I was standing there, minding my own business, chatting with Anubis, and all of a sudden the Vulcan threw a care bear at us.
These sort of things just don’t happen to other people.
I attended Lorain Comic and Toy Expo this weekend. This is a small show in its first year, but I really wanted to support it because I want to see conventions coming back… and I admire the sheer chutzpah of trying to launch a convention even at the tail end of the pandemic. It also has a great advantage of being one town over from where I live, as well as trying to draw in cosplayers with a low key costume contest. It was a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters with my new McMandalorian costume, and Maddie was dying to break out her Clementine costume (From The Walking Dead game she’s been playing).
The Lorain show is starting off its first year with a bunch of familiar faces, filling the ball room with a lot of the usual suspects from the LoCo sellers (think the Comicpalooza comic crawl I did last year), as well as vendors from the North East Ohio Toy and Collectibles Club and my home comic shop Comics are Go. While there were bargains to be found (I managed to hit up a bunch of dollar and 50 Cent bins), The emphasis on these particular vendors slightly skewed more towards collectors pricing then bargain hunting. The upside of that is it creates a dense marketplace. You could probably do the dealers room in 15 to 20 minutes, but it was worth your while to go around a few times and spend a couple hours. Every pass we made, Maddie and I spotted new things we missed on our previous trips. It’s also necessary to make a couple of passes when you’re getting stopped from time to time. We’d barely gotten down the first isle when I got pulled away to show up on Captain Crappy and Ms. Fever Blister’s livestream! ( I show up about two and a half hours in)
All in all, it made for a fun day. Maddie did a video on her experiences at the con for her youtube channel and you can find it below.
We found some fun stuff (Maddie was over the moon to find a Glacion Mimikyu plushie!) and had a good day, and definitely plan on coming back for the next one. The promoter has big ambitions, already planning out the next show, expanding it with outdoor activities for kids and at least one wrestling guest for the autograph hounds. I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes, because I’d really love to have a con so close to home.
Man, Monday’s have been quiet lately huh? With no cons, FCBD cancelled and little going on, there hasn’t been a lot to write in this slot. So what have I been doing instead of cons?
Cleveland ConCoction actually did a virtual convention with several panels and musical acts done online. My daughter and I even participated in the virtual costume contest! Not a lot of shopping available there though – I missed being able to bring home a new catnip toy for Sparky.
My local comic shop; Comics Are Go, however has been doing online sales, including virtual dollar bin diving every Sunday night. They’ve been keeping my reading stack full and I’ve redirected a great deal of my convention savings towards those kind of sales, as well as getting take out from the locally owned burger joint, Midway Oh-Boy.
We’ve always advocated shopping small. it’s one of the themes of our anti Wizard World tours and right now is no diffrent. I hope you’re doing the same.
When Madeline and I hit Hazard Con earlier this year, a booth was there promoting Great Lakes Geek Fest. It’s a new convention this year which definitely catches my interest, but being in Geneva, Ohio, I knew it was going to be a bit of a haul getting out there. As the event approached, I wasn’t sure whether I really wanted to go or not – I was debating up until Saturday morning in fact. It just so happens that my family had other plans and would be gone for the day, so I decided I might as well give this new show a shot.
I’m never a big fan of a show using the word “geek” in the title, but I try not to let that prejudice me too much. What was really turning me off though, was the fact that the schedule of events took so long to get posted. I saw several announcements that there’d be panels and games and a costume contest, but the show never posted a schedule until 15 hours before the show began. I kind of need more notice than that to decide whether I want to go to a show – especially if I have any of the kids with me. For this reason, I was reluctant to go and definitely wasn’t bringing Maddie or Lydia with me., since there was no way for me to know if there’d be enough activity to keep their short attention spans occupied ( a good call by the way, I don’t think there was).
The layout was a turn off as well. The action was separated across two buildings – Great Lakes Geek Fest had secured a community center as well as the gym of the local Rec Center. The end result makes the convention look smaller than it is. Neither of these venues could have accommodated all of the vendors the show had secured, but at the same time, there weren’t enough tables to completely fill up I both venues the end result was both buildings ended up looking a little empty, with not quite enough vendors or attendees. To further complicate the situation, these two buildings weren’t exactly close to each other. There’s about a block and a half walk you’re the middle of the town to get from one to the other, including crossing the Main Street in Geneva. This is particularly challenging if you’re wearing a costume, and God help you if you have any sort of anxiety.
The convention tried to spin the layout in a positive way, “it’s a short walk, and there’s plenty of places to stuff your face between the two buildings!” It’s actually a good angle, and if they could secure the cooperation of local businesses, perhaps set up a table or two outside and make it into an actual Festival, this might actually turn it into something unique (it’d be a difficult task, and a big ambition). Indeed, some of my more curious encounters happened during my trips up and down the street. At one point a woman on the back seat of the motorcycle her Man was riding paused at the stop light to take photos. Later on, one of the other attendees rushed up to me for a photo. We had stopped in front of the large front window of a local restaurant and while he tried in vain to bring up his photo app, a little girl inside the restaurant noticed me in the Mr. Freeze suit. Her eyes grew wide and I waved. She smiled and waved back, to the amusement of her mother. This could be fun if the walk could somehow be incorporated into the con experience. however, if this isn’t possible, then I’d rather see them fill up a single venue and get everybody under the same roof.
Great Lakes Geek Fest impressed me with an impressive variety of vendors. There were volunteer groups and jewelry makers, action figures and artists, candy and comic books. Outside there were giant replicas of a TIE fighter, Dalek, and X-Wing dot-dot-dot but a shame that I couldn’t locate them in the confusing layout until the show was nearly over. There weren’t as many comic book vendors as I would have liked to have seen, though the ones who were there were recognizable and reliable (Shout out to my local comic shop Comics are Go! for setting up out there!). I’m still regretting passing on that Battle Armor Skeletor I saw in the Adam’s Action Figures booth, and had to grab some unicorn poop for the kids from the candy booth. No real deals in the comic boxes, the best you would do was a dollar a book on some indie titles.
After driving an hour and twenty minuets to get to the con, as I was suiting up I realized something terrible. I had chosen to bring Mr. Freeze out, it was Batman Day after all, but as I reached in my car to start assembling the freeze gun I was astonished to see that I’d forgotten the main body. The lightsaber that powers it was there, so was the front barrel- a clear cylinder made from a soda bottle. But the main body was still back at home, sitting on my pool table, 77 miles away. I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to settle for just the soda-bottle-on-a-stick as my freeze gun (Ironically, I’d recently rescued an intrestingly shaped vodka bottle from the street to use as just this kind of hand held smaller freeze gun. I should have just gone with that). I was a little embarrassed (luckily you can’t see in in the dome helmet with all the condensation!) but people actually really seemed to dig it and were amused at the kitsch of it.
I managed to catch several of the panels, listening to the tail end of the Kirby panel and sitting through about half of the Batman at 80 panel. This was fun, because the moderator was pointing out some interesting facts about Mr. Freeze, in deference to me being in the room! I had no idea that Mr. Freeze had first appeared in a Blackhawk comic! it’s these kinds of obscure facts that you’re only going to get at a con. These were well thought out and good stuff. Earlier in the day there had been some games as well – things like comic price is right and jeopardy, which looked like fun (but too early for me to get out to).
In addition to good programming, Great Lake also drew a very friendly crowd. It didn’t hurt that I had a couple of friends there, but I was also able to chat forever with the local Deadpool as we compared notes about the way our respective unicorns work…no, really. He gave me some ideas for an internal mechanism involving pringles cans and epoxy. I got to pose for fight pictures with an excellent Wonder Woman and was impressed to see a curious genderbent Joker – actually, not so much a Joker as a “Partyman” from the 1989 Prince song that accompanied the Batman film. Her face lit up when I recognized the look and she told me I was the only on who had know what it was! Today she was going as Party Ma’am, and I was delighted that my knowing the character had made her day.
The costume contest was held outside which actually helped me see better in those dark wielder goggles I wear. I chatted with Zatanna before drifting towards the DC group to hang out (I only knew one person but that didn’t matter. We were still all bonded by out costume choices). I always say that this is my favorite part of any costume contest, just hanging out and getting to know the other people there. I ended up chatting with the person in front of me all the way up until he had to dash on stage for judging! We cheered on the kids and teenagers competing as the sun began to get low and the entire DC group spontaneously decided we need a group photo. It was a good day.
Despite having some issues, Great Lakes Geek Fest ended up being a nice time. There was a steady stream of attendees, never empty, but never full either. I’m hoping that the bumps in the road were just first year growing pains. It’s a good local con in an area that could use exactly this type of show. The long drive may keep me from coming back immediately, but I definitely want to sit and watch this one grow, get better and eventually take over the world.
It was about 4:30 when the boss poked his head in my office. He said it wasn’t very busy right now and he didn’t expect anybody else to shop today – that I could head out early if I wanted to. I grabbed my Iron Man helmet and was out the door like a shot, on my way to Carol and John’s. About 5 o’clock I put down my lawn chairs, set up the TV tray and made myself a nest in line. Just like every year, I looked at the clock and wondered what was I doing? I mean, honestly what am I going to do for the next SEVEN HOURS? Of course, then the next time I checked the clock I was shocked to see it was already 11:30…
There are Free Comic Book Day celebrations to one extent or another all over The United States on the first Saturday every May. Even here in the Cleveland area, Comics Are Go brought in my friend Marc Sumerak from Marvel comics as well as local artist Rick Lozano to sign pieces and sell their work. Imaginary Worlds in Cleveland Heights seems to have picked up the baton from York comics, utilizing FCBD as a food drive and offering extra free comics to anyone who brings in canned goods. I always liked this approach, I’m glad to see somebody is still doing it.
Still, the fact is that nobody does Free Comic Book Day like Carol and John’s. The event the night before officially begins around 10 o’clock, but the line starts long before that. I mentioned that I got in around five, and there were already 20 people ahead of me. Card tables had popped up for people to play board games on, Magic tournaments were going on. Cards against humanity was out and in the streets there was dancing. A podcaster set up in the corner and was interviewing avengers as they walked by. As the day turned to evening and the skies got darker, Jedi and stormtroopers marched along the road – lightsaber battles took place in the night air. The Ghostbusters arrived, and super heroes were everywhere you looked.
At my nest in line, my friend Mayday was the first to arrive with his lovely bride Pam. We chatted for a while before joining the rest of the Scooby gang at the Red Lantern, two doors down. I grabbed an appetizer with them, and when I got back to my place in line my friend Jen had arrived with pizza for all of us.
When the doors opened at 10, we hit the bar for free beers, thier bottles adorned with artwork reminiscent of this years guest of honor comics legend Jim Sternanko. Across town, the comic shop had arranged a dinner with him and about 20 guests – my friends Nick and Taylor arrived back at the shop late from that dinner and just a few minutes ahead of Jim himself.
In the meantime we hung out at the art show and I was delighted to see one of the artists had contributed a painting of the Shadow! Stetnanko is famous for is Shadow covers, indeed the one piece of his that I have signed is one of his Shadow illustrations. It made my day to see this homage, and I grabbed a print of it for myself. Before I made it out of the art show, I ran into my buddy Ryan, his wife and new baby… I played peekaboo with the little one, using the visor on the Ironman helmet. While in line in there, a tiny Darth Vader chatted me up, fascinated by my “Bones” Iron Man suit and showing me the lights on his Vader costume. I caught him later, getting into a lightsaber fight with Kylo Ren outside.
I made it back to the nest and gathered everybody up for a group photo over at the Rubber City booth, a little something to remember the night from before it was time to lineup for the free comic giveaway. As we got back, people in giant donut costumes wandered up and offered us tiny cupcakes. We packed up the nest, tossed the chairs in my car and got ready to go through. It’s always surprising how quickly the night goes, and I’ll be honest – as soon as I’ve gotten out of the comics line I vanish back home because I’m only going to get a few hours sleep before it’s time to do it all again properly on Saturday morning!
Saturday; the actual Free Comic Book Day, is always a much different kind of event in the evening one. There are more kids, and they were absolutely enchanted by my Slimer costume. My daughter Maddie came with me, donning her now–too– small Supergirl costume and on the hunt for Pokémon, Simpsons, and DC superhero girls, and of course Marvel zombies once we got into the shop.
I ran into my friend Rhonda while making the rounds, and we all made sure to get our photos in the pop figure box… I wasn’t confident of my ability to get in and out of the box Friday night, and the photos showed up better during the day anyhow. Even in Slimer though, it looked a little tricky – I ended up taking off the costume and setting it inside the box and just taking a photo of that.
In the end I only hit three shops this FCBD. C&J’s, Comics are Go (Where they recognized Maddie from the Backyard Zombie Movie series) and Imaginary Worlds. I got all but about three books I wanted. As we headed home, Maddie was digging into her comics, and recommended sparks to me. She was right about how funny the story of two cats in a robotic dog suit was. She also pulled out the Doctor Who book and exclaimed “Dad, isn’t this your favorite Doctor?” Number seven is in fact, not my favorite, but certainly ranks among the top four. She brought home two books specifically for her sister as well, Invader Zim and Street Angel’s Dog. This is really cool to watch ger recommending stories to me and other people. For herself, Maddie found a copy of Supergirl meets Scooby Doo and it blew her mind.
And of course this is really the whole point of Free Comic Book Day – to support the local shops, and get involved in the community. Hope yours was just as amazing.
You know, it was getting manageable… That stack of comic books on the end table – the one near my spot on the couch was down to a reasonable size.
Then free comic book Day occurred.
I want to step back for a moment and think about how good we have it here in the Cleveland area – we are almost spoiled by the abundance of comic book shops and fandom events within easy reach. On Free Comic Book Day in particular, we have the midnight party for the Free Comic Book Day release at Carol and John’s Comic Shop. The first people in line arrived about 9o’clock Thursday night – and waited all the way up to midnight Friday night to receive a full set of the Free Comic Cook Day releases (and dubious bragging rights….). I’m not nearly that dedicated. I came out after work, arriving about 5:45 to set up my little village in line. Several chairs, some for my neighbors as well as myself, a table, and a carpetbag bag full of games and crafting supplies. I wanted to try something different out this year – a mash-up of every superhero I could possibly think of. I crafted a Thor hammer and half a Cap shirt while waiting in line. I then added a green lantern ring, Iron Man armor, then pulled my Batman mask over my Spider-Man mask, pulled up a pair of thing pants underneath a wonder woman belt and added a superman cape. I refer to this look as “Everyman”.
Seriously though, you would not believe how fast six hours flies by amid all this chaos… Wandering up and down the lines, and visiting friends while observing the random hijinks that occur around us. A group of dancers spontaneously began to preform in the street. The Ghostbusters car screamed into the parking lot with lights and siren going. A police car blasting the Darth Vader theme cruised by as Daft Punk danced and puzzled over baby Groot. All up and down the line, people were playing games – you can see Magic tournaments and hero clix battles. I stopped by the Scooby’s corner to join them in a game of Cards Against Humanity is for a bit. My friends and I greeted old friends and new friends – we posed for pictures, and we constantly made fun of poor Steph who has probably never been called a “trash panda “nearly so many times in one setting before. (indeed, I think my favorite part of the night was watching rocket raccoon get carded at the restaurant… The server looked at her license, shruged her shoulders and said “I don’t know why I’m even doing this… I’d never have guessed this with you! “)
Coming straight from work, I have to admit that doing the midnight release party always makes for a long day… Every single time, I find my social anxiety which tempt me to just stay home, and every single time I’m glad that I did. This is the event that everyone comes out to. I sometimes see certain friends at comic club, others I see at conventions, others I see when I do charity events, but for Free Comic Book Day, it seems like I see everybody I know!
After collecting books I beat a hasty retreat back home – because I’d be getting up again and returning in 10 hours or less!
The daytime events always seem a little bit more subdued compared to the evening events – though perhaps that’s just because of the early time that I’m arriving (got to snag that special book by Marc Sumerack before they run out!). I made it back in line at Carol and Johns just in time to get interviewed by the Plain Dealer and appear in the newspaper on Sunday. I chose a much more manageable costume, donning The Penguin outfit I had put together for the premiere of the Lego Batman movie.
It’s interesting, I managed to run into a very different group of people during the daytime events as I hopped from shop to shop in an attempt to acquire the 30 or so books that I was interested in (out of the 50 offered this year). Written in chalk all over the sidewalk and walls leading up to Carol and Johns were the phrase I am Groot… Children’s chalk drawings later the sidewalk and I stood in line that was significantly shorter than last year – the weather was definitely keeping some people away, but we wouldn’t let this deter us (though it did keep me down to only hopping between three shops!)
The guys at Comics are Go managed to save an Animal Jam comic for my daughter Maddie (she, her mother and sister along with several friends were having a mother-daughter tea party at the restaurant about three doors down – I joined them afterwards at the comic shop for free comic book Day). When Maddie brought over one of her friends they dug through the stock in the back and thier own personal pulls in the back to find an issue for her as well. This is why Comics are Go is still my home shop (with Carol and John’s being a close second and my alternate – after all I work on that side of town). It’s not the five for a dollar bins that they had set out (and man did I hit those things hard – I brought home 30 new issues from there!) or the creators they bring in like Rick Lozano or Dirk Diggler… No, it’s the personal service and the guys that work there that really make all the difference.
Across town, Jerry over at Strongsville Hobby made sure that I filled my gold book quota– as well as snagging an extra copy of The Tick for a friend of mine who are just moved and didn’t have any comic shops near her. It’s one of those things that makes me realize just how blessed we are in this area… I know I’ve said that already, but it bears repeating. Jerry has taken in the spirit of Free Comic Book Day a step further, offering a bunch of the one dollar image preview books as freebies right along side of the normal FCBD picks… I grabbed a bunch of back stock that he had on half off and waved goodbye as he donned his Batsuit, collected Supergirl and Deadpool to head off in greet the kids at Free Comic Book Day events at local libraries.
I ended my weekend by gathering up the family and heading over to Amherst Cinema for a screening of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2. It seems like this happens every year- my friends all hit the years movie on Thurs or Fri and I don’t make it out until Sunday evening! Admittedly, some of that has to do with me holding out for a screening at Amherst Cinema (all seats are $4.00!) but sometimes it’s just that I can’t make the schedules work.
Guardians is the rare comic movie that my wife wanted to see. Maddie was a little reluctant and not in the mood to go out, but I think she may just have loved it more than any of us!
“Look! It’s Howard the Duck!” She exclaimed in disbelief, leaping from her seat in the middle of the crowded theater as my wife and younger daughter giggled Their way through the film.
A perfect way to end our FCBD adventures. I hope yours was just as productive. (and by the way, if in northeast ohio, check out my FCBD stops!)
It’s that time of year again. That time when Wizard World sets up in Cleveland and I look for an alternative. Last year I ended up finding another convention to go to – and I enjoyed Great Lakes so much that I returned this year as well, however they didn’t co-incide with Wizard World Cleveland this time so I needed to find something else to do.
Before I found Great Lakes Comic Con last year I had considered protesting Wizard World Cleveland by hitting all the local comic shops and spending some cash there. It still seemed like a good idea and so I set aside some oney – the equivilent to what I would usually spend at a Comic Con, hopped in my car and headed out on my “I-refuse-to-go-to-Wizard-World” tour. #NotAtWizardWorld #ShopSmall
First stop is Keith’s comics in Elyria!
Address: 394 Broad St, Elyria, OH 44035
Phone: (440) 323-2000
This place of been here forever, and was one of the comic shops to rise during the boom of the 90s. The owner Brian is always involved in free, comic book day and the superhero events in the Elyria Square. Grabbing some Superman for me, and Supergirl for Maddie here.
Next we turn around and hit the freeway to pop over to my “home shop”…..
Comics Are Go
I first discovered comics are go when it was still Astound comics and located in WestLake… Amy and I were on our anniversary and going to dinner at the restaurant next door to the shop.
It’s been my preferred comic shop for at least a decade, and I always feel bad that I don’t spend more money there!
These days, it’s on by my friend Eric who are used to play hero clix with, and I know I’m never getting out of there without a long chat with the guys there!
They just filled up the dollar bins with a bunch of silver age books…And OMG, I think that’s the first hulk I ever bought when I was a child!
Okay, admittedly I’m stretching my definition by including recess here – but back when this shop first started it was reality recess, and they did include comic books. It used to be a small lot in the mall, and would frequently move location – technically it was a temporary set up to get a better rate. These days they’ve long outgrown that small space, taking up entire corner of the shopping complex outside great Northern mall – a sprawling space with every game you can possibly imagine.
Carol and John’s
I always refer to Carol and Johns as sort of the center of Cleveland comic book culture – with big events like their free comic book Day party and Christmas celebrations, not to mention their involvement with pop! The comic culture club, and their general investment in the Cleveland community… With all of this, I always seem to find myself coming back here – it’s been made easier than last few years since I now work close by and they can almost always be relied to have the most recent stuff from a month or so back still in stock. It’s one of the biggest shops in the area, and certainly the nicest… Definitely enough of an impact that wizard world noticed them and did some cross promotion with them.
And did I mention that everything is on sale? (I’m catching up on my suicide squad ) They’re having their own event… Winston world- Winston himself, is celebrating by taking a nap. Too much catnip on Saint Patrick’s Day…
B and L Cards, comics and nostalga
B and L reminds me a lot of the way, bookshops were just before the boom… Dark and dusty, with Sun stained posters littering the front window… It’s not necessarily a bad thing either. This used to be one of my regular stops on free comic book day, in till the comic shop hopping got to be a little too much for me… Owner Larry, had a small part 10 years ago in the independent movie Hero Tomorrow made by The creator of Apama; Clevelands own Superhero. They usually have a big bin of fifty cent comics by the register which is where I make a beeline for right away every time. Today it was front loaded with a bunch of Archies, but there was some marvelous silver age stuff towards the back – I’m particularly excited about that Flash and Thor stuff.
My next stop wasn’t far, and I forgot about the 25 cent bins here! You know what? I don’t know why, but it’s been years since I’ve been in the store. I’ve never understood how Northcoast Nostalga and B and L comics survive being literally right down the street from each other, but somehow they make it work. North coast Nostalgia seems like the exact opposite of B and L, brightly lit with discount boxes everywhere, shirts and statues – I get a very colourful and homey feeling walking into this place. I’m trying to spend about the same amount of money at every place, but as far as individual issues go… I probably loaded up with more comics here then anywhere else I’ve stopped!
My next stop was actually my third in the Parma area. I’m going to genuinely miss York comics… The owner is retiring so it’s not something to be sad about, but this was always a place I could count on getting the hard to get free comic book day books… I love that they did a food drive as part of their FCBD celebration( they’d hand everybody a bag full of the standard books, but if you wanted the slightly more rare ones… You had to bring in canned food) I remember one day I stood in line with two bags of food because the kids have decided not to come with me at the last minute. The guy behind me didn’t realize that this was how York was operating and the book he really wanted was one of the ones not included in the standard set… I was able to give him one of my spare bags of food so he can get the mouse guard hardcover he really wanted! There are always interesting things to be found here – this is the store where Maddie first discovered Star Sapphire and absolutely fell in love with the character… I’m glad I managed to slip in here at least one more time before they closed.
Ground Zero Comics
Address: 15139 Pearl Rd, Strongsville, OH 44136
I have fond memories of discovering this place back in the summer of 96, when I was home from College and just kicking around that evening – it was surprisingly late but the place is still open… I grabbed some Ambush bug and discovered they weren’t officially open, but was invited to join the party going on. I headed to the back where Monty Python and the holy grail was running. I hung out, we played games, somebody brought out a guitar and I strummed a few songs. Some drunk douche bags crossed the street and got into the parking lot, trying to make trouble and start a fight. A battleaxe was pulled down from the wall in the comic shop as we walked out. The drunk guys spied the ancient weapon and decided discretion was the better part of valor, beating a hasty retreat. It was a great night.
I ended up missing a couple shops on this tour though, I really feel bad about skipping Strongsville Hobby – that’s my friend Jerry’s store. Jerry also heads up the charity group Heroes United, where I do a lot of events. The comics component to the store is relatively new, just in the past year and a half or so so I keep forgetting about it. I’ll make sure to include them the next time I do this though!
I don’t think I’ve got this many current comics in a long time… I took the opportunity to catch up on things like super sons and Suicide Squad and couldn’t resist that Aqua man with superman on the cover! But it’s this silver age stuff that I kept running across in dump bins that really excites me – especially weird stuff like These RadioShack comics. I got the Wonder Woman one as well, and I want more
I was asked by a friend who I respect, why this had to necessarily be a “Protest”. And while a tour like this can be fun in of itself (some friends and I were talking about doing something similar to this in the summer),the impetus behind it honestly was my own little bit of personal activism – that is to put my money where my mouth is.
That may require a bit of explanation.
I find that large shows like Wizard World crush smaller ones out of existence and cause a sort of inflation that is perfectly acceptible in thier own micro economy. The problem is , that inflation spreads to other shows that can’t adequately support it but feel compelled to try – bringing in bigger name guests to compete with WW, and those guests have already marked up their pricing to meet the demand there, but that’s pricing that takes away from the vendors at those smaller shows. This is not a knee-jerk reaction from me against the “big con” by the way, Not every large show is the exploitative cash grab that WW feels like. Indiana Comic Con for instance is an equally big event, with far more heart – once they figure out how to run it smoothly, it’s going to be a powerhouse. One friend also pointed out Colossalcon – a show that I don’t have a lot of interest in attending, but don’t bear any ill will towards. It’s local, and fan driven and just what a convention should be. WW (and one or two others) in particular draws my disdain; I have very specific issues with the way WW is run and it’s effects I see on the community and/or convention scene. It’s one of a few shows that have drastically changed the convention scene over the last decade into something that resemble far more of a cash grab rather than a celebration of fandom (and I do not understand why people don’t realize the degree to which they are being gouged). I look at the cost of setting up at one of these and find it’s not particularity beneficial toward local vendors, and doesn’t benefit the local economy the way a smaller one does. This isn’t like say, Cinema Wasteland, a locally run and based con where they invite say, eight Hollywood guests, then fill the room with another twenty or thirty local vendors. That ratio works. It benefits the local community and economy. Something like WW has that ratio upside down with a handful of local vendors, while largely populating the con with carpetbaggers who suck the cash from the local economy and ride off to the next stop. Looking at the attendance, and the lineups – I assure you, this con isn’t bringing in tourist dollars.
All of this is why I stand by my belief that it does more harm than good. This is why I won’t attend Wizard World – not even if you gave me tickets (My wife actually tried to win some for me and I recoiled in horror! I’ve never been so glad to lose in my life!)
Still, a good point was made that Several very good friends of mine are set up there promoting their livelihoods as writers and artists. This is how they make a living, appearing at cons. I know for a fact that at least three of the shop owners I visited were either attended as visitors, not to mention dozens of my friends. And that presents a conundrum. How do I make my public objection the con without making them feel like I’m attacking them? How do I make this a positive thing, rather than just an online kevtching session?
Ultimately, I chose a little bit of personal activism. Instead of complaing about this all day and attacking the thing I hate, I choose to support the thing I love. I think that’s a positive and appropriate response.
I hope the rest of you go and do the same.
A couple weeks ago, I ran into my friend Eric at Akron Comic Con. He’d recently taken over my preferred comic shop Comics are Go! (it was a peaceful takeover, and it couldn’t be in better hands) and he mentioned they were doing something new with Heroclix on Sundays. Saturdays would be for the serious games – the WizKids events, the tournament play. Sundays would be for friendly games. Goofy shenanigans. Last week Deadpool had a malfunctioning sheep gun that kept spawning a new sheep every turn and creating obstacles.
This week it was everyone vs Thanos. Everyone brought a 500 point team and worked together to defeat Thanos in his home base.
Let’s face it. The plain truth of things is, I quit playing because I’m not competitive. I’m also not great at the game and I definitely don’t have the kind of money you need to sink into it to get good. But this wasn’t a competitive game. This was advertised as fun Sunday shenanigans. So for the first time in probably two years, I built a team, packed my case and headed out.
I found myself with a group of guys I’d never met before. Still, everyone was friendly, and Moose, the host introduced himself and promised to forget my name at least two more times before the end of the day.
I was surprised at the variety of figures everyone else used. I had brought Superman, Composite Superman and Quicksilver (because I don’t have a Flash, and his “Arrogant Attack” is good for the hit and run tactics I was planning). It’s a very “Me” kind of team, but looking around everyone else had spread thier points around a lot more, bringing four, five, six figures. Thanos himself was a 5000 point monster, and I was hoping I could keep my hypersonic abilities through a good portion of the match to keep attacking without getting based.
Thanos began the game with a special ability, dealing one click of damage to half of the entire force. The attack hit all three of my characters and when a pulse wave followed a Sentinel (Thanos’ minion) attack on his first turn, I found my Superman based, and my Quicksilver without his special attack. I quickly rethought my strategy and began to run my figures as a tentpole team, with Quicksilver constantly perplexing up Superman and my Composite Superman TKing the character into position to strike. I landed four attacks, with two thrown out by Probability Control. The others were solid five click hits, leaving me pleased to have done SOME damage against the behemoth.
This was exactly the kind of game I like. Everyone was just there to play, to have fun. We shared Probability control and perplexes. I began the game carrying another players piece into position. Hammers rained down on our team and were shared freely. We joked with each other, we talked comics as we played. We marveled at the absurdities.
“Is anyone else disturbed that Shocker has done more damage to Thanos than SUPERMAN????”
“Thanos attacks you.”
“Well, actually it’s the staircase dial in play right now – so it’s the stair case attacking me. How does a staircase attack anyhow?”
“A door opens up, and a large Hanna Barbara-looking boot comes out and kicks you.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened to me.”
“Anyone else notice that the map is pretty much almost all villians? Villians….and one Spider-Man. You know what’s going to happen after they defeat Thanos?”
“Yeah, someone grabs the Gauntlet and they all go after Spider-Man.”
It was a nice time. It’s fun to be able to do a Clix column again. Truth is, I’m still a little far removed from the game. New abilities and terminology have cropped up since I left and I don’t see me getting back into the Clix world any time soon, but I can definitely see myself perhaps slipping down to Comics Are Go! once in a while for some more of Moose’s Sunday Shenanigans.
Last year I decided to just swing by Carol and John’s comic shop for the FCBD midnight release, and hit the place around 11:45. This was a mistake. The line stretched almost to the end of the building complex and moved slow. It wasn’t the comic shops fault, they didn’t expect this many people. I didn’t end up getting out until around 2:30, and it was too crowded and I was in a bad mood altogether. The next day, people kept running out of comics and it was a drag -my favorite shop Comics are Go really saved the day with nice sets of FCBD comics for my girls. This year, I came in with a plan. I expected to be up all night. I pulled out my mazinger costume and grabbed a lawn chair. I met up with people from POP the Comic club and you know, the night flew by. Carol and John’s really worked things out too. They rented an empty space next to the shop, and set up two lines for the comic tables – plenty of space. On one side of the room, they held a comic related art show, on the other, they had vendor and information tables with cupcakes and concessions, along with familiar faces like the Akron Comicon, the Doctor Who Society of Cleveland and POP. Also, being the most kid friendly comic book shop on the planet, Carol and John’s had a special play area set up for the kids. There wouldn’t be a whole lot of children at the midnight party (but still more than you might expect), however, they would be out in full force the next morning! Mazinger was a big hit by the way. Carol and John’s was giving out patches to the cosplayers and I love mine, but I would have dressed up anyhow. I may have taken more photos over three hours at the party and in that line than I did over five hours in the costume at Shinboku con. If a person knew the character, they immediately recognized it. If they didn’t know him…there was a lot of Optimus Prime and Voltron guesses. For the most part I didn’t correct people. Why harsh someone’s buzz anyhow? I took advantage of the artist alley for a change too. I got Thom Zhaler to draw my girls a My Little Pony. “”You don’t have to say it’s for your girls,” he smiled at me. “It’s okay if it’s for you you know!” It really was for my girls though. If I’d been getting one for me it would have been Doctor Whooves. Actually, that still might happen sometime. The Twilight Sparkle sketch is up in the girl’s room now, right above their autograph from the Little Mermaid. The love it. The next morning I got the girls up and I headed out to York comics. York had a really cool set up as well. They were doing a food drive. Everyone who walked in the door got the main set of books – the 12 “Gold” books. They already had these bagged in a large box and just handed out bags to everyone who walked in. In addition, if you brought in a few canned food items, you could grab ten more from the “silver” book (the other FCBD books – these are optional to order) table. I like the idea because raising food for the Cleveland food bank is a good cause, and even if you don’t participate, you’re still going to walk out with 12 free books. If you do participate, there’s a greater chance that you will walk away with the “Silver” tier books you want. I talked with on fellow in line who couldn’t get the Mouseguard hardback at Carol and Johns the previous night. That was why he was here, and I noticed he did manage to get his copy that morning. I headed back over to Carol and Johns. I was mostly here because Marc Sumerick was giving away signed copies of the collected Franklin Richards strips that he scripted, and was only going to be there from 11:00 to 1 I believe. Marc singed a copy for each of my girls and Maddie in particular is loving it. It feels like Gus Beezer to her, though to me it feels more like Calvin and Hobbes. It almost feels strange. I know Marc. I see him a couple times a month, so getting an autograph from him is kind of weird. But still, the girls loved it. I ended my day by swinging by Comics are Go! which I’ve mentioned earlier is my favorite comic shop. They had a nice selection of the Gold books along with a TON of Rocket Raccon. Scott was also have a sidewalk sale and a table full of .50 cent bins! I dove in and emptied them of all the Shadow, Green Hornet and Daredevils I could find. Actually the best discount bins of the day. It’s worth mentioning, that even though I didn’t make it to it (the girls just didn’t feel like going out), there was a great event going on in downtown Elyria where I live with superheros putting on a live show, the bank being robbed and Batman putting a stop to it! All in all, I had a great Free Comic Book Day. I came home with over 40 free comics and bought about 30 more from different dump bins (I make a point to buy something from the shops I get my freebies at. That’s only fair). More importantly, I got to spend some time in the comic scene this weekend, hang out with friends and dress up as a giant robot. I hope you’re FCBD was a good as mine! This little guys was my biggest fan. he kept coming up to me all night! I love the tricked out Mini cooper as a Ghostbuster car. Best idea ever! We actually started our night off with a game of Spider-man Monopoly before I left for the party! BEST. COSTUME. EVER. Had to get a photo by the TARDIS Special thanks to Mark Brown who took a lot of t he better photos in this post!
I had the dubious honor of playing in a game against the Trinity of Sin this weekend over at Comics are Go!. The game actually turned out to be a three way game, and for the most part, it was two teams trying to take down the Trinity.
What’s the worst thing about playing against the Trinity? It’s not the massive 16 click dial. It’s not even the tough 19 defense it starts out with. It’s not even the occasional poison trait. That only comes up occasionally, when Pandora’s face shows up on the dial. No, the worst part of this thing is the horrifying feedback damage from the mystics keyword. Instead of the normal one click, if you keep all your figures on the team base, you take two clicks of damage every time you make a successful attack.
Big Mike came in fast and hard with some heavy hitters, hoping to knock down that damage before the feedback destroyed him. I had a similar idea and really thought long and hard about adding the FCBD Thor to my team. He starts off with a 5 damage and an 11 attack. The problem is, even if he hurdles that 19 defense, he only gets one hit at 5 damage and that’s a charge. Not only is that feedback going to knock his damage down to 4, but he’s also stuck being poisoned knocking him down even further, not to mention being in the line of fire for anyone using pulse wave – a go-to power for dealing with Mystics.
I think Pulse Wave could have worked here actually, but so slowly with that one damage at a time trying to chip away at that deep dial. I pulled my Composite Superman and played him at the 80 point level, then pushed him one click where he goes into Pulse wave fro a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I deployed him badly, then got distracted trying to pick up a Kurreth’s Hammer and got based, then blasted.
My main strategy for dealing with the Trinity ended up being Blackheart. He’s a hefty piece, but he’s a mystic too, and any time he takes damage it would feedback on the Trinity- a good start.
The main reason I choose Blackheart though, was his pets. He comes with two detachable gargoyles. When he uses his power of Dark Thunder, a gargoyle detaches and becomes a bystander with it’s own attack and defense and movement. When it’s KOed, it returns to the Blackheart base where it can be summoned again. I barely moved Black heart all game – in fact the only time he moved is when the red Gargoyle TKed him away from Trinity (on Mike’s suggestion – thanks!). I kept pulling up the gargoyles, placing them in front of Blackheart to protect him from ranged, then the red one would TK the blue one over to Trinity where it would attack. Trinity would then have to destroy it or take poison – taking one of Trinity’s actions. If there was no blue, the red one would make a ranged attack while Blackheart generated another blue one. My allies on the other side would perlex down that massive 19 defense to make it more manageable and I’d keep hitting, which would destroy the gargoyle but never give damage to Blackheart who would just pop another out. It chipped away at the Trinity dial while he was mopping up the other team.
It was fairly effective. We got the dial down to click 11, and I know I couldn’t have done that on my own. That’s why I said it was nice to play this as a three way game. It gave us both a chance. Still, that Trinity of Sin is a monster piece.
I did find one thing cute. Every time I’d detach the gargoyles, they don’t stand well on their own. They would topple over and I would just lay them on their side. When I’d TK the blue one over to Trinity, I’d lean it up by Phantom Stranger and say it was nuzzling him. If you can’t beat ’em, annoy them!
Okay, now that you’ve read that comic, head over to Violent Blue. We’ve got a new strip up today and meet us back here tomorrow!
It first came to mind when Maddie and I were playing Gauntlet on the M.A.M.E. cabinet on night. Maddie frequently asks to play games with me on the rebuilt arcade machine, mostly the Marvel vs. DC M.U.G.E.N. game, but also things like Marble Madness or Crusin’.
The next time the question came to mind was when I was playing a game of Heroclix over at Comics are Go! in Sheffield. I had brought out some of my custom objects to play with the game pieces – an old 7-Up machine, a cigarette vendor and an X-Men 4 player arcade cabinet. We were talking about how dumb it was that no one ever ported this game over to any platform of the day or even to PC-CD (Though I’m told it’s finally available for ps3. Is that correct?) I mentioned that my daughter and I had played through the entire thing on my M.A.M.E cabinet.
So what’s the question? Here it is.
Are we the first generation of parents to use video games to bond with our kids?
It’s a devilishly simple question….and not as straightforward as it seems.
Sure parents probably played some video games with their kids, but how often? How did it fit into their relationship? It’s still a reasonably new medium thought that’s getting easier and easier to forget. One of the developers in the documentary “Indie Game” pointed out that this generation – people born around/after 1975-1980 grew up with games as a normal part of their life. It wasn’t a novelty, it wasn’t an occasional activity, just popping a quarter in if you happened to be at the pizza parlor or something. We had Atari’s and Nintendos and probably played a little bit on most days.
When we first got an Atari 2600, my parents played a little bit with me, but the novelty soon wore off for them and they moved on. For the most part, I played games alone or occasionally with friends. I imagine that was the case with most kids. Some dads here and there would get addicted to Zelda or Mario and perhaps they would take turns, but those are really single player experiences, not bonding games. The documentary “The Ecstasy of Order” describes a couple of families where they would competitively play Tetris, but again, one at a time, posting the score on a whiteboard or refrigerator.
Here’s the thing. I’m not a gamer. Not in the least. If you really stretch the definition, you might be able to label me as a retrogamer (one of the reasons I made Steve in Violent Blue one – at least that way I can know a little more about what I’m talking about). I enjoy classic games, and archive as many as I cam using emulators. I have a paticular love of old arcade games up through the 32-bit era. They tend to be short and the M.A.M.E. cabinet gives me unlimited virtual quarters and that’s a good thing because more often than not, I don’t have the patience to finish a game. I complete a game on my PC or DS approximately once every year or two. The last one I did was the new version of Y’s ….and that doesn’t exactly count since it’s just a rehash of the game I beat on my Sega Master System twenty years ago. I’m pretty sure I will beat the Spirit Camera game Amy got me, but even that three hour game has stretched out for months!
When I was a teenager I played every day, as an adult, I play games once a week or less…which brings me back to my point : NOT a gamer.
Having kids kind of changed that. I play more often now, because when they ask to play a game with me, I don’t want to say no. They won’t always be around to play games with me. When I built the M.A.M.E cabinet, I intentionally built in two controllers because I knew my kids would be playing games on it some day. Maddie and Lydia race against me in Mario Kart on our DS’s and pass around the tablet for the Hungry Shark game. We fight on Marvel vs. DC and on the old Capcom games, we co-op on Magic Sword. We play on the Genesis hooked up in the Livingroom (although those games actually don’t look that great on the HD TV) and Maddie has discovered she likes Scorpion best in Mortal Kombat.
Video games with Daddy has always been a part of their lives.
I started my Free Comic Book Day this year at Midnight. Well, actually a little before, heading out to Carol and John’s comic shop for the Midnight release party.The midnight party features free comics, specially brewed drinks and food along with sales and costumes. I went to this a couple of years ago with my friends John and Carl, and remembered not liking it, but didn’t quite remember why.
The two and a half hour wait in line may have had something to do with it. I remember it being crowded, but not this crowded….and we were waiting forever. The young lady in the great Doctor Who shirt (Complete with a button that said “come along Pond!”) that I was in line with was getting a little worried that there might not be much left if we ever go in. (By the way, if your reading this, I owe you an apology. I was in a bad mood and didn’t realize we would be out there so long. I should have talked to you more and been friendlier. I was rude to just stand and read my book as much as I did). On Facebook I joked with folks that we should have headed to the party and played a game of Heroclix while we waited. Seriously, there was enough time to get in a full game while in line. If I do this party again next year, I’m planning something like that. Cards or heroclix or SOMETHING.
Still, we eventually got in and I got my first selections, including the Cleveland edition of Superman. That was one I definitely wanted, especially since we’re celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the character – or trying to at least.
Madeline had ballet the next morning and we weren’t about to let her take off just to trot around town trolling for comic books with Daddy. We suited Lydia up and were ready when Maddie got home at 11. We tossed her costume on, packed a lunch and headed back to Carol and John’s for the costume contests.
We had no idea that half of the places we went for Free Comic Book Day would be OUT by the time we got there. Perhaps we need to start earlier, but it also seemed like there were a bunch more people out this year than before.
I saw the line at Carol and Johns and my heart sank a little. It was as long this afternoon as it was at midnight. Ugh. The girls wouldn’t last an hour or two of waiting like that. Still, we were there in time for the costume contest, so the girls got their numbers and headed up. Maddie and Lydia were in different age categories, so they weren’t competing against each other. I think I’ve very glad for that.
To my great delight (and perhaps a little surprise) both of my girls placed. Lydia got third (and lost out to the cutiest set Power Puff girls EVER) while Maddie got second in her division. I couldn’t be happier.
Next off, we headed out to Parma to swoop down the Polish corridor. B and L comics was out, however he had a few ones from last year and older on the counter to try and still have something for people….my girls and I were at the counter making our purchases (we raided the .50 box) and were asking about which free ones he still had and folks were reaching around us to snatch them away before my two little girls could get anything! How rude!
Traffic was bad enough that we skipped Northcoast Nostalga…a shame too, because they always have great discount bins – .25 and .35 bins, and I always rummage through those. York was running out, but the girls got some Strawberry Shortcake there and we bought some Trinity (because they had Wonder Woman on the cover). I also got my Uglydoll comic here. This was just the coolest offering the FCBD! The girls loved looking at the statues and figures. York was running out too, so they pulled stacks of old issues from the back and set them up on the free table so everyone could still get something. Very cool guys. On the way to our next stop, I became aware of Maddie talking in the back seat. Not to me….no she was reading on of the strawberry shortcake comics she had just gotten to her sister.
Thank God for Comics are Go! in Sheffield. They still had a decent stock and had save me one of the FCBD Iron Man 3 heroclix! You guys saved the day. Seriously. The girls had been getting a little discouraged. The other thing Comics Are Go! managed to find for me was a copy of the Walking Dead comic for this year. Not one place we went had that one still in stock. In fact, Mike ran into the back and dug that and a Judge Dread out for me I wouldn’t have gotten these comics otherwise. Then again, that’s one of the things about having a shop you go to regularly. In fact, I think next year, we may mostly just do Comics Are Go. (Maybe the midnight party at Carol and Johns, but maybe not).
While we were in Comics are Go! Maddie kept looking around at the toys and other comics, and she discovered the My Little Pony comic book. She asked me if we could get that one too, and I said yes (like last year, we want to buy something at every stop to do what little we can to support these places). She was also looking at the figures and discovered the Wonder Woman line – A Circe figure and a special agent Diana Prince figure. She brought those up the Scott, the store owner and asked why the boxes said “Wonder Woman” when it didn’t look like Wonder Woman inside. He smiled and explained who the figures were. It was unbearably cute.
Of course we dressed up. Me too. I tried something different this year, my costume was Perry White, with Maddie as She-Ra and Lydia as Batgirl. Funny, Lydia’s always refused to wear masks, but this year she came up to me first thing in the morning and asked me to make her a mask for her costume! Rushed in to the basement to find some foam and elastic, but we got it done!
By the time we got home we were all tired and Maddie was eager to tear into the Lego set she won in the costume contest. The girls asked for a Wonder Woman cartoon so I fired up Netflix and turned on the Wonder-Woman centric episodes of Justice League. We played with Legos and plowed through our piles of comics. We didn’t bring home as many this year. The girls had about seven each. I had about twenty. I know they were a little disappointed by that, but we still had a fun day out and I still had plans for the evening. After all, what better way to end FCBD than with Iron Man 3 at Amherst Cinemas? I still had a dollar left over from comic book shopping and managed to scrape together two more dollars in change (remember the days when you could still hit a movie using the change you found in you couch or car seats?)
I got to the theatre just before the movie was supposed to start. Just in time to see them put the “Sold Out” sign up.
Comics shops running out of comics? Comic movie running out of tickets? I’m beginning to see a theme here. Time to pop in the Scott Pilgrim DVD I borrowed from the Library and try again tomorrow.
I did make it in on Sunday. Probably the best Iron Man movie of all of them, I prefer this director. However, while I liked it better than any of the other Iron Man movies, but I still think it needed 30% more Tony-in-the-suit. It seems like the entire point of these films is to get tony out of the armor….I get that they are trying to make up for it by throwing in War Machine/ Iron Patriot, but honestly, for a film called “Iron Man” Iron man is actually not in it very much. I think we had more screen time with Tony-in-the-suit in Avengers. And poor Tony, he was getting tossed around worse than Bruce Campbell in an old cabin.
I really like the Iron Patriot suit though. I’ve got a bunch of foam in my attic. Wondering if I could make a suit….I think my cosplay for Lake Effect Comic Con might be Tony with just the arm and leg armor from the escape sequence. We’ll see.
We’ll close this with some photos from the midnight party and FCBD. Some of these are mine, some are culled from around Facebook. And remember, new Violent Blue is up today!
Don’t forget, Free Comic Book Day tomorrow! Head out and support you local Comic Book Shop! I’ve already got the girls costumes ready for them!
Then that afternoon I’ll be hading down to Amherst Cinemas for Iron Man 3! Remember, Amherst is a $3.00 theatre, leaving me enough to go see Godzilla at the Cedar Lee! (If I don’t head over to Comics are Go for Heroclix that is)
Comics are Go! decided to do something different this time around. Mike was wanting to play the Star Trek Tactics game, and he decided to pair it with Galactus.
Now, I’m a fan of Star Trek – or at least of good star trek (I feel it really got watered down towards the end of the century) built I haven’t been buying this game. I really hadn’t seen to many people playing it and honestly, I don’t need more Trek toys. I have a pretty full set of the Micro Machines ships and what few ship the Tactics set makes that Micro Machines didn’t are WAY expensive. Far more expensive than standard Heroclix. Too much for toys that I didn’t expect to play with and don’t have room to display.
Still, when this opportunity came up, it was too good to resist. Galactus in general is a really good idea for this kind of game and it really got my imagination going. So much so that I created this prolog for the game. (They would definitely carry this comic at Taylors shop in Violent Blue)
Mike ended up playing a Romulin team. Jim and I played Federation teams – I was borrowing pieces from Mike’s collection and tried not to duplicate anything that Jim was playing (except the cloaked Defiant. that was just too cool).
I did find a use for my old Micro machines toys. I used the little figures as counters. It ended up looking a little creepy though….like they were just people who had been sucked out of the ship, dead bodies floating is space.
Jim brought along his custom Borg cube as well. I’d seen this while it was still a work in progress, but cool to see it complete with the custom dial mounted and in place.
It’s didn’t get played, but it brings up the question – what would The Borg vs. Galactus look like? I speculated that he’d just slam his hand down on the cube and rip off a chunk with his fingers. Kind of like this.
A really fun scenario. I’m hoping to see more tactics played up at the shop. Definitely something I’d be up for if it turned into a monthly thing.