From April 6 to April 8, 2018, Chicago will be the center of the pop culture universe thanks to the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2), which is held annually at McCormick Place right on Lake Michigan. C2E2 boasts of wide range of guests, who have worked in different mediums, including legendary comics creators, like Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, and Brian Michael Bendis; actors from your favorite cult and sci-fi shows like Alan Tudyk and Charlie Cox, big time novelists like Chicago native Veronica Roth and R.L. Stine, and even podcasters like the creators of The Adventure Zone. There’s really something for everyone at this con.
Graphic Policy will be attending C2E2 on Saturday and Sunday, but here’s a completely subjective rundown of eight of the coolest guests, exclusives, panels , screenings, and of course, after parties that will be going on all three days at the temporary mecca of fandom.
8. Have an IPA Courtesy of Valiant Comics
Valiant Comics, who has the third largest superhero universe after DC and Marvel, has teamed up with Pipeworks Brewing Company to create a special limited edition beer that will be sold on site at C2E2 as well as Pipeworks’ bottle shop and a few other stores in Illinois and New York. Last year’s beer was connected to the relaunch of Valiant flagship title, X-O Manowar, but this year, it’s named after Livewire, a member of the superhero team Unity. Going along with her name, Livewire has electricity-based powers, and so her beer: Livewire Raspberry IPA with Lime has a bit of tartness to go with its hoppy beer base.
I’m super into both sour beers and IPAs and look forward to relaxing with the Livewire Raspberry IPA after a long day of crowds and walking at C2E2. The drink pairs nicely with a copy of Shadowman #1, a relaunch of Valiant’s mystical themed superhero, which has an exclusive cover by its interior artist Stephen Segovia that is only available at the convention.
7. Enjoy An Evening with Podcast Royalty aka Travis and Friends
The McElroy Brothers (Travis, Justin, and Griffin) have established a veritable empire of podcasts since their advice show My Brother, My Brother, and Me premiered in 2010. Their shows include The Adventure Zone, a Dungeon and Dragons podcast featuring their father Clint, which is getting a graphic novel from First Second Books and Shmanners, an etiquette podcast co-hosted by Travis and his wife Teresa McElroy.
After the first day of C2E2, fans of these and other podcasts can kick back and relax at a special An Evening with Travis and Friends, which is basically the Avengers of current podcasts. The show features Travis McElroy, Teresa McElroy, and Symphony Sanders, who played librarian slaying and child soldier commanding Tamika Flynn on the uber popular Welcome to Nightvale. It should be fun time with plenty of surprises.
6. Remember the Ultimate Universe at the Mark Millar and Brian Michael Bendis Panel
So, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar have definitely done a lot more comics than Ultimate Marvel ones, but I find it slightly hilarious that the original co-writers of Ultimate Fantastic Four are going to be teaming up for a “one on one” panel at 11 AM on the Main Stage at C2E2.
Both veteran creators are at turning points in their careers with Bendis signing an exclusive deal with DC Comics to write Action Comics and Superman as well as his creator owned Jinxworld books, like Powers, and his own special imprint. In contrast, Millar has disavowed the Big Two and sold his comics company, Millarworld, to Netflix where they will make shows and films based on his work. (Fingers crossed for a Starlight movie.)
It will be interesting to see two former Marvel architects talk about their new gigs, and hopefully there will be some good banter about how most of Bendis’ writing is like a stage play and most of Millar’s is a screenplay… (Alias and Old Man Logan are classics though.)
5. The #BlackComicsMonth Panel Comes to C2E2
When I went to New York Comic Con in 2015, the #BlackComicsMonth panel, hosted by Tee Franklin (Bingo Love) was one of the most inspirational parts of the con and was very hard to get into. What makes this panel so excellent is that Franklin chooses a range of comic book creators to speak from their own experience about important topics like diversity, living with a disability, mental health, and POC and LGBTQ representation.
For the first time ever, the #BlackComicsMonth: Inclusion in Comics Panel is headed to the Midwest and will be held at 3 PM in Room S405A. The panelists include Franklin, Mikki Kendall (Swords of Sorrow), Shawn Pryor (Cash and Carrie), Matt Santori (Senior Editor of Comicosity), and in the past, there have been surprise guests like The Walking Dead actor and multimedia entrepreneur Chad Coleman. It should be an excellent discussion about real world issues and a nice break from the hyperbole and announcements of some of the other panels.
4. Catch the World Premiere of Daphne & Velma
Let’s be real, Daphne and Velma were easily the most competent and best members of the Scooby Doo gang. They finally get their own live action film in Daphne & Velma, which is having its world premiere at C2E2 before it is released straight to DVD and BluRay on May 22.
The movie is set at a super high tech STEM magnet school called Ridge Valley High where Internet friends Daphne and Velma get to be friends in real life and solve their first zombie themed mystery. Sarah Jeffery (Descendants, upcoming Charmed reboot) plays Daphne, and Sarah Gilman (Kroll Show) plays Velma. The film is produced by Ashley and Jennifer Tisdale’s Blondie Girl company and looks super adorable.
3. Party Hard at Geeks Out Snikt! Chicago
There are a lot of after parties to choose from at C2E2, but Snikt! Chicago is one of the best and not just because it’s Wolverine themed. Geeks Out is a super cool non-profit organization that founded FlameCon as the first LGBTQ comic book convention, and their goal is to foster LGBTQ awareness and representation at cons all across the country.
The party will be held at Mary’s Attic, the upstairs part of Hamburger Mary’s in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago starting at 9 PM. It will feature drag queens, gender clowns, circus arts, and of course, DJ Tony Breed to flood the dance floor. It’s a 21+ event, and cover is $7 in advance and $10 at the door.
2. Be Enlightened at the Women of Marvel Panel
Even though it has taken them until 2019’s Captain Marvel to get a solo female superhero film off the ground, Marvel Comics boasts a fantastic range of female superheroes from Storm to Angela, Kitty Pryde to Jessica Jones. (Okay, those are some of my personal favorites.) The Women of Marvel celebrates their female comics creators as well as the characters on the comics page.
This year’s Women of Marvel panelists, include producer Judy Stephens (Marvel Becoming), editor Christina Harrington (Astonishing X-Men), colorist Rachelle Rosenberg (Iceman), artist Jen Bartel (America), and writer/artist Katie Cook (Secret Wars: Secret Love.) It will be held at 1:30 PM in Room S404. My fingers are crossed for more details about Bartel’s upcoming Storm solo book that she is working on with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
1. Get All the Feels at the This Is Us Q and A
I feel like everyone in my office and family watches the NBC hit series This Is Us except me. The show follows the lives of three siblings, who were born on the same day as their father, Jack Pearson (Played by Milo Ventimiglia). It is fairly ambitious for a network TV show and has storylines set in 1980s Pittsburgh as well as modern day. In 2017, Sterling K. Brown won an Emmy and Golden Globe for his performance as Randall Pearson, Jack’s adopted son.
Sadly, Brown won’t be at C2E2, but his co-stars Milo Ventimiglia and Justin Hartley, who play Jack’s son Kevin are doing a panel at 1:30 PM on the Main Stage and can maybe tell everyone what was up with the whole Crockpot ordeal. These actors also have a history of appearing in superhero shows like Heroes and Smallville where Justin Hartley played Oliver Queen years before Arrow. Also, there better be at least one question about Ventimiglia’s rebellious bookworm character Jess from Gilmore Girls. #TeamJessForever