The ComicConn, renamed TerrifiCon, was held August 15-17 down in Uncasville CT, at Mohegan Sun Casino. The organizers of this event, Big Fedora Marketing, have made a usually fun event into an amazing weekend getaway.
Upon first arriving, I ran into Neal Adams (Artist on nearly any Silver Age DC Comic, Green Arrow’s Goatee) who introduced me to another iconic artist. “Cory, you know Graham right?” Ummm, yes, as a Batman fan I knew Graham Nolan (not personally), maybe you’ve heard of one of the characters he created, Bane? Neal had apparently been spending the last day trying to convey why artists and writers should charge for autographs instead of being free. I’m not sure about all the event guests, but most the artists are there for free and are paid on commissions and other sales they bring. The question ” How much would you pay for *Comic guest name’s* autograph?” There were a pair of answers me and another press member had. It comes down to a few quantifying qualities; is the autograph for display, is it for personal collection or is it to add value for resale.
Graham saw that us Con goers would pay pretty much what ever is priced out. The higher the price, the more selective we are for how many and what comics are signed. It was really surreal to meet and talk to two iconic names in comics with a trusted point of view as a member of press. (Side note: Graham Nolan (Artist for Knightfall, Bade of the Demon, Detective Comics) did give into Adams and put up a sign for 5$ autograph, however he remember me (he remember me!) and signed my Knightfall collected volume for free. Great guy). Neal Adams was charging 30$ for signatures, which had me putting back an old Aquaman issue with a Deadman mini story at the end, back in my backpack. Though the price was kinda high, I was having him sign a Savage Sword of Conan and the first John Stewart Green Lantern issue, two amazing display issues for me so it was worth it. And of course he remembered the issues and commented on how great of issues they were.
Walking to the back of the Con and working my way to the front, I found Mick Zeck (Kraven’s Last Hunt, Punisher, Secret Wars) who was charging a low and fair price. But again, it was enough where I had him sign only one item. He seemed very excited to talk about his major contribution that people know him for, Black Suit Spiderman featured in the original Secret Wars (come on Marvel, enough with the multiple versions and redux).
Just around the corner from him was Steve McNiven, (Artist for Civil War, Death of Wolverine, and Marvel Knights). He was very happy to see old issues he worked on and signed everything I had (and I’m sure the dozens of comics the guy behind me had in a box) for free.
One of my favorite meet, greets and signatures was Bob Camp. He’s as funny as his work is (writer, artist and designer for animated series such as ThunderCats, Silverhawks, and TigerSharks. Tiny toons, Ghost busters & Ren and Stimpy). I grew up watching Ren & Stimpy, and it gave me the sense of humor I have today. Talking to Bob was a real treat. He could recall every episode and every special detail about the episodes. He had a large stack of Ren & Stimpy comics for those of us without anything to sign. He also had premade art he drew prior to the con and was working on some hilarious images for commission work. My take away from Bob and his wife, everything is groovy (he finished nearly every statement with “Groovy”). Bob lamented how they used to get letters from parents all the time about how their son or daughter would reenact or quote the cartoon series to the parents’ shock.
One of the artists at the convention that wasn’t as big of a name as Adamas of Simonson, was Tim Seeley (writer/artist for Revival, Transformers vs G.I Joe, Legend of Drizzt Neverwinter Tales, and Grayson.) I got to talk to him as I watched him work on…you guessed it, commission art. Tim expressed his pride in Revival as its location was inspired by his hometown. I asked him about how his time drawing for D&D’s Drizzt graphic novels was. Tim explained to me how smart R.A. Salvatore was and how it was really fun to work on such a detailed and fan obsessed franchise. Doing most his work as a freelance artist, he doesn’t think he has a particular genre he illustrates for, but if your a fan of his work you will notice he’s an artist for many espionage like comics.
One of the problems with trying to see an artist/writer that are high profile guest such as Walt Simonson (writer/artist Thor, Conan, Sword and Sorcery, World of Warcraft) is that their lines are usually long. But the devoted stick it out. It turns out that the length of Walts line was long for a different reason. He wasn’t just signing books, he wasn’t even doing commission work. Instead he was doing a small 5 minute sketch for just about everyone! The fans in line had all sorts of different comics Walt has been involved with from Sword & Sorcery, Conan and of course Beta Ray Bill. Walt was there with his wife and they were really fun to stand and listen to as they interacted with us fans. Walt told us we can follow his activity and events from his Facebook page, he loves all of us fans, but he’s still not accepting our friend requests.
One of the best interviews I had at the con was with Scott Koblish (artist for Death of Deadpool, Deadpool Art if War, Moon Knight). He was a genuine funny guy who has a great smile and attitude towards the masses of Deadpool cosplayers. I asked him what the weirdest Deadpool cosplayer was that he’s run into, his reply was “Well, aren’t all Deadpool fans some level of weird?” Deadpool is so popular now and the amount of Deadpools at a convention can be overwhelming. Scott acknowledges that Deadpool is one of the reasons he is recognized for his illustrations, but more and more fans are knowing him for his X-Men ’92 work. Like me and others born in the 80s, the 90s cartoon scene drove us to who we are. And the Xmen series on Fox is a major reason I fell in love with comics. I told him a story about how my brother and I used to crawl into our dad’s bed on Saturday mornings and watch the X-Men. This cherished memory and many like it are relations he loves to hear about from the fans.
I’m a huge fan of non-mainstream, independently produced comics. And Comic Cons are the best place to discover such comics. When a creative team is excited and enthusiastic enough to buy a booth for a convention and work the long day to pitch the comic to gain interest, that is a group of creative people I want to talk with. I picked up nearly a dozen comics of this variation that weekend and will be spotlighting each as I review them, but keep an eye out for independent comic; Prat (a British infused pub brawl), Dead Man Party (a hitman thriller), Baby (baby monster accidentally destroys cities), Monster Haiku (Halloweeney Monster tell Haiku in a comic strip), Malice & Mistletoe (Bloodshed and Christmas), Doctor Atlantis (High Seas adventure where you might fall off the map!), Dodger (old west with mechs and mayhem) and a special review for Copra (came highly recommended by Jamie Jones).
To my surprise, one of these indie titles (Malice & Mistletoe) had a DC comic artist attached to the book. Jack Purcell (artist for Gotham City Sirens, Nightwing, Batgirl, and Emerald Warriors) and his writing partner Nathan Davis had a short sample of their comic. Jack was happy enough to sign one of my Green Lantern Emerald Warrior issues, but he was just as excited if not more to talk about his indie product. Jack Purcell & Nathan Davis had a panel on their kickstarter and how to run a successful kickstarter yourself.
With all the comic book guests, don’t forget that this Con had celebrity actors and voice actors too. I got to meet, talk to and hug Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman for so many various incarnations. Just standing there in line and out of line to talk to him was like coming face to face with Bruce Wayne. Another great voice that I got to meet was Larry Kenney who voiced Lion-O, Count Chocula and BlueGrass to name a few. He’s another guy who doesn’t need to change his voice much to hear the iconic 80s cartoons come to life. He said my name and I swear, I saw a Thundercats symbol in the sky and I was battle ready to fight Mumm-Ra the Everliving.
With all the great celebrities, actors, comic book writers and artists that took up much of the convention floor, what took place out in the lobby was just as special. Thousands of cosplayers filled the space for the perfect photo op. These artists ranged from those who spent an abundant amount of time and money on their costume (There was a 10 foot tall Bumblebee Autobot) to those who just throw it together and showed up (there was a guy with a green trash bag over himself and card board GB on his chest). There were a few with a thoughtful twist (Battle Armor Disney’s Belle), and it was really fun to people watch and interact (Casey Jones cosplayer had a bat that said Jose Canseco…either you get it or you don’t). There was a Tardis that had a line of people to check the interior dimensions, as well as a group photo of all the Doctors and Companions in attendance. There was the cockpit for the Millennium Falcon created by Hanger 18 Props (http://www.hangar18props.com/) where up to two people could enter it and pose for pictures. There was the Batmobile and Cycle from the ’66 classic, where Cosplayers of the old and new gathered for their group ensemble. And there were even some vendors out here, Jennifer Rose, who had neck ties, bow ties, dew rags and vest from comic book cloth. I personally got a Classic Star Trek neck tie and lucky I was since the material for it is out of print now. Jennifer also does Cosplay and she is a damn professional at it if I say so myself check her out at facebook.com/JenniferRoseNY or her wares at etsy.com/shop/ControversialPeach
Away from the convention floor, and the lobby photo shoot, there were rooms full of panels (Launching Kickstarters, History of DC Animation & Death of Superman), the CT Jedi were there accepting applicants to their ranks and even a waiting area with Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark set pieces.
Young and old, obsessed with comics or draged along by their significant others, this Convention had it all. T-shirts mocking famous Star Wars lines “Its an elaborate ruse” to the over popular Game of Thrones sigils were being sold left and right. Funko Pop is still all the rage while booths selling vintage toys is a nostalgic trip everyone should take. Whether you’re haggling over a CGC graded comic or just a well maintained issue, even the comic salesmen can’t help but comment on the massive amount of cosplayers who have nailed Marvels M.O. When it comes to variations of Spider-Man, “White Spidey, Black Spidey, Iron Man Spidey, Kaiju Fighting Spidey, a Spidey who’s a girl, what’s next? A spidey who was a dude but is now a girl?” If you’re hesitant to go to a convention, I hope this Terrificon experience can sway you. Once the event in the convention center ended, me and my con going brethren took to the casino floors, special poker games and after parties to continue the fun. Just remember, “No face paint beyond this point!”