Greetings from Chicago. While The Beat has been faithfully ensconced in the Diamond Retailer Summit all day, C2e2 has been setting up shop across the hall. And what does the future hold for the show? Now in its fourth year, the show has never quite lived up to its potential as the premier comics show in the nation’s second biggest metropolitan area—one that is home to some of the nation’s best comics retailers.

And what about this year? We’re told that the show floor is up from last year, and pre-sale tickets are also up. Yes, some publishers who are sponsors at the retail summit aren’t even set up—Image, IDW and DC are among the missing—while Marvel, Dark Horse, and Archaia will be holding the fort.

Even so, I get the feeling that fan turnout is going to surprise a lot of people this year, if only based on the social media excitement I’ve seen brewing over the last few weeks. In addition, comics shows/entertainment expos, whatever you call them, are a big, big draw, and C2E2 has definitely caught the imagination of the local geeks.

Yes, McCormick Place remains a vast, foreboding place, full of the mists of Niflheim and shades of Acheron. but the show is in the newish West Wing and features free Wi-Fi and several Starbucks, the minimum requirements of human civilization. Yes local people hate coming here…but the prospect of cosplay, artwork and nerdlebrities may just bring them over the bridge of sighs.

So we’ll see. The action will be in the Hyatt bar tonight, this year being sponsored by Wikia. We’ll have a preview of the show in full later on.