My iPhone GPS is officially an asshole.  I told it I wanted to go to the North Building of McCormick Place (which, for those of you who don’t know, is near MLK on the West side of Lake Shore Drive) but it kept sending me to the South Building (which is on the East side of Lake Shore Drive).  This means I ended up having to trudge all the way across the Museum Campus and across the Sky Walk just to reach the building I wanted to be in in the first place.

If you’re trying to reach McCormick Place by public transit like I was, here’s what you do: take the Blue Line going East, get off at Jackson, transfer over to the Red Line and get off at Cermak.  Then just take the Number 21 Bus going East and it’ll plop you right down at the front entrance of the North Building.  Trust me, this way will save you a lot of grief.

Anyway!  C2E2!

Because of my little misadventure, I made it to the convention floor just 30 minutes before they were about to open the doors to the public.  I managed to get a cup of coffee from the vendors back to my table before I heard the war hoots again from an eager public anxious to enter.  The rain hadn’t come like I had heard it would, so there was no reason not to come out in droves.  This was going to be the big one.

Knock knock! Who's there? CHICAGO.

My $1 sketches proved to be a huge success the day before, and continued on strong throughout the day.  Considering how popular the stapled book of “Eddie Van Helsing vs. The Spiders From Mars” turned out to be, I’m kind of sad I didn’t order more copies.  The “Oh Goodie!” paperbacks started to move though, as did the prints.  While yesterday was all $1 and $5 items moving, today was about half cheap stuff and half expensive stuff.  Considering everyone’s usually in the mood to empty their wallets on Sunday, I’m expecting to unload way more then.  Pab continued on with his “worst sketches in the world”, and Bryan hit whatever panels and podcasts he could.

Buy somethin, will ya?

Pab summing up the state of webcomics better than he knows.

After that point, I was more or less glued to my table for the rest of the day.  It was an onslaught of sketches, photographing girls in costume, and selling my product.  If nothing else C2E2 let’s me indulge my pure id.  The prints may have proved to have been one of the most rewarding aspects, next to the books of course.  At the end of the day, I only know how to follow my instincts as an artist, so I’ll rarely draw something I don’t like.  I decided to draw a “Doctor Who” print and a “My Little Pony” print because I like both shows, simple as that.  Fortunately the nerds didn’t disappoint and both “Who” and “Pony” fans came out in droves.  Not to get overly analytical, but I thinks this shows a positive turn in nerdiness where we’re starting to enjoy things that are whimsical and clever instead of grim and mirthless like days gone by.

One of easily half a dozen Amy Ponds at the show holding up one of my prints.

One of easily half a dozen Pinkie Pies at the show holding up one of my prints.

While I didn’t get a picture of it, the cafeteria was packed almost constantly throughout the day.  If there’s anything C2E2 has gotten right, it’s the food.  Last year I raved about getting a turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy.  This year it was grilled panini.  At Wizard World you’re lucky to get a wrinkly hot dog so old it remembers the original Bush administration.

A gaggle of Nerdy Ninjas with swords. I always knew in my heart it would end this way.

My older brother Michael managed to make it to the show with his old friend Enrique.  I sadly don’t have pictures of them either, but I can confirm they walked away with a gaggle full of prints and merch at the end of the day.  He’s suffered the decline of Wizard World for much longer than I have, so it warmed my cockles to see him enjoy himself so much.  I also managed to force one of my Rush prints into his hands free of charge.  Michael always insists on paying for everything, including my work, but since he introduced me to my favorite band in the first place and his birthday was coming up later this month I was quite insistent.

…He still insisted on paying for his copies of the “Oh Goodie!” books though.  Baby steps, people.

He's got a score to settle with Bill & Ted.

Undoubtedly the highlight though was getting to meet Jen Van Meter.  For those who don’t know, Jen is an Eisner-nominated comics writer who’s best known for her series “Hopeless Savages“, about the grown-up children of a pair of punk rockers from the 70’s.  She currently lives in Portland with her husband Greg Rucka, who’s best known for writing “Queen & Country“.

I can scarcely describe how much of an influence “Hopeless Savages” was on me back when I was at MCAD.  The school helped open me up to indie publishers like Oni Press, and I honestly consider “Hopeless Savages” to be ground zero of their best work and talent.  It was the series that featured the art of Chynna Clugston and Bryan Lee O’Malley when they were just starting out, before “Blue Monday” and “Scott Pilgrim” became so big.  Plus it has great character-driven humor and tons of love for punk rock.

Starting to see why I like it so much?

I had been following Jen on Twitter for a while and discovered by chance she was going to be at the show.  This led to me linking her to “Oh Goodie!” and her contributing to the Kickstarter campaign for Volume 2.  I made sure to have her books ready for her when she showed up.  We chatted for a bit and she was kind enough to sign my dog-earred paperbacks of “Hopeless Savages”, with the worn covers and ink stains from being in my school bag so much.

I didn’t care though.  Not like those books are gonna end up on eBay or something.  Those are MY copies that I bought and read to death, so they have the most meaning to me.  I can’t begin to describe what Jen’s kindness and support means to me, and I’m overjoyed she likes my own series.

Me grinning like an idiot with Jen and our respective books.

We all finally limped out the convention hall at 7PM and, while Pab retired for the evening, Bryan and I partook in something I was rather insistent on doing this weekend: Nerdy Burlesque at the Gorilla Tango Theater on Milwaukee Ave.

Man, I think I had a dream like this once.

Believe it or not, I really don’t enjoy strip clubs.  It’s just something that’s never appealed to me.  Sexiness to me isn’t just about showing your tits and your pussy (although that doesn’t hurt).  Part of the appeal of burlesque is the wit, the joy, and the creativity put into it that makes it truly a performance, not just dancing or stripping.  The reason I’ve never done a sex comic (though I’m not opposed to the idea) is that I’ve never found an angle I’m comfortable approaching it from.  Sex comics can either be really bland or really degenerate, with all problems being solved by fucking.  Only way I think I could approach it is to incorporate humor, which Burlesque does spectacularly.

And the ladies at the Gorilla Tango do it better than anyone in the city.  I still remember seeing them do a Scooby Doo striptease at the first C2E2, with Velma and Daphne ripping off their respective sweaters and dancing around (you know in your heart Velma was always hotter than Daphne).  Gorilla Tango has since expanded, including such shows as Temple of Boobs, Super Boobs, A Nude Hope, and Fellowship of the Boobs.

Bryan and I partook in A Nude Hope, which re-enacts the whole first “Star Wars” movie Burlesque-style.  They politely asked us not to take pictures, since most of these girls had day jobs and didn’t want their dancing to interfere (another thing I like about burlesque is its usually made up of normal, working girls).  I respected their wishes, so this picture below of the outside of the theater will have to do.

You can't see it, but trust me, really dirty and fun stuff is happening in there.

One more day!  Semper fi!