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What to see at C2E2

Superhero fans, comedy nerds and beer connoisseurs will find plenty to check out at this not-just-comic-books convention

Photograph: Michael Jarecki
C2E2 2011

The annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2 for short) is just around the corner, April 25–27, and we couldn't be more excited. We bought some comfortable new shoes, tracked down some giant bags to haul around our loot and cleared out some space on our phone to make room for pictures of cosplaying attendees. We're also making sure to fuel up on Dimo's C2E2-themed Mountain Dew and Cheetos pizza.

Walking around the main floor at McCormick Place can be a lot of fun, but at some point during the day you're going to want to sit down and relax. Luckily, the convention has a ton of great programming for you to take in while you're getting off your feet for an hour or two. Whether you're a comic book fan, comedy nerd or beer connoisseur, we've tracked down the 12 panels you don't want to miss at this year's C2E2.

Friday

Game of Thrones (6pm-7pm, Main Stage)
We've often wished that we could visit Westeros—after all, we're used to the harsh winters of Chicagos. At this panel you'll be able to hear stories from actors who have walked the halls of Winterfell on the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, including Kristian Nairn (Hodor) and Natalia Tena (Osha).

Beer Aplenty
Beer and comics go together like bags and boards, so it's no surprise that there are two events on this year's C2E2 schedule that unite craft brews and comic creators. Beer and Comics 2: Electric Boogaloo (6:30pm-7:30pm, S402) features appearances from local brewers, DC Comics writer Brian Azzarello and Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski. Later in the evening, a panel presented by Three Floyds Brewing (8pm-9pm, S403) welcomes founder Nick Floyd and the brewery's vice president Barnaby Struve. If you're lucky, they'll bring some samples.

Friday Night Comedy (8:30pm-10pm, Main Stage)
Stand-up comics at a comic book convention? It makes sense, mostly because comedian Brian Posehn currently writes Marvel's ongoing Deadpool series. Posehn will be joined by some other funny folks, including Kyle Kinane, Dan Telfer and Jeremy Essig. We're still waiting for confirmation of an appearance by the Joker.

Saturday

How to Play Quidditch (11am-1:30pm, Interactive Room)
Don't know the difference between a Quaffle and Bludger? Muggles of all ages will be able to get acquainted with the popular wizard sport during a series of demonstrations by the International Quidditch Association. Players are required to hold a broom between their legs, but due to safety concerns and gravitational limitations, the games will remain flightless.

Breaking Bad with RJ Mitte (12:15pm-1:15pm, N427)
The season finale may seem like a distant memory, but Breaking Bad is still present on millions of Netflix queues. While Walter White Sr. won't be present at C2E2 this year, the actor who played his son will be making an appearance to answer questions. We don't recommend attending this panel unless you've made it to the end of AMC's meth-slinging saga.

Publishers galore
Some of the comics industry's major publishers maintain an official presence at C2E2, allowing editors, writers and artists to connect with fans. Marvel will have a booth on the convention floor and host several panels throughout the weekend, including Marvel: Next Big Thing (4:15pm-5:15pm, N426) where the publisher will make several surprise announcements about upcoming titles. Meanwhile, the DC Comics Batman panel (2:45pm-3:45pm, N427) will celebrate the character's 75th anniversary with the help of current writer Scott Snyder and a team of artists. Finally, editor-in-chief Scott Allie will preside over the Dark Horse Builds Characters panel (5:30pm-6:30pm, N426), where creators like Geof Darrow and Eric Powell will talk about developing memorable heroes.

Sunday

The Thrilling Adventure Hour (11am-12pm, N427)
Ever since the old-time radio-themed stage show spawned a podcast, a concert film and a graphic novel, it has been hard to keep track of the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Creators Ben Acker and Ben Blacker will take the stage at C2E2 to detail their plans for 2014, joined by guests like Peter Sagal, Scott Adsit and Bill Corbett.

Stan Lee Spotlight (12pm-12:45pm, Main Stage)
Excelsior! The co-creator of characters like Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Hulk is 91 years old and still finds time in his schedule to make cameos in Marvel movies and appear at conventions. If you're a true believer who wants Stan's autograph, you'll have to buy a ticket and wait in line, but if you'd like to hear him reflect on his career in comics, this is the place to be.

William Shakespeare's Star Wars (1:15pm-2:15pm, S403)
Would the use of iambic pentameter improve the original Star Wars trilogy? That's the question that author Ian Doescher set out to answer with a series of books that reimagine the classic space opera as a series of Shakespeare plays. At this panel, you'll be able to find out more about his process and pick up a copy of his latest book, The Empire Striketh Back. Don't bother asking about an adaptation of the prequels—not even the Bard could improve those stinkers.

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