Is it just me or is that a very, very long name for a convention? It’s also a kind of a long drive – and traffic was not kind. I first heard about Hall of Fame city comic con around the time AllAmericon was in full swing. The draw for me here, like AllAmericon, was the guests. I had already met Jim Steranko, but they were bringing in George Pérez and Howard Chaykin. That’s a pretty big deal. Perez in general is a huge deal, and a massive catch… But Chaykin matters as well. Before there was a vertigo imprint at DC comics Chaykin really was the linchpin of their mature readers line with his revamps of both Blackhawk and The Shadow. He’s returned to the Shadow at Dynamite comics as well as being the powerhouse behind a whole slew of creator owned comics.
HOF had a couple of problems right off the bat – mostly communication issues. First and foremost, they specifically answered a convention goer’s Facebook question about parking… Stating there are plenty of free parking on site. This ended up not being the case and if you want to park in the convention hall lot, you were going to drop six dollars. Just as much for a couple of surrounding spaces as well. I flew my little Superman Honda straight past the convention hall, and found a quiet little side street to park on about a block away – it was there that I started to unpack my doctor octopus costume. ( an old man came out of his house and asked me what all this was…was I there to spray for bugs?).
Ock has been upgraded, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do since his appearance at Neo comic con last year. It’s one of those outfits that for me, has always been about the engineering – a way to make or four arms move. When I first deputed at Lake Effect some four years ago, it was even simpler. Sunglasses and tinfoil insulation around my arms, with duckbill flappers instead of claws. For NEO, I had the bright idea of adding in a couple of grabbers from the dollar store – this necessitated a few more lengths of tinfoil insulation, but that at the happy effect of making my arms much longer than they had been previously. I liked it. The thing is those arms while practical, don’t have the absolute fantastic look to them that I see on so many other cosplayers. It was time to upgrade those tentacles. I enclosed the insulation with rings and rings and rings of foam, detailed and painted to look like a pig iron. I also added a waistband this time around. It’s a detail that you don’t see in every incarnation, but for this particular look I felt like it would be a great place to do a little bit more dremeling and perhaps add some lights. I had hoped to add a couple of strings of EL wire through the octopus arms as well, but never managed to get around to it. Still the effect was everything I had hoped for, and this time round I added a new innovation– attached to one of those grabbers from the dollar store, I worked in a selfie stick that once properly attached and turned on, I could take photographs from my phone at any time. (When you get to the end of this article, there’s going to be a LOT of Ock selfies. Sorry about that….)
Traffic held me up, and I was running late anyhow. Instead of arriving around noon-ish as I had hoped to, I arrived at ten minuets ’till one. I was immediately greeted by convention goers just outside of the hall, who informed me that the registration for the costume contest was just about to close! I panicked, and they were nice enough to open the door for me as I swept in got my admission and begged them to let me sign up late!
A side note here, I am never doing Dr Octopus again unless I have a handler. I underestimated the difficulty of doing certain things… Opening doors, swiping my phone or changing it to selfie mode with my claw’s stylus, stuff like that. When I got to the admission table I leaned over and the ticket taker cheerfully plucked the $10 admission fee out of my lab coat pocket then wrapped a wristband around one of my Ock claws. I immediately ran into friends Taylor and Nick who were both kind enough to be my hands when I needed them. It’s one of those things I love about the cosplay community – socializing and getting to know everyone while we wait in the line-up for the costume contests… One person was nice enough to turn on the lights on my lower claws, another was nice enough to turn on the lights on my midsection. Everybody took selfies with me and giggled at the octopus arms with the cell phone attached! It was a great group, very friendly and everybody was so happy just to be there. There were dozens of Harley Quinns, there were actually two Bob’s Burgers groups… Who would’ve thought that? There was a bubbly, friendly Supergirl who I had enormous fun discussing the Supergirl TV show with. It’s so nice to be able to gush about such a perfect Superman series! I’m jealous, she’s got Melissa Benoist’s autograph!
We all ended up in the line up for a while, but once that costume contest began, they got every through at an impressive speed, and everyone watching seemed to really love what they were seeing. There was such a wonderful diversity of outfits, not just super heros and villians, but horror characters like Freddy and Ash, in addition to anime and game characters! as I headed towards the stage i realized the unthinkable had happened. My Goggles, which were on my forehead had completely fogged up. when I slipped them down I was blind! I pushed them back up and gingerly negotiated the stairs, making my way to the “X” mark. As the announcers were introducing me, I grabbed the goggles with an Ock arm. There was a fine layer of perspiration on my forehead, making it easier to slide the goggles down then stared blindly at the big dark blob that I could only hope was the audience. Behind me, the announcer from Heroic Adventures was delightedly shocked. “Did you just move the glasses down with the arm? Like in the movie?” Ryan, in his gender bend Katana outfit, insisted on us all taking a selfie with the Ock arms right there and then before I left the stage! (Big thanks to Amenisty Cosplay for shooting this!)
As I passed through one hall, a flash of light went to buy my eye and I heard crashes done I turned and found lightsaber battles going on in an empty room. You know, I’ve said it more than once but it really is true – it’s just not a party until the lightsabers come out.
With over 2000 people in attendance, crowd control was occasionally a problem… Especially for a guy with four extra arms who was larger than he is used to being. I managed to get around, but the artist alley where the cosplay booth was set up always seem to be shoulder to shoulder. The dealers room was slightly better, with aisles and line set ups for the artists to help manage traffic flow a little bit more efficiently. I was surprised at how small a space the vendor’s room actually was . For such a huge building they weren’t using a great deal of it – the convention really only had the dealers room, hallway antechamber outside of it, and one side room to spread the show across. I can see why they weren’t doing any panels or screenings – the con hadn’t secured enough space.
Howard Chaykin was exactly as advertised. He’s brash, rude and obnoxious. If you’ve ever read any interview with him or heard an editor talk about him, it comes through. He greated us with a hearty “What the f#$% are you just standing back there in line for? Come on up!” He waved us up as he said goodbye to the last people departing his table “People wasting thier entire f@#$%&!* life waiting….”. He eyed us up and down. “Well I see the dignity police have the day off….”
I had a boss like Chaykin. Everyone hated him, but I discovered the trick to dealing with them was to give as good as you get and play along.
“Yeah,” I replied. “That’s why I’m in disguise. Now just tell me one thing; of all the things you could write why Blackhawk?”
Without missing a beat he shot back “Why not?”, then considered the question for a moment and we were off, talking about his fascination with those comics and the concept, hearing about his ideas on the character and his opinions on more recent iterations
The line for George Pérez was endless. Well that’s not exactly true, it was actually the WAIT for George Pérez that was actually endless. Earlier in the day they handed out 100 tickets, and you would come back to check where they were at – if there is no one in line with the ticket then someone without a ticket could come up and get an autograph or sketch. I’m not sure how I feel about this system, if you got a high number you’d be stuck there all day… And that dealers room does not provide enough to do if you were going to be stuck there for say, three hours or so. I was fortunate enough to have friends to hang out with – and God bless Taylor and Nick for hanging out so that they could pull out my comics to be signed and help me lug my swag around. It was fun running into Sean and Mike as well, not to mention the Rubber City Cosplay group with all the familiar faces there. it’s one of the fun things about doing the convention circuit, you run into a lot of the same people despite there being significant distance between everyone normally. The dealers room wasn’t bad, I was pleased to see some booths that I’m not familiar with, not to mention several 50 Cent bins. Not as many deals as I would normally be hunting for, but that didn’t seem to be bothering anybody else. The atmosphere was happy and cheerful – everybody was having a great time. That’s certainly a good sign for first-year.
Still, there is room for improvement. The parking situation needs to be addressed, and I think this convention may have outgrown its space within its first year. I would really like to see more programming going on, if you’re going to bring in a few top-level talent like this, I’d love to hear them speak. I know that can be difficult, Steranko and Perez’s lines never ended, and according to the organizer, both Steranko and Perez declined to do a panel because they didn’t want to leave people standing in line (But shouldn’t the ticketing strategy solve that? Perhaps not. It didn’t seem to be working out as ideally as it might). Still, as much as I enjoy the shopping and the hobnobbing with friends – I want more. I think Hall of Fame City Comic Con really could offer more as well, and become one of the essential stops on the Ohio convention circuit. I’m curious to see what happens next year, and cautiously optimistic. I’m not entirely certain I’ll be back next year…
But I assure you, I’ll be watching.