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Chicago/C2E2: Trip Part 1! - thinking out loud [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Chicago/C2E2: Trip Part 1! [Apr. 30th, 2010|05:06 pm]
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What an incredible time Dave and I had in Chicago and Portland! I want to write all of my thoughts in one place, but there are so many of them that I’ll only be able to fire off a long list, I think…


--Thusday! Arrived in Chicago on a warm, summery day. I was still getting over the cold I picked up at MoCCA the weekend prior, so I took things slowly and tried to relax! The first thing that happened was Dave left his backpack in the cab that drove us from the airport to our hotel, but we managed to track down our cabbie pretty quickly, and we were soon reunited with the pack…containing our computer. Close call! We got to walk around our hotel’s area a little bit, and we quickly discovered lovely Grant Park and a great place for breakfasty foods, Yolk! We managed to eat there three times that weekend…

--After lugging all of our stuff over to the convention center, we asked our concierge for a recommendation for dinner. He suggested a place a few blocks away, Gioco, which turned out to be great! After a lovely meal, we were presented with two gift certificates for future meals there, as a Tax Day incentive! What a nice surprise! It meant we ate there again, later in the week, and were just as delighted with the food and service the second time around.

--Friday, the con began! Overall, we had a nice con experience, and met a lot of lovely people, including some we’ve known for a while on the internet but had never met in person, like Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos! We got to meet a lot of kids and a lot of fans of Smile, which was really satisfying for me. The convention center was a bit cavernous and tricky to get to, but it also had enormous skylights and a lovely view of the city. Friday night, Dave and I snuck off for a quiet dinner, at the much-recommended Giordano’s Pizza. I was kinda freaked out by how cheesy their stuffed-crust pizza looked (seriously, look at that photo on their homepage: GAG), but it was pretty good and not as scary as I’d thought it might be.

--Saturday was busy by turns, although there were some slow intervals. I participated in Reading With Pictures’ Iron Artist Tournament, against Jill Thompson, Thom Zahler, and Jeff Brown. I was squarely defeated by their awesomeness, but it was fun all the same. For dinner, we were swept off to Joy Yee in Chinatown, by our friends Carla Speed McNeil, Jim Ottaviani and his hilarious wife Kat, and Dirk Tiede, all of whom promised we’d love our food and drinks. They were right! But I’ve never seen bigger bowls of food before in my life!

(Note: These are not the giant bowls to which I refer: those were at the table next to us. Seriously, I use smaller bowls to mix cakes in!)

--Sunday I spoke on a panel about presentations in libraries, and then I did a live reading of Smile onstage, with some help from new my buddy, Trevor Meuller. We wound down the show after selling out of almost all the Smiles I brought with me! And then, in a hilarious twist of fate, we were taken to the very same Chinatown restaurant as the night before, by an entirely different group of people! This time it was Dave’s good friends, Star and Kevin Coppa, plus Star’s son Kai, from the Avatar:TLA fandom. The food and drink were excellent as always; I drank an enormous mango freeze with tapioca pearls that I’m still dreaming about.

--Monday morning, EARLY, Dave and I were whisked away in a fancy car to an elementary school in Naperville, so I could talk to 5th graders about Smile and comics. What an amazing bunch of kids, and what a fabulous school library they have! We had a great time with both the kids and the adults—Anderson’s Bookshop set up the event, and we got to have lunch with their rep and the school librarian. It’s great to get so much perspective into the markets and the audience we serve through our books, and everyone had so much to offer. I’m really thankful I got to do this event, and most of the kids took copies of Smile home with them afterward—even better.

--After driving back into the city, we checked into our new downtown hotel, strolled around the area for a little while, then, headed off to dinner in Old Town, and a show at the legendary Second City theatre! For Dave, a lifelong comedy buff, this was a missing piece of a large comedic puzzle. The show was a lot of fun; I liked the improv bits best!

--The next morning, Tuesday, we woke up surprisingly early, considering it was our day off. We ate breakfast at the Corner Bakery, a chain that serves surprisingly good oatmeal and toast! I took my tea to go, and we spent a couple hours walking around Millenium Park, enjoying ourselves and the nice weather. Chicago really is a gorgeous town, with surprises around every corner. Our ultimate destination was a branch of Columbia College, whose campus sprawls all over the city: there was a small exhibit about the advertising executives on Madison Avenue during the second half of the 20th century. I’ve always been a huge fan of vintage advertising, and it was fun to learn more about the people behind the campaigns.

--That evening, after an actual NAP, we cabbed it over to Challengers Comics + Conversation, where we were reading from Smile and Astronaut Elementary, and signing books!

We had a small but enthusiastic turnout: one of my fans, Kaprice, came with her mom, and they had never been in a comic store before! I’m glad Challengers was their first: the store is extremely friendly, accessible, and welcoming. The store’s owners, Dal and Patrick, were fabulous hosts and really made us feel at home. What a great way to ring out our last night in the windy city!

The next morning, bright and early, we found ourselves in a cab, stuck on the highway in traffic, wondering if we’d make our flight to Portland…but I’ll save that for another post!

All of our photos from the trip can be seen here!

(The second blog post about our trip, to Portland Oregon for Stumptown, can be found here!)

[User Picture]From: rufftoon
2010-04-30 09:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the awesome write up of the convention and the trip! So fun to see and read about your Smile tour, especially in the school and interaction with the readers. Thank you also for sharing the pics. I must admit to laughing out loud at the cinema header for Wimpy Kid and Funeral. That should end up on Fail.com or something, ha ha!
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[User Picture]From: alisa5179
2010-04-30 11:12 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Looks like you guys had a great time in all of your travels.
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[User Picture]From: astroboy12
2010-05-01 12:52 am (UTC)
glad you guys liked Chicago so much! it's shameful how much time we spend nearby when we go to Cori's folks and never actually make it into the city (or at leas not often enough).

cori has cousins who live in Naperville!
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From: maelie
2010-05-01 01:01 am (UTC)
I really, really love your fans. :D
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[User Picture]From: elio
2010-05-02 02:07 am (UTC)
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 !!
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[User Picture]From: prettyannamoon
2010-05-14 04:31 am (UTC)
Today my favorite student borrowed 'Smile' from our school library, which is three sad bookshelves crammed in the art room. When she returned, she wanted to know where the other comics were. I had to tell her that the one she was holding was the only one we have, which made me sad, so this evening I decided to search for similar recs. I loled when I found out that 'Smile' was done by someone whose lj icon I recognize.

I love the internet.
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[User Picture]From: goraina
2010-05-14 10:54 am (UTC)
I love it, too. :)

Thank you for helping get kids interested in reading!
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