C2E2 Convention Preview | 04.16-18.10

Heading up to the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo? Here’s a look at five can’t-miss events.



For over a decade, the Wizard World Chicago convention in Rosemont, Ill., has been Chicago’s only source for gathering en masse to meet and greet with comics’ finest. But Reed Exhibitions, the company behind the New York Comic Con, decided it was time to come in from the ‘burbs and give the Windy City “the con Chicago needs, the con you deserve” with the inaugural Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (or C2E2), running April 16th through 18th at the Lakeside Center at McCormick Place.
Making the trek up to Chi-town? Here’s a look at five can’t-miss events. For more information, visit www.C2E2.com.
An Evening with Neil Gaiman | 04.17 7 PM
Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Neil Gaiman inspired a large, ravenous cult of fans with his seminal work on DC/Vertigo’s long-running fantasy series The Sandman, and the ranks of that cult have only expanded over the years thanks to his string of bestselling prose novels (American Gods, Anansi Boys) and movies based on his works (Stardust, the Oscar-nominated Coraline). Given his high profile, public appearances by Gaiman have become increasingly rare, making his upcoming appearance at C2E2 (his first theatrical reading in ten years) one of the hottest tickets in town. Said tickets are an extra purchase not included with convention admission, with 100% of the proceeds going to benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Click here for pricing and availability.
Doctor Who | 04.16 8 PM
Speaking of ravenous cult followings, followers of the long-running British sci-fi series Doctor Who could give Gaiman fans a run for their money. The latest incarnation of the series, starring Matt Smith as the Doctor and Karen Gillan as his companion Amy Pond, launched on British TV on April 3rd, but American fans have been forced to wait until April 17th for the series’ debut on BBC America. If you’re one of the many diehards too impatient to wait, C2E2 offers a sampling to whet the appetite with an advance screening of the first two episodes from the show’s new season. Click here for more information on the screening.
Gurren Lagann Movie Double Feature | 04.17 5:30 PM
Few word pairings can excite your average anime fan faster than “Studio GAINAX” and “new mecha series,” the venerable animation studio having perfected the giant robot genre with 1988’s Gunbuster and redefined it with 1995’s controversial Neon Genesis Evangelion. But GAINAX came up with an all-new twist on the concept in 2007’s Gurren Lagann with innovative new mecha designs, quirky over-the-top animation, and an epic storyline spanning hero Simon’s transformation from naïve boy to hardened hero. The franchise’s two theatricalfilms— Gurren Lagann The Movie: Childhood’s End and its sequel, Gurren Lagann The Movie 2: The Lights in the Sky Are Stars—are compiled from footage from the 27-episode series (which aired on the Sci Fi Channel and was released on DVD by Bandai Entertainment) with additional newly-animated scenes. Click here to read up on the Gurren Lagann franchise, click here for more information on the screening, and click here for the official movie website.
Comics Studies Conference | 04.16-18
Comics may form the basis for many a summer blockbuster, but anyone who has explored the depth and breadth of the medium knows it’s much more than a mere pop culture delivery conveyance. To help enhance the academic understanding of the comics medium, the Institute for Comics Studies is holding a weekend-long series of panels featuring dozens of contributors from the world of academia. That list includes PLAYBACK:stl’s own Steve Higgins, who will explore Jason Lutes’ Jar of Fools on the “Visual Analysis” panel that closes out the Conference at 12:15 PM on Sunday, April 18th. “I’ve taught Jar of Fools a number of times now in my course Comic Books as Literature,” says Higgins, who described the course in his PLAYBACK:stl essay Bringing Comics to the Classroom, “and the presentation will explore the visual motifs used in that book to express the sorrow and heartache each character feels. That book is one of my favorite graphic novels of all time, and I hope that my presentation might inspire many who might be unfamiliar with it to seek it out.”
The Conference panel sessions run the gamut from superheroes to manga to the subversive underground, from such varied angles as the economics of webcomics, the visual language and space-time constraints of the comics page, and the psychological depths of Iron Man’s origin. Says Higgins, “I’ve attended a number of these conferences and presented at several as well, and I would have to say the best aspect of them is simply the sense of community they foster. It’s nice to be able to make connections with other like-minded people who take the idea that comics are serious literature as a given; to share with and to learn from such people is quite a blessing.” Click here for more on the Comics Studies Conference, and click here for more on the Institute for Comics Studies.
PopCultour 2 w/ Kirby Krackle & the Fuglees | 04.17 7:30 PM
Devil’s Due publisher Josh Blaylock has a brand new project: Pop Cult, a business venture offering “pop culture solutions from pop culture’s influencers.” What does that mean? I haven’t the slightest, but if the party he’s throwing to commemorate C2E2 is any indication, it sure sounds like something to get behind. Join Pop Cult at Reggie’s Rock Club (2109 S. State St.) for a two-day rager that features DJs, go-go dancers, live art demos from the likes of Jim Mahfood (Grrl Scouts) and Mike Huddleston (Gen 13), and even a special “hangover breakfast” for Sunday morning. That all sounds well and good, of course, but my personal excitement stems from the Saturday night performance by two of the finest bands nerd rock has to offer: the Fuglees and Kirby Krackle.
The Fuglees, fresh off the release of their third album (and first in six years) F-Bomb, feature comic artist Andy (Firebreather) Kuhn on bass and vocals and a music style I described in a 2005 PLAYBACK:stl article as “a seemingly never-ending barrage of clean, Cheap Trick-meets-Van Halen guitar licks, flawless harmonies, and some of the most ingeniously twisted lyrics this side of They Might Be Giants.” Seattle-based duo Kirby Krackle (Kyle Stevens on guitar and vocals and Emerald City ComiCon founder Jim Demonakos on drums, with Marvel Comics Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada as a special guest for the C2E2 show) get even more specific with their geek humor, offering massively catchy power pop hooks on such subjects as Green Lantern power rings and Uatu the Watcher on their sophomore release E For Everyone. Click here for more info on the show, click here to listen to Kirby Krackle, and click here to listen to the Fuglees. | Jason Green



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