Rogue Element #125: C2E2 2015
By Avril Brown
After a long, cold year, the sun has finally arisen once more. The warm, encompassing rays of light have ensconced us within their welcoming embrace, and we are, at long last, home again. No one is left out in the bleak; all are included in this bosom of love and acceptance, for we are family. We are nerd culture, and Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo is our mecca.
That’s right, Chicago nerds and a fair amount of determined out-of-towners gathered en masse to celebrate the sixth annual C2E2, the comic and pop culture convention sensation that is sweeping the nation. Every year the size and scope of C2E2 is swelling, and every year brings a slightly different experience I simply love being a part of.
As per my typical Con schedule, Friday was spent in plain yet nerdy clothes walking the floor and getting a lay of the land. One of the many signs I married into the right family: I wore a t-shirt I received from my mother-in-law for Christmas which depicted a Dalek, an Ood, a Weeping Angel and The Silence walking out of a blue box across a striped road. Who has two thumbs and the coolest Doctor Who/Beatles t-shirt ever? This gal! (Speaking of t-shirts, one of the best I saw all weekend proudly declared in bold black letters: ‘Basic bitches buy Marvel.’ You know it.)
The very first order of business was attending the Chicago Swordplay Guild demo. Eleven AM on the first day of the Con is an unfortunate time slot if one is looking to garner a fair amount of attention, but there were still a couple dozen curious individuals who turned out to see how true medieval knight fights went down. One of the main points stressed during this demo was as cool as they look on TV, broadsword fights typically didn’t carry on for the full five minute brawls we see in fantasy shows. If you get cut with one of these big ass swords, odds are it’s not just a flesh wound. Also, as Guild founder and Dean Greg Mele stated: “If you could afford armor, you WEAR armor.” Makes sense.
Everyone seemed to be in a positive mood on Friday. I overheard a gentleman talking to someone on the phone trying to find a place to meet up and he remained in good humor, despite slight miscommunications: “I’m coming right at you; trust me, you’ll see me. I’m a fat guy in a red hat….and he hung up on me.” The feel-good vibes carried on through the rest of the weekend as Saturday started out with a laugh: Avoiding the exorbitant parking fee we found a spot on the street and had to walk through the entirety of McCormick Place to reach the West building. During our journey we passed by a group of people waiting for Starbucks who clearly were there to attend the automotive convention as one man blatantly took photos of everyone exiting the elevator (which including a Megaman and a ‘Dragonball Z’ cosplayer), while another simply stood there gawking, mouth agape, brain clearly unable to process what he was seeing. I found great amusement in his expression, though a part of my heart broke for his stunted awareness of such a beautiful and fun culture.
However, the merriment continued with a band greeting the Saturday morning Con goers with acoustic renditions of classic nerdy music, including ‘Star Wars’ themes and the intro song to ‘Game of Thrones.’ There were some great panels (see my column C2E2: The Panels!), marvelous costumes and a variety of vendors. Several fit ladies in cosplay spent a significant amount of time twirling about a large, elevated golden hoop, showing off some serious core strength, and there was an exceedingly tall gentleman who was a dead ringer for Leonard Nimoy asking for donations for ALS research. Knives, swords and trinkets of all sorts were on display, and of course, the magnificence of talent that is Artist’s Alley, which was bigger and better than ever.
By the time Sunday came around I was elated but exhausted, despite being a hermit all weekend (apparently I now have a low tolerance for dehydration), yet I still managed to muster up the strength to walk Artist’s Alley for the nth time and do some shopping. I found a ‘Doctor Who’/’Nightmare Before Christmas’ mash up sticker for my dad, as we share a love of both fandoms. My brother-in-law received several bacon-related items (his love for bacon runs deep; he mentioned it in his speech at my wedding), while my sister-in-law was thrilled with her Minion Kitty button. I even found a Mother of Dragons pocket mirror for my mostly non-nerdy sister. Good haul, great weekend, unforgettable times, as always.
The cosplayers were out in full force, seemingly determined to make Chicago’s Con a central hub of jaw-dropping geeky garb. There were more Harley Quinn’s than you could swing a mallet at, as well as a plethora of Jokers and Doctors, as per usual. I always try to focus on the unusual, obscure or particularly well-done costumes, and the only disappointing aspect of this year’s contenders was I did not see them all. I always feel this way, and this feeling will continue to fester with the number of attendees at C2E2, but thank heavens social media is there to showcase what we missed.
1) Best cross-gender cosplay: A woman cosplaying as Lucian from ‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.’ She was neck-to-toe brown scrappy leather, complete with werewolf-proof, spike-lined slave collar. I’m still kicking myself I didn’t run back and get a photo.
2) Best cosplay I witnessed via Facebook: Every year there’s some costume so BIG I’m shocked I missed it, and this year it was someone dressed up as the Infinitely Gauntlet. This dude was walking around dressed as a large, puffy, golden glove, studded with the Infinite gems, with his head poking out as the middle finger. The gauntlet must’ve been at least four feet wide and as tall as he was. Seriously impressive, and creative, commitment.
3) Best cosplay overall: I saw this guy and his adorable progeny an aisle over and road runner-ed over there to get a photo. If there was an old lady in my way, I would’ve knocked her aside. Not only was this fine gentleman rocking the bestest David Bowie as the Goblin King wig I’ve ever seen, his baby ‘Toby’ was just too squishy and ovary-exploding for words. Such excellent ‘Labyrinth’ cosplay will always be noteworthy.
4) Best cosplay quote: “I’m so happy to be wearing underwear today.” Costumers don’t mess around, yo; and it makes us appreciate the little things.
5) Best simple action made more difficult, but not impossible, by cosplay: I saw a guy using his nose to swype-text someone on his phone so he didn’t have to take off his gloves. Win.
Then there was moi in my first cross-gender cosplay.
As expressed in my rather glowing review, I am a big fan of the Marvel/Netlflix ‘Daredevil’ series, and almost as soon as I started watching it I decided this year I would become Daredevil for C2E2. In the show he sports a slowing evolving set of threads, but the universal component for nearly the entirety is full body black. Yeah well, that doesn’t do it for me as I tend to take my clothes off every cosplay chance I get, so I went with a ‘sexy fem-Daredevil’ incarnation. That didn’t mean I wasn’t as close to the ‘real’ thing as possible (I do enjoy looking authentic, after all): gym shoes, black cargo pants, demi-black shirt (that’s ‘half’ in French, as in only half a shirt), arm guards, hard knuckle tactical gloves, a semi-see through black head scarf and wooden batons (excellent for posing menacingly). I covered enough skin to be recognizably Deardevil (though there was one guy who kept bowing at me saying, “As you wish”) but bared enough for me to show off some of my hard work. I’ve been hitting the weights like I mean it, and it feels good to be strong. I may not be as skinny as I was when I was Red Sonja, but for the first time in, well, ever, I consider that to be a good thing. While I always cosplay for me more than anyone, this year I felt like I was doing it for my health, and it felt empowering.
C2E2 is, and hopefully always will be, a weekend filled with some of my favorite things and people. I get to hang with oodles of fun folk, see a bunch of nerdy stuff, play dress up and listen to people speak about a job they love, whether it is writing, drawing, acting or other. Every single person who shows up at a Con WANTS to be there, making it one of the happiest places on Earth. So cheers, C2E2, and see you next year!