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 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, and 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 years 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.
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.
In 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.
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. 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… 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.
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… ”
“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.
I 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 about 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.
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.
I 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!)
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 (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 iron 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 Covelli 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!
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.
I 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.
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 year. 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 them 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!
This is a relatively new thing, and not one I dig, but it’s still usually cheaper than media guests. A lot will sign one or two things for free and then charge after that which I’m very cool with, but not always. Here’s the list, beefed up with some additions of my own.
Stan Lee – $60 ($80 for something non-comic)
Rob Liefeld – $10-$60 (for New Mutants #98)
Humberto Ramos – $10-$20
Edgar Delgado – $10
Neal Adams – $30
Whilce Portacio – $10-$20 (that’s news to me, he didn’t charge me at Indiana Comicon last year- possibly just certain items)
Bill Sienkiewicz – $10-$20Charles Soule – $10 CGC grading signings
John Romita Jr – three for free, then $2. $10 for CGC grading.
Len Wein – $5, $20 CGC grading signings, $25 for Hulk 181, Giant Size X-Men #1 or House of Secrets #92.
Joe Rubinstein – $2
Greg Horn – $20 GameStop variants
Victor Olazaba – $10
Matteo Scalera – $20 CGC grading signings
Fiona Staples – $20 CGC grading signings
Klaus Janson– $20 CGC grading signings
Charles Soule – $10
Fabian Niecza charges for anything X-Men or Deadpool related (X-Force, Cable & Deadpool, etc). $10 per comic.
Alex Saviuk – $5
Gerry Conway charges $5 per item
Pat Brodrick charges $3 per item
Arvell Jones also charges $3 per item
Larry Hama will sign two items for free and charges after that.
Graham Nolan recently started charging, but not sure how much.
Mike Grell does one free and then I think it was $3 an item
Mike Zeck charges $5 per item
John Beatty charges $4 per item
Greg Horn was charging $10
Jim Sternako charges $15 per item last I checked – and that includes items and prints BOUGHT FROM HIS TABLE. Also, do not ask for a photo with him.
I heard about this last bit secondhand, can’t speak for the truth or baseness of the tale, but go in prepared –
Michael Golden refused to sign any comics (I had 3 with me) until I purchased a $25 print from him, which I had to get in a second lineup for. When I returned from purchasing the print he signed that – which I didn’t even care about – and then only signed one of the 3 comics I brought him
Tip Jar- pay whatever you want
Denny O’Neil also had a tip jar, specifically for the Hero’s Initiative. The first time Gerry Conway did Akron Comicon he did this as well.
Private signing, off the show floor
Jim Lee – $30
Scott Snyder – $20
I’ll update and repost this article as I get more!
Maddie and I headed out to Warren Michigan this weekend for Great Lakes Comic Con. I broke a couple of my rules this time around actually, the first one being I don’t like to take the girls out to shows I haven’t checked out ahead of time. I’ve never been to this one, and it’s a bit of a drive. I broke the same rule last week taking Lydia to the Anime con in Akron I suppose, but that one I had a little more confidence in, where as this one I really didn’t know what I was walking into – still, Maddie is getting older and she’s able to hang out a lot longer at one of these things. In fact, she made it through entire show! Eight hours is impressive for a 10-year-old…
The second rule that I broke was a big one. In general you never want to wait until the day of the event to try out a new costume. Unfortunately, I had such an enormous time crunch with Man at Arms that I didn’t have time to really give it a try out. You see, you want to put the whole thing on at least once, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, or half an hour – you just want to see how it feels, what it’s like going on and coming off, what it does to your peripheral vision, can you sit, how big are you….stuff like that. I had in fact, tried on all the parts individually, I knew that the undershirt was stiff, and I knew that the breastplate would squeeze my head going through and that my arm would be a little tight on the shoulder pad side. I knew that I’d have to wriggle to get the belt on, but that the elastic would stretch and contract enough to keep at snug. The problem is, I hadn’t done them all together – and that would come back to bite me later.
The outfit was actually surprisingly comfortable, it seems I learn a little bit more each time and make one of these – I had full range of movement, and because of the fingerless gloves, I didn’t lose my fine motor skills. Kneeling was still a challenge but I could run! That was important considering how cold the day was – trips between the car and the convention centre need to be short, especially since Maddie didn’t want to wear her jacket for fear it would cover her She-Ra costume. The suit was warm but not too warm and the helm would make me perspired a bit, but it kept me well insulated during lunch when I had to eat outside (I was too big to fit in the car). The big problem came when I tried to take it off – the plate on the arms did just fine when I was slipping them through the openings on the side of the chestpiece, but taking it off those panels would catch and my arms didn’t seem to want to go back through the breastplate! I had already got my head inside I was trying to pull from the neck (the way I commonly get out of these pieces of armour). Suddenly, from outside of the darkness I heard voices…
“Hey dude you do you need help? “.
“Here, let me give you a hand! ”
“Come on guys let’s give him some help over here! ”
Nimble fingers pushed the plating on my arm in so that it would clear the armhole while pairs of hands grabbed the sides of the armor and pulled, helping me slide out. I looked up and found myself surrounded by every wrestler from the WWF in the 80’s. Sergeant Slaughter was there, the junkyard dog, Macho Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper. This was a group of cosplayers who I had seen in the costume contest as a WW F group – partly because Sergeant Slaughter, the real one, was one of the guests. they’re actually run out and got into a wrestling match in front of the crowd that it was hilarious!
This is really a great example of the goodwill that I saw in between all the cosplayers at great Lakes comic con – it was an incredibly friendly atmosphere, with people chatting to each other exchanging tips and talking about how they built what. When it’s this kind of an atmosphere, this kind of a friendly group – it just makes things so much better. You can see that everybody is here not so much to really compete against each other, but rather to enjoy everybody and enjoy the hobby and just have fun. It makes such a huge difference!
There was a woman dressed in little powder puffs with the sash that read “Tribble Queen” I love that outfit – it was just such a creative and fun idea. I checked out the Lady Predator as well, she had the actual countdown from the movie running on her wrist. It was an app on her phone and she had created a gauntlet on which she could mount it – just brilliant.
I chatted with an amazing Swamp thing. Seriously, look at this outfit for a moment. He created every bit of it. He covered his face with Rice Krispies, then did a life cast which he pulled a latex mold of. He cast the hands and feet. The amount of detail and work here is amazing.
There there was this one person dressed as Shak-Ti from the Star Wars expanded universe. Johnyaya over at Skeletons in Spacesuits talked with her a bit about the costume; The entire headset was shaped foam with thick paint and some sort of sealer. I didn’t believe her. She replied “No one does. Touch it.”
To my utter shock they managed to get through 50 contestants in the adult costume contest and did it in 20 minutes! Seriously, I love Akron Comicon, but they could learn a thing from the organization and way they pulled this off!
I think the kids Contest one longer actually, fewer participants and a little bit more opportunity to do stuff for the judges. There are some marvelous kids costumes as well, including a Jedi who had an Ewok friend that she puppeteered as a marionette! That was amazing! The little Hawkgirl was beautiful and so well done, her father, a golden age Flash was equally impressive.
Saturday was a little light on panels, although what they did have was marvelous. Most of the talks were held in a little unmarked room tucked away on the side of the convention center by the snack bar – not a lot of space for people, but they weren’t well attended either… It seems like this is a smaller component at this show, and I understand. I give them props on this, that there was a lot of other stuff going on as well – they had an amazing retro arcade set up in one corner courtesy of Big Toys Arcade. The booth was filled, complete with pinball and about half a dozen video game machines all set on free play. There was one Transformers pinball machine set to take quarters, with the proceeds going to charity. Very cool, and a great idea. The arcade was possibly Maddie’s favorite thing to do during the day, and we visited it several times. I had a great deal of fun on the X-Files pinball machine, I don’t get to do that as much as I’d like these days and I miss pinball – Maddie was digging some of the arcade machines, especially the multicade cabinet that was running six different games, which ever one you would choose. All cabinets were up for sale and this just seem like a clever way to show them off as well as provide an activity at the convention. While it is normal for Anime Convention is to have game rooms, it’s not quite as common at comic conventions and I love that they’re lifting this idea from the animation shows.
There were also killer photo ops around the convention center. The 501st legion was there of course, and with them were some droid builders who brought some of thier creations with them. Not just an Artoo, the one you commonly see it is shows – they had several different robots around including trade federation droids and that little weird orange Artoo knock off that we see in the background of a lot of Star War. A Kylo Ren was available for photo ops along with a bevy of storm troopers, and they dominated a corner of the show.
Taking up residence in the opposite corner, were the Great Lakes Ghostbusters. Now I’m familiar with the Ohio Ghostbusters, I see these guys a lot on the convention circuit but the Great Lakes Ghostbusters is a chapter that I have not run into before. They have their own Ecto-1, a car which we were delighted to take photos of and in front of. They also had a table full of paraphernalia, game and props, including the new proton packs from the upcoming Ghostbusters reboot. The Ghostbusters arcade game sat all lit up in the back of thier corner, unplayed. Tthat’s kind of a shame, it probably should’ve gone over in the arcade which was right next door to them…
One of the ghostbusters was wearing a slime blower that actually sprayed soap bubbles – not big ones, but suds. It was hilarious to watch him hose down the kids in the crowd, or occasionally go after one of his ghostbuster brethren. I’ve been thinking about making a Slime Blower myself, and I chatted with them a little bit about the recipe, because I really loved that it was able to shoot something like this that evaporates immediately but has such a dynamic visual impact!
I wanna know what was up with the armored ghostbuster they had with them that dressed all in black… Dude that was the scariest looking ghostbuster I have ever laid eyes on!
Further down, past the artist alley into the guest area stood huge oversize Transformers. What I didn’t realize, was that these were actually costumes – at certain times during the con, Optimus Prime would come to life as somebody climbed in him. They also removed the panel from the Grimlock to show the dazzlingly complicated interworkings that would allow it to walk – just amazing.
Sadly, Tom Cook had to cancel for health reasons and I was disappointed not to get to meet him – but Jeff Lee, the creator of the video game and character Q-Bert was amazingly friendly and a lot of fun to talk to. He loaded my daughter up with flip books and a print, then he signed my Q Bert Atari 2600 cartridge. He was really excited to talk about Q-Bert’s appearance in Wreck-It Ralph and to my great surprise he ended up being one of the judges for the adult costume contest. He does stunning paintings, and has had some really fun at pieces done with Q-Bert as the subject – you absolutely need to check him out over his website http://www.jeffreyplee.com/blog/.
I brought a stack of books for Pat Brodrick to sign, and while I was there I bought a beautiful print of the Shadow that he had done! This was really exciting, as I’d seen this image before but never owned it. I chatted with him a little bit about what it was like to work on Batman year three – he mentioned he had been really excited to be in on that book and doesn’t understand why they haven’t collected it yet, I was just talking to do you see the other day about that.” Broderick was charging three dollars a book to sign, which was a little bit disappointing but still more affordable than any celebrity autographs. I’m not liking this trend, but as long as the prices stay down I can weather it.
Larry Hama, who wrote all of the GI Joe comics for Marvel and picked the series back up just a few years ago had a sign up declaring he would autograph two items for free. I love this – completely reasonable and understandable. I had brought four books (those little G.I. Joe digest size editions that Marvel used to put out with three issues per book – I’ve always had great affection for these) but was utterly content to walk away with only two of them signed. It was great to meet the man who had created so much of what we understand in GI Joe.
Speaking of GI Joe, the main celebrity guest of course was Sergeant Slaughter! He was a nice and friendly enough guy who genuinely seems to appreciate its fans. I wish you get a different handler though, this guy was the epitome of the bad manager. He was intrusive, a little demanding and just got in the way. Good handlers are invisible, they handle the money and keep the line moving. There is no reason to really be noticeable at all when you’re in an environment like this where there wasn’t a line and nobody was trying to take advantage of the guest. Still, when you look at this picture – it’s the epitome of 80’s cartoons!
Fifty cent bins were plentiful at this show– in fact they were even a couple of booths with a ton of quarter bins! You’re pressing my deal buttons right now… But then again, this is really what I show up at these events for! Even at Broderick’s table those prints that I bought were half off. We saw wonderful toys and some beautiful artwork. Maddie found a Pokémon booth and was going nuts! There were items for more expensive tastes as well, I managed to pick up the Walking Dead compendium vol three for my wife, and there are plenty of expensive books and collectables there as well – but let’s face it, I’m there for the deals and actually, I didn’t take nearly as good advantage of it as I should have. I loaded up on a bunch of the Marvel essentials volumes though, these things are running about five dollars each nowadays and usually have about 20 issues in them – that’s a quarter bin right there in your hand! We found a cute little Wonder Woman necklace for Lydia done in the shape of the pop vynal figures. I almost pulled the trigger on a Bow from She-Ra figure, but the girls aren’t really playing with She-Ra toys as much anymore… Still I’m kind of a regretting not grabbing that guy. There is an amazing booth that was creating sock puppets and Muppets style puppets from recognizable pop culture figures like Deadpool, Spiderman and Superman – these were just incredibly cute. *edit* I searched the vendors list on GLCC’s website to find these guys. The vendor is Ruppets! Seriously, go check them out. The FB page has more pictures than their vendors site, so here’s the link. https://www.facebook.com/ruppits
I really would have loved to have gotten one, but I’m not doing puppet shows anywhere right now and I just don’t know what I would’ve done with one… Kind of the same reason I didn’t grab that Bow figure or that superpowers Clark Kent – not sure where I would display them, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be playing with them.
We missed most of the “how to create our own comic panel”. I think Maddie was hoping for more of a hands on experience the way the Elyria Comic book initiative presents it. However, we stuck around for the thunder cats panel with Larry Kenney. This was a real treat to hear him talk about the philosophy of the show and working on it. There was a fundamental idea behind the stories. They wanted to show the characters trying to talk things out and reason with their foes before or instead of physically battling them. I’m not sure that I agree with his belief that it was less violent then He-Man or G I Joe, but I certainly understand the point Larry was trying to make. It was really interesting to hear him talk about coming back to ThunderCats for the rebooted series – and that the series was actually getting decent ratings, however it wasn’t getting great toy sales and that’s what ultimately doomed the show. Kinney seems to have some real affection for these characters and is somewhat protective of them – that’s fun to see. It was also enormous fun to hear him do other familiar voices, things like Count Chocula or the Sonny the Cocoa Puffs bird or even the “taste the rainbow” voice that you here at the end of the skittles commercials!
The moderator of this panel was the show runner, who was also present for the costume contests and was very visible in the show. One of the things that attracts me about Great Lakes Comic Con is the fact that it’s run by a fan and it shows. The philosophy feels very similar to that of Akron Comicon, this show is being run for the love of it, not just as an exercise in profit or a giant cash grab like the Wizard World show that was happening at the same time this weekend in Cleveland. Of the two this is definitely the place I wanted to be. We made good time, 2 1/2 half hours out of Cleveland. It’s still a pretty long drive though. If this event were closer it would absolutely be a regular stop for me. From what I heard, the show grew significantly this year. That’s exciting to hear. I’m eager to see where it goes in the future!
Maddie asked me what he was supposed to be.
“Is he like a giant Teddy Bear?”
“Yes” was the easiest answer.