It was no huge surprise that lines for everything on Saturday were significantly longer, but the exponential nature of C2E2’s growth still manages to wow us now and again. Usually it’s easiest to spot the growth on the show floor, but with the queue/security line now housed across the hall and the barriers dropped, it’s not as noticeable as it was last year. Instead, it was the panels that took us by surprise, with even the smaller rooms queuing and even having to turn people away.
Our first stop of the day was for one of Chicago’s spookiest gems, as we headed over to the Svengoolie spotlight. Rich Koz was fantastic and more than at home with his hometown crowd. He amused the crowd with tales of how he found his version of Svengoolie by costuming himself with a Kmart wig and a few random bits and bobs from his own closet, his genuine happiness after running into Tom Kenny behind the C2E2 scenes and hearing him shout “Spongebob loves you!” and, since his recent national syndication, the admiration he received from one of his own idols, Mark Hamill, who he initially thought was a fan trying to con him into giving him his phone number. He talked a lot about the kindness of the original Svengoolie, Jerry Bishop, and his desire to fully pass the torch to Koz.
Chicago’s favorite horror host also spent a good deal of time talking the Three Stooges and why they’d meant so much to him, by way of a story from his childhood about his Italian great uncle and aunt. Koz’s uncle adored the Stooges, but his aunt took their cruelty and violence at face value as if it were real and didn’t. But Koz and his siblings turned it around for him, and allowed him to get a reprieve from the Stooges ban. Koz has more than a surface knowledge and affection for the Stooges though, as he does for all the films he’s hosted on his show since taking over in 1979, and shocked the audience with the revelation that the Three Stooges worked 25 years without a raise, splitting a $60,000 fee between the three of them, and therefore didn’t make any real money until the show hit syndication. It was a truly great, cozy panel, despite the crushing crowds.
We were lucky enough to get in for another more recent Chicago favorite, The Nerdologues, and attended a live taping of their popular, intimate storytelling podcast Your Stories. Tim Seeley, a Chicago based comic artist and writer known for Imaginary Friends, Hellblazer and Green Lanterns, told a particularly harrowing tale of his time working with Hasbro, and an outing which turned quite alcoholic that left him barfing on famed comic book writer, actor and musician Larry Hama on the front lawn of the Disney corporate HQ campus. It was a hilarious tale of woe that he’s never lived down but at least can still happily tell.
Another great story with an altogether different point came from local and longtime contributor to the show Chris Crotwell. He talked about a store he worked at in his home state of Alabama that sold vitamins, minerals and quite a few products easily labelled snake oil, such as a soap called Miracle #2 Soap whose ingredients list included prayer, and whose positive effects including the curing of AIDS and Gulf War Syndrome. From there though, the story took a bit of a turn, with Chris mentioning the stereotype of dumb Southerner and how we should aim to “punch up” and not denigrate people because of their financial or social status, as you can find an abundance of truly stupid people everywhere. He riffed on Gwyneth Paltrow and her GOOP site and the stupidity of buying $80 rose quartz water bottles that purport to infuse your water with positive energy, and the “raw water” movement and tied it all together reminding everyone that if we’re going to live through late stage capitalism together, we should remember that punching up instead of on the downtrodden is going to be very, very important. It’s a message we felt rung especially true and really put a great pin in the episode, highlighting what we already think is great about this podcast.
We spent a good amount of time after this wandering the floor, and have some great stories coming up for you that include nerdy acrobatics, the Crown Championships of Cosplay and more, so keep an eye out for what’s to come, and look for a bigger edition of Panel Chat after Day Three has come to a close. Thanks for reading, and again, we can’t wait to see you all on the show floor tomorrow!