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Posts tagged “Strongsville Hobby

Free Comic Book Day 2017

events2017_FCBD_FB-Cover_V1-1You 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 18402964_649873665198682_2553440782179058411_nin 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 18342455_705584919620720_2698076922419637133_nchaos… 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 18301219_649871135198935_8055056634602885906_n“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, -a3af30e395853c0cothers 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 18222475_1532025523508532_1675920869806819027_nPlain 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!)

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18403430_1532026856841732_4146307777708853836_nThe 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.

18199445_1361142930590212_1502246818448713279_n18274998_1361409613896877_4205894747851591342_nAcross 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 18342245_1532906586753759_3173245102449219018_nfriends 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!)

Comics are Go

Carol and John’s Comic Shop

Strongsville Hobby and Comics and More

Amherst Cinema

Plain Dealer’s article on FCBD (You’ll find me featured about halfway down)

 


#NotAtWizardWorld

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17352413_1474211939289891_8718537480887085594_nIt’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 17353163_1474229762621442_311342055049572592_nsome 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

lsThis 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

Address: 5188 Detroit Rd, Elyria, OH 44035
Phone: (440) 721-7090

I first discovered comics are go when it was still Astound comics and located in WestLake… Amy and I were on our anniversary 17155169_800010850150039_5050886484140271697_nand 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!

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17264232_1474317272612691_201022645829405140_nRecess Games

Address: Shoppes At North Olmsted, 26636 Brookpark Road EXT, North Olmsted, OH 44070
Phone:(440) 779-7008

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.

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 Carol and John’s

Address: Kamm’s Plaza, 17462 Lorain Ave, Cleveland, OH 44111
Phone:(216) 252-0606

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 17352213_1474358835941868_9092924533313134940_nto 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…

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17264211_1474382269272858_8875846695265170878_nB and L Cards, comics and nostalga

Address: 5591 Ridge Rd, Parma, OH 44129
Phone:(440) 886-3077

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 UntitledThe 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.

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17264279_1474408639270221_3459765648454010540_nNorthcoast Nostalgia

Address: 5853 Ridge Rd, Cleveland, OH 44129
Phone: (440) 845-7040

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!

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17361686_1474424765935275_8958888680712181607_nMy 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.

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Ground Zero Comics

Address: 15139 Pearl Rd, Strongsville, OH 44136

Phone: (440) 572-9599
Full disclosure, Ground Zero is just too far out of my way for me to ever make it out here… That’s probably why I haven’t set foot in the store since it moved into its new digs, and even before then it was a rare stop for me. Then again, they are a regular over at cinema wasteland, so you’re not complete strangers. I’m actually really happy to see the joint bustling with activity, there is a heavy game influence in the store even though I still see plenty in the way of comics here.

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 Round 1.1_zpsza7cdoqgthe 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.

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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!

Strongsville Hobby

Address: 831 Chestnut Commons Dr, Elyria, OH 44035
Phone: (440) 366-0665

17352323_1474489959262089_6065053804511585270_n copyI 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.

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