As far as weekend events go, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo was a lot of fun though very overwhelming. I’d never been to a convention before so I didn’t realize how much walking there would be – the con floor had to have covered a solid couple of miles once you laid out all the aisles.
Attending C2E2 with fellow staff member Laura Jewell, we kicked off Day 1 in the afternoon. We decided to stick to walking the floor that day, which was probably for the best because it was overwhelming to just walk onto the convention center.
Besides the sheer number of people, there was so much to look at and so many sections of the floor. There were artists and books and merchandise everywhere you looked. We met a few different vendors that dealt a little more directly with the goals and interests of Girls in Capes, but we also got to check out some really cool artists that made geek-inspired art and jewelry.
Day 2 of C2E2 was designated as my See-Famous-People-While-Stuck-in-the-Main-Stage-Room Day. I made Laura get up early and go get in line, and as it was we were in the sixth row lining up to get into the Main Stage room. We sat within the first ten rows of the audience, and if I had had more stamina or more food, I would have sat through the original five panels that I wanted to see.
We did end up spending almost four hours in the space to see three panels. Starting at 11 a.m., we saw Fierce Females of TV, the Jason Momoa Spotlight, and the Kick-ass Women of SHIELD. All three were fantastic panels. Fierce Females dealt more with social issues and the experiences of the actors while the Jason Momoa and SHIELD panels were a bit more fan-service. Jason Momoa was hysterical and sweet, and we got to hear about his process as an actor working on Game of Thrones as Khal Drogo.
But as much as I admired and enjoyed the first two sets of panelists, I was completely starstruck by Hayley Atwell and Ming-na Wen. I had wanted to ask Ming-na Wen a question about the representation of Asian-American actors in TV and film, but when it came time to line up for questions I totally chickened out. I will be totally honest, I probably would have started crying, I was that excited to see their panel. Definitely starstruck by some of the coolest ladies on TV. They were overwhelming in their enthusiasm and their love for the audience.
Before each panel someone came out to hype up the crowd (with mixed results, though that is a conversation for a different article), so before the SHIELD panel they brought up four girls dressed up as Peggy Carter, red hats and all. Most of the other pre-panel hype sessions included a dance-off, but they asked the Peggys to do their best Peggy Carter pose, and while they were lined up Hayley Atwell ran up on stage to take pictures with them. After that, everyone in the audience knew that it was going to be a super fun panel.
Day 3 was a little more chill (and exhausted) for Laura and me. We went in the afternoon again to finally buy some things on the floor and to sit in on another panel on body positivity in cosplay. Though I had seen many really cool cosplays on the floor, I didn’t realize that it was such a big part of con culture.
The panelists talked about booking appearances at cons, and I think all four of them were from out of state. I’m really glad that I got to go to the panel because, as someone who would like to continue going to C2E2 while I live in Chicago, I got to learn more about con culture and concerns of the people that participate.
C2E2 did a lot of great work this year in presenting panels that dealt with diversity and feminism as well as the usual con fare of screenings and talking about upcoming projects in the geek world.
It was very heartening as a woman at a convention for the first time to see so much representation in the panels and the proactive approach to con behavior, such as the Cosplay is Not Consent campaign. The campaign, printed on the badges worn for entrance into the convention, is a way to directly address sexual harassment at conventions and to head off that sort of behavior. It’s unfortunate that consent is a lesson that has to be taught to a mostly adult audience, but it’s very powerful that the Consent campaign has become common at a lot of major conventions.
By incorporating that way of thinking into the nature of a convention, it’s setting a precedent for the three days but also for the future of the event and hopefully for people to take that sort of thinking into their everyday lives.
Christina Casano is a TV & Film writer at Girls in Capes with a focus on TV shows. Spanning cult favorites and current series, her favorites include Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Once Upon a Time. Christina is a recent graduate of Miami University and is now based in Chicago.
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