How C2E2 Celebrates the Superfan

Chewie

Three years ago, I blogged about the first time I attended the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, then in its second year. This fan culture event was overwhelming, and it was difficult to know where to begin talking about the experience. On April 26, I experienced C2E2 from a more personal perspective: my 12-year-old daughter Marion was among the throng of attendees who dress up as their favorite fictional characters ranging from Princess Mononoke to Dr. Who. Marion was adorned in a trench coat and black wings to honor Castiel, an angel in the CW Network series Supernatural. As I noted on a LinkedIn blog post, being with Marion helped me appreciate first-hand a superfan loyalty that is rooted in self-expression and spontaneous community.

Castiel

C2E2 has quickly become a premier destination for fans and companies to gather and celebrate each other over the course of one weekend. C2E2 attracted 53,000 attendees in 2013, up from 40,000 the year before, and the event has taken up more space in the Chicago McCormick Place convention center to accommodate the growing number of merchants and entertainment properties participating.

If you opt into the C2E2 email newsletter, your experience begins well in advance of the actual event. The pedestrian-looking newsletter and website serve up a steady stream of announcements about the show, such as autograph signings (for a fee) by comic book legends such as Stan Lee, a panel with Game of Thrones cast members, or the unveiling of an interactive booth for online game League of Legends.

But you really don’t begin to understand C2E2 until you walk into McCormick Place on the day of the show and take stock of your surroundings. Even before you enter the formal C2E2 convention area, you encounter the superfans expressing their passions. Continue reading

Harry Potter and the $15 billion adventure

How long can the $15 billion Harry Potter franchise flourish without generating new content?

In December 2011, an announcement about the planned launch of a Harry Potter theme park in California generated a frenzy of excitement among bloggers and media ranging from Perez Hilton to the Los Angeles Times. The blogosphere is also buzzing about news regarding the expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Island of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. Meantime, the official adventures of Harry Potter are over: the final book in the series was published five years ago, and the last movie adaptation was released in 2011. The release date of the forthcoming Pottermore website has been postponed and remains unknown. Will J.K. Rowling and her network of media/entertainment partners find a way to renew his adventures after all?

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