What to do and see at C2E2
Now in its fourth year, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo—code name: C2E2—rockets back to McCormick Place this weekend, April 26–28. In addition to a large roster of comics pros, the celebrity guest list includes plenty of television celebs (including actors from The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones), a few literary figures (R.L. Stine, who haunted your middle-school dreams with Goosebumps) and comedian Patton Oswalt. Intermixed all weekend, of course, are plenty of costumed attendants roaming the halls and five sessions of geektastic speed dating (including one round specifically for gay fans). We combed through three days of programming to find highlights.
Chicago author Audrey Niffenegger, most lauded for her best-selling novel The Time Traveler’s Wife, has already dipped her toes into the graphic novel end of the lit pool with The Night Bookmobile. Now get an early peek at her upcoming 80-page illustrated novella, Raven Girl, about a bird trapped in a human body. Niffenegger talks about the project with local journalist and Ray Bradbury biographer Sam Weller. Friday 26, 5:15–6:15pm.
A history of censorship
The advocacy org Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, which assists comics creators, retailers and libraries, traces its roots back to a 1986 obscenity case that erupted at Friendly Frank’s comics shop in Chicago’s south suburbs. This panel, hosted by CBLDF, gives an overview of comics’ ongoing dance with would-be censors—especially timely here, given the uproar last month when the Chicago Public Schools chief abruptly ordered Persepolis pulled from certain curricula, leading to high school protests. Saturday 27, 2–3pm.
Everybody loves Batman
Who doesn’t love the caped crusader? Even the Joker needs the Bat to feel complete. Whichever iteration of the mercurial character you like best—BIFF! POW! pop-art Batman? Broody Dark Knight?—he’ll be here. The trinity of Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar gather for a Q&A about the '60s TV show. Then, turn your Bat-dial just a smidge to catch Chicagoan Chris Burnham, artist of Batman Incorporated, join other creators to talk about DC Comics’ biggest characters. Expect some grilling about Burnham’s recent, controversial storyline that killed off Batman’s newest Robin—a.k.a. Bruce’s son, Damian Wayne. Saturday 27; Batman actors, 2–3pm; Batman comics creators, 2:45–3:45pm.
Windy City comics
More local creators take the spotlight in this panel, discussing how Chicago cultivates such a rich crop of four-color talent. Some of the creators on hand include Tim Seeley (Hack/Slash), Jeffrey Brown (Darth Vader and Son) and Paul Hornschemeier (Life with Mr. Dangerous). Saturday 27, 7–8pm.
On your mark, get set, draw!
In what’s become a favorite annual C2E2 event, the über-entertaining creators Art Baltazar and Franco host their annual drawing competition. Best known for Tiny Titans, the pair also co-own as Aw Yeah Comics in Skokie, which just celebrated its one-year anniversary by starting to publish its own Art & Franco comics. If you want to gauge how much fun their comics are, watch them speed-sketch as an all-ages audience cheers them on. Sunday 28, 12:45–1:15pm.
C2E2 happens all weekend long at McCormick Place’s West Building. Individual day tickets $35–40 (advance$25–$30 ); three-day pass $65 (advance $55); kids 12 and under free with adult admission Sunday 28.