Here at Booklist, we’re well-established bookworms. I count myself among the best of them, as evidenced by the teetering pile of books on my nightstand, on my coffee table, and on the floor in front of my overflowing bookshelf. But when I ventured into The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for those in the know), I encountered a whole new kind of geekery. I set out to C2E2 for several reasons, not the least of which was to indulge my nerdy side. But I also hoped to find a strong contingent of book lovers—after all, we regularly review graphic novels at Booklist and there’s a sizable collection of comics at my local library.
In truth, I was only mildly successful: the ALA had their own booth, complete with costumed ALA employees and “Library Superhero” ribbons. I visited a booth run by the Joliet Public Library, a dual venture advertising their library and their upcoming Star Wars Day. They had an artist on hand, who sketched Star Wars characters and attracted quite a crowd. Their booth demonstrated the nerdier side of libraries, and it wasn’t long before I stumbled on the library side of comics: a booth operated by Gene Ambaum and Bill Barnes, creators of Unshelved, a library web comic in production for over a decade!
While I felt good about this small slice of biblio- and library-mania at C2E2, I was also glad I didn’t get my hopes up for more. At its heart, C2E2 isn’t really about books as much as it is about superheroes, action movies, and collectibles, and that’s just how it should be. Where else is it socially acceptable to dress as a super-villain? (There were 30 iterations of Poison Ivy. I counted.) Nowhere was the prevailing culture of C2E2 more clear than when I sat down to eat my lunch and read The Big Sleep, only to be scolded by my neighbor for daring to even bring “a normal book.” He then roped me into a conversation about Superman, of which I only understood about half. But hey, I’m no slouch myself when it comes to superhero comics; at least I understood the half. And in the interest of full disclosure, I did giddily snap this photo: