AICN COMICS Q&@: The Dean catches up with C2E2 VP Lance Fensterman about this week’s Chicago con!
@’s by C2E2 Group VP
DEAN: It didn’t take long for C2E2 to become the dominant con here in Chicago, and it’s getting bigger and better every year! What are you most excited to offer fans this year?
LANCE FENSTERMAN (LF): In general, I’m excited to bring the city of Chicago the largest pop culture extravaganza it has ever had. It’s an honor. Specifically, we’ve got cast of THE WALKING DEAD, GAME OF THRONES, TRUE BLOOD and so, so much more!
DEAN: It’s got a little something for everyone, and I try to tell everyone I know that it’s something they have to experience at least once, but who do you feel C2E2 is marketed toward most and which is more of an attraction? The comics or the broader entertainment stuff?
LF: The thing about pop culture is people love what they love. Some people want to see the big TV stars but other people have been looking forward to meeting a penciler that did there favorite issue of there favorite comic. It’s deeply personal and that’s what makes it so special.
DEAN: On that note, how do you try to attract new attendees every year? Other cons have taken heat for stretching too far out of their realm in getting ex-mayors or reality TV stars that don’t appeal to the standard con goer, so how do you gauge what celebrity guests might attract new visitors, but still stay true to your core?
LF: We believe that comics are at the center of everything we do and then we branch out into the other areas of popular culture as equally as we can while staying true to our core. We are not just a nostalgia show or a media show – we are a show the shines a light on the best of the popular arts. If we stay true to that, you’ll never see an ex-mayor at C2E2.
DEAN: The guests are fun, but I always love checking out the local comic shops and various exhibitors that set up there for the weekend. Do you put as much emphasis on getting a variety of sellers from year to year as you do on other attractions?
LF: Absolutely. We work hard to curate the show floor with the best vendors, publishers, video game companies, etc. We want the experience to be fun and fresh every year.
DEAN: It’s definitely unique to this type of event to have the attendees be as much an attraction as everything else with all the cosplayers. Do you have to take them into consideration much as far as the traffic they can cause as people stop for pictures, or providing areas for them to dress/change?
LF: Cosplay is a huge part of the show, and try as we might, they are going to obstruct traffic and there is just no way around it. Wherever they are, people are going to want pictures. To try and regulate that takes some of the spirit out of the show, even if it does create some traffic jams.
DEAN: How about the layout of the show? Can regulars expect the same setup as you’ve had previously, or are there some new layouts or additions this time?
LF: Every year of the show we’ve been in a different hall at McCormick Place, so its sort of like rebuilding the show every year – which wears us out, but it certainly keeps it fresh and new for the fans every year!
DEAN: When you start as hot as you guys did, I’d imagine it’s hard to change things up since it’s clearly been working for you, but what improvements have you made since the beginning and what did you set out to make better for this year?
LF: The list is too long. Every year we get better and we fix mistakes from the previous year and then we make new mistakes and have new growing pains so we address those and then repeat, repeat, repeat. So in short we try to never make the same mistake twice and we are always focused on what our fans want and need.
DEAN: How about your relationship with Chicago itself? Do you get a lot of support from the city?
LF:Seeing the banners for C2E2 hanging on Michigan Ave is so, so cool, it’s a rush and a point of pride for the entire team and that is one example of how the city supports us. Another is the deep dish pizza lunch they are feeding the entire team with the day before the show opens! This is all to say that the city, both government and the people, have opened their arms to C2E2.
DEAN: I love going downtown for this, but getting into the city can sometimes be a hassle. You guys have offered a good amount of options though to help fans get to the event in the past, so what sort of transportation is provided to help people get to the show this year?
LF: That is this weird thing about the people of Chicago – they seem to think McCormick is a hassle. You can take the El, Metra, drive or take one of our free shuttles that run all day long from The Loop. There, now you have no excuse!
DEAN: So when you think of C2E2 ‘growing,’ what does that mean to you? Is the goal to be as big San Diego, or do you stick to more short term goals like filling another room at McCormick Place?
LF: We can grow almost infinitely in McCormick Place, but we want to grow smartly and we will grow based on what the fans tell us they want, plain and simple.
DEAN: Thanks for your time, Lance! It’s hard to imagine C2E2 leaving anyone wanting, but you won’t know unless you’re there! Head on over to www.c2e2.com for ticket and travel information!
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