It's the tenth anniversary of ReedPOP's C2E2 convention here in Chicago, and this year the convention will double as the defacto beginning of comic convention season for those of us in North America.
(February in Chicago? Brrrrrr.....)
This year's event has both Marvel and DC with big displays, big panels, and many of their top creators scheduled, along with others from all corners of the comic industry. Newsarama will, once again, be there with live reporting from those panels, and several interviews with creators and industry personnel to run in the next few weeks.
But in addition to the news happening at the con, there's news about the convention itself. In speaking with ReedPOP's Event Director Kristina Rogers, Newsarama learned that the Chicago staple is on the cusp of hitting nearly 100,000 in attendance. With that, the convention organizer is already aiming to expand its footprint at Chicago's McCormick Place in the coming years, and plans are already underway for the spring convention to expand from a three-day event to a four-day event like sister cons New York Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con.
Here's our conversation with Rogers from ReedPOP, talking the marco news of expansion plans as well as the micro news of what to expect this weekend.
Newsarama: Kristina, what are you and ReedPOP lookng forward to most out of this year's C2E2 in Chicago?
Kristina Rogers: It's hard to pick, we focused this year on bringing the best from every aspect of the pop culture fandoms, so no matter what you're a fan of, there's something for you at the show.
We have some incredible comic guests this year - Gail Simone and Joe Hill are here, Team X-Men (Jonathan Hickman, Gerry Duggan, Benjamin Percy, Leah Williams and Tini Howard), Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (just in time for the release of the new Harley Quinn DC Black Label book!) as well as Jim Lee, Chris Claremont, Babs Tarr, and a ton more folks joining us.
Our celebrity guest list is pretty fantastic, Stephen Amell and Mark Ruffalo are headlining with the cast of Critical Role and Terry Brooks, Rainbow Rowell are coming in to help shore up our literary guests... the list goes on and on!
Nrama: For those who have been to C2E2 before, what improvements can you point out that you as a convention company have done?
Rogers: We're dedicated to bringing a holistic approach to building the show. We take each fandom and ask ourselves "Alright, if I want to go to this show because I'm a comics fan, what do I want to see/who do I want to meet/what panels do I want to go to" and go down the line for each fandom.
I'm also excited about our After Dark show feature, we expanded late night programming all weekend and are offering everything from karaoke to evening D&D sessions - essentially, the ultimate late night geek party all weekend long.
Nrama: You also have an expansive realm of wrestling content, spearheaded by deep partnership with All Elite Wrestling for almost a convention-inside-a-convention with them, similar to the Starrcast events they've had at previous events of theirs. How'd this partnership come about, and what does it mean for fans?
Rogers: Our team-up with AEW is one of the most exciting new relationships for us this year. There is so much crossover between our existing fans and the wrestling fandom already, plus the city of Chicago has such a rich wrestling history.
We had such a great experience with the guests at our show last year, it only made sense for us to bring even more to C2E2 and it just so happened that our pals at AEW were looking to have an event around this time. At that point, it only made sense for us to partner up to deliver a deep experience for our Chicago wrestling fans.
Nrama: It's called a comic convention, but there's a lot more than comics. How do you try to balance it all so there's 'enough' comics there, be it creators, companies, those back issue bins, and what not?
Rogers: Our deep love for comics keeps us well-rooted - we're all fans ourselves and not one of us doesn't consider Artist Alley the heartbeat of our show. That makes it pretty easy for us to keep the comics front and center, even as we add strong anime content and guests, extensive gaming whether it's tabletop or console, literary content and wrestling into the mix.
Nrama: As we speak, ReedPOP is advertising that 95% of the 3-day passes are sold out. Any way you can tell us how many passes there, are, or any kind of numbers in general?
Rogers: No numbers for specific passes, but we're expecting 95,000 fans joining us this year - 3-Day badges are pretty close and Saturday's are fast on their heels.
Nrama: That's 5,000 over last year.
Since it's inception, C2e2 has been in a portion of the McCormick Place. It's a massive complex - could you foreseee C2e2 expanding out to other portions of the building?
Rogers: Absolutely yes. Our show floor has maxed out, we're running out of rooms for panels... us growing into another hall and adding more panel rooms is something C2E2 is going to see within the next year or two.
Nrama: And speaking of expansion, C2E2's sister convention New York Comic Con is at four days - any thoughts of making C2e2 a 4-day convention? In the past I know there has been a retailers-only Diamond event on the Thursday before the convention, and NYCC expanded to four days after it was at the attendance level you're at now, roughly.
Rogers: I'd love to see us grow into other parts of McCormick Place before adding an additional day. Growing into a 4-day show like NYCC or Emerald City Comic Con within the next five years is where we want to put our feet, but first on the list is conquering the South Halls!