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C2E2: Behind the Table (Part Two)

Continued from C2E2: Behind the Table (Part One)

Day One: Waking up early we were both super excited for our first day at the convention. We were planning to get there at eight, but were unsure of how the shuttle service worked. We met Nathan and Sally downstairs (since we all stayed at the same hotel) and found the area that the free shuttle to McCormick Place was. We stood outside with a great group of people. One girl was wearing a tardis dress, while another was cosplaying the eleventh doctor from Dr. Who. We loaded the bus with extra chairs for the table, and a couple of other things. After we finally got it all stored away on the bus we set off to C2E2. The bus was full of excitement that morning. Since we had already been to the venue we knew exactly where we were heading once we exited the bus. We made it to the will-call area where other convention goers were picking up tickets and waiting anxiously for ten o’clock to arrive so the show floor would open. I’m not going to lie, I felt pretty important being able to walk past those lines and show the guys up front who were yelling  “Vendors only!! At this time only Vendors are allowed!” that yes I was a vendor. I walked out onto the show floor and saw what everyone’s hard work and dedication had created from the day before. We walked past booths that were mere rubble the day before, now there stood tall arches saying proudly “LION FORGE”


We scurried along to the artist alley where many artists had already set up, but many more were still working on it. Unfortunately the aisles they created for the artist between tables were very narrow. You had to manuever past other banners, between boxes full of prints, and slip your way down to where your table was. Getting in and out of this was not going to be easy, I assumed Sally and I wouldn’t be hanging out around the table too much. We did bring two extra chairs just in case though. A staff member came over and said he had to crawl under our table for an outlet that a cable he had running through the convention needed to go. So we all had to shift around a little so this guy could get under the table and finish his work. He was very prompt about it and thanked us for our understanding. Finishing the procedure off with blue tape so we didn’t get tangled in it he left. After the boys were set up fully Sally and I actually left to go explore the rest of the convention. That day went by in a blur.

There was so much to see that it was a wonder anyone managed to get anywhere. Every turn you took at the convention led to new areas not yet explored. We found two british guys selling a book full of twist endings, a lady drawing people in the adventure time style, the outfits from The Hunger Games movies, a kilt store, and a corset booth. If I’m being honest Sally and I spent quite a bit of time at that booth. We also checked on the guys periodically and let them know that we were available to get them food or give them breaks so they could explore the convention too. Sally and I agreed that they didn’t really seem to want to leave their table….at first. We did bring them food, drinks, and change for their sales however. Then while Sally and I were trying on different corsets we got a phone call. Both of them wanted to see a panel from Marvel and wanted to know if we’d relieve them

When we got to the table they both explained their prices, showed us how to use their paypal apps for card transactions, and told us good luck before hurrying off to the panel. We were both excited to sell the merchandise. I really wanted Chris to come back to the table and be surprised at how much I had sold. Mostly I just wanted to do a good job, and I think I did. We had a lot of people come to the table. Chris and Nathan both had great deals going on at their tables for their art. Honestly I think some of the best deals at the convention, and that’s not me being biased. The food alone costed over $6 for fries!!! Chris was even doing commission sketches for only five dollars a piece, or free with a purchase.


(Just a few of the sketches done by Chris Bailey)

We also had free candy at the table to draw people in. Then we both just told them about the awesome deals, and talked to them about what we all loved. I think a big part of conventions is just being able to be with other people that like those same things that you do. When the guys got back they were both surprised at how well we had done, and we were proud of doing good work. When the day came to a close we were all pretty tired, and Chris had sketch commissions to do for the next day. We decided not to hang around for the after party, and instead headed back to the hotel on the shuttle. The shuttle itself held some surprises for us, each seat had a free comic book on it! Back at the hotel we got a phone call about meeting more friends in Chinatown for supper. How could we pass that up?! I’m glad we didn’t because we both got to experience dim sum for the first time. We hung out with some really KOOL people too. Larry, Nathan, Sally, Julie, Gary, Chris and I made one fun party to be with! When we did get back to the hotel Chris started to work diligently on his sketch pieces. Not only were they sketched but they were all also colored. Thinking back about the days events I found that I really enjoyed being behind the table.



Day Two: We woke up a little later on the next day, not entirely on purpose. We slept a little later than our alarms were set for. We dressed fast and headed downstairs. It was Saturday, the biggest day for the convention. They had quite a few great panels lined up for the day and even more of the con that we had left unexplored. However, I had already decided to stay at the table today and help out more. I really enjoyed meeting all the people at the convention yesterday and helping show people what amazing art Chris had. When we arrived at the con we breezed past the sentries standing watch  at the entrance,  and got to the table. We set up the table with art, and candy. We were ready, or at least I thought we were. I did not think that I would be nervous after talking to so many great people yesterday. Unfortunately I was for some inconceivable reason. I talked a bit faster, and jumped right to the point about people buying things. I was coming on a bit too strong I realized, I suppose pre-stage jitters got the best of me. I was hoping to perform as well on Saturday as I had on Friday. So far it wasn’t looking good. I sat down and recollected myself. Why was I so nervous all of a sudden? Some of it, I decided, was because I was worried we wouldn’t do as well in sales today. Not because I don’t have faith in Chris or his art, he is superb, but because there was so much to see at the convention and there were so many people attending Saturday I didn’t know how anyone would even make it to artist alley. The other part of it was that I am an incredibly shy person, I’m no good at meeting new people. The day before I was so focused on doing a good job that I didn’t dwell on the fact that I was talking to a bunch of different strangers. Today my social awkwardness was definitely showing! So I sat down at the table, took a drink from my water bottle, and collected myself. Once I realized that there was no reason to be shy of people who were more or less just like me I stood back up and started with a different approach.

I just talked to people, got to know what they liked. I learned that one guy really liked green lantern corp, another was into some of the same music as I am (Gorgol Bordello) and we talked about different concerts we’d been to, and yet another enjoyed my sales pitch so much that he said when Chris finishes his comic books (He’s working on two!) that he would buy 10 copies of each and sell them in his comic book store!!! We had a lot of people come to the table because Chris is the artist for Dirigible Days  Some even said their film teacher sent them over! We got to meet so many people who were so diverse. It was truly an amazing experience. Sometimes I brought people over to the table with jokes off of our Laffy Taffy wrappers. Then invited them to share the jokes with us that they got. We had a lot of fun just conversing with everyone. We also saw a lot of awesome cosplayers pass by and got to take a lot of awesome pictures. The commission sketches were selling like hot cakes! People told us it was the best deal they’d found. One mom and son duo commissioned four, liked them so much that they asked for a fifth!


In fact we were selling things so well that Chris sold out of a print!! He drew everything from Bison (Streetfighter) to Darryl (Walking Dead) to Taskmaster (Marvel) around to Katniss (Hunger Games). Some even wanted us to mail them to their homes since they wouldn’t be there the next day. Day two went by in a whirlwind. Chris and I barely left the table, except for more art supplies, change, and drinks. One of the downsides to being at a table I found is that it’s very difficult to be able to eat while there. You have to have someone watch the table, get food that is the least amount of messy, and eat it fast to get back to work sometimes. Gary Lobstein and Julie Wilhelm stopped by our table several times in their many awesome cosplay outfits.


They even brought along Rick Burchett with them. We were invited to go eat pizza back at their hotel with Rick and Larry, but we decided to decline their offer. Although we would have both loved to enjoy the time with friends and pizza Chris had a lot of sketches to finish for Sunday. When day two ended to the blaring sounds of “Call Me Maybe” over a megaphone we cleared out quickly. Taking the shuttle again we acquired more free comics before being dropped off at the front of our hotel. Although we had declined the invitation of the pizza party we were both starving. Not being able to go get food left us both famished, and pizza did sound delicious. So we went upstairs and ordered pizza from a place called Gino’s. Let me take a breath here to tell everyone that if you have not had Chicago pizza you are missing out. They layer the cheese first, then the toppings, and finally the sauce finishes it off. When we got the pizza we devoured it. It was so delicious! Chris worked nonstop after that and finished his sketches around one o’clock in the morning. I tried to stay awake watching silly cable television, but working at a artist alley table is much more exhausting than you’d realize. I was so tired at the end of the day, and Sunday morning I definitely didn’t want to wake up.

Day Three:
The alarm rings…I did not acknowledge it. The phone rings and I still don’t move. Chris gets up, gets ready for the day and then tries to awaken the sleeping bear A.K.A. me. Only then do I actually arise from my slumber. Not exactly willingly because the bed is always most comfortable in the morning. After I get ready to go we head out. It’s C2E2 day three! The candy for the table had run out the previous day and it was our turn to refill it. So instead of taking the shuttle we grabbed a cab to the venue. When the taxi pulled up we also asked if the driver would bring us to a Walgreen before McCormick place. He graciously agreed. So we stopped in there and grabbed two bags of assorted candy before hopping back into the car. We were a little later getting to the venue then we had hoped, but we were extremely ready for day three. I like to call this day kids day, because more family oriented activities are being held. Therefore, more parents bring their kids this day than any of the others during the convention.


(awesome kids cosplaying!)

Chris and I split up after walking through the convention entrance. He needed to start setting up the table and I was off to see a guy about a corset. Another thing that table workers don’t always get is a chance to do is explore the convention and take in all the wonders it has to offer. They don’t get a chance to check out the booths or purchase any of the awesome nerdy things that I would have loved to have in my house. So I had to go see this corset guy because I wanted to be fitted for a corset and buy one for a future steampunk cosplay, and since it was the last day of convention I was hoping he’d stay after the floor closed to help me. Michael, one of the booth owners, was nice enough to agree to hang around after the convention to help me find the right one. After talking to him for a little while I headed back over to where the artist tables were set up. I wiggled past all the banners and obstacle course to get to my seat. We expected today to be a slower day, Chris was putting finishing touches on his commissions when I arrived.


(Chris sketching away)

We all relaxed before the floor officially opened. I had even managed to grab a pretzel on the way back to the table and decided to enjoy it while I could.  We stayed at the table for a little while after the floor opened, but soon after finishing his sketches Chris said “I’m done. Let’s go get that corset for you now since we have some time!” So we had a rare moment of being able to explore the convention together for the first time all weekend. Michael didn’t have any customers just yet so he was happy to help us, and after trying on 3 or 4 different types I finally decided on one that we all agreed best suited me. We left the booth, but not before I gave Michael a hug for all his help, and proceeded to explore a little before returning to the table. Sally was currently running it solo. We dropped by the table that Rob Guillory and John Layman were at. (We’re both fans of the comic book Chew)

When we got back we got down to work. I put the corset under the table to keep it until the day was over.Sunday was definitely slower than the jam packed Saturday we’d just experienced, but our table was still busy. The guys lowered their already incredibly low prices for the last day. (Word of advice here: No one wants to pack all their merchandise back out of the building.) So we were selling things like crazy. The sketches were still $5 but we were going to mail them off to whoever ordered one. By the end of the day we had a long list of sketches to send out. I think one of the very best things about the convention was seeing people’s faces when they picked up their sketches.


Everyone who bought one was so pleased with it. It was the moment when I could share how amazing the skill and talent that Chris has with other people. It was great!! We had many people stop by to pick them up, and quite a few more want them mailed to their house. Chris got a moment where he could sneak away and get lunch, and then he came back to enjoy it at the table. I left the table to the boys when the Game of Thrones panel came up though. I couldn’t miss that, so I met up with Sally (who is also an avid GOT fan) and we enjoyed an hour or so of witty banter from Natalie Dormer and James Cosmo.

After that panel the convention floor was closing. Sally and I had to hurry back to help pack up, but mostly because we thought those sentries that were so kind to us before might not let us back in even with our vendors passes this time. They did though. The floor didn’t clear out quite as fast as the previous days. Everyone sort of lingered behind trying to hold on to the con magic while they could. Nathan and Sally were heading back home, and Chris and I were heading back to our hotel so we parted ways with them after packing up everything. We had a lot less to take home with us, but we still had to carrying the extra chairs, banners, art supplies, and the merchandise we managed to buy. I was glad that we’d done so well, but we had missed out on a lot of the con festivities. Chris especially. Being the artist at a table is an amazing opportunity but I realize now that it’s a lot of hard work too. You’re working the entire time, and I definitely understand more of why artists are always there with another friend or significant other. You really need someone else that you trust to at least watch the table and all of your goods while you take a bathroom break, and at most while you enjoy yourself a little. So the next time you’re at a convention remember that everyone working an artist table, a vendors booth, the people running the panels….etc…. are all doing it with minimal breaks so that you can enjoy your convention. Please be considerate of them.
However, I think it’s safe to say that we both enjoyed the convention.

3 thoughts on “C2E2: Behind the Table (Part Two)

  1. Tina,
    Whatever you need to write girl. If it is short of long, it doesn’t matter. Give it your heart and it will be fantastic.

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