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

Comic Convention

Akron Canton Comic Con 2017

Conman

thingI found a bald spot at the worst time, too far from home to fix properly. I parked and grabbed my Thing pants from the back seat, ripping a rock from the cuff. The legs usually bunch up at the bottom and I hoped it wouldn’t be noticeable as I applied latex and affixed the rock to the bald cap. Ben Grimm tightened his belt and got ready to head into Akron Canton Comic Con.

As far as Jeff Harper shows go, this one in interesting. It’s a smaller show, but I dig that they have a snack bar at the venue – it provides a little more community and something to do. I’m grateful to Heroic Adventures comic shop for stepping up and sponsoring a costume contest (I’m going to miss these guy’s shop BTW, they’re going strictly online and con vending) as well as some cool trailers and movies running on the TV screens around the hall. All of this makes it feel like just a bit more than the swap meet atmosphere that a lot of Harper shows have.

Air conditioning doesn’t hurt either.

My buddy Vito mentioned that it looked like a nicer show this year than last – I’m not sure. Harper shows never really change that much, but I’ll admit I had a better time myself this year because I knew way more people. Sure, I see Eric and Sean all the time at cons when they set up their booths, but It was really cool running into Alli and hanging out with Jason and Mike. I’m on their side of town and it’s good to have friends in mideast Ohio.

I dove into the quarter bins. I was glad to actually see some good deals here – 5-for-a-dollar, fifty cent bins, quarter bins, three-for-a-dollar….and not just long boxes stuffed with cast off Image books from the 90’s either. I found Blackhawks, House of Mystery (the Elviria one!), as well as fairly modern Spider-man and Superman. Good stuff. I ended up bringing home about seventy books as well as a couple for the kids (maddie LOVES Art Baltazar’s Tiny Titans).

The costumes weren’t everywhere the way they are at some shows, but I really enjoyed what I did see.

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I’ve run into this giggling group of teenagers a couple times now. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Link won first place in the costume contest and absolutely deserved it. She totally brought the character to life.

19399534_1583613741683043_6486045329078687042_nThis kid was doing an original character he called the executioner – a vigilante who collects prizes from his vanquished foes. He ran around the con picking fights with all the cosplayers!

19437619_1583613745016376_8760513177737731222_nThat’s not leather. That’s actually foam! Seriously, the paint job on here was so good I couldn’t even tell.

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This one is another original character – it’s off a minecraft skin though it has an anime look to me. What was really cool was seeing her place in the costume contest! This original character got third!

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I’m going to have to do some edits on this – Batman, Wolverine and the Thing? Yes please!

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Speaking of Wolverine, I was so loving all the X-Men.

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Storm especially was just stunning.

It’s a short show and I was only there for about three hours, so I’m short on pictures, but don’t worry, we’ll be back tomorrow with a recap of Monster Bash….and there’s TONS of photos to come!


First Time at Lake Effect

conwoman18881917_1561355863908831_7868683073269651622_nI mentioned yesterday that my Ock suit has grown so cumbersome that I required a handler. You may have seen Rhonny Reaper around the net at Dollar Bin Horror or haunting the depths of Cinema Wasteland, but Sunday was her very first time out to Lake Effect Comic Con – and I thought it would be interesting to get a fresh perspective one it. Here’s her review.

 

This year was my first year attending Lake Effect Comic Con and it was a blast. Matthew told me that in past years it had been held at a movie theater, but now the Holiday Inn in Mentor is its home. I’m kind of sad I missed it before because I think the theater sounds like a lovely spot for a con, but this was nice as well. It seemed smaller than I imagined. The show was not crowded, but we did get there late so I’m assuming 18920328_10211047601324769_6667099077153641652_nthe early birds had already dispersed.

I myself had a fantastic time! I went with Matthew acting as his “hands” so he could be Doc Ock. EVERYONE wanted pictures with Matt when we first got there, so it took us a minute to get into the show room. I’ve always loved horror but just recently started working on a horror comic selection, so this was the first time I knew what I was looking for…and I found it in abundance! So many wonderful golden age horror comics for $1 and $2 each! I also found a copy of My Friend Dahmer at the Comics Are Go table, thanks to Matt’s keen eyes. Eric over there gave me the sweetest deal on the book!

Towards the end, they held a costume contest for all the cosplayers, and everyone looked fantastic!!! From the little Wonder Woman to the Sailor 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nMoon, everyone came out in style! I myself came as Lydia Deetz (from Beetlejuice), which I thought was more on the simple side of cosplay…which is why I was shocked the judges picked me for female adult! I’m still in shock…but happy as ever about the killer Deadpool mask I received as the prize (I’m more into horror comics than classic super heroes…but I mean who doesn’t LOVE some Deadpool?)! They also gave a special prize to the Yip Yip alien costume from Sesame Street (which really gave Matt a run for his money) because it was GLORIUOS! You just had to! All in all, this con was a blast and gave me my best haul ever! Can’t wait till the next one!!!

 

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Lake Effect Comic Con 2017

ConmanI dashed forward , camera at the ready when I saw the 17554224_1075542492576460_7746665918391120333_nshaggy red “yep, yep” Muppet walking down the aisle. My Doc Ock suit hindered me a bit, but I met him just as we arrived at the corner of the room.
“I’d love to get a photo with you,” I exclaimed.
Through the black mesh of the mouth I saw him smile.
“You did. Remember back a few years ago? I was Doctor Hugo Strange!”
I think I may have just come full circle.

While I’ve been dressing up since long before I ever heard the word “cosplay” (I was an actual clown before I hit Jr. High. Star Trek conventions at 12. Haunted houses in high school. Theater through it all), you could probably trace the 100_1448beginnings of my modern cosplay career to Lake Effect Comic Con around 2012. It was the first time I ever pulled out my Doc Ock costume (one of the first of my more complicated suits) – very different at the time too! It was the first time I entered a costume contest. It was very much my entry into the scene. It was cool to return to the show where it all started (albeit in a different location) and discover that the suit was still memorable, and to show how much it has grown.

It’s grown so much that I now require a handler to help me with doors and carrying things and stuff! I picked up my friend Rhonda, who agreed to be my hands for the day. She appeared dressed as Lydia from Beetlejuice (Because if I can’t bring my little Lydia, I 18839016_1075542529243123_1290475328772481046_nmight as well take a full grown one with me!) and we headed off to Mentor.

I was running late so I missed the cosplay panel I wanted to hit, but we still managed to get in before one. There was some concern about me making it through the dealers room, but we needn’t have worried. The aisles were more than big enough for me and the place wasn’t crowded. I’m curious if the show grew from last year. We arrived about halfway through so that may have accounted for the lighter attendance.

I have to admit, now in the second year at the hotel, the layout has really grown on me. It feels like Russian nesting dolls, with one dealers room leading to another, adding to that 18892929_887338388072245_1893944626838673547_ndelightful feeling of exploration that I love at some of the more obscure bazaars in Cleveland. Lake effect is an excellent representation of the dealers and shops around the Cleveland area with every comic and toy imaginable littering the rows and corners.  Around a corner I found more tables set up in a narrow hallway. I don’t know if this corner was set up last year or not…the theater Lake Effect used to set up at was selling movie posters next to a table set up for the R2 builders and Heroes United, both welcome additions to the show. The deals are still waning, but I was pleased to spot a single fifty cent bin to plunder, and managed to walk away with a stack of Civil War era Spidey as well as a nice chunk of Groot and Rocket Racoon  solo series, but the real find of the day was Marvel’s Zombie Christmas Carol in the $5.00 Hardcover bin. I’ve never seen this before, but I couldn’t leave without it – especially at that price.

I saw Lake Effect dipping it’s toe into the celeb waters, bring in a18835541_1561355777242173_7918076935831398497_n zombie from the Walking Dead (I don’t know if I forgot, or just didn’t know- either way, I didn’t have my poster) as well as a starlet who had done a couple movies and been a playmate. It’s a direction I hope they veer away from. It didn’t really add much to the show other than the novelty of a few unfamiliar faces…and I get it. After eight years, you have to try and shake things up a bit.

The costume contest seemed a little smaller this year as well, but those that did arrive were still excellent. I was enchanted by the Terminator girl (all the robot parts, painted on – she looked like she stepped right off an 80’s VHS cover) and the little Starlord. More and more I see video game characters, and I feel so bad that I don’t recognize them! But there’s another trend I see popping up – it’s an interesting 2-d style, where your costume and features appear sketched in. It’s a really cool look and the more I see it, the more I’m enchanted by it. I dig the open area in the lobby where they hold this contest – it 18839216_1561356817242069_8450739580311332965_nfeels more intimate, more personal than the theater always did. I feel like I can better hobnob and chat with the other contestants…and that’s really the point of it all for me. I had to move around a bit to be able to see all of the people parading by and nothing made me happier than when the Yep Yep Muppet received a special prize.

I still really like Lake Effect. My only hope is that it doesn’t stagnate in this location – it grew every year at the theater untill the seams of the walls were bursting trying to contain the throngs of people. That seems to have leveled off since the move and that worries me. I dig this con and really hope it’ll be around for years to come.

 

 


Great Lakes Comic Con 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Zip Con this weekend!

Maddie and I are going to Zip Con at the University of Akron Student Union this weekend! It’s kind of become my replacement for Shinbokucon – one of the only Anime shows I attend. This year I’ll be speaking in both the “Cosplay on a Budget” panel at 10 am and the “Cosplay for Charity” panel at 1pm. Hope to see you there!

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Akron Comic Con 2017 part two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But William continues :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t wait for next year.

 

 


NEO ComicCon 2016

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

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

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

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


All Americon 7

Conman13669017_10207639878933420_6152023192531395550_nEvery year I’ve said “I’m going to wait until this show grows a bit before coming back” and then the next year I keep finding myself here. Why is that?

It’s really the caliber of guests they have. It’s still one of the smaller size shows – and they realize it. Nevertheless, in addition to some of the familiar artist faces we see on the convention circuit, they always go out of thier way to bring in one big name whether it’s Jim Sternako, Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter or this year, James O’Barr. It’s not just one guest, it’s one GREAT guest.

O’Barr was honestly the reason I came out this year. I wasn’t going to Wizard World earlier this year just to meet him (I object to WW on general principle) especially where then was a good smaller show coming up a few months later.

AllAmericon keeps growing, breaking the 2000 attendee mark this year. Interestingly though, while things were crowded and the joint was hopping earlier in the day, most people seemed to be heading out around 2 – right as I was pulling in. I saw a lot of great costumes heading home – something that perplexed me…the costume contest wasn’t until 5 13592799_1223152581062496_6748203952458136594_n(perhaps in the future this needs to be earlier – by the time it was over, the show was closing down). I loved hanging with Shorts Spidey here and there. Making new friends if a great part of con life.

The cosplay element here continues to impress me by the way, there were a lot of great  outfits and some really fun characters running around being silly and generally having a good time at the show. And that’s really the important part. It’s a fun show. I met people who were there for their first convention ever, others that had been to multiple shows (it always interesting to have to re-introduce yourself to someone you met a while ago, but neither of you recognize each other because you were wearing completely different costumes a the time….).

Speaking of costumes, it seems every time I do this show I have problems with my costume. (It’s got to be the summer heat). The Velcro of Voltron came apart on me a half hour before the costume contest at AAC5. Last year at AAC6 my Thing jaw was coming off – I had  to reglue it on my lower lip, but that didn’t help the drooping by the jawline. This year I was running into problems with my 13654171_1222795844431503_4950613691780821261_niron Man mk41 suit….As soon as I pulled the breastplate out of the car, the minigun on the shoulder fell off. The heat had melted the glue. I quickly seized some wooden skewers ( the ones Amy had brought me for my boots when Maddie and I did Lake effect – there were still some in the car) and pushed them through the shoulder and into the foam that held the gun. I snapped off the excess and to my great astonishment and delight it held the entire show.

I also ran down batteries. By the time I hit the judges table, one of my laser sights were dead as well as the blinking EL wire in my midplate. ARRRGH! (At least I stayed lit up during the rest of the con – that’s what counts) I’d made a lot of upgrades on this suit since Akron-Canton…weaponizing it further and adding a lot more lights. the pulsing LEDs on my chestplate were perhaps my favorite. I’m just about completely happy with the suit…I’d be completely satisfied if I could just figure out how to make that faceplate come down (Several people asked too).

It’s time for this show to move on though. Next year, they are going to be expanding to  the 13607016_1223156981062056_7784269984059379896_nCovelli center in downtown Youngstown. I’m hoping to see more vendors  They really need more- it doesn’t take long to do that dealer’s room, and with the long stretches between events you kind of need more. That said, I’m also hoping to see more programming. There was a great game demo going on a couple times during the day, as well as the cosplay contest (kids, and adults – about an hour and a half between them) as well as one cospaly panel. A couple more panels, perhaps a q&a with their guests and I could see this turning into the next big thing in that area! We’ll see next year!

 


Akron-Canton comic con

Conman13509093_1213401932037561_2955553546715114208_n13507003_1213402598704161_7581239464763234921_nNot a hoax, not an imaginary story! I actually broke down and went to a Jeff Harper show. I’ve talked a lot of smack about these shows. They’re basically flea markets (no programing), and one that I am charged admission for access to. That kind of thing irritates me a little. MY first encouter with this promoter’s cons was at a show in North Olmsted – you will find that review over here (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/didnt-i-say-sketchy/). My big gripe was that it wouldn’t have taken much to transform this from a bazaar into a con. Just a couple of TVs playing movies 13510763_1213402652037489_6567869712084795803_nor trailer, a video tournament or a couple of panels – just stuff organized with the bare minimum of care could have pushed that show in to something more than just a tradeshows.  Still, over the last year or so I’d heard whispers that they were trying to do something different…(more than just the failed attempt at a VERY similar type of show I encountered here -https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/why-i-drove-out-to-north-coas-comic-con-and-didnt-go-in/ )The flyer for this year’s Akron-canton comic con, had cosplay prominently featured – they were really trying to promote it so I gritted my teeth and decided to give them another chance.

13533259_1213401902037564_8183584025384120791_n13495077_1213402855370802_1567443102861328975_nChapperells is best described as a large bingo hall. It’s a step up from the American Legion Hall is that Jeff Harper Productions seems to favor, but not by much. There’s  still a Sketchy feel to the place.  As you enter, you find yourself on an elevated platform where the registration table and a few artist tables are set up. there’s a snack bar at this venue and that’s actually a nice touch (It was invaluable at AllAmericon last year!). This space overlooks the main floor and was actually a nicely touch.

I had chosen my new mark 41 ironman suit for this event. Bones is about 95% done and I wanted to test it out in a small back water show. I may have underestimated the size of the event, but then again I was still nursing a trepidation that I would wander in and be the only person there in costume… That all of the “true collectors” would turn and stare at me, and collectively sighing “ugh, it’s one of THOSE kind of people…”

13532802_1213402295370858_1754643360180689883_nMy fear was unfounded though, and as soon as I arrived – before I even made it onto the floor I ran into a group of Anime  cosplayers, complete with a Naruto Akatsuki  Deadpool (who gleefully kept fistbumping me through the entire show whenever he’d run into me) We chatted and caught up – I had seen several of these people at Zip Con, and as I finally made it to the floor right now myself slept up in the Conga line made up of costumed characters!  It was one of the strange thing happened to me on the convention seen, and possibly the most fun I had that day God we danced from one end of the hall to the next, weaving our way through the dealers tables up and down the platform and making a continuous circuit – with an NCIS scientist ahead of me and a Harley Quinn ahead of her, the line streched ahead as far as my eyes could see. We beckoned a Pikachu and Black Canary to join us as we passed by, kicking out heals up and humming along.

13524540_1213402928704128_1973000971067974580_n13507225_1213401968704224_5649488698315410949_nThe venue was decked out in a very inviting way. The floor plan worked, it was logical,  not too crowded. Above where the registration table was there were large stand-ups of super heroes – Captain America, Superman, and Stormtroopers. Perfect for photo ops if anybody was interested. As I plunked down my five dollars for admission, the promoter trying to look at me was struck speechless, searching for the words and unable to find the expression to relate to me until I complimented his stark industries T-shirt that it was a good way to start.

Akron-Canton is not the deal factory that other small shows like Lake Effect are.  Still I managed to find a 25 cent bin to plunder, as well as scoring a beautiful hardback 13507003_1213402692037485_9083131833936761844_nedition of Jenny Breeden’s The Devils Panties from one of the discount boxes. It was fun to chat with some of the dealers, Scott from Comics Are Go (my preferred comic bookshop) was set up and mention that he was about halfway through his stock of the new comic he had put out for FCBD. I’m seriously hoping for a second volume of this. I spoke with another familiar face who mentioned the turnout at Lake Effect this year had actually been lower than he had expected – not quite as profitable as when it was back the old theatre. That was one of those things that had kind of worried me, that the move might not be the most successful tactic . Interesting to hear their perspective. Another dealer asked if I was a big fan of iron man – expecting the obvious “yes “. The thing is, I had to admit that I’m more a 13522061_1213402502037504_3279377786265632615_nfan of the movies – and that I hate being THAT guy, but let’s face it… We’re more of a DC family. Still, this particular suit allowed me to do what I really wanted to do, that is – revisit the Ironman form, while going absolutely crazy with details. God bless that one guy that I spoke to that day who actually recognized it as the “Bones” model. That’s one more person then I expected to know what it was…

13509001_1213402008704220_8211617944463766053_nThe costume contest is a new component to this show – it’s been sponsored by Heroic Adventures, a comic book shop out of Massillon . For the first year, there are actually some beautiful and impressive suits. Threre were perfect versions of the DCs bombshell Harley, The TV version of Arrow, along with fun interpretations of the Punisher and Black Canary . There was one young woman in a Kylo Ren costume – black robe, light saber and mask. she made her way through thecostume contest like everyone else, enthusiastic and happy to be there. Towards the end of the line, out of nowhere came this tall man, also in a Kylo Ren costume 13516648_1213402098704211_4887581353807862034_ntowering over The other contestants. The slightly more Diminutive Kylo Ren was moved forward from the crowd, and lept back up on to stage to confront her double, backed up by jubilant, raucous cries of “take him down!”, “Go get him!”. It was pandemonium and it was glorious.

This ended up being a fun afternoon.it’s still very much a five dollar show, with the dealers room being the central focus – but it feels like they’re trying to do more.  It seems like they’re seeing a benefit to adding a little bit of programming, even if it’s just running a Superman movie on the TV screens on the walls, and bringing in cosplayers. It can’t hurt,I don’t think they would have brought in that Anime group without the cosplay component and it certainly brought me – and more people means more people spending money at the dealer’s table.  I know I certainly did. I’m not quite ready to declare this a regular stop for me on the convention circuit, but it might just be enough to keep me from rolling my eyes in exasperation next time somebody tells me they’re heading to one of Jeff Harper’s shows.


Lake Effect Comic Con 2016

Conman13322109_1198730286838059_1078068479469314497_nI almost didn’t make it. It seemed like everything was working against us. First thing in the morning my bald cap went missing (How does that even happen? I deliberately dug it up and put in the helmet the night before!). Church went long, and I had to help tear down for next week. We had to stop at a costume shop to replace my bald cap We had to stop for a potty brake for Maddie, one of my boots cracked down the side (the wife went above and beyond the call of duty by running me out some wooden skewers to pull it together), and finally, the GPS took ups to the old address (Change you facebook location guys!), we added an extra five minuets to find Lake Effect’s new home at the Mentor Holiday in.

We arrived about 45 minuets later than I intended, but I’m so glad we made it in.

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Lady Deadpool haunts the screening corner

Lake Effect has become a tradition for us, and it’s still a good show. They continue to try hard to be more than just a bazaar and junk show. Despite the move from the theater they’ve been holding the show at, there were still panals and movie screenings. I’ll admit, I’d love to see a dedicated movie room though – they had a clever set up in an alcove with a table and chairs, but it lacks the proper screening room feel. That’s something I’m going to miss about the old theater location.

Their dealers room setup however, is something else. Most conventions will grab a large open space, with rows of dealer tables lined up side by side (sometimes spilling out into the hallways), creating a maze of retailers, a labyrinth of con swag you can lose yourself in. Lake Effect occupies three medium size ballrooms, each leading into the next like russian nesting dolls. It contributes to a feeling of discovery, like exploring one of those odd shops where something new and interesting is laying around every corner I really like this set up — it makes the con feel bigger than it is, while still maintaining the intimate feel we’ve come to expect from Lake Effect.

The one thing I was worried about though – deals. There are still some to be found, but with the move to the hotel, Lake Effect does not feel like the bargain mecca it used to be. I found a very good price on a Doctor Who trade as well as a better number (than amazon) on the Art of He-Man book that I accidentally passed up last y13321606_1198730696838018_5427060886683469836_near. But nothing mind blowing like that Teela or Frosta I’ve discovered there before. No Quarter or Fifty Cent bins. A lot of familiar vendors, and some new ones, but they’re bringing a higher priced selection these days.

We wandered around looking for Marvel Zombies for Maddie, but no luck. Nevertheless, she did find a darling Flamingo charm as well as picking up a flower one for her sister with her own convention allowance ( I was extrememly proud of her for doing that). She also spied a Minecraft gravity feed and absolutely had to go after one of those.

She also stopped by Artist Dan Gorman’s table and picked up a beautiful Supergirl print. I love when the kids buy art. This is one of the great things to see them learning about at cons. They’ve grown to expect it – they look for it.  And a great shout out to artists like Gorman and RAK! who create economical prints – even trading card size ones that kids can totally afford.

Another familiar face this time around was Pixel Bits. The kids are fascinated with this vendor – Lydia’s bought from 13315615_1198730713504683_6401520572262178658_nthem in the past. This time around, it was the Nintendo piece with a Pikachu in it that caught Maddie’s eye. They’ve added soaps and other oddities to thier booth and I think I really need to start dropping some more cash there- I expect I’ll see them again over at All-AmeriCON in a month or so.

Even in the new location, Lake Effect still managed to pack the crowds in. I think that the show has been around long enough that it’s really become trusted and well known, particularly in the East Cleveland area. What’s been really wonderful to see is how this show has and continues to grow. Not just in size but also in programing…and in cosplay.

Every year I see the Cosplayers come out in greater and greater force. More and more, you really see people bringing their A game and it’s really becoming a serious show as far as it costume contest goes. They’ve upped their game with the prizes as well, and it really just impresses me all around how this show just gets better every year. What started out as a small, local show for dealers to dump excess wares has really blossomed into a full fledged convention and has nowhere to go but up. We can’t wait until next year.

By the way, don’t just take my word for it – Maddie herself has a lot to say about this particular show!

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