Conventions can be awkward because of money (among a million other reasons). Everyone is trying to leave with as much money as possible in a giant zero-sum equation. Creators and vendors are trying to make enough money to live and fans are on the opposite side trying to limit impulse purchases. It doesn’t help that the creators and consumers in the comic book industry seem to be especially strapped for cash; it all adds up to a giant pile of awkward.
At C2E2, I came to fully appreciate the benefits of traveling light and with some male company. With only our small backpacks and an offhanded comment, “Oh, I’m sorry, but we’re just in town for the day and we can’t carry anything else home with us,” it was easier to escape even the most motivated salesmen. The excuse was a bit contrived, especially after repeating the words all afternoon, but it was a polite way to excuse my stinginess. My husband’s bored expression from a few feet over my shoulder, searching the crowd, was also an excuse to cut any unpleasant conversation short.
We did go out of our way to get a signature from Ray Fawkes, writer and artist of a few books I’ve really enjoyed, like Intersect and Spookshow. Fawkes tends to produce psychological horror with stylized abstract illustration. His work is not always enjoyable or easy, I suppose that’s why it was so important to me that I tell him how much I appreciated his stories, because they are important without being fun.
A great part of any convention is meeting up with other fans, and having exceptionally positive conversations. At the local comic book store, it’s almost always the same complaints, but at a convention, it’s usually a lot more positive (usually… grumble grumble). I was happy to have an hour to sit down, people watch, and get reading recommendations from some online friends who are now real life friends. Ali the Hunk, drew me a postcard of a Brandon Graham style monster. I haven’t found the right spot to hang it up, for uhh.. obvious reasons.
When I was in college, I would walk from Hyde Park up the Lakefront, all the way to Lincoln Park sometimes, but at least up to River North on a regular basis. When we were ready to leave, I had been hoping to cut over to the lakefront and recreate part of the walk, from the convention at McCormick Place up to the South Loop, but I obviously missed the Lake Shore Drive pedestrian underpass. We walked up past Soldier Field along Lake Shore Drive up to the bottom of Grant Park. We were staying in the sketchy-ass Best Western right across from the Metra Stop south of Grant Park, it’s actually a good deal for a downtown hotel, if lacking in the appearance of luxury or working plumbing when regarded from the outside.
In reality, the hotel was much nicer than I remembered. In fact, the entire South Loop area of the city has changed a lot in the last ten years. I was trying to get some good images of the beautiful new buildings, high rise luxury condominiums, I guess. It was difficult to control the exposure with the sun still halfway up the sky behind the buildings. The clouds and the well manicured bike paths were incredibly inviting though. I took at least 50 photos. In all of the images, the sun left a burnt-out, overexposed patch in the bright sky. This defect wasn’t visible on the camera screen.
In retrospect, I could have used the histogram to check the exposure, but I hadn’t expected the pictures to be any less magical than reality. It was a great day, I suppose no picture would have been as wonderful as how we were feeling.