The plague doctor lowered her mask and began the arduous track through the crowded isles, teaming with people. She stopped short at the large, dark monster. It’s normal to flash was covered mostly in Scarlett ropes, and she evaluating the spectrum. Then, she selected a small white bag from the top of her staff, and on the sachet of lavender on one of the hooks that made up the spiraling talisman that adorned the top of the Skeksis walking stick. Next to him, a young Gelfling, chained to the monster, just looked on, puzzled and petting her Fizzgig.
That’s right, Maddie was coming with me this year – kind of a necessity since I had no hands and needed someone capapble of handing over money for admission and spaying vendors and stuff.
Akron Canton Comic con has been a regular stop now for a few years. It is one of the best of the Harper shows in the area, not just because of the costume contest that draws cosplayers from all around the area, but also the smart and interesting layout in the larger venue. The artist alley lines the upper level, and continues just by the stairs of the lower area. It means you’re going to have to pass through the artists before you hit the dealers. It’s a nice way of getting them better exposure. The venue also most cinnamon press the snack bar, selling two dollar sloppy Joe’s and hotdogs pop and ice and whatever you need. There’s tables and chairs and open spaces in the upper level for people to eat and hang out out, making this one of the more surprisingly social show.
Social can sometimes be the point. There are certain people in that area like Allie or Jason, that I’m only going to run into at these particular events. And for a lot of people, this was their first time back into the convention world in over a year. I was delighted and relieved to run into Mike, the founder of Akron Comicon, working a booth. He had his own bout with the plague, and this afternoon he actually looked in better health and more positive and spry than I’d seen him, even before the calamity. My teenage daughter was accompanying me, and he actually recognized her first. Not a big surprise, considering my features were completely buried under the full body costume.
In other corners of the show, we ran into a couple that was walking around in Robotech costumes. Never my thing when I was a kid, but my friend Johnny Em turned me onto it by slipping me the novels when I was in my 20s. It’s an amazing series, and fun to see people dressing up with it. I don’t get a chance to talk about it that often. The fellow then reached behind him, into his backpack and pulled out his problem. It was a plate, with what appeared to be a steak and potatoes on it… And I knew immediately which character he was cosplaying. There’s a scene in the middle of the Macross saga, where pilot Ben is just sitting down to dinner. Suddenly the alarm klaxon goes off and he hast to rush off to his veritech plane. He turns back to his dinner, and points at it saying, “Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be back.”
The heartbreaking irony here, is he never does make it back. Something you don’t realize at the moment… It’s just a funny line that becomes heartbreaking a few chapters later. A little touch like this on the prop, it just takes the costume to a whole new meta level.
Maddie found an Avatar poster from one of the artists in Artist Alley, and absolutely fell in love with it. Was one of the first things that she bought, and it’s one of those things that I always enjoy seeing my kids buying art from the vendors, not just toys or books. For my part I hit the 50 Cent bins at Hazel’s Heroes pretty hard, flipping through them, even while in the Skeksis costume. Of course, that meant that when it was time for the costume contest, I had to find a way to hide the bag in my robes. I pushed it up as far as I could into the crook of my elbow and tried to keep that elbow almost past my back, with the bag then melting into the folds of the cloak. Perhaps I should’ve been focusing less on that, because once we got on stage, the sachet from the plague doctor fell off my staff. I reach down to grab it with my Skeksis hand, and a finger fell off. It was a disaster, the costume was falling apart before our very eyes! Everybody smiled and laughed and whore, and Maddie shuffled me quickly off the stage.
After I’d gotten out of the costume, it was back to the floor, where I could better see into the long boxes. I grabbed another stack of trade paperbacks and chatted with some of the people who could now recognize me. There was a Deadpool in a sailor moon costume who you may have recall seeing him at ZipCon back in 2020. (We leared he went by Dead Moon, rather than the SailorPool moniker I’d hung on him last year) He looked at me, aghast.
“THAT’S what you really look like?”
“Look who’s talking!” I laughed. And it was nice being able to chat with people, friends old and new face-to-face.
It had been a long day, and a crowded one. From a purely spectator standpoint, the show seemed like it was more crowded than usual, a phenomenon I’m in countering at every convention I go to this year. We ended up having to park two lots away and walked down to before we got into the show. That’s OK, I’m happy to see that the scene is making some sort of a comeback. We ended the day tired, but happy. And can’t wait to go out and do it again.
If you’re interested in seeing Maddie’s video diary of the event, you can check that out below. Otherwise jump to the pictures!
I was standing there, minding my own business, chatting with Anubis, and all of a sudden the Vulcan threw a care bear at us.
These sort of things just don’t happen to other people.
I attended Lorain Comic and Toy Expo this weekend. This is a small show in its first year, but I really wanted to support it because I want to see conventions coming back… and I admire the sheer chutzpah of trying to launch a convention even at the tail end of the pandemic. It also has a great advantage of being one town over from where I live, as well as trying to draw in cosplayers with a low key costume contest. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters with my new McMandalorian costume, and Maddie was dying to break out her Clementine costume (From The Walking Dead game she’s been playing).
The Lorain show is starting off its first year with a bunch of familiar faces, filling the ball room with a lot of the usual suspects from the LoCo sellers (think the Comicpalooza comic crawl I did last year), as well as vendors from the North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club and my home comic shop Comics are Go. While there were bargains to be found (I managed to hit up a bunch of dollar and 50 Cent bins), The emphasis on these particular vendors slightly skewed more towards collectors pricing then bargain hunting. The upside of that is it creates a dense marketplace. You could probably do the dealers room in 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth your while to go around a few times and spend a couple hours. Every pass we made, Maddie and I spotted new things we missed on our previous trips. It’s also necessary to make a couple of passes when you’re getting stopped from time to time. We’d barely gotten down the first isle when I got pulled away to show up on Captain Crappy and Ms. Fever Blister’s livestream! ( I show up about two and a half hours in)
All in all, it made for a fun day. Maddie did a video on her experiences at the con for her youtube channel and you can find it below.
We found some fun stuff (Maddie was over the moon to find a Glacion Mimikyu plushie!) and had a good day, and definitely plan on coming back for the next one. The promoter has big ambitions, already planning out the next show, expanding it with outdoor activities for kids and at least one wrestling guest for the autograph hounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I’d really love to have a con so close to home.
I have to hand it to Jeff Harper for keeping the con scene alive and continuing to run shows during the panic. Looking at the line on Sunday, which wrapped around the hotel, you can see that Cleveland is starved for comic con interaction.
Not sure if the long line was because there was more people, or because of the capacity limits. Probably a little of each. you know what you’re getting with the Harper show. It’s a flea market. Some deals, and some rare stuff that you’re going to have to pay for. The first thing I found was an adorable Godzilla plushie for five dollars. I hit the 50 Cent bins over at Hazel’s heroes pretty hard, not only filling a hole in my Batman Destroyer arc, but completing the Batman and the Shadow series (I swear, I never even saw these hit the shelves!) as well as finding a first issue of Deadpool the Duck. There were some good selections of art and interesting odds and ends. My buddy Mayday scored a Frank Robbins autograph for five dollars, and I grabbed a couple interesting figures from the dollar shelves (“I don’t usually do business with the Joker,” the dealer told me. “But since you’re paying cash…”). I topped off the day with a beat up Tales of the Unexpected from a quarter box – a real deal.
Even though this is not really a cosplay kind of show, I’m really glad I dressed up for this. There were maybe a dozen other people in costume, and there were a lot of kids in attendance. The Joker really brightened some peoples days (“There’s your change, Happy murdering!” another dealer told me as he completed our transaction).
The real highlight for me though was seeing con friends again. This particular show was nearby, about one exit off the freeway from my office and there were far more familiar faces her than at the Toyhio show last month. I ended up sticking around twice as long as I normally would at one of these events, just to hang out with friends.
I had wondered just how the convention scene would fare after the last year, but I learned anything, it’s that there’s still an audience for it out there, and cabin fever has firmly set in.
The first thing I thought when I walked into the Toyhio show was “It seems more crowded this year.” I wasn’t wrong. Later in the evening the crew would post that they had a record attendance. I wonder if others had the same feeling that I did – there’s no big cons going on right now, so we’ll take what we can get!
Nothing much has changed from my previous trip out. https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2020/06/22/toyhio-8-toys-find-a-way/
It’s still very much a collectors show and the biggest, most awesome dealers room around. But they are still charging collectors prices – you can find what you’re looking for. But expect to pay.
For my part, I came looking for some specific things. A Frakenstien (Recently a flood of the old BK toys hit the market and they are going for an average of twenty bones each – too rich for my blood.), Beetlejuice (I’d take the Toony Terrors, but I’d rather have a cartoon one. That’s more my speed), cheap comics, and some custom fodder.
I noticed that there were a LOT more Toony Terrors this time around. I saw a bunch of wave three and five around (Interestingly enough though, NO wave 4!). Good to know these things are available on the secondary market just in case I fail to find them in the wild. I still haven’t seen BJ or Regan, but Victor and Sam have both showed up in stores. Fun to see the new blood spattered variants in person.
To my delight, I found a Frank in single digits and snatched him up. I also found some deals at the same endcap booth in the overflow roundabout that had cheap He-Man vehicles last time around. Fifty cent comics and dollar figures… I scored some oddities. Some Robin Hood figures – I love these things just for their reused kenner molds. I’m total good paying a buck to be able to hold these in my hand. I also grabbed a black armor DD – i liked this suit, and think it’s underrated. Possibly overshadowed by the less than stellar storyline. I also grabbed some potential customs. A Geordie LaForge with no visor, and a Howling Mad Murdock.
The show is still a bit too far for me to hit regular, but it remains a high recommend, and was a nice way to spend a saturday afternoon!
Basically, when there’s nothing else, you go to a Jeff Harper show! And quite frankly, just as with Toyhio, I want to support the shows that actually dare to go on this year.
Like other Harper shows, there’s no programming, and in this case, only a smattering of vendors, but that didn’t stop me from finding the cosplayers and plundering teh fifty cent bins, scoring some great Green hornet and Deadpool titles!
I headed out to the Toyhio show this weekend. It’s one that I’ve heard it before, but never actually made it out to because it’s so far out… past Akron, past Warren, past Youngstown, so close to the border that if you sneeze really hard, you’ll find yourself in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, Toyhio is the first show since the Covid scare to gird it’s loins and say “Yes, I’m going ahead with my event”. I absolutely want to be there to support them, because somebody has to go first.
It’s not what I call a full-fledged convention, there is no programing. Much like the Harper shows, it’s a swap meet, a one day flea market, a wide ocean of toy vendors. I only saw one attendee in a costume, other than the local chapter Starfleet, which had a table with costumed characters and even a tribble throw game, all raising money for charity.
Don’t let that description under sell you though. While it’s all just one vast dealer’s room, it’s one of the biggest ones I’ve been in. The tables stretch on endlessly, wrapping around corners, through the foyer, through doors and hallways or doors… It’s exactly that sort of labyrinthian maze that really appeals to me, with the promise of secret treasures hidden in the furthest depths of the maze. I noted that the promoters had requested vendors to limit dump bins of loose figures, and was pleased to see that they had disregarded that request. I dove in and dug endlessly.
To be clear though, this is really a collector focused show. If you’re the kind of guy who is searching for that one specific transformer where they painted the stripes black instead of white, or that one action figure that they only made 3 1/2 copies of, this is a place for you. Lots of figures behind glass, tons of vintage things that are still sealed in the box. A collector could walk into this room with $1000 of cash in his pocket, and walk out broke. I, on the other hand, am one of those guys always searching for deals. Those are harder to find here, but they do exist. I manage to score some battered he-man vehicles cheap, and wrecked the quarter bins of comics I found, as well as finding the loose Ghostbusters figure I need to customize into a Tracy. By the way, what’s going on with the Real Ghostbusters? They all suddenly shot up in price, both here and online! I’m seeing vintage ones still in the box EVERYWHERE now, and the loose, beat-up figures with no accessories that I was paying 3 to 5 dollars for a year and a half ago or suddenly now are going for 10 to 15!
The real find of the day for me though, was a loose Joker figure from wave one of the superpowers collection. I passed on a ridiculously low priced one several years ago at Great Lakes Comicon, and for me to find him here at that same price… Well I didn’t hesitate this time. He’s one of those figures that fetch ridiculous amounts of money, alongside Batman figures from that line and I never thought I’d actually managed to complete the collection with him on a bill. His suit’s discolored a little, and there’s some paint worn off that I can restore, but all in all, I’m thrilled to have him sitting up there on the shelf with the other figures, right next to the penguin.
Toyhio is a really fun show. I’m pleased to say it was well attended, drawing well over a thousand people with lots of parents bringing kids to browse through the wares. I wish it were closer, because I suspect that it would be a regular afternoon stop once or twice a year, but considering I’m spending as much time driving to and from it as I am lurking through the halls, it’ll probably be a while until I return. Nevertheless, if you’re in eastern Ohio, this should definitely be on your event list!
The artist behind the table waved me over. I shuffled in my Ghostbuster suit.
“Can I take your picture? I’ve got a guy on the other end of the phone who don’t believe you exist!”
Under the gorilla mask I smiled, and waved my Monkey paw.
I was there for the first Horror Realm, held in this very hotel. It was the year I was getting back into the convention scene and was early in my first big tour. The show was being heavily promoted by the It’s Alive Show (My favorite horror host show at the time) and I kicked off my Dawn of the Dead poster with a reunion there and the rest was history.
I was also there for the last Horror Realm, held in a different hotel, where I managed to plug a bunch of the holes in my Nightmare On Elm Street collection. It had been quite a few years in between, and I found myself remembering how much I enjoyed it and resolved to come back the next year.
Only there wasn’t a next year.
The promoters ran into some family problems, and real life had to come first. They ended up not being able to produce the show any longer and reluctantly retired. We thought, for good but last fall I took a peek at their website and noticed they finally managed to pull things together to bring the convention back and I was determined to be there.
As I pulled into the city limits, I noticed a car that merged in front of me. There was a Jason mask on One side of the trunk and I Michael mask on the other. It was Frankenstein monster on the bumper just below superman license plates from Ohio. I grinned and switched off the GPS, Figuring it would be a safe bet to just follow this guy the rest of the way. Once we pulled into the lot of the hotel, I discovered that he was actually from Lorain – the suburb that neighbors my own hometown near Cleveland. We chatted about Cinema Wasteland and then made our way in.
I was severely displeased to discover that Tiffany Shepis had cancelled. I understand cancelling because you’re sick, but the con didn’t post notifications on Facebook until 10 am, and by that time I was well on the road, my pre-departure website check irrelevant. There was a hand written sign posted inconspicuously behind the registration table. I didn’t notice it until I had scoured the vendors room twice searching for her. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the only one I was there to see. I made a beeline over to Kelly Marooney’s table to get her autograph on my Chopping Mall poster. I’m sad that she was overcharging and her price list was (unintentionally?) misleading about the gouging upcharge on photos, but it’s Chopping Mall and she’s the last one the con circuit from that movie available. It’s a terrible film that I have a strange obsession with, and I’m happy to have as many autographs on it as I do.
I moved along, doing some shopping. There was a huge box of loose He-Man figures for cheap. I grabbed several that still had their armor. Some still needed cleaning, but finding a Man At Arms with that breastplate and shoulder armor for four bucks is a big deal. I grabbed a functional Battle Armor Skeletor as well as a few others to hit that five for $20 mark. I found lip balm for Lydia and stickers for Maddie as well as a catnip Jason Mask for Sparky and loaded up on movie deals. Good shopping here and great vendors.
After hitting up the short film block it was time to get into costume. I’d brought out Tracy the Ghostbusting gorilla, just for fun. I don’t know if the Filmation Ghost Busters was just big in PA or what, but I think I got recognized in this outift more here than anywhere else ever! People got the joke, and several asked me about it – just to make sure, asking if the name tag was intentional and then showing delight when I confirmed that yes, I was doing THAT character. Its also just as fun as ever to watch people explain to their friends just what I am. This isn’t a big cosplay show (It’s not designed to be either) but there were a few notable costumes roaming – a fun Art the Clown from Terrifier and an amazing Chatterer from Hellraiser, not to mention a brief appearance by a Killer Klown. Over at the Happy Cloud Pictures booth, author Mike Watt grinned hysterically and fist bumped me. Actress Patricia Tallman (Night of the Living Dead, Star Trek and Babylon 5) ran over to me and had me video chat with someone on her phone….it was a good day to be a gorilla.
One of the things I really enjoy about Horror Realm is that they do some fun things, beyond just good panels and film screenings. They do a tattoo contest as well as a Match game where contestants get asked silly questions and see if their answers match a group of specially chosen panelists such as Ken from Cinema Wasteland and Amy Lynn Best from Happy Cloud Pictures.
It’s hard to tell, but while the crowd was respectable, it did seem a little thin. Because of the gap, Horror Realm has been knocked back into a rebuilding mode. The film selection suffered and wasn’t nearly as entertaining as previous years. Fears over the Corona virus may have played into it as well, but in any event you can see they are starting over. Still, Horror Realm is a name with some respect behind it and you can still see the heart they put into throwing this con. I still love it and I’m totally coming back, sooner I hope, rather than later.
I’ll say this for Great Lakes Comic Con, I never fail to have a good time there – it’s always been a good show all the way back to that first year that Maddie and I discovered it when we were looking for an alternative to Wizard World Cleveland. I skipped this one last year mostly because there were no guests that I was interested in and as such, it fell prey to the streamlining of my schedule. This time around however, not only were they bringing in the actors from the old Shazam series, but they were also bringing in one of my bucket list writers – Jim Starlin. His run on Batman is transformative, and the combination of him, Mike DeCarlo and Jim Aparo are my definitive creative team for that book.
Nevertheless, I woke up that morning with a distinct lack of enthusiasm. It was an early departure, primarily because Starlin had capped his signing line to 25 people per hour, due to a hand injury. I know from experience that means you better get over to that table and grab a line ticket as soon as the show opens or you may not get to meet the guest – I’ve been burned on Bruce Campbell this way and almost lost my opportunity to get George Perez to sign my stuff. On the other hand, I would’ve preferred to have shown up around Noon and wasn’t sure if I’d have enough to d all day. Still, I have faith in Great Lakes and so I drug myself out of bed and made the long, arduous journey to Deee-troit!
I was pleased to discover that the line wasn’t as long as it had been on my previous trip, and I managed to make it over to Jim’s table just after 10:30. I was able to secure a place in line between 2 o’clock and 3 o’clock – that was going to make things difficult with the costume, I’d probably have to get in and out of it a couple of times but at least I was going to get my books signed! Ticket secured, I made my way over to the Shazam booth where the guys were friendly and happy to see me. Bringing in superheroes from these old 70s shows reminds me a lot of Akron Comicon’s old philosophy and I’ve always enjoyed the selection that Great Lakes brings in. Across the sprawling, massive dealers room floor I found some fun blind boxes of Ghostbuster stuff as well as one dealer unloading a ton of Walking Dead swag for a buck apiece. I grabbed Lucille pens for Amy and Lydia, as well as a pack of Pokémon cards for Maddie. At the door, the freebie station was set up and people were handing out promotional items for the Harley Quinn movie – tiny hammer and bat keychains as well as posters and enamel pins. I’m not proud. I loaded up. Lydia would be delighted with the tiny Harley hammer that I brought her home. Right near the entrance I spied a vendor selling Spider-man Essentials volumes for two dollars apiece and picked up two of the huge trades and headed back to the car. It was time for a swag dump and a change of outfit.
Fortunately for me, Michigan was having a mild winter so it wasn’t too terrible as I lugged the Skeksis costume in, wearing only the sweatpants and shirt that went underneath it. I geared up and took a look at the clock – I’d have to get back into civvies in two hours, but that would allow me plenty of time to make a couple of rounds through the floor.
In the week between Zip Con and Great Lakes, I had completely reworked the left arm so that it now held a staff. The hand, staff, and arm were all one piece, repainted and sculpted out of Great Stuff and PVC but this would be my first time walking around with it. I’d also drilled a hole in the neck connector so that I could drop a nail through the joint, securing the head to keep it from falling off again. There in the front hall, I had people coming up to me for photos before I had even completely suited up. After my experience at Zip Con and with the addition of the staff I was feeling much better about this costume and was happy to see how well received it was at the show. One young man in his twenties came up to me and told me he recognized it – not from the new Netflix series, but because his parents used to play the movie for him all the time on VHS! Another person confided in me that The Dark Crystal was one of the few films that genuinely scared him as a kid and gave him nightmares. I smiled and told him I was glad to have contributed to his psychosis.
As I made my way to the back of the convention floor, the people over at Guy Gilchrist’s table spotted me. Gilchrist is a Henson alumni, and bills himself as Jim Henson’s cartoonist. His assistant jabbed at his arm, drawing his attention up and away from the piece he was working on. His eyes widened in amazement and he exhaled deeply in wonder. He invited me over to get photos and showed me a photo of him with Jim Henson “This was taken right around the time he was creating you!”. It meant a lot to hear how impressed he was with the costume, he insisted on signing a Dark Crystal print for me and told me to come pick it up once I was out of costume.
I checked the time, Tom DeFalco‘s panel was about to start and I figured I’d be able to make it through about half of it at least before I have to shuffle out of the suit. Some of the con staff were nice enough to open the door to the panel room for me and I slipped into the back corner. DeFalco was just beginning his talk and had been handing out notes. He grabbed the moderator and handed a stack f papers to him and then pointed to the back.
“…and let’s get one of these over to the… Creature… In the back.”
I enjoyed DeFalco’s talk about his approach to creating comics. This is another one of those things that great Lakes does really well, and I remember having a similar reaction when they brought Jim Shooter in for a talk much like this. I was disappointed when I had to slip out, but time is ticking away and I wanted to be in normal clothes to meet Jim Starlin.
I carried my bundle out to the car and decided it would be too much trouble to get the lizard feet off (they are the hardest part of the costume, and it always takes me forever to wriggle out of them. I usually don’t take them off until I get home actually) and decided to just put my jeans back on over top of them. It had warmed up enough that I left my leather jacket in the car and just wore my sweater, topping it off with a hat to cover my hair, mussed from the costume.
Starlin himself was warm and congenial.
“Batman was always my hero,” he told me. “ I mean back then, it was either superman Batman or wonder woman – and then maybe a little bit later the fly or the Jaguar, but it was really mostly Superman Batman and Wonder Woman”
He looked at my copy of Death in the Family as he was signing it.
“It was a shame, after we killed off Robin, somebody in merchandising realized it was a problem, and all of a sudden I was kind of persona non grata at DC. Work just dried up. Fortunately, there were some openings over at Marvel and I ended up working on a little thing call the Infinity Gauntlet – so I can’t complain too much!”
Before I got back into the costume, where I would stay for the remainder of the show, I managed to swing through and do a bit more shopping. No quarter bins, but plenty of 50 Cent bins and I managed to score some Punisher and Green Hornet. I was shocked when I discovered a bunch of Hulk and Star Trek issues in one those 50 Cent bins, all signed by writer Peter David. David is one of my favorite writers and I actually go out of my way to meet him at Hall of Fame Comicon a couple of years ago. I can’t for the life of me understand why these are in the discount boxes, but I wasn’t complaining. I grabbed as many as I could find and came home with a stack of new stuff to read.
I spent the last two hours of the show back in the Skeksis outfit. I hadn’t realized how much muscle it would take to carry around the staff. It’s not that it was heavy, just that used muscles in my forearm that I’m not used to flexing all the time! About an hour before the costume contest, I saw a familiar costume style walk in, a cosplayer I’d seen around Michigan a few times – he’d spent most of the day in a diffrent costume, but now was in his new hydra suit which managed to place during the costume contest. Backstage and waiting for the contest to proceed, I had fun fooling around with some of the other contestants – hypnotizing one of them with my staff and joking with some of the others. This time with the other cosplayers is consistently my favorite part about doing costume contests – it’s not about whether you win or lose, it’s about who you get to know!
As the show drew to a close, I slunk out quickly and quietly- exhausted and ready to hit the nearest McDonald’s for some hydration on the way home. Still, despite my fatigue, I had fun and can’t wait to come back.
It was the day after Valentine’s and the young woman reached out and handed a long stemmed carnation to the monstrous Skeksis. A gnarled, mottled claw reached out and accepted the flower. If you looked closely, you might think he was smiling. The little Primarina next to him certainly was.
It’s been a while since I made it out to Zip Con. It used to be a regular stop on my cn circuit, and my main anime show, but in recent years, with Maddie getting more into the anime scene, we’ve been expanding that range and haven’t made it back to Zip Con in a couple of years.
What the @#$% happened to Zip Con anyhow?
We managed to snagged a good parking spot in the structure right across from the building and got there early. The line was out the door, but hadn’t snaked down the steps into the street yet. They got us into the building and out of the cold in a reasonable amount of time. One young man walked up and down the lines with a clipboard having us sign our liability waivers in advance of hitting the table, but when we finally made it to the ticket table, the workers were confused as to where to go. Then, all of a sudden, the line stopped. It was discovered that the faculty to guest ratio was off. Someone had slept in and hadn’t arrived yet. Shortly they found the missing staff and ticket sales began again. In a bit over half an hour we were through the line.
Maddie and I explored the floors, looking to see what was happening where. Panels were inconsistent, and there were a LOT of D&D panels (as opposed to anime ones). Some panels weren’t running (The con would make a somewhat defensive facebook post addressing it but not quite apologizing “Hello! Just a friendly reminder that the panelists not showing up to panels should NOT reflect your view on zipcon!”). We found the Confused Greenies doing an improv workshop and hung out there before venturing over to the dealer’s room.
The dealers room seemed bigger than I remember, bigger or not – the vendors were excellent, offering a variety of fun and interesting wares. Maddie scored a pineapple cat plushie from The Nerdy Taco. We grabbed a couple of adorable food plushies from Live Dream Create, and even scored a catnip toy for Sparky from Mookies Cat Toys!
It was time for lunch so we made a mad dash for the car, and then got lost in the wrong parking garage. After much wandering around we finally located my vehicle, did a swag dump and seized our bag lunch to take back to the college. We found a nice quiet spot upstairs and began the somewhat complex process of eating in my costume.
While Maddie was debuting her Primarina, I was still feeling out my Skeksis costume. I wasn’t entirely confident in it yet – this particular creature seemed like it might demand more detail than my impressionist style contributes. I was worried it might not be recognizable or if it were, that it might not feel accurate enough. I was awed by the reaction. As I would enter rooms I’d hear gasps. There would be whispering and mumbles all around me, and I’d hear world like “Dark Crystal” and “Chamberlin”. Every ten steps we’d be stopped for a photo. One person knelt in front of me declaring “I bow before your masterpiece!”. My Skeksis was a huge hit and I was immensely humbled.
Maddie’s Primarina was doing good as well. The wig suited her and the belt helped with the ultimate look. One person recognized her right off, while several others could see she was a Pokemon but weren’t sure which one. As soon as she’d start to explain, you could see a light bulb go off over their head and recognition hit their eyes.
After another pass at the dealer’s room, we hit the dance room. This was really just a dark room that had been set aside if you wanted to bring your music (Not my idea of a dance room. My definition would include some flashing lights and perhaps a DJ or at least a sound system playing music on shuffle). When we had passed it in the morning the space had been empty, but now one girl had brought in some music and every one was doing a choreographed dance. My Skeksis rushed in and joined in. It was going fine until my head fell off (I’m going to have to fix that flaw).
We unsuccessfully searched for a game room or an anime screening. I’m told there was a video game room but we couldn’t locate it. I don’t know if there was a board game room this year, and I missed all of that stuff. We ended our day by sitting in on the Sonic the Hedgehog panel. This one focused on the IDW series – interesting because I hadn’t even realized Sonic had jumped from Archie to IDW. Still Maddie was fading fast and we were ready to head home. The college had mandated all minors leave at six and as that watershed hour arrived the place became a ghost town.
We had an okay day. We had fun meeting up with old friends and cosplaying – having a good time at cons is what we do. But I’m not sure we got our money’s worth. In just a few years I watched Zip Con go from Free, to Free, but if you pay five dollars you also get this cool lanyard! to Okay, five dollars for everyone, to ten dollars for everyone. I understand they have to control the crowds and are trying to get some voice actors in, but I honestly don’t see them drawing more attendees than what Zip Con already had. The show still feels like an nice amateur affair run by a college anime club, and if that’s what you want to be, then cool but you can’t charge that kind of admission for that kind of show. Higher admission includes higher expectations – Planned panels and activities instead of just accepting volunteer ideas and hoping the mods show up. Well run lines, constant programming and performances. I expect THEM to provide music in the dance room, and host the gaming tournaments. I expect at least one if not two rooms dedicated to screening Anime.
The magic is kind of fading. I do think we’ll be back once Zip Con figures out what it wants to be, but that might not be for a while.