10 Questions With C2E2’s Event Manager Mike Negin
by Gwendolyn Y. McNutt, CSEP (@gmcnuttplans)
With the announcement that Nerd 001 will be attending the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo or C2E2 this year, I couldn’t wait to start writing this series of articles about the event. As an event professional, I am always interested in learning about the process of other event planners and what makes each cog in their wheel run smoothly. In addition, I’m fascinated by entertainment conventions, as they combine two of my greatest loves – event planning and superheroes. C2E2 is a comic book and pop culture convention covering the world of comics, movies, television, toys, video games and more. The show consists of exhibitors, panels, photo and autograph opportunities and special screenings. C2E2 has been in Chicago since 2010; and will be held April 21-23, 2017 in the South Building at McCormick Place.
— C2E2 (@c2e2) April 4, 2017
Recently, I had a chance to chat with Mike Negin, C2E2’s Event Manager to gain some insight on the event and what’s coming to the show in 2017. Here are 10 questions with C2E2’s Mike Negin.
How long have you been the Event Manager for C2E2?
I’ve only been the event manager for C2E2 for 6 weeks! Previous to this, I was the ReedPOP Artist Alley and Talent Coordinator on the comic side for C2E2 and New York Comic Con.
Event planning is a crazy business, how did you get into it?
I’m a lifelong comic fan. I’ve been collecting comics for over 30 years (I’m an old man). I’ve always wanted to be in the industry and I can’t write and I can’t draw; but I can definitely coordinate. I became very interested in the talent and the creators and started building relationships there a long time ago; and then it turned into the Artist Alley position. I got a taste of event coordination through that. We’ve had some of the largest Artist Alley’s in the industry. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of stress; but it’s also a lot of fun.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an event planner?
Believe it or not before this, I was an IT Project Manager for the City University of New York. I did that for over 10 years and I was in the IT Industry for 25 years. This was always something I had done on the side; but it was a passion of mine. The opportunity finally arose for me to do it full-time and I took it. It’s a dream job.
Can you tell me something that makes C2E2 special? What sets it apart?
One of the reasons that I love the show, and one of the things that sets it apart is the sense of community among the fans. There is such an amazing vibe on the show floor. All the fandoms come together into a big giant melting pot; and everyone just appreciates each aspect of the show. I love the way it all it comes together. They come for one fandom and gain a new appreciation for another one. The sense of community is the biggest thing for me. I love the fans in Chicago and I love the fans of C2E2.
What’s new this year at the show? What are you most looking forward to?
We hold the Global Championships of Cosplay at C2E2 each year; and this year, one of the new features we’ve added is “Cosplay Central” on the show floor. We’ll have some professional cosplayer signings and photo ops, workshops and panels related to cosplay. Another new thing we’re doing is to bring “Family HQ” on to the show floor as well. This year, instead of being separated, it will be more present with the rest of the show. And, we’ve added a lot more family friendly programming for the show. We like to be family focused and kid centric where we can be.
Speaking of cosplay, are you a cosplayer? And, what cosplay are you looking forward to seeing this year?
No, I’m not a cosplayer; but I’m not beyond wearing a cape whenever I get the chance. I’m a tremendous Superman fan, so if I get to put on a cape, it doesn’t take much. I do love cosplay though. And my last name is Negin (pronounced NA-gan) which is a little bit like Negin (pronounced NEE-gan) from the Walking Dead. So, I always get cheap thrill when I see a Negin on the floor. I try to get a picture with them. It always makes me laugh. I get a thrill out of that and the character. I’ve been called Negin (NEE-gan) most of my life.
How does the show use technology and social media to enhance the experience of show?
One of the things we’re really proud of is the mobile app that we use for the show. The fans download the mobile app and then they can get any information related to the show in real time. If something happens on the fly like panel room changes or new signings added, we can make the change or update it in the mobile app. We can then push that information out to the fan population immediately.
Tell me about the charity art auction for St. Jude Children’s Research hospital and how the show gives back?
Every year we do a charity art auction at C2E2. We go to all the comic creators in Artist Alley, as well as some of the other artists brought in by publishers for booth signings, and ask them for donations of original art. We actually do it for both C2E2 and New York Comic Con, specifically to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. On the Saturday night of the show, we hold an auction in one of the panel rooms and usually a few hundred people attend. The artists go above and beyond with their donations, they really give it their all. So far, we’ve held 11 auctions between C2E2 and New York Comic Con and raised close to $300k, all for St. Jude. Every penny we raise goes toward the kids. This will be the 6th charity auction for C2E2.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you could share with a first-time attendee?
Try to experience as much of the show as possible. There are so many different and cool aspects of the show. I would really recommend trying something that’s not necessarily in your comfort zone. If you’re a comic person, then check out some of the publishers or cosplay; or maybe take in a couple panels. You’ll discover some new, amazing and cool stuff. There’s so much cool stuff, I would like everyone to try and experience something new and different.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with fans of the show?
I would like them to know, that for every team member involved with the show and ReedPOP, it’s very important to them to put the fans first. Our main motto, is “Fans First,” and I want everyone to know that every person here gives 110% to do that. They give their blood, sweat, tears and heart to enhance the fan experience and make sure that they have an amazing time. When you come to C2E2, we want you to have the best fan experience possible. We want you to go home and say, “That was the greatest weekend of the year.”
C2E2 is produced by ReedPOP, the company behind New York Comic Con, Emerald City Comic Con, Star Wars Celebration, UFC Fan Expo, BookCon and the Penny Arcade Expo, among others. To learn more about C2E2, visit their website at www.c2e2.com.