Category: Conventions

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!

Whew!  Last week I pulled back the curtain as we were in the throes of planning for ITHACON. It was the first year we’d be back live, after the pandemic restrictions, and there was a lot of anxiety in the air.

And as you might recall, ITHACON is a unique show: Bill Turner, the founder, is still very much involved, but I have the privilege of teaching an Ithaca College course about tradeshows and conventions, and as a part of that class, the students promote, plan, and manage ITHACON.  Having worked for Reed Elsevier, I set the bar really high too.

But you know what? It all worked out. The show was a huge success.

I’ll rely on the photos to tell the tale this week, but I still want to fire away with five random thoughts (If I was trying to impress you, I’d label them as “Five Insights”) about ITHACON 2022.

1. People like people – and they are excited to gather together. There were a lot of happy smiles all around and just about everyone: the attendees, the guests, the dealers/exhibitors, the cosplayers, the students (they did all the work), the volunteers, the Comic Book Club of Ithaca (and even the facilities staff) reported they had a great time.

2. ITHACON attracted the people who wanted to be there. Attendance was down from when we were last in person, but that was expected. And you know what? We didn’t want it too crowded anyways. This resulted in quick lines and opportunities for fans wander about and to discover new things.  The dealers were happy too; many of them told us tales about how ITHACON 45 was their best show in a while/ever!

Continue reading “With Further Ado #195: Whew! A live convention, and it was fantastic!”

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty

Planning for a comic convention in 2022 sure is weird!

As Covid drags on, everything seems to be affected as we all, as a society, struggle to shift back to normal. Or to redefine what normal means.  And when you add in the anxiety of world events, the in-your-face impact of inflation (rising gas prices) and a rainy spring season- there’s a lot more to planning an event than there used to be!

But this Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24th, we’ll be hosting ITHACON 45.  The nation’s second longest running comic convention, right after San Diego Comic-Con (CCI), will be back in-person and live. This show’s founder, Bill Turner is still VERY active in all aspects of the show, and I have the honor of teaching a class at Ithaca College’s School of Business where we teach students about conventions, trade shows and live events, and then provide them the “hand’s on” opportunity to help promote, manage, and run a real show – ITHACON. Continue reading “With Further Ado #193: Convention Planning in the Age of Uncertainty”

What Did You Miss Most About Not Having Comic Cons?

What Did You Miss Most About Not Having Comic Cons?

Now that we have a full slate of convention season set for 2022, we polled some of the creators who made it out to Fan Expo Philadelphia about how they are feeling. The question being asked of each participant was, “What did you find that you missed the most about being at conventions during the time that we didn’t have the opportunity to attend these events?”

The people that we spoke to were in general excited and happy to be at the show, and that includes creator guests, vendors, and paying customers. The answer to the poll question typically fell into one of two basic categories.

The Fans

Yeah. People. This community is built around comic shops and comic cons.

Mike Hawthorne

The first sentiment involved missing the fan interaction that they enjoy at shows. Missing the chance to talk to fans and checking out the cool costumes that people wear to cosplay at the shows were two themes that were part of those answers.

The feedback that fans give creators is a significant plus for the pros who are working the shows. Often the solitude of creating comic books on their own, takes an emotional toll, and interacting with consumers of their product puts the amount of creative time spent on their craft in perspective.

Chris Campana – Artist

I missed interactions with the people. I know that I wouldn’t be able to do this gig, full-time, without the relationships I made with the people at the show. That’s everything. They sustained me through the pandemic. They supported me even though they were struggling themselves. So, I missed most the give and take at the table, whether people buy something or not. That was the biggest thing. Just seeing everyone.

Kami Garcia – Writer

So, I think what I miss most is actually meeting the readers and the fans in person. It’s totally different. Even when you’re on either a virtual event or you’re interacting with people on Twitter and Instagram, it’s not the same. I love seeing like meeting the readers and hearing the stories about why they love the comics, or which book they got hooked on. Also, I like seeing my creator friends in person.

Stephanie Phillips – Writer

Continue reading “What Did You Miss Most About Not Having Comic Cons?”

Cosplay Recap from FAN EXPO Philadelphia!!

Cosplay Recap from FAN EXPO Philadelphia!!

Pop Culture Squad was in the house this past weekend at FAN EXPO Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.. It was the first show in the City of Brotherly Love since FAN EXPO HQ acquired the former Wizard World show in that town. The mood of the show was super upbeat, and there was quite a bit of excitement among the attendees.

As spring in the Northeast desperately tries to climb out of frigid clutches of this past winter, the people at the show were proudly flying their geek flags and putting on quite a varied assortment of cosplay. We caught up with a bunch of folks asked them to allow their picture to be taken. Here is the result of some of what we saw:

 

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Cosplayer and Photographer Harry Crosland

Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Cosplayer and Photographer Harry Crosland

A big part of the comic and entertainment convention scene is the presence of people cosplaying as their favorite characters. It adds an exotic and textural dimension to the shows. You can see a massive variety of costumes from store bought to incredibly intricate custom made versions.

We got a chance to chat recently with one of the most iconic cosplayers at the con circuit, especially at east coast shows. Harry Crosland is a imposing figure and his long dreadlocks are as unmistakable as his infectious smile. A Maryland native, he has been cosplaying at shows for over a decade along with his wife Gina. He also is professional photographer specializing crafting fantastic and inclusive artistic representations of people cosplaying.

This interview was fun and covers topics that are important to deal with regarding respect and acceptance at our favorite nerdy gatherings. Harry (or HC or Aitch Cee) is a fantastic ambassador for geekdom and if you ever run into him, you will be glad you did.

You can listen to the audio of the interview below. We also included some of the key interactions in the conversation transcribed below.

Pop Culture Squad: I wanted start off with you telling your origin story in cosplay. What, when and how did you start getting into cosplay?

Harry Crosland: Okay, so I’m going go way, way, way back to half past 2007-ish, I would say 2007, 2008. Gina [Harry’s wife and partner], I were just starting to date and Halloween was around the corner and she’s asking me, “Well, what are you gonna dress up in?” I was like, “What do you mean what I’m gonna dress up as? You know, grown people don’t do costumes like that.” Then, I thought about it for a little bit. I wanted to do something cool. Let me just kind of test the water. So, I decided to do a Matrix costume where she took Neo’s long coat from The Matrix, and she did a hell of a job on that coat, and believe it or not, I still have it. That was my first costume.

It wasn’t until about 2008 or so when I discovered Baltimore Comic-Con. I had just started getting back into comic books at that point. I had a friend of mine who literally was calling me every week kept saying, “Man, you need to understand what’s going on in Secret Invasion.” You know what, I thought, “Let me go see what this is all about. Where can I go to talk to other people about this?”

So, in August 2008, I’m at my very first comic con in Baltimore. Of course I’m not in costume. And that’s when I started meeting other folks, Fred Holt, being among them. And at that point, that’s when I started seeing, okay, there’s a place for cosplay for grown adults. And I said to myself, after going through Baltimore, seeing all these, you know, grown folks from all different walks of life, shapes, sizes, colors, whatever, have you? I said, you know what, I’m gonna Coplay next year.

Yeah. 13 years later. So much time has gone by. And then, I got Gina into it. I got my best friend when into it.

PCS: What was it that, that drew you into saying, “I need to make this cosplay a big part of my life”? You travel for it. You put a lot of thought, a lot of effort, I’m sure, a lot of money in it.

HC: I probably got really excited in cosplay because I saw not only what it can do for myself as far as like being able to enjoy going to some of the venues, but I like inspiring other people as well. Like seeing younger folk than I, who are nerdy, who are of different backgrounds, be it black, white, Asian, Latino, heavyset, skinny. I kind of used to be tall, awkward, and gawky, and it’s like, I want to be able to do this too. How can I do the things while it’s possible? You just put your mind to it. And, and that’s one of the biggest enjoyments I get out of this.

And I believe that if you go in it really just to have fun and to take a weekend and kind of blow some steam while also, you know, dressing up as your favorite characters, you can really, really get into it, enjoy it. And if you’re someone who does happen to find an avenue to be able to profit off of it, or, or establish yourself, or make a name of yourself by all means, do it. Just remember, you gotta put work into it. This isn’t something that you’re just going to say today. “I’m just gonna throw on the costume and the entire world was gonna recognize me and my works and that’s the end.”  No, no. You got to, you got to put blood, sweat and tears into this.

PCS: Can you talk about the cosplay community. As a regular attendee, but still an outsider to the community, it seems welcoming and supportive on the whole. Continue reading “Spotlight Squadcast Interview with Cosplayer and Photographer Harry Crosland”

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes

Tyler Jennes is a newly minted comics professional who’s on a career rocket ride. He’s currently working at Modern Fanatic, but there’s so much more to what he does. I was so impressed with everything he was doing and involved with at NYCC that I just had to catch up with him. I think you’ll enjoy what he has to say.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: What sort of comics and pop culture things did you like before you became part of the industry, and how deep into it were you?

Tyler Jennes: Well, I did go to Ithaca College as a film major, so I was definitely trying to watch as many movies as I possibly could. Besides that, I know I watched a hell of a lot of sitcoms when I was supposed to be doing work, so I can always talk shop about the Norman Lear and James L Brooks output! And I’d like to think I was pretty deep into the comic book scene before I was ever officially in the industry! I would go to NYCC annually and try to meet as many creators as I could (some of whom I now have the pleasure of working with!). But in terms of avidly following characters, there was a period of time where I’m pretty sure I had read every Deadpool title ever published. Now I try to keep myself caught up on all the hot new titles for work purposes!

Question 2:

EC: At Ithaca College, you were very involved with Ithacon (the nation’s second longest running comic con). Can you tell me a little bit about it?

TJ: Like you said, Ithacon has been around for a WHILE. I’m pretty sure it was even one of the first conventions that Frank Miller ever attended. It has a deep, rich history in the comic world, and what makes it even more special is that it’s now student-run! Of course, they still have the original organizers around to supervise things, but the convention is now hosted at the Ithaca College campus, and the student put together the whole thing, from handling guests to setting up events to running booths. I’d also like to add that you can find some amazing stuff at these booths. I vividly remember looking at used comic trades and coming across a Superman collection signed by Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Julie Schwartz, and John Byrne. The seller didn’t even realize what he had on his hands, so do you know how much I paid for that? Eight dollars.

Question 3:

EC: There’s a general consensus that many professionals have got to find their own way into the industry -there’s no set plan (unlike a classic profession like, say accounting). How did you get involved?

TJ: I was a junior poised to go off for a semester in LA and start the production assistant grind many film students go through when the pandemic kicked in. At the time, I was in the class for Ithacon, gearing up to put all our convention plans into motion. Obviously, the con wasn’t going to happen that year, so to make it up to us, our professor, the one and only Ed Catto, started having industry folks join the remote classes every week to talk about the biz. These were folks like Rob Salkowitz, Paul Levitz, and even Dan DiDio. But one of those guests was an IC alum, comic editor Will Dennis, who was involved with just about every title Vertigo put out. During the class I tried to make myself stand out by asking a bunch of inside baseball-type questions. He had also mentioned being overloaded with work recently and probably needing an assistant. So, I crossed my fingers and contacted him afterwards, and the rest is history. I started working on Scott [Snyder]’s stuff with Undiscovered Country, and after about a year, I fully hopped on the Best Jackett train and I’ve been running with those two guys ever since. Continue reading “With Further Ado #172: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Tyler Jennes”

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

With Further Ado #171: Come Fly With Me

I found this kooky little comic in a bargain bin at Ken Wheaton’s Empire Comic Fest last weekend. It’s a promotional comic for American Airlines, presumably given away to young kids to keep them busy during a plane ride.  This is the issue of Harvey’s AstroComics from 1975. Although sometimes they also spell it as Astro Comics.

I found it absolutely charming.

Despite the fact, that when you really think about it, one of the main characters is a dead child. I am not sure what Casper’s official origin story was at this point, or if he even had one.  But isn’t it kind of creepy to encourage a young kid (maybe it’s their first time on airplane) to read a story about a deceased little boy?

This promotional comic includes a team-up story with Richie Rich and Casper. I didn’t realize they shared adventures, but apparently they often did. In fact, Harvey published  a comic called Richie Rich & Casper that ran for 45 issues in the 70s. Kind of like Harvey’s very own version of World’s Finest Comics, I guess.

Of note: the team-up story is from Richie Rich & Casper #20, and most of the stories included are reprinted from past Harvey comics.

But Astro Comics #1 was designed to keep kids even busier with several innocuously fun American Airlines pages (i.e., corporate propaganda).  Things like a connect-the-dots activity page, a “Story of your Flight Attendant” text page, another text piece called “All about your Flight Crew” and an American Astro Comic Flight Quiz.  This quiz has questions like “Whose football team does Joe Namath play for?”*

The back cover might just be a milestone. I think it’s the very first Back Sketch Cover! Could it be? I do need to do a little more research before I wake up Overstreet’s J.C. Vaughn at 2:00 am with this amazing “find”.

But can you imagine if every kid on a plane got a free comic to read during their flight? Oh sure, they might rather play with their phone, but wow – what an introduction to comics that would be.

Hot Stuff

One more thing: I love this Hot Stuff cover!  One of my fellow faculty members, at Ithaca College’s School of Business has great memories of reading Hot Stuff comics. He’s not a “comics guy”, per se, but he got a few issues for his young son. I make it point to rescue any issues of Hot Stuff I find in bargain boxes at comic shops (like the excellent Heroes Your Mom Threw Out in Elmira or Wonderland Comics in Rochester) and pass it along to my co-worker. I recently grabbed a couple of issues with that in mind, but I love this cover so much I had to find a spot for it in my collection!


*The answer to this question ties into one of the American Airlines destinations, but you have to unscramble the answer.   It is listed as “weN rYko”.

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

Eighty Years of Hawkman Panel at Baltimore Comic-Con

On October 23, 2021 at Baltimore Comic-Con we held a panel discussion about the history of Hawkman in comics. Guests in attendance were Mike Gold, Jack C. Harris, Jerry Ordway, and Robert Venditti.

We talked about important creators involved in the character’s history and his popularity and publication challenges. Robert Venditti talked about his most recent Hawkman series. Jerry Ordway gave some great insights into the character from an artist’s perception. Mike Gold and Jack Harris shared some inside details on how comics get made. It was a super informative conversation.

We hope you enjoy the panel and let us know what you think.

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?

Errant words of wisdom from your humble correspondent.

Wasteland Forever!

Those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace are well-familiar with the Heather Ross’s documentary about our little Wasteland comic book, For Madmen Only – The Stories of Del Close. This magnificent puppy features Del and (to name but a few) Kim Howard Johnson, Adam McKay, Tim Meadows, Susan Messing, Alan Meyerson, Bob Odenkirk, John Ostrander, Patton Oswalt, Jason Sudekis, Dave Thomas, James Urbaniak, Michaela Watkins, George Wendt, and your aforementioned humble correspondent. Indeed, I’m in it a lot – as myself, and I’m played by Matt Walsh in the flashback scenes. I can appreciate any consternation regarding my appearances, but Matt is fantastic and I want to be just like him if I grow up.

It’s been streaming for several weeks on several services, and now you lucky devils can buy your own copy on DVD/Blu-Ray so that you can continue to appreciate the film when that horrible day comes when For Madmen Only is no longer streaming. Seriously.

I’m very proud of being involved in this, and I’m very proud of you for buying it.

More Than Just Sports and Poe

The Hawkman panel at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021: Bob Harrison, Jerry Ordway, Robert Venditti, Jack C. Harris & Mike Gold.

Speaking of those of you who are regular denizens of this etherspace – get a life, folks – you may recall that my favorite of the larger long-form comic book conventions is the Baltimore Comic-Con, not just because it’s well-run, great fun, and features a lot of my friends, but because it is one of the very few larger long-form comic book conventions that actually is about “comic books.” Go know, right?

Well, after skipping last year’s show due to the plague and those virulent death-seekers who refuse to take precautions, the 2021 Baltimore Comic-Con resumed last weekend and it was typically terrific. Our pal and Pop Culture Squad comrade Bob Harrison hosted a bunch of panels, Gene Ha copped the Hero Initiative’s Humanitarian of the Year award, cosplay was more varied, and the living was easy.

But something happened to me on my way into the show on Sunday. A couple very nice people accosted me and stuck a needle in my arm. Yup, I got my official Fuck Covid booster shot – with my permission, although those without a vax card couldn’t get in in the first place. That is the best thing that ever happened to me at a comic book show, at least with my clothes on, and I thank promoter Marc Nathan and his crew and the Maryland Department of Benevolent Jabbing for making me a less infectious person. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Deep Waste. Nein?”

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad at Baltimore Comic-Con 2021

Pop Culture Squad will be returning to Baltimore this weekend for “America’s Greatest Comic Convention”. Baltimore Comic-Con will be held at the Baltimore Convention Center from Friday 10/22 – Sunday 10/24. Mike Gold and I will be there catching up with old friends and hopefully making some new ones. You can find Mike at booth 3606 with our friends at Insight Studios.

For those who are planning to attend the show, please note that vaccination or proof of a negative Covid-19 test are required for entry and masks are also required to be worn. You can see the health and safety requirements here.

We hope to see a bunch of you all there. We will be updating the site and our socials as much as we can over the weekend and beyond; so, stay tuned.

Programming Notes:

I will  be hosting discussion panels all three days of the convention and will be dragging Mr. Gold along for a couple of them. The details are as follows:

FIRST COMICS REUNION

Friday October 22, 2021 starting 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm | Room: 322
Come see the forces behind the groundbreaking independent publisher that changed the comics landscape as they recount how it began and what its legacy is. Hear the history from the ones who made it happen. Guests: Mike Gold, Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, and Joe Staton. Hosted by Bob Harrison.

80 YEARS OF HAWKMAN

Saturday October 23, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 326
Join Robert Venditti, Jerry Ordway, and Mike Gold, with host Bob Harrison for a retrospective with the ageless hero. They will be discussing the character with perspective from creators who brought their own unique experience to the legendary winged warrior.

CREATING COMICS FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Sunday October 24, 2021 starting 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm | Room: 322
Stop in as we explore what goes into creating comics for teens and young adults in today’s world. With guests creating in multiple genres and formats, we will discuss how these creators curate their comics for their intended audiences.  Guests: Kami Garcia, Gene Ha, and Thom Zahler, with host Bob Harrison. Sponsored by The Hero Initiative.