One of my favorite things is discovering videos of events that I pop up in. You may remember that Maddie and I hit hall of Fame City Comic Con a couple weeks ago. Just this morning, these two vids popped up on my feed and I wanted to share them here!
Look, there’s worse things to do on a Sunday afternoon, and much like Cleveland Comic Book & Nostalgia Festival, it’s just a quick two exit hop down the highway after Church. I recall it being really small, but nice enough from the last time I went, so I packed up the kiddo and off we went. We wanted simple costumes so I brought Venom (With a Star Lord jacket because it’s starting to turn cold. Venom has spent time with the guardians. It works) and Maddie brought Todroki. My buddy Josh met us up there in his Cobra Commander costume and in we went.
I have to wonder if Bay-Con is a another casualty of the lockdowns. Last time I went it was WAY bigger (despite being a tiny library style show). The Ghostbusters were parked out front. Stuff was going out in the back, events and vendors. This time around it was limited to a single room, and music playing by the picnic benches out back.
Still we were determined to have some fun. We took photos all over, doing pics and videos of Maddie with the gauntlet, and Josh with his RC Optimus Prime. I thumbed through the comics from Carol and John’s and Maddie found a new book she wanted. I drew some artwork in their artist alley and we grabbed cookies for Maddie’s sister and Mom back home. Maddie ran into friends from school which was especially cool, an the promoters kept trying to get us to sign up fro the costume contest. Sadly it was scheduled for three thirty, and even squeezing a full hour out of this show, we were still ready to go by two.
All in all, not a big day, but not a bad one either. I’m sad though, to see this show shrink rather than grow. Maybe a few years will help. I’m not sure I’ll be back any time soon though.
“And now, it’s time for you to die!“ I heard the high-pitched voice exclaim from behind me. I creamed my head a little bit and noticed the katana blade at my neck! Two teenage Demon slayer girls had come to take down venom.
I have to say, it was actually the highlight of the Jeff Harper show on Sunday. This one’s not really a cosplay show, but I thought I’d throw on venom anyhow. He’s easy to see through and move around in as I go through long boxes in the large flea market going on at the Westlake double tree. Despite not being a costume show, I usually like to wear something anyhow, because parents bring their kids… And this time around, they were a bunch of middle school age teenagers running around, trying to get the most out of their anime costumes, and it gives the young people something to see. I’ve gotta say, the Harper show is pretty chill about it as well, there are times when it feels like vendors don’t want the cosplayers around, but these guys were all chipper greeting me with a “hey Eddie!“ And I never felt unwanted. Of course, I’m also there’s a shop. That’s really what the Harper shows are all about, and this one in particular you can usually find weird offbeat stuff, like the skyscrapers of Oz manga I scored, or the Star Trek manga that I didn’t even know existed! I found another book that plays with next generation concepts in the style of famous writers who never got to do Star Trek… People like and Rice or Stephen King. All of it proves to be an interesting read… And I finally capped it off buying a stack of buckaroo banzai. I’m still trying and failing to understand and appreciate the appeal of the character in the series. It just doesn’t vibe with me, but maybe the comics will help.
Seriously, I must be out of my mind to try and pack three conventions and one weekend. It’s not the same as hanging out at wasteland or concoction for three days… Different venues, different costumes, different style of conventions, it’s exhausting. But the Harper show is a nice way to ease my way out of the weekend, and I came home with a bunch of really interesting stuff. The Sunday show is literally 10 minutes away from my church, which makes it an easy hop over to the hotel, and definitely worth the extra hour or two spent digging.
Besides the fact that it got canceled for a while because of the plague, I have missed a lot of Hall of Fame city comic cons simply because it’s settled into always being scheduled the week of cinema wasteland. However, lately, wasteland hasn’t really been a three day thing for me, and my daughter really wanted to squeeze in as many conventions this year as possible, considering that she had to sit out a year and a half of canceled conventions just as she had started getting into that sort of life. So, I carved up a Skeletor costume, and glued together a Batgirl suit for her and awfully went to Canton.
I will admit, I’ve kind of missed the show. It’s a genuinely good convention with a lot of heart. There’s some smart ideas here, bringing in a couple of big names… Usually one or two big name creators and one or two celebrities. It’s a formula that works both for them and for Youngstown Comicon. I was actually excited to see Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche, but even more so… I was here for Al Snow. Now you may not know this about me, but I’m not a wrestling guy. I’m really not interested in wrestlers at all… But back in the early 2000s, MTV ran a wrestling show called “Tough Enough“ and like all MTV shows, they ran it constantly, and something about Al’s character on the show really spoke to me. I’ve always wanted to meet him, and was really happy when he started on the autograph circuit recently.
Much to my delight he instantly recognized the costume and was actually quite excited for it. “Somebody finally shows up cosplaying the Shadow!“. That’s actually a fun response, and it was enjoyable to chat with him for a little while.
I’ve actually chosen the Shadow so that I could spend about half of the show in a lighter costume that I could move around in… something I could see well in and still have access to both hands. But I was genuinely surprised at how many people recognized the character. The Shadow was getting a lot of love at Hall of fame city, con, with people constantly coming up to me and declaring “who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?“. I did have one young man come up to me and ask “Phantom Stranger?”. I explained to him who he was and described him as a character that Batman had been based largely on. He asked me an interesting question, “is he crazier than Batman? Because at this point, Batman is kind of gone insane…“ I had to think about this for a moment. I replied “I’m not sure, the thing is, with a shadow, there’s not much that human left in there anymore.“ That’s actually kind of cool thing not to just get to talk about your favorite character, but to explore it with somebody who’s new to the hero.
Right around the halfway point, we snuck back out to the car so I can change into my Skeletor costume. I’d been laser focused on this suit for about six weeks, carving the armor from scratch, spray painting the bodysuit to give it an airbrushed look, and installing lights in electronics specifically near the jeweled areas so they would sparkle more. I’d run out of time though, and was going to end up wearing a mask rather than doing a make up. This was a disappointment to me, but in the end, the mask looked just as striking… Perhaps even more so. Much to my surprise, I had noticed earlier that Acheww Cosplay, one of the costume contest judges, had actually shown up also in a Skeletor costume. I wasn’t sure if that was good luck or bad. My friend Micheal from far far away cosplay actually stopped me shortly after I got in, just wanting to take in the whole thing. “How did you know it was me?“ I asked. “The foamwork.“ He replied, nodding slowly. The foam shoes made it difficult to walk in, but I managed to
I’m not sure how long it was before I noticed my belt was slipping. The Velcro hadn’t separated yet, but it was certainly getting loose and causing me problems. I fidgeted and adjusted, while trying to keep my giant shoulder pads above the harness. The first time out in a new costume means that’s when you’re gonna find all the flaws. Still, I managed to shift and push the belt up enough to wedge it against my belly and keep it in place as I tried to chat with the people backstage. In her group, Maddie was having a fine time getting to know the other teenagers in the lineup. She was making friends and reassuring the ones who were nervous about going up for the first time. This is fun stuff that she’s been growing further and further into. She walks into the convention and just breathe it all in, “I am home!”.
I managed to get across the stage and through pre-judging without anything coming apart. I did however get lost on stage and I had to be turned around to hit the proper exit! That was embarrassing enough, but it got even worse when the belt gave way after I was back down in the hall. Dream, the Sandman came to my aid and help me get the thing re-fastened. It held long enough for me to get called back on the stage… And that’s when it popped for good. I took up a place right behind the green goblin, and posed in such a way where it looked like my head was resting on the belt buckle… What was really happening was my elbow was pulled in tight to keep the belt flat against my hip on one side while I angled my staff to press against it on the other side. With photos over, and us getting ready to leave, I finally gave up on trying to keep the suit together and let the ball belt come loose once I got outside. I think in the future I will be securing that thing with hooks rather than Velcro.
I may also need to rig up some sort of a spike or hook to help stabilize the shoulder pads,And remove the chain mail from around them. It’s not doing anything for the look and just getting in the way. Still, this is all the sort of thing that you go through and learn as you’re trying out a new suit. I’m very happy with the way that Skeletor was received at the convention. One person even stopped dead, pointed and said “That’s the movie Skeletor!”, taking in the jewels and the detail. It was a nice discussion about the Masters of the Universe film, and how Frank Langella steals every scenehes in. While the suit isn’t strictly meant to be the movie version, it’s certainly influenced by it. Likewise, Maddie was having a good day in her new Batgirl costume. We had settled on Stephanie Brown from the current Batgirls comic that I’ve been constantly raving about here. It ended up being a good look for her, and really well received. Like Steph, Maddie is also Distraction Incarnate! It was a nice comfortable suit, something that’s important when you’re putting her in a costume! In fact, Maddie liked the jacket so much she wants a plain version for every day wear. I’m also really proud of that belt. I 3d printed a Batman ’66 Batgirl buckle for her, as well as little black bat accents that I pasted on my standard design foam pouches. We cinched that purple bet at the back with a hook (LIKE WE’RE GOING TO DO WITH SKELETOR DAGNABBIT!) and tossed an old Covid mask and a lovely purple cloak she got from her grandmother on her. It’s just perfect.
We walked away with stacks of comics, new Lego figures and the autograph I’ve been seeking as well as fun memories. Hall of Fame is a good show, and I’m eager to return to it. We’ll see what happens next year!
It was another record year attendance for Toyhio this winter. For the first time, I ended up actually having to stand in line for admission. Not a long line, certainly not as long as the two other lines pressed flat around the wall and winding into the halls. Some of this increase in attendance can probably be attributed to the wrestling guests that Toyhio brought in this time. It’s something they’ve been dabbling with, slowly increasing that guest list. I don’t know wrestling, so I don’t know these people. I don’t know if they’re local or national or what. But if you know, they’re bringing in the attendees. As I came in, I was worried that those were the lines to get into the actual vendors hall, but as I headed down the side passage, looking for the entrance, I suddenly found myself in one of the back rooms full of vendors. That’s when I realized how smart these lines were. They weren’t doing a lot to block up traffic, and the convention has done a good job of accommodating this new crowd.
Of the ones that remain, there’s still challenges to navigate. Both Great Lakes Comic Con and RathaCon are requiring guests to be masked at all times. Quite frankly, I don’t want to drive several hours for a show that I’m just going to have to mask up for, so those are off the schedule this year. So are a number of the anime conventions in the area. A lot of these shows are requiring proof of vaccination. I have my card, and I AM fully Vaxxed, but I am not willing to “show my papers“ just to go into a convention or concert. That’s not a move I support.
Here’s my current con schedule for this year.
(BTW, the three Westlake shows are all Harper shows – basically marketplaces rather than cons, but they’re so close to home that it’s still worth hitting if I have nothing better to do.)
|Mar-5||Horror Realm||Pittsburg||PA||Matthew and Mike|
|Mar-13||Fantasticon||Toledo||OH||Maddie and Matt|
|Mar-20||Cle Comic & Nostalgia||Westlake||OH||Matthew|
|April 8-10||Cinema Wasteland||Stronsville||OH||Matthew|
|May-15||Hazard Con||Erie||PA||Maddie and Matt|
|May-28||Fanboy Expo||Columbus||OH||Maddie and Matt|
|Jun-25||Monster Bash ?||Pittsburg||PA||Matthew|
|Jul-9||Mahoning Comic Con||Youngstow||OH||Maddie and Matt|
|Jul-31||NEO Comicon||N. Olmsted||OH||Maddie and Matt|
|Sep-17||Erie Comicon ?||Erie||PA||Check covid regs|
|Oct-2||Cle Comic & Nostalgia||Westlake||OH||Matthew|
I wasn’t really feeling it this weekend. I honestly wasn’t in the mood for a long drive to Pennsylvania, and my map completely turned me around and added both time and mileage. Still, I was really just coming in to grab a few Elm Street victims, almost everybody I needed to complete my scrapbook.
Brooke Theiss and Toy Newkirk were both supposed to have come to steel city con last year, but the plague shut everything down. Even now, there’s still a certain degree of trepidation and both arrived this time, but masked. It certainly put a damper on things, and I declined photos with them. Still, Toy had some interesting photos with her. Her mother had been on set when she was doing make up tests and getting her lifecast and and taking dozens of photos that she never knew about. She only discovered them a couple of years ago, and had a really interesting collection that gave her a good excuse to talk about the whole process there.
I was particular excited for Breckin Meyer though. I enjoy him in a variety of things, not the least of which are the Garfield movies. I have an unreasonable lot for these. But he’s also fun and stuff with the robot chicken crew and things like rat race. One of his early performances was in Freddys dead… He looks completely different and his voice and dropped yet. It was always strange to see him, and I assumed you with one of the guys I was never going to get in person. It was a great deal of fun to head up and chat with him and get my photo signed. I pulled down my mask and headed in.
“Gahhhhh!” Meyer exclaimed as he jumped back startled. I pulled up the Freddy hockey mask I was wearing, as we laughed over it.
“That is so %$#@&* cool!“ breathed Meyer. “So thanks for coming out and terrifying me today! “
I noticed Tom Arnold didn’t have any line so I decided to run over and see him too. He’s one I’ve been debating on, he doesn’t really get killed by Friday, but he does have a look at cameo in the film and some genuine achievements in his filmography.
Costumes were out in full force as Sunday is the costume contest for the show… The place had violently erupted in anime characters. But there is also a stunning Mothra floating through the place, as well as some interesting bits and pieces… A brilliant J Jonah Jamison and a dead on Hulk Hogan. For my part, I was phoning it in – my freddy/jason top, along with a Hockey mask I had done up in a Freddy theme. It was actually king of fun – people (especially the crafters in the artist alley) kept asking where I had gotten the mask, and I got to walk them through the process of making them!
I ended up sticking around a little bit longer than I had expected because I kept running into friends who wanted to hang out… Some of which I haven’t seen since before the plague started. It made for a longer day, and by the time I left I was wiped. I still insist that steel city is not going to be a regular stop on my route. For the most part I’m trying to avoid the big meat market autograph shows, but it’s nice to know its there, just within reach to sneak out to. Maybe next time I’ll slip over to Evans cemetery on the way home.
The plague doctor lowered her mask and began the arduous track through the crowded isles, teaming with people. She stopped short at the large, dark monster. It’s normal to flash was covered mostly in Scarlett ropes, and she evaluating the spectrum. Then, she selected a small white bag from the top of her staff, and on the sachet of lavender on one of the hooks that made up the spiraling talisman that adorned the top of the Skeksis walking stick. Next to him, a young Gelfling, chained to the monster, just looked on, puzzled and petting her Fizzgig.
That’s right, Maddie was coming with me this year – kind of a necessity since I had no hands and needed someone capapble of handing over money for admission and spaying vendors and stuff.
Akron Canton Comic con has been a regular stop now for a few years. It is one of the best of the Harper shows in the area, not just because of the costume contest that draws cosplayers from all around the area, but also the smart and interesting layout in the larger venue. The artist alley lines the upper level, and continues just by the stairs of the lower area. It means you’re going to have to pass through the artists before you hit the dealers. It’s a nice way of getting them better exposure. The venue also most cinnamon press the snack bar, selling two dollar sloppy Joe’s and hotdogs pop and ice and whatever you need. There’s tables and chairs and open spaces in the upper level for people to eat and hang out out, making this one of the more surprisingly social show.
Social can sometimes be the point. There are certain people in that area like Allie or Jason, that I’m only going to run into at these particular events. And for a lot of people, this was their first time back into the convention world in over a year. I was delighted and relieved to run into Mike, the founder of Akron Comicon, working a booth. He had his own bout with the plague, and this afternoon he actually looked in better health and more positive and spry than I’d seen him, even before the calamity. My teenage daughter was accompanying me, and he actually recognized her first. Not a big surprise, considering my features were completely buried under the full body costume.
In other corners of the show, we ran into a couple that was walking around in Robotech costumes. Never my thing when I was a kid, but my friend Johnny Em turned me onto it by slipping me the novels when I was in my 20s. It’s an amazing series, and fun to see people dressing up with it. I don’t get a chance to talk about it that often. The fellow then reached behind him, into his backpack and pulled out his problem. It was a plate, with what appeared to be a steak and potatoes on it… And I knew immediately which character he was cosplaying. There’s a scene in the middle of the Macross saga, where pilot Ben is just sitting down to dinner. Suddenly the alarm klaxon goes off and he hast to rush off to his veritech plane. He turns back to his dinner, and points at it saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back.”
The heartbreaking irony here, is he never does make it back. Something you don’t realize at the moment… It’s just a funny line that becomes heartbreaking a few chapters later. A little touch like this on the prop, it just takes the costume to a whole new meta level.
Maddie found an Avatar poster from one of the artists in Artist Alley, and absolutely fell in love with it. Was one of the first things that she bought, and it’s one of those things that I always enjoy seeing my kids buying art from the vendors, not just toys or books. For my part I hit the 50 Cent bins at Hazel’s Heroes pretty hard, flipping through them, even while in the Skeksis costume. Of course, that meant that when it was time for the costume contest, I had to find a way to hide the bag in my robes. I pushed it up as far as I could into the crook of my elbow and tried to keep that elbow almost past my back, with the bag then melting into the folds of the cloak. Perhaps I should’ve been focusing less on that, because once we got on stage, the sachet from the plague doctor fell off my staff. I reach down to grab it with my Skeksis hand, and a finger fell off. It was a disaster, the costume was falling apart before our very eyes! Everybody smiled and laughed and whore, and Maddie shuffled me quickly off the stage.
After I’d gotten out of the costume, it was back to the floor, where I could better see into the long boxes. I grabbed another stack of trade paperbacks and chatted with some of the people who could now recognize me. There was a Deadpool in a sailor moon costume who you may have recall seeing him at ZipCon back in 2020. (We leared he went by Dead Moon, rather than the SailorPool moniker I’d hung on him last year) He looked at me, aghast.
“THAT’S what you really look like?”
“Look who’s talking!” I laughed. And it was nice being able to chat with people, friends old and new face-to-face.
It had been a long day, and a crowded one. From a purely spectator standpoint, the show seemed like it was more crowded than usual, a phenomenon I’m in countering at every convention I go to this year. We ended up having to park two lots away and walked down to before we got into the show. That’s OK, I’m happy to see that the scene is making some sort of a comeback. We ended the day tired, but happy. And can’t wait to go out and do it again.
If you’re interested in seeing Maddie’s video diary of the event, you can check that out below. Otherwise jump to the pictures!
I was standing there, minding my own business, chatting with Anubis, and all of a sudden the Vulcan threw a care bear at us.
These sort of things just don’t happen to other people.
I attended Lorain Comic and Toy Expo this weekend. This is a small show in its first year, but I really wanted to support it because I want to see conventions coming back… and I admire the sheer chutzpah of trying to launch a convention even at the tail end of the pandemic. It also has a great advantage of being one town over from where I live, as well as trying to draw in cosplayers with a low key costume contest. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters with my new McMandalorian costume, and Maddie was dying to break out her Clementine costume (From The Walking Dead game she’s been playing).
The Lorain show is starting off its first year with a bunch of familiar faces, filling the ball room with a lot of the usual suspects from the LoCo sellers (think the Comicpalooza comic crawl I did last year), as well as vendors from the North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club and my home comic shop Comics are Go. While there were bargains to be found (I managed to hit up a bunch of dollar and 50 Cent bins), The emphasis on these particular vendors slightly skewed more towards collectors pricing then bargain hunting. The upside of that is it creates a dense marketplace. You could probably do the dealers room in 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth your while to go around a few times and spend a couple hours. Every pass we made, Maddie and I spotted new things we missed on our previous trips. It’s also necessary to make a couple of passes when you’re getting stopped from time to time. We’d barely gotten down the first isle when I got pulled away to show up on Captain Crappy and Ms. Fever Blister’s livestream! ( I show up about two and a half hours in)
All in all, it made for a fun day. Maddie did a video on her experiences at the con for her youtube channel and you can find it below.
We found some fun stuff (Maddie was over the moon to find a Glacion Mimikyu plushie!) and had a good day, and definitely plan on coming back for the next one. The promoter has big ambitions, already planning out the next show, expanding it with outdoor activities for kids and at least one wrestling guest for the autograph hounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I’d really love to have a con so close to home.
Basically, when there’s nothing else, you go to a Jeff Harper show! And quite frankly, just as with Toyhio, I want to support the shows that actually dare to go on this year.
Like other Harper shows, there’s no programming, and in this case, only a smattering of vendors, but that didn’t stop me from finding the cosplayers and plundering teh fifty cent bins, scoring some great Green hornet and Deadpool titles!
I headed out to the Toyhio show this weekend. It’s one that I’ve heard it before, but never actually made it out to because it’s so far out… past Akron, past Warren, past Youngstown, so close to the border that if you sneeze really hard, you’ll find yourself in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Toyhio is the first show since the Covid scare to gird it’s loins and say “Yes, I’m going ahead with my event”. I absolutely want to be there to support them, because somebody has to go first.
It’s not what I call a full-fledged convention, there is no programing. Much like the Harper shows, it’s a swap meet, a one day flea market, a wide ocean of toy vendors. I only saw one attendee in a costume, other than the local chapter Starfleet, which had a table with costumed characters and even a tribble throw game, all raising money for charity.
Don’t let that description under sell you though. While it’s all just one vast dealer’s room, it’s one of the biggest ones I’ve been in. The tables stretch on endlessly, wrapping around corners, through the foyer, through doors and hallways or doors… It’s exactly that sort of labyrinthian maze that really appeals to me, with the promise of secret treasures hidden in the furthest depths of the maze. I noted that the promoters had requested vendors to limit dump bins of loose figures, and was pleased to see that they had disregarded that request. I dove in and dug endlessly.
To be clear though, this is really a collector focused show. If you’re the kind of guy who is searching for that one specific transformer where they painted the stripes black instead of white, or that one action figure that they only made 3 1/2 copies of, this is a place for you. Lots of figures behind glass, tons of vintage things that are still sealed in the box. A collector could walk into this room with $1000 of cash in his pocket, and walk out broke. I, on the other hand, am one of those guys always searching for deals. Those are harder to find here, but they do exist. I manage to score some battered he-man vehicles cheap, and wrecked the quarter bins of comics I found, as well as finding the loose Ghostbusters figure I need to customize into a Tracy. By the way, what’s going on with the Real Ghostbusters? They all suddenly shot up in price, both here and online! I’m seeing vintage ones still in the box EVERYWHERE now, and the loose, beat-up figures with no accessories that I was paying 3 to 5 dollars for a year and a half ago or suddenly now are going for 10 to 15!
The real find of the day for me though, was a loose Joker figure from wave one of the superpowers collection. I passed on a ridiculously low priced one several years ago at Great Lakes Comicon, and for me to find him here at that same price… Well I didn’t hesitate this time. He’s one of those figures that fetch ridiculous amounts of money, alongside Batman figures from that line and I never thought I’d actually managed to complete the collection with him on a bill. His suit’s discolored a little, and there’s some paint worn off that I can restore, but all in all, I’m thrilled to have him sitting up there on the shelf with the other figures, right next to the penguin.
Toyhio is a really fun show. I’m pleased to say it was well attended, drawing well over a thousand people with lots of parents bringing kids to browse through the wares. I wish it were closer, because I suspect that it would be a regular afternoon stop once or twice a year, but considering I’m spending as much time driving to and from it as I am lurking through the halls, it’ll probably be a while until I return. Nevertheless, if you’re in eastern Ohio, this should definitely be on your event list!
I decided to end this year’s convention season softly, much the way I began it. I headed out to Genghis Con, which like OddMall is a smaller more eclectic event that I’ve been meaning to get to for years. Genghis Con is a small press, independent and comix event held annually in the Cleveland area. It’s always on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and yet despite being at the same time every year, I always seem to forget about it. This year with a renewed intent to visit shows I haven’t been to before I was determined to finally make the scene here.
Genghis Con has been held in a number of different venues over the years, beginning with the Beachland Ballroom some years back, and more recently finding a home in Lakewood. This year was their first time in the Flats, and I worried about finding parking. I managed to score place on the street a block away from the venue, an old machine and tool factory, and walked the short distance, following other people who seemed to be in the know. The old factory space is a beautiful venue, with strings of lights hung by the wooden rafters and exposed brick, it has a very “arts district” kind of feel which is perfect for this event.
Genghis Con is a much smaller event than your average convention, kind of like the Artist Alley at a comicon – it’s a strange mixture of flea market and art show, with more local talent and lots of underground fare.
There is way more political activism at the show than your usually see in a comic convention, and a wider array of the strange and the weird. I spied creepy Christmas ornaments, weird magazines, comic books and graphic novels and greeting cards.Everybody had buttons and stickers, and I found a bizarre indie pamphlet which chronicled one man’s hobby of designing terrible He-Man action figures – strange customs like Skeletor riding a dolphin or He-Man with inflamed nipples.
Personally I was here for Derf. I had briefly met Derf Backderf earlier this year at the Pekar Park comic fest – a similar event held in Cleveland Heights. Derf had been on hand for a Q&A after a screening of My Friend Dhamer, the film based on his graphic novel. I had recently checked out the expanded edition from the library and wanted to get a copy of my own. I also wanted to get in autograph and a photograph – I didn’t have anything on hand when I seen him at Pekar Park and my camera had run out of space right about then so I wasn’t able to snap a pic either. Derf had copies at his table and was gracious enough to sign a copy of the book, even doing a sketch of its titular character on the front cover. While I was getting my photograph with him, friends Mark and Mike drifted by waving and out of nowhere I spied my buddy Lizzy from Heroes United (a charity group we both do work for). I disentangle myself from Derf, shook his hand and went over to greet friends.
After I dashed across the aisle to grab a copy of that brilliant “Terrible He-Man Figures” ‘zine from Mullet Turtle comics I’d seen earlier, I ended up hanging out with Mike and Mark, and wandering the convention floor with them – watching Mike get his comics signed and picking up a blank covers for the Carol and Johns art show later this month. We chatted about the art that we saw, incivility on the internet, and I introduced them to my friend Lizzy who was relieved to finally have somebody to talk Star Trek with.
At the vegan booth I gentleman offered us brownies and asked just each who our favorite Doctor Who was. Mike chose Tom Baker and I am immediately replied Jon Pertwee. It made the bakers day to discover people who replied something other than David Tennant, and we laughed our way down to hook up with other friends. My friend Craig from the Panels comic club slipped me his latest work, a wrestling story with a anti-bullying team, and I grabbed some horror material from one of the other booths.
Genghis Con is fun, but not necessarily my thing. I expected to probably be in and out of there in less than an hour, but meeting up with a surprising amount of people that I knew really made it a nice day – there are far worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon then hanging out with friends and admiring local art. This probably won’t be one of my regular stops, but I can definitely see me popping back here in there
So my fears were kind of realized this weekend… Akron Comicon is not what it once was. For a good long while, Akron Comicon was one of the two polar events that Cleveland fandom revolves around, the other being Free Comic Book Day at Carol and John’s comic shop. Akron Comicon was held in lush, beautiful locations like the Quaker Station Hall with warm colors and exposed brick and a historic aura around the building and side rooms. When they moved to the John S Knight Center, I felt like the show had really arrived. This huge facility, all glass and steel, was where I used to attend Star Trek conventions in the 1980s. Akron Comicon managed to fill those venues, and even last year at the Goodyear Hall, a beautiful old stone and brick theater, framed by colorful fall leaves, towards the edge of the downtown area, things felt classy and beautiful. This year’s event at Emidio’s banquet hall in Cuyahoga Falls feels like a step down. It’s a kind of sketchy little event center in the unfashionable side of town. I passed through metal detectors to enter the convention and was struck by how much the layout looked like the flea market set up of Akron Canton Comic Con and all the other Jeff Harper shows. Panels were held in the back area that had been curtained off with folding launch chairs set up to accommodate the meager crowd.
Akron still draws cosplayers though, and I was delighted to see not only the Beetlejuice chick, but especially the Galactus. That costume was just brilliant and really inspires me – now I seriously want to go make one of my own. There was even a Spider-Ham! And here I thought I was the ONLY Spider-Ham cosplayer out there! Rubber City Cosplay did their usual excellent job of running the costume contest and were nice enough to stream it for anyone who couldn’t make it out on Saturday!
To be honest though, I was really only here for one thing… Before selling the show, the old promoter had secured the main guest of honor, classic Cleveland TV host Superhost. He doesn’t do very many conventions or appearances and I didn’t want to miss this chance to meet him. Superhost showed up in great spirits and in costume which utterly amazed me. He brightened up at the sight of my Superman shirt declaring “Us super people have to stick together!” Next to him, the actor who played Captain Pike in the original Star Trek episode The Menagerie, was perplexed at why people weren’t stopping at his table to pay $40 for an autograph but were lining up all the way to the door to meet this strange man in a clownish Superman suit. Because of Supe, all of Cleveland fandom turned out for this show – I’ve seen nothing but photos with Superhost for the last two days on my Facebook feed and it’s glorious.
Akron Comicon itself however is less than glorious. The easiest way of describing it would be to say that it’s in decline, resorting to bringing in high-priced celebrity guests rather than staying true to its comic book roots and comes off as a low budget, first year trade show. The new crew seems to be trying to spin the show into a multi site, multimedia event, hosting a screening of local film Rottentail at a nearby theater as well as hosting an afterparty for the convention at a local bar (all for additional charges of course) with various bands.
For my part, I slipped in (No costume – amazing how many people DIDN’T recognize me without some sort of fantastic outfit) got my autograph and my photograph, then I hit the three-for-a-dollar bins and filled my bag. I’m happy I came home with a huge stack of old comics to read but I’m pessimistic about the future of what was once my favorite comic convention. It’s not that it’s BAD, it’s just that it isn’t spectacularly good anymore. It’s fallen from the crown jewel of northeast Ohio conventions to become just another show. I had in fact, planned on skipping this year and if it hadn’t been for Superhost’s appearance, I absolutely would have. It’s next year’s attendance that will really tell us if it can can survive, and what will become of it if it does.