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Comic Book Convention

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.

 

 


Great Lakes Comic Con 2017

Conman16299358_1461959107171626_7310087165305124209_nI 16864596_1452871684757250_5152890647665097038_nwas off to Great Lakes Comic Con this weekend – I think I mentioned this last year when I went for the first time, I really wish this convention was closer to home – it’s a great mix of media and comic guests… but they keep the guest list short and inexpensive, the event doesn’t feel like it’s gouging you – especially with an admission price of only $10 on Saturday. They also go with a theme every year, last year being the 80s and this year being a celebration of Spider-Man – as a result, I decided to bring out the Doc Ock suit (at some point I have to fix that right arm so it no longer looks like I’m running around with a dislocated shoulder….)and ran around the convention center with the infamous Ock selfie stick!

I mentioned last year at Hall of Fame City Comic Con that I don’t think I can do Ock doc-ocagain without a handler. Even though I added some hidden windows for my fingers to come out of in the octupus arms, it still would have been a challenge… Maddie was going to come out but changed her mind. In the end, I was fortunate enough to enlist my friend Mike May to be my hands for the day, handling my money and opening doors as well as getting the phone clutched in one of my grubby little Octopus mitts to go into selfie mode.

I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things I’m really beginning to enjoy at conventions like this is running into familiar faces. Now to be fair, Detroit is quite a ways from Cleveland so at this show I expected that those familiar faces would mostly be vendors, folks like Sean Belles and Dirk Manning. However I did also run into a gentleman who remembered me from 16998131_1452873491423736_1428088916418845020_nthe previous year! I remembered really liking his flash costume the previous year and was very pleased that his daughters Hawkgirl won in the kids costume contest. He was decked out in a marvelous Dr Strange suit… one that he’d really added his own flair to, using brass and gold buttons around it and giving it a more leathery look. I could see this being a Doctor Strange costume from after the movie, after he’s grown a little bit and moved on – say an alternate outfit. Included in it were several lighting effects that were activated when he gestured in certain ways, flashing, making sounds and giving the illusion of casting spells. It’s actually electronics from a think geek product that he’s ripped out, rewired and repurposed for this suit… A very good use of the technology. I love seeing stuff like this, and I’m all about using things in new and interesting ways.

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16806813_1452871958090556_3835191839926253909_nSpeaking of costumes, the show attendees really upped thier game this year… From what I can see, Great Lakes always brings out the best in people, but the competition was fierce this year – the decision was so difficult for the judges that they had to make two passes; with a semi-final round before they’ve finally made the decisions. The lovely Hawkgirl that I’d seen around all day placed and it was a well deserved win, along with the Mecha Godzilla that I did battle with while waiting in line for Jim Shooter. I was also taking note of the Lego Boba Fett that managed to snag one of the top prizes – I want to make my own Lego character later this year and his suit was a good example of what I’m going to need to do. I only wish he had been around longer!17012786_10210469680352162_1838986664_n Fett seemed to show up about half an hour before the costume contest… That’s one of my pet peeve’s – an amazing costume like that I’d love to have seen walking the show floor all day! Perhaps he was suited up there all the time and I just missed him all day. We’ll assume the best.

16996455_10155099888997899_8624016029088824790_nDeals – Great Lakes may have just replaced Lake Effect Comicon as my go-to for deals… In fact, I should have brought a little bit more cash with me – I saw a gorgeous Super Powers Joker, complete with hammer for $15 – Mike nearly smacked me when I passed on it, and he would have been right vintage-toysto do so… I regret leaving that behind, kind of like I regret not picking up that Bow figure from She-Ra last year. Even stuff that was out of my price range, I could see was still going for amazing prices… A Super Powers Batman for $35, a Darth Vader that Mike had never seen before (and that’s saying something, his house has at least one Vader in every room!) for 35 which he handled down even further, 50 Cent bins, and essential trades all over the place for five bucks. Deals are one of the reasons I go to conventions, that and to find things that I won’t find anywhere else – Great Lakes Comic Con has both of those things, and in abundance.

16998140_1452872038090548_8911164774404268434_nOne of the other big reasons I go to conventions is for panels and I’ve always loved that Great Lakes really goes out of its way to do genuinely good panels… They’re not over the top they’re not deep dark secrets and big reveals, but they are fun and they manage to spotlight people that I don’t get to see elsewhere. Dirk Manning did his Write or Wrong talk, which interestingly enough was preceded by Jim Shooter doing a panel on writing – Shooter was my main reason for coming to this convention, as he was the founder of Valiant comics and the editor in chief of Marvel for many many years. His panel was a great primer on story structure, pacing, perspective and storytelling. I was amused that he kept using Doc Ock in his examples.

“It’s got to be more than just Doc Ock fights Spider-Man again…”

*I raise my arms and eyebrows in mock outrage* “why you got to hate?”

Nicholas Hammond was fun to listen to as 16997142_10210469683592243_584624002_nwell. His experiences in The Sound of Music should have been the focus, but let’s face it. This is ComicCon. We want to hear about his short run on Spider-Man. For me one of the most interesting things to hear him speak on was the potential of a crossover with Bill Bixby’s the Incredible Hulk on television – years before such a thing was fashionable. It was on the schedule for the second season, except there wasn’t a second season. Spider-Man was one of the casualties of the management shake up where CBS decided to get rid of all the super shows like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and the Hulk. It was interesting for him to Skype watching Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield in the role as if it were him watching his children. 17012538_10210469682072205_1020257322_n

Shooter and Hammond were also both very gracious and fun to meet in person – the line to meet Jim Shooter was actually longer than the one for Hammond, but then again he was a bigger deal to me in the first place! Mike, Jim and I chatted about the rise and fall of Valiant, as he signed our books and took a photo with me! Taking photos with the actors who portrayed Spider-Man was one of the highlights of my day – Hammond had a hard time figuring out where to stand and just hung up behind me into a relaxed stance.  The most fun though, was Paul Soles; the voice of the animated Spider-Man. Soles was so excited to see my Doc Ock and you can see him grinning with unbridled delight as we post for a photo. he signed his autograph “To Matt and his friend Doc Ock!”

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16938923_1452874108090341_5986073173628797132_nThe other great thing was how much all the kids at the con loved me. I found myself in battles with little superheros everywhere I ventured at the con. Little Spidey’s would shoot imaginary webs at me. Little Flash wanted a race. I’d snap at kids with my claws and they would throw stage punches and I’d knock back. It was great. I don’t get that nearly as much at other shows, but the Spider-man theme of this convention seemed to encourage it.

I left with a handful of comics – a lot of 90’s spidey I didn’t have as well as a Punisher essentials (I’ve got about a third of that book in floppies, but it’s still worth it – those issues I have are all signed. I can frame them and keep them as collectors items). I even found some criterion DVDs for two bits that I pulled the trigger on.

16864514_1452908704753548_1494978144296274513_nOther swag I came home with were a couple of posters. The CW had a booth there as well, one very much like the one we see regularly at Akron Comicon. There was a wheel to spin where you could win a prize…posters, shirts hats and various other junky swag. Doc Ock walked up, grabbed a hold of the wheels pegs (Why? Because I CAN) and spun, and won a new flash drive.

Literally. A FLASH drive. I was dying when I saw these! it’s tiny, a mere 2 GB, but that’s enough to hold my work tools on it and make me the envy of all my friends. (Mike got sunglasses). It may just be my favorite thing I brought home.

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The arcade was still a blast as well. This year Big Toys brought in a SHADOW pinball set! Man, I could stare at that thing all day…I couldn’t play it with my arms though.16864115_1452870011424084_7691259938951587904_n I did however get a quick arcade game in. The claw could hold the joystick while the other claw mashed buttons. It was over quick though. Ock arms aren’t very dexterous.

I’m seriously considering making this a regular stop, no matter who is appearing. It’s a great show and I just really dig the vibe here. Ock himself was a big hit taking tons of selfies (you should have seen Jake the Snake crack up when I was taking pictures with these guys!) and generally wrecking havok…and heres the pics to prove it!


Akron Comic Con 2017 part two

ConmanAkron is always a big cosplay event and everyone brings thier “A” game.

Akron’s costume contest though has always been a challenge. Because it’s so big, it’s hard to fit in a room, and this year Rubber City Cosplay had thier hands full trying to figure it out.

14910503_1328905783820508_8233595154308081623_nOver the past year in particular, it’s been a real pleasure watching Rubber City Cosplay develop as a contest facilitator. They’ve gotten more comfortable with the role and developed genuinely good strategies for keeping things going efficiently.  However, Akron is the big show. With literally hundreds of contestants and a surprisingly small space, this is the most challenging contest they handle. There was confusion on where to go. The hall downstairs had been partitioned off into two smaller rooms. You began in the first room with a camera and a green screen, then made your way out the door onto the main stage… so before going out and getting announced, there was this 14925786_1499745710042050_5477824743299876427_nother group with a camera, taking pictures before the contest – their original plan had been to interview each contestant as well, something they weren’t allowed to do as it would slow things down too much. I assumed that they were perhaps broadcasting the images over to the main screen, but now I’m not even sure they were really a contest component. All of this delayed the start and slowed the lineup down.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I was exhausted already and my boots were killing me – I was grateful for the chance to sit down while waiting. gave me a chance to help the guy in front of me get out of his gloves and  get into his helmet- magnetic pieces and velcro and all sorts of wierd stuff! I appreciate that helm and costume all the more for having seen it up close as he got it on. My friend William was down the line keeping Chris Gulley’s Black Panther cape in place.

We were told we couldn’t stay in the room to watch the cosplay contest and this was a kind of a drag. It’s one of the important things to note. the sense of community in the costume contests is 14908393_986012571508567_2276708467257374101_nalways one of my favorite parts of a con – talking to people about how they made their costumes, what they’ve done before – cosplay is an instant icebreaker for those of us who are introverts. In the good ones you really see everyone cheering for everyone else and that was really present here. In my never-so-humble opinion, partitioning that room was a bad idea.  A large space is needed for this event if it’s going to be the huge component it always has been at Akron. I don’t think we had more room than this back at the Quaker Station hall.

It was great to see so many of these familiar faces though. That Nocturne I saw at Hall of Fame City was back, as well as the Freddy Kruger. Cinderella showed me the work she put into her glass slippers and it wasn’t untill after the con 14947694_1499743686708919_7300596320286305700_nthat I realized Secret Squirrel was the same guy who did Domo Batman last year! There was a little Rhino that was COMPLETELY on point and picking fights with everyone ( I was so happy that he placed in the kids contest!) and the absolute best Iron Man I’ve ever seen in a kids costume….in fact it was better than most adult Iron Men! My friend Jim pointed out to me a kid in a Cyrano Jones outfit, complete with Tribbles. Another in a Smaug costume. Fantasy dominated the contest this year and Man-At-Arms ran around trying to get pictures with every barbarian warrior he saw. The Z.E.R.O.S. were there in full effect with Ryan yelling “Man-At-Arms is my hero!” as I headed into the costume contest.14925627_1156650324371883_8764488665580498226_nMy friend William really put it best.

“Got to experience the two extremes of cosplay attitudes today at the Akron ComiCon.

On the negative side, saw a contestant that I won’t single out getting in his car after the contest was over, whining and complaining that “this contest was crap” and “I have over a thousand hours invested in this”, yadda yadda yadda.”

Allow me to interject at this point, that my friend Marc witnessed the same thing by the same person a little later – “the same adult male throw a major tantrum because someone else won a small piece of etched glass instead of him. Obviously, he was the only one worthy and the judges were idiots and the contest was rigged and life isn’t fair and Hilary is evil (not trying to politicize. That was actually part of the tantrum).And this was in the convention center near my table, not in the parking lot, which means this same tantrum was thrown multiple times.”

But William continues :

“Then, there was the plus side. A little girl saw me and became ecstatic. She was a huge Captain America fan (she was too young to know who USAgent is, and Cap wore the uniform before Walker did, so she’s forgiven), and her face just lit up seeing me, and she needed a pic.

14900327_10207068548862948_3322987725013073771_nIt didn’t matter to her that the guy dressed like her hero was nearly three hundred pounds and constantly wiping away the sweat pouring out of a mask with no ventilation. It didn’t matter that I haven’t dyed my belt to match the suspenders better, or that I’m not real happy with the paint job on the shield. It didn’t matter that my version is an amalgamation of different versions of the comic costume along with the MCU Cap costumes, and so isn’t a perfectionist version of either.

All that little girl cared about was her hero kneeling down to take a picture with her, and smiling at her.

The costume and shield may be fake, but that smile was as real as it gets.

I feel sorry for the guy who felt cheated out of a win in a contest of people dressed as imaginary characters, as if winning or losing have anything to do with what is important in cosplay.

I’d much rather be in the company of that little girl, who was just happy to see the character she loved.”

That’s it right there. You know something? I’ve never won or even placed in Akron costume contest. Not once. But that’s not why I do it…the community, the camaraderie and just the time to have fun…it’s worth it all. Just look at all of these people in the photos below and you’ll see it too.

I can’t wait for next year.

 

 


Akron Comic Con 2016 part one

Conman14992062_1328900007154419_1020901683710593859_nI didn’t mean to freak people out. Really.

The guest line up for Akron is always a good one, but this one was particularly exciting, bringing in yet another walking dead zombie as well as excellent talent such as Alan Grant and Alan Davis. I knew I would be is standing in line a lot so I decided to spend at least the first two hours of the con in street clothes – jeans and a sweater. It was hilarious, people didn’t recognize me! Those who did were a bit freaked out by the fact that I wasn’t in a costume…Bobbie Harleypool walked by and yelled at me “why aren’t you in costume???”. Once upon a time cosplay afforded me a certian degree of anonymity. Now it seems it’s gone the other way around….

Alan Grant was my first stop. He is charming and personable 14938305_1328900417154378_6902178794103765567_nand he wrote some of the greatest Batman stories of the 90s. His run with Norman Breyfogal is nothing short of legendary. He was the writer on Detective when the Tim Drake Robin was being introduced. It’s one of my favourite eras because we get a lot of short, one issue, self-contained stories. It’s something he mentioned he enjoyed writing, stuff that was to the point, and had a beginning, middle, and end.

I made my way over to P. Craig Russell, who I’ve always really associated with his brilliant Sandman work. Still, I had discovered he did an issue of X–Men that is in one of my many collected editions. It was fun to chat about this one, he mentioned that JR JR was always really 14993386_1294020120617508_5251406402526882312_ngreat to do finishes over and out while you could still see Romitia’s influence in a lot of the pages, he turned to one particular panel of a stunning building in skyscape and told me “but this panel right here, this is all me! “.

I was sad not to make it to Alan Davies, his line was just prohibitive and they kept cutting it off…but Tom Orzechowski was most definitely available. This man has lettered more current books then I have read… And that’s no small feat. The more I get into these Marvel essentials collections, the more often his name seems to pop up. I loaded a heavy stack of these huge paper backs over to him to be signed, but what’s great about Tom is that he is really a fan first. Going over each of these books, he had memories and things to say about it all of the runs and what it was like for him to read them originally.

14900529_1294021037284083_6486392154139767345_nJoe Staton was making a return appearance. I genuinely like Joe, Even though he’s really one of the most recognizable Green Lantern artists out there, I love that he is dedicated this part of his career to things like Scooby Doo and Dick Tracy – I particularly love that he’s doing things like the little orphan Annie crossover, the Dick Tracy meet gruesome story and the upcoming Spirit crossover. I brought him my greatest Batman stories ever told to sign his story “The Autobiography of Bruce Wayne”. It’s a charming piece set on earth 2 were Bruce ultimately marries Selena Kyle –Staton is in real form here emulating Dick Sprague and giving the story a dynamic look while still being bright and friendly. He gave me a copy of that Tracy needs gruesome which he signed for me on the way out – I love Joe.

14962805_1328900097154410_8861669378406743355_nI remember watching Jackson Bostwick on television when I was a kid, his Shazam series was one of the Saturday afternoon roundabouts, the sort of thing that plays after the cartoons. He is personable, but very much a convention pro. He’s also not at all happy about the way Captain Marvel is portrayed in the comics these days. He is proud of the fact that he was Captain Marvel (and not SHAZAM!), he hates the hood on the cape as well as the weird lightning that surrounds him now. It was an interesting conversation, and I get the impression that he is very protective of the character – there is a real connection there for him.

Addy Miller from the Walking Dead was a charming young woman as well. I wish i could say the same for her handler (who I assume is her mother). Somewhat intrusive. I mentioned that my WD photo has been through the mail five times and Mother replied in somewhat of a huff “We don’t sign through the mail. Maybe something like this, with all those other signatures, 14947878_1328900170487736_4476655803444070759_nbut we usually don’t.”

Um, you don’t sign anything Mom. Your daughter is the “talent”. And do you think that answer of yours endears me more to the two of you…or less?

Still, I’m actually a bit dismayed about the addition of media guests to Akron Comic Con (and I’m totally a hypocrite on this by the way, as I was patronizing them nevertheless!). One of the great things about this show has always been that it was a pure comic show. They dipped their toe in the water last year inviting Tim Procter – a bit player from the Walking Dead with a reasonable autograph charge, but who also was an artist. He very much fits here. Addy Miller at his table is somewhat an extension to that, but really on the line. Reb Brown and Jackson Bostwick however are very firmly on the other side of that line, being noting but media guests, and ones that are used to the convention circuit at that. It doesn’t help that Jackson’s pricing wasn’t clearly displayed, and a little higher than I would like. Reb did have a sign up, but I know there were con goers that were confused by his fees, and man, 100_3179have they gone up! I though I paid too much for his autograph and that photo at Wasteland a few years ago, but he’s joined the $40 club now and I don’t think his scrawl is worth that. It’s also not the kind of fees we’re used to seeing at Akron. There’s been a real reluctance to add media guests to this show, and I completely understand it. You can even tell by exactly who Akron is inviting that it’s sort of a compromise, but still, it’s the direction they are heading in. I wonder what will happen next year when they combine it with Monsterfestmania?

Also a quick shout out to OOAKrafts. You’re rude. I’m sorry I was standing in the vicinity of your table talking with a friend I haven’t seen since Februrary. I assure you, no one was staring at us and deciding not to visit your booth because of us. That is the second time you’ve been rude to me in this manner, asking me to “move along”. While my daughter loves the hat she got from you at Lake Effect Comic Con, I assure you, you will never see another dollar of my money again.tumblr_og68drb7iy1u3k379o1_500

Akron Comic Con has grown hugely, moving into a larger space. I think seeing it at the John S Knight Center – it’s like it finally arrived! It’s still my favorite of all the comic conventions I attend – I’ve been coming since year one and it’s been fun to watch it grow. All in all it feels like a  much bigger convention – too big for one post… So today I’ll just leave you with the feel of the show, and we’ll get to cosplayers tomorrow!


Hall of Fame City Comic Con

Conmanhof14433166_1286213531423067_5556665941654163354_nIs it just me or is that a very, very long name for a convention? It’s also a kind of a long drive – and traffic was not kind. I first heard about Hall of Fame city comic con around the time AllAmericon was in full swing. The draw for me here, like AllAmericon, was the guests. I had already met Jim Steranko, but they were bringing in George Pérez and Howard Chaykin. That’s a pretty big deal. Perez in general is a huge deal, and a massive catch… But Chaykin matters as well. Before there was a vertigo imprint at DC comics Chaykin really was the linchpin of their mature readers line with his revamps of both Blackhawk and The Shadow. He’s returned to the Shadow at Dynamite comics as well as being the powerhouse behind a whole slew of creator owned comics.

HOF had a couple of problems right off the bat – mostly communication issues. First and foremost, they specifically answered a convention goer’s Facebook question about parking… Stating there are plenty of free parking on site. T14440658_1286211811423239_6658250298626736782_nhis ended up not being the case and if you want to park in the convention hall lot, you were going to drop six dollars. Just as much for a couple of surrounding spaces as well. I flew my little Superman Honda straight past the convention hall, and found a quiet little side street to park on about a block away – it was there that I started to unpack my doctor octopus costume. ( an old man came out of his house and asked me what all this was…was I there to spray for bugs?).

Ock has been upgraded, it’s something I’ve been meaning to do since his appearance at Neo comic con last year. It’s one of those outfits that for me, has always been about the engineering – a way to make or four arms move. When I first deputed at Lake Effect some four years ago, it was even simpler. Sunglasses and tinfoil insulation around my arms, with duckbill flappers instead of claws. For NEO, I had the bright idea of adding in a 14462920_10154142865783853_8921292067643440835_ncouple of grabbers from the dollar store – this necessitated a few more lengths of tinfoil insulation, but that at the happy effect of making my arms much longer than they had been previously. I liked it. The thing is those arms while practical, don’t have the absolute fantastic look to them that I see on so many other cosplayers. It was time to upgrade those tentacles. I enclosed the insulation with rings and rings and rings of foam, detailed and painted to look like a pig iron. I also added a waistband this time around.  It’s a detail that you don’t see in every incarnation, but for this particular look I felt like it would be a great place to do a little bit more dremeling and perhaps add some lights. I had hoped to add a couple of strings of EL wire through the octopus arms as well, but never managed to get around to it.  Still the effect was everything I had hoped for, and this time round I added a new innovation– attached to one of those grabbers from the dollar store, I worked in a selfie stick that once properly attached and turned on, I could take photographs from my phone at any time. (When you get to the end of this article, there’s going to be a LOT of Ock selfies. Sorry about that….)

Traffic held me up, and I was running late anyhow. Instead of arriving around noon-ish as I had hoped to, I arrived 14446004_545454132307303_5851712154395218899_nat ten minuets ’till one. I was immediately greeted by convention goers just outside of the hall, who informed me that the registration for the costume contest was just about to close! I panicked, and they were nice enough to open the door for me as I swept in got my admission and begged them to let me sign up late!

A side note here, I am never doing Dr Octopus again unless I have a handler. I underestimated the difficulty of doing certain things… Opening doors, swiping my phone or changing it to sort the mode with my class stylus, stuff like that. When I got to the admission table I leaned over and the ticket taker cheerfully plucked the $10 admission fee out of my lab coat pocket then wrapped a wristband around one of my Ock claws. I immediately ran into friends Taylor and Nick who were both kind enough 14369865_1286217528089334_7062448235767755552_nto be my hands when I needed them. It’s one of those things I love about the cosplay community – socializing and getting to know everyone while we wait in the line-up for the costume contests… One person was nice enough to turn on the lights on my lower claws, another was nice enough to turn on the lights on my midsection. Everybody took selfies with me and giggled at the octopus arms with the cell phone attached! It was a great group, very friendly and everybody was so happy just to be there. There were dozens of Harley Quinns, there were actually two Bob’s burgers groups… Who would’ve thought that? There was a bubbly, friendly Supergirl who I had enormous fun discussing the Supergirl TV show with. It’s so nice to be able to gush about such a perfect Superman series! I’m jealous, she’s got Melissa Benoist’s autograph!

We all ended up in the line up for a while, but once that costume contest began, they got every through at an impressive speed, and everyone watching seemed to really love what they were seeing. There was such a wonderful diversity of outfits, not just super heros and villians, but horror characters like Freddy and Ash, in addition to anime and game characters! as I headed towards the stage i realized the unthinkable had happened. My Goggles, which were on my forehead had completely fogged up. when I slipped them down I was blind! I pushed them back up and gingerly negotiated the stairs, making my way to the “X” mark. As the announcers were introducing me, I grabbed the goggles with an Ock arm. There was a fine layer of perspiration on my forehead, making it easier to slide the goggles down then stared blindly at the big  dark blob that I could only hope was the audience. Behind me, the announcer from Heroic Adventures was delightedly shocked. “Did you just move the glasses down with the arm? Like in the movie?” Ryan, in his gender bend Katana outfit, insisted on us all taking a selfie with the Ock arms  right there and then before I left the stage! (Big thanks to Amenisty Cosplay for shooting this!)

As I passed through one hall, a flash of light went to buy my eye and I heard crashes done I turned and found light saver battles going on in an empty room.you know, I’ve said it more than once but it really is true – it’s just not a party until the light savers come out.

14463057_1286216851422735_956221891079947432_n14433082_1286217914755962_6069680817035874901_nWith over 2000 people in attendance, crowd control was occasionally a problem… Especially for a guy with four extra arms who was larger than he is used to being. I managed to get around, but the artist alley where the cosplay booth was set up always seem to be shoulder to shoulder. The dealers room was slightly better, with aisles and line set ups for the artists to help manage traffic flow a little bit more efficiently. I was surprised at how small a space the vendor’s room actually was . For such a huge building they weren’t using a great deal of it – the convention really only had the dealers room, hallway antechamber outside of it, and one side room to spread the show across. I can see why they weren’t doing any panels or screenings – the con hadn’t secured enough space.

Howard Chaykin was exactly as advertised. He’s brash, rude and obnoxious. If you’ve ever read any interview with him or heard an editor talk about him, it comes through. He greated us with a hearty “What the f#$% are you just standing back there in line for? Come on up!” He waved us up as he said goodbye to the last people departing his table “People wasting thier entire f@#$%&!* life waiting….”. He eyed us up and down. “Well I see the dignity police have the day off….”

I had a boss like Chaykin. Everyone hated him, but I discovered the trick to dealing with them was to give as good as you get and play along.

“Yeah,” I replied. “That’s why I’m in disguise. Now just tell me one thing; of all the things you could write why Blackhawk?”

Without missing a beat he shot back “Why not?”, then considered the question for a moment and we were o14446028_1288188497892237_5393821480195685266_nff, talking about his fascination with those comics and the concept, hearing about his ideas on the character and his opinions on more recent iterations

The line for George Pérez was endless. Well that’s not exactly true, it was actually the WAIT for George Pérez that was actually endless. Earlier in the day they handed out 100 tickets, and you would come back to check where they were at – if there is no one in line with the ticket then someone without a ticket could come up and get an autograph or sketch. I’m not sure how I feel about this system, if you got a high number you’d be stuck there all day… And that dealers room does not provide enough to do if you were going to be stuck there for say, three hours or so. I was fortunate enough to have friends to hang out with – and God bless Taylor and Nick for hanging out so that they could pull out my comics to be signed and help me lug my swag around. It was fun running into Sean and Mike as well, not to mention the Rubber City Cosplay group with all the familiar faces there. it’s one of the fun things about doing the convention circuit, you run into a lot of the same people despite there being significant distance between everyone normally. The dealers room wasn’t bad, I was pleased to see some booths that I’m not familiar with, not to mention several 50 Cent bins. Not as many deals as I would normally be hunting for, but 14369892_545448045641245_2038040652420621344_nthat didn’t seem to be bothering anybody else.  The atmosphere was happy and cheerful – everybody was having a great time. That’s certainly a good sign for first-year.

Still, there is room for improvement. The parking situation needs to be addressed, and I think this convention may have outgrown its space within its first year. I would really like to see more programming going on, if you’re going to bring in a few top-level talent like this, I’d love to hear them speak.  I know that can be difficult, Steranko and Perez’s lines never ended, and according to the organizer, both Steranko and Perez declined to do a panel because they didn’t want to leave people standing in line (But shouldn’t the ticketing strategy solve that? Perhaps not. It didn’t seem to be working out as ideally as it might). Still, as much as I enjoy the shopping and the hobnobbing with friends – I want more.  I think Hall of Fame City Comic Con really could offer more as well, and become one of the essential stops on the Ohio convention circuit. I’m curious to see what happens next year, and cautiously optimistic. I’m not entirely certain I’ll be back next year…

But I assure you, I’ll be watching.

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NEO ComicCon 2016

Conman13900058_1248729585171462_8641836058654792124_nYou can tell by the flyers and artwork that the promoter of NEO ComicCon  tries hard to keep a fun and light atmosphere for his show. It’s kept that same atmosphere from it’s inaugural year in 2015, yet in some ways it feels like it’s taken a few steps back.

NEO brings some great vendors to the show, people like Fear’s Confections and the TRACE Doctor Who Drama. There’s cosplayers like Knightmage and local fan favorite comic talent like Dan Gorman, Ted Sikora, Marc Sumerak and Tony Isabella. Even Jason Fitch and Rick Lozano were there to promote their upcoming American Knight. It’s a fine guest list with plenty to see here and a dealer’s room big enough to take a bit of time to explore. In particular I found the booth with a TON of vintage Star Wars to be fascinating (and I have a couple friends who spent more than a little of their time there!). There’s deals to be had here to, though you have to dig just a bit more than just trying to spot the .50 bins. I found two of Checker’s Gold Key Star Trek collections for $3 each (originally $23 each) as well as a couple of issues of the Solution that I’ve never seen. I grabbed art cards for the girls at 13906613_1248729938504760_7067345602641988159_nGorman’s table and was sorely tempted by some of the creepies at Straw Dog’s booth.

The big problem however, was the dealers room was all there was this time around. There was no programming, no panels, no screenings, nothing. Last year I praised NEO for taking some time to actually do some panels in addition to everything else. This year, they sacrificed the programming for more dealers room space. And indeed, while it was SO much easier to get around this year, the lack of programming was sorely missed. Like I said, a step backwards.

What NEO ends up as….it’s more than a Bazaar, but slightly less than a full fledged convention. I had great fun today, meeting up with friends, taking photos, playing Cards against Humanity in the bar. However, if I’d have come alone, I would have done the dealer’s room in an hour and left. It explains all those cars I saw leaving again as I drove in. There was nothing to keep them there. I’d liek to see more going on here, and perhaps the move to a different location (down the freeway a bit in North Olmsted) will help facilitate that. I like NEO and the philosophy behind it, and I only hope it moves forward next year at NEO 3.0!