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Akron Comicon 2017

Conman

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Cleveland Comic Con 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


NEO comic con 2017

Conman20914186_10213918865390159_3496547881514597422_nIn its first year, Neo Comic Con exceeded all expectations with attendance nearly double what they had projected. While growth was slow in the second year – a mild swelling if you will, the shoulder to shoulder traffic inside the hotel made it clear that it was time to move to someplace bigger already, if they wanted to  grow. In it’s third outing, this year moving to the soccer sportsplex in North Olmsted, they exceeded their previous attendance records before noon, eventually topping out at about 1/3 more attendees than ever before.
I have to admit I’m pleased by all of this, it’s nice to have a show like this practically in my backyard – 10 miles away and a 15 minute drive.  I’m familiar with the venue, Heroes United did an event there (a superhero night for the soccer players) and was excited about the layout – it reminded me a great deal of All-Americon. That’s really what I was
expecting, something very much like the previous versions of all American when they had set up over Packard Hall. What we ended up seeing was actually pretty different.

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Neo created an interesting flow here with the vendors all set up on one side of the arena, and the artists alley in a completely separate section separated by bleachers, tables and the snack bar. It works and it makes sense, the flow actually feels good – but I’d feel better if were more than one entrance. If you want to get to the side with the artists and cosplayers, you absolutely have to walk through all of the vendor tables and in my case that proved difficult since I was carrying stuff to set up at the Heroes United table.

Also complicating things with the parking situation.By the time I arrived, a mere hour and a half after the doors opened, the lot was full. I managed to snag and innocuous little space right behind the factory across the street – plenty of shade and enough maneuvering that it would make someone trying to tow or vandalize my car more trouble than it was worth. The convention and also secured parking down the street at the college and was running shuttles every 15 minutes – this isn’t a bad idea, but for those of us carrying bulky props and wearing cumbersome suits, it was absolutely going to be a hurdle… and I’m not sure what the fix is for this is either.20914393_1849183855098232_8431929885572577728_n Under the circumstances I think they came up with the best solution that they could.
Still, it made loading and unloading an issue (swapping the baby basket for the rocketship halfway through the day), and made my lunch plans impossible. We ended up grabbing food at the snack bar and commandeering  a table for me and my friends. Big props to the Soccer sportsplex staff by the way. They really rolled with the event and got into things. There are some venues that don’t really dig convention crowds– the fanboys and the cosplayers put them off. There is the infamous story of the hotel in Butler back when Monster Bash was at its last location and the bellboy going up and down the hall screaming “go away monster people! “. These guys embraced it, and were having fun… The man at the counter paused me to get a picture in before taking my order. It was a good day for them as well! They were selling out of items regularly and I’m not surprised…20953120_10212827912788915_7931070621714604532_n They had normal pricing on just about everything, higher than McDonald’s you might say, but reasonable – $2.50 for a slice of pizza, $1.50 for a drink. Definitely not gouging. I dig that, and it really made me feel better about buying my lunch there.

 

It’s always a pleasure to see Rubber City Cosplay, promoting positivity and taking photos at their booth. The whole Photo Booth thing seems to be taking off too. One of the other charity groups in the area had theirs set up and their hook was it your photo with Superman and Batman, or select members. In addition – Heroes United had their booth set up with a green screen photo op providing nine backgrounds to choose from… A little something different.

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Of course my big thing for this convention was to get over to meet Bob Hall. Hall was the writer for one of my absolute favorite series – Shadowman. He took over early in the run and stayed with the Valiant title right up until the end, just before the Acclaim reboot.

“They gave me the choice of five different titles to write,” he said. “I chose Shadowman because it was the one that was doing the worst… I figured if this book completely fails, at least I’m not going to be the first writer it tanks on… ”

shadowman13“When Acclaim came in, they told me that the character wasn’t black enough! What does that even mean? He’s Creole! But they wanted something different. They wanted a character they could put into video games thats why I ended of the book, because if they were going to make him completely different, they may as well make him a different character altogether.  I did the story where he climbed up to the top of the building and jumps. We never see him hit the ground though.  I always assumed some other writer come along and take over – figure a way out of the cliffhanger, but they never did!”

Next to halls table, it’s Kevin Nolan – an artist I enjoy, particuarly for his work on the Superman/Aliens series… We both commiserated over what a wonderful character the Kara girl in the book is in our surprise over her never appearing anywhere else.
21032637_10155066503329542_4197475160821556224_nI rounded up of the day by getting Tony Isabella’s table. Tony is a legend when it comes to DC titles, having created Black Lightning and he’s also a regular on the Northeast Ohio convention circuit. I was particularly interested in hearing his take on the new Black Lightning television show that supposed to be hitting the CW.
“They flew me out, and brought me into a room with two big whiteboards that I was not allowed to take photos of!” he chuckled. “What I saw were too big columns, one with a lot of studio ideas, and another column with a lot of my stuff. They’re asking me things 20994176_1650414095003007_6042970464162169633_nabout stories I wrote 20 years ago, and if feels like there’s a lot of me in this show… There’s a lot of the studio too, but is a good mix of the two. I’m looking forward to it.”
This was interesting to me, because I’ve had my misgivings about this show. I enjoy Black Lightning; Batman and the Outsiders is one of the best Bat books from the silver age! But I look at the suit and I don’t know what they were thinking. I don’t get the origins of this look at all, and it really made me trepiditious about the story. To hear Tony say that they’re putting a lot of his vision in it actually makes me feel a great deal better – particularly in that he got down to some specifics, rather than a nebulous “it’s going to be great!” kind of statement that you have to make when you’re under contract.20883096_1626891087342629_2994683421330481997_n

Cosplayers came out in force for this event… Neo has always drawn its fair share of costumes, and usueally always some good looking people wandering around the show. They’ve encouraged it by giving free admission to people in costume, and inviting recognizable cosplay talent like night mage, are KG cosplay, Princess Morgan and Miss procrastination… This however, was their first year doing a costume contest and I’m pleased with how good the competition was. Everybody was bringing their A game, with impressive costumes like an Oogie Boogie from nightmare before Christmas, and a dead on Ghostbuster, Judge Death from Judge Dredd, and dozens and dozens of Spider-Man. Seriously, I thought there were a lot of Spider-Man at Great Lakes Comicon? Not even close – I couldn’t walk two steps without stumbling over webs at Neo.20993965_1626890877342650_2551902875372443374_n

20914370_1650414115003005_7536458728478065421_nI managed to track down the single  50 Cent bin at the show and pull about a dozen things out of there, pointing out some of the better silver age horror to my friend Rhonda. Still, most of the deals I grabbed were in the form of those old essentials volumes. These things are still plentiful and cheap, and the best way to catch up on really old comics – I’m currently building my Fantastic Four collection. Besides those,  I absolutely could not pass up a couple volumes of Daredevil including stuff that was way older than anything I’ve ever been able to afford.

When all is said and done, it was a great weekend. I think that even now, after three years, NEO ComicCon is still very much looking for an identity… But I also think more than ever it has figured out what kind of show it wants to be, and it’s really beginning to look like that.

I can’t wait for next year.

 


(Photos stolen from every corner of Facebook – my apologies. I didn’t really get any pictures of my own!)

 


AllAmericon 2017

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I made one final check of the car before I headed out to pick up Ken. Scissors, Duck Tape, Half a tube of Velvet Crush color paint, extra velcro and elastic, Giant Lego Joker, a DC converter for the cigarette lighter in the car and a hot glue gun. Perhaps it’s just because it’s the height of summer, but something ALWAYS breaks when I head to Youngstown for AllAmeriCon.

For years I’ve been saying I wanted to keep an eye on this show to see what it grows into. I think this year it’s happened. They leveled up and it’s become the next incarnation it was desperately trying to achieve. Moving into the much larger Covelli Center in downtown Youngstown was a necessary move and it definitely had me wondering what the show would look like this year. 19875188_10207817841922905_3495307836499246435_n

19731908_10154752266492285_7738501242095122651_nThe truth is, things have not really changed that drastically, indeed, the layout is VERY familiar, almost as if someone had downloaded the con into photoshop, and then stretched out the size until it was bigger. It looks very much the same, but there’s more of everything and more room in those isles where we struggled shoulder-to-shoulder last year. I dig this because I really do feel like I’m still attending the same show I’ve come to enjoy over the last four years, rather than it feeling like a whole new con (which I genuinely feared) The strategy seems to be the same as well, bring in one or two amazing comic guests to focus on while maintaining a great selection of vendors and artists. There was a renewed focus on programming this year, with a couple of panels complementing the massive costume contest.

Did I mention the ginormous costume contest? All Americon has always brought out the 19274907_10212212191673044_528473784201797061_nbest in cosplayers and if you compete here, you definitely want to bring your A game, but this year the scope expanded disproportionately to the con size. According to Miss Procrastination Cosplay, it went from 30 or so last year to a whopping 80 contestants this year. Seriously, they give Akron Comicon a run for thier money this year! The highlight was the amazing Cinderella who transformed from rags into the ballgown in a twirl. A well deserved best in show. There was a marvelous Bane with curious foam muscles under a zentai suit and purposed Hulk hands ending at a venom meter on his writs. Star was characters arrived, five nights at freddys, a beautiful Pokemon hunter and a surprising amount of furries, as well as a couple of Deadpools. I ran into Wolverine from last year (a bit more bloody this time around….influence of the Logan film I imagine) and his son who was Star-Lord (MAN I wish I had finished Yondu in time for this!) instead of Spidey this time 19895064_1624543774247003_834777055824598295_naround. One guy did a great Doc Ock with pool noodles and a backpack (FINALLY! Someone else doing Ock! I love it!). There was a stunning ice knight, as well as a beautiful Iron Man suit that was just about perfect in every way (except for the fact that he only arrived twenty minuets before the costume contest – so unless you attended that you probably didn’t see him)

I finally managed to get my Lego Joker done just in time for the show.Almost predictably, the elastic on the right leg snapped as I was getting it on. I duck tapped it into place as a temporary solution – we arrived later than expected and I didn’t want to wait for the hot glue gun to warm up before going in. I planned to take a break mid-day and fix it then. I’d tested the suit out in the tight corridors of my home, but I didn’t count on the wind…a section of velcro ripped, but the remaining ones kept my head on. Still a slightly gimpy leg and wobbly head didn’t deter me.  By the way, speaking of Jokers…MAN there were a lot of Jokers here. I spotted at least five others, two 19959218_1598862850158132_4663665255998497811_nof them women, all of them different. It’s weird, I’m very used to seeing tons of Harley Quinns, but not so very many Jokers.  I was definitely in good company. Still, I was happy that mine was different from the other ones. Children would spot me from across the room and their eyes would light up. I don’t think I’ve ever had a costume that excited as many kids at this one.

Catching a Lego Batman was the best part of the day.

I made my way around the floor and while I missed Knightmage’s Cosplay 101 panel, I did slip into an elevator and snuck through the back way in the offices and managed to catch the Star Wars panel. There was a large trash can in the back that I was able to rest my arms on as I stood lurking in the back, chuckling at the stories of midnight showings and first times seeing the films. Occasionally someone would turn around and notice the giant Lego Joker hanging in the back and do a double take.

Panels. I was pleased to see a little more than last year, but I’d still like to see a couple more added in, especially as this show is trying to grow as a two day con. Two panels and a costume contest is still a little light on programming considering the size it’s swelled to

19875624_1598880090156408_4744379326818595858_nNevertheless, I got my panel fix when I headed over to Bob Layton’s table. Layton is a well known Iron Man alumni, as well as being one of the head guys over at the classic Valiant. Bob will talk for hours if you let him, and I personally was inclined to let him!
“We may not have had the best art, but we had storytelling”.
I mentioned how much I loved the old Gold Key characters they used.
“That was something we did for the retailers,” he replied.”We needed something recognizable for them to latch on to, and Jim ad a relationship with those guys.”
It’s sad to hear him talk about the fall of Valiant, and the transfer to Acclaim after Triumph investors pulled out. He describes Acclaim as “The biggest group of scumbags out there. And I was a VP, so I was in those meetings with all these scummy people.” He described leaving about half of his severance on the table – 1.2 million, because six months was just too long to keep putting up with it. “I saw where the industry was going and I got out.” But still he has hope, and believes the future of the comic industry is in the European model.
“I walked into a comic shop in France and it was beautiful. All wood bookshelves, these hardback volumes – not like the single issues we do. They last forever, and you don’t have 19875606_1598880096823074_7473435924055930848_nto put them in a plastic bag!”

One table down, Rags Morales is the exact opposite of Layton. While Layton exudes energy, Rags oozes a laid back attitude – with a relaxed and lazy charm that makes you instantly like him. I could only find one book from my shelves for him to sign (which turned out to be serendipitous as he was charging five dollars a autograph). He looked over the Nightwing cover and grinned.
“This cover made my dizzy,” he informed me, pointing to the background rather than the figures grappling in the image. “It’s supposed to be a fight in mid-air, but if you look closely….it’s upside-down.”

It was a good day. My shoulders hurt from being in Lego Joker for four hours, but I can’t complain. It was possibly the best year yet for All-AmeriCon. Can’t wait to see what they do next year!

 

 

 


Akron Canton Comic Con 2017

Conman

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

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

Air conditioning doesn’t hurt either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Storm especially was just stunning.

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


First Time at Lake Effect

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

 

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

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

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

 

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Lake Effect Comic Con 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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