From cosplay to comics, C2E2 comes to Chicago

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(Katharin Mraz gets her Mortal Kombat on)

Those who know me best might be surprised to learn that I’ve never attended a comic con, nor have I ever truly attempted cosplay. Conceptual modeling? Yes. Cosplay? Not so much. Last Halloween, I was excited to take on the challenge of creating my favorite Mortal Kombat character of all time (Kitana), while simultaneously making Mileena for my teenage daughter.  All to attend C2E2 2020 at McCormick Place.

This 250-hour-adventure in creating characters from MKX taught me a few things: One, the Mortal Kombat 1 costumes I grew up on were much simpler than today’s MKX characters (holy cow, the details!); Two, I needed all the tricks I’ve learned through costuming and art department; Three, hot glue is still queen bee; Four, be prepared to watch a lot of streaming videos; and Five, take every opportunity to wear said costumes, including C2E2!  Which is exactly what I did.

Comic Con is a colorful occasion. If one does not intend to spend the time and energy to create an elaborate costume, I would still suggest still taking the opportunity to have a little fun dressing up, but it’s certainly not required.  Trust me, there were at least as many spectators as there were cosplayers at C2E2 this year.

When I wasn’t drooling over vendor tables, I was often being asked if Kitana would pose for a photograph, or I was rushing over to my favorite Cosplayers and characters to capture them with my camera. There was everything from giant stilt-walking Bumblebees (Transformers), to small armies of Jawas and Stormtroopers.  Everyone came out, from the elderly to newborns and everything in between. 

One familiar face I was glad to see on the show floor was Crunchyroll. For those who don’t know, Crunchyroll is an Anime platform, now on it’s 11th year, with 2M subscribers and 50M users.  Crunchyroll streams and sells videos, runs events, sells merchandise, and holds an Anime Awards show every year.

Crunchyroll is home to popular Anime shows like BORUTO, NARUTO, DRAGONBALL SUPER, as well as Crunchyroll originals TOWER OF GOD and MY HERO ACADEMIA. Legendary underground studio Troma was also there promoting their streaming service, and selling a variety of cult classics. Troma, the longest running independent movie production company, is going on it’s 46th year, and sees no end to the madness! 

Some titles to look out for on Troma are SICK SOCK MONSTERS FROM OUTER SPACE, PIGS, and of course, all of the TOXIC AVENGER movies. 🙂

What would a comics and pop culture convention be without comics? Among the big name industry rock stars were a few independent creators who stood out to me.  One that caught my eye was NN Chan, an artist for Boom, a popular publishing company who represents clients like Cartoon Network.  What initially attracted me to her booth was the kindness and softness in both her energy and art.

What drew me in more was the STEVEN UNIVERSE (Cartoon Network) comic she had for sale.  Chan, a baking enthusiast, told me she was contacted by Boom to do the art for STEVEN UNIVERSE- WELCOME TO BEACH CITY.  She’s also working on a few comics of her own, all coming soon.  Another artist working with Boom that I chatted with was Jenna Ayoub who, like many other independent artists, was drawing furiously at her table when I arrived. 

Her first time at C2E2, she’s promoting her new book, Forever Home, “a story about a little girl who moves into a Victorian house full of ghosts.”  Forever Home comes out in November, 2020.  Her previous work includes cover art for THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL, and line work for a new STEVEN UNIVERSE graphic novel, coming soon.

Last but not least, I spent some time chatting with Meredith Finch in the Artist Alley about her experiences working as a writer for names like Zenescope and DC. Some titles she’s worked on are WONDER WOMAN,GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE LITTLE MERMAID, and XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS. 

Meredith, married to David Finch, started her career hoping to write characters that she could enhance. “I’m really lucky!  I get to pick and choose the stories I want to write for, so I try to choose characters I can relate to.” 

As a wife and mother of three, Finch was excited to take on Wonder Woman at a point in her life where the character was juggling her relationship with Superman,and grieving over her mother being turned to stone, while still trying to save the world from impending danger.  

ALSO READ: Reel Chicago’s own Reel Woman, Katharin Mraz

On top of all that, she’s started her own fantasy series, ROSE, which combines her “love for mythology with modern issues.”  Click here to see more of Katharin’s adventures at C2E2.

(Photo Credit: Creative Media Works)
(Photo Credit: Creative Media Works)
(Photo Credit: Creative Media Works)

In the end, it was quite the experience rocking my first Comic Con, and completing my first attempt at cosplay.  I had a blast enjoying everything from the spectacular costumes to the amazing artists, and everything in between.  For this new cosplayer, it is safe to say I look forward to whatever journey lays before me for the next C2E2 and  character I take on!

Katharin “K” Mraz, is the owner of Ladie K Productions, Inc., Smart Pretty Designs, Inc., and Creative Works Media, Inc.  Based out of Chicago, Illinois, she spends her time as a freelance Producer, Writer, Director, Production Designer, Art Director, Assistant Director/UPM, Actress, and Model with a focus on independent feature films and narrative shorts highlighting diversity or women in the industry. In her free time she is a student and performer at The Second City, mentors young aspiring filmmakers, models, and actors, and is an active advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ, POC, and those under-represented in the media.

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