I was standing there, minding my own business, chatting with Anubis, and all of a sudden the Vulcan threw a care bear at us.
These sort of things just don’t happen to other people.
I attended Lorain Comic and Toy Expo this weekend. This is a small show in its first year, but I really wanted to support it because I want to see conventions coming back… and I admire the sheer chutzpah of trying to launch a convention even at the tail end of the pandemic. It also has a great advantage of being one town over from where I live, as well as trying to draw in cosplayers with a low key costume contest. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters with my new McMandalorian costume, and Maddie was dying to break out her Clementine costume (From The Walking Dead game she’s been playing).
The Lorain show is starting off its first year with a bunch of familiar faces, filling the ball room with a lot of the usual suspects from the LoCo sellers (think the Comicpalooza comic crawl I did last year), as well as vendors from the North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club and my home comic shop Comics are Go. While there were bargains to be found (I managed to hit up a bunch of dollar and 50 Cent bins), The emphasis on these particular vendors slightly skewed more towards collectors pricing then bargain hunting. The upside of that is it creates a dense marketplace. You could probably do the dealers room in 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth your while to go around a few times and spend a couple hours. Every pass we made, Maddie and I spotted new things we missed on our previous trips. It’s also necessary to make a couple of passes when you’re getting stopped from time to time. We’d barely gotten down the first isle when I got pulled away to show up on Captain Crappy and Ms. Fever Blister’s livestream! ( I show up about two and a half hours in)
All in all, it made for a fun day. Maddie did a video on her experiences at the con for her youtube channel and you can find it below.
We found some fun stuff (Maddie was over the moon to find a Glacion Mimikyu plushie!) and had a good day, and definitely plan on coming back for the next one. The promoter has big ambitions, already planning out the next show, expanding it with outdoor activities for kids and at least one wrestling guest for the autograph hounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I’d really love to have a con so close to home.
It’s been a couple of years since I last hit Comicpalooza… That is, if you don’t count the mini-convention they threw last year (and I don’t). Comicpalooza is basically a couple of comic dealers engaging in massive garage sales just a few blocks apart from each other. A while back, it became a thing and they started coordinating it. What’s really taking it to the next level though, is the addition of comic shops in the area joining in as well as extra residential stops. The fact that there’s no comic book conventions going on right now probably doesn’t hurt any either.
I made my first stop out at my local comic shop, Comics Are Go. I had to run out to pick up my free comic book
day summer books anyhow, and the sidewalk sale was on in force. The shop at set up a huge table full of long boxes front and back, all for $.50. In addition to that, Shawn, The founder of Neo Comicon, had set up additional tables and filled them up with just as many pops as you’re likely to see at any convention! There were some boxes of loose toys, pins and patches, and generally fun bric-a-brac. I loaded up on 50 Cent issues here, and was particularly delighted to grab a copy of Ted McKeever‘s plastic forks. I brought it in and pointed it out to Eric, the shop owner. His reply was “I could have put this out as one of those weird, rare titles that nobody knows and nobody will pay attention to. I figured, it was a better idea to put in the 50 Cent bins so someone who really appreciates it would just… discover it.”
Definitely A good way to start the day. I headed from there to the first residential location in Amherst. Turns out, I’m doing the route backwards… At least the opposite order then when I previously going on this comic book crawl. The first stop was hot and I scored in a enormous stack of books, not least of which were some classic gold key stuff. A Lone Ranger, Ripleys Believe It or Not, that kind of stuff. It’s exciting to find these kind of books affordable. I also spent a lot of time padding my pre-crisis JLA. At this point in my life, I’m trying to collect more stuff from that mid 70s early 80s pre-crisis era and Comicpalooza didn’t fail me.
Next stop was only a block away but a much smaller set up, A tent with a few tables of long boxes for a dollar. While I didn’t come away from this one with an armload, I did manage to find some key issues, including the second issue of the Marvel Select Mandrake series. This is a beautifully painted series that keeps Mandrake the Magician in casual clothes while dropping him into modern times. It’s surprisingly compelling and beats any other version I’ve seen of him.
My final stop ended up being another deep dive, with me discovering A ton of Blackhawk – all set during that weird futuristic costume period. I also managed to pull out a little bit more justice league, fills some holes in my Suicide Squad collection and find some oddities. Oddities is a lot of what I ended up looking for. Stuff like the Sledge Hammer comic and fun odds and ends.
It was a good day. I probably walked away with over 100 comic books, just the kind of haul that would be normal for me going to a convention with some good quarter bins. I went broke before I could head out to the comic shop that’s located in the local flea market, but that’s OK, I’m already familiar with their stock and today I was more interested in these collections that I don’t usually get access to. I had a good time digging through those boxes in these guys garages, while chatting about our favorite independent series, and where exactly the industry is going to go next. It was also nice to bump into A couple familiar faces from the convention circuit that I haven’t seen in a while.
Definitely a good day, I’m always bragging about how the Cleveland area has such a wonderful comic book culture, but it’s events like these that really remind you just how good we have it out here! Hope your weekend was just as productive
Man, Monday’s have been quiet lately huh? With no cons, FCBD cancelled and little going on, there hasn’t been a lot to write in this slot. So what have I been doing instead of cons?
Cleveland ConCoction actually did a virtual convention with several panels and musical acts done online. My daughter and I even participated in the virtual costume contest! Not a lot of shopping available there though – I missed being able to bring home a new catnip toy for Sparky.
My local comic shop; Comics Are Go, however has been doing online sales, including virtual dollar bin diving every Sunday night. They’ve been keeping my reading stack full and I’ve redirected a great deal of my convention savings towards those kind of sales, as well as getting take out from the locally owned burger joint, Midway Oh-Boy.
We’ve always advocated shopping small. it’s one of the themes of our anti Wizard World tours and right now is no diffrent. I hope you’re doing the same.
When Madeline and I hit Hazard Con earlier this year, a booth was there promoting Great Lakes Geek Fest. It’s a new convention this year which definitely catches my interest, but being in Geneva, Ohio, I knew it was going to be a bit of a haul getting out there. As the event approached, I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to go or not – I was debating up until Saturday morning in fact. It just so happens that my family had other plans and would be gone for the day, so I decided I might as well give this new show a shot.
I’m never a big fan of a show using the word “geek” in the title, but I try not to let that prejudice me too much. What was really turning me off though, was the fact that the schedule of events took so long to get posted. I saw several announcements that there’d be panels and games and a costume contest, but the show never posted a schedule until 15 hours before the show began. I kind of need more notice than that to decide whether I want to go to a show – especially if I have any of the kids with me. For this reason, I was reluctant to go and definitely wasn’t bringing Maddie or Lydia with me., since there was no way for me to know if there’d be enough activity to keep their short attention spans occupied ( a good call by the way, I don’t think there was).
The layout was a turn off as well. The action was separated across two buildings – Great Lakes Geek Fest had secured a community center as well as the gym of the local Rec Center. The end result makes the convention look smaller than it is. Neither of these venues could have accommodated all of the vendors the show had secured, but at the same time, there weren’t enough tables to completely fill up I both venues the end result was both buildings ended up looking a little empty, with not quite enough vendors or attendees. To further complicate the situation, these two buildings weren’t exactly close to each other. There’s about a block and a half walk you’re the middle of the town to get from one to the other, including crossing the Main Street in Geneva. This is particularly challenging if you’re wearing a costume, and God help you if you have any sort of anxiety.
The convention tried to spin the layout in a positive way, “it’s a short walk, and there’s plenty of places to stuff your face between the two buildings!” It’s actually a good angle, and if they could secure the cooperation of local businesses, perhaps set up a table or two outside and make it into an actual Festival, this might actually turn it into something unique (it’d be a difficult task, and a big ambition). Indeed, some of my more curious encounters happened during my trips up and down the street. At one point a woman on the back seat of the motorcycle her Man was riding paused at the stop light to take photos. Later on, one of the other attendees rushed up to me for a photo. We had stopped in front of the large front window of a local restaurant and while he tried in vain to bring up his photo app, a little girl inside the restaurant noticed me in the Mr. Freeze suit. Her eyes grew wide and I waved. She smiled and waved back, to the amusement of her mother. This could be fun if the walk could somehow be incorporated into the con experience. however, if this isn’t possible, then I’d rather see them fill up a single venue and get everybody under the same roof.
Great Lakes Geek Fest impressed me with an impressive variety of vendors. There were volunteer groups and jewelry makers, action figures and artists, candy and comic books. Outside there were giant replicas of a TIE fighter, Dalek, and X-Wing dot-dot-dot but a shame that I couldn’t locate them in the confusing layout until the show was nearly over. There weren’t as many comic book vendors as I would have liked to have seen, though the ones who were there were recognizable and reliable (Shout out to my local comic shop Comics are Go! for setting up out there!). I’m still regretting passing on that Battle Armor Skeletor I saw in the Adam’s Action Figures booth, and had to grab some unicorn poop for the kids from the candy booth. No real deals in the comic boxes, the best you would do was a dollar a book on some indie titles.
After driving an hour and twenty minuets to get to the con, as I was suiting up I realized something terrible. I had chosen to bring Mr. Freeze out, it was Batman Day after all, but as I reached in my car to start assembling the freeze gun I was astonished to see that I’d forgotten the main body. The lightsaber that powers it was there, so was the front barrel- a clear cylinder made from a soda bottle. But the main body was still back at home, sitting on my pool table, 77 miles away. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to settle for just the soda-bottle-on-a-stick as my freeze gun (Ironically, I’d recently rescued an intrestingly shaped vodka bottle from the street to use as just this kind of hand held smaller freeze gun. I should have just gone with that). I was a little embarrassed (luckily you can’t see in in the dome helmet with all the condensation!) but people actually really seemed to dig it and were amused at the kitsch of it.
I managed to catch several of the panels, listening to the tail end of the Kirby panel and sitting through about half of the Batman at 80 panel. This was fun, because the moderator was pointing out some interesting facts about Mr. Freeze, in deference to me being in the room! I had no idea that Mr. Freeze had first appeared in a Blackhawk comic! it’s these kinds of obscure facts that you’re only going to get at a con. These were well thought out and good stuff. Earlier in the day there had been some games as well – things like comic price is right and jeopardy, which looked like fun (but too early for me to get out to).
In addition to good programming, Great Lake also drew a very friendly crowd. It didn’t hurt that I had a couple of friends there, but I was also able to chat forever with the local Deadpool as we compared notes about the way our respective unicorns work…no, really. He gave me some ideas for an internal mechanism involving pringles cans and epoxy. I got to pose for fight pictures with an excellent Wonder Woman and was impressed to see a curious genderbent Joker – actually, not so much a Joker as a “Partyman” from the 1989 Prince song that accompanied the Batman film. Her face lit up when I recognized the look and she told me I was the only on who had know what it was! Today she was going as Party Ma’am, and I was delighted that my knowing the character had made her day.
The costume contest was held outside which actually helped me see better in those dark wielder goggles I wear. I chatted with Zatanna before drifting towards the DC group to hang out (I only knew one person but that didn’t matter. We were still all bonded by out costume choices). I always say that this is my favorite part of any costume contest, just hanging out and getting to know the other people there. I ended up chatting with the person in front of me all the way up until he had to dash on stage for judging! We cheered on the kids and teenagers competing as the sun began to get low and the entire DC group spontaneously decided we need a group photo. It was a good day.
Despite having some issues, Great Lakes Geek Fest ended up being a nice time. There was a steady stream of attendees, never empty, but never full either. I’m hoping that the bumps in the road were just first year growing pains. It’s a good local con in an area that could use exactly this type of show. The long drive may keep me from coming back immediately, but I definitely want to sit and watch this one grow, get better and eventually take over the world.
“Hey! Can I be your leg?”
A blue blur raced towards me. It was a cosplayer in a plushie blue outfit that reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog. My little con buddy Maddie giggled as she whipped out the camera – after all, Voltron haven’t even made it into NEO Comiccon yet!
Sometimes when a convention changes hands, an anxious feeling of uncertainty can arise – that certainly seems to be the case with the uncertainty surrounding Akron Comic Con right now. With NEO though, there was never any doubt. After founding anr running the show for the past four years, Shawn Belles had decided to hand it off to Eric Anderson, the proprietor of Comic are Go. Anderson is a regular vendor on the con circuit and is well known and respected… and it doesn’t hurt that his store happens to be my favorite comic shop. He pulled the show off and kept it the same con that we know and love. If nothing else, the event maintained enough continuity that you probably wouldn’t even know there was a new promoter unless somebody told you. That’s good because I love this show, especially since it’s so close to home. The Soccer Sportsplex where it’s held is about a ten minuet drive from where we go to Church. Maddie and I hit the early service and then headed down the street to the con.
We knew from previous years that you couldn’t show up too late and still expect to get parking on site. We pulled in a little after eleven to find that the lot was full. I swung around and backed my little black car against a fence, creating my own parking space. While Maddie was high fiving me in the front seat, four other cars pulled in next to me, the five of us creating the last half a row of parking possible in the grass.
“I feel weird going into a convention without a costume!” Maddie complained to me. The thing is I don’t disagree with her. It reminds me of that first time out to the late and lamented Shinbokucon. I arrived in jeans and an Excel Saga shirt and felt woefully out of place among all the other cosplayers. Nevertheless I assured Maddie that in this 90° heat, she wasn’t going to want to be suited up all day – we’d do our shopping, say hello to friends, get autographs and armor up after lunch.
I brought a collection of interlocking Green Lantern covers for Paul Pelletier to sign. I had actually met him the previous day at a signing held by Comics Are Go. He and Matt Horak had popped into the shop for a couple of hours to sign comics and talk about the industry.It was a great time, almost like having my own personal panel with them. Pelletier described his early days breaking into the industry;
“I actually got into the Kubert school but then discovered I couldn’t afford to attend, so I went to work at the shoe place by day, doing comic books pencils practically for free on the side. I was drawing Ex-Mutants for Malibu and the guy who was inking the book also did work for DC. Some of his bosses there started to notice my pencils and asked ‘who is this guy that’s drawing for you?’ He gave them my information and they called me, I didn’t even have to send samples”
It’s a fascinating story, because his breakthrough into the industry wasn’t just about luck, there’s obviously a lot of hard work involved as well as being in the right place at the right time. He’s done amazing work on Aquaman and Justice League for the new 52 (I ALMOST pulled the trigger on one of his Superman prints – but it’s that new 52 outfit and I just can’t bring myself to spend money on Superman unless he has red shorts….) and I was stoked to have my books signed. We noted it was funny that while he’d always been more of a Marvel fan, most of his work had been done at DC.
While Tony Isabella was technically the guest of honor this year, the real draw for me was Tom Mandrake. Mandrake is probably best known for his legendary run with John Ostrander on the Spectre. I remember my buddy Mike Roop having a bunch of those glow in the dark covers, but I never really started reading books until very recently.I’m not sure why. They’re totally down my alley, and what’s interesting is we even see some crossover with us Ostrander’s Suicide Squad.
I didn’t just have just a stack of Spectre though, I had a curiosity with me. Mandrake did a single issue of Shadowman – something I found odd. I pointed out to him that I wasn’t aware of much work that he done with Valiant and asked if he was a regular there.
“Actually, that’s the thing, I didn’t do much work with them”, he said in slight bewilderment. “I don’t even remember how I got this job – they probably called me up because they needed an issue done quick. Back in those days we were all a lot closer in the industry…”
I grabbed some resin landscapes from a miniature dealer who was creating a variety of interesting things – since the rise of 3-D printing and the popularity of Perler beads, I don’t really see too much resin and looking at these figures you can realize exactly what a shame that is. I’m really excited to paint these and use them for photography with action figures and HeroClix. Maddie scored a Simpsons comic from Chris Yambar. He is a regular stop for her when ever we are at a convention.
I grabbed a Green Hornet poster at the local TV station’s booth and we moved on to Rubber City Cosplay to sign up for the costume contest. I noted that on the line above my entry there was another set of names with the series “Voltron”. I looked up at Cody and asked “Is there another Voltron costume here today?”
He nodded. “They’re playing a couple of the characters – Keith and Link.”
Maddie and I looked at each other.
“We’ve got to find these guys to get a picture!”
Indeed, we’d already spend much of the day chasing down cosplayers for pictures. Coming in to the show, Maddie had spied a girl dressed as Pokemon’s Serena. It’s Maddie’s favorite character, and she’d actually had her Serena custom on the previous weekend. She was totally excited to see another one. We also ran into my wife’s friend Crystal in her Miss Piggy outfit. She had nailed the character. it wasn’t just the ig nose or the blonde wig, what really sold it was the eye makeup. Big black lashes and heavy eyeliner, topped with purple eye shadow, I had never realized until that moment how essential all that is to the look.
We followed a trail of feathers on the ground to find Cruella Deville, but my favorite costume of the day was Chubby Bunny Cosplay, dressed as the Evil Queen from Snow White. Not only was the costume perfect, she had brought props that just made the look. A goblet that frothed (with cotton) and glowed (with LEDs), a magic mirror and a large spell book (which was hollow and served to carry her hone and wallet!). Maddie and I both cheered when she won the Adult division in the costume contest.
It was after 12:30 and Maddie was getting hungry so we headed out front and caught the shuttle bus. The viehicle was brimming with hustle and bustle, cosplayers all around us. It took us down the road a bit to the local college where there was overflow parking for the convention. The welcoming sight of a McDonald’s loomed across the street. Maddie and I nipped across the intersection to grab lunch and cool down under the air-conditioned golden arches. By the time we had eaten and got back to the show, it was just after one and we are ready to suit up.
About 17 hours before the convention, Maddie had come to me asking if we could pull her Iron Sapphire, – she hadn’t worn it in two or three years, and I knew it would have to be altered. We dug through the attic and found most of the pieces, I cancelled my plans to see Troll 2 at the Cedar Lee, and get to work adding inserts and extensions in the armor to make it fit a 13-year-old girl instead of an 11-year-old. (and here I had thought that since I finished my upgrades on Voltron Friday morning, I wasn’t going to have to deal with any con crunch this weekend!) While we’re at it, we added extra lights, rebuilt the mask and tiara and completely revamped the mid-section for my daughter who is now taller and – well, shaped differently then she had been a few years ago. By 1 o’clock in the morning I had painted pieces drying on the porch and was ready for bed. It’s a little nerve wracking though, we were breaking one of my general rules – always try on the whole thing together before bringing it out to a show. It turned out to be okay – the midplate didn’t go up quite high enough, but it was forgivable and Maddie darkened up the Star Sapphire logos on her shoulders with a sharpie while we were in the car, giving it that final touch. I suited up as Voltron and never even made it into the convention center before getting stopped three times for photos. The addition of the sword to the costume is something that had often been requested of me, this time around I decided to not only create it but to do so in the anime tradition – that is, oversized and detailed. I had taken care to make sure that it was removable – the hilt had no paint on it since it would probably just rub off from being inserted into the lion heads that form to my hands. One of my favorite things during this show was to hand the sword over to people who wanted pictures with me and show them holding it in the photo. By the end of the convention we got the hang of pulling the sword out of the lion head using two hands with a sharp upward motion and then lining up to the holes and steadily inserting it back in.
As we passed Archie Cunningham‘s booth, he waved us over, delighted and wanting a picture.
“Hang on, and I’ve got something for you!”
He reached under his table and produced one of his prints of Voltron : Legendary Defender and presented it to me.
“I was so upset with how the series ended, and I think it’s last time I’m ever going to draw him this way. I’m gonna go back to the classic – the way you look!”
We wandered around, taking pictures with Pennywise, a space marine, even a xenomorph from Aliens! Maddie got in on the act as well taking photos in her Iron Sapphire outfit and had a generally good time despite the uncomfortable armor (I had been right, even the three hours we were suited up was tough. We never would have made it through five hours). One of the vendor’s was nice enough to handle water bottles “I know how hot those things can get!” He suggested hooking up a old computer fan in the helmet perhaps to help cool me down.
When it was time to lineup for the costume contest, I was fortunate enough to be right behind the other Voltron cosplayers, and Maddie was right in front of another young woman in hand made Iron Man armor – the synchronicity was beautiful. My friend Rhonda was in the line next to us so we were surrounded by familiar faces.
We made one last pass at the dealers room, but shopping is always hard when you’re in a cumbersome outfit. Still, you never know what you might find. During that last pass, in an old toy booth, I spied it – a vintage 1979 Twiki action figure. It was in fact, the exact figure I’d been looking for at the Neotacc swap meet a couple weeks prior. I reached into the hidden pocket by my hip armor and grabbed my cash. I ended up paying about 25% more than I was really comfortable with on the toy, but I shouldn’t complain – it’s easily worth double what I paid, and routinely goes for much more on eBay. I definitely got a deal.
Finally it was time to pack things up and head home. The crest in my breast plate fell out as I was shuffling out of my armor – I had managed to perspire right through the foam. We cranked up the AC and left our makeshift spot in the now mostly empty parking lot. NEO Comiccon was still the great convention that it always has been and I’m glad to see it in good hands. We can’t wait to come back next year.
A couple weeks ago, I ran into my friend Eric at Akron Comic Con. He’d recently taken over my preferred comic shop Comics are Go! (it was a peaceful takeover, and it couldn’t be in better hands) and he mentioned they were doing something new with Heroclix on Sundays. Saturdays would be for the serious games – the WizKids events, the tournament play. Sundays would be for friendly games. Goofy shenanigans. Last week Deadpool had a malfunctioning sheep gun that kept spawning a new sheep every turn and creating obstacles.
This week it was everyone vs Thanos. Everyone brought a 500 point team and worked together to defeat Thanos in his home base.
Let’s face it. The plain truth of things is, I quit playing because I’m not competitive. I’m also not great at the game and I definitely don’t have the kind of money you need to sink into it to get good. But this wasn’t a competitive game. This was advertised as fun Sunday shenanigans. So for the first time in probably two years, I built a team, packed my case and headed out.
I found myself with a group of guys I’d never met before. Still, everyone was friendly, and Moose, the host introduced himself and promised to forget my name at least two more times before the end of the day.
I was surprised at the variety of figures everyone else used. I had brought Superman, Composite Superman and Quicksilver (because I don’t have a Flash, and his “Arrogant Attack” is good for the hit and run tactics I was planning). It’s a very “Me” kind of team, but looking around everyone else had spread thier points around a lot more, bringing four, five, six figures. Thanos himself was a 5000 point monster, and I was hoping I could keep my hypersonic abilities through a good portion of the match to keep attacking without getting based.
Thanos began the game with a special ability, dealing one click of damage to half of the entire force. The attack hit all three of my characters and when a pulse wave followed a Sentinel (Thanos’ minion) attack on his first turn, I found my Superman based, and my Quicksilver without his special attack. I quickly rethought my strategy and began to run my figures as a tentpole team, with Quicksilver constantly perplexing up Superman and my Composite Superman TKing the character into position to strike. I landed four attacks, with two thrown out by Probability Control. The others were solid five click hits, leaving me pleased to have done SOME damage against the behemoth.
This was exactly the kind of game I like. Everyone was just there to play, to have fun. We shared Probability control and perplexes. I began the game carrying another players piece into position. Hammers rained down on our team and were shared freely. We joked with each other, we talked comics as we played. We marveled at the absurdities.
“Is anyone else disturbed that Shocker has done more damage to Thanos than SUPERMAN????”
“Thanos attacks you.”
“Well, actually it’s the staircase dial in play right now – so it’s the stair case attacking me. How does a staircase attack anyhow?”
“A door opens up, and a large Hanna Barbara-looking boot comes out and kicks you.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me.”
“Anyone else notice that the map is pretty much almost all villians? Villians….and one Spider-Man. You know what’s going to happen after they defeat Thanos?”
“Yeah, someone grabs the Gauntlet and they all go after Spider-Man.”
It was a nice time. It’s fun to be able to do a Clix column again. Truth is, I’m still a little far removed from the game. New abilities and terminology have cropped up since I left and I don’t see me getting back into the Clix world any time soon, but I can definitely see myself perhaps slipping down to Comics Are Go! once in a while for some more of Moose’s Sunday Shenanigans.
Last year I decided to just swing by Carol and John’s comic shop for the FCBD midnight release, and hit the place around 11:45. This was a mistake. The line stretched almost to the end of the building complex and moved slow. It wasn’t the comic shops fault, they didn’t expect this many people. I didn’t end up getting out until around 2:30, and it was too crowded and I was in a bad mood altogether. The next day, people kept running out of comics and it was a drag -my favorite shop Comics are Go really saved the day with nice sets of FCBD comics for my girls. This year, I came in with a plan. I expected to be up all night. I pulled out my mazinger costume and grabbed a lawn chair. I met up with people from POP the Comic club and you know, the night flew by. Carol and John’s really worked things out too. They rented an empty space next to the shop, and set up two lines for the comic tables – plenty of space. On one side of the room, they held a comic related art show, on the other, they had vendor and information tables with cupcakes and concessions, along with familiar faces like the Akron Comicon, the Doctor Who Society of Cleveland and POP. Also, being the most kid friendly comic book shop on the planet, Carol and John’s had a special play area set up for the kids. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of children at the midnight party (but still more than you might expect), however, they would be out in full force the next morning! Mazinger was a big hit by the way. Carol and John’s was giving out patches to the cosplayers and I love mine, but I would have dressed up anyhow. I may have taken more photos over three hours at the party and in that line than I did over five hours in the costume at Shinboku con. If a person knew the character, they immediately recognized it. If they didn’t know him…there was a lot of Optimus Prime and Voltron guesses. For the most part I didn’t correct people. Why harsh someone’s buzz anyhow? I took advantage of the artist alley for a change too. I got Thom Zhaler to draw my girls a My Little Pony. “”You don’t have to say it’s for your girls,” he smiled at me. “It’s okay if it’s for you you know!” It really was for my girls though. If I’d been getting one for me it would have been Doctor Whooves. Actually, that still might happen sometime. The Twilight Sparkle sketch is up in the girl’s room now, right above their autograph from the Little Mermaid. The love it. The next morning I got the girls up and I headed out to York comics. York had a really cool set up as well. They were doing a food drive. Everyone who walked in the door got the main set of books – the 12 “Gold” books. They already had these bagged in a large box and just handed out bags to everyone who walked in. In addition, if you brought in a few canned food items, you could grab ten more from the “silver” book (the other FCBD books – these are optional to order) table. I like the idea because raising food for the Cleveland food bank is a good cause, and even if you don’t participate, you’re still going to walk out with 12 free books. If you do participate, there’s a greater chance that you will walk away with the “Silver” tier books you want. I talked with on fellow in line who couldn’t get the Mouseguard hardback at Carol and Johns the previous night. That was why he was here, and I noticed he did manage to get his copy that morning. I headed back over to Carol and Johns. I was mostly here because Marc Sumerick was giving away signed copies of the collected Franklin Richards strips that he scripted, and was only going to be there from 11:00 to 1 I believe. Marc singed a copy for each of my girls and Maddie in particular is loving it. It feels like Gus Beezer to her, though to me it feels more like Calvin and Hobbes. It almost feels strange. I know Marc. I see him a couple times a month, so getting an autograph from him is kind of weird. But still, the girls loved it. I ended my day by swinging by Comics are Go! which I’ve mentioned earlier is my favorite comic shop. They had a nice selection of the Gold books along with a TON of Rocket Raccon. Scott was also have a sidewalk sale and a table full of .50 cent bins! I dove in and emptied them of all the Shadow, Green Hornet and Daredevils I could find. Actually the best discount bins of the day. It’s worth mentioning, that even though I didn’t make it to it (the girls just didn’t feel like going out), there was a great event going on in downtown Elyria where I live with superheros putting on a live show, the bank being robbed and Batman putting a stop to it! All in all, I had a great Free Comic Book Day. I came home with over 40 free comics and bought about 30 more from different dump bins (I make a point to buy something from the shops I get my freebies at. That’s only fair). More importantly, I got to spend some time in the comic scene this weekend, hang out with friends and dress up as a giant robot. I hope you’re FCBD was a good as mine! This little guys was my biggest fan. he kept coming up to me all night! I love the tricked out Mini cooper as a Ghostbuster car. Best idea ever! We actually started our night off with a game of Spider-man Monopoly before I left for the party! BEST. COSTUME. EVER. Had to get a photo by the TARDIS Special thanks to Mark Brown who took a lot of t he better photos in this post!
Remember back in April when I attended Shinboku Con? This weekend I headed out to Herophoria. It’s put on by the same folks. This was meant to be a more comic themed convention – and a mini- con at that lasting only one day.
It’s the first year for this show and you can forgive a lot because of that.
Like Shinboku, they tried to have a lot of different stations. You entered the venue- the local college gym through an innocuous looking set of doors. I’m not familiar with the PE section of LCCC, so it took me a while to find it. Registration is right past the doors and halfway between the two sections of the con. There were video games and Anime screenings in the rooms down one hall, then, if you headed the opposite direction, you’d find the cosplay area and stage (presumably where they had hoped to have panels – but those seemed to have fallen through) and further down, the main Gym area with vendors and table top gaming, along with a room dominated by a large wrestling ring.
The vendors selection was severly lacking. I remember this being my main complaint about Shinbokucon, and here it was even more sparse. I know that they definitely had at least one, maybe more cancellations and that can’t have helped matters any. The local businesses were nicely represented though, I saw Scott from Comics are Go! (where I usually play heroclix) had a nice large space to vend.
Among the games that were demoing were the Munchkin card game along with Injustice and Marvel vs. Capcom in the video game room. I’ve seen both in action but it was really cool to see them projected on to huge screens while being played. The game room was friendly and everyone offered to let me play, but I’m really not that great at games and am really content to watch. That and the fact that I can’t actually sit in my Iron Man costume. Still, it was a great place to kill time between the cosplay contest and the Heroclix tournament.
The cosplay tournament in particular was a great deal of fun. I got to meet a few people I know online from Pop! the comic club and that was really nice. Some cosplay contests can get really competitive, but this one was remarkably friendly. My Iron Man costume is incredibly hot and I have NO dexterity in those gloves. I can’t pick something up, open my wallet or even scratch an itch (Lady Wolverine was nice enough to scratch my nose for me….with her claws….). My sunglasses kept sliding off….until the finally flew off my face and smashed on the ground, popping a lens out. Bane immediately grabbed them for me, slid the lens in and put them back on my face. Way beyond the call of duty, especially considering that I was a stranger. Everyone was supportive and really seemed to want each other to win. As the contest was starting, I saw all the guys from the Heroclix table filing in to support me and vote for me (they were measuring applause). That absolutely made my day.
In the end, I took third place, losing out to a group of Sailor Scouts and a great looking Spawn. Seriously, I’ve really got no argument with that!
After the costume contest I headed out to my car and peeled myself out of the Iron Man costume – I’m pretty sure I lost twenty pounds in that thing – then returned for the Heroclix tournament. I had play tested my team at Keiths Comics in Elyria a few days prior, but that was a normal game. This was a con tourney. I lost. Not only did I lose, I lost epic. Shakespeare could write plays about the tragedy that was my team. On the other hand, I’m really glad I didn’t have to play that Master Mold and Sentinel team. Yikes.
As I previously mentioned, a good chunk of the gym was taken up by a large wrestling ring where the guys of the MCW fought it out. Of course, this being a comic book con, they did things a little diffrently. Most of the guys came out dressed as heroes! I saw a Green lantern and Ghostbusters. Wolverine came out and the heel wouldn’t fight so they set up a bet – if the heel lost, he had to dress up in a costume too. That costume ended up being a Supergirl outfit that he had to wrestle Sailor Moon in!
Okay, I gotta admit, I have NEVER enjoyed wrestling. It’s just not my thing, but this was a great way of doing it and it’s a cool thing for a convention to try and do. It’s uncommon, and I applaud the innovation. The costumes made it a lot more fun for me to watch in between Heroclix matches. The absolute best bit was a wrestling match between Donkey Kong and Princess Peach where the ref was dressed as a giant banana. After she won the match, Princes Peach was kidnapped by Waluigi and Wario and spirited off. Later on Mario and Luigi had to wrestle Wario and Waluigi to rescue her. They played the appropriate music and kept everyone in character. That was definitely fun.
With all that said, I have to admit; this thing could have been run a lot better.
The website didn’t give me nearly enough information- it says screenings but didn’t say anything about what or when. Guests weren’t really announced and no panel discussion topics were ever presented. (I suspect the panels were scrapped because they couldn’t get enough people involved) In fact, with this little info, I probably would have given this a pass if it hadn’t been in my neighborhood (ten minuet drive). The Cosplay contest was late and kind of poorly run with no good method in place for judging winners, but rather a series of eliminations. There also didn’t seem to be enough promotion, not enough people aware that this was going on. I definitely could have used a map of where we were in the college and where things were going to be. I also noticed the Injustice tournament went WICKED quick. A few more video game competitions may have helped.
The thing is, I don’t want to badmouth this con. Like I said, it was a first time for this kind of show and I can forgive most of this. You can see how hard these guys tried to put together a good con. This show has a lot of room to grow and a good deal of potential. I really do want to see where it goes from here and I’m very comfortable saying I’ll be back next year.
I had the dubious honor of playing in a game against the Trinity of Sin this weekend over at Comics are Go!. The game actually turned out to be a three way game, and for the most part, it was two teams trying to take down the Trinity.
What’s the worst thing about playing against the Trinity? It’s not the massive 16 click dial. It’s not even the tough 19 defense it starts out with. It’s not even the occasional poison trait. That only comes up occasionally, when Pandora’s face shows up on the dial. No, the worst part of this thing is the horrifying feedback damage from the mystics keyword. Instead of the normal one click, if you keep all your figures on the team base, you take two clicks of damage every time you make a successful attack.
Big Mike came in fast and hard with some heavy hitters, hoping to knock down that damage before the feedback destroyed him. I had a similar idea and really thought long and hard about adding the FCBD Thor to my team. He starts off with a 5 damage and an 11 attack. The problem is, even if he hurdles that 19 defense, he only gets one hit at 5 damage and that’s a charge. Not only is that feedback going to knock his damage down to 4, but he’s also stuck being poisoned knocking him down even further, not to mention being in the line of fire for anyone using pulse wave – a go-to power for dealing with Mystics.
I think Pulse Wave could have worked here actually, but so slowly with that one damage at a time trying to chip away at that deep dial. I pulled my Composite Superman and played him at the 80 point level, then pushed him one click where he goes into Pulse wave fro a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I deployed him badly, then got distracted trying to pick up a Kurreth’s Hammer and got based, then blasted.
My main strategy for dealing with the Trinity ended up being Blackheart. He’s a hefty piece, but he’s a mystic too, and any time he takes damage it would feedback on the Trinity- a good start.
The main reason I choose Blackheart though, was his pets. He comes with two detachable gargoyles. When he uses his power of Dark Thunder, a gargoyle detaches and becomes a bystander with it’s own attack and defense and movement. When it’s KOed, it returns to the Blackheart base where it can be summoned again. I barely moved Black heart all game – in fact the only time he moved is when the red Gargoyle TKed him away from Trinity (on Mike’s suggestion – thanks!). I kept pulling up the gargoyles, placing them in front of Blackheart to protect him from ranged, then the red one would TK the blue one over to Trinity where it would attack. Trinity would then have to destroy it or take poison – taking one of Trinity’s actions. If there was no blue, the red one would make a ranged attack while Blackheart generated another blue one. My allies on the other side would perlex down that massive 19 defense to make it more manageable and I’d keep hitting, which would destroy the gargoyle but never give damage to Blackheart who would just pop another out. It chipped away at the Trinity dial while he was mopping up the other team.
It was fairly effective. We got the dial down to click 11, and I know I couldn’t have done that on my own. That’s why I said it was nice to play this as a three way game. It gave us both a chance. Still, that Trinity of Sin is a monster piece.
I did find one thing cute. Every time I’d detach the gargoyles, they don’t stand well on their own. They would topple over and I would just lay them on their side. When I’d TK the blue one over to Trinity, I’d lean it up by Phantom Stranger and say it was nuzzling him. If you can’t beat ’em, annoy them!
Okay, now that you’ve read that comic, head over to Violent Blue. We’ve got a new strip up today and meet us back here tomorrow!
So father’s day was interesting. Amy asked the girls what they should get my father and they said “Lone Ranger stuff?” That was a fine answer. She then asked them what they should get me. They both chimed in “Heroclix!”
That’s cute. Not sure why they were thinking that, especially since I haven’t played in a month or so, but then again, I do play with them sometimes on the Gotham City map that’s set up in the Library. Nevertheless, I didn’t think they were going to follow through with that.
Did you know Five Below has Heroclix?
Nothing new of course. In fact I don’t think they sell anything that’s playable in a modern age tournament, but then again, a lot of the time I’m playing golden age (all sets) anyhow. They got me a box of Hypertime, and a box of Justice League. Lydia chose the Hypertime box because it had Catwoman on it and she expected her to be in the box.
I actually pulled some nice figures out of the Justice League box. There was a Batman and Robin duo figure I always wanted and a really powerful Emperor Joker…200 points, but way powerful. I think I may match him up with that Lex and Braniac figure I have some time.
Amy also got me a gift certificate for Comics Are Go! (and they have the best gift certificates ever….) and while they were there, the girls snagged bookmarks and the free All-Star Superman for me. It occurs to me that my girls have been in that shop more times than Amy has.
We took the girls to see Epic this weekend as well, and while I was there I noticed two previews for movies I want to see that I’ve been putting off. Superman and Star Trek are both coming to the palace. I’ll be heading there for both in 3d, 5.00 each.
Finally, if you were watching the parade in Avon Lake this weekend and you thought you saw me dressed as a zombie…you were right. I marched with the Lorain County Zombie Outbreak Response Team to promote their Zombie Walk in the fall – a charity event to raise food for the Second Harvest Food Bank.
It first came to mind when Maddie and I were playing Gauntlet on the M.A.M.E. cabinet on night. Maddie frequently asks to play games with me on the rebuilt arcade machine, mostly the Marvel vs. DC M.U.G.E.N. game, but also things like Marble Madness or Crusin’.
The next time the question came to mind was when I was playing a game of Heroclix over at Comics are Go! in Sheffield. I had brought out some of my custom objects to play with the game pieces – an old 7-Up machine, a cigarette vendor and an X-Men 4 player arcade cabinet. We were talking about how dumb it was that no one ever ported this game over to any platform of the day or even to PC-CD (Though I’m told it’s finally available for ps3. Is that correct?) I mentioned that my daughter and I had played through the entire thing on my M.A.M.E cabinet.
So what’s the question? Here it is.
Are we the first generation of parents to use video games to bond with our kids?
It’s a devilishly simple question….and not as straightforward as it seems.
Sure parents probably played some video games with their kids, but how often? How did it fit into their relationship? It’s still a reasonably new medium thought that’s getting easier and easier to forget. One of the developers in the documentary “Indie Game” pointed out that this generation – people born around/after 1975-1980 grew up with games as a normal part of their life. It wasn’t a novelty, it wasn’t an occasional activity, just popping a quarter in if you happened to be at the pizza parlor or something. We had Atari’s and Nintendos and probably played a little bit on most days.
When we first got an Atari 2600, my parents played a little bit with me, but the novelty soon wore off for them and they moved on. For the most part, I played games alone or occasionally with friends. I imagine that was the case with most kids. Some dads here and there would get addicted to Zelda or Mario and perhaps they would take turns, but those are really single player experiences, not bonding games. The documentary “The Ecstasy of Order” describes a couple of families where they would competitively play Tetris, but again, one at a time, posting the score on a whiteboard or refrigerator.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a gamer. Not in the least. If you really stretch the definition, you might be able to label me as a retrogamer (one of the reasons I made Steve in Violent Blue one – at least that way I can know a little more about what I’m talking about). I enjoy classic games, and archive as many as I cam using emulators. I have a paticular love of old arcade games up through the 32-bit era. They tend to be short and the M.A.M.E. cabinet gives me unlimited virtual quarters and that’s a good thing because more often than not, I don’t have the patience to finish a game. I complete a game on my PC or DS approximately once every year or two. The last one I did was the new version of Y’s ….and that doesn’t exactly count since it’s just a rehash of the game I beat on my Sega Master System twenty years ago. I’m pretty sure I will beat the Spirit Camera game Amy got me, but even that three hour game has stretched out for months!
When I was a teenager I played every day, as an adult, I play games once a week or less…which brings me back to my point : NOT a gamer.
Having kids kind of changed that. I play more often now, because when they ask to play a game with me, I don’t want to say no. They won’t always be around to play games with me. When I built the M.A.M.E cabinet, I intentionally built in two controllers because I knew my kids would be playing games on it some day. Maddie and Lydia race against me in Mario Kart on our DS’s and pass around the tablet for the Hungry Shark game. We fight on Marvel vs. DC and on the old Capcom games, we co-op on Magic Sword. We play on the Genesis hooked up in the Livingroom (although those games actually don’t look that great on the HD TV) and Maddie has discovered she likes Scorpion best in Mortal Kombat.
Video games with Daddy has always been a part of their lives.
I started my Free Comic Book Day this year at Midnight. Well, actually a little before, heading out to Carol and John’s comic shop for the Midnight release party.The midnight party features free comics, specially brewed drinks and food along with sales and costumes. I went to this a couple of years ago with my friends John and Carl, and remembered not liking it, but didn’t quite remember why.
The two and a half hour wait in line may have had something to do with it. I remember it being crowded, but not this crowded….and we were waiting forever. The young lady in the great Doctor Who shirt (Complete with a button that said “come along Pond!”) that I was in line with was getting a little worried that there might not be much left if we ever go in. (By the way, if your reading this, I owe you an apology. I was in a bad mood and didn’t realize we would be out there so long. I should have talked to you more and been friendlier. I was rude to just stand and read my book as much as I did). On Facebook I joked with folks that we should have headed to the party and played a game of Heroclix while we waited. Seriously, there was enough time to get in a full game while in line. If I do this party again next year, I’m planning something like that. Cards or heroclix or SOMETHING.
Still, we eventually got in and I got my first selections, including the Cleveland edition of Superman. That was one I definitely wanted, especially since we’re celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the character – or trying to at least.
Madeline had ballet the next morning and we weren’t about to let her take off just to trot around town trolling for comic books with Daddy. We suited Lydia up and were ready when Maddie got home at 11. We tossed her costume on, packed a lunch and headed back to Carol and John’s for the costume contests.
We had no idea that half of the places we went for Free Comic Book Day would be OUT by the time we got there. Perhaps we need to start earlier, but it also seemed like there were a bunch more people out this year than before.
I saw the line at Carol and Johns and my heart sank a little. It was as long this afternoon as it was at midnight. Ugh. The girls wouldn’t last an hour or two of waiting like that. Still, we were there in time for the costume contest, so the girls got their numbers and headed up. Maddie and Lydia were in different age categories, so they weren’t competing against each other. I think I’ve very glad for that.
To my great delight (and perhaps a little surprise) both of my girls placed. Lydia got third (and lost out to the cutiest set Power Puff girls EVER) while Maddie got second in her division. I couldn’t be happier.
Next off, we headed out to Parma to swoop down the Polish corridor. B and L comics was out, however he had a few ones from last year and older on the counter to try and still have something for people….my girls and I were at the counter making our purchases (we raided the .50 box) and were asking about which free ones he still had and folks were reaching around us to snatch them away before my two little girls could get anything! How rude!
Traffic was bad enough that we skipped Northcoast Nostalga…a shame too, because they always have great discount bins – .25 and .35 bins, and I always rummage through those. York was running out, but the girls got some Strawberry Shortcake there and we bought some Trinity (because they had Wonder Woman on the cover). I also got my Uglydoll comic here. This was just the coolest offering the FCBD! The girls loved looking at the statues and figures. York was running out too, so they pulled stacks of old issues from the back and set them up on the free table so everyone could still get something. Very cool guys. On the way to our next stop, I became aware of Maddie talking in the back seat. Not to me….no she was reading on of the strawberry shortcake comics she had just gotten to her sister.
Thank God for Comics are Go! in Sheffield. They still had a decent stock and had save me one of the FCBD Iron Man 3 heroclix! You guys saved the day. Seriously. The girls had been getting a little discouraged. The other thing Comics Are Go! managed to find for me was a copy of the Walking Dead comic for this year. Not one place we went had that one still in stock. In fact, Mike ran into the back and dug that and a Judge Dread out for me I wouldn’t have gotten these comics otherwise. Then again, that’s one of the things about having a shop you go to regularly. In fact, I think next year, we may mostly just do Comics Are Go. (Maybe the midnight party at Carol and Johns, but maybe not).
While we were in Comics are Go! Maddie kept looking around at the toys and other comics, and she discovered the My Little Pony comic book. She asked me if we could get that one too, and I said yes (like last year, we want to buy something at every stop to do what little we can to support these places). She was also looking at the figures and discovered the Wonder Woman line – A Circe figure and a special agent Diana Prince figure. She brought those up the Scott, the store owner and asked why the boxes said “Wonder Woman” when it didn’t look like Wonder Woman inside. He smiled and explained who the figures were. It was unbearably cute.
Of course we dressed up. Me too. I tried something different this year, my costume was Perry White, with Maddie as She-Ra and Lydia as Batgirl. Funny, Lydia’s always refused to wear masks, but this year she came up to me first thing in the morning and asked me to make her a mask for her costume! Rushed in to the basement to find some foam and elastic, but we got it done!
By the time we got home we were all tired and Maddie was eager to tear into the Lego set she won in the costume contest. The girls asked for a Wonder Woman cartoon so I fired up Netflix and turned on the Wonder-Woman centric episodes of Justice League. We played with Legos and plowed through our piles of comics. We didn’t bring home as many this year. The girls had about seven each. I had about twenty. I know they were a little disappointed by that, but we still had a fun day out and I still had plans for the evening. After all, what better way to end FCBD than with Iron Man 3 at Amherst Cinemas? I still had a dollar left over from comic book shopping and managed to scrape together two more dollars in change (remember the days when you could still hit a movie using the change you found in you couch or car seats?)
I got to the theatre just before the movie was supposed to start. Just in time to see them put the “Sold Out” sign up.
Comics shops running out of comics? Comic movie running out of tickets? I’m beginning to see a theme here. Time to pop in the Scott Pilgrim DVD I borrowed from the Library and try again tomorrow.
I did make it in on Sunday. Probably the best Iron Man movie of all of them, I prefer this director. However, while I liked it better than any of the other Iron Man movies, but I still think it needed 30% more Tony-in-the-suit. It seems like the entire point of these films is to get tony out of the armor….I get that they are trying to make up for it by throwing in War Machine/ Iron Patriot, but honestly, for a film called “Iron Man” Iron man is actually not in it very much. I think we had more screen time with Tony-in-the-suit in Avengers. And poor Tony, he was getting tossed around worse than Bruce Campbell in an old cabin.
I really like the Iron Patriot suit though. I’ve got a bunch of foam in my attic. Wondering if I could make a suit….I think my cosplay for Lake Effect Comic Con might be Tony with just the arm and leg armor from the escape sequence. We’ll see.
We’ll close this with some photos from the midnight party and FCBD. Some of these are mine, some are culled from around Facebook. And remember, new Violent Blue is up today!
Don’t forget, Free Comic Book Day tomorrow! Head out and support you local Comic Book Shop! I’ve already got the girls costumes ready for them!
Then that afternoon I’ll be hading down to Amherst Cinemas for Iron Man 3! Remember, Amherst is a $3.00 theatre, leaving me enough to go see Godzilla at the Cedar Lee! (If I don’t head over to Comics are Go for Heroclix that is)
Comics are Go! decided to do something different this time around. Mike was wanting to play the Star Trek Tactics game, and he decided to pair it with Galactus.
Now, I’m a fan of Star Trek – or at least of good star trek (I feel it really got watered down towards the end of the century) built I haven’t been buying this game. I really hadn’t seen to many people playing it and honestly, I don’t need more Trek toys. I have a pretty full set of the Micro Machines ships and what few ship the Tactics set makes that Micro Machines didn’t are WAY expensive. Far more expensive than standard Heroclix. Too much for toys that I didn’t expect to play with and don’t have room to display.
Still, when this opportunity came up, it was too good to resist. Galactus in general is a really good idea for this kind of game and it really got my imagination going. So much so that I created this prolog for the game. (They would definitely carry this comic at Taylors shop in Violent Blue)
Mike ended up playing a Romulin team. Jim and I played Federation teams – I was borrowing pieces from Mike’s collection and tried not to duplicate anything that Jim was playing (except the cloaked Defiant. that was just too cool).
I did find a use for my old Micro machines toys. I used the little figures as counters. It ended up looking a little creepy though….like they were just people who had been sucked out of the ship, dead bodies floating is space.
Jim brought along his custom Borg cube as well. I’d seen this while it was still a work in progress, but cool to see it complete with the custom dial mounted and in place.
It’s didn’t get played, but it brings up the question – what would The Borg vs. Galactus look like? I speculated that he’d just slam his hand down on the cube and rip off a chunk with his fingers. Kind of like this.
A really fun scenario. I’m hoping to see more tactics played up at the shop. Definitely something I’d be up for if it turned into a monthly thing.