By Tim McNicholas

CHICAGO (CBS)C2E2, one of Chicago’s most popular annual conventions, was set to open Friday.

CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas got an inside look at the setup, as vendors and artists traveled from all over the world for the big weekend.

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When McNicholas visited the cavernous exhibition hall at McCormick Place where the entertainment expo was set to be held, it was in the midst of the calm before the storm. And it’s a storm Zaki Said is thrilled about.

He runs Dragon’s Den Collectibles, and he buys, sells, and trades figurines.

“The Missus doesn’t like it, but as long as I make money, we’re OK,” Said said.

Said is from the South Side of Chicago. But Darren Hutchinson had a longer trek – he is the owner of Unknown Comics in Texas.

Hutchinson travels the country showing off unique comic book art at conventions.

“This is the first major show of the year every year, so I get to see my friends and see the artists that we work with for the first time in probably four months,” he said.

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The artist who created some artwork Hutchinson was displaying flew in, and he will be at the show on Saturday. People are dashing through airports across the world to get to C2E2 – short for Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo – and looming coronavirus concerns aren’t lost on event director Kristina Rogers.

“Everybody’s drilled down,” Rogers said. “Wash your hands. We have Purell wipes everywhere. All of our info booths are stocked with disinfectants, and it’s just being a little more mindful.”

She said you might see more fist bumps than handshakes this year. But then again at C2E2, you might see a bit of everything.

That includes fossils, on display by Stacey Trenary of Darwin and Wallace. It is a trip off the beaten path for a comic and pop culture convention.

Trenary showed off the lower jaw of a mosasaur, and “a little mole skeleton you might find out in your yard.”

Trenary is from Florida. His fossils are from all over.

C2E2 is known to draw celebrities. You can get an autograph or a photo with actor Mark Ruffalo on Saturday and Sunday, and William Shatner will also be present Sunday.

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C2E2 was to start at 10 a.m. Friday in the McCormick Place South Building.

Tim McNicholas