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C2E2 2011 Convention Preview | 03.18-20.11

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Highlights and can't miss events from this weekend's Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

 

 
It’s only been eleven months since the convention’s inaugural edition, but Reed Exhibitions (the company behind the massive New York Comic Con) is ready for another go at the Windy City with the 2011 edition of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (a.k.a. C2E2), running from March 18-20 at McCormick Place, right on the lakefront in downtown Chicago.
 
Making the trek up to Chi-town? Here’s a look at some highlights and can’t-miss events. For more information, visit www.C2E2.com.
 
Publisher Spotlight Panels | various times
It’s a sign of faith in the second year con that comicdom’s biggest publishers have dramatically increased their number of spotlight panels this year, opportunities to announce new projects and answer questions from fans. DC offers their usual fan-centric DC Nation panel (03.18 6:30 PM), plus line-wide spotlights on the DCU (03.19 11:30 AM) and Vertigo (03.19 1:30 PM). With a movie looming this summer, DC shines the spotlight on Green Lantern (03.18 4:30 PM), but then crams their classic trinity—Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman—into Saturday’s DC Icons panel (03.19 2:30 PM). There’s also an artist’s spotlight panel featuring Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis and Tyler Kirkham called “Drawing DC” (03.19 5:30 PM). Sunday finds two more title-specific panels, one on the soon-to-wrap Brightest Day (03.20 1:00 PM) and one on Vertigo’s long-running Fables (03.20 4:00 PM).
 
Marvel promises plenty of big news in their spotlight panels, including a preview of the “Dark Angel Saga” during the X-panel (03.18 6:00 PM), a Ghost Rider-related tie-in to this summer’s Fear Itself event (03.19 1:00 PM), and the announcement of the new Daredevil and Punisher creative teams in Joe Quesada’s “Cup o’ Joe” panel (03.19 5:30 PM). There’s also an Avengers panel on the schedule (03.19 3:00 PM), a panel discussion of how to break into the comics industry “the Marvel way” (03.18 3:00 PM), and a somewhat mysterious look at Marvel’s “Next Big Thing” (03.20 2:30 PM). On the multimedia side, check out a preview of Marvel’s upcoming anime releases (03.19 4:00 PM), a spotlight on the kid-friendly Super Hero Squad (03.20 11:30 PM), and a Q&A with Chris Hemsworth, the star of this summer’s Thor.
 
Not to be outdone, several smaller publishers are also getting in on the game. Dark Horse plans to unveil their digital comics initiative at the convention, and also offers up a trio of panels—one on video games and comics (03.18 6:00 PM), one on plans for the 20th anniversary of their Star Wars comics (03.20 11:30 AM), and one on the company’s upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender comics (03.20 2:45 PM). Top Cow brings Darkness writer Phil Hester and Artifacts artist Jeremy Haun along to preview the company’s upcoming releases (03.19 11:30 AM), Avatar Press presents a Q&A (03.19 1:00 PM), and Dynamite Entertainment welcomes Garth Ennis (03.19 1:30 PM).
 
Bleeding Cool Fan Awards | 03.19 5:30 PM
Comics’ original gossip columnist Rich Johnston’s weekly “Lying in the Gutters” was a must-read to learn the industry’s behind-the-scenes scuttlebutt, but things got even better when Johnston started offering his acerbic commentary daily with the launch of BleedingCool.com. An active, highly opinionated message board formed in Bleeding Cool’s wake, and now that community is having its say with the first ever Bleeding Cool Fan Awards. With categories like “Most Outrageous Swipe of the Year” and “Sexist or Racist or Homophobic Comic of the Year,” it’s certain to be a snarky good time.
 
Comic Craft 101 with Waid and Fraction | 03.19 12:00 PM
Every con has its share of how-to panels, but it’s hard to imagine a better dream team for aspiring writers to learn from than Mark Waid and Matt Fraction. Waid is one of the best classicist superhero writers in comics, an author equally comfortable telling straightforward superheroic adventures (Captain America, Amazing Spider-Man) or twisting the genre’s tropes (his Superman-gone-rogue and villain-tries-to-go-good tag team Irredeemable and Incorruptible), while Fraction brings his own mind-bending style from the indie comic Casanova to mainstream mainstays like Invincible Iron Man or a recently concluded run on Uncanny X-Men. Hearing these two giants discuss “Script Writing and Comics in the Digital Age” may well qualify as a one-hour master’s course.
 
Dwayne McDuffie Memorial | 03.19 7:00 PM
Dwayne McDuffie, the co-founder of Milestone Comics, co-creator of Static Shock, and a writer and producer for DC animated series like Justice League Unlimited and All Star Superman, died suddenly in February at the age of 49. McDuffie was a beloved figure in the comics world, and here comics creators will gather to celebrate the legacy of a champion of racial diversity in comics and author of the funniest official business memo in history. Details on those presenting are still forthcoming.
 
Evangelion 2.22 Screening with Spike Spencer | 03.20 2:30 PM
Studio GAINAX’s Hideaki Anno revolutionized the giant robot genre in the mid-90s with his TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion. But in the decade-plus hence, Anno decided he had something else to say, and decided to remake the series from the ground up by retelling it in a series of four films. The second film, Evangelion 2.0: You Can [Not] Advance, is due out on DVD and Blu-Ray from FUNimation Entertainment on April 5th, but if you just can’t wait, C2E2 is offering this special screening of the film hosted by Spike Spencer, the English language voice of Eva lead Shinji Ikari, who will stick around for a Q&A after the film. If you need to catch up on the franchise, you can also check out a screening of Evangelion 1.0: You Are [Not] Alone introduced by Spencer (3.19 11:30 AM, who will also be around to offer his humorous take on the backstage life at a con in “What Happens at the Con, Stays at the Con” (3.18 6:30 PM) and lead a voice acting workshop titled “How To Be a Frickin’ Genius Voice Actor” (3.19 3:00 PM).
 
Muggle Quidditch | 03.19-20 various times
When the film version of Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone premiered, Potter fans everywhere eagerly anticipated seeing how J.K. Rowling’s fanciful sport of Quidditch would be captured on the big screen. A better question, though, is how would you play the game in a world lacking in flying brooms? That answer was solved by the International Quidditch Association, a collective of teams from over 300 colleges and universities that crafted an earthbound version of the game that combines elements of dodgeball, basketball and flag football into one amazing free-for-all while solving the one biggest problem with Rowling’s fictional version (the Golden Snitch is worth 30 points here, not a preposterous 150). Two college teams will be at C2E2 to play an exhibition match each day, then lead teams of volunteers in scrimmage matches. For info on how to sign up, visit http://www.c2e2.com/en/Whats-Happening/Events-J-R/Quidditch-at-C2E2/. | Jason Green

 

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