It’s that time again! The ninth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″) just wrapped another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous cons in larger, more popular states. My wife Anne and I missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team.
In this special miniseries I’ll be sharing memories and photos from our own C2E2 experience and its plethora of pizzazz. Normally we lead off every convention miniseries with cosplay photos, but we’re rushing this batch of photos to the front of the line because several of my coworkers have vested interests in a few of the personalities we met this year. Hopefully this all-star talent lineup brightens their Monday morning.
The center of our lead photo is of course This Is Us costar Justin Hartley, the main person Anne wanted to meet this year. On Saturday he arrived at his autograph booth at exactly 11 a.m. and never seemed to lose energy, even when we took this pic with him later in the afternoon. We owe a special debt of gratitude to the photographer from Epic Photo Ops, who realized after we’d stepped out of the booth that there was a flaw in the shot and asked a volunteer to catch and bring us back for a retake. Classy.
Also classy: Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk, a.k.a. Zoe and Wash from TV’s Firefly! I previously met Mr. Tudyk at Wizard World Chicago 2013 but chose autograph over photo op at the time. This was my first opportunity to meet Ms. Torres, one of several actors in the house on Friday. Since the end of Firefly, Tudyk has now become the John Ratzenberger of Disney animated films, while Torres is preparing to star in her own spinoff from The USA Network’s Suits.
Also hailing from space: three members of the cast of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow! Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, TV’s Chuck) plays Ray Palmer, a.k.a. the Atom, their resident scientist and Iron Man analog; Caity Lotz is team leader Canary, who has to overcome her dark past from Arrow and somehow whip her band of misfits into some kind of fighting form; and Dominic Purcell (Prison Break, Blade: Trinity) is Mick Rory, a.k.a. the moderately reformed villain Heat Wave, in charge of grumbling a lot, eating everything on their ship, and dropping all the best punchlines. Together they travel through time, fix broken events, confront the forces of evil, and try not to kill each other.
(Anne had the pleasure of meeting Routh previously at Wizard World Chicago 2013 and had nothing but awestruck things to say about him. I didn’t realize he was over eight feet tall and am now a little afraid to poke fun at Ray in my weekly live-tweeting.)
Reaching even father back into time, we come to one of my heroes from my young-adult years: singer/poet/actor/OG punk singer Henry Rollins. As head of the Rollins Band, their 1992 album The End of Silence was one of two albums that served as both catharsis and lifeline for me during my not-so-lovable young-adult years. He’s been doing lively spoken-word engagements for decades ever since the demise of his old hardcore band Black Flag, and ever since he put the Rollins Band off to the side. This year he added conventions to his touring repertoire, including HorrorHound Cincinnati two weeks ago. I previously saw him live in Indianapolis back in 2008 on his “Provoked” tour, but from terrible seats at the far back of the theater. This year Anne decided to treat me to an encore with “premium” seating.
We felt let down when C2E2 announced he wouldn’t be doing autographs or photo ops like the other celebrity guests…only to be surprised by a Thursday night email announcing that Rollins would be doing a special meet-and-greet before the show for premium ticketholders only. And thus was my mind blown. In a distant room far from the show floor, a few dozen of us had the pleasure to have our memorabilia signed (if only I’d brought some), chat with him, and take free photos.
When I asked him as humbly as possible about “jazz hands”, he paused and asked, “And how does one affect ‘jazz hands’?”
I pointed to my wondrous staff photographer Anne, who cheerfully demonstrated.
His eyes lit up. “Oh, like Cab Calloway!” I got the reference because I too am getting old.
Though his music possessed a serious intensity at times, Rollins has a tremendous sense of humor and rolled with it.
Rollins’ two-hour Saturday night stage performance was the best possible way to conclude our C2E2 experience, about which I’ll be sharing more in the days ahead.
But I’d be remiss not to include one more set of jazz hands starring a stellar cosplayer named Jason who’s become a recurring friend we look forward to seeing at cons. Jason suited up for the occasion as Drax the Destroyer from Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy with a complicated, astonishingly accurate body-paint job that takes his equally amazing wife Crystal seven hours to apply.
These pics will also be added shortly to the Pinterest board I’ve been keeping for all the jazz-hands photos we’ve amassed over the past five years, as a way of creating our own special convention souvenirs with a certain joie de vivre in celebrating our experiences together as a couple and as fans.
To be continued! Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries: