It’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 smaller 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 stopped 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
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.
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
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants (otherwise free)
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
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)
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
Denny O’Neil (Heros alliace tip jar)
Tip Jar -Comic Book Leagal Defence Fund
Brian Michael Bendis (Be prepaired to wait a long time in line)
Fred Van Lente
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)
I 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 the 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 Moon, 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!!!
You know, it was getting manageable… That stack of comic books on the end table – the one near my spot on the couch was down to a reasonable size.
Then free comic book Day occurred.
I want to step back for a moment and think about how good we have it here in the Cleveland area – we are almost spoiled by the abundance of comic book shops and fandom events within easy reach. On Free Comic Book Day in particular, we have the midnight party for the Free Comic Book Day release at Carol and John’s Comic Shop. The first people in line arrived about 9o’clock Thursday night – and waited all the way up to midnight Friday night to receive a full set of the Free Comic Cook Day releases (and dubious bragging rights….). I’m not nearly that dedicated. I came out after work, arriving about 5:45 to set up my little village in line. Several chairs, some for my neighbors as well as myself, a table, and a carpetbag bag full of games and crafting supplies. I wanted to try something different out this year – a mash-up of every superhero I could possibly think of. I crafted a Thor hammer and half a Cap shirt while waiting in line. I then added a green lantern ring, Iron Man armor, then pulled my Batman mask over my Spider-Man mask, pulled up a pair of thing pants underneath a wonder woman belt and added a superman cape. I refer to this look as “Everyman”.
Seriously though, you would not believe how fast six hours flies by amid all this chaos… Wandering up and down the lines, and visiting friends while observing the random hijinks that occur around us. A group of dancers spontaneously began to preform in the street. The Ghostbusters car screamed into the parking lot with lights and siren going. A police car blasting the Darth Vader theme cruised by as Daft Punk danced and puzzled over baby Groot. All up and down the line, people were playing games – you can see Magic tournaments and hero clix battles. I stopped by the Scooby’s corner to join them in a game of Cards Against Humanity is for a bit. My friends and I greeted old friends and new friends – we posed for pictures, and we constantly made fun of poor Steph who has probably never been called a “trash panda “nearly so many times in one setting before. (indeed, I think my favorite part of the night was watching rocket raccoon get carded at the restaurant… The server looked at her license, shruged her shoulders and said “I don’t know why I’m even doing this… I’d never have guessed this with you! “)
Coming straight from work, I have to admit that doing the midnight release party always makes for a long day… Every single time, I find my social anxiety which tempt me to just stay home, and every single time I’m glad that I did. This is the event that everyone comes out to. I sometimes see certain friends at comic club, others I see at conventions, others I see when I do charity events, but for Free Comic Book Day, it seems like I see everybody I know!
After collecting books I beat a hasty retreat back home – because I’d be getting up again and returning in 10 hours or less!
The daytime events always seem a little bit more subdued compared to the evening events – though perhaps that’s just because of the early time that I’m arriving (got to snag that special book by Marc Sumerack before they run out!). I made it back in line at Carol and Johns just in time to get interviewed by the Plain Dealer and appear in the newspaper on Sunday. I chose a much more manageable costume, donning The Penguin outfit I had put together for the premiere of the Lego Batman movie.
It’s interesting, I managed to run into a very different group of people during the daytime events as I hopped from shop to shop in an attempt to acquire the 30 or so books that I was interested in (out of the 50 offered this year). Written in chalk all over the sidewalk and walls leading up to Carol and Johns were the phrase I am Groot… Children’s chalk drawings later the sidewalk and I stood in line that was significantly shorter than last year – the weather was definitely keeping some people away, but we wouldn’t let this deter us (though it did keep me down to only hopping between three shops!)
The guys at Comics are Go managed to save an Animal Jam comic for my daughter Maddie (she, her mother and sister along with several friends were having a mother-daughter tea party at the restaurant about three doors down – I joined them afterwards at the comic shop for free comic book Day). When Maddie brought over one of her friends they dug through the stock in the back and thier own personal pulls in the back to find an issue for her as well. This is why Comics are Go is still my home shop (with Carol and John’s being a close second and my alternate – after all I work on that side of town). It’s not the five for a dollar bins that they had set out (and man did I hit those things hard – I brought home 30 new issues from there!) or the creators they bring in like Rick Lozano or Dirk Diggler… No, it’s the personal service and the guys that work there that really make all the difference.
Across town, Jerry over at Strongsville Hobby made sure that I filled my gold book quota– as well as snagging an extra copy of The Tick for a friend of mine who are just moved and didn’t have any comic shops near her. It’s one of those things that makes me realize just how blessed we are in this area… I know I’ve said that already, but it bears repeating. Jerry has taken in the spirit of Free Comic Book Day a step further, offering a bunch of the one dollar image preview books as freebies right along side of the normal FCBD picks… I grabbed a bunch of back stock that he had on half off and waved goodbye as he donned his Batsuit, collected Supergirl and Deadpool to head off in greet the kids at Free Comic Book Day events at local libraries.
I ended my weekend by gathering up the family and heading over to Amherst Cinema for a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. It seems like this happens every year- my friends all hit the years movie on Thurs or Fri and I don’t make it out until Sunday evening! Admittedly, some of that has to do with me holding out for a screening at Amherst Cinema (all seats are $4.00!) but sometimes it’s just that I can’t make the schedules work.
Guardians is the rare comic movie that my wife wanted to see. Maddie was a little reluctant and not in the mood to go out, but I think she may just have loved it more than any of us!
“Look! It’s Howard the Duck!” She exclaimed in disbelief, leaping from her seat in the middle of the crowded theater as my wife and younger daughter giggled Their way through the film.
A perfect way to end our FCBD adventures. I hope yours was just as productive. (and by the way, if in northeast ohio, check out my FCBD stops!)
You 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 Gorman’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!
It’s more weird. The Hellraiser comics were popular enough, with stunning cover art. A lot of people flocked to the awful Pinhead limited series, but this one kind of slipped under the radar.
Hellraiser is a niche audience. So is Marshall Law. Putting them both together gets you an even more rarified audience, no a wider one, so it’s no wonder this kind of came and went without notice.
I get the impression that there is far more Marshall Law influence here than Hellraiser, though it has some interesting ideas, it’s mnostly hack and slash drenched in satire and heavy handed social commentary.
It’s worth picking up out of a dollar bin for the sight gags and simply as a curiosity, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to seek it out.
I’ve made no secret that I wholly lifted the concept for my novel CONundrum from this, though past the premise the stories aren’t even close. The idea of a rom com at an annual convention though is just brilliant. It appeals to me at a very basic level because I’ve been going to conventions since I was 12. I started with Star Trek cons and moved on to horror. These days it’s evenly balanced between horror and comicons, with the occasional anime cone thrown in, but really, no matter what the subject matter is, the conventions experience is universal. I knew exactly what they are talking about in this series and honestly, this happens. You go to the same con every year, you keep running into the same people. You occasionally hobnob with the guests at the bar or in the restaurant. You might even fall in love (I’ve been to two weddings at Cinema Wasteland alone).
The story isn’t just a romance though, I’m not that big a girl. It’s honestly funny. You can tell the author has logged a whole bunch of hours behind a con table. The humor is respectful. She doesn’t make fun of the con experience, we’re in on the joke.
I initially found this in three single digest volumes at the Library, and then immediately ran over to Borders and bought them. Since then it’s been collected into one volume with a little bit of extra content. Go for that one, and if it’s no longer on the shelves, hit up Amazon. If you’ve ever spent time at a sci-fi, comic or anime con (especially if you were or are younger), trust me. This story is for you.
I think we’ve pretty well established that I am a DC person. I have always been a DC partisan. I think a lot of it has to do with when I really came in to comics – those years in the late 80s especially for a fascinating time for DC where they were dabbling in deconstruction long before it was fashionable. There were new prestige projects coming out it seemed, every month (books like the ones pictured above)– and I would gaze at them longingly in the ads that sat in the back of my Star Trek and Superman books. These were very hit or miss, but they were daring. Vertigo came around and changed everything, sorting all of that sort of thing into one place, and in some ways it feels like it tamed those tendencies. It’s certainly redirected them.
Still, even within the mainstream titles things felt different – like they were growing up. I saw themes and elements in Superman that I didn’t remember being there in the silver age, Batman was more violent, the JLI bickered and were dysfunctional – it all felt like DC was really trying to focus on writing and storytelling in an era that, as we rode into the 90s, seemed increasingly focused on art over a story – with superstars like McFarlane and Liefield creating a house style at Marvel that would eventually migrate over to Image… But never seemed to affect DC.
The point being – I never read X-Men. Even when I was a young kid, picking up Spiderman and Superman comics, I always avoided X-Men. Something about the pointyness of their costumes always bothered me – it’s a crazy aesthetic peeve, but it’s pervasive in the 80s X books. The shoulders of Colossus costume, Nightcrawlers too– Jean Grey’s mask and wolverines whole outfit… So many points you could cut yourself just by looking at them! There was a exception, I do remember finding a copy of the Asgard wars and really enjoying it… But it was an anomaly. I was still by and large, reading DC comics even when this volume fell in my lap. It had the advantage of featuring the New Mutants, which was an idea I really loved. Even though I wasn’t a fan of Marvel and X-Men, I was aware of the distinction between the main team, and the team of students – in fact it would be the gateway for me to enter that universe later on.
Asgard Wars also had the great advantage of introducing me to some of my favorite characters in the X-Men universe – in particular, Kitty’s dragon named Lockheed. Even without knowing much more about him then that particular story, I would be doodling and cartooning him for the next 10 years… Going so far as to have one of my birthday cakes done in the shape of his character. Is it wrong that I was far more amused and intrigued by Lockheed then I was by Kitty? It kind of shows my complete disconnect from X-Men as I was growing up.
The other character that I fell in love with in Asgard Wars was Warlock. He is written and drawn in such a fascinating way throughout this entire story – quirky and funny and unpredictable. I would go on to collect tons of New Mutants later on in my life, always looking to recreate some of that same feeling of fun and whimsy that I got when I first read this book. They never quite found his voice again though. I was always disappointed that no one else quite captured how much fun this character could be and I have never loved him as much as I do in this book.
Still, other than this I was not reading X-Men. I had a friend back in high school, whose name was Tim – he didn’t read any other comics but X-Men… And he had been reading them for probably 10 years or more. He spoke fondly of it and had a real commitment to the series that I just didn’t understand.
It was about this time, the very early 90s, that I finally found myself dabbling. The Jim Lee run had exploded, and the cartoon was right around the corner, paving the way for what is arguably the most recognizable version of these characters since the brown suit Wolverine Claremont Era.
It started, as I mentioned with New Mutants, although at that point they were no longer the New Mutants – so rather it began with X-Force. It wasn’t the first issue, I believe we were somewhere around issue 19… A good jumping on point, as the team changes its roster a bit, changes its costumes, and attempts to go on without its leader. It was a good time for X-force, Fabian Nicieza was in full effect on the book and the next six months would be a fun story arc that gave you a real sense of continuity and a feel for the direction the book would be taking. The growth of the characters also was appealing to me. They had grown from High School kids into College age people. Sam had really grown into himself, and I was really having fun reading characters like Boomer and Rictor.
In the meantime, the X-Men cartoon was taking the community by storm, making the X-Men more popular than ever – and it was enough to suck me in, and was a very simple sidestep from X Force.
The thing is, the X-Men of this era were very superhero oriented – accessible but comparatively vapid. Classic villains would show up, but for no other reason than it was time for them to appear in the book. There were spurious tires to classic characters and storylines – even then I was aware of Clarmont epic run – who wasn’t? But this had really mutated into standard superhero soap opera fare. And that’s okay, but it still lacked that special spark that made my friend Tim such a devotees of this series. That’s not to say that there aren’t great points here – this is the series that took me from a mere interest in Rogue to absolutely loving her, it’s the series that brought us Gambit. And then there’s the white issue – this particular story tears me up every single time. Also coming out around this era was thier attempt to launch a new book to fill the New Mutant’s shaped hole that X-Force’s graduation to College age left in the mutant line of comics. The result was Generation X – a book that I absolutely adored. To this day I feel it got sabotaged by the hiatus caused when Age of Apocalypse started…but I digress…you can read all about that in a short article over here – https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/in-defense-of-generation-x/
In recent days I’ve noticed a lot of the wonderful Essential volumes dropping in price – I frequently see them for five dollars, although Carol and Johns recently had a sale with them priced as low as three. I’ve been picking these up at conventions a lot, most recently at Great Lakes Comic Con and decided to take some time and really try to explore this classic Era.
What is fascinating is to encounter some of these storylines for the first time – Silver Samurai and the Brood and the Hellfire club, they all fit better in this period… They are introduced organically rather than the way they feel shoehorned in later on in the series. A lot of those stories I remember from the cartoon, I’m finally experiencing the source material – indeed, I’m coming in right around the time when my favorite little guy Lockheed was introduced! There is a strong continuity here, one of the things that appealed to me so very much about the Superman comics during the Byrne and Ordway Era. It seems like it would be hard to just drop in to this series though, and it’s one of the reasons I think I’ve always found it so inaccessible – it takes a commitment to read the stuff.
There is a better understanding of these characters to be had though, with a lot that I expected as well as some character development perhaps I hadn’t expected. Cyclops, who I generally find insufferable, is far more interesting in these stories – there is more to him than the stuffed shirt we get so used to in the 90s Era. It’s interesting to see characters like Yukio The Ronin show up here. I know her from the early Phalanx prologue with Storm, it was an issue I originally bored because I thought I saw Jubilee on the cover. You can hardly blame me for making this mistake can you? I mean take a look below at the image of the way Yukio is drawn in this issue compare it to how she is drawn in essentials number four. I’ll chop them up and put them side-by side.
I swear she has de-aged… Honestly, I like the way Paul Smith draws her better – there is more character on her face, she’s not as pretty, but still has that impish Full-of-life attitude and it’s far more evident in her face and body language. I’m looking at that later issue now, and she still looks like Jubilee to me.
As I read on, it occurs to me to wonder if the success of X-Men during this period is about Claremont or about how well they fit into the 80s. Kitty is a quintessential 80s girl. I’m not even sure what it is about her, she’s not a stereotype but everything about her screams 1980s – her posture, the body of her hair (no Aqua net, not high or teased or anything like that, just the body and shape), The way she carries herself, her drive and her attitude – the same is very true of Jubilee, who is a quintessential 90s slacker girl. The problem with these characters however is that they root themselves or the stories and the team in that particular time frame. Still, they work so well in that time frame. More then any other era, Wolverine’s cowboy hat looks right at home here, cyclops is large glasses work better here, The technology juxtaposes better against the warm wood furnishings of the 80s mansion and it feels more fantastic… a period before high-technology became commonplace in our lives.
These days it seems like X-Men bounces between trying to be relevant, and trying to be familiar to those who have only seen the films. There are still fun periods, in particular I was enjoying the run about eight years ago where things have kind of reverted to a simpler adventure format – coming out of the Grant Morrison run. It was fun, and simpler and we were seeing the best elements of the best costumes rolled into modern interpretations.
Today, it seems we have gone in the other direction – that continuity that I spoke of earlier? Today it’s wound so tightly across the titles in the series, that much like the avengers books, it becomes insular and difficult to drop in and out of. Over the years, we’ve picked up so many different characters along the way that it feels like they need to shoehorn them all into the series at some point or another as well focusing on a cohesive team that works well together and has chemistry. It’s hard for me to get into the X-Men comics of today.
Perhaps that’s why I’m looking to the past.
It has a very 80’s style to it – sometimes almost an RPG look, with it’s dystopian space adventures, but that’s kind of the cool thing about it. Remember, this was being published at a time when sci-fi comics were like Atari Force or Omega Men or Guardians of the Galaxy – all spandex superheros in space. This is more like Mad Max in a starship…at least until we hit around issue 10 and it starts to get more spandexy…….
Still, it’s got some good imagery and tends to be a fun ride. The series ran 17 issues and is worth buying for .50 an issue, maybe even a dollar if you’re feeling generous. They’re getting harder to find though as the 80’s inches farther and farther away from us.
Maddie and I headed out to Warren Michigan this weekend for Great Lakes Comic Con. I broke a couple of my rules this time around actually, the first one being I don’t like to take the girls out to shows I haven’t checked out ahead of time. I’ve never been to this one, and it’s a bit of a drive. I broke the same rule last week taking Lydia to the Anime con in Akron I suppose, but that one I had a little more confidence in, where as this one I really didn’t know what I was walking into – still, Maddie is getting older and she’s able to hang out a lot longer at one of these things. In fact, she made it through entire show! Eight hours is impressive for a 10-year-old…
The second rule that I broke was a big one. In general you never want to wait until the day of the event to try out a new costume. Unfortunately, I had such an enormous time crunch with Man at Arms that I didn’t have time to really give it a try out. You see, you want to put the whole thing on at least once, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, or half an hour – you just want to see how it feels, what it’s like going on and coming off, what it does to your peripheral vision, can you sit, how big are you….stuff like that. I had in fact, tried on all the parts individually, I knew that the undershirt was stiff, and I knew that the breastplate would squeeze my head going through and that my arm would be a little tight on the shoulder pad side. I knew that I’d have to wriggle to get the belt on, but that the elastic would stretch and contract enough to keep at snug. The problem is, I hadn’t done them all together – and that would come back to bite me later.
The outfit was actually surprisingly comfortable, it seems I learn a little bit more each time and make one of these – I had full range of movement, and because of the fingerless gloves, I didn’t lose my fine motor skills. Kneeling was still a challenge but I could run! That was important considering how cold the day was – trips between the car and the convention centre need to be short, especially since Maddie didn’t want to wear her jacket for fear it would cover her She-Ra costume. The suit was warm but not too warm and the helm would make me perspired a bit, but it kept me well insulated during lunch when I had to eat outside (I was too big to fit in the car). The big problem came when I tried to take it off – the plate on the arms did just fine when I was slipping them through the openings on the side of the chestpiece, but taking it off those panels would catch and my arms didn’t seem to want to go back through the breastplate! I had already got my head inside I was trying to pull from the neck (the way I commonly get out of these pieces of armour). Suddenly, from outside of the darkness I heard voices…
“Hey dude you do you need help? “.
“Here, let me give you a hand! ”
“Come on guys let’s give him some help over here! ”
Nimble fingers pushed the plating on my arm in so that it would clear the armhole while pairs of hands grabbed the sides of the armor and pulled, helping me slide out. I looked up and found myself surrounded by every wrestler from the WWF in the 80’s. Sergeant Slaughter was there, the junkyard dog, Macho Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was a group of cosplayers who I had seen in the costume contest as a WW F group – partly because Sergeant Slaughter, the real one, was one of the guests. they’re actually run out and got into a wrestling match in front of the crowd that it was hilarious!
This is really a great example of the goodwill that I saw in between all the cosplayers at great Lakes comic con – it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere, with people chatting to each other exchanging tips and talking about how they built what. When it’s this kind of an atmosphere, this kind of a friendly group – it just makes things so much better. You can see that everybody is here not so much to really compete against each other, but rather to enjoy everybody and enjoy the hobby and just have fun. It makes such a huge difference!
There was a woman dressed in little powder puffs with the sash that read “Tribble Queen” I love that outfit – it was just such a creative and fun idea. I checked out the Lady Predator as well, she had the actual countdown from the movie running on her wrist. It was an app on her phone and she had created a gauntlet on which she could mount it – just brilliant.
I chatted with an amazing Swamp thing. Seriously, look at this outfit for a moment. He created every bit of it. He covered his face with Rice Krispies, then did a life cast which he pulled a latex mold of. He cast the hands and feet. The amount of detail and work here is amazing.
There there was this one person dressed as Shak-Ti from the Star Wars expanded universe. Johnyaya over at Skeletons in Spacesuits talked with her a bit about the costume; The entire headset was shaped foam with thick paint and some sort of sealer. I didn’t believe her. She replied “No one does. Touch it.”
To my utter shock they managed to get through 50 contestants in the adult costume contest and did it in 20 minutes! Seriously, I love Akron Comicon, but they could learn a thing from the organization and way they pulled this off!
I think the kids Contest one longer actually, fewer participants and a little bit more opportunity to do stuff for the judges. There are some marvelous kids costumes as well, including a Jedi who had an Ewok friend that she puppeteered as a marionette! That was amazing! The little Hawkgirl was beautiful and so well done, her father, a golden age Flash was equally impressive.
Saturday was a little light on panels, although what they did have was marvelous. Most of the talks were held in a little unmarked room tucked away on the side of the convention center by the snack bar – not a lot of space for people, but they weren’t well attended either… It seems like this is a smaller component at this show, and I understand. I give them props on this, that there was a lot of other stuff going on as well – they had an amazing retro arcade set up in one corner courtesy of Big Toys Arcade. The booth was filled, complete with pinball and about half a dozen video game machines all set on free play. There was one Transformers pinball machine set to take quarters, with the proceeds going to charity. Very cool, and a great idea. The arcade was possibly Maddie’s favorite thing to do during the day, and we visited it several times. I had a great deal of fun on the X-Files pinball machine, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like these days and I miss pinball – Maddie was digging some of the arcade machines, especially the multicade cabinet that was running six different games, which ever one you would choose. All cabinets were up for sale and this just seem like a clever way to show them off as well as provide an activity at the convention. While it is normal for Anime Convention is to have game rooms, it’s not quite as common at comic conventions and I love that they’re lifting this idea from the animation shows.
There were also killer photo ops around the convention center. The 501st legion was there of course, and with them were some droid builders who brought some of thier creations with them. Not just an Artoo, the one you commonly see it is shows – they had several different robots around including trade federation droids and that little weird orange Artoo knock off that we see in the background of a lot of Star War. A Kylo Ren was available for photo ops along with a bevy of storm troopers, and they dominated a corner of the show.
Taking up residence in the opposite corner, were the Great Lakes Ghostbusters. Now I’m familiar with the Ohio Ghostbusters, I see these guys a lot on the convention circuit but the Great Lakes Ghostbusters is a chapter that I have not run into before. They have their own Ecto-1, a car which we were delighted to take photos of and in front of. They also had a table full of paraphernalia, game and props, including the new proton packs from the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. The Ghostbusters arcade game sat all lit up in the back of thier corner, unplayed. Tthat’s kind of a shame, it probably should’ve gone over in the arcade which was right next door to them…
One of the ghostbusters was wearing a slime blower that actually sprayed soap bubbles – not big ones, but suds. It was hilarious to watch him hose down the kids in the crowd, or occasionally go after one of his ghostbuster brethren. I’ve been thinking about making a Slime Blower myself, and I chatted with them a little bit about the recipe, because I really loved that it was able to shoot something like this that evaporates immediately but has such a dynamic visual impact!
I wanna know what was up with the armored ghostbuster they had with them that dressed all in black… Dude that was the scariest looking ghostbuster I have ever laid eyes on!
Further down, past the artist alley into the guest area stood huge oversize Transformers. What I didn’t realize, was that these were actually costumes – at certain times during the con, Optimus Prime would come to life as somebody climbed in him. They also removed the panel from the Grimlock to show the dazzlingly complicated interworkings that would allow it to walk – just amazing.
Sadly, Tom Cook had to cancel for health reasons and I was disappointed not to get to meet him – but Jeff Lee, the creator of the video game and character Q-Bert was amazingly friendly and a lot of fun to talk to. He loaded my daughter up with flip books and a print, then he signed my Q Bert Atari 2600 cartridge. He was really excited to talk about Q-Bert’s appearance in Wreck-It Ralph and to my great surprise he ended up being one of the judges for the adult costume contest. He does stunning paintings, and has had some really fun at pieces done with Q-Bert as the subject – you absolutely need to check him out over his website http://www.jeffreyplee.com/blog/.
I brought a stack of books for Pat Brodrick to sign, and while I was there I bought a beautiful print of the Shadow that he had done! This was really exciting, as I’d seen this image before but never owned it. I chatted with him a little bit about what it was like to work on Batman year three – he mentioned he had been really excited to be in on that book and doesn’t understand why they haven’t collected it yet, I was just talking to do you see the other day about that.” Broderick was charging three dollars a book to sign, which was a little bit disappointing but still more affordable than any celebrity autographs. I’m not liking this trend, but as long as the prices stay down I can weather it.
Larry Hama, who wrote all of the GI Joe comics for Marvel and picked the series back up just a few years ago had a sign up declaring he would autograph two items for free. I love this – completely reasonable and understandable. I had brought four books (those little G.I. Joe digest size editions that Marvel used to put out with three issues per book – I’ve always had great affection for these) but was utterly content to walk away with only two of them signed. It was great to meet the man who had created so much of what we understand in GI Joe.
Speaking of GI Joe, the main celebrity guest of course was Sergeant Slaughter! He was a nice and friendly enough guy who genuinely seems to appreciate its fans. I wish you get a different handler though, this guy was the epitome of the bad manager. He was intrusive, a little demanding and just got in the way. Good handlers are invisible, they handle the money and keep the line moving. There is no reason to really be noticeable at all when you’re in an environment like this where there wasn’t a line and nobody was trying to take advantage of the guest. Still, when you look at this picture – it’s the epitome of 80’s cartoons!
Fifty cent bins were plentiful at this show– in fact they were even a couple of booths with a ton of quarter bins! You’re pressing my deal buttons right now… But then again, this is really what I show up at these events for! Even at Broderick’s table those prints that I bought were half off. We saw wonderful toys and some beautiful artwork. Maddie found a Pokémon booth and was going nuts! There were items for more expensive tastes as well, I managed to pick up the Walking Dead compendium vol three for my wife, and there are plenty of expensive books and collectables there as well – but let’s face it, I’m there for the deals and actually, I didn’t take nearly as good advantage of it as I should have. I loaded up on a bunch of the Marvel essentials volumes though, these things are running about five dollars each nowadays and usually have about 20 issues in them – that’s a quarter bin right there in your hand! We found a cute little Wonder Woman necklace for Lydia done in the shape of the pop vynal figures. I almost pulled the trigger on a Bow from She-Ra figure, but the girls aren’t really playing with She-Ra toys as much anymore… Still I’m kind of a regretting not grabbing that guy. There is an amazing booth that was creating sock puppets and Muppets style puppets from recognizable pop culture figures like Deadpool, Spiderman and Superman – these were just incredibly cute. *edit* I searched the vendors list on GLCC’s website to find these guys. The vendor is Ruppets! Seriously, go check them out. The FB page has more pictures than their vendors site, so here’s the link. https://www.facebook.com/ruppits
I really would have loved to have gotten one, but I’m not doing puppet shows anywhere right now and I just don’t know what I would’ve done with one… Kind of the same reason I didn’t grab that Bow figure or that superpowers Clark Kent – not sure where I would display them, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be playing with them.
We missed most of the “how to create our own comic panel”. I think Maddie was hoping for more of a hands on experience the way the Elyria Comic book initiative presents it. However, we stuck around for the thunder cats panel with Larry Kenney. This was a real treat to hear him talk about the philosophy of the show and working on it. There was a fundamental idea behind the stories. They wanted to show the characters trying to talk things out and reason with their foes before or instead of physically battling them. I’m not sure that I agree with his belief that it was less violent then He-Man or G I Joe, but I certainly understand the point Larry was trying to make. It was really interesting to hear him talk about coming back to ThunderCats for the rebooted series – and that the series was actually getting decent ratings, however it wasn’t getting great toy sales and that’s what ultimately doomed the show. Kinney seems to have some real affection for these characters and is somewhat protective of them – that’s fun to see. It was also enormous fun to hear him do other familiar voices, things like Count Chocula or the Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird or even the “taste the rainbow” voice that you here at the end of the skittles commercials!
The moderator of this panel was the show runner, who was also present for the costume contests and was very visible in the show. One of the things that attracts me about Great Lakes Comic Con is the fact that it’s run by a fan and it shows. The philosophy feels very similar to that of Akron Comicon, this show is being run for the love of it, not just as an exercise in profit or a giant cash grab like the Wizard World show that was happening at the same time this weekend in Cleveland. Of the two this is definitely the place I wanted to be. We made good time, 2 1/2 half hours out of Cleveland. It’s still a pretty long drive though. If this event were closer it would absolutely be a regular stop for me. From what I heard, the show grew significantly this year. That’s exciting to hear. I’m eager to see where it goes in the future!
Maddie asked me what he was supposed to be.
“Is he like a giant Teddy Bear?”
“Yes” was the easiest answer.
A baby Mandalorian in teal and pink armor!
The winners of the adult costume contest! Huge thanks to Skeletons in Spacesuits for getting photos of it…Maddie took video but no pictures!
“I’m going to need that guy’s leg.”Ratchet and Clank. The gun lights up with strings of LEDs inside as well as the robot eyes lighting up as well.This was a great take on teh character! Maddie took one look at this guy and told me “He’s going to win the costume contest!”
Maddie is a big Calvin and Hobbes fan (In great part because of it’s similarities to Gail Simone’s Gus Beezer and Marc Sumerk’s Franklin Richards) and she found this little guy – The sign reads “As close to Hobbes as available!”
Maddie reading the Marvel Zombies book she got!