C2E2 has come and gone once again, but as the largest local show I attend it was once again an amazing time – and my most profitable year at the show to date! With that said, let’s go into the specifics of this awesome and amazing show!

My buddy Phil showed up from the airport and we went to grab a bite to eat while waiting for his boxes to arrive at FedEx. Hot Doug’s was right around the corner from the store we were getting supplies at, so we went there. Now, it’s been a few years since I’ve had Hot Doug’s, and all I can say is this: I’ve forgotten how absolutely AMAZING their dogs are! I ordered the jalapeno dog with bacon and cheese, and then we shared some cheese fries (I’m skinny, and can’t finish a whole thing of fries AND the hot dog).

Hot Doug’s Hot Dog…the best way to start a convention

After lunch, we went to grab Phil’s boxes and headed over the convention center to drop them off. The place was still being set up (it’s interesting to see it so empty, juxtaposed when the show is in full swing and there are thousands of people walking around), and we quickly and easily dropped off his stuff. Phil took me home and then headed up to hang out with his other friends before the show started the next day. And I would have a boat-load of people coming in to stay with me then, too….

During the day I spent cleaning the apartment, but at night my friends started showing up. I usually put up several of my friends for the show, especially the ones who put me up when I attend other cons out of state. I was joined by Russell Lissau (Aw Yeah Comics, Strawberry Shortcake) first, followed by Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade) and then eventually Josh Elder (Scribblenauts Unmasked, Mail Order Ninja) and then Phil eventually came back as well. Much whiskey was poured as we sat around and caught up on the last several months since we last saw each other. Since my wife had work the next day, though (and we would be going to the convention center early to set up our booths), we didn’t stay up too late. Sleep was an important commodity at this show, and something we soon discovered was in short supply….

Morning came around and we all got up and had some coffee and breakfast at my place, and then headed out to the show. Set up was pretty quick since we had a new face at the Reading with Pictures table this year, Jim McClain (Solution Squad). Jim has exhibited with us for a while now, but this was the first year we had an extra body behind the table at C2E2 to help out. It made things nice and easy for taking breaks, holding meetings, and actually getting out to see friends in artist alley. And that’s exactly what we did, with Jim running the show at the booth.

The Reading with Pictures table

Dean Trippe (Something Terrible) was also at the table for most of the weekend, signing copies of the poster prints for his recently completed Kickstarter campaign. I’ve never hung out with Dean before, so it was a nice breath of fresh air to have someone new to talk to and hang out with at the table.

I had secured 18 copies of the Reading with Pictures volume 1 anthology from a friend who still had some, and we sold through most of them on the very first day of the show. It’s a credit to how awesome that book is, and how much support it still receives from people that it can sell that well 4 years after it came out. And volume 2 comes out later this year!

Russell and I took turns on break, and when I was away from the table I was out talking to creators in artist alley. The entire last row was almost all all-ages creators, and it takes me about 4-6 hours to get through artist alley at a show like this now because I know so many people. I won’t name names, because I’ll accidentally forget to mention someone (or come off like I’m name dropping, which isn’t the intent), but they’re all great friends I’ve met through the years and really have appreciated their insights and critiques, their support of my work, and I’ve enjoyed reading their work as well. Also, they’re all wicked funny.

I mentioned earlier that sleep was in short supply, and that was definitely true on Friday. Just about everyone I talked with, even if they had gotten in a day or two earlier, was exhausted and about to pass out at their table. I don’t normally sleep the night before a convention (too excited), but adrenaline usually keeps me going. Thankfully, this isn’t something that stuck with my buddies in AA. By the next day – after a good night’s sleep and some much needed food – most were back to 100% or better.

The first day of sales and networking ended, but then the group split up. About half of the team went to China Town for dinner, while the other half went to the Reading with Pictures Level Up for Literacy charity event at the HeadQuarters Beercade. We were joined by Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) and Jimmy Palmiotti (All-Star Western, Harley Quinn). They had a number of other celebrities there I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to meet (including the creator of Cards Against Humanity and the actor who played Scorpion in the Mortal Kombat series), but for $40 we got bottomless pizza and some free drinks, and unlimited arcade game playing. The place mostly had pinball machines, but there was enough variety to keep it fun.

After around 10pm the music got too loud for me (and a lot of typical bar crowd people showed up, who are not my people), so I took off for home to host the friends who just got back from dinner in China Town. We weren’t up for too long, and eventually went to bed in preparation for Saturday – usually the most populated day of the show.

Saturday is the big day. The day a convention typically gets the most traffic. And yes, we were definitely crowded. And almost sold out of all of our books! The breaks every 2-3 hours was a nice touch, and I started chatting up some editors and creators about future comic projects. Networking is something I’ve been sorely lacking in at shows like this, but thankfully we had extra coverage at the table, so that was no longer a hurdle. I had some productive meetings, exchanged some business cards, and would go back to the table to sell books for a while. Russell would take his break when I returned, and we’d do this every few hours.

A bunch of my friends who were not exhibiting this year but were just attending arrived on Saturday, and stopped by the table so we could catch up and mingle. We made a massive dinner reservation at my favorite sushi place in the city, Niu. We had 23 people in our party, and took up the entire back of the restaurant. We weren’t the only people from the convention there, too, which was incredible to me. We saw a lot of celebrity comic creators in there with their significant others and friends or sponsors enjoying some time away from the convention as well. We let them enjoy their dinner, since we appreciated the opportunity to do the same.

After dinner, several of us paid our bill and ran out because Jenni’s Ice Cream was closing soon. This is a tradition for us at Mid-Ohio Con later in the year, but since they opened a location in Chicago not too far from where I live, we decided to extend that tradition to this show as well. We made it to the store just as they were locking the door, but thankfully they let us in anyway.

Post-con Jenni’s ice cream run, with Alan Evans (Rival Angels)

We took some selfies and sent the pictures to our Ohio friends, and then headed home to go to bed before the final day of the show.

The final day of the show, and often family day (or “kid’s day”). It’s a day where I clean house, since I have so many kids books on the table. However, I let Russell open the booth while I set up for my Reading with Pictures Live Reading panel. Jim was kind enough to join me, since my voice was faltering (too much talking over the last several days), and I couldn’t do voices very well. The group started off quite small, but we quickly gained a crowd of interested children as they heard the bizarreness of the story that is Albert the Alien, and their parents heard about what Reading with Pictures as an organization was trying to accomplish. We read a few stories:

1) Albert’s new adventure from the upcoming Reading with Pictures volume 2
2) The first issue of Albert the Alien is New in School, which we’ll be turning into a graphic novel this year (Kickstarter starts in May)

The kids loved the reading, and several of them actually asked for more! This is always a great feeling, but unfortunately we wanted to get back to the table (and I had almost no voice left). Special thanks to Jim McClain for helping me out on this panel! I couldn’t have done it without you.

I had a few more meetings and introductions made on Sunday, then ran around to say my goodbyes before breaking down the booth. I had 3 books left when the weekend was done, and had sold through everything else I brought. This was a GOOD weekend.

We helped Phil break down as well, since he was by himself and has a massive setup, and then got him in a cab for the airport while Russell, Josh, and myself headed back to my neighborhood to go out to dinner. We brought the wife as well, and hit up a local bar called The Pony. We each did a shot, ordered some very tasty Buffalo Wings, and chatted the night away.

Beth and I out for post-con dinner / drinks

Josh and Russell enjoy the final wing of the night. Great sauce!

At one point during the night, we saw a bouncer grab a patron in a choke hold and take him out of the bar. We weren’t sure what had happened, but our waitress said he was rude to her and needed to be removed from the building. I like when a place respects it’s employees and creates a safe environment for them, so we made sure to give her a little extra tip at the end of the night.

After dinner Russell took off, but Josh was crashing with me for a few more days. We had some more drinks and played some video games to unwind, but didn’t stay up too late. Especially since I received a special surprise the next day (see below)….

Overall, C2E2 2014 was the best C2E2 yet! The show continued to show more organization and had a huge attendance of fans passionate about comics – and who were buying comics! Reading with Pictures had a fantastic location (right by the entrance), and because Jim was mainly running the table, we had a chance to go out and network and take some meetings with editors and creators.

It was awesome, and I can’t wait to attend the show again next year!

The pleasant surprise that was waiting for me at home after the show….