The Pekar Park comic fest is one of those that’s been on my radar forever, but I never actually made it out to until just before the plague. Of course, they didn’t have it last year, and the one I went to in 2019 was an unusual one. Because of the weather, everything had moved inside… It was not your typical Pekar Park comic fest. But I remember finding myself having so much fun, that I stuck around long enough to make it to the end where they had a screening of My Friend Dahmer, complete with a talk with author Derf afterwards.
This year, the comic fest was back, and it was its old self. Completely held outside, with a family film like Big Hero 6 shown in the park at the end of the day.
It just wasn’t the same.
I miss the addition of Urban Otaku, doing panels and anime talks and shorts early in the day, but nevertheless, I grabbed my daughter and we made our way out to see what was going on. It really feels a lot more like a glorified sidewalk sale… and that’s not necessarily A bad thing, but it’s not necessarily the magic that I felt back in 2019. Still it was interesting, still a fascinating variety of curious comics and artwork and crafts. Maddie found a huffelpuff button I nearly lost her mind, but she was actually far more interested in exploring some of the local Coventry sites, such as the library, it’s community garden, Mac’s paperbacks and Passport to Peru.
I don’t have any issues with the Pekar Park fast, and if it’s your first time out to the Coventry area, this is actually a great way to go. It’s a little bit of extra activity and attraction to keep your interest now that Big Fun and Coventry Cats are both gone. Sadly though, it’s not going to be a regular stop in the future on my convention circuit.
We hit this show back in April, and even then, they mentioned they hoped they’d be back soon. Well, the show returned this weekend! Still a small con, so instead of me telling you about it, I’m going to let Maddie tell you all about it!
I wasn’t really feeling it this weekend. I honestly wasn’t in the mood for a long drive to Pennsylvania, and my map completely turned me around and added both time and mileage. Still, I was really just coming in to grab a few Elm Street victims, almost everybody I needed to complete my scrapbook.
Brooke Theiss and Toy Newkirk were both supposed to have come to steel city con last year, but the plague shut everything down. Even now, there’s still a certain degree of trepidation and both arrived this time, but masked. It certainly put a damper on things, and I declined photos with them. Still, Toy had some interesting photos with her. Her mother had been on set when she was doing make up tests and getting her lifecast and and taking dozens of photos that she never knew about. She only discovered them a couple of years ago, and had a really interesting collection that gave her a good excuse to talk about the whole process there.
I was particular excited for Breckin Meyer though. I enjoy him in a variety of things, not the least of which are the Garfield movies. I have an unreasonable lot for these. But he’s also fun and stuff with the robot chicken crew and things like rat race. One of his early performances was in Freddys dead… He looks completely different and his voice and dropped yet. It was always strange to see him, and I assumed you with one of the guys I was never going to get in person. It was a great deal of fun to head up and chat with him and get my photo signed. I pulled down my mask and headed in.
“Gahhhhh!” Meyer exclaimed as he jumped back startled. I pulled up the Freddy hockey mask I was wearing, as we laughed over it.
“That is so %$#@&* cool!“ breathed Meyer. “So thanks for coming out and terrifying me today! “
I noticed Tom Arnold didn’t have any line so I decided to run over and see him too. He’s one I’ve been debating on, he doesn’t really get killed by Friday, but he does have a look at cameo in the film and some genuine achievements in his filmography.
Costumes were out in full force as Sunday is the costume contest for the show… The place had violently erupted in anime characters. But there is also a stunning Mothra floating through the place, as well as some interesting bits and pieces… A brilliant J Jonah Jamison and a dead on Hulk Hogan. For my part, I was phoning it in – my freddy/jason top, along with a Hockey mask I had done up in a Freddy theme. It was actually king of fun – people (especially the crafters in the artist alley) kept asking where I had gotten the mask, and I got to walk them through the process of making them!
I ended up sticking around a little bit longer than I had expected because I kept running into friends who wanted to hang out… Some of which I haven’t seen since before the plague started. It made for a longer day, and by the time I left I was wiped. I still insist that steel city is not going to be a regular stop on my route. For the most part I’m trying to avoid the big meat market autograph shows, but it’s nice to know its there, just within reach to sneak out to. Maybe next time I’ll slip over to Evans cemetery on the way home.
The plague doctor lowered her mask and began the arduous track through the crowded isles, teaming with people. She stopped short at the large, dark monster. It’s normal to flash was covered mostly in Scarlett ropes, and she evaluating the spectrum. Then, she selected a small white bag from the top of her staff, and on the sachet of lavender on one of the hooks that made up the spiraling talisman that adorned the top of the Skeksis walking stick. Next to him, a young Gelfling, chained to the monster, just looked on, puzzled and petting her Fizzgig.
That’s right, Maddie was coming with me this year – kind of a necessity since I had no hands and needed someone capapble of handing over money for admission and spaying vendors and stuff.
Akron Canton Comic con has been a regular stop now for a few years. It is one of the best of the Harper shows in the area, not just because of the costume contest that draws cosplayers from all around the area, but also the smart and interesting layout in the larger venue. The artist alley lines the upper level, and continues just by the stairs of the lower area. It means you’re going to have to pass through the artists before you hit the dealers. It’s a nice way of getting them better exposure. The venue also most cinnamon press the snack bar, selling two dollar sloppy Joe’s and hotdogs pop and ice and whatever you need. There’s tables and chairs and open spaces in the upper level for people to eat and hang out out, making this one of the more surprisingly social show.
Social can sometimes be the point. There are certain people in that area like Allie or Jason, that I’m only going to run into at these particular events. And for a lot of people, this was their first time back into the convention world in over a year. I was delighted and relieved to run into Mike, the founder of Akron Comicon, working a booth. He had his own bout with the plague, and this afternoon he actually looked in better health and more positive and spry than I’d seen him, even before the calamity. My teenage daughter was accompanying me, and he actually recognized her first. Not a big surprise, considering my features were completely buried under the full body costume.
In other corners of the show, we ran into a couple that was walking around in Robotech costumes. Never my thing when I was a kid, but my friend Johnny Em turned me onto it by slipping me the novels when I was in my 20s. It’s an amazing series, and fun to see people dressing up with it. I don’t get a chance to talk about it that often. The fellow then reached behind him, into his backpack and pulled out his problem. It was a plate, with what appeared to be a steak and potatoes on it… And I knew immediately which character he was cosplaying. There’s a scene in the middle of the Macross saga, where pilot Ben is just sitting down to dinner. Suddenly the alarm klaxon goes off and he hast to rush off to his veritech plane. He turns back to his dinner, and points at it saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back.”
The heartbreaking irony here, is he never does make it back. Something you don’t realize at the moment… It’s just a funny line that becomes heartbreaking a few chapters later. A little touch like this on the prop, it just takes the costume to a whole new meta level.
Maddie found an Avatar poster from one of the artists in Artist Alley, and absolutely fell in love with it. Was one of the first things that she bought, and it’s one of those things that I always enjoy seeing my kids buying art from the vendors, not just toys or books. For my part I hit the 50 Cent bins at Hazel’s Heroes pretty hard, flipping through them, even while in the Skeksis costume. Of course, that meant that when it was time for the costume contest, I had to find a way to hide the bag in my robes. I pushed it up as far as I could into the crook of my elbow and tried to keep that elbow almost past my back, with the bag then melting into the folds of the cloak. Perhaps I should’ve been focusing less on that, because once we got on stage, the sachet from the plague doctor fell off my staff. I reach down to grab it with my Skeksis hand, and a finger fell off. It was a disaster, the costume was falling apart before our very eyes! Everybody smiled and laughed and whore, and Maddie shuffled me quickly off the stage.
After I’d gotten out of the costume, it was back to the floor, where I could better see into the long boxes. I grabbed another stack of trade paperbacks and chatted with some of the people who could now recognize me. There was a Deadpool in a sailor moon costume who you may have recall seeing him at ZipCon back in 2020. (We leared he went by Dead Moon, rather than the SailorPool moniker I’d hung on him last year) He looked at me, aghast.
“THAT’S what you really look like?”
“Look who’s talking!” I laughed. And it was nice being able to chat with people, friends old and new face-to-face.
It had been a long day, and a crowded one. From a purely spectator standpoint, the show seemed like it was more crowded than usual, a phenomenon I’m in countering at every convention I go to this year. We ended up having to park two lots away and walked down to before we got into the show. That’s OK, I’m happy to see that the scene is making some sort of a comeback. We ended the day tired, but happy. And can’t wait to go out and do it again.
If you’re interested in seeing Maddie’s video diary of the event, you can check that out below. Otherwise jump to the pictures!
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.
The 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 new 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.
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…
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.
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 the 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 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.
This 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.
The 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 vendors 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.
I 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.
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 three 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, he’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 Foxy 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 and 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.
I 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 guys 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.
“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.
I 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.
Back 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 in 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 napkin 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.
Across 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!”
I 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 snap 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.
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.
“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!