I decided to end this year’s convention season softly, much the way I began it. I headed out to Genghis Con, which like OddMall is a smaller more eclectic event that I’ve been meaning to get to for years. Genghis Con is a small press, independent and comix event held annually in the Cleveland area. It’s always on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and yet despite being at the same time every year, I always seem to forget about it. This year with a renewed intent to visit shows I haven’t been to before I was determined to finally make the scene here.
Genghis Con has been held in a number of different venues over the years, beginning with the Beachland Ballroom some years back, and more recently finding a home in Lakewood. This year was their first time in the Flats, and I worried about finding parking. I managed to score place on the street a block away from the venue, an old machine and tool factory, and walked the short distance, following other people who seemed to be in the know. The old factory space is a beautiful venue, with strings of lights hung by the wooden rafters and exposed brick, it has a very “arts district” kind of feel which is perfect for this event.
Genghis Con is a much smaller event than your average convention, kind of like the Artist Alley at a comicon – it’s a strange mixture of flea market and art show, with more local talent and lots of underground fare.
There is way more political activism at the show than your usually see in a comic convention, and a wider array of the strange and the weird. I spied creepy Christmas ornaments, weird magazines, comic books and graphic novels and greeting cards.Everybody had buttons and stickers, and I found a bizarre indie pamphlet which chronicled one man’s hobby of designing terrible He-Man action figures – strange customs like Skeletor riding a dolphin or He-Man with inflamed nipples.
Personally I was here for Derf. I had briefly met Derf Backderf earlier this year at the Pekar Park comic fest – a similar event held in Cleveland Heights. Derf had been on hand for a Q&A after a screening of My Friend Dhamer, the film based on his graphic novel. I had recently checked out the expanded edition from the library and wanted to get a copy of my own. I also wanted to get in autograph and a photograph – I didn’t have anything on hand when I seen him at Pekar Park and my camera had run out of space right about then so I wasn’t able to snap a pic either. Derf had copies at his table and was gracious enough to sign a copy of the book, even doing a sketch of its titular character on the front cover. While I was getting my photograph with him, friends Mark and Mike drifted by waving and out of nowhere I spied my buddy Lizzy from Heroes United (a charity group we both do work for). I disentangle myself from Derf, shook his hand and went over to greet friends.
After I dashed across the aisle to grab a copy of that brilliant “Terrible He-Man Figures” ‘zine from Mullet Turtle comics I’d seen earlier, I ended up hanging out with Mike and Mark, and wandering the convention floor with them – watching Mike get his comics signed and picking up a blank covers for the Carol and Johns art show later this month. We chatted about the art that we saw, incivility on the internet, and I introduced them to my friend Lizzy who was relieved to finally have somebody to talk Star Trek with.
At the vegan booth I gentleman offered us brownies and asked just each who our favorite Doctor Who was. Mike chose Tom Baker and I am immediately replied Jon Pertwee. It made the bakers day to discover people who replied something other than David Tennant, and we laughed our way down to hook up with other friends. My friend Craig from the Panels comic club slipped me his latest work, a wrestling story with a anti-bullying team, and I grabbed some horror material from one of the other booths.
Genghis Con is fun, but not necessarily my thing. I expected to probably be in and out of there in less than an hour, but meeting up with a surprising amount of people that I knew really made it a nice day – there are far worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon then hanging out with friends and admiring local art. This probably won’t be one of my regular stops, but I can definitely see me popping back here in there
Every year during SanDiego Comic Con, Carol and John’s comic shop holds thier annual “Not at Comic Con” sale. Last year they partnered with the local North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club to host a swap meet in addition to the sale. The event was held just a few feet down fro the store, in the empty space CnJs uses for Free Comic Book Day. I missed it last year, but decided to pop in after Church and look around for a few minuets before heading home – I’m still looking for a Twiki to go with my Buck Rogers collection. I figured I’d be in and out real quick, after all, how big could it be?
You see that graphic? The one that says “Over 40 tables” with the number 40 crossed out and replaced with 70? THAT’S how big it could be. Forty tables crammed into the FCBD space with people shoulder to shoulder looking over wares. Outside, vendor tables lined the walls, stretching along the sidewalk from the grocery store to the Dollar Tree, with more occupying the space in front of the comic store. In the parking lot, a large section had been roped off, with tents and another twenty or more tables popping up amoungst the cars. There were more vendors than some comic conventions I’ve been too. It was like a smaller flea market, but without the porcelain teddy bears and antique lamps. Nothing but toys and comics and books as far as the eye could see.
What surprised me was the amount of comics on sale. Tons of quarter bins and fifty cent comics. They may actually have outnumbered the dollar comics. I’ve lamented in recent years that the quarter bins seem to be vanishing from the convention scene – and to be fair, there were more here than I’ve seen at any recent conventions I’ve gone to, nevertheless, this gives me hope. I went crazy in these longboxes, grabbing dozens of issues – particularly Superman and Dark Avengers.
I never did locate a Twiki (or any other Buck Rogers toys for that matter) and I must say I showed admirable restraint in not pulling the triger on MULTIPE Talon Fighters, complete with Point Dread. I picked up two Sabrina mangas for Maddie for a dollar each (and sour patch kids for Lydia next door at the dollar store – have to be fair!), as well as a cute Hulkbuster plushie and a Masters of the Universe Snakeman, also for a dollar each. The Snakemen may not have been my favorite of the He-Man villians, but for a buck? I’m buying that Rattlor!
The real find of the day though (and the one that, combined with the quarter bins, made me go over budget) was a loose Doctor Who figure. It’s a #3 – My doctor. Even more importantly, he was in green, and wearing calf boots. He was perfect and priced so low that it was a steal. I can’t even begin to express how excited this purchase made me.
I couldn’t believe I’d been there almost two hours. I never expected something so big or to find the deals that I did. This was actually pretty fun, and may just become a regular annual stop for me.
Depending on where you live, what shops you have nearby, everyone does something diffrent for Free Comic Book Day. Some shops just hand you a few extra books with your purchase. Others, like the late and lamented York comics, leverage it as a charity event – giving away the gold books but throwing in extra silver books for a canned food donation. And here in Cleveland, at Carol and Johns, they throw a party.
The party is actually on Friday night, the day before FCBD, leading up to the midnight release of the books. The shop is open late with sales and deals. At 10:00pm the annex opens with a pop up bar serving complementary soda and comic themed beer. People who tip get an extra free comic. Down on the other side of the strip, another room opens, housing a comic themed (this year the theme was X-Men) art show (it’s also where you go to get your free comics at midnight), where artists in attendance do free sketches and sell their wares. In recent years, other businesses in the same strip complex have gotten in on the act, with the local toy collectors club setting up in the Working Class Brewery, and the ice cream shop offering up an Infinity Gauntlet themed dish.
The lineup starts well before ten though. When I arrived around five, the line had already started. As the night went on, Two podcasts set up shop along the line. An artist set up his easel at the corner. People mingled and played board games in line. Costumes began to pop up and take photos. A large Millennium Falcon interior was available for pictures, as well as the wanted poster from the X-Men story “Days of Future Past”. Stormtroopers and Jedi marched in the streets. It’s the party we wait all year for.
There’s always prep for FCBD. I decided this was the year I finally execute the idea I’d been playing with for a couple years. I wanted to do Freddy Kruger as a Yellow Lantern (Sinestro Corps). I’d worn out my old Freddy makeup a few years ago, but that’s fine. The point is to do a makeup (Build it from scratch) that takes several hours while I wait in line, and Sinestro Corps is cool because there are glowing lights on the costume – and this is DEFINITELY the event you want to have a glowing costume at. The night atmosphere really brings it out. In anticipation, I had fashioned a new glove with clear yellow blades that lit up, and pulled out the old Sinestro suit from the closet. In addition, my buddy Ryan had put a call out, informing me that he had taken a bungee cord to the eye and was stuck wearing an eyepatch for the next week or so which pretty much ruined his costume plans. “Can you help me pull together a Nick Fury?”. I pulled my leather trench coat, my Winter Soldier Cap shirt and stuck a shield sticker over the buckle of my utility belt, then told Ryan to wear navy pants and we’d dress him on site.
I’d packed the Batmobile accessories as well. It wasn’t a sure thing – the day had been rainy but I figured that if the rain let up and I could find a visible parking space near the line that It would be fun to build up the Batmobile. When I arrived I scored a spot just one store away from the end of the line, by the grocery store. It was good enough and I built up the car, then set up my nest in line. After I’d been working on makeup for an hour and a half I’d only gotten the basic structure of the chin done. It was around this time that the car in the space directly in front of my nest in line pulled out. I grabbed my friend Marcus and begged him to hold the parking spot for thirty seconds. I sprinted over to my car, yellow latex chin dangling from my face as he stood in the empty space, arms spread. The Batmobile raced over and took up a place right up front, directly across from my nest. Four hours into the night I’d gotten my Freddy makeup mostly done while chatting with friends from Pop and Panels and the Scoobies. One of the guys from The Panel Scanners Podcast had been eyeing my progress from a distance and now came up to me and asked if I could head over to thier booth so they could interview me. I promised I’d walk down as soon as I suited up and started grabbing costume pieces from my car to pull over my latex and greaspaint stained clothes. I hit the button on my belt to make sure the lights worked.
They didn’t. Crap.
I turned over the battery pack to make sure the AAs were in tight and spotted the problem. The wire that feeds into the socket connector where the battery pack connects in had pulled out. I whipped out my swiss army knife (I always keep it in my car) and my buddy Rocky held the belt still, looking on in disbelief as I rewired the belt, bypassing the juncture and splicing the wires directly into the battery pack, then insulating the wires with duck tape.
As we were watching my belt finally light up, Mayday swung by and asked if I had any tape. His belt was giving him problems too. We emptied the roll of duck tape and got him fixed up. I could see it was a bad night for belts when Vito stopped me later on to ask if I could help him fix his Batman belt…..
Inside the shop, Winston discovered he had a suspicious visitor. The cat eyed the strange dog in the spider-man costume warily. FCBD is always a little rough on the comic shop’s feline mascot. The crowds inside were packed shoulder to shoulder, debating the virtues of the Wolverine Canadian Ale vs the Cyclops Weak Summer Pilsner. I was certain that Endgame was all anyone would be talking about. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. The conversations around me were constantly “What do you think of the new Child’s Play movie coming out?” or speculation on the new Sonic the Hedghog film.
Back at the nest, Jen and her kids descended on us and my friend Vanessa pulled up a chair after her place in line had gotten ursurped by a bunch of guys noisily playing marvel monopoly practically on top of her seat (We’re happy to take in refugees). Rocky and Mayday grabbed thier hammer and lightsaber respectively asking if the trolls needed eviction. She shook her head laughing.
Every single year I’m amazed at how fast six or seven hours in line pass. But then, it’s not really a queue – it really wouldn’t be worth this kind of wait, just for ten free comics (eleven if you could the graphic novel they throw in for the first 200). No, this is a party that lasts all night. I’d be back in the morning for another run through. The day event is a little more subdued and I usually hit Comics are Go as well, but the evening party is the one we always spend the most time at. It’s one of the benefits of having one of the best comic shops in the country local, and no one else does FCBD like this.
The zombie walk at the Five O’Clock is one of my staples. It happens twice a year and I always try and hit at least one, if not both events. The past couple years I’ve frequently had conflicts for the spring one (though I did make it last year as Slimer) so it was nice to be back on my old stomping grounds here.
The event started with a costume malfunction. As I walked the half block from my car to the bar, something snagged on the bottom of my left monkey foot. The bottom ripped right off. While the top of the shoe still held and covered the top of my foot, I spent the entire walk with only my sock to walk in. You might say I lost my SOLE at the monster walk.
Over the last few years I’ve noticed attendance has been dipping. It always made me sad to see fewer people at these events and I had wondered if perhaps it’s time had passed. This time around though, the attendance had actually increased, with a healthy horde of monsters ready to invade Lakewood. Indeed, while there were still some familiar faces missing, it was cool to see some friends that don’t usually make this event. The evil clowns Sickin and Scurvy showed up. I know Scurvy’s alter ego Unidrone Cosplay from the convention circuit – particularly Fantasticon where she and her partner won the costume contest in their Five Nights at Freddy’s suits. They’d driven two hours from thier home in central Ohio to be with us Saturday. Also in attendance was the redoubtable James T. Quirk. Jim is an old friend and occasionally works with me in Heroes United. He’d donned an appropriate red shirt before zombieing up for the walk.
There were more kids than ever. This one in particular is a family freindly walk. I’ve brought my own kids from time to time. They’re getting older now, but the number of really small children there was amazing. One of the things that is such great fun about this sort of event is watching the creepy monster kids just running around and being kids. Chasing each other, trying to catch the drone, harassing the clowns. There was a kid Pennywise in dirty black and orange that was obsessed with my gorilla suit.
I’ve got to admit, it was one of those days where I really didn’t want to get out of bed. i’d debated going all day, but in the end I like these kind of events. We raised a lot of money and canned goods for the Cleveland food bank, and I got to pull the Gorilla out of my closet to do so.
I expect to be back in the fall.
I’m still in winter con hibernation, but on a whim I decided to start getting warmed up for convention season when I noticed Oddmall was happening. Lydia was still hacking from the flu, but I asked Maddie if she’d like to go (and give Lydia a break from Maddie getting on her sick nerves) and what she’d like to wear. We both pulled out some old costumes. Slimer and Jigglypuff hadn’t been out since 2016, and off we went to Oddmall.
In the costume contest, Slimer found himself facing down Jeannie. The Emcee, a goblin named Gandersnatch tried to figure out how we should compete. A voice from the audience yelled “mud wrestling!” which would have made for the best costume contest ever.
Maddie was entranced by all the interesting wares. She dug through pokemon, and browsed pixel art. The polished rocks at the new age and jewelry booths caught her eyes (She’s been collecting interesting stones since she was small) and even pondered over an Eevee drink coaster. The plushie pigs were her favorite, but out of her price range. She was delighted to find Miyazaki dust and soot sprites that she recognized from Spirited away and Totoro and dumped her con allowance into it.
It was a nice afternoon and Maddie said she was having the time of her life hanging out at the bazaar, as we ease our way into the 2019 con season.
Like a mini Free Comic Book Day, but better because there’s candy. And more horror. And it’s freakin’ Halloween!
Like FCBD, Carol and John’s comic shop holds an event every year. Anyone in costume can grab one of each of the free books, (and candy) but those not in costume are still welcome to grab three if they like (and candy). There’s also a photo op setup with a giant Pop figure box (and candy), and the shop cat Winston even dons his festive holiday sweater (he guards the candy)! Maddie and I donned this years halloween costumes and headed out. It’s one of my favorite events every year and no one does it as well as Carol and Johns (though my other regular shop; Comics are Go do thier best as well, inviting artists and making a big deal about it as well!). Not every comic shop does Halloween comic fest, so I hope you were all able to get out and find one who does! Here’s our photos from the day!
Slowly the metal tentacle slid around Rhonda, getting in position to take a candid photo. She looked over at the click, startled, then paused.
“I know that arm!”
She whirled around and hugged the zombie Doctor Octopus behind her…and that’s how this fall’s zombie walk started out for me.
The Five O’Clock is kind of home base for Cleveland Zombie Walks. Familiar faces and a neighborhood that still likes poking thier heads out the windows to see the zombies shamble.
This was a special walk for me because the wife came along to help us raise money and food for the Second Harvest food bank. Ryan was back in his old Sgt. Cunningham fatigues and in the back of the bar, performers from the Legion of Terror (of the local huanted house at Bloodview) ate fire and blew streams of fluid to create huge fireballs.
We got started about twenty minuets late. In an open field the little clowns and ghouls chased a drone filming the whole thing. Undead Doc Ock menaced Lakewood and the bloody day wore on.
These days, I’m seeing fewer zombie walks around the area, but as long as the dead haunt Lakewood, I’ll be joining them.
It was about 4:30 when the boss poked his head in my office. He said it wasn’t very busy right now and he didn’t expect anybody else to shop today – that I could head out early if I wanted to. I grabbed my Iron Man helmet and was out the door like a shot, on my way to Carol and John’s. About 5 o’clock I put down my lawn chairs, set up the TV tray and made myself a nest in line. Just like every year, I looked at the clock and wondered what was I doing? I mean, honestly what am I going to do for the next SEVEN HOURS? Of course, then the next time I checked the clock I was shocked to see it was already 11:30…
There are Free Comic Book Day celebrations to one extent or another all over The United States on the first Saturday every May. Even here in the Cleveland area, Comics Are Go brought in my friend Marc Sumerak from Marvel comics as well as local artist Rick Lozano to sign pieces and sell their work. Imaginary Worlds in Cleveland Heights seems to have picked up the baton from York comics, utilizing FCBD as a food drive and offering extra free comics to anyone who brings in canned goods. I always liked this approach, I’m glad to see somebody is still doing it.
Still, the fact is that nobody does Free Comic Book Day like Carol and John’s. The event the night before officially begins around 10 o’clock, but the line starts long before that. I mentioned that I got in around five, and there were already 20 people ahead of me. Card tables had popped up for people to play board games on, Magic tournaments were going on. Cards against humanity was out and in the streets there was dancing. A podcaster set up in the corner and was interviewing avengers as they walked by. As the day turned to evening and the skies got darker, Jedi and stormtroopers marched along the road – lightsaber battles took place in the night air. The Ghostbusters arrived, and super heroes were everywhere you looked.
At my nest in line, my friend Mayday was the first to arrive with his lovely bride Pam. We chatted for a while before joining the rest of the Scooby gang at the Red Lantern, two doors down. I grabbed an appetizer with them, and when I got back to my place in line my friend Jen had arrived with pizza for all of us.
When the doors opened at 10, we hit the bar for free beers, thier bottles adorned with artwork reminiscent of this years guest of honor comics legend Jim Sternanko. Across town, the comic shop had arranged a dinner with him and about 20 guests – my friends Nick and Taylor arrived back at the shop late from that dinner and just a few minutes ahead of Jim himself.
In the meantime we hung out at the art show and I was delighted to see one of the artists had contributed a painting of the Shadow! Stetnanko is famous for is Shadow covers, indeed the one piece of his that I have signed is one of his Shadow illustrations. It made my day to see this homage, and I grabbed a print of it for myself. Before I made it out of the art show, I ran into my buddy Ryan, his wife and new baby… I played peekaboo with the little one, using the visor on the Ironman helmet. While in line in there, a tiny Darth Vader chatted me up, fascinated by my “Bones” Iron Man suit and showing me the lights on his Vader costume. I caught him later, getting into a lightsaber fight with Kylo Ren outside.
I made it back to the nest and gathered everybody up for a group photo over at the Rubber City booth, a little something to remember the night from before it was time to lineup for the free comic giveaway. As we got back, people in giant donut costumes wandered up and offered us tiny cupcakes. We packed up the nest, tossed the chairs in my car and got ready to go through. It’s always surprising how quickly the night goes, and I’ll be honest – as soon as I’ve gotten out of the comics line I vanish back home because I’m only going to get a few hours sleep before it’s time to do it all again properly on Saturday morning!
Saturday; the actual Free Comic Book Day, is always a much different kind of event in the evening one. There are more kids, and they were absolutely enchanted by my Slimer costume. My daughter Maddie came with me, donning her now–too– small Supergirl costume and on the hunt for Pokémon, Simpsons, and DC superhero girls, and of course Marvel zombies once we got into the shop.
I ran into my friend Rhonda while making the rounds, and we all made sure to get our photos in the pop figure box… I wasn’t confident of my ability to get in and out of the box Friday night, and the photos showed up better during the day anyhow. Even in Slimer though, it looked a little tricky – I ended up taking off the costume and setting it inside the box and just taking a photo of that.