Free Comic Book Day 2023
It’s that time again, Free Comic Book Day is upon us. It’s not quite the social event that it used to be back when we still had midnight parties to celebrate. Still, Carol and John’s does their best to make it celebration on the day itself, creating a small bazaar of artists and crafters at the overflow space they use for the day. While they limit people to 12 of the 40 books offered, they also make up for it by throwing in an extra graphic novel and creating a poster for the day. This time around, they even had the artist who made the poster available to sign it.
It’s a lot of that social aspect that keeps me driving out there those Saturday mornings. There’s enough people around to make it worth dressing up in costume (This year it’s Kraglin. Sean Gunn’s character from the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3), and it’s where I’m most likely to run into friends and acquaintances. Indeed, as I stood in line, the Cleveland Ghostbusters Ecto mini rolled up and found a parking space. Everybody in line was ohhhing and awwwing at it and then looked at me in disbelief when the Ghostbusters jumped out and ran over to come and hang out with me and chat for a while!
Heroes Alliance was there wandering through with Star Wars and Clack Widow characters, and even the Grinch came out on his motorcycle!
After Carol and John’s, I still headed over to Comics Are Go. They offer one of every fcbd comics they have, Which takes the stress out of trying to get a more or less complete set. I skip over a few things… Marvel voices really doesn’t appeal to me anymore than a lot of the kids stuff. But manage to grab a couple of duplications for Maddie, who was just not getting out of bed this morning. You know, teenagers. It’s also a great opportunity to pick up passes for NEO comicon. Even without the passes though, I notice I always spend more over at comics are go. They’ve got really good dollar boxes, and usually an interesting deal spread out on their sidewalk sale. It’s great fun. Between the free comics and the ones that I bought, I pulled a stack about 50 home with me.Looks like I’ll be set for reading material for a while!
(At least until next Free Comic Book Day!)
Columbus toy and game show
Right off the bat, can you please do me a favor? If there’s going to be a charge for parking, please let us know ahead of time! Print it on the flyers. Includ it on every post with the date and time. Seriously, because this is basically increasing your admission fee by 27%, and I need to be able to budget for that.
Indeed, it seems to me that I had this EXACT same complaint the last time I was out at the Ohio Convention Center. Perhaps I would have remembered if it hadn’t been nearly ten years ago at the sadly short lived Tricon. (Short lived as in – that first year was also their last)
At first glance, the $12 admission fee seems a little high considering this is a glorified flea market. On the other hand, it’s the biggest flea market I’ve ever seen. The Columbus toy and game show actually dwarfs toyhio in comparison, and I didn’t think that was possible. I ended up going to the early service at church Sunday morning because I wanted to arrive really responsible.Walking in just before one, it was close to 3:30 before I managed to finish going through the entire building. And it’s just so vast.
I was actually eager to come out to this one since I had to skip Toyhio last month. Zip Con was going on the same day and Maddie had really wanted to hit that show. As a result, I’d been kind of jonesing for a good toy show to dig through. Since I wasn’t going to be doing Concoction this weekend, my schedule was free. This would be the perfect place to use the money I had set aside to spend at Concoction! I spent Saturday getting hyped up by watching through the entire season of Action Figure Adventure, while considering what to wear.
Because it’s not really a cosplay sort of show, I wanted to go soft and easy. I had considered bringing out the Penguin again but decided instead on something new. Kong, my human version of the 1975 Ghostbusters hadn’t be out since the Afterlife premire. It’s nice and simple, but not quite as spectacular as going as Tracy the gorilla. To give it more spice, I added a couple of killer tomato friends to come along for the ride. People actually recognized them a lot more than they recognized me. It’s exactly the right kind of show for that. Killer Ttomatoes are not the most easily identifiable characters but when people do recognize ’em… they love it.
I was actually surprised by how chatty some of the vendors were. Sure, you got rows of old guys sitting in there lawn chairs with a scowl on their face… basically flea market attitude. But you’ve also got plenty of them who are genuinely excited about the stuff they’re selling and the geners they’re playing in. If you see a guy selling Doctor Who… hes gonna want to talk to you about Doctor Who. I was asked who my favorite doctor was, where I thought the series was going, answer more questions about star trek. It was great. It was also really nice to bump into my buddy Marse. He’s more local to The Columbus area, and our paths only cross once every year or two. He just completed a marvelous Samurai Batman and was trying it out for the first time here.
I was picking up a bunch of stuff that had actually been on my bucket list…Back at the last Toyhio I hit, I passed on a Last Action Hero figure in favor of a transforming Terminator. But Last Action Hero looks more like Arnold, so I’m glad to have a second chance to pick him up cheap. The McDonalds I passed on was here to…still mocking me. I’m beginning to think I shouldn’t have let it go this time, not at $30…..
I’ve also been skipping over cheap road rippers for EVER. I thought the MOTU Mini one would finally satisfy me, but….no. Not really. But the thing is, I’ve started to notice them just beginning to go up in price. About time for me to finally plunk down a Lincoln for a cheap loose one.
I came across a spectacular McFarline figure – I have NO idea who or what she is. She’s missing an arm, but I can 3d print a new one easily and for a buck, I’ll take that and the Borg. I’m always on the hunt for custom fodder. I raided the 3 for a dollar bins for stuff like Fred and the video game figures, as well as scoring that nice Riker for less than what’s I’ve been paying at Record Exchange. A really worthwhile haul!
All in all, a good day. I’m really impressed with the show and just how much stuff is scattered across those endless aisles. I got to spend a nice little bit of time playing video games on the free arcade alley, take photos with Gremlins, hobnob with other ‘busters, as well as really scratch that toy itch. It may well be worth a return visit in the future.
Great Lakes Comic Con
Great Lakes Comic Con has The distinction of being one of those shows that I say confidently, I consistently have fun at. I enjoyed this one, despite the massively long drive. I was grateful to see that they survived the government lock down, however we still skipped last year because because of the lingering mask mandate. We nearly missed this year as well. My Saturday had gotten booked with a funeral, and the associated events that go with such a thing. There was no way we were going to be able to sneak off to Detroit on Saturday. We still wanted to go though, and there were people there I wanted to meet. We resolved to hit the show on Friday instead.
The problem with going on Friday is the hours are significantly shortened, and there’s little or no programming. That was the case here, but I figured I’d be spending most of my night standing in lines waiting for autographs. Maddie too, was eager to hit as many conventions as possible this year. It’s been a while since she’s been to this one. She broke out her Todoroki while I looked for something soft and flexible. Since I wasn’t competing in the costume contest Saturday, I wanted something I could move around in, that would leave my hands free and my vision unobscured. It’d been a while since I’d worn the Penguin, and this seem like an ideal fit. We bundled our outfits into the car, and began the 2 and a 1/2 hour trip West.
I always forget how long a line for this show it is. We usually show up a little bit late to try and avoid some of it, but today, time was of the essence. We arrived just as the doors opened, to find the line wrapped around the antechamber. It always bottle necks right at the door, and it’s the one drawback from what is otherwise an excellent venue over at Macomb Community College. Once we finally got inside I made a beeline for the guest aisle. Dan DiDio had no line! I walked right up, and he greeted me with a grin.
“I was just watching Batman returns a couple of days ago on the plane! The movie really holds up.”
I nodded in agreement and mentioned that I had just screened it for Maddie this Christmas. I then pulled out my copy of ambush bug issue 7 of 6. DiDio Broke out and laughter. You see, this is not a book that he wrote…. he is the editor on it. The more important thing, is how heavily hes featured in it. Ambush bug has always enjoyed making fun Of the management at DC Comics, and DE deo is all over this book.
“Have you ever heard the story of why this book is 7 of 6?”
I’d heard bits and pieces of it, and DiDio proceeded to spend the next ten minutes giving me the entire story of how some pages needed changes, got turned in, and then got lost and buried on his desk for months. By the time they found that they need to make further changes, and a ended up feeling actually the only way they could release it was with the new number in, doing a total gag with the whole thing.
It was wonderful fun to listen to him, and this is exactly the sort of thing that I hit conventions for. We moved on, stopping briefly over at Bill Morrison’s table. He’s charging way too much for a signature on a book, especially when you’ve got a legendary silver age artist like Mike Royer across The aisle, charging half that, and giving all of his proceeds to cancel research charities.
Royer’s line wasn’t long, but it was slow. Part of that is because he likes to talk with the people that are coming up and that’s fun. Part of it’s also because there were several chickenheads in line bringing him huge stacks of books and having him sign them all. Just a gentle reminder, if you roll up to an artist’s table with half a long box full of comics And you intend to get them all signed, just know, everyone in line hates you. Show some class, do a few of the time, get out of line and go back through. Royer looked up at me and gestured towards the fake cigarette in the long stemmed holder I was clutching between my teeth.
“If you were really smoking that! You would have gone through an entire pack by now!” he chuckled apologizing for the long wait. By the time I finally got up to him, he was Interested in chatting about the old Gotham TV show, and the version of the Penguin there appeared
“I didn’t really like the girl on that show… Fish. But that young man playing the Penguin, I can immediately tell who he was. Who he was trying to play… he did something with that character…”
“I think it’s the first time that somebody had really made the Penguin… cool,” I agreed. We went on to talk a little bit about the Marvel television shows, with Daredevil still being his favorite.
All of this was good stuff. I got to surprise Randy Zimmerman with a fairly full run of tails from the Aniverse, as well as chatting up Chris Scalf, the cover artist for Realm Comics long forgotten Battlestar Galactica run. Grabbed a couple of great cover autographs from from Tom Nguyen and Angel Medina, as well as grabbing Tom Orzechowski to sign the last of my X-Men collections. I had pulled a couple of Spider-Man issues for Kieth Pollard to sign, but passed when I saw he was charging $20. He wasn’t interested in me being there either an barely looked up from the sketch he was drawing. (it’s sad that I’ve been priced out of the game so much – and I certainly wasn’t going to pay forty or sixty dollars for the Disney Star Wars actors in attendance). Maddie had since taken off to do her own thing, so I figured it’s about time that I found her and we did the dealer’s room proper.
I must say, for such a vast dealer’s room, I wasn’t finding a whole lot of stuff I was interested in. A single lego figure, and only a handful of books. No quarter bins, no fifty cent bins, dollar or more. Still, it gave me a chance to fill some holes in my star trek collection. I’m already regretting passing on some of those cheap figures I was looking at as well There was a nice looking like solution in a suit, but the scale was one that I don’t usually collect. I probably should have any help. In another bed I found little John from Robin hood Prince of thieves. I’ve actually started collecting these figures loose, just for the lunacy of the reused superpowers sculpts. The problem is, you get into some of these ones like little John, and it looks More mad Max than Robin hood. They’re practically unrecognizable without the soft goods covering them. Still, I could have taken him home and made him a leather jerkin or something. Next time.
The real find of the day was the hauntingly bizarre plushy captain Kirk from star trek the motion picture. Sitting in a $5 bin, I’ve never seen one of these before and immediately had to have it. The vendor told me that they made spark as welcome but he hasn’t ever seen 1. Looks like I’ve got something to look out for on my next trip.
We actually stayed the entire time, leaving a mere 15 minutes before the door is closed. You definitely try to make the most out of the day, although I’ll admit, The shortened Friday with no panels just wasn’t worth the long drive both ways. I think in the future, it’s gonna be Saturday or nothing. Still, I’m glad we went, and I’m happy to see the show is back And good as our. Maddie did her own review, but you’ll find below, and then pass that tons of pictures!
So I gotta say, the last time Maddie and I hit Zipcon, I was not impressed. I really like the Zipcon of old… a student run anime con, and a free one day event… that always worked for me. Then the management flipped, and there was more pressure to put in guests. More pressure to bring in names and with that comes expense. And that expense gets passed on to the attendees. Last year in particular, the show was just not worth the $10 admission. There were a bunch of problems, with lackluster panels… when those panels actually occurred. People blowing stuff off and just not showing up, Not enough help, not enough ratio of staff to visitors… it was just a mess. I really wasn’t interested in going back.
Of course, this was one of the last shows right before the government locked its citizens down, and Zipcon would not return for 2021 or 2022. When it came back on the schedule this year, Maddie in particular was really eager to go again. It’s not just that she wanted to do more conventions, she wanted to do more anime conventions, so off we went.
I will admit, it’s actually helped that we’ve had two years to watch a bunch of anime and get me caught up on modern series. I was in my Gran Torino costume, accompanying Maddie’s Eraser. The Gran Torino made a big enough splash that we hadn’t even made it into the show before the gentleman at the register desk looked at me in amazement. “Gran Torino! That’s a first for me!”
It might be fair to say that the two year break also did the panelists some good. Talks and skits and demonstrations that had been prepared two years ago had time to be refined and revisited before presenting them this year. We actually ended up hitting three different ones, all really good talks. I especially enjoyed seeing previews of upcoming stuff, as well as look back at some older anime that’s not necessary Studio Ghibli.
For whatever reason, the dealer’s room felt bigger too. I don’t think that it was physically, but I certainly felt like there was more to browse through, as we dug through booth after booth of brightly colored kawaii.
One of the stranger things that happened, we were walking down the promenade, And after stopping for some pictures, the photographer ran up to us and asked if we could come back with her and be in a group picture of My Hero Academia cosplayers. We happily followed her. It was a nice big group, not quite a dozen people. The thing is, the group kept growing. People would walk by and getting pulled in. We kept adding to this group, one my hero cosplayers after another… until it turned into this massive photo. I’ve looked on with envy over the years, friends joining these huge planned photo shoots. Batman family, Justice League, Mandalorians, that’s sort of thing. This was the biggest one I’ve ever gotten to be a part of and it was just amazing. It absolutely made Maddie’s convention.
For me, the highlights of this sort of thing is always seeing friends that I haven’t seen in a while. There are some people here that I haven’t seen since the lockdown. Others may have popped up here and there, but a really nice day to catch everybody all at once. I got to apologize to my friend Allie for not recognizing her at a Hall of Fame City Comic-Con. That always bothered me, but then again, it’s a occupational hazard of cosplay. Also good to catch up with Chris, now 3 months newlywed.
Maddie and I rounded out of the day playing video games in the game room… Mario Kart projected on a giant screen which was absolutely amazing . We also had to catch up with The Confused Greenies Patchwork Players. This improv troop is one of Maddie’s favorite things about specialized. I’ve always enjoyed them, but they’ve always seem a little weird part of con programming, but always welcome and fun.
By the time 6 o’clock was rolling around, we were too tired to even look for the cosplay masquerade. It had been a long day, but a genuinely excellent way of kicking off convention season. Maddie’s done her own video review, which you’ll find down here, then jump past it for way too many pictures!
Hall of Fame City Comicon videos
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!
Bay Con 2022
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.
Cleveland Comic Book & Nostalgia Festival Fall 2022
“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.
Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2022
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!
Cleveland Comic and Nostalgia Convention