All my stuff had been loaded onto the C2E2 show floor the previous day.  All I had to bring for the first day was my laptop bag, my portfolio, and my fabulous self.  My new “Oh Goodie!” Punch Love from Devi just arrived as I was getting ready to walk out the door.  I had planned to get up early, drive to the city from Wheaton, drop off my car in front of my step-sister Nicci’s apartment in Logan Square, and take the Blue Line to McCormick Place to save myself the trouble of paying $20 for parking.

…I had planned to do that.  But of course, I slept just late enough where I wouldn’t have time.  I bit the bullet, drove all the way to McCormick Place, and paid $20 for parking.

Now remember, we're in the Itchy Lot.

Patrons and artists alike are lucky that McCormick Place is so insular.  It has half a dozen restaurants (or “bistros”, depending on the business), three parking lots, and a FedEx Kinko’s on site.  Third floor was the show floor, fourth floor was for panels.  I confess I wasn’t too sure where to go, but I just followed the other schlubby, hairy dudes with tattoos and found where I was supposed to go eventually.

I'm gonna take a wild guess and say the show is this way.

Officially speaking, on Friday the professionals and VIP’s are supposed to show up at 10AM, but the patrons aren’t supposed to show up until the doors open at 1PM.  Even just filled with vendors, artists, and VIP’s wandering the floor, it was still pretty damn crowded when I arrived.  First things first, I headed to my table to meet up with Pab and Bryan and get my stuff set up.  Then, before the doors opened to the public, I decided to walk the aisles and say hello to everybody.  And check out some of the merchandise from the exhibitors at the front.

Am I the only one who sees Jim Nabors riding a Killer Whale in space?

I knew before anything I wanted to stop by Jeph Jacques‘ table, and fortunately it wasn’t hard to find.  As per usual, he was tucked in with Danielle Corsetto and Randy Milholland.  Among the prints and various things I worked on the previous month, one of them was a guest strip submission for “Questionable Content” I had pitched to Jeph way the hell back in April during the MoCCA Festival that I finally had the chance to complete.  I gave him a special print of it I had made before the show, and he asked me to properly e-mail it to him.  I told him I already had, but lord knows how many e-mails Jeph gets so he asked me to send him a fresh one just to make sure he got it.  I did so instant I got back to my booth.  Will it be posted on the site?  That’s up to him, but hope springs eternal.

I swear, every time I see Jeph he's got something new sticking out of his face.

I made it a point to say “hi” to Katie and Shagster, to Foxy Allen, to Ryan Kelly (who’s at the table right next to me), see how Nathan and Nadja were doing, and of course say “hi” to Amanda Conner.  Just as I sat back down at my table, Pab and I heard a loud chanting coming from behind us.  Our table in Artist’s Alley is right next to where the patrons of the show are supposed to line up before being let in to the show.  It was already extending out the door.  This is Friday!  This is supposed to be the slow day.

On my signal, unleash hell!

My books and my prints were both $15, and people are stingy with their money on Friday, so I didn’t expect to sell the really expensive stuff that day.  This is why I’m glad I had the $1 postcards and the $5 “Eddie Van Helsing” books, because those started moving REALLY fast.  My plan for $1 sketches was also a huge success, with Pab and I playing tag-team with people who asked for one at our table.  Pab, being a writer and not an artist, promotes himself by saying he makes “the worst sketches into the world”, making stick figures of fictional characters and actors.  He freely said mine were “the much less worse sketches”.  You’ll be seeing those in one post all by themselves after the show, but I easily did a dozen today.

I’m not the least bit shy in photo-graphing all the cute girls in costume, and Friday didn’t disappoint.  It’s such a trip seeing girls with tattoos and piercings cosplaying as Poison Ivy or Harley Quinn.  Girls with pink hair became so common I began to wonder if they were in costume or just had pink hair in their regular every day lives.  There was still some room for weird and interesting costumes though as well.

Oh SHIT! It's the Ice Cream Bunny! Run before someone starts telling the story of Thumbelina!

I thought about suggesting this guy dress like one of the Sailor Stars, but decided to leave it be.

Oh good, my travel agent is here.

The lights went down at 7PM and everyone vacated for the day, but even at the front entrance it looked like the party was still going on.  People in costume still milled about, musicians played their music, and fans still mingled.

Dude, if you're looking for Ultraman, he's at Anime Central, not here.

This is the second weirdest Lady Gaga cover band I've ever seen.

Best celebrity meeting so far!

I made my way to Logan Square to park my car for the night and crash with Nicci, who had been up since 7AM that morning.  My big Irish family came in handy last year for cons, and my extended Greek step-family is carrying on the tradition.  Nicci, being as sweet as she is, milled about making sure I was comfortable and knew where everything was even though she was obviously tired.

HER: “There’s beer and pizza in the fridge if you get hungry.”
ME: “That’s sweet of you Nicci, but I’ll be fine.”
HER: “And there’s coffee grounds if you want to have some in the morning before you leave.”
ME: “Nicci, seriously, you look exhausted.  Go to bed.”
HER: “Okay.  Before I forget my roommates should be back later tonight.”
ME: “Bed Nicci.”
HER: “And if you want to use the internet the Wi-fi code is…”

And now that I think of it, bed for me too.  This was just Friday.  Tomorrow’s going to be insane, even with the rain.  Like that’s stopped any respectable nerd.

The calm before the storm indeed.