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A Look Back on C2E2.

A Look Back on C2E2

A month has passed since the glorious excitement of another C2E2. All the strange Japanese candy has been eaten, the art has been framed and hung around the apartment, and the TBR pile has resumed its normal size, occupying only three shelves instead of the five it balloons to following my book bingeing in Chicago. As always, it was an incredible time. Fantastic panels, amazing costumes, awesome authors and writers, and time with lovely people I get to see all too rarely.

Sitting here after the fact always seems like an awesome car crash in a half-remembered dream. It is a blur of people, colors, and images that still conjures a feeling of thrill and amazement after the fact. However, there were a few things that stick out as particular highlights.

First, the Archaia booth. I am a huge Archaia fan. I think their books are perpetually unique and brilliant, with a team of authors and writers who are as fascinating as they are fun. Mel Caylo, the ring master of this circus of talent, is always grinning and anxiously awaiting the opportunity to show people what makes him excited to be a part of Archaia, not to make a sale, but because he genuinely loves each of the titles on the shelves. His enthusiasm powers the artists and writers in the booth, fueling their own sense of pride and excitement in their titles, as well as, those of their fellow contributors. While getting a book signed, one of the authors noticed that I was missing one of his favorite titles from the Archaia banner. He talked about it so highly that I had no choice but to get it, and now I can honestly say that SYNDROME, with its dark beauty is one of my favorite titles.

Next stop, KILL SHAKESPEARE from IDW books. I’ll keep this short and sweet. Imagine all of Shakespeare’s characters living long after their stories have ended. Some are tyrants, some freedom fighters, and some simply trying to escape their lives and find some peace in the world. With wit sharper than Hamlet’s sword and a plot so enchanting you’d think Puck had been toying with your sleep, KILL SHAKESPEARE was a fantastic find. Particular thanks go to Dan & Kate Malmon who thrust the books into my hands and insisted that I read them. As always, you were right.

Lastly, my biggest delight at C2E2, Quirk Books. Before the convention, I knew little of this publisher. A cursory glance of the internet told me they were responsible for SENSE AND SENSIBILITY AND SEA MONSTERS, as well as, the now award-winning THE LAST POLICEMAN. Outside of that, I hadn’t really seen much of them in my literary wanderings. However, when I came upon their booth, I was instantly captivated by a book called A BATMAN HANDBOOK, a guide on how to train yourself to be Batman, I was instantly hooked and delved into their piles of books.

Talking to the staff at the booth, I soon found my arms overflowing with amazing books that varied from the slightly absurd to the awesomely odd. OLD MAN DRINKS is a recipe book of great cocktails that have a reputation for being ordered by men my grandfather’s age, accompanied by bits of strange wisdom by the selfsame men. In TAFT 2012, President Taft wakes up in the Rose Garden after a hundred year nap. Immediately he is thrust in the running for president and must learn everything from smart phones to civil rights. A witty and insightful novel that is never preachy on politics, it was a great grab from the booth. Finally, I have had more than a few meals from BREAKFAST FOR DINNER, featuring recipes like Bacon Fried Rice and Biscuit Waffles with Fried Chicken. While this assortment of books from a single publishing house may seem, well, quirky, I guess, everything that I have picked up from them I have absolutely loved. It was an absolute highlight of the convention for me this year.

All of the books, costumes, and the rest aside, the best part of C2E2 is the people. Seeing old friends and making new ones. Talking to people about whatever they are passionate about, whether it’s TV, comics, or elaborate steampunk costumes. Stopping by publishing booths and letting yourself be swept into a different world by writers, artists, or editors and coming away with treasures you never even knew about. What makes this event so spectacular is so many people with so many different interests coming together for one short weekend to share their passions with one another. It’s easy to get swept away into the spectacle of the event, or the pageantry of certain displays, but when you sweep all that aside it is fueled by enthusiastic, brilliant people who love what they do. That is what will make me keep coming back to C2E2 year after year.

-Bryan VanMeter