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Geekfest 2022

Look, I’m as surprised as anyone. I was certain that geek fast was dead. I mean, the plague killed bigger and more powerful conventions than them… And they already missed a year here and there even without those complications. It’s a difficult event for the library to mount, a lot of variables a lot of planning. I really wouldn’t have blamed them for just deciding to sit this one out.

I’ve actually only heard that they were coming back about three weeks ago. Definitely not much more than two weeks before the event itself, and it was so close to Neo Comicon  that I wasn’t sure if we really had it in us to do two back to back shows. Still, it’s a show I like, being one of those more programming driven events. Maddie hadn’t been out to this thing since all the way back in 2016, and she found herself really looking forward to it, another chance to bring out her my hero academia costume and connect with other people. So, Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and headed out.

I was taking a chance bringing out my Borg costume for this one… Star Trek is passé these days, and Star Wars is real the real attention is at. Still, I was pleased to discover I wasn’t the only person and track garb there. This event draws a lot of boomers and Xers, with children that they’ve raised on Star Trek. I was surprised at how often I was recognized, not only by adults, but by teenagers! Around the corner at one point and one of the vendors piped up “now there is the scariest summer of my life!“. He was of course referring to the Star Trek next generation cliffhanger “the best of both worlds“. I nodded. “It’s funny, but of all the two-parter is they did after that, they never quite managed to get you to those same stakes.“ The vendor agreed. “During that third season,“ he told me. “They’ve gotten into the habit of always resolving everything within the last five minutes… But we got closer and closer to the end of this episode, 10 minutes, five minutes, three minutes, and I found myself wondering how tehy were going to wrap this up. I spent all summer nervous and wondering what was going to happen when the show came back.“. I remember that summer too. I mentioned to him that I was certain that Captain Picard wasn’t coming back to the show, that he’d be taken off with these bad guys, and that Patrick Stewart would basically go off and go back to Shakespeare while Commander Riker would take command of the enterprise for the remainder of the series pack. It was fun chatting with somebody about this and reminiscing about the days when Star Trek was genuinely good and had such cultural relevance.  As I wandered around, I made sure to menace the other people in Star Trek costumes, and was surprised to how many there were… In fact, I wasn’t even the only one carrying around a triple! There was a great looking doctor crusher with a triple in her jacket pocket. It seem to be behaving better than mine, considering I couldn’t get mine to sit on my shoulder the way it’s supposed to. I managed to get it attached just before pre-judging for the costume contest and about 20 minutes before I had to walk on stage for the main competition. That’s really my main goal, to have him ride out on my shoulder so that I can remove him and display him to the audience. I’ve gotta remember to use a better magnet the next time though.

That pre-judging was a problem. One of the main events that Maddie and I were looking forward to was a screening of Howls moving castle. The Akron Summit public library has a massive auditorium with a large screen… Just about movie size, so they get to see this on the big screen is a real treat. However, the movie was screening from Eleven to One, and pre-judging was at noon! It didn’t help that Maddie and I were a little late getting in as well, so we probably missed about 20% of the movie, but we did get to watch was every bit as good as we remember, and incredibly fun to watch on a proper screen with a good sound system.

Costumes were in abundance, despite the fact that the costume contests itself was a little lightly populated. Queen Anna Boleyn shuffled through the doors as I was making my way out for a swag dump, she waved a wand at me to vanish the evil machinery! She would occasionally come up to me throughout the convention with a screwdriver adjusting my mechanics. Another running joke was the way that R2 D2 seem to keep running into me. The R2-D2 builders club had a table downstairs with the 501st Legion, creating of nice Star Wars presence there. But occasionally the droid would roll his way upstairs and mingle with the rest of the people. It would see me and Emmett allowed high pitch scream, as I’d come over and scan it and examine it for the edification of the crowd. At times I almost felt like a little droid was following me!

I’ll say this, not only did Geekfest return, they veritably exploded. It’s bigger than I’ve ever seen it before, with them really pulling out all the stops. I remember the days when this show was basically maybe a half dozen tables up by the auditorium, mostly library personnel making buttons and playing games with the kids, one panel room and maybe some improv going on in the main auditorium. This time around they utilized all four floors. Star Wars characters on the ground floor along with a cosplay repair station… I can’t even tell you how amazing that was! When fingers started popping off my glove, I was grateful to be able to use their hot glue gun to put myself back together. Also video game rooms downstairs with retro video games and custom ones made by one of the guests. Another floor had board games… Some of them giant size. A couple tables in the middle were reserved for first timers playing dungeons and dragons. Another floor gave you a chance to explore strange history, along with a table of comics to give away. The vendors and artists were spread out as well. Instead of a handful of tables… A group of vendors that are slowly growing more and more numerous over the years, you could now find artists and vendors scattered throughout the library. There are tables around the length of the entrance, and then spread down below the atrium, and then even more nestled in between the bookshelves and rose and valleys of the library. It’s a fascinating set up, and the library actually went out of its way to draw attention to them by issuing kids a “passport“ where they can get stickers from each booth… Trying to collect them all, and thereby visit all of the guests. This is all in addition to the art show that was going on on the ground floor, one that you could vote  in for People’s choice award… And constant panels and games going on in the two conference rooms in the atrium. Indeed, the overlap was so great, that we always seem to be running from event to event, particularly towards the end when we were coming out for the costume contest lineup. Maddie was none too pleased to have to leave her panel to get in line. “They were going to give away BOOKS at the end!” She lamented.

Still, despite all the challenges, as we drove home, Maddie and I agreed this may just have been the best convention we went to this year. Being so program driven just makes for a far more entertaining experience, and is exactly the sort of thing that will keep Maddie (who’s convention attention span is usually about 2 to 3 hours) completely occupied for over five hours. It’s also a great place to make new friends, something that kiddo is discovering and taking full advantage of.

Here’s the thing, the festival bills itself as a mini comicon? I don’t think so. There’s things I’m much fuller convention experience than a lot of the ones that we pay much more money to get into. It’s also become one of our favorites, and will be back next year.

 

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Steel City Con and Pulp Fiction

Look, I knew when I was getting into. I’ve been avoiding Steel City Con for a few years now, because it’s just too big. It looks like a cattle call, a meat market… One of those large autograph focused conventions that I’ve been increasingly dropping for my schedule. However, my buddy Mike has been bugging me to ride along to a show with him for a while now, and he and his buddy had an open seat in the back of the car.

And William Shatner was coming.

I’ve been going to Star Trek conventions for a long time, and I even have Shatner‘s autograph through his fan club, but we never actually crossed paths. He made it to Cleveland a couple of times with wizard world, but we all know how I feel about that show. Being able to camp out in someone’s backseat and not have to worry about navigation or parking, it kind of changes the equation. So does the fact that Shatner is 90. This felt like my best chance, now or never. So I ponied up for the photo op… Something I generally consider to be gouging, but again… This is really my best shot, then I gathered up my Shadow costume and met the guys drive down to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.

Steel City Con is actually held at Monroeville convention center… A suburb of Pittsburgh, and also right across the street from Monroeville mall. This is a bonus. I was going to check two boxes off my bucket list, meet Shatner, and finally visit mall where Dawn of the Dead was filmed.

The fan community in PA is just as starved for conventions as what I’ve been noticing in Ohio. The show was packed, shoulder to shoulder. The prices were high, and other than Shatner, I was really only interested in meeting two people. Comedy legend John Lovitz was signing at his first convention ever here, and I’ve loved him in everything I’ve ever seen him in. He seem to be in a bit of a mood though, he smiled brightly and cheerfully for photos, and that smile would fade as soon as the camera went down. His panel was half hearted, he still delivered some fun lines, but he really didn’t seem into it.

On the other hand Alanna Masterson and Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead we’re both in fine form. They were happy and friendly, and just generally fun to be around. Alana walked out and looked over the attendance… And just breathed “ look at all the people! I haven’t seen this many people in ages!” She is bouncy and happy and steals the show even when people are asking questions specifically of Chandler Riggs. She’s every bit of fun in person as she always was on talking dead, and that’s a nice thing. The panels themselves though were really lackluster. There is no moderation, no one up there asking questions guiding the conversation and bring us something new. They brought the actors onto the stage, and let the audience just ask questions. The problem is, when you do that, you just get the same dozen questions that you’ve heard in every other interview, convention panel, or talk show. I was actually a little disappointed, because I’ve always loved the entertainment and programming portions of these sort of shows.

The other person I was there to meet was Larry Thomas, better known as the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld. He was strictly a target of opportunity, I wanted to meet him because he was there, and also The least expensive autograph and photo! Thomas is having a great time. He loves seeing the fans he loves mugging for the camera, he just seemed genuinely happy to be there, even down to a snarky “master of my domain shirt”, he was possibly the most fun guest that I interacted with that day.

Back in the dealers room I was saddened by the lack of comics. I guess they don’t cal themselves a COMIC con, but that’s what it is… Or at least what it started out as. Best you can do for bargain bins were dollar bins… Although I found one that was swimming full of trade paperbacks. I grabbed some Hell blazer and ultimate, some titles that I always meant to get around to like bite club, and even a strange looking ultimate Spiderman trade. I checked the volume number, it wasn’t on my list… I should’ve looked a little closer though. It’s about three or four issues, all translated into what appears to be Norwegian. I’ve got those issues in English elsewhere, so it’s just kind of a trip to see this thing. Not what I was looking for, but not a complete waste of a dollar bill.

I grab some blind bags of Doctor Who figures to open up with the kids when I got home, as well as digging through a huge box full of Disney park pins. Each, I grabbed a handful for the kids, as well as a bunch of superheroes to pin to the back of my comicon bag.

All in all, I still managed to have a fun day, the guys introduced me to Indian Food, and I got to meet Captain Kirk – really the one that started it all. Still, it was hot and crowded, and in a lot of ways exactly the sort of imagine that I don’t enjoy going to. They could probably still get me back with certain guests… For instance, a couple of the Elm Street girls are coming in the fall, and I’m tempted to make the trek back out just to grab them. But it’s definitely not gonna be a stop on my normal rotation.

Of course because I’m just that masochistic, I decided to make it a doubleheader this weekend. There was a small Jeff Harper show going on in my backyard (and God bless Harper for keeping the con scene alive through the pandemic), back at the Westlake double tree where they did the spring comic show, and where they held Retro Invasion convention back in fall of 2019. The hotel has been getting a lot of traffic with these kind of shows, and it’s nice to have some of the stuff showing up within a quickie 15 minute drive. This one was the pulp fiction show, and really I was just going to find out what it would be like. I have no idea what to expect, other than a strange flea market atmosphere. I once again donned the shadow costume and dove in. When they say pulp fiction convention, what they mean is book sale. All books, a lot of trashy pulp novels from before I was born, as well as more than enough pulp magazines, but also newspaper reprints. A smattering of comics, and a lot more paperback novels from the 70s 80s and 90s than I expected. I loaded up on James Blish Star Trek adaptions as well as Roger Zelazney paperbacks as well as a few odd ducks like a Buck Rogers and a strange zombie for dummies style book. It was an interesting show, and it would probably behove me to go with a list of shadow reprints that I don’t have, and maybe a more informed attack on the paperbacks. It was also a pleasant surprise to discover my buddies Rhonda and Criss there. I haven’t seen these two girls in probably over a year, so it was nice to bump into them, despite my full costume!

There’s talk of making Pulp fiction convention a yearly thing. And I think that’s more than enough. A quick, one day niche specialty feel like this. I’m intrigued enough to show up again if they come back!

 


Lake Effect Comic Con 2018

Conman

35533764_2533830610175951_6038846837060796416_n36224434_1981931958517884_724846576685547520_nLake Effect isn’t what it used to be. This was one of my favorite shows for awhile, because of the charm of having a free comic con at a movie theater, as well as the vast array of deals all over the place and marvelous programming. I’m glad the show has grown, and really needed to move – but since heading over to the hotel and transitioning into that sort of con, it’s identity has changed a great deal.

Gone are the amazing deals and cheap finds. As emphasis has moved off of programming, panels and screenings have vanished more and more until the event  really has begun to resemble a Jeff Harper show… that is to say, a giant swap meet that you pay admission for.

There’s still a fun vibe here, it attracts cosplayers because of the costume contest and there’s friends to meet. My buddy Rhonda and I hung out with Dirk Manning a little bit, 36002734_1981932758517804_6091099696946741248_nand chatted up several other folks we saw wondering around. Free stuff was in abundance this year too, at every door there seemed to be a person stationed with a bag of pins to handout (poor Rhonda spent all day adding buttons to my Comicon  backpack) and on the flyer table full of freebies there were Green Lantern batteries for Heroclix! I was so excited to finally grab one of these! One person walked up to me and handed over a button with Barry Allen’s lightning bolt insignia on it, and informed me I’d been Flashed.

To my great delight, my buddy Jim won the costume contest for his Dr Forster (from mystery science theatre 3000) costume. There were a lot of great outfits this year and it seems like the convention is starting to fill up again. Attendance was down last couple of 36029252_2540812459477766_7607987854181924864_nyears but this time around there seemed to be more people walking around and that’s good… I wasn’t sure how that would pan out considering there are a lot of folks pissed about the entrance fee increasing this year to 8 dollars for such a small show.

I’ve got a lot of affection for Lake Effect, but I may be skipping it next year. There’s still fun to be had here, but I’m not a big fan of what it’s becoming. We’ll see what happens in 2019.

 


Akron Canton Comic Con 2018

Conman

I’ll be perfectly honest, while this is generally average show – I really enjoy it because of all the friends that go here. I hit Akron Canton to hang out with Mike and Jason and Alli and to introduce my friend Rhonda to all of these people, as well as participate in the costume contest. Indeed, it was a beautiful day, just cool enough that I wasn’t melting in my Lego Deadpool suit – and in a smaller environment like this Lego Deadpool get a lot of love. It was a lot of fun to run around in this and delight all the kids at this show.

There were  more deals last year, I actually found some 50 Cent and quarter bins then. This year there is only one three for a dollar bin, and it was full of Archies (What is it with Harper shows and Archies anyhow?). Still, we hunted through the dollar bins – I got a nice run of Fight Club 2, as well as some Camelot 3000s that I had my eye out for. At least the dollar bins are scattered all across this hall as well as other deals – my friend Rhonda found an issue Creepy magazine for a shockingly good price.

Akron Canton is just what it’s always been, a Jeff Harper flea market with a admission – but it’s also a great place to hang out with friends and score some special stuff. I’ve got a soft spot for this little show and I’m pretty sure I’ll be back next year.


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!)

 


All Americon 7

Conman13669017_10207639878933420_6152023192531395550_nEvery year I’ve said “I’m going to wait until this show grows a bit before coming back” and then the next year I keep finding myself here. Why is that?

It’s really the caliber of guests they have. It’s still one of the smaller size shows – and they realize it. Nevertheless, in addition to some of the familiar artist faces we see on the convention circuit, they always go out of thier way to bring in one big name whether it’s Jim Sternako, Michael Golden and Renee Witterstaetter or this year, James O’Barr. It’s not just one guest, it’s one GREAT guest.

O’Barr was honestly the reason I came out this year. I wasn’t going to Wizard World earlier this year just to meet him (I object to WW on general principle) especially where then was a good smaller show coming up a few months later.

AllAmericon keeps growing, breaking the 2000 attendee mark this year. Interestingly though, while things were crowded and the joint was hopping earlier in the day, most people seemed to be heading out around 2 – right as I was pulling in. I saw a lot of great costumes heading home – something that perplexed me…the costume contest wasn’t until 5 13592799_1223152581062496_6748203952458136594_n(perhaps in the future this needs to be earlier – by the time it was over, the show was closing down). I loved hanging with Shorts Spidey here and there. Making new friends if a great part of con life.

The cosplay element here continues to impress me by the way, there were a lot of great  outfits and some really fun characters running around being silly and generally having a good time at the show. And that’s really the important part. It’s a fun show. I met people who were there for their first convention ever, others that had been to multiple shows (it always interesting to have to re-introduce yourself to someone you met a while ago, but neither of you recognize each other because you were wearing completely different costumes a the time….).

Speaking of costumes, it seems every time I do this show I have problems with my costume. (It’s got to be the summer heat). The Velcro of Voltron came apart on me a half hour before the costume contest at AAC5. Last year at AAC6 my Thing jaw was coming off – I had  to reglue it on my lower lip, but that didn’t help the drooping by the jawline. This year I was running into problems with my 13654171_1222795844431503_4950613691780821261_niron Man mk41 suit….As soon as I pulled the breastplate out of the car, the minigun on the shoulder fell off. The heat had melted the glue. I quickly seized some wooden skewers ( the ones Amy had brought me for my boots when Maddie and I did Lake effect – there were still some in the car) and pushed them through the shoulder and into the foam that held the gun. I snapped off the excess and to my great astonishment and delight it held the entire show.

I also ran down batteries. By the time I hit the judges table, one of my laser sights were dead as well as the blinking EL wire in my midplate. ARRRGH! (At least I stayed lit up during the rest of the con – that’s what counts) I’d made a lot of upgrades on this suit since Akron-Canton…weaponizing it further and adding a lot more lights. the pulsing LEDs on my chestplate were perhaps my favorite. I’m just about completely happy with the suit…I’d be completely satisfied if I could just figure out how to make that faceplate come down (Several people asked too).

It’s time for this show to move on though. Next year, they are going to be expanding to  the 13607016_1223156981062056_7784269984059379896_nCovelli center in downtown Youngstown. I’m hoping to see more vendors  They really need more- it doesn’t take long to do that dealer’s room, and with the long stretches between events you kind of need more. That said, I’m also hoping to see more programming. There was a great game demo going on a couple times during the day, as well as the cosplay contest (kids, and adults – about an hour and a half between them) as well as one cospaly panel. A couple more panels, perhaps a q&a with their guests and I could see this turning into the next big thing in that area! We’ll see next year!

 


Akron-Canton comic con

Conman13509093_1213401932037561_2955553546715114208_n13507003_1213402598704161_7581239464763234921_nNot 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 13510763_1213402652037489_6567869712084795803_nor 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.

13533259_1213401902037564_8183584025384120791_n13495077_1213402855370802_1567443102861328975_nChapperells 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…”

13532802_1213402295370858_1754643360180689883_nMy 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.

13524540_1213402928704128_1973000971067974580_n13507225_1213401968704224_5649488698315410949_nThe 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 13507003_1213402692037485_9083131833936761844_nedition 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 13522061_1213402502037504_3279377786265632615_nfan 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…

13509001_1213402008704220_8211617944463766053_nThe 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 13516648_1213402098704211_4887581353807862034_ntowering 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.


Lake Effect Comic Con 2016

Conman13322109_1198730286838059_1078068479469314497_nI almost didn’t make it. It seemed like everything was working against us. First thing in the morning my bald cap went missing (How does that even happen? I deliberately dug it up and put in the helmet the night before!). Church went long, and I had to help tear down for next week. We had to stop at a costume shop to replace my bald cap We had to stop for a potty brake for Maddie, one of my boots cracked down the side (the wife went above and beyond the call of duty by running me out some wooden skewers to pull it together), and finally, the GPS took ups to the old address (Change you facebook location guys!), we added an extra five minuets to find Lake Effect’s new home at the Mentor Holiday in.

We arrived about 45 minuets later than I intended, but I’m so glad we made it in.

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Lady Deadpool haunts the screening corner

Lake Effect has become a tradition for us, and it’s still a good show. They continue to try hard to be more than just a bazaar and junk show. Despite the move from the theater they’ve been holding the show at, there were still panals and movie screenings. I’ll admit, I’d love to see a dedicated movie room though – they had a clever set up in an alcove with a table and chairs, but it lacks the proper screening room feel. That’s something I’m going to miss about the old theater location.

Their dealers room setup however, is something else. Most conventions will grab a large open space, with rows of dealer tables lined up side by side (sometimes spilling out into the hallways), creating a maze of retailers, a labyrinth of con swag you can lose yourself in. Lake Effect occupies three medium size ballrooms, each leading into the next like russian nesting dolls. It contributes to a feeling of discovery, like exploring one of those odd shops where something new and interesting is laying around every corner I really like this set up — it makes the con feel bigger than it is, while still maintaining the intimate feel we’ve come to expect from Lake Effect.

The one thing I was worried about though – deals. There are still some to be found, but with the move to the hotel, Lake Effect does not feel like the bargain mecca it used to be. I found a very good price on a Doctor Who trade as well as a better number (than amazon) on the Art of He-Man book that I accidentally passed up last y13321606_1198730696838018_5427060886683469836_near. But nothing mind blowing like that Teela or Frosta I’ve discovered there before. No Quarter or Fifty Cent bins. A lot of familiar vendors, and some new ones, but they’re bringing a higher priced selection these days.

We wandered around looking for Marvel Zombies for Maddie, but no luck. Nevertheless, she did find a darling Flamingo charm as well as picking up a flower one for her sister with her own convention allowance ( I was extrememly proud of her for doing that). She also spied a Minecraft gravity feed and absolutely had to go after one of those.

She also stopped by Artist Dan Gorman’s table and picked up a beautiful Supergirl print. I love when the kids buy art. This is one of the great things to see them learning about at cons. They’ve grown to expect it – they look for it.  And a great shout out to artists like Gorman and RAK! who create economical prints – even trading card size ones that kids can totally afford.

Another familiar face this time around was Pixel Bits. The kids are fascinated with this vendor – Lydia’s bought from 13315615_1198730713504683_6401520572262178658_nthem in the past. This time around, it was the Nintendo piece with a Pikachu in it that caught Maddie’s eye. They’ve added soaps and other oddities to thier booth and I think I really need to start dropping some more cash there- I expect I’ll see them again over at All-AmeriCON in a month or so.

Even in the new location, Lake Effect still managed to pack the crowds in. I think that the show has been around long enough that it’s really become trusted and well known, particularly in the East Cleveland area. What’s been really wonderful to see is how this show has and continues to grow. Not just in size but also in programing…and in cosplay.

Every year I see the Cosplayers come out in greater and greater force. More and more, you really see people bringing their A game and it’s really becoming a serious show as far as it costume contest goes. They’ve upped their game with the prizes as well, and it really just impresses me all around how this show just gets better every year. What started out as a small, local show for dealers to dump excess wares has really blossomed into a full fledged convention and has nowhere to go but up. We can’t wait until next year.

By the way, don’t just take my word for it – Maddie herself has a lot to say about this particular show!

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