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

Comic Con

Geekfest returns!

Conman33964517_10157530851806038_2124974063704080384_n34159311_1951802858197461_3212246190032683008_nYou could almost hear the strains of the song “I’m the bogeyman” from the nightmare before Christmas as Oogie Boogie sauntered through the halls of the library. He spotted a giant Lego version of Deadpool, and waved to get his attention. Lego Deadpool shuffled over to him and Oogie Boogie piped up “Can I get a hug?”. Behind them, R2 D2 whistled in apprehension.

Colossalcon totally lives up to its name as a massive anime convention drawing and people from all over the country.  The crowds are huge, and it’s a show unlike any other… Which is probably why I chose to go to Geekfest instead. It’s actually a triumphant return for this convention as well… last year it mysteriously vanished from the schedule and I was really bummed about that. I like this convention, and I think it’s a really great one for the community. There’s very little to buy here, being more programming focused with panels and kids activities and such a great atmosphere. It’s unfortunate that they chose to schedule this opposite not only Colossalcon, but also River City Pop Culture Fest (and OddMall collaboration) going on just one or two exits down the road. The end result; attendance was down a little bit from their last show in 2016. It’s still however every bit 34191598_1951802971530783_4569578043093286912_nas good an event as I remember.

I got up in time to catch most of the History of Comics panel. In particular the speaker was focusing on women and comics with a emphasis on Wonder Woman. While it was meant to be a survey of comics from the 20th century all the way up to modern times, the presenter really finds the older stuff to be more interesting in discussion (so do I for that matter). Ultimately we kind of skimmed over the 90s and forward, remaining mostly in the golden age and of course going over the effects of the book “seduction of the innocent” on the industry.

34410123_10157539842251038_3511230782041489408_nOver the years, I’ve always seen the Ramen eating contest schedule but never got to watch it – that was another fun thing I managed to slip into before catching the gaming panel. As I slipped from room to room in the halls, R2D2 would roll by and harass me – courtesy of the R2 builders club in attendance.

While there weren’t as many costumes as I’m used to this year, the ones that did show up were brilliant. a No-Face wondered the halls, and what impressed me about this particular version was the way the roads were layered with the mask being a full helmet and not just a face mask and a hooded robe. The way the fabric was draped and fell, it all felt like there was more detail and character to it. An extremely slimed ghostbuster showed up with a home-made proton pack built from duck tape and wires and lights and whatever trash she could get her hands on (and we know I’m ALL about costumes made from trash!). She described it as being inspired by Ghostbusters 2… the bit where Lewis grabbed Egon’s leftovers to run and save the guys. It looks like that – like a beat up old pack that was in the back of the closet and that’s such a nice touch. I love 10487229_802705293107229_7390790298135417683_nthe original Sith character, and a marvelous Harley Quinn who showed off her hand made varsity jacket.  Myself, I barely made it up the stairs to the stage in my bulky Lego costume… The presenter gave me a hand up and twisted my leg back into place after I hobbled on stage. The emcee asked what it was about Deadpool that I liked. “I’m just in it for the chimichangas,” I replied before inquiring if the food truck outside stocked any Mexican food.

I attended Geekfest alone this year. As the girls grow older they don’t hit as many cons with me the way they did back in 2014… and I gotta admit, this particular event is just not the same without my kids. But still, I’m glad to see the show is alive and well and I really hope to see it return next year at a better calendar slot so it can get the sort of attendance it really deserves.

 

Advertisements

Ratha Con 2018

Conmanc1cee4_e70339723b8d4093ac8df0f86e83ebd1The mad scientist ran up to me with a shiny gold nugget in his hand exclaiming “Dude, I think I found a part of your costume! “. Sure enough, one of the rivets from my club had fallen off and found it’s way across his path somewhere deep in the parking lot. Floating above my shoulder, or Orko’s glowing eyes smiled. Ratha Con was going to be good.

I had some friends head out of this show several years ago and it’s one I’ve always wanted to go to – based on the sheer niftyness of the name alone. The problem is, it’s a 0083small show– even by my standards – and a long way away. Those two things don’t usually compute, but I had to drop a birthday gift out near Columbus and the rest of my Saturday was free so I decided after four or five years of procrastinating to finally take the leap and cruise to the Athens Community Center. I’m glad I did.

I say small show, but it’s a small show that feels big.  Ratha Con leans heavily on its programming and activity options. In a lot of ways it it felt like a small-scale anime show or the Cleveland ConCoction. There was a tabletop gaming room catering to war games and RPGs, as well as a video game room – and let me 0047tell you something, I’m a sucker for a good video game room. It was the one place I kept wondering back to when I had 10 or 15 minutes to kill – chatting with the room attendant about how much we both loved the arcade version of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and losing embarrassing races on Mario Kart 64. Along the same hallway are the two rooms used for panels. The small room was set up as more of a round table discussion area where as the larger one had a traditional rows of chairs with the guest sitting behind a table with a Mic.

I made a point of attending The 3-D printing workshop. They were using better 0082equipment than I am, with heated print beds, hotter extruders, and quicker speeds – there wasn’t a lot for me to learn there on the printing side though I did take notes on some of the modelling software they have been dabbling in.. I’ve actually had very good results using my traditional brace 3-D and Microsoft 3-D builder – but I’m open to trying something if I get better and easier results, and ended up walking away with some new ideas .

Down the hall, I heard music, so I popped out of the 3D printing panel and found myself at the video game music trivia. A trio of wind and reed instruments would play out the score from a game and the audience would guess the game for bragging rights and prizes. These very talented musicians would be up at the main stage later, rendering out 0009the bouncy sounds of the Cantina band from Star Wars.

Jake Kearney was up next, with his walking dead panel. Kearney bit player who betrayed one of the Saviors for a few episodes last season until he finally got mauled by the tiger. The problem with Walking Dead panels of curse is that most of the behind the scenes anecdotes are already covered in the companion show Talking Dead. What Kearney brings to the table is more of an outsiders view – someone who has appeared on the show, but isn’t IN the show.  It was a sparsely attended panel, and he seemed a little unprepared. It was as if he merely wanted to take questions, questions that largely weren’t coming from this small audience. That’s okay, I had to cut out early any hour to make it to the main stage so I could watch the magic show.

That’s right, there’s a magic show.

0013

Ratha Con brought back a return guest from previous years – “Big Daddy Cool” who billed himself as an “Impossibleist”. It was a fun show, with good visuals. The audience 0043however, seem to be a little hesitant to participate so when he called for volunteers I wandered up in full Man-At-Arms regalia and choose my card! Big Daddy would later host a magic workshop in one of the panel rooms which I was also dying to see. It’s been a few years since I did magic regularly, although my daughter Lydia has been picking it up from here and there for her YouTube series. Big Daddy showed us a few simple effects, demonstrated some ideas and then when I mentioned that I happened to be a magician as well, he pulled out a variation on a mentalism effect he was showing us – one with cards, using a mechanic that would only be familiar to another magician – that was fun.

Modler_RathaCon27.jpgThe dealers room sprawled across a gym area, with rows and rows of vendors, one corner reserved for the main stage as well as a couple of photo ops against the front wall – a Tardis and a speeder bike from Star Wars. This, in addition to the green screen photo booth in the video game room gives attendees a lot of options to play around and get silly at the show when you’re not in a panel or watching the pirate themed belly dancer on the main stage.

Because it’s a pop culture show and not necessarily a comic con or anime con the vendor’s room was filled with a lot of artists, jewelry makers, prop makers, and sellers of generally weird things – it’s a sort of vendors room and you expect from an OddMall or RenFest. There were a couple of toy vendors, a VR station, one comic book vendor and a lot of interesting things to see.  I dig ecclectic flea markets but always have a hard time Modler_RathaCon6-1024x684finding something to buy in them.

The costume contests are broken down into kids and adults.  The kids parade around the vendor’s are in before The casting has tests are broken into kids and adults – the kids parade around the vendor’s room before lining up and showing off on stage whether judge… I saw the scariest most serious looking joker ever – followed by a girl in a Tom Servo outfit from MST3K!

We won’t speak of the giant Pikachu waddling at the end of the line. I’m still trying to figure out how it got on the speeder bike.

0061

0005It’s another one of those fun things about it being pop culture event and not strictly a comic con or sci-fi show – you get a marvelous variety of cosplayers. Walter and The Dude from the Big Lebowski were both there, as well as the blues brothers, as well as a stunning armor that took first place in the adult contest and the beautiful Five Nights at Freddys robot that took second. Unlike the kids, their adults are prejudged in a two hour block over in one of the panel rooms. It makes things easier and get you some time to really connect with the judges and explain what your costume is made out of. Honestly, I think I’m beginning to prefer this method.

0002I  really enjoyed Ratha Con, and I’m a little bummed that it’s such a long drive to get there because I really can’t justify coming back unless I’m already staying in the area. Maybe next year I can arrange a weekend with my wife’s friends in Lancaster so I can sneak back out to Athens for the day. You know, that just might work!

I may not see you back there next year, but sooner or later I’ll be back for sure!

 

 


Fantasticon s6 ep 17 Toledo

Conman29103650_10211618300640522_4218291293563912192_nIt’s been a few years since I hit Fantasticon. I was there for it’s first appearance in Toledo (at a slightly smaller venue that they outgrew in their first outing) but scheduling conflicts had kept me from getting back to the burgeoning show and I had always wondered what had become of it once it moved to the much larger space in the Seagate Center.

My first impression was that sadly, the parking situation hadn’t gotten any better. if anything, it had worsened a bit as I had feared. Lot parking around the center was a flat $5, with hourly rates in the basement of the Center itself . Still five as long as you’re gone in five hours. I wasn’t, but the extra two  beans was worth it to be able to park a mere twenty feet from the elevator and have easy access to my car in the cumbersome Lego Deadpool suit I was waddling around in. I had no handler and knew that having to wander a block either carrying or 29133707_10211618302160560_5304820364780503040_nwearing the costume would have been impossible.

Inside, signs smartly directed me to the registration counter and inside. The layout is very well done and easy to get around. I found myself thankful for the smooth polished floors that made it easy for me to move my lego feet.

While I miss the warm, homey hotel like- feel of that first venue, I have to admit the larger dealers room was nice. I lugged my two Batman volumes over to Mike DeCarlo’s table. While Jim Aparo is the definitive Batman artist for me, but when he inked his own stuff it would always feel a little muddy. Aparo was always at his best when DeCarlo was inking – crisp and solid and defined. He smiled when I told him this.

“Jim always told me that besides himself, I was his favorite inker!” he grinned as he thanked me.

29028097_10211618305400641_2211459560990834688_nI headed over to the panel stage – a corner cordoned off with curtains and chairs just in time for the trivia contest. The corner had letters pasted to the walls; A,B,C, and D. Everyone stood and listened for the multiple choice question, and would then go stand by the letter that went with thier answer.

“This is a lot more walking than I had bargained for!” I exclaimed, bouncing my way from corner “C” to corner “A”. I ended up in the top four before I missed a question and 29063388_10211618308160710_6622404434410340352_nhad to quit. I love the game and they way they set it up.

I ran into my friend Ed and drafted him to be my handler for a hour where he helped me shop. It’s  the problem with the lego suits- no hands and if you wait until the end of the show, that stuff you were looking at might just ave vanished….. Ed was a huge help that was above and beyond and I really appreciated it.

I also managed to sneak in to watch most of Daniel Phillips panel as he made up an assistant into a sinister cat-like creature. I’m not familiar enough with this guys work – I need to fix that.

Towards the end of the day I made it back for the costume contest. It’s always interesting chatting with the other people there about what they made and how they did it. I was flanked by a couple guys in armor discussing how they built their outfits and what they’d like to try for a Hulkbuster suit (something I’d like to make myself). I leapt back in fear as a dark Jedi glided towards me applying a Force choke. Lego Deadpool danced behind Pyramid Head as I marveled at Youndu Poppins and the way she’d made the arrow into the umbrella. I got to talk sewing with Cinderella (Her second twirl dress – Her Elsa had won last year and her Cinderella would win this time around as well). We 29177434_10211618309640747_6241642896286547968_ntook interviews with the local news station and generally goofed around with the other attendees until it was time to head in. There’s a reason I always describe that wait right before the costume contest as my favorite part of any show.

“Magical girl curtain holding power!” I exclaimed at the anime girl holding the entrance in. She brandished her wand at me. “Just you wait! I’ll turn you into the REAL Deadpool instead of a LEGO one!” She then followed me into the adjacent convention hall, an empty one that had been converted for use as a green room. It was dark and cold, like an empty aircraft hanger. The lower temperature did me some good as Harley Quinn chatted me up. Lego suits get warm.

When my number was called I bounded out and eyed the portable stairs warily. I’d been practicing with those big feet…
I grabbed the handrails and dove in. I made it up two steps and was trying to navigate 29176805_10211618311920804_8177366892609011712_nthe third….and the stirs began to topple backwards….with me on it!

I was rescued by the Lone Ranger.

The Emcee, whose costume I’d been admiring an hour earlier dashed up, caught the railing to steady it as he gave me a good push up. I jumped on the stage in triumph to applause and laughter. Down the stairs was easier than up. Crisis averted.

I have to admit, I really dig this show. It’s run with heart. They bring in fun guests and JUST enough programming to make it a real event, and keep it balanced between shopping and programming. I’m hoping my schedule conflicts are behind me and I can start making this a regular stop on the con circuit. Either way, sooner or later, I’ll be back.

 

PS : I made the news!

http://nbc24.com/news/local/fantasticon-draws-thousands-to-seagate-center-over-weekend


Great Lakes Comic-Con 2018

Conman

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 


Akron Comicon 2017

Conman

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

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

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

23316745_10212197658794695_7588831307393463706_n
Once I had finished getting my autographs and meeting people, it was time to change into the more cumbersome suit. I have given Slimer a nice test run at Cleveland comic con, in preparation for this show. I always intended to have him running around Akron Comicon, and it turned out to be the perfect venue. Nice wide aisles, with a good temperature – I wasn’t roasting in the suit this time around.It’s also a good place to show him off because Akron’s a convention that just about everybody goes to and a lot of these people have been following my progress constructing him.

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

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

 

 


Cleveland Comic Con 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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