I like Fantasticon, but was planning on skipping it this year until I noticed the date. It was scheduled the same weekend as Wizard World Cleveland so Fantasticon gave me the perfect alternative to the cash-grabbing giant currently destroying the con scene that Wizard World represents.
Just like with ConCoction, I decided to break out a costume I hadn’t worn in a while and that hadn’t gotten a lot of exposure last year, on the con circuit anyhow – Sparkle Murder Pie did several charity events, but only appeared at one convention.
I found a parking spot on the street, just behind the baseball stadium that sat between me and the convention center. I pulled the unicorn out of the car and stashed the legs and feet inside the hollow body, then looed my bag at hte crook of my elbow and lifted the costume, ready to walk around the block.
The unicorn horn broke clear off. It was a clean split, right at the joint (It was built in three pieces and glued together). I lept back to my car and rummaged through the reair bucket, grabbing the Hot glue gun and duck tape. I could’t fix this here in the street, but with a little luck, there’d be an open electrical outlet at the Seagate Center.
The high winds blew me back and forth like a kite, but somehow I managed to make it to the doors without dropping anything. I found a power jack in the foyer, before I even reached the inner doors and hooked up the glue gun while I suited up and cleared excess glue from teh horn, creating a flat surface on the bottom. In five minuets I was applying a thick bead of glue to the horn nad pressing it back on to the unicorn’s forehead. I clicked on the light, praying it would hold. In the meantime, one of the Seagate center’s emplyees had spotted my struggle and rushed out to help, handing me my bag and holding the door oen for me and the unicorn. (I should have gotten the name of the young Africian Americian emplyee in the red and black Ohio hat so I could brag on him. Seagate Center should be really proud of thier employees. This was the best service I’ve ever gotten at a con!)
You know what? with all the micro cons I found myself at last year, it’s been a little while since I did a big show like this and I’d forgotten what it was like to be stopped every three steps for photos. Sparkle Murder Pie was a big hit with the kids at the show, most of which were brave enough to come up and pet her. Of course I wasn’t he only Deadpool there (Actually why I don’t dress up as him -there’s always a bunch running around). I found a Magical Girl Deadpool, a casual Deadpool and another Deadpool with a unicorn. Mine was bigger, but his was wearable and vibrated. He wrapped it around my neck so I could feel the vmassaging vibrations.
“Yyyyarrgggllee….” I gurgled, lifting my face up in ecstasy.
I made my way over to Bob Hall’s table. I’d met him a couple years ago at NEO comicon, where I’d bought a print of the villian Master Darque – one ofthe manin villians ofthe valient universe and the main nemisis to one of my favorite suerheroes; Shadowman. I’m not exaggerating when I say Shadowman is one of my favorites. He’s in my all time top five and I think his title was one of the most underrated books of the 90’s. This time he had an 11×17 print of the cover for the last issue and I couldn’t get my cash out quick enough. The last time Bob and I had spoken, he’d told me about how he got started with the character, and how it had ended with Acclaim coming in and wanting to reboot the character into something completely diffrent, so he did the story where Jack climbed up to the top of the building and jumps. He points out that 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!”. It’s a cliffhanger that has taunted me for twenty five years, since I first read it. In the last couple of years though, things have changed. Valient is once again publishing comics. I mentioned to Bob that even though the current Shadowman is fine, it lacks his touch.
“They actually called me and told me that the title doen’t have quite the magic I t did when i was writing it, and asked if I wanted to come in and do something on it. I offered to write a special where I go back to that last issue and finally resolve that cliffhanger, so they have some integration and resolution. But then management changed and it was decided that having the old writers come in was to gimmiky and passe.”
Then Bob did the unthinkable. He told me the story. I finally know how the cliffhanger from the final issue of his Shadowman ends. It may be one of the single coolest things to ever happen to me at a convention.
Fifty cent bins were in abundance, but most were on the floor where I couldn’t reach while riding the unicorn. The one vendor who had his on the table got my business as I pulled as many Superman and Fanatastic Four issues as I could pack into the bag holding my shoes and jacket. I found Pokemon for the girls and almost pulled the trigger on a Total Justice Batman repaint I’d never seen before. I kind of regret passing that one up now.
The costumes this time around were amazing, including not one but two Ghost Riders. I also ran into a gent with a hadmade Assasin’s Creed costume that was stunning. The weapons, the beadwork, all of the details had been crafted by had over months. There was an adorable Eevee with a magic staf that twinkled and shone in the most wonderful light display. I was rooting for both of them to win the costume contest. I also nticed a Foxy and Freddy from Five Nights at Freddy’s. There was great deatail on these suits, with visible wires and underskeleton – touches that made them a nice cut above. I hadn’t realized that I knew the occupant of the foxy – Erin, who I had made an aquantance with on the con circuit last year was one of the villinous animatronics.
She wasn’t the only familiar face there though. I ran into my buddy Ed from Heroes United and as we chatted over upcoming events My oldfriend Sean (who founded NEO comicon) waved me over. I hadn’t seen him since NEO last August and he was surprised since we usually run into each other on the con circuit. I explained I was doing fewer shows this year and he was relieved that everything was okay.
I managed to sit through most of the creating comics panel with Darryl Banks, Bob Hall and Pat Brodrick. I had never realized that Darryl had been a teacher. The Green Lantern artist told a story about going as a fan to a comic con when he was first starting out and asking Gil Kane to look at his work. Kane did and told him it was okay. Darryl was a little deflated untill everyone started asking him what Kane had said. “He said it was OKAY? Wow! Gil dosen’t ever say that! He never likes ANYTHING!”. It was just as interesting to hear abotu how Bob Hall came from a theater background, and that sort of storytelling led him to comics. Indeed, it was that kind of experiance that Jim Shooter was looking for when he made him an editor.
I really do enjoy Fantasticon. It has a little bit of everything I want in a convention, and it was the perfect alternative to Wizard World for me this year.
It’s been a few years since I hit Fantasticon. I was there for it’s first appearance in Toledo (at a slightly smaller venue that they outgrew in their first outing) but scheduling conflicts had kept me from getting back to the burgeoning show and I had always wondered what had become of it once it moved to the much larger space in the Seagate Center.
My first impression was that sadly, the parking situation hadn’t gotten any better. if anything, it had worsened a bit as I had feared. Lot parking around the center was a flat $5, with hourly rates in the basement of the Center itself . Still five as long as you’re gone in five hours. I wasn’t, but the extra two beans was worth it to be able to park a mere twenty feet from the elevator and have easy access to my car in the cumbersome Lego Deadpool suit I was waddling around in. I had no handler and knew that having to wander a block either carrying or wearing the costume would have been impossible.
Inside, signs smartly directed me to the registration counter and inside. The layout is very well done and easy to get around. I found myself thankful for the smooth polished floors that made it easy for me to move my lego feet.
While I miss the warm, homey hotel like- feel of that first venue, I have to admit the larger dealers room was nice. I lugged my two Batman volumes over to Mike DeCarlo’s table. While Jim Aparo is the definitive Batman artist for me, but when he inked his own stuff it would always feel a little muddy. Aparo was always at his best when DeCarlo was inking – crisp and solid and defined. He smiled when I told him this.
“Jim always told me that besides himself, I was his favorite inker!” he grinned as he thanked me.
I headed over to the panel stage – a corner cordoned off with curtains and chairs just in time for the trivia contest. The corner had letters pasted to the walls; A,B,C, and D. Everyone stood and listened for the multiple choice question, and would then go stand by the letter that went with thier answer.
“This is a lot more walking than I had bargained for!” I exclaimed, bouncing my way from corner “C” to corner “A”. I ended up in the top four before I missed a question and had to quit. I love the game and they way they set it up.
I ran into my friend Ed and drafted him to be my handler for a hour where he helped me shop. It’s the problem with the lego suits- no hands and if you wait until the end of the show, that stuff you were looking at might just ave vanished….. Ed was a huge help that was above and beyond and I really appreciated it.
I also managed to sneak in to watch most of Daniel Phillips panel as he made up an assistant into a sinister cat-like creature. I’m not familiar enough with this guys work – I need to fix that.
Towards the end of the day I made it back for the costume contest. It’s always interesting chatting with the other people there about what they made and how they did it. I was flanked by a couple guys in armor discussing how they built their outfits and what they’d like to try for a Hulkbuster suit (something I’d like to make myself). I leapt back in fear as a dark Jedi glided towards me applying a Force choke. Lego Deadpool danced behind Pyramid Head as I marveled at Youndu Poppins and the way she’d made the arrow into the umbrella. I got to talk sewing with Cinderella (Her second twirl dress – Her Elsa had won last year and her Cinderella would win this time around as well). We took interviews with the local news station and generally goofed around with the other attendees until it was time to head in. There’s a reason I always describe that wait right before the costume contest as my favorite part of any show.
“Magical girl curtain holding power!” I exclaimed at the anime girl holding the entrance in. She brandished her wand at me. “Just you wait! I’ll turn you into the REAL Deadpool instead of a LEGO one!” She then followed me into the adjacent convention hall, an empty one that had been converted for use as a green room. It was dark and cold, like an empty aircraft hanger. The lower temperature did me some good as Harley Quinn chatted me up. Lego suits get warm.
When my number was called I bounded out and eyed the portable stairs warily. I’d been practicing with those big feet…
I grabbed the handrails and dove in. I made it up two steps and was trying to navigate the third….and the stirs began to topple backwards….with me on it!
I was rescued by the Lone Ranger.
The Emcee, whose costume I’d been admiring an hour earlier dashed up, caught the railing to steady it as he gave me a good push up. I jumped on the stage in triumph to applause and laughter. Down the stairs was easier than up. Crisis averted.
I have to admit, I really dig this show. It’s run with heart. They bring in fun guests and JUST enough programming to make it a real event, and keep it balanced between shopping and programming. I’m hoping my schedule conflicts are behind me and I can start making this a regular stop on the con circuit. Either way, sooner or later, I’ll be back.
PS : I made the news!
I must be crazy, trying to pack two conventions into one weekend, but when Dirk Manning brought this one to my attention I really was intrigued. They were bringing in Scott Spiegal, the writer of Evil Dead 2, as well as promoting some interesting stuff like a Kiss cover band. It would also be a great opportunity to unveil my new Mr. Freeze costume….so I packed up my stuff, and off i went to Toledo.
I’m not sure what I expected. I’m sure I didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did. Scott is a brilliant little ball of energy, outgoing and friendly. He loves Horror hosts, and Ohio is definately the right place for that. We reminisced about our favorites and I introduced him to the Kreepy Kastle before unrolling my evil Dead two poster. He loved looking at all the names, and added his own, along with the inscription “Don’t make an Ash out of me!” running into one of the other autographs.
His panel was incredible, hearing about working with Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell in high school, having to sit out Evil Dead, and coming back for two. I love this guy, one of my favorite celebrity meet and greets.
Only a few media guests at this one, and that was well done. They did bring in a couple of Walking dead alumni, the two walkers Michonne had with her when she originally appeared on the show. Unbelievably, they were charging $30 per autograph, and $20 for a photo. I don’t know where they thought they were, but this was not the kind of con for those kind of prices, and quite frankly they arn’t worth that kind of coin. The Walking Dead cast is out of control, and I hope they walked out of there with empty pockets. I also hope that in the future, Fantasticon will bring in lower priced media guests. With the announcement of Jonathan Frakes next year, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
They brought in some great comic talent as well, most exciting to me was William Messner-Lobes. Definitely a great catch, who I remember especially for his run on the Flash. He wasn’t alone though, and I found myself also at Arvell Jones table as well, with a stack of All-Star Squadron in hand for him to sign!
I changed into my costume a little later (walking a city block to in it to get from my parking space to the convention center…still closer than at Indiana….) and headed in. There were some great costumes there, I walked in and saw a pitch perfect Wiplash – I was certian he was going to win the costume contest.
The contest was so much fun with so many amazing outfits, the winner ultimately being Lady Pyramed head taking first and the scariest Scarecrow I’ve ever seen taking second. I was excited to get third place.
I ended the evening catching the War Machine performance. War Machine is a Kiss cover band and a great deal of fun.
After a few technical difficulties, they launched int some recognizable hits and a nice selection of B-sides. The guy playing Ace was a beast on guitar and did a dead on impression of his accent and laugh.
All in all, a good first year, and I’m tempted to hit them up again next year. It was an interesting strategy, scheduling the adult costume contest and the Spiegal panel on Sunday. It certainly drew a nice respectable crowd, and made Sunday a really fund day at the time most cons are winding down (Sunday at Wasteland is dead depressing, people packing and checking out, catching those last few movies they may have missed earlier in the week). I dig this, and had great fun partying just as hard Sunday as I had on Friday and Saturday at Wasteland. I’m definitely interested in seeing how this grows next year.