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.