My second convention (in a row) in March was in my own backyard of Chicago, C2E2! Typically for this show, I run the Reading with Pictures booth (this year the table was across from the Jelly Belly booth, for free jelly beans all weekend!) and only sell my all-ages books. Additionally, the proceeds from the sales go back to benefit the non-profit – so buying from me at C2E2 you get great content AND support a great charity. Bonus!

Friday morning, my buddy Phil Chan (Digital Pimp Online) and I drove into the city with our stuff in tow, and dropped off at the McCormick Convention Center in downtown Chicago. I stopped into the Airbnb I was going to be staying in, to grab the key, and then headed to the show floor to get my badges and set up the table.

The Reading with Picture booth, hidden behind Neal Adams

Reading with Pictures was set up right by the Marvel booth, behind Neal Adams, and across from the Jelly Belly booth. This was nice, because they kept us full of sugar all weekend – necessary after the late nights and early mornings. Since I arrived earlier than anticipated, I had a chance to walk around a bit and see some familiar faces. I took a stroll through artist alley to see who all was in already, said hi to some buddies, and then went back to the table in anticipation of the flood of attendees piling into the place.

Russell Lissau and Trevor Mueller – brothers in comics

Comic book creators, and good friends. From left to right: Russell Lissau, Ashley Erickson, me, and Gabo

After the doors opened, our volunteers showed up for the day. Helping us promote our latest initiatives (including a charity event we were hosting Saturday night), as well as helping us to sell some books, our volunteers were invaluable to our efforts and successes that weekend. Also, I got to reunite with Garrett, who helped us out last year and has been a big part of RWP’s efforts in the last several years.

Hanging out with Garrett Hill

As the day continued and books kept flying off the table, several friends started to stop by the table. Mark Waid stopped by to say hi, and to check out the Albert the Alien trades (he had yet to see volume 2). I was also visited by several of the cast of the Nostalgia Critic, who are always a blast to hang out with. And also some cosplay friends of mine stopped by to say hi, and to hopefully schedule a hangout for later in the weekend.

Special celebrity guest appearances by Tamara Chambers!

Good cosplay friends showed up, dressed as Captain America and Agent 13

After the floor closed and sales ended, I regrouped with my buddies and tried to figure out our dinner plans. My buddy Phil needed to eat, and we were joined by Channel Awesome stars Doug Walker, Brad Jones and Fard Mohummad as we walked to China Town for a quick bite. We stopped into a little place (that was not crowded, thankfully), and sitting down felt amazing. The food was also delicious, spicy (the way I like it), and plentiful. We ordered family style, and just shared everything together, while chatting about comics, cons, and movies.

Dinner out in China Town with Doug Walker, Brad Jones, Fard Muhammad, and Phil Chan

By the end of dinner, we were all pretty exhausted, but I made a quick stop back at the Hyatt bar to say hi to some friends. Gene Ha was there, sketching, and I got to meet some of his friends. I was also introduced to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (who were really just saying hi to Gene Ha, but at least shook my hand). I hung out for a bit with friends Justin Jordan, John Bivens, and several others before it was time to call it a night.

I got up early at the condo I was staying in, took a shower (their bathroom was immaculately clean), and headed down the street to the corner shop, which had breakfast sandwiches. I headed to the show, ate, and set up the table for another day of incredible sales. We had another volunteer coming in on Saturday, too, who was cosplaying as Batgirl – so the kids could take pictures with her.

Reading with Pictures booth, day 2…now with significantly less inventory

Batgirl was volunteering at the Reading with Pictures booth on Saturday!

More cosplay friends came by to say hi, dressed as the 5th Evil Ex and Poison Ivy, respectively

Warrior Princess Peach!

More awesome cosplay from some good friends

Monty Python cosplayers are probably my favorites…that rabbit is just so vicious!

As sales winded down for the day, we broke down the table and headed off to my favorite sushi place in the city, Niu! With a reservation of 20+ people, this restaurant has never had an issue accommodating the lot of us. And we took up 3 rather large tables. I sat with my friends Russell Lissau (Old Wounds), Bryan Glass (Mice Templar), and Robin Dale. We talked about comics, comic movies, and the state and evolution of conventions.

After dinner, we returned to the hotel and I had a quick drink with some friends, and then headed back to the condo for some much needed sleep.

The final morning of the show is always a rough time. You’re tired, but you’re also energized to sell through the last of your stock and see your friends for a final time before returning to the real world. This morning was no different. We had very little stock left on the table to sell through, however we also had no volunteers coming in on Sunday to provide any coverage – so I was at the table for the bulk of the day. I did have to shut down, briefly, in order to attend a panel on Self-Publishing (moderated by my buddy, Jim McClain).

Come buy the last of my comics!

The Secrets of Sustainable Self-Publishing with Jim McClain, Jim McClain, Scott Bachmann, Tom Stillwell, Trevor Mueller, and Kelly Heying

More friends stopped by, in even more amazing costumes!

By the end of the panel, and the weekend, we were beat. I broke down the table, helped Phil pack up his inventory and take it to the cab, and then we hopped into separate cars and took off – he to his flight, and me to my condo so my wife could give me a ride back home.

C2E2 was nothing shy of amazing this year (as it is every year). The staff and volunteers are incredible, the attendees are great, the sales are amazing, and I love hanging out with everyone after the show ends. I can’t wait for next year!