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Comic Book Convention

Lorain Comic and Toy Expo 2021

I was standing there, minding my own business, chatting with Anubis, and all of a sudden the Vulcan threw a care bear at us.

These sort of things just don’t happen to other people.

I attended Lorain Comic and Toy Expo this weekend. This is a small show in its first year, but I really wanted to support it because I want to see conventions coming back… and I admire the sheer chutzpah of trying to launch a convention even at the tail end of the pandemic. It also has a great advantage of being one town over from where I live, as well as trying to draw in cosplayers with a low key costume contest. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters with my new McMandalorian costume, and Maddie was dying to break out her Clementine costume (From The Walking Dead game she’s been playing).

The Lorain show is starting off its first year with a bunch of familiar faces, filling the ball room with a lot of the usual suspects from the LoCo sellers (think the Comicpalooza comic crawl I did last year), as well as vendors from the North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club and my home comic shop Comics are Go. While there were bargains to be found (I managed to hit up a bunch of dollar and 50 Cent bins), The emphasis on these particular vendors slightly skewed more towards collectors pricing then bargain hunting. The upside of that is it creates a dense marketplace. You could probably do the dealers room in 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth your while to go around a few times and spend a couple hours. Every pass we made, Maddie and I spotted new things we missed on our previous trips. It’s also necessary to make a couple of passes when you’re getting stopped from time to time. We’d barely gotten down the first isle when I got pulled away to show up on Captain Crappy and Ms. Fever Blister’s livestream! ( I show up about two and a half hours in)

All in all, it made for a fun day. Maddie did a video on her experiences at the con for her youtube channel and you can find it below.

We found some fun stuff (Maddie was over the moon to find a Glacion Mimikyu plushie!) and had a good day, and definitely plan on coming back for the next one. The promoter has big ambitions, already planning out the next show, expanding it with outdoor activities for kids and at least one wrestling guest for the autograph hounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I’d really love to have a con so close to home.

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Comic Creator Autographs fall 2019

Conman
A while slew of updates fell into my lap just before NEO Comic Con (review will be up later this week), but I wanted to wait until after the con to make sure a couple of them were still correct. As always, we’re not really going to discuss the pros and cons of comic professionals charging for autographs. There’s plenty of other forums for that. We’re just going to acknowledge the reality of modern convention economics. This is a little something to help you know what to expect when you go to a con so you don’t get blindsided. A lot of artists don’t have autograph charges clearly displayed and frequently con websites either don’t have this information or are asked not to display it. Here’s my current list – in sort-of alphabetical order. It’s not exhaustive by any means, things may change next month or next year. We’ll update and repost from time to time.

Amanda Conner – free for 5 books, $2 after, $5 for CGC.

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Me so excited to meet Gerry Conway I forgot to open my eyes!

Alex Saviuk – $5
Arvell Jones – $5
Al Milgrom – $10 per book
Adam Kubert – $5 per book
Brett Breeding -$5
Brian Azzarello – $5, except for graded items and Batman:Damned
Bob Camp – $30
Bob Wiacek – $2 (He might make you a deal for multiple issues)
Bob Hall – free for the first issue, or if you purchase a something from the table, otherwise $5
Bob Layton- $5 for CGC graded signings, otherwise free
Bob Mcloud – one for free, then $5

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Bob Budiansky – first six free, $2 each after
Bill Sienkiewicz – two for free, then $3, $10 for CGC
Chris Clarmont – first free, then $20
Charles Soule – $10 CGC grading signings
David Finch – 2 free, then $5
Don McGregor – $5 per signature
Edgar Delgado – $5 CGC grading signings
Fabian Nicieza – $10 Deadpool/X-Force related
Fiona Staples – $20 CGC grading signings (otherwise free)
Graham Nolan recently started charging, but not sure how much.
Greg Capullo  – first 3 books free and $5 thereafter
Gerry Conway – $5
Gerhard $10
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants (otherwise free)
George Perez – Free, but he has a ticketing system so get to his table first thing after the show opens or you’ll be stuck in line for HOURS waiting for a spot to open up. Alternatively, if you can deal with not MEETING him, you can buy a print and he’ll sign that and a couple books in between sketches and stuff.

HNI_0083

Nolan signs some bat-issues!

Humberto Ramos – $10-$20
Howard Chaykin – $5 per book
Joe Sinnott – $10 per book
Jim Starlin -$10 per book (goes to Heroes Initiative)
Joe Giella- $4 per book
J. O’Barr – $5
Jae Lee- $5
John Romita Jr – three for free, then $2. $10 for CGC grading.
Jose Delbo – $5
Joe Rubinstein – $20 ($50 for Wolverine)
Jimmy Palmiotti – free for 5 books, $2 after, $5 for CGC.
J Scott Campbell $10
John Cassandry $10
John Beatty – $3
Jim Sternako charges $20 per item last I checked – and that includes items and prints BOUGHT FROM HIS TABLE. Also, do not ask for a photo with him.
Keith Pollard – $5

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Larry Hama wondering exactly what he’s gotten himself into…

Kevin Eastman – first is free, $20 after that (He also doodles on the items!)
Keith Giffen – 1st book free, $5 per book after
Klaus Janson– $10, $20 CGC grading signings
Len Wein – $5, $20 CGC grading signings, $25 for Hulk 181, Giant Size X-Men #1 or House of Secrets #92.
Larry Hama will sign two items for free and charges after that.
Matteo Scalera – $20 CGC grading signings
Mike Zeck – $5
Marv Wolfman – one free (I’ve heard elsewhere it’s two for free, but in his last interview he said one), $5.00 after that
Mark Texeria- one personalized signature free, $10 per book after or unpersonalized
Mitch Gerads – 2 free, then $5
Michael Golden- $5 per book

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With the Legendary Denny O’Neil

Mike Grell – $5
Neal Adams – $30
Pat Brodrick – $3
Ron Frenz -$3
Ron Lim – 1st book free, $10 per book after
Rob Liefeld – $25-$50
Rags Morales – $5
Scott Snyder – first 3 books free and $5 thereafter
Simon Bisley – $10 per book
Tom DeFalco $5 each for three or less. After that $20 (“Dealer’s Pricing”)
Tony Isabella $3. (As of Akron Comicon he’s dropped the “first one free” schtick)
William Messner-Lobes – $10
Whilce Portacio – He was free when I met him several years ago, but from what I understand there’s a few key books he charges $10 to sign
Victor Olazaba – $10

Tip Jar – pay what you want
Some of these are for causes like the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund or Heroes Inititive. Others are just personal. I urge you, respect the tip jar. (It’s so much better than autograph fees)

Billy Tucci
Ben Templesmith
Barry Kitson
Charlie Adlard
Denny O’Neil (Heros alliace tip jar)
George Perez
Gene Ha
Jan Duursema
Jim Calafiore
Larry Stroman
Peter David
Mike Barr

Free
14938305_1328900417154378_6902178794103765567_nAlan Davis
Ann Nocenti
Ande Parks
Angel Mediea
Art Thibert
Aaron Lopresti
Bill Anderson
Brandon Montclare
Brian Michael Bendis (Be prepared to wait a long time in line)
Bill Willingham
Brendan Fletcher
Bob Almond
Christos Gage
Chad Townsend
Carla Speed McNeil
Charles Soule
Clayton Crain
Cary Nord
Cameron Stewart14900529_1294021037284083_6486392154139767345_n
Chip Zdarsky
Chris Yambar
Casey Jones
Darryl Banks
Dave Gibbons
Dan Brereton
Dirk Manning
Emanuela Lupacchino
Erik Larsen
Evan Dorkin
Fred Van Lente (assuming you can catch him. He dosent do to many shows these days)
Frank Cho
Franco
Gail Simone
Greg Land
Heather Antos
16998140_1452872038090548_8911164774404268434_nIvan Reis
Jason Latour
Jon Bogdanove
John Ostrander
Joe Staton
Joshua Williamson
Jim Zub
Judd Winick
Jim Shooter
Jerry Duggan
Jason Aaron
Jeff Schultz
Jacob Chabot
Jonathan Hickman
Jenny Frison
Jae Lee
Joe Kelly
Karl Story
Kelley Jones
Kevin Maguire
Kevin Nowland
Keron Grant
Kyle Higgins
Lela Gwenn
Lee Weeks

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It’s just a shadow. James O’Barr didn’t actually give me a black eye…

Louise Siminson
Mike McKone
Michael Cho
Matt Miner
Matt Horak
Mike Mayhew
Mark McKenna
Mike Okamoto
Marc Sumerick
Mike Gustov
Mark Waid
Mark Schultz
Mike Norton
Matt Fraction
Marguerite Bennett
Mike Hawthorne
Stephen Blickenstaff
Nick Bradshaw
Nick Dragotta
P.Craig Russell
Jorge Lucas
Jim Pasco
Phil Hester12190817_1064801410230948_2617958790839857194_n
Phil Noto
Paul Pelletier
Rick Remender
Ron Fortier
Ramon Villalobos
Ricardo Lopez Ortiz
Rafer Roberts
Sergio Argones
Scott Hanna
Steve Leialoha
Steve Mannion
Stephen Sharar
Scott Snyder
Stefano Gaudiano
Skottie Young
Stephen T. Seagle
Tim Seeley
Tom Mandrake (sometimes a tip jar for Hero Initive, but not when he was at NEO in 2019)
67602223_2625952624115811_7500589555540557824_nTim Bradstreet
Todd DeZago
Tim Truman
Walt Simonson – donations for quick sketches
Will Rosado
Yanick Paquette


Akron Canton Comic Con 2019

Conman53076432_2306179676329582_5580659854772535296_nThe Harper shows are a constant. They never change all that much, so I figured I knew what was in store for me Sunday. But I always forget – summer cons mean wardrobe malfunctions.

I had thrown up a poll to see what costume people wanted to see, and my old Mr Freeze won in a landslide. At 96%, it wasn’t even close. It had been over two years since I had Freeze out, and as I pulled it out, the wear showed. I had a lot of patching to do, including re-attaching one of the oxygen tanks to the back (and figuring a new way of doing so that didn’t just involve boat loads of glue). Also, my Freeze gun was missing. By “Missing” I mean, buried somewhere in the attic, but nt where I can find it to lay my hands on it. I looked around, trying to figure out what to do, and then decided to build a 65303544_2545653042145770_5646763086539915264_nnew on up around my Kyberlight lightsaber. It ended up being massive – but that’s not a bad thing. A bigger gun is far more reminiscent of the film Freeze. I packed the armor in the car and left the windows down during the early service at church. I was hoping the summer sun wouldn’t melt anything.

I started to suit up in the parking lot. It seems like this used t be easier. it certainly was when I tested it at home. The velcro tabs on the sides didn’t seem to want to hold. there was plenty of room, but they just kept coming loose. Finally I got the chestplate on and was looking for the gauntlets.

Pop.

On of the air tanks came off. The hot sun had caused the glue between the metal clip and air tank to separate. Grumbling, I reached for my repair kit and grabbed a razor. I cut a lip in the tank (made from a couple of two liter bottles) and slid half the long clip inside the painted bottle itself, then the other side into the slot on the back of my armor. I prayed it would be enough to naturally clamp together, and went back to the business of putting the chestplate back on. Seriously, one velcro fastens then the other pulls off…Finally, with the armor on and the first gauntlet over my wrist…

Pop!

The other tank came off. Out came the razor again, repeating the same proceedure. Back into the chestplate. Gauntlets on. Gloves on. Bald cap in place. Belt was sagging with the midplate a bit, but I’d have to live with it.

65174024_2785159548167320_3264080732988899328_nSnap.

The goggles chose that moment to break, and I found myself rejiggering the clutch on the side that adjusts the tension. It was another few minuets before they were workable, and I finally slid my dome into place. I picked up the freeze gun and the muzzle promptly slid off the lightsaber. The sun had melted the glue holding this into place as well. I slid it back on and decided to let it float. It would allow me to grip the second handle sideways giving it a more industrial look, but it also meant I’d have to make sure to always point it up. If I relaxed my grip downward,  the front would side off again. Fine. Lets get into the show.

I have to admit, I dig this venue. The split level with the snack bar and some good dealers makes it a nice set up. The costume contest draws an interesting crowd as well. I think it pulls in more young people than other Harper shows do. Over the years I’ve really seen 64784587_2548026251908449_1693727981039517696_nthe costume talent here develop into something impressive, from the amazing Umbrella ninja to the Carnivale Wonder Woman, the competition here grows better every year.

My favorite outfit of the day however, had to be the demonic Ronald McDonald. The young lady in the suit was totally into it and created a cheerfully creepy visage. I love these kind of mash ups, and was totally rooting for her in the costume contest.

I was happy to see so many fifty cent bins and even managed to plow through the single quarter box at the show, scoring a stack of vertigo books I’d always meant to check out and finding the completing issue of two different mini-series I’d been collecting. The vendor knocked a dollar off the already deeply discounted books and even better, he offered to hold onto my bag until I was ready to leave so I wouldn’t have to lug it around in the bulky costume. God bless this dude.

I missed seeing a lot of the friends I regularly run into at this show, but still had a nice time at it. It’s not hard to make new aquantances in this environment. I’m always amused when I look out and see a bunch of heroes sitting at a table with the lunch they just bought at the snack bar, or playing a board game. It’s a surreal image. There were some artists I recognized from Woo-Con and Akron, as well as some great booths. I found one table full of Godzilla movies, along with a book on Japanese film. The LaGrange table was selling old theater signs and there was an amazing selection of He-Man toys in the back. That’s really what the Harper shows are about – interesting buys and good shopping.It’s a nice little con with good deals and interesting artists, and that’s why I keep coming back.


Lost Nation Comic Convention

ConmanLost Nation Comic Convention premiered in Willoughby this weekend, a small show with big ambitions.  The promoter of this show has been around the con scene for a while and knew the lay of the land long before trying to throw his own show. The big ambition shows in his choice of Guest of Honor, bringing in the legendary Jim Shooter.

61924339_421764248405692_4957220818904940544_nThis may have been the wrong weekend for such a show, with Colossalcon siphoning off a great deal of potential attendees. The venue at Lost Nation Sports Park was confusing and I found myself not sure where to go in at. A Soccer tournament was going on at the same time, further confusing and complicating traffic. Fortunately I spotted Deadpool by a door adorned with yellow balloons and rushed over there where I was ushered in. As you go in you had to go down a short hallway, past the restaurant and into a large empty antechamber before finding the path to the basketball court (adjacent to the indoor batting cages) where the show was located at. I wondered the entire time if I were in the wrong place, only slightly reassured by occasional signs for Lost Nation Comic Con.

Once inside though, I was greeted by a nice smattering of vendors and artists. I was really digging the toy vibe here, grabbing a figure from the NEO-TACC booth as well as some Nintendo game figurines for my arcade cabinet. Heroes United had set up both a green screen and a Star Wars backdrop for people to take photos at with props and their characters. Son of Ghoul set up in the center, the R2 builder club had an R2D2 on display while another vendor brought a video game system. in another corner, a DJ spun tunes (light rock – office music). Jim Shooter was over at his table, talking endlessly with guests. CBCS graded items and a small but steady flow of people filtered through the area. When the Ghostbuster theme came on, Tracy the Ape ran over to dance.

62140591_421763735072410_2006451228535422976_nThe panels were intimate. Jim Shooter sat in a comfy chair while a dozen or fewer people gathered around him on bleachers. He shared stories about breaking into the industry, working for Mort Wisenger and his time on Superman. At thirteen he was sending stories to DC, figuring if he could write like Marvel, it was something DC didn’t have and would want. He recalled this drawing ire from Batman creator Bob Kane and others at DC – but not Mort. Mort rode him hard, but behind his back would tell everyone how Shooter could take any story and turn it into something usable.

Towards the end of both days, there was a costume contest, but the low turnout made it a small lineup. Each person had a minuet or two to pose, then the whole line paraded around the con floor. Back at the lineup the DJ spun the Cha-Cha Slide for the contestants to dance to while the judges deliberated. By the time 4:00 rolled around, Lost Nation made an announcement letting 61639453_10211288853135833_9006600592134504448_nvendors know they could tear down a little early. As I was getting ready to leave, someone tapped me n the shoulder and asked me to visit JCW Graphix booth and that they had something for me. Confused, I wandered over with my monkey head in my hands. The artist greeted me and gave me a sketch that he had drawn of me during the convention.

“When you see a monkey dressed in a Ghostbuster costume, you HAVE to draw that!” I was blown away. It’s one of my favorite take-aways from a con, ever.

There were several vendors that didn’t make both days and this hurt the con as much as the date and confusing venue. Hopefully this can all be chalked up to first year growing pains, and I really dug the vendors who were there both days. Good artist and good vendors make for a fine show.

The promoter has already announced plans for next year. Personally, I’d like to see the show move to a smaller venue that can better support them and perhaps reduce it to a one day show instead of a Saturday and Sunday. I’d liek to see more flyers and more networking to get he word out. It’s a small show and will grow best if it embraces that (for the time being).  I’m eager to see where Lost Nation goes from here.

 

 

 

 


Fantasticon s7ep20 2019

Conman

53516235_1880624145380723_5504835471336800256_nI like Fantasticon, but was planning on skipping it this year until I noticed the date. It was scheduled the same weekend as Wizard World Cleveland so Fantasticon gave me the perfect alternative to the cash-grabbing giant currently destroying the con scene that Wizard World represents.

Just like with ConCoction, I decided to break out a costume I hadn’t worn in a while and that hadn’t gotten a lot of exposure last year, on the con circuit anyhow – Sparkle Murder Pie did several charity events, but only appeared at one convention.

I found a parking spot on the street, just behind the baseball stadium that sat between me and the convention center. I pulled the unicorn out of the car and stashed the legs and feet inside the hollow body, then looed my bag at hte crook of my elbow and lifted the costume, ready to walk around the block.

SNAP.

The unicorn horn broke clear off. It was a clean split, right at the joint (It was built in three pieces and glued together). I lept back to my car and rummaged through the reair bucket, grabbing the Hot glue gun and duck tape. I could’t fix this here in the street, but with a little luck, there’d be an open electrical outlet at the Seagate Center.

The high winds blew me back and forth like a kite, but somehow I managed to make it to the doors without dropping anything. I found a power jack in the foyer, before I even reached the inner doors and hooked up the glue gun while I suited up and cleared excess glue from teh horn, creating a flat surface on the bottom. In five minuets I was applying a thick bead of glue to the horn nad pressing it back on to the unicorn’s forehead. I clicked on the light, praying it would hold. In the meantime, one of the Seagate center’s emplyees had spotted my struggle and rushed out to help, handing me my bag and holding the door oen for me and the unicorn. (I should have gotten the name of the young Africian Americian emplyee in the red and black Ohio hat so I could brag on him. Seagate Center should be really proud of thier employees. This was the best service I’ve ever gotten at a con!)

You know what? with all the micro cons I found myself at last year, it’s been a little while since I did a big show like this and I’d forgotten what it was like to be stopped every 53597399_2373896375988105_5209685945820905472_nthree steps for photos. Sparkle Murder Pie was a big hit with the kids at the show, most of which were brave enough to come up and pet her. Of course I wasn’t he only Deadpool there (Actually why I don’t dress up as him -there’s always a bunch running around). I found a Magical Girl Deadpool, a casual Deadpool and another Deadpool with a unicorn. Mine was bigger, but his was wearable and vibrated. He wrapped it around my neck so I could feel the vmassaging vibrations.

“Yyyyarrgggllee….” I gurgled, lifting my face up in ecstasy.

I made my way over to Bob Hall’s table. I’d met him a couple years ago at NEO comicon, where I’d bought a print of the villian Master Darque – one ofthe manin villians ofthe valient universe and the main nemisis to one of my favorite suerheroes; Shadowman. I’m not exaggerating when I say Shadowman is one of my favorites. He’s in my all time top five and I think his title was one of the most underrated books of the 90’s. This time he had an 11×17 print of the cover for the last issue and I couldn’t get my cash out quick enough. The last time Bob and I had spoken, 54236711_2373896409321435_6564477987150888960_nhe’d told me about how he got started with the character, and how it had ended with Acclaim coming in and wanting to reboot the character into something completely diffrent, so he did the story where Jack climbed up to the top of the building and jumps. He points out that we never see him hit the ground though. “I always assumed some other writer come along and take over – figure a way out of the cliffhanger, but they never did!”. It’s a cliffhanger that has taunted me for twenty five years, since I first read it. In  the last couple of years though, things have changed. Valient is once again publishing comics. I mentioned to Bob that even though the current Shadowman is fine, it lacks his touch.

“They actually called me and told me that the title doen’t have quite the magic I t did when i was writing it, and asked if I wanted to come in and do something on it. I offered to write a special where I go back to that last issue and finally resolve that cliffhanger, so they have some integration and resolution. But then management changed and it was decided that having the old writers come in was to gimmiky and passe.”

Then Bob did the unthinkable. He told me the story. I finally know how the cliffhanger from the final issue of his Shadowman ends. It may be one of the single coolest things to ever happen to me at a convention.

Fifty cent bins were in abundance, but most were on the floor where I couldn’t reach while riding the unicorn. The one vendor who had his on the table got my business as I pulled as many Superman and Fanatastic Four issues as I could pack into the bag holding my shoes and jacket. I found Pokemon for the girls and almost pulled the trigger on a Total Justice Batman repaint I’d never seen before. I kind of regret passing  that one up now.

The costumes this time around were amazing, including not one but two Ghost Riders. I also ran into a gent with a hadmade Assasin’s Creed costume that was stunning. The weapons, the beadwork, all of the details had been crafted by had over months. There was an adorable Eevee with a magic staf that twinkled and shone in the most wonderful light display. I was rooting for both of them to win the costume contest.  I also nticed a 54256629_2373896015988141_266204924864364544_nFoxy and Freddy from Five Nights at Freddy’s. There was great deatail on these suits, with visible wires and underskeleton – touches that made them a nice cut above. I hadn’t realized that I knew the occupant of the foxy – Erin, who I had made an aquantance with on the con circuit last year was one of the villinous animatronics.

She wasn’t the only familiar face there though. I ran into my buddy Ed from Heroes United and as we chatted over upcoming events My oldfriend Sean (who founded NEO comicon) waved me over. I hadn’t seen him since NEO last August and he was surprised since we usually run into each other on the con circuit. I explained I was doing fewer shows this year and he was relieved that everything was okay.

I managed to sit through most of the creating comics panel with Darryl Banks, Bob Hall 54514156_2373894849321591_997481677477380096_nand Pat Brodrick. I had never realized that Darryl had been a teacher. The Green Lantern artist told a story about going as a fan to a comic con when he was first starting out and asking Gil Kane to look at his work. Kane did and told him it was okay. Darryl was a little deflated untill everyone started asking him what Kane had said. “He said it was OKAY? Wow! Gil dosen’t ever say that! He never likes ANYTHING!”. It was just as interesting to hear abotu how Bob Hall came from a theater background, and that sort of storytelling led him to comics. Indeed, it was that kind of experiance that Jim Shooter was looking for when he made him an editor.

I really do enjoy Fantasticon. It has a little bit of everything I want in a convention, and it was the perfect alternative to Wizard World for me this year.

 

 

 

 

 


Cleveland Comic Con 2018

Conman

40417614_1034123063431759_6708631808457572352_nI gotta be honest with you. I think this show is just running out of steam.

Last year I was a bit more optimistic. I figured, they’ve just shrunk down to a manageable size, getting ready to reboot and grow in the future. I’m not so sure now. Cleveland comic con is mostly a vendor show. There is an artist alley, and they still make a slight effort to bring in media guests, but it’s all people who have been out this way already. It’s all been done before.

It’s also noteworthy to observe the lack of cosplay guests.  Not that this is a big deal per se, but last year they had them advertised. They didn’t follow through, and there were none actually in attendance.  This year they didn’t even bother. That’s shrinkage, not growth.  Speaking of shrinkage, I couldn’t help but notice sparse crowds. I can’t tell if that’s con fatigue or confusion. There were two other events going on at the same time in different buildings and I personally had a hard time figuring out where to go to get into the comic con.

Still there were friends there to hang out with and a costume contest to play in. Josh and Steph showed up and we wandered the halls as a deadpool group. I found a handful of comics in the dollar bins – nothing discounted any deeper than that. The 43387547_2415553741818661_6009742429266116608_nguys at the lego booth waved me over and took photos before presenting me with a Lego Deadpool figure – the one my costume was based off of.

I’m not sure what to think at this point. I decided to come out this year because I hadn’t secured a Sunday pass for Cinema Wasteland and Sundays are usually a drag there anyhow, with the hotel emptying out and people leaving. The problem is, I’m getting that same vibe here. It’s just one step up from the Harper flea market type shows. Not even panels anymore (though the strange NES gameshow they were doing was fun to watch….at least for a few minuets). I’m not sure how much longer this show survives.

We’ll have fun while it lasts.

 


Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2018

Conman36627632_1946127048959228_7218901840509796352_n41916543_2116971871680558_6680351282764447744_n“Dude, looks like Metal arms are in this year!”

I looked in the direction the voice was coming from. A Winter Soldier was pointing to the prosthetic Borg arm being passed back to me by security after their examination. I slid it on and nodded.

“Sure are,” I replied. “Just look over there!”

I pointed to the Sinister Six group. Doc Ock and his four static robot arms turned and smiled at us.

There were scheduling conflicts last year and I missed HOF, though I heard glowing reports from friends that attended and I really dug the cons first year (when it was MY turn to be Doc Ock!). It’s good to see that the show is growing at a steady, healthy pace. not too fast, not to slow. They’ve figured out a better way to maximize thier space too. It wasn’t shoulder to shoulder the way it had been in 2016.

41952239_10156935707883754_1110828102096781312_nI decided to try and hit the line for Kevin Eastman first. I’m not really a Turtles fan, but I respect the property and love the success Eastman became because of it. I found my friend Eric wearing his Jurassic Park outfit and waiting in Eastman’s line so I swung by to say hello. He expressed shock at me not being in costume yet and tried his best to convince me to do the costume contest. I wasn’t sure how long I was going to hang out and the contest was still five hours away. Still, waiting in this line would kill a good chunk of that time. It was a prodigious queue, curving down the end of the hall and I tried to find the end of it, only to be stopped by security. I was informed that the line had been capped at 150 people ( which they hit in the first 45 minuets of the show) and that I’d have to come back in three hours for the second signing. This situation was just a little too reminiscent of the confusion and poorly run ticketing system for George Perez the last time I was out here, but perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. The convention schedule, released about a week in advance, had shown two specific “Signing” times – a weird thing for a comic convention like this (I see it regularly at anime cons, but not at comic cons), and It had spooked me. I decided to head elsewhere. After all, I wasn’t REALLY here for Eastman. I was here for Peter David.

41721301_2114064061971339_5560187360580206592_nBack in the 90’s, David was instrumental in shaping the the direction of DC’s Star Trek line, having taken it over from Mike W. Barr. This is my favorite era of Star trek and those comics have always been special to me. From there I migrated over to his novels  – Rock and a Hard Place is my favorite TNG book ever. I took my place in line right behind one of the guys I knew from Panels:The Comic Club.

Approaching his table I pulled out a gift I had brought him. He picked up the furry blob and looked at it.

“What is it?”

“A Borg Tribble.”

He rolled his eyes in disbelief.

“I don’t know how I’m getting this through airport security…’what’s that in your bag sir?’ ‘um, it’s an assimilated tribble….?’ ‘OUT OF THE LINE!’ ”

He confirmed my suspicions about the Stone character in Rock being a prototype for the hero of his New Frontier books, though he has no idea what my have happened to him afterwards. I followed him to his panel and was fascinated by his stories of how he got into comics, and the way he kind of drifted into different assignments. It’s been an interesting kind of career.

I popped out of the panel a little early to go get into costume. I had decided to do the first half of the show in normal clothes since it was so hot and my Borg suit wouldn’t fare well 41951394_2117444428299969_3820951851692457984_nin the end of summer weather. I applied the makeup in my car (God bless the guys at Rubber City Cosplay by the way. They offered to let me suit up and do my makeup in by their booth where they had a station set up. I had to decline because I was using latex and needed my car heater vents to dry it). I was trying something new this time – instead of just drawing sick green veins on my face I built them up using cotton and latex, THEN drew the green lines on the swollen veins. It ended up being the first time I found myself truly happy with this look.

Because I resent being charged for parking, my car was half a block away, parked in front of a house. Suddenly the door burst open and a slightly scary looking man stormed out staring at me.

“DUDE! I just had to run out here to see this,” he exclaimed in amazement. “That thing is off the HOOK! What’s going on?”

I explained about the con around the corner and waved goodbye. A car load of kids drove by headed to the Wendy’s across the street from the Canton Civic Center. They yelled at me from their windows and asked what my character was called. I told them I was a Borg and waved, trying hard not to squint. The heat was making the white greasepaint run down into my eye. I crossed the street with one good eye, and fished the 41955063_2115589821818763_1599708342316433408_nnapkin out of the hidden compartment in my belt, then cleared the tears and makeup from under my cowl. Outside the doors was parked the greatest vespa scooter EVER, painted red with decals to look like the bike from Akira.  I reapplied some white as I wandered back in, thankful for the cooler temperatures in the convention hall.

This time out, I made one more upgrade to the Borg suit. I added a borg tribble of my own (with more lights on it that the one I presented to David) who would sit on my shoulder (magnets in the tribble and my costume). One of my favorite moments was a family coming up to me and asking for a picture. The little daughter, riding on mommy’s hip wasn’t too sure about my robot in corpse paint. I plucked the furry little ball off my shoulder and asked if she’d like to hold the Tribble. “He’s soft,” I explained as she  snatched him from my hand. The camera got a big smile from her.

42044592_2115589671818778_8881238807525982208_nAcross the hall, I spotted my friends Rocky (also dressed as a Winter Soldier, but also carrying around Rocket Raccoon) and Chris (Appropriately garbed as Casey Jones), who had just arrived. I let them know about the early lineup for Kevin Eastman and we headed that way.  It wasn’t quite two yet, but the line was already the length of the civic center. As we stepped into the queue, I saw Ben from comic club rushing from the Eastman’s presentation and  heading down the hall. I waved him over.

“Man, this is crazy,” he exclaimed. “It never occurred to me that people would actually duck out of Kevin Eastman’s panel to start lining up early!”

41885480_2115589788485433_6118727623834075136_nI introduced Ben to Chris and Rocky, and explained comic club. We all made a little nest in line. The guys chatted about new costumes, Infinity War and Turtles while Rocket and my Tribble got into fights.

“I was heading into the parking lot,” Rocky told us. “Rocket Raccoon was in my passenger seat. The guy at the gate took my money then looked in and said ‘You guys have a good time’. So apparently Rocket counts as one of the guys…”

To quote A Christmas Story; “The line stretched all the way to Terre Haute, and I was at the end of it”.  Still, it was good to be with friends and we eventually got our stuff signed. I noted the “No posed photos” sign and slipped Rocky (ahead of me in line) my camera to 41818782_2115589558485456_4720367039116476416_nsnap shots of me meeting Eastman. Kevin drew “Casey Jones Doodles” all over Chris’s hockey stick, and loved my outfit as my borg arm handed over my comic using it’s claw. His assistant asked for a photo.

“There’s a LOT of cosplay at this show isn’t there?” Eastman asked. I acknowledged that Ohio has a lot of interesting costume culture.

There was just enough time after we got out of the endless Eastman line for me to plow through the 3-for-$1 bins, scoring about thirty books as well as a handfull of small pokemon for me to bring home to the kids. My backpack sagged on my shoulders, heavy with comic books as I headed backstage for the costume contest.

“Matthew?”

My name rang out. I was late and Spider-Man was looking for me.

“Coming! Coming! I’m here!” I panted as I shuffled off my backpack and stowed it under a backstage chair. Spidey pointed to the second line.

41771699_10156935452953754_2660371922180636672_n“Okay! Line up right here.”

I walked over and pointed at the floor.

“Right here? Here. Right THIS spot?”

Spidey gave me an exasperated smile and swatted me away. Looking around I found myself next to my friend Jason, who was ready with a quick change Clark Kent/ Superman costume (much like the one Maddie wore to NEO). Seems like I had friends to keep me company in every line I found myself in. Cassie and Vito were too far away for me to reach, but Dwayne snuck up behind me and greeted me – I hadn’t even recognized him in costume!

HOF is a good con, and consistently brings in top talent like no other convention its size. If they could just figure out how to handle the crowds for those guests, it would be a near perfect show. That and ditch the charge for the convention hall parking lot (Akron comic con, and Geekfest both managed to provide free parking, Heck, CONCoction MOVED so they could). Still, it’s good vendors, exceptional guest and good times with friends. Barring further schedule conflicts I expect to be back next year!

 

 


Weplcon

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37787570_10155438224265759_5865110887337033728_nI do seem to be hitting the smallest of cons this year – while I like small cons, I’m not actively seeking them out by size! When I discovered that Weplcon was being held at a library, that didn’t bother me much, I had visions of Akron’s Geekfest, held annually at their library. Of course the Akron library has a huge stage and room to spread out. Not so at the Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library.

Weplcon takes place on the lower floor of the small library, occupying several rooms as well as setting up a face paint station. It’s something more than a library kids event, while being something less than a convention. They offer way more than your typical Library event, with panels, a dealers room and a cosplay contest, not to mention a green screen station (and unlike my friends and I at heroes united, where we take the photos and post them a couple of days later, they were actually editing them right there and printing them out for people on the color laser printer!). This kind of stuff tends to bring out great costumes, like my friend Bob, debuting his wookie outfit (complete with a disassembled C3P0 in a sack to carry on his back). There was the cutest Squirrel Girl ever (and she really 37942442_2038956222815457_2737573143282450432_nhammed it up during the costume contest) as well as a lady on the older side in a sailor scout suit – she mentioned making the boots out of duck tape since that how the Cure used to do it. Even the Emcee was decked out in one of the more stunning Twilight Sparkle dresses I’ve encountered!

I actually kind of dig what they do during the contest- they look your character up and then throw a google image search up on the screen behind you so you are standing in your costume in front of the source material. Not only does it help the audience (who by the way, help choose some of the winners!) and judges make a decision on costumes, but it’s a stunning (yet simple) way of presenting the contestants. Great production value for such a small venue.

When you enter and sign in with registration (It’s free admission since it’s a public library, but they do like to know how many came and who is in the costume contest) they 38040847_2038956539482092_4974131501013663744_nhand you fistfulls of coupons; Chipotle, Applebees, bowling, not to mention a bunch of raffle tickets for you to bid on things in the dealers room. The dealers room itself was small but packed, with familiar vendors like Comics and Friends or Cleveland ConCoction set up. In the center was a table for the raffle featuring giant stacks of graphic novels and movies – all old, used stuff that was being retired from the library. It’s a clever way of purging the old stock and with a show this small, your odds of getting something were good.

The kids went with me to this one and we decided on a Krypton theme. Maddie even did a review of the show!

 

Overall, we had fun and I like what they are trying to do, but it’s a little too far of a drive from the west side of Cleveland for something this small of scale. Shows like this (library based) don’t typically grow, but then again, this was better done than most and I can’t help wondering what it would be like if it did!