The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Comic Book Convention

Great Lakes Comic-Con 2018

Conman

27868123_1226245214172853_8668298326271528120_n28280134_1697021990320503_1581691297184724010_nThe first thing that struck me when I headed into Great Lakes Comic Con was how long the admission line was. It wound around the hallway, twice as long as I remember it being in past years. This isn’t a bad thing – I like GLCC and am pleased to see it grow….and besides. I had to get into my costume.

I learned from my experience at All-Americon that trying to get from the car into a convention center wearing a Lego suit is more trouble than it’s worth, so my buddy Rocky and I lugged it in and I struggled into the bulky outfit while we stood in line. By the time we hit the point where the line curve around on itself, I was suited up. After taking photos with half a dozen people, we rounded the corner to the registration table where bewildered bouncers tried to figure out how to get a wristband around my oversized mitt.

lineThe idea for a Greatest American Hero in Lego came from a doodle I did around Christmastime. A whim when I learned William Katt would be joining us at GLCC. I still can’t believe I actually built this thing, but there I was making a beeline for his table. One side was partitioned off with curtains, and we made it in just before the line cut off (he had a panel coming up). As I shuffled in, the actor nearly leapt over the table to greet me, arms wide open with a huge grin on his face.

“Look at this! Just…LOOK at this!” he breathed in amazement. Suddenly were were surrounded by a dozen or more cameras snapping away. Rocky tried to find a vantage point and and failed, eventually pulling us aside to get our photo for my own collection.

As he signed a House photo for me, we chatted about his recent appearance on Supergirl. 28167097_1866600580040808_1298282825220707990_nDespite my disappointment at it only being a cameo, he knew that going in – it turns out the producers were fans of The Greatest American Hero and just wanted to sneak him in there somewhere. I asked what it was like working with John Hart – the Lone ranger. The question gave him pause, as he realized I was talking about the episode of GAH called “My Heroes have always been Cowboys”.

“The thing is,” he responded thoughtfully, “My heroes have always REALLY been cowboys. My father made a living for years as a cowboy in westerns and we watched the Lone Ranger when I was growing up.” He paused, choking up a bit. “That was really special. Thank you for asking about it.”

Katt will tell you himself that he’s a chatty cathy and will talk your ear off at the table, but I knew he had a panel coming up and I cut it short. As Rocky and I wandered to the panel room, I looked over.

“Okay. I’m good. We can go now…it’s not going to get any better than that!”

He laughed. “We still have the costume contest at 4!” He was right of course. He hadn’t brought that wrestler Spider-Man all the way to Michigan for nothing.

After William Katt’s panel, I made it over to Jim Sternako’s talk by the bleacher section. Sternako is arguably one of the most important artists in comic…and he knows it. I 28381822_10156358876732558_2047367963_nadmire the former, but don’t care for the latter. He announced that he was going to start his panel off by talking about his time as a magician and escape artist – but what he was REALLY talking about was his claim that Jack Kirby modeled Mr. Miracle after him. About thirty minuets in, the Lego suit started to weigh on me and it was time to take a break. I stashed it in the car and headed back to the vendor room to shop.

Fifty cent bins were everywhere. I never did find that $15 Superpowers Joker I passed on last year, but ended u with a nice stack of beat up silver age Flash, Spider-man and DC Comics presents. In one bin, I spied art 1 and 3 of Disney’s Dick Tracy series. I looked up at the vendor complaining goodnaturedly “Come on! No issue two???” I saw to my embarrassment that it was my friend Sean, who run NEO Comic Con. He shook his head 28383241_10156358876642558_345447387_nback wit ha smile “If I could only find it!”

After watching the kids contest, it was back in costume for the rest of the day. A brief stop to harass the Ghostbusters and their undead consultant beetlejuice, then it was time for the adult costume contest. Backstage, Rocky and I joked and hung out with a security guard from 5 nights at freddy’s and a Homecoming Spider-Gwen as the Predators looked on. Nothing to see here folks. I cheered on my friend Elisa as she took third in the contest.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I love this show. I only wish it were closer to home. With it’s focus on comic guests and a couple of media personalities sprinkled through it’s just the righ size and balance and it’s no wonder it continues to grow…and no wonder it continues to be one of my regular stops. See you guys next year!

 

 

 

 

 

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Akron Comicon 2017

Conman

John S. Knight Center exteriorAkron Comicon continues to be the best show in northeast Ohio. The caliber of guests never ceases to amaze me.

They were doing a Black Lightning reunion this year bring together Jack Harris, the original editor along with Trevor Von Eden, the original artist, and of course Tony Isabella who is a regular fixture at this comic con. I’m a big fan of Trevor Von Eden, particularly his Batman work – there is a painted cover he did for the first Ras Al Ghul story ever read and it’s always stuck with me. His line wound passed Tony’s table so I got a chat with him a little bit on the way there… He delighted in making puns about Spider – Ham outfit and signed a couple books for me as we chatted. Trevor was less personable but he also gives off a very humble vibe. He seems like he’s just glad to be here and still 23167790_1722114467832969_1377048954914714230_nsurprised about the number of fans he has.

I made my way over to Tom DeFalcos table and was shocked that there was no line. DeFalco is another example of the amazing calibre guests Akron Comicon brings.He was involved in the Spider-Man comics from the 70s through the 80s and the 90s either as editor or writer… If you pick up a spider book in that 20 year period, he had something to do with it. Iindeed, he was the entire reason I decided to come dressed as Spider – Ham, at least for part of the day. He laughed and shook his head and made sure to get a photo with me “so I can prove everybody my life’s work hasn’t been in vain! “.  I couldn’t help but notice that Akron abandoned the idea of celebrity guests this year, which is fine because no extra from the walking dead or old 70s TV superhero could have made me more excited than getting to meet this former editor in chief of Marvel comics. Talking with DeFalco was absolutely The high point of my convention this year!

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Once I had finished getting my autographs and meeting people, it was time to change into the more cumbersome suit. I have given Slimer a nice test run at Cleveland comic con, in preparation for this show. I always intended to have him running around Akron Comicon, and it turned out to be the perfect venue. Nice wide aisles, with a good temperature – I wasn’t roasting in the suit this time around.It’s also a good place to show him off because Akron’s a convention that just about everybody goes to and a lot of these people have been following my progress constructing him.

The flow of the place seemed a little bit better this year as well… There was a doorway connecting the dealers room to the panel room.  I don’t recall seeing it last year, and it did mean there was room for one less booth, but the ease that it made travelling back and forth was seriously worth it. I managed to catch the Black Lightning panel as well as The comic professional panel. I was a little bummed I missed out on Dirk Manning’s Wright or Wrong talk, but he recorded it so I can catch it later.
The panels room was also where the costume contest was held. Things flowed extremely well this year, which was a pleasant surprise… it may in fact, be The first time that the costume contest has actually run smoothly at Akron Comicon. Rubber City Cosplay has really got a handle on things, especially considering that they had taken over the judging as well – a new responsibility for them this year. They handled it better than ever.

All in all, I’m pleased to see that Akron Comicon continues to grow and thrive and be the best convention in the area, and I can’t wait to return next year!

 

 


Cleveland Comic Con 2017

Conman22449872_880385612120621_6994002521921958494_nIt’s very strange, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a convention shrink in the way Cleveland Comic Con has. Still, it may have been just what it needed – a new tweak to the formula that finally makes this convention work.

Cleveland Comic con has had a bumpy road – with growing pains exacerbated by disorganisation and a grander scope then they can facilitate. I think they tried too much too soon and it has constantly dogged the quality of this convention and kept me away quite a bit. This year was different, everything moved smoothly. It feels like the convention dialed back some of that scope and is able to better accommodate the type of crowd it receives. That doesn’t preclude growing in the future, but they’re not ready yet – and the 22528514_10214340948988751_7564996712190481935_nsmaller two building-one stage set up they had running here suits them very nicely.

They gone out of their way to bring in some interesting guests as well – Sam Jones was there, overcharging for his Flash Gordon autograph. They brought in some minor characters from the Walking Dead as well. Vincent Ward and Santiago Cirillo are both actors I’ve already got on my walking dead poster… Santiago did Concoction a year ago and was just as much fun this time around – even with a lot of the same stories… I wandered into his panel, and he stopped dead pointed at me and yelled “yes! Slime me!”

That’s right, Cleveland comic con was finally the big reveal for my slimer costume.

Slimer was actually a big hit with everybody – freaking out some of the venders and drawing laughter and applause from Jones over at his Flash Gordon table.One young man 22520142_10214341972094328_8826545569207276470_ostopped by me and asked “is it worth it? . I admit, it was hotter than expected, but absolutely. He is a remarkably fun character and you can get really silly with the body language – the people at the ghostbusters booth lost their minds over me!

I actually really dig the way they handled this costume contest – with prejudging around one, and everybody lined up for that. It would’ve been nicer however, if they had made the instructions about this clearer – I honestly just stumbled into the correct line and had I arrived much later I would’ve been excluded.

But all in all, I like prejudging – they give you a chance to really connect with the judges and explain what you have done and how you’ve done it without being under the pressure or time crunch of a costume parade. A couple hours later we are all lined up and doing our thing on stage which once again, a great deal of fun… It didn’t occur to them to let me speak or take a microphone, so everything was non-verbal – everything was expression and body language in this suit. It’s an interesting challenge, and I think I like it.

I finally got around to replacing my copy of Diane Carey’s Final Frontier – the one that I gave to my best friends ex-girlfriend. I always figured I just grab another one off the shelf of the local used bookstore, and hadn’t come across one since! Next to it in the paperback bin was an interesting looking copy of the Exorcist. I topped off my bag with a copy of the Art of Atari. I’ve been jonesing for this book since they announced it, and gem city had its usual excellent prices!

I’m really happy about what Cleveland comic con  has become. It’s actually morphed into exactly the sort of show that I really enjoy – and I think now, it’ll have a better chance at growing organically… and that is something I deafinately want to see!

 


Comic Creator Autographs

Conman
It’s been over a year since I updated this list, and now’s as good a time as any! Again, 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 blind sided. 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 as we learn more.

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
Bob Camp – $30
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

BobMcloud – one for free, then $5
Bill Sienkiewicz – two for free, then $3, $10 for CGC
Charles Soule – $10 CGC grading signings
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.
Gerry Conway – $5
Gerhard $10
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants (otherwise free)

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Nolan signs some bat-issues!

George Perez – Free, but he has a ticketing system so get to his table first thin 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.
Humberto Ramos – $10-$20

J. O’Barr – $5
Jae Lee- $5
John Romita Jr – three for free, then $2. $10 for CGC grading.
Jose Delbo – $5
Joe Rubinstein – $2 ($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 $15 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
Klaus Janson– $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- $5 per book (with free head sketch)

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With the Legendary Denny O’Neil

Mike Grell – $5
Neal Adams – $30
Pat Brodrick – $3

Ron Frenz -$3
Rob Liefeld – $25-$50
Rags Morales – $5
Stan Lee – $60-$100
Whilce Portacio – $10-$20
Victor Olazaba – $10

Tip Jar – pay what you want
Ben Templesmith
Denny O’Neil (Heros alliace tip jar)
Gene Ha
Peter David

Tip Jar -Comic Book Leagal Defence Fund
Charlie Adlard

Free
Dave Gibbons14938305_1328900417154378_6902178794103765567_n
Judd Winick
Mike McKone
Stefano Gaudiano
Alan Davis
Ande Parks
Angel Mediea
Art Thibert
Aaron Lopresti
Bill Anderson
Brian Michael Bendis (Be prepaired to wait a long time in line)
Bob Budiansky
Bill Willingham
Brendan Fletcher
Barry Kitson
Christos Gage
Chad Townsend
Charles Soule
Cary Nord
Cameron Stewart14900529_1294021037284083_6486392154139767345_n
Chip Zdarsky
Darryl Banks
Dan Brereton
Emanuela Lupacchino
Erik Larsen
Evan Dorkin
Fred Van Lente
Frank Cho
Gail Simone
Howard Chankyn
Ivan Reis
Jason Latour
Joe Staton
Joshua Williamson
Jim Zub16998140_1452872038090548_8911164774404268434_n
Jim Shooter
Jerry Duggan
Jason Aaron
Jonathan Hickman
Jenny Frison
Jae Lee
Kelley Jones
Kevin Maguire
Kevin Nowland
Kyle Higgins
Louise Simonson
Marc Sumerick
Mike Barr
Mike Gustov
Mark Waid
Mike Norton
Matt Fraction
Marguerite Bennett
Mike Hawthorne
Nick Bradshaw
Nick Dragotta
P.Craig Russell
Clayton Crain
Keron Grant12190817_1064801410230948_2617958790839857194_n
Jorge Lucas
Bob Almond
Jim Pasco
Mike Mayhew
Casey Jones
Tim Bradstreet
Phil Hester
Phil Noto
Rick Remender
Ron Fortier
Ramon Villalobos
Steve Leialoha
Scott Snyder
Skottie Young
Tim Seeley
Tony Isabella (There’s certain issues that DC broke it’s agreement with him on, don’t bring those, otherwise free – also, he’s been talking abuot starting to charge if his sales don’t pick up)
Walter Simonson


NEO comic con 2017

Conman20914186_10213918865390159_3496547881514597422_nIn its first year, Neo Comic Con exceeded all expectations with attendance nearly double what they had projected. While growth was slow in the second year – a mild swelling if you will, the shoulder to shoulder traffic inside the hotel made it clear that it was time to move to someplace bigger already, if they wanted to  grow. In it’s third outing, this year moving to the soccer sportsplex in North Olmsted, they exceeded their previous attendance records before noon, eventually topping out at about 1/3 more attendees than ever before.
I have to admit I’m pleased by all of this, it’s nice to have a show like this practically in my backyard – 10 miles away and a 15 minute drive.  I’m familiar with the venue, Heroes United did an event there (a superhero night for the soccer players) and was excited about the layout – it reminded me a great deal of All-Americon. That’s really what I was
expecting, something very much like the previous versions of all American when they had set up over Packard Hall. What we ended up seeing was actually pretty different.

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Neo created an interesting flow here with the vendors all set up on one side of the arena, and the artists alley in a completely separate section separated by bleachers, tables and the snack bar. It works and it makes sense, the flow actually feels good – but I’d feel better if were more than one entrance. If you want to get to the side with the artists and cosplayers, you absolutely have to walk through all of the vendor tables and in my case that proved difficult since I was carrying stuff to set up at the Heroes United table.

Also complicating things with the parking situation.By the time I arrived, a mere hour and a half after the doors opened, the lot was full. I managed to snag and innocuous little space right behind the factory across the street – plenty of shade and enough maneuvering that it would make someone trying to tow or vandalize my car more trouble than it was worth. The convention and also secured parking down the street at the college and was running shuttles every 15 minutes – this isn’t a bad idea, but for those of us carrying bulky props and wearing cumbersome suits, it was absolutely going to be a hurdle… and I’m not sure what the fix is for this is either.20914393_1849183855098232_8431929885572577728_n Under the circumstances I think they came up with the best solution that they could.
Still, it made loading and unloading an issue (swapping the baby basket for the rocketship halfway through the day), and made my lunch plans impossible. We ended up grabbing food at the snack bar and commandeering  a table for me and my friends. Big props to the Soccer sportsplex staff by the way. They really rolled with the event and got into things. There are some venues that don’t really dig convention crowds– the fanboys and the cosplayers put them off. There is the infamous story of the hotel in Butler back when Monster Bash was at its last location and the bellboy going up and down the hall screaming “go away monster people! “. These guys embraced it, and were having fun… The man at the counter paused me to get a picture in before taking my order. It was a good day for them as well! They were selling out of items regularly and I’m not surprised…20953120_10212827912788915_7931070621714604532_n They had normal pricing on just about everything, higher than McDonald’s you might say, but reasonable – $2.50 for a slice of pizza, $1.50 for a drink. Definitely not gouging. I dig that, and it really made me feel better about buying my lunch there.

 

It’s always a pleasure to see Rubber City Cosplay, promoting positivity and taking photos at their booth. The whole Photo Booth thing seems to be taking off too. One of the other charity groups in the area had theirs set up and their hook was it your photo with Superman and Batman, or select members. In addition – Heroes United had their booth set up with a green screen photo op providing nine backgrounds to choose from… A little something different.

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Of course my big thing for this convention was to get over to meet Bob Hall. Hall was the writer for one of my absolute favorite series – Shadowman. He took over early in the run and stayed with the Valiant title right up until the end, just before the Acclaim reboot.

“They gave me the choice of five different titles to write,” he said. “I chose Shadowman because it was the one that was doing the worst… I figured if this book completely fails, at least I’m not going to be the first writer it tanks on… ”

shadowman13“When Acclaim came in, they told me that the character wasn’t black enough! What does that even mean? He’s Creole! But they wanted something different. They wanted a character they could put into video games thats why I ended of the book, because if they were going to make him completely different, they may as well make him a different character altogether.  I did the story where he climbed up to the top of the building and jumps. 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!”

Next to halls table, it’s Kevin Nolan – an artist I enjoy, particuarly for his work on the Superman/Aliens series… We both commiserated over what a wonderful character the Kara girl in the book is in our surprise over her never appearing anywhere else.
21032637_10155066503329542_4197475160821556224_nI rounded up of the day by getting Tony Isabella’s table. Tony is a legend when it comes to DC titles, having created Black Lightning and he’s also a regular on the Northeast Ohio convention circuit. I was particularly interested in hearing his take on the new Black Lightning television show that supposed to be hitting the CW.
“They flew me out, and brought me into a room with two big whiteboards that I was not allowed to take photos of!” he chuckled. “What I saw were too big columns, one with a lot of studio ideas, and another column with a lot of my stuff. They’re asking me things 20994176_1650414095003007_6042970464162169633_nabout stories I wrote 20 years ago, and if feels like there’s a lot of me in this show… There’s a lot of the studio too, but is a good mix of the two. I’m looking forward to it.”
This was interesting to me, because I’ve had my misgivings about this show. I enjoy Black Lightning; Batman and the Outsiders is one of the best Bat books from the silver age! But I look at the suit and I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t get the origins of this look at all, and it really made me trepiditious about the story. To hear Tony say that they’re putting a lot of his vision in it actually makes me feel a great deal better – particularly in that he got down to some specifics, rather than a nebulous “it’s going to be great!” kind of statement that you have to make when you’re under contract.20883096_1626891087342629_2994683421330481997_n

Cosplayers came out in force for this event… Neo has always drawn its fair share of costumes, and usueally always some good looking people wandering around the show. They’ve encouraged it by giving free admission to people in costume, and inviting recognizable cosplay talent like night mage, are KG cosplay, Princess Morgan and Miss procrastination… This however, was their first year doing a costume contest and I’m pleased with how good the competition was. Everybody was bringing their A game, with impressive costumes like an Oogie Boogie from nightmare before Christmas, and a dead on Ghostbuster, Judge Death from Judge Dredd, and dozens and dozens of Spider-Man. Seriously, I thought there were a lot of Spider-Man at Great Lakes Comicon? Not even close – I couldn’t walk two steps without stumbling over webs at Neo.20993965_1626890877342650_2551902875372443374_n

20914370_1650414115003005_7536458728478065421_nI managed to track down the single  50 Cent bin at the show and pull about a dozen things out of there, pointing out some of the better silver age horror to my friend Rhonda. Still, most of the deals I grabbed were in the form of those old essentials volumes. These things are still plentiful and cheap, and the best way to catch up on really old comics – I’m currently building my Fantastic Four collection. Besides those,  I absolutely could not pass up a couple volumes of Daredevil including stuff that was way older than anything I’ve ever been able to afford.

When all is said and done, it was a great weekend. I think that even now, after three years, NEO ComicCon is still very much looking for an identity… But I also think more than ever it has figured out what kind of show it wants to be, and it’s really beginning to look like that.

I can’t wait for next year.

 


(Photos stolen from every corner of Facebook – my apologies. I didn’t really get any pictures of my own!)

 


First Time at Lake Effect

conwoman18881917_1561355863908831_7868683073269651622_nI mentioned yesterday that my Ock suit has grown so cumbersome that I required a handler. You may have seen Rhonny Reaper around the net at Dollar Bin Horror or haunting the depths of Cinema Wasteland, but Sunday was her very first time out to Lake Effect Comic Con – and I thought it would be interesting to get a fresh perspective one it. Here’s her review.

 

This year was my first year attending Lake Effect Comic Con and it was a blast. Matthew told me that in past years it had been held at a movie theater, but now the Holiday Inn in Mentor is its home. I’m kind of sad I missed it before because I think the theater sounds like a lovely spot for a con, but this was nice as well. It seemed smaller than I imagined. The show was not crowded, but we did get there late so I’m assuming 18920328_10211047601324769_6667099077153641652_nthe early birds had already dispersed.

I myself had a fantastic time! I went with Matthew acting as his “hands” so he could be Doc Ock. EVERYONE wanted pictures with Matt when we first got there, so it took us a minute to get into the show room. I’ve always loved horror but just recently started working on a horror comic selection, so this was the first time I knew what I was looking for…and I found it in abundance! So many wonderful golden age horror comics for $1 and $2 each! I also found a copy of My Friend Dahmer at the Comics Are Go table, thanks to Matt’s keen eyes. Eric over there gave me the sweetest deal on the book!

Towards the end, they held a costume contest for all the cosplayers, and everyone looked fantastic!!! From the little Wonder Woman to the Sailor 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nMoon, everyone came out in style! I myself came as Lydia Deetz (from Beetlejuice), which I thought was more on the simple side of cosplay…which is why I was shocked the judges picked me for female adult! I’m still in shock…but happy as ever about the killer Deadpool mask I received as the prize (I’m more into horror comics than classic super heroes…but I mean who doesn’t LOVE some Deadpool?)! They also gave a special prize to the Yip Yip alien costume from Sesame Street (which really gave Matt a run for his money) because it was GLORIUOS! You just had to! All in all, this con was a blast and gave me my best haul ever! Can’t wait till the next one!!!

 

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Lake Effect Comic Con 2017

ConmanI dashed forward , camera at the ready when I saw the 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nshaggy red “yep, yep” Muppet walking down the aisle. My Doc Ock suit hindered me a bit, but I met him just as we arrived at the corner of the room.
“I’d love to get a photo with you,” I exclaimed.
Through the black mesh of the mouth I saw him smile.
“You did. Remember back a few years ago? I was Doctor Hugo Strange!”
I think I may have just come full circle.

While I’ve been dressing up since long before I ever heard the word “cosplay” (I was an actual clown before I hit Jr. High. Star Trek conventions at 12. Haunted houses in high school. Theater through it all), you could probably trace the 100_1448beginnings of my modern cosplay career to Lake Effect Comic Con around 2012. It was the first time I ever pulled out my Doc Ock costume (one of the first of my more complicated suits) – very different at the time too! It was the first time I entered a costume contest. It was very much my entry into the scene. It was cool to return to the show where it all started (albeit in a different location) and discover that the suit was still memorable, and to show how much it has grown.

It’s grown so much that I now require a handler to help me with doors and carrying things and stuff! I picked up my friend Rhonda, who agreed to be my hands for the day. She appeared dressed as Lydia from Beetlejuice (Because if I can’t bring my little Lydia, I 18839016_1075542529243123_1290475328772481046_nmight as well take a full grown one with me!) and we headed off to Mentor.

I was running late so I missed the cosplay panel I wanted to hit, but we still managed to get in before one. There was some concern about me making it through the dealers room, but we needn’t have worried. The aisles were more than big enough for me and the place wasn’t crowded. I’m curious if the show grew from last year. We arrived about halfway through so that may have accounted for the lighter attendance.

I have to admit, now in the second year at the hotel, the layout has really grown on me. It feels like Russian nesting dolls, with one dealers room leading to another, adding to that 18892929_887338388072245_1893944626838673547_ndelightful feeling of exploration that I love at some of the more obscure bazaars in Cleveland. Lake effect is an excellent representation of the dealers and shops around the Cleveland area with every comic and toy imaginable littering the rows and corners.  Around a corner I found more tables set up in a narrow hallway. I don’t know if this corner was set up last year or not…the theater Lake Effect used to set up at was selling movie posters next to a table set up for the R2 builders and Heroes United, both welcome additions to the show. The deals are still waning, but I was pleased to spot a single fifty cent bin to plunder, and managed to walk away with a stack of Civil War era Spidey as well as a nice chunk of Groot and Rocket Racoon  solo series, but the real find of the day was Marvel’s Zombie Christmas Carol in the $5.00 Hardcover bin. I’ve never seen this before, but I couldn’t leave without it – especially at that price.

I saw Lake Effect dipping it’s toe into the celeb waters, bring in a18835541_1561355777242173_7918076935831398497_n zombie from the Walking Dead (I don’t know if I forgot, or just didn’t know- either way, I didn’t have my poster) as well as a starlet who had done a couple movies and been a playmate. It’s a direction I hope they veer away from. It didn’t really add much to the show other than the novelty of a few unfamiliar faces…and I get it. After eight years, you have to try and shake things up a bit.

The costume contest seemed a little smaller this year as well, but those that did arrive were still excellent. I was enchanted by the Terminator girl (all the robot parts, painted on – she looked like she stepped right off an 80’s VHS cover) and the little Starlord. More and more I see video game characters, and I feel so bad that I don’t recognize them! But there’s another trend I see popping up – it’s an interesting 2-d style, where your costume and features appear sketched in. It’s a really cool look and the more I see it, the more I’m enchanted by it. I dig the open area in the lobby where they hold this contest – it 18839216_1561356817242069_8450739580311332965_nfeels more intimate, more personal than the theater always did. I feel like I can better hobnob and chat with the other contestants…and that’s really the point of it all for me. I had to move around a bit to be able to see all of the people parading by and nothing made me happier than when the Yep Yep Muppet received a special prize.

I still really like Lake Effect. My only hope is that it doesn’t stagnate in this location – it grew every year at the theater untill the seams of the walls were bursting trying to contain the throngs of people. That seems to have leveled off since the move and that worries me. I dig this con and really hope it’ll be around for years to come.