With no Flash or Superman and Lois this week, we find ourselves very sci-fi heavy. Both Picard and The Mandilorian had thier finales this week and I couldn’t think of a more interesting dichotomy. Both wrapped up thier stories just fine, but to diffrent effect.
The Mandalorian did what Star Wars does. plenty of pew pews and big booms, even a nice “We are Groot” moment. It’s ends the whole series sufficiantly, with Mando able to kick back in a quiet house on the oustskirts, while Baby Yoda plays wiht frogs by the pond. It’s fine. But it’s not quite the great hope for Star Wars that it was when it first burst on the scene. Too long a break between seasons. This allowed management to shift and the story direction really redirected. It makes it uneven. If this was really the story they intended to tell, they could have done it in about two seasons. Insted we got sideqquests, and redirects. However, I’m glad we got some sort of resolution. It was a little shoehorned, but was fine. Season was okay. I think it’s not that it was bad….but rather that it wasn’t as spectacularly good as the first two years with thier inspiration and focus.
Picard on the other hand, privides a shockingly god climax to a genuinely hopeless situation. It’s overwhelming odds and the first time I’ve felt real stakes in Star Trek in DECADES. It’s tough to make the Borg even more terrifying. Star Trek ahs tried to do it by increments – and this really does push them just another step further in the terror levels.
Not only that, they managed to introduce new characters, and set up a spin off series perfectly. A new Generation of Star Trek that I’d clamor to watch… if the current regime in charge of Star Trek had any interest in making it (They don’t). And the real shame of that is that Picard has brought viewers back. It’s undone 90% of the deconstruction and watering down that has extensively damaged the brand since Secret Hideout took it over (Perhaps even all the way back to JJ’s 2009 reboot). It’s really Star Trek done right. It’s beyond the megar sufficiancy of the Mandalorinan season3, and is the spectacular standard, (much like Mandalorian season 1-2) something we haven’t seen from Star Trek since First Contact. moreover, it’s the farewell that the Next Gen didn’t properly get with thier final film. If you haven’t watched this series….Definately hunt it down.
And maybe hit up the Mandalorian as a light chaser.
In all seriousness, I never expected to do Kylo Ren as much as I have – I bought the mask on sale for a dollar and figured I might do something with it someday….then Heroes United developed a Star Wars division….
An accurate depiction of my first trip to Ronald McDonald house as Kylo. So many Lightsaber blows to the head….
Top Star Wars Rip Offs
While I’m personally not a huge fan of Star Wars I still watch the movies. No matter what your opinion on them however, there is no denying the impact it had on modern films – and of course that means It’s going to get ripped off.
Roger Corman predictably kicks off this list with “battle beyond the stars “.
I didn’t watch the Walton’s, in fact, the first time I saw Richard Thomas was in Stephen kings “it “. I’ve never understood his appeal, and I don’t get why he was chosen for this role. The effects are passable, but honestly, you know the movie is bad when even the redoubtable John Saxon can’t save it!
What Corman gets right, is the balance between the young wide eyed mystic, and the grizzled smuggler. That dynamic drives the Star Wars movies and they give it a very good shot here, but ultimately it’s a bit of a failure.
Next up on the list is “Space hunter “. Perhaps I relate this to Star Wars more because we ended up going to this movie when we couldn’t get tickets for Empire strikes back. It’s got a lot more in common with the post-apocalyptic feel of mad Max then Star Wars, but the laser and space opera feel – along with the villain have a very happy Star Wars vibe. I was the one boy in the 80s that was not in love with Molly Ringwald, So her present here is really no drama for me. Peter Strauss is fine, but the real bright spot of this movie is an early role for Ernie Hudson and I love him for it. It’s worth tracking down though skip the 3-D version, it does nothing for it.
Space Mutiny is one of those films that immediately comes to mind. Large open stages littered with high-tech looking junk, spandex costumes, big hair, along with a sci-fi golf cart propel this film towards mediocrity. It also happens to star Reb Brown – the actor made famous for playing the titular character in the TV adaptions of Marvel’s Captian America – you remember, the ones where he rode a super-cool red white and blue motorcycle (it was the 70’s) and carried a transpaprent shield because the motorcycle helmet wasn’t enough to protect his head from the machinations of Christopher Lee.
Reb is still buff in this film, and still loves his helmets. Fortunately, it’s a better movie than either of his Captian America outings, but not by much.
There is a marvellous MST3K version of it and thank God for that by the way. Some film are only watchable when bolstered by the snark of two toy robots. This is definatly one of those films. I highly recommend seeking that out rather than watching the straight film. This movie is notable for having special effects ripped straight from “Battle Star Galactica ” I don’t know how they got the permission to do that, but man is it wierd. They run them upside down and in wierd directions to throw you off, but you’re not fooling anyone movie! I’m on to you!
Speaking of Galactica, it’s a good pick to as we near the end of this list. The look and feel was similar enough that Lucasfilm sued for the filming techniques used on the models – the lawsuit failed, but BattleStar Galactica has a much more Star Wars feel to it than the series that directly succeed it – “Galactica ’80” and “Buck Rogers”.
Oh but we’re not done yet. I haven’t even mentioned “Star Crash” yet! It’s not Corman, but man does it feel like it could be. Caroline Munro is in this as well as Christopher Plummer (and once again I find myself asking “What is he doing in this movie??” For such a high quality actor – A list for sure, Plummer sure does make some questionable decisions on roles). But that’s not the half of it. I have two words for you.
That’s right. The Hoff is here and still in his white-fro days.
The look of this film was obviously designed to directly ape Star Wars, with many of the characters borrowing thier design
directly from it.
The story itself however, is nothing like Star Wars – and the design choices confuse, particuarly when you have good guys in this that look like bad guys in a New Hope.
This is a fun ride, mostly because we get to watch these familiar and beloved actors in such roles that are just plain WIERD.
One last honourable mention is “the man who saved the world “better known as “Turkish Star Wars “. While the story does have certain messianic themes to word that draw parallels to a new hope, the main comparison is the special effects – stolen directly from Star Wars, washed out and looking like somebody filmed A movie screen and then dropped the footage into the film. I’m not even upoading a trailer for this one. Bootlegs are plentiful.
Free Comic Book Day 2019
Depending on where you live, what shops you have nearby, everyone does something diffrent for Free Comic Book Day. Some shops just hand you a few extra books with your purchase. Others, like the late and lamented York comics, leverage it as a charity event – giving away the gold books but throwing in extra silver books for a canned food donation. And here in Cleveland, at Carol and Johns, they throw a party.
The party is actually on Friday night, the day before FCBD, leading up to the midnight release of the books. The shop is open late with sales and deals. At 10:00pm the annex opens with a pop up bar serving complementary soda and comic themed beer. People who tip get an extra free comic. Down on the other side of the strip, another room opens, housing a comic themed (this year the theme was X-Men) art show (it’s also where you go to get your free comics at midnight), where artists in attendance do free sketches and sell their wares. In recent years, other businesses in the same strip complex have gotten in on the act, with the local toy collectors club setting up in the Working Class Brewery, and the ice cream shop offering up an Infinity Gauntlet themed dish.
The lineup starts well before ten though. When I arrived around five, the line had already started. As the night went on, Two podcasts set up shop along the line. An artist set up his easel at the corner. People mingled and played board games in line. Costumes began to pop up and take photos. A large Millennium Falcon interior was available for pictures, as well as the wanted poster from the X-Men story “Days of Future Past”. Stormtroopers and Jedi marched in the streets. It’s the party we wait all year for.
There’s always prep for FCBD. I decided this was the year I finally execute the idea I’d been playing with for a couple years. I wanted to do Freddy Kruger as a Yellow Lantern (Sinestro Corps). I’d worn out my old Freddy makeup a few years ago, but that’s fine. The point is to do a makeup (Build it from scratch) that takes several hours while I wait in line, and Sinestro Corps is cool because there are glowing lights on the costume – and this is DEFINITELY the event you want to have a glowing costume at. The night atmosphere really brings it out. In anticipation, I had fashioned a new glove with clear yellow blades that lit up, and pulled out the old Sinestro suit from the closet. In addition, my buddy Ryan had put a call out, informing me that he had taken a bungee cord to the eye and was stuck wearing an eyepatch for the next week or so which pretty much ruined his costume plans. “Can you help me pull together a Nick Fury?”. I pulled my leather trench coat, my Winter Soldier Cap shirt and stuck a shield sticker over the buckle of my utility belt, then told Ryan to wear navy pants and we’d dress him on site.
I’d packed the Batmobile accessories as well. It wasn’t a sure thing – the day had been rainy but I figured that if the rain let up and I could find a visible parking space near the line that It would be fun to build up the Batmobile. When I arrived I scored a spot just one store away from the end of the line, by the grocery store. It was good enough and I built up the car, then set up my nest in line. After I’d been working on makeup for an hour and a half I’d only gotten the basic structure of the chin done. It was around this time that the car in the space directly in front of my nest in line pulled out. I grabbed my friend Marcus and begged him to hold the parking spot for thirty seconds. I sprinted over to my car, yellow latex chin dangling from my face as he stood in the empty space, arms spread. The Batmobile raced over and took up a place right up front, directly across from my nest. Four hours into the night I’d gotten my Freddy makeup mostly done while chatting with friends from Pop and Panels and the Scoobies. One of the guys from The Panel Scanners Podcast had been eyeing my progress from a distance and now came up to me and asked if I could head over to thier booth so they could interview me. I promised I’d walk down as soon as I suited up and started grabbing costume pieces from my car to pull over my latex and greaspaint stained clothes. I hit the button on my belt to make sure the lights worked.
They didn’t. Crap.
I turned over the battery pack to make sure the AAs were in tight and spotted the problem. The wire that feeds into the socket connector where the battery pack connects in had pulled out. I whipped out my swiss army knife (I always keep it in my car) and my buddy Rocky held the belt still, looking on in disbelief as I rewired the belt, bypassing the juncture and splicing the wires directly into the battery pack, then insulating the wires with duck tape.
As we were watching my belt finally light up, Mayday swung by and asked if I had any tape. His belt was giving him problems too. We emptied the roll of duck tape and got him fixed up. I could see it was a bad night for belts when Vito stopped me later on to ask if I could help him fix his Batman belt…..
Inside the shop, Winston discovered he had a suspicious visitor. The cat eyed the strange dog in the spider-man costume warily. FCBD is always a little rough on the comic shop’s feline mascot. The crowds inside were packed shoulder to shoulder, debating the virtues of the Wolverine Canadian Ale vs the Cyclops Weak Summer Pilsner. I was certain that Endgame was all anyone would be talking about. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t. The conversations around me were constantly “What do you think of the new Child’s Play movie coming out?” or speculation on the new Sonic the Hedghog film.
Back at the nest, Jen and her kids descended on us and my friend Vanessa pulled up a chair after her place in line had gotten ursurped by a bunch of guys noisily playing marvel monopoly practically on top of her seat (We’re happy to take in refugees). Rocky and Mayday grabbed thier hammer and lightsaber respectively asking if the trolls needed eviction. She shook her head laughing.
Every single year I’m amazed at how fast six or seven hours in line pass. But then, it’s not really a queue – it really wouldn’t be worth this kind of wait, just for ten free comics (eleven if you could the graphic novel they throw in for the first 200). No, this is a party that lasts all night. I’d be back in the morning for another run through. The day event is a little more subdued and I usually hit Comics are Go as well, but the evening party is the one we always spend the most time at. It’s one of the benefits of having one of the best comic shops in the country local, and no one else does FCBD like this.
Free Comic Book Day 2018
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.
Four conventions in four weeks is a little excessive, even for me – however, you have to admit that every show I’ve been to lately has been a different kind: Zipcon was an Anime Convention – very focused on Japanese animation and manga. You might see a Spiderman or Deadpool there, but really it’s all about the cartoons. Great Lakes on the other hand was a comic con. They had a more straightforward focus on mainstream comics, with only a couple of media guests, and all of them comic related. The 80s theme made a great deal of fun as well. Horror Relm is strictly a horror convention, with a heavy media and film focus. To their credit they do in fact have a literary component, but it’s overshadowed by the media guests.
That leaves us with this weekend, my first time out to the Cleveland ConCoction. ConCoction is a sci-fi convention – there’s a few more elements in there, a little bit of anime and comics, but it’s far more about speculative fiction. There is a heavy literary influence here, with very few media guests and more authors doing panels then actors. There’s a lot of Star Wars here predictably, but there is also an enormous amount of Star Trek here as well, hearkening back a little bit to the old days of Star Trek conventions. Seriously, I have not seen this many Star Trek costumes in one place in probably 20 years? That was fun and refreshing to be around again. It made it the perfect place to debut my new Borg outfit (truthfully created with ConCotion at least partially in mind) and I spent Saturday going around attempting to add biological and technological distinctiveness to my own. Sadly, all I managed to assimilate was girl scout cookies.
Concoction has been around for three years now, and they been on my radar the entire time – my main barrier to entry has been the cost – concoction is a little bit more expensive than other shows its size and on top of that, their location is the Sheraton hotel at the Cleveland Hopkins airport – this is a problem because it means you are going to pay to park, and if the hotel lot fills up (which it did, long before I made it there) you’re going to pay a LOT to park. Just a Saturday ticket is $40 at the door, although if you register early enough you can get the entire weekend for about $45 or so, and if you can get into the hotel parking lot it’ll only cost a fiver for a place to put your car. But if you get stuck having to park at the airport lot, you’re dropping an extra $12. All that cost up front, with very few media guests has kept me away first few years, but when I won a admission last September during a costume contest, it definitely got me excited about coming and far more willing to brave the extra costs of going.
Yes, ConCoction costs more, but they try harder too. There is programming from early in the morning all the way up until midnight here, and that’s not even getting into after parties and stuff like that. There is a ConSuite on site as well, where are you can find food and beverage. I’ve seen Motor City Nightmares do a similar hospitality suite, but wit far less of a spread and you had to get a special VIP admission for it. At ConCoction, the Consuite is open to anyone attending the show. I had all of my meals there, and this is really a great thing… Not having to run away from the hotel to grab food, not having to strategically plan your meals. They kept me hydrated (kind of important in some of my costumes) and fed. They also held several the panels in this cozy dining room.
The panels at ConCoction are very interesting, not just the content but also in the way that they are run. A lot of them are far more of a forum than a strict panel – there is a lot of audience participation and conversation going on. As soon as I arrived, I ran into some friends who were on their way to a panel in the Consuite being hosted by Pete Mako (of Pete Mako in the Boogiemen, remember them from a few weeks ago?). I was still getting my bearings and found myself in the Consuite and noticed that they were there. I asked “I thought you guys were going to a panel!” Pete walked past me smiling and clapped my shoulder then said “This IS the panel!” The group, about have a dozen of them relaxed around a table and began discussing the topic of “Geek Dating”. It wasn’t the first time I’d see this, in fact later on I would sit down to a panel charmingly titled “Why You Are Here: Two Old Broads and Why They Ran (and stopped running) cons in Cleveland “. It was a discussion of behind-the-scenes at conventions, and what it was like to host the old Earth Cons back in the 80s. I like to consider myself a convention Veteran. I’ve been on the scene since I was a kid back in ’87, but these ladies were doing it back in the late 70s and started hosting their own show in’81… In fact Earth Con’s last show was held just before the first Star Trek Convention I ever went to! They discussed the difference between the Literary cons and media cons, something I’ve never even really been aware of – things were leaning a little bit more towards media and Star Trek conventions during my time. They reminisced about gathering diffrent groups together to gaming, sci-fi, comics and the how the cooperation from different groups help Make Earth Con a reality. The gamers would bring in Steve Jackson. The Comic people would bring in Stan Lee, while Earth Con would get someone like Anne McCaffrey or James Doohan. But then, the unity between the orginizations began to fragment, each wanting to hold their own conventions. It was fascinating to hear about how that cooperation transformed into competition.
I was riveted, so were a couple of the tweeners hanging out – a couple of junior high girls who were fascinated by the idea, and so excited about the convention experience that all they wanted to do was just find more shows to go to, and more time to spend at these events.
I sat back, trying to decide if thier giggling, gasping hyperactivity was annoying or inspiring.
The thing is, I was that age once. I remember… I remember what this felt like, I remember what it was like to break into the world of fandom, and I can’t help but smile – seeing it happen all over again, it really does makes me happy.
There are several comedy shows going on at ConCoction, and I was dead set on making sure I hit “doctor whose line is it anyway? ”
It really set the tone for a lot of the comedy show cases that we saw over this weekend There were two different improv troupes going on, and that made up a great deal of the sketch comedy happening, but also, later in the evening there was a group of stand-ups who came out to perform. This was really fun to see, with the subject matter tailored to fit the convention – sci-fi and fantasy genre jokes. Monster Bash is the only other show that immediately comes to mind that I know that has stand up as part of its routine. It’s a great late night filler and I had a lot of fun with it.
One of the highlights of Saturday for me was “Looking for Love in Alderaan Places”. It’s still improv, but with an outline. They know where they are going, and what the story is, but still keep in off the cuff. It has the feel and style of a classical farce – if it were written by George Lucas.
I managed to hit the “State of the Star Trek panel “with Larry Nemecek. Larry is an American Star Trek author, actor, editor, archivist, consultant, interviewer and producer. He has portrayed Dr. McCoy in the Star Trek Continues web series episodes “Pilgrim of Eternity” and “Lolani.” and has been around the franchise for a good long time – the buzz of course, is not so much Star Trek beyond, but the new Star Trek series that CBS all access is producing There is a certain degree of trepidation and pessimism that comes along with any of it, and he reminded us of that same kind of feeling back in the days of Star Trek : The Next Generation. You know what, I remember those days and I remember that negativity, but I don’t remember if that was me or not. I’d like to think that it wasn’t, I’m pretty sure I was excited just because there is new Star Trek been produced in my lifetime and that was unthinkable.
One of my favorite slides he showed was this bullseye from the writers room, basically all the possible responses you could expect from a pitch – and everyone was always aiming for the center.
There is something surreal about the fact that I attended this panel dressed as a Borg. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one in the room who found that funny, several pictures of the back of my head appeared online later on in the evening…
Litarary panels are fun, and really come from a different place than I’m used to. You get a diffrent kind of discussion, usually with far better referances and sources to back up opinions and ideas. “Growing up sci-fi” emphasised a lot of the isolation that you kind of felt as a sci-fi fan in the pre-Internet days. I’d kind of forgotten, and perhaps it wasn’t really true in my time, how sci-fi used to have a sort of “renegade “or “rebellious “reputation to it. I’m Pre-Internet as well, and I empathize with the writer who mentioned she didn’t know what it would’ve been like, how she would’ve handled it if she hadn’t had access to the online community when she was growing up as a sci-fi fan. It’s a fascinating perspective. I was blessed to have found friends in both school and Church who shared my passions and gave me an outlet for them. Equally fascinating was the writer who described reading the Star Trek novels long before they were ever able to see an episode of the TV series. This is fundamentally my story on how I experienced Captain Video and I totally get what you’re saying. I love seeing that idea overlayed on another series.
The comic book collecting panel, hosted by Ed Gosney, was little bit more familiar territory, though still very much more a discussion then a lecture. people talked about characters and earth that they loved. One of the Writers from the previous panel was there discussing how there are a number of comics in his collection where it was the art, the imagery itself rather than the story that captivated him. To the point where he eventually scanned those images into his computer, so he’d have the art without having to carry around the baggage of the books themselves. We talked about great finds, and the one that got away… One of the attendees told a story about a day out garaged saleing. He was with his mother but only had about three dollars to his name at the moment. In the back of this person’s garage he saw boxes, and boxes of comics. Longboxes full of rare stuff, seminal stories, important comics. The owner told him he could have the whole lot for $50. His mother of course, wasn’t loaning him the money no way no-how, so he grabbed a handfull of choice issues and ran out to the flea market. On the way there he called one of his buddies to let him know about the stash that was at this grudge sale – “if I don’t get out there, you need to “. He managed to raise the necessary $50 on those special issus he had snagged, and arrived back at the garage sale just in time to see his buddy loading that collection into his truck. Still from then on, every con that friend put on, he had his admission comped and a $15 credit at his booth.
“A borg is walking away with a signed copy of my book ‘Prometheus Stumbles’. There’s something you don’t see every day….”
I’m going on and on about the programming. I know. While I usually say that programming is the lifeblood of a con, it’s really true here. The vendors area is divided into three sections, an artist room, an authors alley and a proper dealers room. All three are about the size of my living room. Maybe a touch bigger. This is not Wizard World where you walk into a room the size of an airplane hanger packed full of vendors and scalper selling the latest things that Hot Topic has sold out of. The dealers here are artists and craftsmen, gamers and cosplayers.
You’ll find jewelry and puppets and dice and leather here. I saw custom fan neckties and mopey robots and strange flowers (I bought the girls wooden roses). It’s interesting stuff, more like the sort of thing you’d see at a Renaissance fair, not so much like what you may be used to seeing at a comic con. You can pretty much get through the dealers room in ten to fifteen minuets, so honestly, that better not be what you’re coming for.
There are a few more tables upstairs along the mezzanine. It’s a stunning view and a really cool space. It’s also out of the way and easy to neglect. The cosplayers are up there, and I made sure to get into a quick scuffle with Knightmage’s Darth Maul as we overlooked the balcony.
In addition to the cosplayers, there were a couple other concoction groups set up there as well as the Federation booth and the band.
Oh yes. The band.
Five Year Mission is the collaboration of five Star Trek fans who endeavor to write and record a song for each of the episodes of the original Star Trek series from the 1960s. One of my friends is certain the bass player is going to drop dead after each show and have to be replaced because of the red shirt. It’s a remarkably good band with clever songs and good hooks. The band switches up instruments after almost every song which makes for an interesting dynamic – we get to hear just about every sing at one point and the songs honestly do get stuck in your head.
Five Year Mission did two sets on Saturday, one full electric set as well as a smaller acoustic set – “storytellers” style, where they laid out the idea behind each song they played.
They weren’t the only musical act though. As I mentioned earlier, Pete Mako was here as well to do his set (which they scheduled during the costume contest! Come on! What’s up with that???). I caught his act at ZipCon and was really excited that he was going to be playing ConCoction. Pete was around all weekend helping out with bits here and there.
Cosplay is interesting at ConCotion. You don’t have the throngs of cosplayers swarming all around the joint like you do at an Anime convention, but a you have way more than the few dribs and drabs that filter into a Horror con. It’s a fascinating mix as well. There are a few superheros around, I saw a ninja Deadpool to die for. But there’s also fantasy, anime characters, steampunk folks, monsters and film characters.
There’s more puppets walking around than you’d expect.
It’s this fantastic variety that makes cosplay at ConCoction really something to see. There’s some innovation in a lot of these outfits I couldn;t have begun to imagine and I was always delighted to discover what new character was right around each corner.
They run the costume contest a little diffrently here. You sign up in the 10:00 hour, and are assigned a slot for pre-judging (mine was 1:45-2:00). You then sit down with the judges and talk out you costume. What it is, what it’s made of, how you did it, anything you really want to say. The masquerade is around 6. This is the stage show, MCed by Moxie Magnus, the chief cosmetologist on the USS Enterprise under Captain under James T Kirk, and the comedy (drag) queen of outer space. I had fun bantering with Moxie pointing out that my designation was 7 of 5 – none of the other Borg want to hang out with me and then sent me to ConCoction alone to assimilate the show.
“And you WILL be assimilated! Resistance is useless!”
“Oh, I’m not resisting…”
“You COULD resist a little you know….”
The winner of the contest was this beautifully made Kaylee from Firefly, and I love this. It shows just how well they understand it. This wasn’t the flashiest costume, it’s not the trendiest. But it’s the most impressive because of the massive amount of work here. This dress is handmade, she did it all and it’s perfect. I’ve seen commissioned ones before and this is dead-on, a masterpiece of stitching. A great, well-earned win.
It’s pretty well known that I’m not a Star Wars fanatic (casual fan at best) so Dak wasn’t a big deal for me, but I was really interested in meeting Santiago Cirilo.
Santiago has been on hit TV Shows and Films on TNT, Lifetime, Investigation Discovery, Oxygen, USA Network, Fox, and of course on AMC as Julio in Season 4 of The Walking Dead.He’s the first person from the Walking Dead in fact, that I’ve met or gotten an autograph on that poster of mine in person from.
Santiago is a native of Lorain, which is a neighboring suburb to my own Elyria. We discussed the Lorain Palace and growing up in the area. The thing on his resume that I was honestly the most fascinated by was how he had done episodes of America’s Most Wanted. You never think about where they get the actors for the reenactments on those shows and I was surprised at how straightforward it is, casting calls the agent and an audition. For some reason I always imagined those shows casting differently. I only caught the tail end of his panel, but Santiago was around for after parties as well, in his Superman leather jacket and shirts. You can see he’s a fan at heart and fits well into this show.
After 11, the barfleet party happens. Drinks and dancing and socializing. The dance floor there is a smaller more intimate setting that the No Strings Attached Ball that happens around 8 in one of the main programming rooms, but still pumping the music with lights in the air and drinks in hand.
Honestly, there’s far more going on at ConCoction than I can cover. There’s always a couple things happening at the same time and I didn’t even begin to hit them all. I barely spent any time in the game room. There were always things going especially for kids in one room. There were music acts that I just couldn’t catch. I’m already registered for next year and if you can stash away a few extra pennies it’s definitely worth checking out.
Yes I saw it. Saturday afternoon I headed out to Amherst cinemas and plunked down my $4.00 for the newest Star Wars movie (We’ll talk about that later). It seemed like something I should do sooner rather than later since spoilers were already starting to leak out and I was headed out to a Star Wars themed party at Carol and John’s later that night.
I had done a piece for thier art show that would be raffled off as the night went on. The Christmas party was great fun as always, with snacks and deals and friends. They brew a craft beer every year just to hand out at this event (I don’t even drink beer. I just want the bottle!)
The Star Wars Gingerbread was just to DIE for.
And of course they showed us that the one thing that can make a Christmas party better is Lightsabers.
Hope your weekend was just as eventful.