C2E2 2023 Post-Show Report!

April 7, 2023
Rextooth's C2E2 HQ
Rextooth's C2E2 HQ
To say we’re still coming down from C2E2 2023 would be a bit of an understatement. In many ways, this show was the biggest thing Rextooth Studios has ever done.

After the confusion and malaise of the pandemic, this show was set to be the biggest C2E2 in years. When ReedPop - the organizers of the show - asked Rextooth if we would be interested in providing some programming, we jumped at the chance. With our impressive roster of creators, and our friendships at the Field Museum, we knew we could really take a big swing at it.
The Lineup!
The Lineup!

And with the help of our friend, Field Museum Curator of Fossil Reptiles, Dr. Jingmai O’Connor, we were able to put together the most impressive team of scientists, artists, and storytellers ever assembled at an event like this. Seriously, check out that lineup. It’s like the Avengers of SciComm. 

We brought with us a crew of our favorite writers and artists. Along with Rextooth founder and Graphic-Novelist, Ted Rechlin, we had Andy Cruz - talented cartoonist of Did You Know Dino? fame, Krystal Gonzalez, AKA Doodlize - paleoartist extraordinaire, and David and Jennie Orr - genius creative duo behind Mammoth is Mopey and the forthcoming Tiger is Tangled

Let it be said that, though Andy and Krystal are young - part of the Paleoart New Wave - they handled the crowds and the pressures of the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo like veterans. Signing books, meeting people, and speaking on panels was like old hat to both of them. And they’re just going to get even better at all of this! 

David and Jennie Orr are seasoned pros, experienced at small industry shows and they brought that cool and collected attitude to C2E2. Their pins and buttons, adorned with clever phrases and sharp imagery are always a big hit and having the creators on hand to chat with people about their work was wonderful. On signing copies of Mammoth is Mopey, David was always sure to include an original drawing with every signature - a level of dedication that Ted Rechlin freely admits to not being able to match!

Speaking of Ted, he found himself in a new role at C2E2 2023. No longer a shy solo act, unsure about crowds and talking to people… Ted was the seasoned pro, able and happy to play mentor to the crew of con-rookies.

Ted will be the first to tell you, his experience with C2E2 was… strange. Ted likes to stay in his house, drawing dinosaurs, and not leaving unless he’s going into the mountains. At C2E2 he has legitimate fans - people who come, year after year, to see him. Ted would like you to know, dear reader, that he appreciates every single member of this little fan club - from the girls who have been bringing their sketchbooks since they were littles (way back in 2019!) to our favorite storm trooper and his galaxy-class dad, to Space Dinosaurs!’ biggest fan (we’ll finish it one day!), to name a few - Ted, and all of Rextooth, thank you from the bottom of our prehistoric hearts. 

It wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns, though. There were jitters aplenty. Ted and Annie Rechlin (Rextooth Chief Editor and Co-Founder) weren’t simply attending C2E2, they were in charge of the aforementioned programming - that big swing

Our first panel, SUE: The Science and Story of the World’s Most Powerful Predator, on Friday,  was the easiest and the hardest. Easy because it featured Dr. O’Connor - Curator of Dinosaurs at the Field Museum - and Ted Rechlin - SUE the T. rex’s Official Graphic-Novel Biographer - talking about SUE for an hour.

Hard because, well, what if it doesn’t go well? What if there are tech problems? What if nobody shows up? 

What if Ted had to haul SUE's jaw all around Chicago for nothing? 
We can post this now that the jaw is back in the museum!
We can post this now that the jaw is back in the museum!

What if the big swing is a miss? 

Fears were quashed by a full, standing-room only crowd. The video presentations were unencumbered by technical difficulties, and were well-received by all. The audience was entertained, engaged, and asked a litany of great questions. 

Crisis averted. On with the show. 

Saturday, we presented to another full house with SciComm of the Mesozoic: Bringing the Age of Dinosaurs to Life in Books, Comics, and Film. Ted moderated, while Jingmai talked about feathered dinosaurs and the evolution of flight, and Dr. Fabiany Herrera (Field Museum Curator of Paleobotany) explained that yes, paleobotany does exist and it is more important than most people realize. 

In addition to the scientists, artists Andy and Krystal were on hand to talk about how they translate scientific concepts for a general audience. 

So far the panels had been a resounding success, but there was one that Rextooth essentially bet the farm on… One panel to rule them all, as it were - Dino Fight Night. 

Saturday night, Dino Fight Night pitted Tyrannosaurus rex against Giganotosaurus, in a battle for the crown - the greatest fight in prehistory. Panel hall 405-A was packed to the brim, a crowd quite literally buzzing with anticipation. After a boisterous introduction, Ted - representing Giganotosaurus, and Jingmai - representing T. rex, engaged in some scientific (verbal) pugilism. 

It didn’t take long for the results to become clear - T. rex is the king for a reason. Giganotosaurus just couldn’t contend. But then - 
Giga took a shot at the king... and missed.
Giga took a shot at the king... and missed.

“What about Spinosaurus,” came a cry from the audience. 

Then, the door behind the stage flew open. 

“Yeah, what about Spinosaurus,” demanded a man dressed as if he had just come straight from an expedition to the Sahara - cowboy hat, vest, and all - holding a replica cast of the massive jaw of the beast. 

Just like Marvel’s Avengers have their Hulk, Rextooth’s SciComm Avengers had their secret weapon; legendary paleontologist, University of Chicago professor, National Geographic Explorerer-in-Residence, Dr. Paul Sereno had entered the arena. 

Paul Sereno was in typical fine form, bringing all the charm that has led him to grace magazine covers and star in dozens of documentaries to bear on the audience, evangelizing in favor of his contender - Spinosaurus aegyptiacus

Without spoiling too much, it’s safe to say Dino Fight Night lived up to the hype. And maybe we’ll be entering the ring again in the not too distant future…

Sunday was no simple victory lap. Andy and Krystal persevered through tech issues (they were bound to strike somewhere) and put on an excellent drawing workshop in Family HQ, and a full squad of SciComm Avengers put on a final panel - Weird Science: Blurring the Line Between Science Fiction and Fact. 

In Weird Science, Tirzah Abbbott - scanning electron microscopy expert at Northwestern University, Dr. Maria Valdes - cosmochemist and Curator of Meteorics and Polar Studies at the Field Museum, Dr. Matthew Nelsen - evolutionary biologist at the Field Museum, and Millicent Schlafly - human-robotics researcher at Northwestern discussed all things weird and wonderful about our world to a full-house panel hall one last time to close out the weekend. 

Rextooth Studios would like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who participated in our panels, all of our authors and artists, ReedPop, the Field Museum, and to all the dinosaur and science enthusiasts of Chicago! 

And now, the photo dump! 
See ya in 13 months, C2E2!