Over the Leap Weekend of 2020, while much of America was in the throes of dread regarding the coming terror of the Coronavirus… while Joe Biden was claiming a sweeping victory in the South Carolina primaries that sent many of the rest of the centrist Democrat field fleeing from the race… two-thirds of the Ghosts of the Stratosphere found themselves in Chicago to celebrate the Chicago Comic Entertainment Expo, better known as C2E2!
Obviously, this convention was jam-action-packed with great sales, products, comic talents, and panels! But let’s put that aside for a second and talk about what the Ghosts of the Stratosphere usually care most about: FOOD!
After a long overnight drive to Chicago from our home-base of Pittsburgh, PA, we obviously needed breakfast before C2E2 could start. When in Chicago, you must do as Chicagoans do, and who is the most famous Chicagoan of all? Former President Barack Obama! And where does he allegedly enjoy breakfast? At Valois!
This was… fine, I guess? It was basically a dingy cafeteria, but the food was inexpensive! I got three pieces of French Toast for $4, and it was “four dollars” quality French Toast. There was nothing wrong with it, and it was price-appropriate. I was charged up for the day. But not as much as I’d need to be…
It would be about fourteen hours until I ate again because Chad bailed on me at the Con and got dinner on the way to checking in at the hotel. I actually was not aware of this, and the fact that I was STARVING by ten o’clock at night while he seemed fine made me feel like a pig. Luckily–and by that I mean literally the exact opposite of the word “luckily”–due to a tragedy in the streets of the Windy City, Chad and I were not permitted near our hotel after the convention ended. So we headed to Big Bowl for dinner.
Big Bowl was a hit, and while it is not Chicago-specific, it was my favorite meal of the weekend. My wife turned me on to Thai food years ago, and I ordered her usual favorite, Pad Thai. It was the best I’ve ever had! And our server was ridiculously bubbly and pleasant, but in a 100% authentic way; she did not come across as patronizing at all! I wish I could shout you out, server, but I didn’t keep my receipt to get your name.
Day two started with breakfast at Yolk, and this was another delight! I got… some breakfast with a childish name that was pancakes with bananas and peanut better and chocolate. I could only finish about two-thirds of it because it was so darn heavy. I had hot chocolate, too, because I am a toddler, and it was also very good! Thumbs up for Yolk.
In addition to a charmingly sweet meal, we had a lady at the neighboring booth who kept talking to us across the aisle about the Democratic primaries and her feelings on politics in particular. I am usually not so emboldened as to talk politics in my outside voice in a crowded restaurant, but she was less bothered by it. Live your best life, Yolk Lady!
Fueled by pancakes for another long convention day, I more readily powered through to late dinner, whereupon our Uber driver recommended Chicago deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s!
Chicago pizza! I ate at a Sbarro’s once in the Chicago airport, so I AM something of an expert on Chicago pizza, you know.
Deep Dish pizza IS probably the best pizza, even if I wish they would use an actual pizza sauce rather than the gushy actual tomatoes. Not that I’m opposed to it, but I am a sauce man. Gushy tomatoes are not a sauce; they are just gushy tomatoes. Chad and I shared a classic, which is sausage deep dish, and it was delectable. I also had a side salad and an order of wings. Overall, Malnati’s was damn good, and a fine period on a series of Chi-Town meals.
Well, I guess that about wraps up our C2E2 experience! All in all, Chicago has some great chefs, and I recommend visiting and eating there soon.
Comic Book Convention?
Between meals at Chicago’s finest eateries, we did attend C2E2 itself. My coverage of food notwithstanding, we actually spent large chunks of time there, having been at the convention from open-to-close on Friday, 10:15 to 6:30 on Saturday, and 10:00 to 12:30 on Sunday. What all did we do there? Man, what DIDN’T we do there?!
One of the highlights of the show for me was getting to interview Chuck from Prop Store. They have had a deal with Marvel for the past several years where they have auctioned off multiple items from the Marvel Netflix shows, and they are wrapping that up this upcoming summer with a whole host of fantastic props!
The auction itself will be this June with more details available on their site starting in May. Some of the items up for auction this year include Punisher’s vest, Iron Fist’s and Jessica Jones’ attire, a Dardevil helmet, Jigsaw’s mask, and so much more. Chuck anticipates the Punisher outfit to be the big ticket item this season. The previous biggest seller for them was a Daredevil outfit that went for over $65,000!
Chuck was extremely knowledgeable about the props, and he was a blast to listen to as he explained the different variations on, say, Daredevil’s mask that they used in the show. It would be switched out frequently based on close-ups, action scenes, and what was needed and functional for any given moment. He is also a big fan of the shows themselves, and we commiserated over the loss of Daredevil and Luke Cage.
He was not able to share what the future might hold for PropStore and its alliance with Marvel now that the Netflix shows are over, but he mentioned that they are hoping to get their hands on some items from the MCU that the studio might not need going forward. How much would I pay for the E.D.I.T.H. glasses, I wonder?
Aside from that less formal interview, Chad and I managed a few quick recorded spots with some comic talent we both greatly respect… but you will hear more about that on a future episode of the show.
It turns out that aside from podcast tasks, Chad and I enjoy comic cons for vastly different reasons, and that’s what is so much of a joy about shows like this: there is so much to do, you can find multiple ways to get your kicks!
While Chad was standing in line for autographs or digging through cheap collected trades and back issues, I was roaming Artists’ Alley to get some wall art for the new house my wife and I will be purchasing this year. Most notably, I found a booth with Ant Lucia signing and selling his gorgeous DC Bombshells pin-ups, and that was a huge win, because both Amanda and I love those. They are one of the few decorative items that strike both our fancies.
In addition to Art Quest, I attended a DC Comics panel that featured such talent as Gail Simone, Doug Mahnke, Scott Snyder, and more! Scott Snyder dropped a LOT of details on his upcoming Justice League story starring a darker take on Wonder Woman (with The Chainsaw of Truth), Batman (with a Black Lantern Ring), and Superman. Doug Mahnke was presented with a cake emblazoned with his own art to celebrate his 25th year working at DC. Congratulations, Doug!
There was cosplay, too, which is fun and never fails to make me regret that I didn’t also dress up. New Month’s Resolution for March: Start dressing up for any/all future conventions that I go to. I think I still have some old Halloween costumes. Maybe? I’ll make it work somehow. The cosplay people seem really fun and uncomfortable. I, too, could fun and uncomfortable!
Look how fun and uncomfortable! You just know they are being asked to stop every twenty feet to take a new picture. And those costumes aren’t exactly ideal for shopping or carrying things. Wait, why do I want to do this again?
I guess because it’s fun! Comic book conventions are all about fun, and C2E2 was one of the better ones I have been to. It was large, but not ludicrously spaced out to the point where getting from Point A to Point B was tedious. There was, again, so much to do based on what your interests are! I definitely hope to return next year.
In an uncomfortable costume I can’t shop in.
It would at least save some money.
Until next time… take care!