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Carol and John’s Christmas Party 2022

 

If you’ll forgive a self indulgent post, I always enjoy  talking about the Cleveland fandom scene, and at the heart of the comic book scene here is Carol and John’s comic shop.

 

The lockdowns killed a lot of the scene, and it’s been two years since CnJs threw a party, but this weekend, they decided it was time to finally test the waters. The Christmas party was back, along with the comic book cover art show which benefits the Greater Cleveland food bank. it was a great time seeing some friends I haven’t run into in well over a year- or more, and made new ones as well. It’s always the best party ever.

 

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Oddmall: Hallowondrous 2022

It’s actually been a while since I made it out to an Oddmall. I like Oddmall. It’s hard to peg down exactly what it is… It’s not really a convention, more of a marketplace. But it’s a marketplace with entertainment. They don’t usually have full panels, though sometimes there are readings and such. Usually there is music and some comedy. There’s also typically a costume contest. In that, there’s definitely more in common with a full blown convention then say, one of the Harper shows… And those do bill themselves as conventions. The programming itself feels a little bit more like a library convention, but on the other hand, those don’t tend to have such a focus on the dealers room as this marketplace. Like I said, hard to define.

I had actually intended to hit Oddmall : Hallowondrous back before the lockdowns. The last one that I’ve been put on, I had sat, looked at my costumes and thought “I should really go down there and check this one out. It’ll be a great place to test out this suit of armor…“ But, when the weekend came, I ended up just not feeling it, too busy, too tired, whatever the excuse was. I thought “I’ll just go next year.“

Well we all know what happens next don’t we?

Truth is, I haven’t been back to an Oddmall since then. They canceled it a good years worth of shows, and I wasn’t digging the mask mandates… then the political administration changed and gas immediately went up by over 50%, then the Ukraine war started, and gas went up another 50%… all truncating my con tour.
Still, I wasn’t quite ready for convention season to be over, and I figured I could sneak out to Hallowondrous Friday night after work. Skeletor hadn’t been out too much yet, and a second appearance in a smaller venue would help me work the last of the kinks out. I also wanted to bring him because this version of Oddmall has a peculiar feature… Half of it is outside. Andy fills the Shriners hall Full of vendors, surrounding the main stage. Then he adds an extra three or four rows of vendors outside, as well as a line of food trucks to peddle their wares to the hungry attendees. Because it’s Halloween, the vendors all have buckets of candy for kids to trick-or-treat from booth booth. All in all, it’s a great set up. It also makes for a nice environment for Skeletor … Outside with the lights on the costume glowing, he becomes a particularly striking figure.

Inside, I watched the open mic section going, then transition into a DJ doing nerdcore music. All fun, as I browse through the endless isles of curiosities and handmade art. I had one small child in a storm trooper costume just fascinated by me in my costume. At one point he ran up to me and exclaimed “I have something to show you!“ So I followed him over to a vendor that was selling a hand carved Skeletor art box. A lot of fun to be able to play like that.

When the costume contest finally came around, I hung out in the back with a giggly bunch of anime girls and a man dressed as macho man Randy savage. That sort of thing always makes these events interesting, the strange cross sections you get. Macho man is convinced that we are in the same universe, since Mattel had been releasing the masters of the WWE figures. We headed out on stage to battle it out for the contest title. And as we enter, we were shocked to see a giant chicken on stage. A strange inflatable costume. Even stranger was when a second giant chicken in a fluffy yellow feather costume jumped up and got into a fight with the first chicken… It’s moments like those where you just stand and wonder about how you got yourself into the situation.
Andy came up to interview me and I introduced myself.
“I am Skeletor , and my newest plan to defeat he-man and the masters of the universe is to conquer Oddmall!!!”
“It’s not that hard, You can have it,” and he replied with a sardonic chuckle.

They followed up the costume contest with a performance by local band Gothnicc – a surprisingly good concert, and nice way for me to wrap up my night. Oddmall is always a delight, and I’m so happy to finally made it out to Halloween dress. We’ve typically hit at least one of these a year, and I think that’s a habit I need to get back into. We’ll see you guys next year!


12 Hours of Terror RETURNS!

The poster read “the blood is back“. And they’re right. It was finally that time again… Time for 12 hours of Terror. I’ve been a regular at this film festival since it’s inception, and it’s fair to say that I’m a fan. The selections are consistently excellent, the promotion is fun, always including a secret movie to keep you guessing… and quite frankly, it’s a good crowd of people too. I see a lot of the same folks  year after year, and it doesn’t hurt that they’re not all jerks. You’re not gonna get a drunk Juggalo screaming behind you at 12 hours of terror the way that I did at Cybertronic Spree. A lot of my friends attend this, and I’m usually reasonably confident that just showing up, I’m going to have somebody to sit with. But even if I don’t, that doesn’t matter. Because we’re all here to have a good time. I’ve met interesting folks at the show, include The chef dude with the mohawk who regaled me with stories about Texas chainsaw to being his favorite of the movies, or the guys that I gushed with about getting to see Nightmare on elm Street for the very first time on the big screen.

I got in and secured my seat with some of my crew. Mark and Jenny made it, but Jennifer and Chris we’re gonna be absent this year. I was gonna miss them as well as Bree. On the other hand, I was delighted to see that wolf child had made it in, and Jason was sitting just a couple rows back… Ready to make dumb comments through the entire night. Dave came out and announced the plans for the evening. The secret come with play fifth, and dinner break would be after the third movie.

“We’ve got a new sponsor this year, Citizen Pie… And they have provided pizza for dinner tonight. A lot of pizza. However, I know there’s some of you out there who could pretty much eat an entire pizza by yourself… We’ve got a lot, but we don’t have that much!“.

I don’t know about you, but I feel personally attacked. I grinned and gave him a thumbs up at the “I know there’s some of you who could eat an entire pizza” line… On the other hand, it’s 12 hours of terror, and nobody wants to be that guy. I didn’t think he had much to worry about, and I was right. The food line went quick, and it wasn’t long before they started realizing they had way more leftovers than anticipated. At that point. It was all you can eat… And let’s be honest guys, I take all you can eat as a challenge rather than a description.

The evening started off with Graduation Day. It’s a movie I’ve never seen before, although that may have something to do with the trauma distributing. I don’t hate trauma, but I’m not gonna go out of my way for them. On the other hand, this, like killer nerd – which I was talking about earlier in the wasteland post, was more distributed by trauma than actually made by them. Indeed, my buddy Mark got his film Suburban Legends : Life on Rainbow Road distributed by Troma as well… and considering I’m in that movie…(And also consider considering that Lloyd filmed a cameo for me when Madeline and I were doing The Backyard Zombie Movie) I should probably ease up on the smack talk.

Graduation Day is an interesting little slasher with some surprisingly good kills. I got myself really drawn in and enjoying the movie… And I will straight up admit, they got me in the end. I did not figure out who the killer was, and the misdirects totally worked on me.

They followed that up with Carrie. This is the original version, and one that I’ve really only discovered recently. It’s always been on my radar… Even as far back as my first meeting with William Katt… but I’ve never gotten around to actually watching it until a DVD copy fell into my hands from the dollar tree, along with a fortunately timed retrospective on the production booth podcast. Still, that’s only been about a year… So it was still reasonably fresh in my mind. But I’ve gotten over the initial shock and was able to settle in and just kind of enjoy it for what it is. It definately gets me in the mood to follow it up later this week though, with both the remake and the musical!

The next film up was The Mist. For some reason, I keep mistaking The Mist for The Fog… And I embarrass my little myself a little bit in line while I was discussing the film. Someone had to correct me and point out that I was actually thinking of the fog and that changed things retroactively for me. This is one of the cool things about 12 Hours of Terror though. Mark and I were discussing what influences we saw in it and I pointed out the Lovecraft influences I saw in the monsters. The guy in line ahead of us pointed out that it’s a dead on description from the book, and totally a Lovecraft kind of creature. 

On the other hand, the ending of this is so grim, it’s such a downer that I was a little upset. Seriously, don’t send me out to dinner with the sads! Also, the most unrealistic part of The Mist isn’t the monsters… It’s that the pharmacy still has a comic book spinner rack!

I took my first of many plates of fleet pizza upstairs. There’s a sort of lounge in the upper areas of the capital, and I knew they’d be sitting up there. I also knew a lot of people wouldn’t be flocking up there… It’s not the sort of place they think of. A young man in a mystery science theater 3000 shirts that down next to me and we discussed the new season of MST3K over at the gizmoplex. He’s really enjoying it, and was telling me all about the new host that’s sharing time with Jonah.  This is one of those things that I have long observed about convention life. It’s that you can walk up to anybody there and just start talking to them. We all broadcast our favorite fandom‘s on our T-shirts or our costumes, and the very fact that we’re there tells you that we’re safe to talk to you about those things. It’s something that my daughter has been discovering and leaning into more and more, and I really love that. 12 hours of terror is much the same thing. Indeed, even standing in line for the bathroom… it’s Cleveland.

“If worse comes to worse,“ one person announced “I am perfectly willing to go into the sink.“

“Come on man, this isn’t an Indians game!“

“Man, if we were back at the old municipal stadium… You just go behind a girder… in fact, you’d probably already be sitting there.’

“I don’t know, you’d probably see a few fewer murders at an Indians game… I’m not saying none… Just fewer.“.

 By the time I made it back into the auditorium, they just switched  From competitive pizza tossing on the big screen, two commercials for showbiz pizza – a competitor to Chuck E. Cheese back in the day. It got our hopes up that perhaps the secret film would be something like Willys Wonderland.

In an attempt to make up for bumming everybody out with The Mist, Dave had scheduled Jason X next. Jason X is a fun time, and possibly one of my favorite Jason movies of all time. I broke one of my normal rules about eating during a horror movie. That never ends well for me, but I’m already familiar with this film and it’s kills, so I didn’t feel too worried about my imagination getting out of hand. Besides, at this point, I had a platefull of half a pizza. Props to Citizen pie by the way… My company used them to cater a job out in Cleveland a few months ago as well, and I really dig what they do. That’s good pepperoni, and a very nice crossed. Just the consistency of dough that I like.

 I grabbed posters for the new film Run Sweetheart Run, as well as candy from the table to Netflix it set up. I also noted that the future video was selling stuff here. I almost wonder if more of a dealer‘s room might be a nice thing for this show. I grabbed a shirt from a few years ago that they discounted down to five dollars, and really thought about grabbing one of the trailer compilations future video was doing. In addition to their own original movies, they were selling a trailer compilation of all the movies from the first 10 years at 12 hours of terror. It’s an inspired move, and they sold out before the end of the evening, helping to make my choice for me.

Finally it was time for the reveal for the surprise screening. When we opened on closed circuit camera monitors of chaos in the streets, Mark venture to guess coat diary of the dead?“ i’ll be honest. I’m not a big fan of Romero’s second zombie zombie trilogy. I did watch land of the dead, thinking that it was a direct sequel to the Donna the dead remake actually, and it just didn’t do anything for me. I settled in, because well I don’t necessarily object to a screening of diary of the dead, this is indeed probably the only way that I would watch the movie.

But it doesn’t feel right. The camera panned down to a monkey. All of a sudden I found myself wondering… Wait… Is that Cesar? Is this one of the planet of the apes prequel’s? All of a sudden, I want a diary of the dead back. I know it’s heresy, but honestly, I have absolutely no interest in any of the planet of the apes films. Then again, this was all feeling very familiar. Increasingly familiar at the animal rights activists broke into the lab to free the animals. I suddenly had an inkling… One that was confirmed as soon as the lead scientist spoke.

“They’re all infected!“

With what?“

“Rage“.

28 days later. Yes PLEASE.

I like 28 days later. I even have it at home on a VHS tape. But I’m pretty sure I recall call originally watching it back in the days when I was staying home with my first daughter. We watched a lot of zombie back then, baby Maddie enjoyed the bright colors and all the red on the screen. There’s just one problem. The ending. Dude wakes up after getting shot, and he’s in an old house with Selena and Hannah, sewing together a large banner and every bit of fabric they can find to spell out the words hello giant letters on the ground. A plane flies by, hopefully seeing the message, and realizing that there are survivors. But… That’s not how this movie ends. I’m sure that’s not how this movie ends. I’ve seen it half a dozen times… And that’s not right! 

Mark and Jen were no help. It was actually their first time seeing the movie. I twisted behind me to try and get an opinion out of Jason. He shook his shoulders and admitted it been too long since he seen the film. The young woman in the row ahead of us, sing me freak out and wonder if I was crazy pulled some information up on her phone to show me. The movie had it originally had three different endings, and the doubt downer ending that I remembered, where dude died from his wounds and Selena and Hannah walk off sadly into the sunset is indeed one of the ultimate endings. It’s one on my videotape, but not the one presented tonight. Fascinating. It’s a gag the producers had set up ages ago for the original screenings, but here we are, Over two decades later, and they’re still getting me. You have to love that kind of stuff.

Demon Knight was Up Next. My buddy Mike insists we saw this movie in the theater,Though I still feel like it was a rental. In any event, it’s one of those movies where it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, it was like watching a new film. They rolled Crypt keeper bits on the screen  during the intermission before the film rolled. It opens with a typical slasher scene, which turns out to be a movie the Crypt Keeper was supposedly directing. Meta, before meta was a thing!  I completely forgotten that John Lara cat is in the opening bit, and that was fun in a bit sell. But the thing with Demon Knight is, unlike Bordello of Blood, which features very recognizable Dennis Miller, Demon Knight is filled with actors that I just didn’t know… Certainly not at the time. I am familiar with Billy Zane and William Sandler now. And quite frankly, I should’ve understood who Dick Miller was back then, but I’m ashamed to say I do. Demon Knight comes from a time before Jada Pinkett became Jada Pinkett Smith, and one of the worst people in Hollywood. But at the end of the day, this is one of the movies that I really needed to revisit as an adult. A lot of it comes off very different now with 40 year old eyes instead of 20 year old ones, and I appreciate it that way.

One of the big problems with 12 hours of terror, is that it’s rarely actually 12 hours. In fact I don’t know that it’s ever been 12 hours. But this one in particular was especially egregious considering that we already passed 12 1/2 hours by the time we finished Demon Knight. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I was spent. Despite really liking what I was seeing with Demon Knight, at the same time I was still kind of falling asleep at points. That’s what happens when you start to push 50. So it is with great regret that I ended up bailing on the last film… Bride of Reanimator. It’s still relatively safe to do, I know for a fact that it’s streaming on Tubi right now, so I can get to it when I’m not quite as exhausted.

Though I am a little bummed out for fitting the opportunity to actually watch it on the big screen. Still, I cannot even begin to express my delight in the fact that 12 hours Manage to return to Cleveland on the other side of the lock downs. Seasons Bleedings is returning as well for another round of seasonal horror! It’s a shorter festival than 12 hours, and may actually be a bit more manageable, but still an absolutely good time. My friends and I will be hitting that up in a month and a half and if you’re in the northeastern Ohio area that first weekend of December, you should absolutely come out!

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The Cybertronic Spree (Featuring guests Weird Paul and Olathia)

It’s a return to the Beachland Ballroom for me, and it’s been a little while. But Cybertronic Spree was finally coming to Cleveland, and it was a show I didn’t want to miss. They’ve been in the area before, and before the lockdowns have been scheduled to play the House of blues. I have to say, the Beachland feels like a more proper venue for them. Newline newline that’s not to say that the beach Lanza great and comfy place… It’s a bit of a dive actually. It’s the sort of club that makes you wish you were someplace classier, like an American legion,  The YMCA, or a high school gym with a murder van parked outside. Nevertheless, they’ve got a reputation for bringing in strange, and eclectic acts. Not just local metal and punk, but things like the devotional… Featuring bands doing tributes and stuff in the style of Devo. I’ve seen Max Sabbath and galactic empire and the Okily Dokilys There, as well as catching one of the found footage festival tours. It’s a weird joint, and that makes it perfect for Cybertronic Spree. Also, it’s got way better parking  and less chance of getting shanked  than the House of blues in downtown Cleveland. (In all fairness, I say there is less chance, not no chance…)

Of course the night starts off with a visit to the trashy vintage store in the clubs basement “This Way Out”. It’s fairly reminiscent of Suite Lorain in the west side antiques district on Lorain road. Antiques and vintage really come in two varieties, classy and kitschy. Like Suite Lorain, This Way Out skews seriously kitchy in glorious fashion. They also specialize in vinyl – appropriate for a concert club.

I wasn’t down there very long though, before I heard the thunderous sounds of the first band tuning up. Time to run up and blow out my eardrums!

The show opened with Olathia. I’ve never heard of this band, but my buddy Ed has. He even knew it was the bass player’s birthday! They’re not bad, local metal. Like a lot of metal bands with female singers, they leaned into a more melodic type of metal. I dig that. Less cookie monster and more tunes. They rock hard and loud and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.

And then there was Weird Paul. Weird Paul singing about his hello Kitty necklace. Weird Paul singing about needing bus fare. Weird Paul singing about working at Spenser Gifts and not being able to have his phone on the sales floor. Weird Paul singing “I think this kid is having a seizure”. Throwing beach balls into the crowd, then holding up a Skippy jar lit by a strobe light, while Weird Paul sings about his favorite types of peanut butter. (Serious biz, I forgot Superman Peanut Butter was even a thing!) Dude was a trip. VERY strange. But also a clever choice. He was playing this tour solo, so after breaking down the stage from Olathia, they set up The Cybertronic Spree, and added a n extra mic and stand for Weird Paul’s laptop which he ran all of his backing tracks from. That made for minimal teardown time before the main attraction.

As soon as Weird Paul announced he only had a couple more songs left, I slowly started making my way up until I hit the front row! I literally had my hands on the stage!

Cybertronic Spree was everything I hoped they would be. Yes, they did the whole soundtrack to the 86 film, but they interspersed it with other classics like “Barracuda” and “Immigrant Song” as well as throwing in a variety of cartoon theme songs. Spider-man and X-Men were back to back and when it came time to play the Pokemon song, Soundwave tossed giant balloon pokeballs into the crowd.

In attendance that night was Alpha Magus, a cosplayer wearing his version of Macho Man Ultra Magnus. While he isn’t part of the band, and was just there for the show, he got invited on stage where he proceeded to throw slim jims into the crowd!

The band ended the night with thier rendition of “Don’t You Forget About Me.” It’s such a brilliant and quintessential 80’s song that it fit’s perfectly with the band.

All in all, a good night. I spent much of my time staring at the construction of hte costumes and looking for ideas. Lots of jumping up and down iw ht the crowd and singing aong to the songs. I left happy, with my ears ringing. It’s definately a show worth seeing when they come to your town.

 

 


Ghengis Con

events78364374_2877975225580215_1823287645208313856_nI 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 74226522_2877976085580129_4182699921784176640_nparking. 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 79020054_2877975778913493_6682354249352871936_npamphlet 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. 78321652_2877976058913465_5414359558590038016_nDerf 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


NEOTACC Swap Meet

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BenSpidey-710x1024Every 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 67705163_2599502666760807_4923164807739211776_n_2599502663427474some 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 67061464_2599504800093927_5906164087422713856_n_2599504790093928been 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.


Free Comic Book Day 2019

events57038280_10156959660912278_5719002890270408704_n59554254_10218704700919822_5730319347411320832_nDepending 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 58679409_10156989385787278_4059958543967584256_nrelease 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 59592378_2460804583963950_6017528075397365760_nbegan 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 59921110_2460827867294955_701903995261681664_nglowing 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 59690961_2460804923963916_4232194497838055424_none 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 59953823_2460810177296724_7143054771056803840_nbuddy 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 59445931_10157000005387278_1553795622958530560_nfeline 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.

 

 

 


Spring Zombie Walk 2019

events58595555_2681214068561869_3777651090925813760_nThe 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 58580544_2681212585228684_6685182227619250176_nmissing, 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.

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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.

 

 

 


OddMall : Expedition Elsewhere 2019

eventsI’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 51993393_2341953092515767_7807918435781836800_ngetting 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 52842294_2341952889182454_4034371035783495680_nfavorite, 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.