The Harper shows are a constant. They never change all that much, so I figured I knew what was in store for me Sunday. But I always forget – summer cons mean wardrobe malfunctions.
I had thrown up a poll to see what costume people wanted to see, and my old Mr Freeze won in a landslide. At 96%, it wasn’t even close. It had been over two years since I had Freeze out, and as I pulled it out, the wear showed. I had a lot of patching to do, including re-attaching one of the oxygen tanks to the back (and figuring a new way of doing so that didn’t just involve boat loads of glue). Also, my Freeze gun was missing. By “Missing” I mean, buried somewhere in the attic, but nt where I can find it to lay my hands on it. I looked around, trying to figure out what to do, and then decided to build a new on up around my Kyberlight lightsaber. It ended up being massive – but that’s not a bad thing. A bigger gun is far more reminiscent of the film Freeze. I packed the armor in the car and left the windows down during the early service at church. I was hoping the summer sun wouldn’t melt anything.
I started to suit up in the parking lot. It seems like this used t be easier. it certainly was when I tested it at home. The velcro tabs on the sides didn’t seem to want to hold. there was plenty of room, but they just kept coming loose. Finally I got the chestplate on and was looking for the gauntlets.
On of the air tanks came off. The hot sun had caused the glue between the metal clip and air tank to separate. Grumbling, I reached for my repair kit and grabbed a razor. I cut a lip in the tank (made from a couple of two liter bottles) and slid half the long clip inside the painted bottle itself, then the other side into the slot on the back of my armor. I prayed it would be enough to naturally clamp together, and went back to the business of putting the chestplate back on. Seriously, one velcro fastens then the other pulls off…Finally, with the armor on and the first gauntlet over my wrist…
The other tank came off. Out came the razor again, repeating the same proceedure. Back into the chestplate. Gauntlets on. Gloves on. Bald cap in place. Belt was sagging with the midplate a bit, but I’d have to live with it.
The goggles chose that moment to break, and I found myself rejiggering the clutch on the side that adjusts the tension. It was another few minuets before they were workable, and I finally slid my dome into place. I picked up the freeze gun and the muzzle promptly slid off the lightsaber. The sun had melted the glue holding this into place as well. I slid it back on and decided to let it float. It would allow me to grip the second handle sideways giving it a more industrial look, but it also meant I’d have to make sure to always point it up. If I relaxed my grip downward, the front would side off again. Fine. Lets get into the show.
I have to admit, I dig this venue. The split level with the snack bar and some good dealers makes it a nice set up. The costume contest draws an interesting crowd as well. I think it pulls in more young people than other Harper shows do. Over the years I’ve really seen the costume talent here develop into something impressive, from the amazing Umbrella ninja to the Carnivale Wonder Woman, the competition here grows better every year.
My favorite outfit of the day however, had to be the demonic Ronald McDonald. The young lady in the suit was totally into it and created a cheerfully creepy visage. I love these kind of mash ups, and was totally rooting for her in the costume contest.
I was happy to see so many fifty cent bins and even managed to plow through the single quarter box at the show, scoring a stack of vertigo books I’d always meant to check out and finding the completing issue of two different mini-series I’d been collecting. The vendor knocked a dollar off the already deeply discounted books and even better, he offered to hold onto my bag until I was ready to leave so I wouldn’t have to lug it around in the bulky costume. God bless this dude.
I missed seeing a lot of the friends I regularly run into at this show, but still had a nice time at it. It’s not hard to make new aquantances in this environment. I’m always amused when I look out and see a bunch of heroes sitting at a table with the lunch they just bought at the snack bar, or playing a board game. It’s a surreal image. There were some artists I recognized from Woo-Con and Akron, as well as some great booths. I found one table full of Godzilla movies, along with a book on Japanese film. The LaGrange table was selling old theater signs and there was an amazing selection of He-Man toys in the back. That’s really what the Harper shows are about – interesting buys and good shopping.It’s a nice little con with good deals and interesting artists, and that’s why I keep coming back.
I 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.
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.
This 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!
That’s not leather. That’s actually foam! Seriously, the paint job on here was so good I couldn’t even tell.
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!
I’m going to have to do some edits on this – Batman, Wolverine and the Thing? Yes please!
Speaking of Wolverine, I was so loving all the X-Men.
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!
Not a hoax, not an imaginary story! I actually broke down and went to a Jeff Harper show. I’ve talked a lot of smack about these shows. They’re basically flea markets (no programing), and one that I am charged admission for access to. That kind of thing irritates me a little. MY first encouter with this promoter’s cons was at a show in North Olmsted – you will find that review over here (https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/didnt-i-say-sketchy/). My big gripe was that it wouldn’t have taken much to transform this from a bazaar into a con. Just a couple of TVs playing movies or trailer, a video tournament or a couple of panels – just stuff organized with the bare minimum of care could have pushed that show in to something more than just a tradeshows. Still, over the last year or so I’d heard whispers that they were trying to do something different…(more than just the failed attempt at a VERY similar type of show I encountered here -https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/why-i-drove-out-to-north-coas-comic-con-and-didnt-go-in/ )The flyer for this year’s Akron-canton comic con, had cosplay prominently featured – they were really trying to promote it so I gritted my teeth and decided to give them another chance.
Chapperells is best described as a large bingo hall. It’s a step up from the American Legion Hall is that Jeff Harper Productions seems to favor, but not by much. There’s still a Sketchy feel to the place. As you enter, you find yourself on an elevated platform where the registration table and a few artist tables are set up. there’s a snack bar at this venue and that’s actually a nice touch (It was invaluable at AllAmericon last year!). This space overlooks the main floor and was actually a nicely touch.
I had chosen my new mark 41 ironman suit for this event. Bones is about 95% done and I wanted to test it out in a small back water show. I may have underestimated the size of the event, but then again I was still nursing a trepidation that I would wander in and be the only person there in costume… That all of the “true collectors” would turn and stare at me, and collectively sighing “ugh, it’s one of THOSE kind of people…”
My fear was unfounded though, and as soon as I arrived – before I even made it onto the floor I ran into a group of Anime cosplayers, complete with a Naruto Akatsuki Deadpool (who gleefully kept fistbumping me through the entire show whenever he’d run into me) We chatted and caught up – I had seen several of these people at Zip Con, and as I finally made it to the floor right now myself slept up in the Conga line made up of costumed characters! It was one of the strange thing happened to me on the convention seen, and possibly the most fun I had that day God we danced from one end of the hall to the next, weaving our way through the dealers tables up and down the platform and making a continuous circuit – with an NCIS scientist ahead of me and a Harley Quinn ahead of her, the line streched ahead as far as my eyes could see. We beckoned a Pikachu and Black Canary to join us as we passed by, kicking out heals up and humming along.
The venue was decked out in a very inviting way. The floor plan worked, it was logical, not too crowded. Above where the registration table was there were large stand-ups of super heroes – Captain America, Superman, and Stormtroopers. Perfect for photo ops if anybody was interested. As I plunked down my five dollars for admission, the promoter trying to look at me was struck speechless, searching for the words and unable to find the expression to relate to me until I complimented his stark industries T-shirt that it was a good way to start.
Akron-Canton is not the deal factory that other small shows like Lake Effect are. Still I managed to find a 25 cent bin to plunder, as well as scoring a beautiful hardback edition of Jenny Breeden’s The Devils Panties from one of the discount boxes. It was fun to chat with some of the dealers, Scott from Comics Are Go (my preferred comic bookshop) was set up and mention that he was about halfway through his stock of the new comic he had put out for FCBD. I’m seriously hoping for a second volume of this. I spoke with another familiar face who mentioned the turnout at Lake Effect this year had actually been lower than he had expected – not quite as profitable as when it was back the old theatre. That was one of those things that had kind of worried me, that the move might not be the most successful tactic . Interesting to hear their perspective. Another dealer asked if I was a big fan of iron man – expecting the obvious “yes “. The thing is, I had to admit that I’m more a fan of the movies – and that I hate being THAT guy, but let’s face it… We’re more of a DC family. Still, this particular suit allowed me to do what I really wanted to do, that is – revisit the Ironman form, while going absolutely crazy with details. God bless that one guy that I spoke to that day who actually recognized it as the “Bones” model. That’s one more person then I expected to know what it was…
The costume contest is a new component to this show – it’s been sponsored by Heroic Adventures, a comic book shop out of Massillon . For the first year, there are actually some beautiful and impressive suits. Threre were perfect versions of the DCs bombshell Harley, The TV version of Arrow, along with fun interpretations of the Punisher and Black Canary . There was one young woman in a Kylo Ren costume – black robe, light saber and mask. she made her way through thecostume contest like everyone else, enthusiastic and happy to be there. Towards the end of the line, out of nowhere came this tall man, also in a Kylo Ren costume towering over The other contestants. The slightly more Diminutive Kylo Ren was moved forward from the crowd, and lept back up on to stage to confront her double, backed up by jubilant, raucous cries of “take him down!”, “Go get him!”. It was pandemonium and it was glorious.
This ended up being a fun afternoon.it’s still very much a five dollar show, with the dealers room being the central focus – but it feels like they’re trying to do more. It seems like they’re seeing a benefit to adding a little bit of programming, even if it’s just running a Superman movie on the TV screens on the walls, and bringing in cosplayers. It can’t hurt,I don’t think they would have brought in that Anime group without the cosplay component and it certainly brought me – and more people means more people spending money at the dealer’s table. I know I certainly did. I’m not quite ready to declare this a regular stop for me on the convention circuit, but it might just be enough to keep me from rolling my eyes in exasperation next time somebody tells me they’re heading to one of Jeff Harper’s shows.