While we’re still open for business, most of the Super-Fly gang is in Chicago gearing up for one of the biggest comic conventions around: C2E2!!! Join Super-Fly sidekick and author of the Read My Library Blog, Max Lake, as he gives a run down on the first day and a half of Super-Fly’s trip to the show!
Hey everybody! Well, things are building to this year’s C2E2 in Chicago, which starts tomorrow, April 26th! There’s so much to do still, but I have a spare moment to give a rundown of what’s gone on up to this point!
We started our adventure just yesterday, Wed April 24th, and very early! I had trouble finishing packing the night before (and well into the morning of the 24th) but was headachy and completely exhausted from lack of sleep at about 2:30 am, and shuffled off to bed to get a couple hours of sleep, then get up early and attempt to pack the rest of my stuff…Unfortunately, I was less than successful, as when my alarm went off at 4:15 am, all I wanted to do to was cuddle up to my wife Maureen and get just a couple more minutes of sleep. Next thing I knew, it was 5:10 am and Super-Fly staple Travis Ray was calling me to wake me up to tell me he was on his way to get me. Dazed, tired, and confused I could barely figure out what to say.
“I need to get my things together,” I managed.
“Cool buddy,” Travis said on the other end of the phone, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes.”
I dressed quickly and grabbed everything I could remember to pack and got ready. Travis arrived soon after and he patiently waited as I grabbed the rest of my gear. Then we departed for Super-Fly. Arriving minutes later, the whole rest of the gang was already there: Tony Barry, Jared Whittaker (aka JFX316), Gavin Naught and Bryan Hawke, all waiting for us. Jared tried to talk Travis into squeezing a giant, talking, plush Dalek (evil robots from Doctor Who for those who don’t know) into his car. Having just barely stuffed my luggage into the car, Travis refused, saying his car was full at that point.
After some joking around and some discussion, it was time to hit the road. Unlike myself, Super-Fly had done almost all their packing the night before and didn’t need much prep time to get going now that we were all at the store. We split up: Bryan rode with Gavin, who was driving Tony’s car. Jared rode with Tony in Super-Fly’s less-than-trustworthy but super useful “Battle Van.” I would ride in Travis’ car and all three of the vehicles were packed to the gills with merchandise and personal belongings! After waiting for several minutes with Travis in front of the store, finally we saw the van roll out from behind the store with Tony’s car following. We were off!
Having only a couple hours of sleep, I was exhausted and tried to sleep. However, between caffeine and excitement, it was hard to stay still and keep my eyes closed. Every few minutes my eyes would open, it was changing from complete dark to gradually light, so the sky looked quite different in between my attempted dozes. The day was coming up fast but we had succeeded in getting our early start to Chicago.
Following an hour or two on the road, we stopped for gas at a station that had a McDonald’s inside. Tony did not want to eat at McDonald’s, and we were debating what we should do. Then Travis came up from parking his car away from the gas pumps excitedly announcing:
“Let’s go get some McDonald’s guys!!!”
“It looks like Travis has made an executive decision!” Bryan said.
Tony rolled his eyes and we proceeded into the gas station combo fast food restaurant. We should have listened to Tony. Our food was absolute crap. Jared and I both got hash browns so greasy they stuck to the paper and refused to come off. My breakfast burrito’s tortilla was rock hard. The blaring television in the dining area set to Fox News and their nonsense didn’t help things either. It was time to get back on the road.
We kept going for a few more hours stopping for a bathroom break and to re-up on travel snacks. While the weather had been nice in Ohio, the weather in Indiana was raining and very cold! The rain was not letting up, and from standing water I saw, it looked like it had been raining a lot lately—and hard. Then about an hour later we ended up near Hobart, IN and Travis wanted to stop for gas.
“I’m not stopping in Gary, Indiana again!” he told me, and did not give a reason.
We pulled off the exit, realizing too late we were going the completely opposite way from the gas stations. Tony and Gavin followed and after a few turns we ended up at an Arby’s. As Jared got out, disaster struck and several bags containing individual comics started slipping out of a ripped brown sack.
“Help!” Jared cried, holding one bag that was upside down with his leg and holding onto two others that were ready to fall out.
I ran to help and caught a bag before its contents could spill onto the wet pavement.
“Thanks man! None of these guys other guys were helping.”
The others gathered around and Tony tried to mount a defense but it came out as scrambled mutters.
“Aba-huh-buh! That’s what you sound like Tony!” Jared cried.
Arby’s had just opened as it was 10 am local time. We all ordered, starting with Jared, who ordered a “Number 19” where the numbered combos only went up to 17 or 18. We all had a laugh and Jared ordered a “17” which was what he meant. As we waited for our food, I snapped a quick picture of the crew.
After our food arrived, we all sat with or nearby each other, with the exception of Gavin, who deliberately sat across the room, pretending to be all offended. Then he started using the store’s camera to film us from a distance. We ate, and a Disney channel was on—an improvement (albeit a juvenile one) over the last mealtime fare. After some joking around, he came closer and we finished up. Walking out of the Arby’s, Jared saw a bar across the street advertising something called a “Skank Bomb.” What a Skank Bomb was baffled us, and if anyone out there knows what it is, get in touch! Whatever it was, we didn’t want one and tried to resume being on the road. Unfortunately, Hobart wasn’t done with us.
We had to take a series of turns to get out of Arby’s and make it in the right lane. We wanted to get gas, but the station eluded us. Not to say we didn’t know where it was, but after turning into a seemingly adjacent lot, we explored it thoroughly to see It didn’t connect at all and made our way out. I’m pretty sure we had to make some illegal turns to finally get into the gas station: it was that discombobulated! It was super freezing and windy now, with Travis getting a different, warmer hoodie and me putting on a second hoodie (I was mostly unprepared for the super cold conditions of Indiana!). After gassing up, we found it impossible to turn out of the gas station, and had to wait several minutes for lights to change and then on top of that, wait for someone nice enough to let us into the bustling traffic. Tony and Jared got let in first and took off. Then Travis and I had to wait, and when we made it out, the person who let us in wasn’t letting Gavin in. Separated!
The dissolution of our caravan shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was. Jared and Tony got off on an Expressway earlier than they should have, while in both Travis & I and Gavin & Bryan missed a supposed exit because it wasn’t clearly marked. Luckily for Gavin and Bryan, they were able to figure it out quickly and turn around. Meanwhile, Travis and I were a little slower to figure it out and probably made it halfway to St. Louis before we could turn around. Fortunately, Tony and Jared had arrived at the convention center before any of us and were getting ready to unload.
After our mix up, Travis and I made it to the McCormick Place convention hall in downtown Chicago and were required to fill out some forms and talk to an event organizer to get the necessary documents to unload on the show floor. Guided by security guards, Travis and I made it inside and parked a few cars down from where the van was parked. Then it was time to unload!
There were people helping out with palettes and forklifts, but Jared guessed (correctly) that we’d be done unloading by the time they got to us. We all made trip after trip carrying long boxes, shelving, backpacks and luggage with our stuff and all kinds of merchandise packed up in boxes. It was exhausting but we finally got it all together. Then it was time to set up.
I have to say, I haven’t been at a con before at this kind of primordial ground level, where the floor is almost empty save for all the booths and their boxes of stuff in various stages of being unpacked. It was almost magical, like a kid at Christmas—one who was seeing his presents appear in front of him one by one. It was like a whole comic book village springing up around us. I even eyed a couple things I want to buy as soon as the show opens. I also have to admit that while I’ve been to some big cons (Wizard World Philadelphia being the biggest I’d say), C2E2 is ENORMOUS! There’s so much space and so much of it is being filled by exhibitors and artists and it’s just really exciting to think what the place would be like in full swing.
Following some booth setup, some of us went to the hotel to chill and take more bags back to the room out while others finished up getting the booth together. Travis started exploring the hotel room and found a fridge. Unlike most hotel fridges, this one was not pre-packaged with a bunch of expensive items, so Travis took the liberty of putting our groups’ “adult beverages” into the fridge along with some soda. Nice! A little bit later, we regrouped and I got to meet Mary from panelsonpages.com or POP! who, as many of you know, help Super-Fly out by hosting and promoting their podcast on their PoP-Cast Network. Mary was super cool, and we all decided to get food. Since we couldn’t find our ass from first base in terms of knowing where to go to eat, Mary decided to wait for her fiancé, Knize, who would be arriving shortly and also is with POP!. We finally decided to hit up a nearby White Castle a few blocks away.
Great. First McDonald’s, then Arby’s and now White Castle! I thought to myself. I’ve hit the fast food trifecta! –of course, traveling all day and now at a con, is there really any other choice?
We made our way out. While Chicago had seemed warmer than Indiana (where Jared swears he saw snow), it was now windy and chilly outside. Quite cold, when we arrived at White Castle, we had to order one at a time, then pay when our orders were up. When everyone finally had their order, we made our way back to the hotel. Once we got there, the food was still surprisingly somewhat warm despite the massive chill outside and the length of the walk.
While we ate in the lobby, we reunited with Mary who was now with Knize and Jose, someone else from POP! as well as a guy I met later named Kelly, who works for another retailer, Lost World of Wonders. It was really cool to meet Knize and Mary, because I was on one of the Super-Fly Podcasts with them awhile back to discuss DC’s (then) New 52.
We split up from the POP crew and Jared, Tony and Travis had to go to a retailer summit cocktail party while the rest of us stayed at the hotel. The cocktail party only lasted a couple hours so soon we were reunited once more. After some hanging out, we all began to wind down. Many of us hadn’t gotten much sleep, and even for those of us who had, the fact was we had gotten a very early start.
Bryan slept in a closet, which Jared angrily noted had two electrical outlets. Jared elected to sleep on a miniature bench with his feet up against the wall (nearby which were no electrical outlets). After our friends had made these unconventional sleeping decisions, the rest of us elected for beds with Travis picking the floor because his back hurt and Kelly, who spent the night in our room, also slept on the floor. I stayed up a little and went to the lobby to call Maureen—I didn’t talk long though, as I started falling asleep. After that, it was definitely bedtime!
So that’s the first day of the journey!
Today, Tony, Jared and Travis had to get up early to go to the retailer summit once again. Bryan and Gavin headed to the booth. Me? I elected to sleep in. No one woke me up telling me they needed help, so I just didn’t get up. Yes, I am a lazy man. When I did wake up, Tony was handing me my badge and let me know it wasn’t a big deal that I slept, since he was at the summit and Gavin and Bryan knew exactly what to do with the booth set up. After being sloth-like for a bit, I walked over to the Convention Center and checked things out. Even more booths were up or more complete. When I got to Super-Fly’s booth (421 for you show goers), it looked pretty well set up. Gavin and Bryan were finishing up and walking back some extra shelving to the van and waiting for Andy from England, a UK fan of the store and podcast—the same Andy who once famously faxed a picture of his junk to the store because Tony asked someone to over the podcast. He’s a Super-Fly Legend!!!
I went back to the hotel room to chill and do some writing. A little later, Travis, Tony and Jared showed up with friend and former store employee Zane Reichert, who is working the convention for Dark Star Books. Also returning was Kelly and someone I hadn’t met before, Kenny from First Aid Comics, who I have heard about. He seemed like a really cool guy, and has more dreads than Jared! Shortly after their return, Gavin and Bryan showed up with Andy and the room exploded with conversation. Andy had brought Silk Cut cigarettes for Travis, with Silk Cut being the brand that Vertigo/DC’s character John Constantine (formerly of Vertigo’s Hellblazer now of DC’s Constantine) smokes. Tony and Jared had to get back to the retailer summit while Travis elected to hang out with me, and Andy, Gavin and Bryan went off on their own.
And that brings us to now, where Travis is taking a nap and I am writing and downloading pictures from my camera. With that, it’s time to wrap up this entry and our current C2E2 coverage for now. Nothing too exciting, but at least you got a sense of what we’re doing. I hope it’s somewhat interesting, but look for more compelling stuff to happen in the next couple days! I only hope I’ll have time to update, but I’ll do my best!
The show starts tomorrow but it’s not too late to come to show! Make the trip, it’s going to be awesome and look for Super-Fly Comics & Games at Booth 421 on the show floor! Go to C2E2.com for more details!
Be sure to check out our picture gallery to see all the action we’ve bothered to document!