantage over the gigantic San Diego Comic Con. So it was in this spirit that went down to Chicago, IL for C2E2. The trip simply confirmed everything I said before.
The show floor itself is divided into three sections. The autograph area, where for a small fee you can get an autograph and a picture from one of your favorite supporting cast members.
The main floor, where you can buy just about anything comic book or fantasy related. Unlike the big cons there’s nothing new here, none of the big companies whose name you’d recognize have a booth. Even the independent publishers are rare and difficult to find. It’s literally a giant swap meet of nerdiness. With alcohol. Revolution Brewing, a local brewery, provided the event with a nice selection of beers on tap.
Then we have artists’ alley, where you can buy art prints or commission an original piece from the artists themselves. The advantage of not having so many giant flashy promotional booths on the show floor is that it frees up more space for the artists with bigger names like Neal Adams, Peter Tomasi, and Dan Jurgens. But get there early because there will be a line and they can only take a limited number of commissions. Plus they tend to get a little testy when they realize they’re going to have to draw Superman over and over again all day for three days (don’t ever meet your heroes).
The other half of the con is the panels. Nothing really new here. But there aren’t any mega stars promoting the next summer blockbuster or upcoming show. The panels are where you can listen to discussions about what’s going on in the industry or even provide feedback to writers and artists about where the future of the major titles should go.
As you walk around the convention floor you’ll notice that this is where the fans go. You see it in the diversity of characters being cosplayed. While you’ll still see a variety of Deadpools, the Harley Quinns are at a minimum, and none of those women trying to sell you a picture or get you to subscribe to their Patreon.
C2E2 is a con for the true fans, I hope to see more of you out there next year. Tune in to the April 26 episode Fantastic Forum to hear more about my C2E2 adventures.
Tidewater Comic Con held its second annual convention on May 16 - 17, 2015 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center in Virginia Beach, VA at 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m on Sunday. The convention center was selected as Tidewater Comic Con’s location to accommodate the large crowd expected to attend.
And a large crowd, in deed, attended this event. Tidewater Comic Con on Sunday May 17, 2015, the second day of the event seemed just as crowded as if it was the first day.
These highlights of Tidewater Comic Con is from Sunday’s showing which I attended, even though I’m sure the events on Saturday were just as newsworthy as well.
There’s a saying that you have only one chance to make a good impression. Well, Tidewater Comic Con did itself justice in presenting an overall fun impression at first glance. Before even entering the actual exhibit hall, there were cosplay participants smiling and seemingly happy to have their pictures taken, sometimes, taking the time to pose with their props in full costume.
When one first enters the Convention Center, there were of course uniformed law enforcement officers throughout, possibly due to the large crowd. Additionally, signs were prominently displayed for all props to be inspected. In keeping with the look of some cosplay characters, sometimes the participants used fabricated weapons or other objects that went with their costume.
The multi-level layout of the Virginia Beach Convention Center provided the opportunity to take pictures or view the cosplay participants from a different vantage point. I even took pictures of cosplay characters as they ascended or descending the escalators.
After noticing the wide array of cosplay participants in the large lobby area of the convention center, some may think they are already at the heart of Tidewater Comic Con. In other words, to be a part of Tidewater Comic Con, one could have just as much fun, in my opinion, merely walking around and being among the crowd if one did not want to pay to get into the exhibit hall. This way, one can experience some parts of the convention free including attending events set up in meeting rooms involving comic book topics as well as view live videos being taken.
The negative is one would be missing out on other parts of the convention that required an admittance fee. The center or pulse of Tidewater Comic con is the exhibit areas which required a blue band on one’s wrist to enter -- showing that admission has been paid. VIP attendees wore orange bands. In my opinion, the admittance fee is worth the price to experience all that Tidewater Comic Con had to offer.
Once inside the large exhibit areas, there were rows of tables and displays set up with vendors hawking their wares, including comic books, action figures, and other comic book related items and services. Batman’s batmobile was roped off at the back of the exhibit area, and some special guests were seated for photo-ops or an autograph sessions for a fee.
Some guests were easily accessible, including graphic artists, writers and others. For example, I interviewed one of the special guests, Witchblade writer, Ron Marz as well as received an autographed copy of one of his works, Shinku, a graphic novel of a female monster hunter.
If you wanted to spend some of your hard-earned cash, there were lots of deals to be had regarding not only comic books and action figures but other items as well. In fact, some items sold at Tidewater Comic Con were literally a collector’s delight. For instance, I witnessed a RoboCop fan obtaining a collection of RoboCop figures, with the dealer throwing in an accompanying RoboCop vehicle for free.
Regarding eating areas, there were a limited number at Tidewater Comic Con; however, the eating facilities appeared to be adequate and provided sufficient seating areas.
The highlight of Sunday’s Tidewater Comic Con, in my opinion, was the myriad of cosplay participants, some simply wearing a plain suit of their favorite character’s costume, others having their face immersed in red plastic and other wearing face masks while some went the extra mile to rival the actual characters they were dressed as.
The two cosplay characters who stood out in my opinion during Sunday’s event was Hawkgirl who wore a magnificent spread of wings and the 9 - 10 feet tall Guardians of the Galaxy Groot where people practically stood in line to take a photo with. Groot came in as a runner up in the comic book character cosplay contest, with Iron Man winning; however given the extensive detail and artistry of Groot’s cosplay tree costume -- it is likely he would have won, if Iron Man was not a first-time cosplay contestant. This reason was given by the judges for Iron Man winning over Groot, who in my opinion, was the clear winner.
Unsurprising, Hawkgirl won in the female comic book cosplay area along with other cosplay winners in other categories.
Not only was Tidewater Comic Con a fun event to attend, but it was well organized as well. Sunday’s event was scheduled to end at 5:00 p.m. and it ended promptly at 4:57 p.m.
Relative to the long lines -- sure, there were a long line going into the auditorium for the cosplay contest; however, this is to be expected with such a large crowd. Once the line started moving, it took only a few minutes to get into the auditorium and find a seat. While waiting in line, I used the time to take more pictures of cosplay attendees as they walked past, including, believe it or not, a human green plant who came complete with a black flower pot that he or she obliged by sitting in for pictures.
Additionally, Tidewater Comic Con is geared to all ages ranging from the very mature to the very young. Two of the youngest cosplay participants I saw included a little girl dressed as Wonder Woman, one dressed as a princess, and a toddler dressed as Hans Solo. Included in the older category was a character dressed as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, who won in the cosplay contest as the best male non-comic book character.
A negative, in my opinion was the display of weapons, including guns and rifles, used as props with the costumes, some that not only looked realistic but were held in such a way that would cause one to take a second look, if one was not at a comic con convention.
I believe the positives of Tidewater Comic Con far outweighed any negatives. Sunday, May 17, 2015 was an excellent day to be out and about to enjoy the beautiful sunny weather and if you like -- as I did -- attend Tidewater Comic Con. Attending both days of the event would probably have been an even more enjoyable comic con experience.
Given the enthusiasm as well as the friendliness of those attending, Tidewater Comic Con can be described as nothing short of being a blast from any view.
More people should be going to any and all of the little “baby-cons” across the country. I’ve made this statement to as many people as would listen. Partially in the hope of reducing the giant crowds at the real Comic-Con in San Diego, but also because these little cons are what SDCC used to be.
Each year I make the trip down to San Diego I see more and more of the comics being swallowed up by whatever the latest upcoming blockbuster needs to advertise that year. It’s gotten to that point that more and more people are referring to it as “Pop-Con”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
I completely understand the need for the big spectacle. Something to shine a spotlight onto oncoming awesomeness to as many people as possible and keep up the quality of the products we enjoy. But there comes a point where it becomes way too big to truly be enjoyed. Are you really getting the Con experience waiting in a line for a day and a half to get into a 20 minute panel?
This is where an event like Wonder-Con becomes a necessity. A throwback to the early days where you stop to take a picture of a cosplayer without worrying about the thousand people traffic jam behind you. Just being able to walk from booth to booth without people bumping into you, or worse, nearly crushing you as a mass of bodies rushes to where the Game of Thrones guy was just spotted. Even the prices on comics are better (if you’re into that sort of thing). The panels are smaller but you can show up within 10 minutes and still get in. There are far less exclusive items at these smaller cons but a lot of the cool show exclusive everyone is going crazy for during SDCC end up on Ebay the next day anyway.
Every year a billion people descend into SDCC looking for the Comic-Con experience. I say that experience has moved on to Wonder-Con, Kamikaze, C2E2, etc. Go there while you still can.