The focus on this con was comic creators, especially young and indy creators. Fred Van Lente was great to meet. I’ve been a real fan of Valiant both past and present, but the modern relaunched Valiant really has been knocking my socks off. Fred’s a veteran of Marvel, and I’ve got a number of things he’s written (which he happily signed) but what I’ve really been digging lately is his Archer and Armstrong. Seriously, this stuff is honestly better than the original run back in the 90’s and I told him so, which he considered high praise. I bought a stack of his Timewalker comics before moving on and really can wait to dig into these. Indeed, all around Valiant was well represented, but a lot of the creators at the show were ones I’ve already seen several times this year. Daryl Banks, Sean Forney, heck, just last week I saw them at NEO Con. Focusing on creators is a great idea, but it doesn’t take a lot of research to discover you have the same guests as everyone else in Ohio. Bringing in some different writers and artists would have helped. Still Daryl Banks is always a delight and was happy to sign a couple of Green Lanterns for me.
It’s odd, I didn’t even know about this show until about five days before it occurred. That’s a much bigger problem. I realize this is the first year, but it was the first year for NEOcon as well, and yet those guys got the word out, creating a huge buzz online and in person which resulted in HUGE crowds, and a packed house in Strongsville. In fact, NEO had been on my calendar since February. Cleveland Comic Con has been on my calendar since April and I’ve run into that promoter out and schmoozing at least three times this year. Look, not to sound boastful, but I’m plugged into the scene (See? no boasting. Seriously, who would brag about that???). I know what’s going on and I still almost missed this one. I can’t imagine how many other people simply didn’t know this show was going on, but I’ll tell you this; at 11, 12, 1 O’Clock on Saturday that big convention center was a ghost town.
Speaking of that huge venue, the Ohio Convention center was absolutely the wrong space for this show. It’s just so much bigger than they needed (I could have sworn their website said tables were sold out, yet I saw several empty tables), but not only is it too much space, it’s also hard to get into. Not only for guests, but vendors as well. I spoke with one who tried several diffrent entrances and got attitude from the venue workers. There was some expectation that locals at least might be familiar from attending the Ohio State Fair. I, standing in my Voltron outfit exclaimed “Do I LOOK like the kind of person who attends the Ohio State Fair???”. After a number of complaints, they parked a car with a sign out at the proper entrance, backing it into place around the time I was making my thrid pass trying to find the entrance (only the second pass for the guy in front of me – I know. I saw him miss it the first time). The $5 parking fee that the lot charges stacked on top of the $10 admission is a big problem as well. The cost is definitely too high for this kind of show, and part of that is reflective of the high cost of the venue. A hotel (with free parking) would have been better.
Cosplayers were in short supply, but the ones that were there were excellent. I was deligted to actually see a Daredevil and the Samus costume was spot on, complete with a light up laser. We discussed foam techniques for a while and I must say, the folks in Columbus are quite observant. Several noticed the coffee cans on my shoulders and the soda bottles on my wrists. Most of the time that escapes the people who admire Voltron. I’m glad I chose this one for this week, it was a big hit and I like think that if I hadn’t had to leave early I would have placed in the costume contest. In fact the person signing people up joked “If you have to go, can you just leave the costume here?”
As the day passed they did begin to trickle in a bit more and then…hmmm. This guy (the dragon rider – He usually wears Frankinberry)showed up again, pulling his old tricks of arriving just before the contest. This is beginning to bother me. Just as well I had to leave early.
There were some good looking panels going on. I say good looking because I didn’t make it to any of them. The website had no schedule of events or list of panels so I didn’t knwo if there would be any or when they would be. I complained about this with NEO con and I’m complaing about it here too. Programming is the lifeblood of a con. Without it, the show is just a bazaar (I’m looking at YOU Jeff Harper). If you advertise the programming in advance I will plan around it. I will figure out when is best to break out the costume (what’s optimal, bit for me and the convention), when to shop and when to hang out. I’m WAY more likely to stay longer, and in the long run, staying long means shopping more. It benefits both the convention and the attendees, not to mention the vendors.
By the way, vendors? I have to give serious complements to Tricon for assembling one of the best groups of vendors at any convention I’ve been to this year. Great deals, exciting finds, just great dealers. Over at the Hyve of Villainy I found these Buck Rogers ships that blew my mind. They had no idea where they came from (a little research turned up this : http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.com/2012/09/buck-rogers-day-galactic-playset-hg.html), but knew that at $5 each, I’d regret it if I walked away without them. This booth is also the first and only place I’ve ever seen that cardboard ZorCom space ship/station (Take a good look at that photo above. The ship is up there in the upper left hand corner) outside of a comic book ad. It took me aback for a moment, but I immediately recognized it. Just astonishingly cool. Seriously, check these guys out on thier website.
Hyve wasn’t the only great vendor there though. Almost as soon as I came in I found a worn, played-with Catra for $2! Even in costume I snatched that up and slipped it in the hidden pocket of the Voltron suit. After I got out of costume I decimated the 5 for $1 bin, not to mention the great deals over at Gem City (i saw them at Indiana Comicon too – these guys have a nice set up and great prices)I found myseld picking up dent and scratch discounted editions of the Walking Dead Omnibus vol 1 and 2 for $15 (normally $60 each). I got Lydia a Barbie book for $1 and Maddie recieved the Graphic Novel adaption of Treasure Island by Roy Thomas (Picked up for $2). Shopping just as good as Lake Effect ComicCon. Maybe better. Makes me feel all the worse that the turnout was so light (that’s according to one of the vendors themself, and they’d really being the position to know), but I spent twice as much as I budgeted for this con so I did my part to try and make up for it.
One of the reviews on TriCon’s facebook page calls it “The convention Columbus deserves”. With Mid-Ohio con being taken over by Wizard world and not a whole lot of smaller shows in the area, the reviewer has a point. Columbus needs a nice mid-size comic focused con. They deserve one, and TriCon could be it. They really could be, but they’re not. At least, not yet. Great vendors and a really good focus on creators ( the dealers room was evenly divided between the two and I really respect that), TriCon has the right idea, but they are in dire need of a better venue and MUCH better advertisement. Unless I see some big changes for next year (if there IS a next year – vendors springing for $500 tables with little foot traffic can absolutely kill a show) both in planning and on the website I can’t see myself going back. The thing is, I WANT them to succeed. I can see what this could be, and I really hope it grows into just that – the convention Columbus deserves.