I’ll let you in on a little secret. I wasn’t planning on going back to Woo-Con. It’s not that it’s a bad show -quite the opposite. It’s well-run by fans with lots of heart. But it is a little smaller than I’m comfortable at. However, Maddie had a great time here last year and asked by name to go back this year. She was also eager to show off her new Serena (from Pokemon) costume in an anime environment, and I was interested in exposing her to some new shows, so early on Saturday morning we packed the car and drove down to Wooster, dodging cows all the way.
We checked in and headed straight downstairs to figure out which anime room Card Captor Sakura was running in. The screenings actually feel better organized this year, with two rooms (study rooms in the lower level of the student union with clear walls you can peer into and see what’s playing) dedicated to them instead of the one classroom in the upper level that they split between anime and video games. The gaming room was across the hall, with surfaces for tabletop and card games set up. After the screening of Fairy Tale, we swung by to gawk at the Warhammer miniatures.
Upstairs, panels were back in the same room, along with the improv antics of the Confused Greenies. Watching the improv troupe is one of the highlights of the show for Maddie, who laughed until she had tears in her eyes. I’m familiar with them from ConCoction, but it’s always good to see them, especially here in their second year. The Greenies presented a new skit involving a magical girl trying to fight a supervillian, except his catgirl kept getting in the way. It may be my new favorite of thier stuff.
I’m not sure why they blocked out three hours for the costume contest. Attendance hadn’t grown significantly and even with the extra attention the judges gave each contestant, we were through in an hour or so. While we were prepping, Maddie got recognized from her Youtube channel, something that just made her con. I always say this is my favorite part of cosplay, hanging out with people before a contest. I think Maddie is seeing that too. She talked Pokemon with several other people (mostly college kids, but at a con – age dosen’t necessarily matter) and got to know everyone. She remarked about how friendly everyone is, and I really dig that.
Despite the size, the dealers pack an amazing amount of stuff on those tables. Artists, comics, anime, manga and adorable handmade oddities. I noticed that the line up had changed a bit this year, and ended up grabbing a bunch of pieces at one of the art booths. Maddie came away with a Sakura charm for a keychain that she’s going to make into a necklace.
I actually really like Woo-Con and it was cool to see it was even better run than last year. I’d love to see it grow a little more, but I don’t know if that’s really something they are interested in. Woo-Con remains a quaint little college Anime show and that’s fine just the way it is.
I mentioned yesterday that my Ock suit has grown so cumbersome that I required a handler. You may have seen Rhonny Reaper around the net at Dollar Bin Horror or haunting the depths of Cinema Wasteland, but Sunday was her very first time out to Lake Effect Comic Con – and I thought it would be interesting to get a fresh perspective one it. Here’s her review.
This year was my first year attending Lake Effect Comic Con and it was a blast. Matthew told me that in past years it had been held at a movie theater, but now the Holiday Inn in Mentor is its home. I’m kind of sad I missed it before because I think the theater sounds like a lovely spot for a con, but this was nice as well. It seemed smaller than I imagined. The show was not crowded, but we did get there late so I’m assuming the early birds had already dispersed.
I myself had a fantastic time! I went with Matthew acting as his “hands” so he could be Doc Ock. EVERYONE wanted pictures with Matt when we first got there, so it took us a minute to get into the show room. I’ve always loved horror but just recently started working on a horror comic selection, so this was the first time I knew what I was looking for…and I found it in abundance! So many wonderful golden age horror comics for $1 and $2 each! I also found a copy of My Friend Dahmer at the Comics Are Go table, thanks to Matt’s keen eyes. Eric over there gave me the sweetest deal on the book!
Towards the end, they held a costume contest for all the cosplayers, and everyone looked fantastic!!! From the little Wonder Woman to the Sailor Moon, everyone came out in style! I myself came as Lydia Deetz (from Beetlejuice), which I thought was more on the simple side of cosplay…which is why I was shocked the judges picked me for female adult! I’m still in shock…but happy as ever about the killer Deadpool mask I received as the prize (I’m more into horror comics than classic super heroes…but I mean who doesn’t LOVE some Deadpool?)! They also gave a special prize to the Yip Yip alien costume from Sesame Street (which really gave Matt a run for his money) because it was GLORIUOS! You just had to! All in all, this con was a blast and gave me my best haul ever! Can’t wait till the next one!!!
I dashed forward , camera at the ready when I saw the shaggy red “yep, yep” Muppet walking down the aisle. My Doc Ock suit hindered me a bit, but I met him just as we arrived at the corner of the room.
“I’d love to get a photo with you,” I exclaimed.
Through the black mesh of the mouth I saw him smile.
“You did. Remember back a few years ago? I was Doctor Hugo Strange!”
I think I may have just come full circle.
While I’ve been dressing up since long before I ever heard the word “cosplay” (I was an actual clown before I hit Jr. High. Star Trek conventions at 12. Haunted houses in high school. Theater through it all), you could probably trace the beginnings of my modern cosplay career to Lake Effect Comic Con around 2012. It was the first time I ever pulled out my Doc Ock costume (one of the first of my more complicated suits) – very different at the time too! It was the first time I entered a costume contest. It was very much my entry into the scene. It was cool to return to the show where it all started (albeit in a different location) and discover that the suit was still memorable, and to show how much it has grown.
It’s grown so much that I now require a handler to help me with doors and carrying things and stuff! I picked up my friend Rhonda, who agreed to be my hands for the day. She appeared dressed as Lydia from Beetlejuice (Because if I can’t bring my little Lydia, I might as well take a full grown one with me!) and we headed off to Mentor.
I was running late so I missed the cosplay panel I wanted to hit, but we still managed to get in before one. There was some concern about me making it through the dealers room, but we needn’t have worried. The aisles were more than big enough for me and the place wasn’t crowded. I’m curious if the show grew from last year. We arrived about halfway through so that may have accounted for the lighter attendance.
I have to admit, now in the second year at the hotel, the layout has really grown on me. It feels like Russian nesting dolls, with one dealers room leading to another, adding to that delightful feeling of exploration that I love at some of the more obscure bazaars in Cleveland. Lake effect is an excellent representation of the dealers and shops around the Cleveland area with every comic and toy imaginable littering the rows and corners. Around a corner I found more tables set up in a narrow hallway. I don’t know if this corner was set up last year or not…the theater Lake Effect used to set up at was selling movie posters next to a table set up for the R2 builders and Heroes United, both welcome additions to the show. The deals are still waning, but I was pleased to spot a single fifty cent bin to plunder, and managed to walk away with a stack of Civil War era Spidey as well as a nice chunk of Groot and Rocket Racoon solo series, but the real find of the day was Marvel’s Zombie Christmas Carol in the $5.00 Hardcover bin. I’ve never seen this before, but I couldn’t leave without it – especially at that price.
I saw Lake Effect dipping it’s toe into the celeb waters, bring in a zombie from the Walking Dead (I don’t know if I forgot, or just didn’t know- either way, I didn’t have my poster) as well as a starlet who had done a couple movies and been a playmate. It’s a direction I hope they veer away from. It didn’t really add much to the show other than the novelty of a few unfamiliar faces…and I get it. After eight years, you have to try and shake things up a bit.
The costume contest seemed a little smaller this year as well, but those that did arrive were still excellent. I was enchanted by the Terminator girl (all the robot parts, painted on – she looked like she stepped right off an 80’s VHS cover) and the little Starlord. More and more I see video game characters, and I feel so bad that I don’t recognize them! But there’s another trend I see popping up – it’s an interesting 2-d style, where your costume and features appear sketched in. It’s a really cool look and the more I see it, the more I’m enchanted by it. I dig the open area in the lobby where they hold this contest – it feels more intimate, more personal than the theater always did. I feel like I can better hobnob and chat with the other contestants…and that’s really the point of it all for me. I had to move around a bit to be able to see all of the people parading by and nothing made me happier than when the Yep Yep Muppet received a special prize.
I still really like Lake Effect. My only hope is that it doesn’t stagnate in this location – it grew every year at the theater untill the seams of the walls were bursting trying to contain the throngs of people. That seems to have leveled off since the move and that worries me. I dig this con and really hope it’ll be around for years to come.
I was off to Great Lakes Comic Con this weekend – I think I mentioned this last year when I went for the first time, I really wish this convention was closer to home – it’s a great mix of media and comic guests… but they keep the guest list short and inexpensive, the event doesn’t feel like it’s gouging you – especially with an admission price of only $10 on Saturday. They also go with a theme every year, last year being the 80s and this year being a celebration of Spider-Man – as a result, I decided to bring out the Doc Ock suit (at some point I have to fix that right arm so it no longer looks like I’m running around with a dislocated shoulder….)and ran around the convention center with the infamous Ock selfie stick!
I mentioned last year at Hall of Fame City Comic Con that I don’t think I can do Ock again without a handler. Even though I added some hidden windows for my fingers to come out of in the octupus arms, it still would have been a challenge… Maddie was going to come out but changed her mind. In the end, I was fortunate enough to enlist my friend Mike May to be my hands for the day, handling my money and opening doors as well as getting the phone clutched in one of my grubby little Octopus mitts to go into selfie mode.
I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the things I’m really beginning to enjoy at conventions like this is running into familiar faces. Now to be fair, Detroit is quite a ways from Cleveland so at this show I expected that those familiar faces would mostly be vendors, folks like Sean Belles and Dirk Manning. However I did also run into a gentleman who remembered me from the previous year! I remembered really liking his flash costume the previous year and was very pleased that his daughters Hawkgirl won in the kids costume contest. He was decked out in a marvelous Dr Strange suit… one that he’d really added his own flair to, using brass and gold buttons around it and giving it a more leathery look. I could see this being a Doctor Strange costume from after the movie, after he’s grown a little bit and moved on – say an alternate outfit. Included in it were several lighting effects that were activated when he gestured in certain ways, flashing, making sounds and giving the illusion of casting spells. It’s actually electronics from a think geek product that he’s ripped out, rewired and repurposed for this suit… A very good use of the technology. I love seeing stuff like this, and I’m all about using things in new and interesting ways.
Speaking of costumes, the show attendees really upped thier game this year… From what I can see, Great Lakes always brings out the best in people, but the competition was fierce this year – the decision was so difficult for the judges that they had to make two passes; with a semi-final round before they’ve finally made the decisions. The lovely Hawkgirl that I’d seen around all day placed and it was a well deserved win, along with the Mecha Godzilla that I did battle with while waiting in line for Jim Shooter. I was also taking note of the Lego Boba Fett that managed to snag one of the top prizes – I want to make my own Lego character later this year and his suit was a good example of what I’m going to need to do. I only wish he had been around longer! Fett seemed to show up about half an hour before the costume contest… That’s one of my pet peeve’s – an amazing costume like that I’d love to have seen walking the show floor all day! Perhaps he was suited up there all the time and I just missed him all day. We’ll assume the best.
Deals – Great Lakes may have just replaced Lake Effect Comicon as my go-to for deals… In fact, I should have brought a little bit more cash with me – I saw a gorgeous Super Powers Joker, complete with hammer for $15 – Mike nearly smacked me when I passed on it, and he would have been right to do so… I regret leaving that behind, kind of like I regret not picking up that Bow figure from She-Ra last year. Even stuff that was out of my price range, I could see was still going for amazing prices… A Super Powers Batman for $35, a Darth Vader that Mike had never seen before (and that’s saying something, his house has at least one Vader in every room!) for 35 which he handled down even further, 50 Cent bins, and essential trades all over the place for five bucks. Deals are one of the reasons I go to conventions, that and to find things that I won’t find anywhere else – Great Lakes Comic Con has both of those things, and in abundance.
One of the other big reasons I go to conventions is for panels and I’ve always loved that Great Lakes really goes out of its way to do genuinely good panels… They’re not over the top they’re not deep dark secrets and big reveals, but they are fun and they manage to spotlight people that I don’t get to see elsewhere. Dirk Manning did his Write or Wrong talk, which interestingly enough was preceded by Jim Shooter doing a panel on writing – Shooter was my main reason for coming to this convention, as he was the founder of Valiant comics and the editor in chief of Marvel for many many years. His panel was a great primer on story structure, pacing, perspective and storytelling. I was amused that he kept using Doc Ock in his examples.
“It’s got to be more than just Doc Ock fights Spider-Man again…”
*I raise my arms and eyebrows in mock outrage* “why you got to hate?”
Nicholas Hammond was fun to listen to as well. His experiences in The Sound of Music should have been the focus, but let’s face it. This is ComicCon. We want to hear about his short run on Spider-Man. For me one of the most interesting things to hear him speak on was the potential of a crossover with Bill Bixby’s the Incredible Hulk on television – years before such a thing was fashionable. It was on the schedule for the second season, except there wasn’t a second season. Spider-Man was one of the casualties of the management shake up where CBS decided to get rid of all the super shows like Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and the Hulk. It was interesting for him to Skype watching Toby McGuire and Andrew Garfield in the role as if it were him watching his children.
Shooter and Hammond were also both very gracious and fun to meet in person – the line to meet Jim Shooter was actually longer than the one for Hammond, but then again he was a bigger deal to me in the first place! Mike, Jim and I chatted about the rise and fall of Valiant, as he signed our books and took a photo with me! Taking photos with the actors who portrayed Spider-Man was one of the highlights of my day – Hammond had a hard time figuring out where to stand and just hung up behind me into a relaxed stance. The most fun though, was Paul Soles; the voice of the animated Spider-Man. Soles was so excited to see my Doc Ock and you can see him grinning with unbridled delight as we post for a photo. he signed his autograph “To Matt and his friend Doc Ock!”
The other great thing was how much all the kids at the con loved me. I found myself in battles with little superheros everywhere I ventured at the con. Little Spidey’s would shoot imaginary webs at me. Little Flash wanted a race. I’d snap at kids with my claws and they would throw stage punches and I’d knock back. It was great. I don’t get that nearly as much at other shows, but the Spider-man theme of this convention seemed to encourage it.
I left with a handful of comics – a lot of 90’s spidey I didn’t have as well as a Punisher essentials (I’ve got about a third of that book in floppies, but it’s still worth it – those issues I have are all signed. I can frame them and keep them as collectors items). I even found some criterion DVDs for two bits that I pulled the trigger on.
Other swag I came home with were a couple of posters. The CW had a booth there as well, one very much like the one we see regularly at Akron Comicon. There was a wheel to spin where you could win a prize…posters, shirts hats and various other junky swag. Doc Ock walked up, grabbed a hold of the wheels pegs (Why? Because I CAN) and spun, and won a new flash drive.
Literally. A FLASH drive. I was dying when I saw these! it’s tiny, a mere 2 GB, but that’s enough to hold my work tools on it and make me the envy of all my friends. (Mike got sunglasses). It may just be my favorite thing I brought home.
The arcade was still a blast as well. This year Big Toys brought in a SHADOW pinball set! Man, I could stare at that thing all day…I couldn’t play it with my arms though. I did however get a quick arcade game in. The claw could hold the joystick while the other claw mashed buttons. It was over quick though. Ock arms aren’t very dexterous.
I’m seriously considering making this a regular stop, no matter who is appearing. It’s a great show and I just really dig the vibe here. Ock himself was a big hit taking tons of selfies (you should have seen Jake the Snake crack up when I was taking pictures with these guys!) and generally wrecking havok…and heres the pics to prove it!