Category: Conventions

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?”

So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?”

On labor day weekend of 2021… Unshaven Comics (yeah, my studio still exists) got in the ole’ minivan of power and headed from our quaint Chicago suburbs all the way down to Hotlanta for the back-in-the-venues-for-real Dragon Con. The show was our first outing as a studio since Dragon Con of 2019. Why? It rhymes with schmovid blinetine.

The show gave me all the feels, and it behooves me now to reflect. And I’m not here to sugar coat said thoughts and feelings. Because there’s no need for spin anymore. I’m 39. I’ve been making comic books and associated bric-a-brac now for 15 years. For those doing the math? That’s more than a third of my life. I’m done faking it till I make it… and so is Unshaven Comics.

For my lil’ studio, the show was already not going to be as successful as we might have wanted it to be. Because one third of the company was still at home. That’s right… our secret weapon, Kyle “Salesman 5000” Gnepper opted to stay back and away from the potential throngs of con-goers. For his safety, and that of his wife and children… he made the choice to let me and Matt “Penciler, Inker, Coffee Drinker” Wright do our thang as a gruesome twosome. Let’s be clear: Matt and I were 100% cool with the choice. And irony be damned? Kyle’s kiddos had a bit of cold to fight during the weekend anyways. As dads ourselves, we knew that Mr. Gnepper was best served doing his fatherly duty. The fort, we figured, was held down. Continue reading “So Long and Thanks for the Fish, Man #077: “Dragon Conned?””

Unshaven Comics to debut new PokeMashups at DragonCon 2021!

Unshaven Comics is well known for a few things. Strong pitching, stronger beards, and the strongest chain of mashups on the independent comic book scene! Be it their pivotal powerhouse The Samurnauts — Samurai-Astronauts led by an immortal kung-fu monkey defending humanity from zombie-cyborg pirates in space — or resident “middle smiley” Marc Alan Fishman’s crafting of his PokeMashups series.

With that said, and the Unshaven Lads carefully traversing to Atlanta for next week’s DragonCon, Marc knew he needed to grace the fans he’s missed in person for a year with something new. It also helps to note Marc should stop writing about himself in the third person.

So, this year, enjoy the exclusive until otherwise noted debuting trio of new PokeMashups joining the fray with 52 (!!) other available mashups cards available at the Unshaven Comics table!

DragonCon 2021 (Unshaven Comics’ table): September 3rd — 6th at AmericasMart, 4th floor, table B37!

NOW ENJOY THIS SNEAK PREVIEW! (After the jump) Continue reading “Unshaven Comics to debut new PokeMashups at DragonCon 2021!”

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein

The latest comic from Mark Evanier and Sergio Aragones, Groo Meets Tarzan, is brilliant.  Tom Yeates is also along for the ride, and if you, like me, are ravenous for more of his artwork beyond the weekly Prince Valiant Sunday strip, his contributions to this one won’t disappoint you.  The first issue kicks off with a double page spread showcasing the main floor of San Diego Comic-Con and it had me laughing out loud and missing it all -both at the same time.

To be sure, San Diego Comic-Con, or Comic-Con International, has grown to become a sprawling, wonderous event. It will be fantastic when things ‘get back to normal’ for this annual celebration.  So… while we’re waiting for that, maybe now is the perfect time to learn a little about the origins of this event?

The new podcast Comic-Con Begins, is informative, illuminating and just plain fun.  I had the pleasure of catching up with Mathew Klickstein to get the lowdown on it all.

Question 1:

Ed Catto: Why do you think there is such an interest in comic cons and specifically in the history of comic cons?

Mathew Klickstein: One of the many reasons we thought a history of “the” Comic-Con would be something worth investing massive amounts of blood-sweat-n-tears into is that there really hadn’t been a history like this put together before, at least not in such an extensive, extremely deep-dive investigative/exploratory way. Certainly not involving the entire force of folks who made it all happen back in the day.

There’ve been some great books – mostly academic/scholarly or personal memoir – about cons and fandom over the years, along with a handful of well-crafted documentaries and the like. But we just hadn’t seen too much in the way of such a long-form history, which again, was a principal motivator for us to plunge into the project with such breakneck insane passion, and certainly a major factor in why we wanted to do all we could to get it done “right.”

We wanted to fill in that lacuna, the gap in our shared cultural history. We aspired throughout the process to achieve that with Comic-Con Begins.

As for interest in the conventions themselves? I’m hoping too that that interest has been, if anything, bolstered by this past year+ of the lack of their happening in-person (or, in many cases, at all).

That this last year+, I hope and believe, has reminded people why a true in-person, “I’m there with the rest of the fans all together in a finite space” singular experience of being at a con is something we truly need as fans, as geeks, as “misfits” or whatnot who connect with members of their “tribe” through certain pop culture and creative/artistic entities and that going to conventions to see old friends and enjoy these experiences together, in person, is not simply a luxury. It’s something we desperately require as a social species. (Fan or otherwise!)

Question 2:

EC: And even though it’s not the biggest comic convention, many would argue that San Diego Comic-Con is still the most important. Do you think that’s true? Why or why not? Continue reading “With Further Ado #158: Comic-Con Begins: Five-and-a-Half Questions with Mathew Klickstein”

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic

Well, Convention season has returned. Following a year and a half of postponements, cancellations, and online approximations, there are actual in-person comic and entertainment conventions popping up all along the calendar. Vendors, creators, entertainers, and fans are attempting to return to a semblance of normalcy.  This past weekend, we went to the middle of the woods in Connecticut to attend TerrifiCon, and it was a welcome experience.

Mitch Hallock had a diverse and robust lineup of comic pros, toy and comic vendors, celebrities, and a nice artist’s alley. This was my second time at TerrifiCon, and like before, this show is in a single large hall. It was well set up to maximize the aisles widths and people flow. Overall the physical layout of the show was well done.

I do find it interesting how the lines and locations of certain “high-traffic” guest get modified between Friday and Saturday. This is not a knock on this show; it happens everywhere. Inevitably, there is some guest that draws a more than expected number of fans, and they need to be moved to an area that can handle the traffic. Often there are unexpected last-minute cancellations that help provide the space to let everyone enjoy the show with the least amount of congestion.

Is It Safe To Go Back To Cons?

Alright, let’s get to the big questions. How was the Covid-19 protection at the show? Were people wearing masks and social distancing? Is that possible at comic con? I have to say that I was impressed. There was a large segment of the fan base that were wearing facemasks. If I had to guess, I would say about half of the attendees. Keep in mind, there was no mask state requirement, and Connecticut is a state with high vaccination rates and low current infection rates. The show did request that all unvaccinated attendees to wear face coverings. Along with those positives in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, there was a sense of responsibility among the guests and patrons. Continue reading “TerrifiCon 2021 Was Fantastic”

Cosplay Pics from Terrificon 2021

Cosplay Pics from Terrificon 2021

Hey there. Guess what? Comic conventions are making their way back, and we were at one this past weekend. As we decompress from our first three-day con in eighteen months, we wanted to share some of the great cosplay that we saw roaming the aisles at Terrificon!!

There was some amazing effort put into costumes and one of the best parts was that there were lots of families getting involved together. With all the pop culture properties that have been released during the lack of conventions, there were plenty of ideas to turn into reality.

While there were some tried and true staples of cosplay that we saw, there were a bunch of adventurous choices in cosplay. In terms of newer cosplay choices, we did see Red Guardian or two, but we are really looking for someone to nail the Alligator Loki cosplay.

We will be delivering our full report on the con tomorrow, (Spoilers… It was terrific!) but in the meantime enjoy these great pictures of some folks getting their geek on!!!

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

With Further Ado #155: Back to Normal? Conventions and Movies Are a Go.

Slowly, ever so cautiously, things are getting back to normal.  This was a big weekend for movies as Marvel’s Black Widow debuted in both theaters and on the Disney+ Streaming app.  Variety reported that this movie generated $80 million in the theaters domestically (far beyond any other post-pandemic release) and another $60 million via Disney Plus Premier Access, where you had to fork over another $30 bucks.

That worked well for my brothers and their families, who are vacationing together and created a fun shared experience.

I have no idea what that bodes for in-theater movies vs. seeing them on streamers.  I will say it was a bit odd to see an ad for an Amazon series (Tomorrow War)  before the Black Widow theatrical movie that my wife and I attended.

But all in all, it felt really good to be in a theater again. Even the annoying people in the theater weren’t really annoying – it was so pleasant to be enjoying a movie in a social setting again.

“It was good to be back in a theater, in the dark, with a crowd. It didn’t matter what the movie was,” said Steve Rotterdam of AfterShock Comics and Bonfire Agency. It seems likes that was the overall reaction to seeing movies in the theater.

Professor Larry Maslon of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University made it back into the theater too:

So, in the summertime, our family decamps to a small town on the North Fork of Long Island that has only one movie theater.  Until the summer of 2020, of course, we saw all our summer movies there, and that means opening day of all the MCU movies.  Last week, I took my 13-year-old Miles and his pal to see the opening of Black Widow. Unlike our MCU excursions in New York City, where there are hundreds of fanboys in the debut audience, this weekend I was the only fanboy in a small audience of, say, 25 (and Miles, but only sort of because he’s more grown-up than I).  When the requisite MCU fan-service Easter egg joke appeared halfway through Black Widow (no spoilers–figure it out yourselves, it’s a heck of a reference), I shrieked with laughter. 

After the movie, Miles was furious with me:  “Dad, you always do that at a Marvel movie–you’re the only one laughing at these in-jokes.  It’s so embarrassing.” 

“Yes,” I replied, “But you only noticed because we just started going back to the movies.”

Back to the CONS?

It was a busy weekend for me, as I also attended my first live comic con in forever too. Ken Wheaton, a comics pro who’s never lost his excitement for collecting, launched Rochester’s newest comic convention, The Empire Comic Fest.  Upstate New York has a rich history of wonderful cons, and there was definitely an impatience to get things going again.

Emil Novak of Buffalo is holding a convention there next Sunday, and long-time “Convention Maestro” Teddy Hanes has several conventions on the calendar too.

It was refreshing to be back at a convention.  This one was focused on back issues, with dealers selling high value books.  A strong retailer from Buffalo, Dave and Adams, also exhibited, and it was encouraging to see and hear their enthusiasm.

I found a few treasures there – two Big Little Books (I’ve been looking for that Space Ghost one for years and years) and on issue of DC’s Korak, Son of Tarzan. I do believe this issue is a bit of a landmark and I’m eager to write about it next week.

As you can see from the photos, a good time was had by all. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be at a local comic convention?

 


 

 

 

With Further Ado #142: ITHACON 2021

With Further Ado #142: ITHACON 2021

When I was a little kid, my family spotted a flyer on the bulletin board at a Fay’s Drug Store for ITHACON – a comic con that was going to be held in nearby Ithaca, NY.  I could barely contain myself as it sounded like a glorious event.  My family had been to Ithaca many times, as my dad was a Cornell University alumnus, and we’d often go back for homecoming.

I probably should have won some award that year for “kid who nagged their parents the most”, but somehow it worked.  And it was a glorious day! So many comics! So many collectibles! So many professional comic creators! And a building full of fans – just like me – who loved this stuff.

Fast forward to today – this amazing comic convention is still going on. And it is the 2nd longest running convention in the nation, right after The San Diego Comic-Con, also known as Comic-Con International.

And by a strange twist of fate, I teach at Ithaca College’s School of Business – and one of the classes I teach focuses on tradeshows and conventions. In fact, the students have a hands-on opportunity to plan and manage an actual convention – ITHACON.

These students work with the “senior management team” of ITHACON  – longtime enthusiasts and volunteers – through a unique partnership with Ithaca College.

Bill Turner is the visionary guy who started it all, and he’s still working hard on ITHACON- –  forty-six years later! “For my part, I find it hugely gratifying that what we began just as a celebration of something we personally loved has been embraced by new generations and the broader society  – not only the convention itself, but the comics,” said Bill.  “In the 1970s we were a source of amusement; press coverage leaned toward “Can you believe that a grown man reads comics?” Now our geeky fan activities have become mainstream. I’m especially pleased to see that the creators who we wanted to meet and honor are finally receiving the recognition they deserve, even if they were not allowed to retain the rights to, and reap the financial rewards from, their work. And an educational institution like Ithaca College adopting ITHACON into its programs is something wonderful that I had never foreseen.”

“Ithacon is a family tradition,” said Becca, who is also part of the management team. “We enjoy sharing our love of costumes, science fiction, art, and games every year.”

And we’ve brought in some amazing professionals to get the students up to speed. Just last week, in fact, Word Balloon Podcast’s John Siuntres held a workshop to help hone the students’ moderation and interviewing skills.

The students are energized and ready go!

“I’ve been to a few different virtual events during Covid but I’m excited for Ithacon because I got to be a part of how this virtual event came to be,” said Maddie Jacobs, a senior at Ithaca College.

Tess Kneebone, also a senior at Ithaca College, shared some thoughts too. “Ithacon 45 is allowing me to put my Live Event minor into action while adapting to real world circumstances like the pandemic,” said Tess. “This experience has changed my close-minded perspective on virtual events and has allowed me to see the endless possibilities virtual events can offer. As graduation is just around the corner, I can confidently say that I am ready for anything the world throws at me.”

Stan Lee

Like so many other conventions, ITHACON will be virtual this year. It’s coming up fast – Saturday April 24th and there’s so many cool events planned on platforms like ZOOM and Discord.  Admission is free.  (So is parking!) You can see the full schedule here , but let me also call out:

The Lost Stan Lee Tapes: It turns out that in 1975, Stan Lee came to speak at Ithaca college. We have the “long-lost” recording of his talk, and we’ll be analyzing this with noted Stan Lee author Danny Fingeroth.

Ross Richie

ITHACON hosts Ross Richie: The charismatic CEO & Co-Founder of BOOM! Studios, Ross Richie, was a guest lecturer in class recently.  The students really enjoyed to speaking with In fact, they couldn’t get enough of him, so they’ve invited back for a panel Saturday at noon (9 am PST).

We’ll be spotlighting two of our favorite publishers, AfterShock Comics and AHOY Comics!

There will be plenty of bargains, collectibles and crafts available at this year’s special ITHACON Virtual Dealers’ Room featuring both retailers and entrepreneurial artisans.

Gaming: While these panels and experiences are expected to be the highlight of the online convention, there will be a number of gaming rooms via Discord with different games ranging from social deduction games like Among Us to party games like The Jackbox Party Pack.

WandaVision captured the attention of everyone, and ITHACON is celebrating with two panels- one is a deep dive into the WandaVision series and the other is a creator spotlight with comics writer Roger Stern – the creator of Monica (Captain Marvel) Rambeau, the breakout character from this Disney+ series.

And there’s so much more, including Cosplay, an LGTBQ panel, Crafting for Kids and an illustration workshop featuring one of my favorite artists, Steve Ellis.

Fans are encouraged to visit the ITHACON website, Ithacon.org , for additional details and information about the event. And don’t be shy about following their socials: Instagram (@ithaconny), Twitter (@ithaconNY), and Facebook Group (Ithacon).

I hope you can join in the fun and I’ll “see you” there.

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Join Host Bob Harrison for a Creator Owned Comic Panel Now

Our own Bob Harrison will be hosting a virtual panel from the Gem City Comic Con virtual event on Sunday 3/21/2021 at 2:15. Guests include comic creators: Thom Zahler, Christy Blanch, Paul Storrie, Tony Fleecs, and Emily Whitten.

The panel is being broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube.

You can find the Facebook page for the Con here:

https://www.facebook.com/GCCCON

The YouTube broadcast is below:

 

With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler

With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler

One of the many nice things about attending conventions was seeing familiar faces. For fans and industry professionals alike, it’s a great way to catch up with, and be inspired by, the many creative entrepreneurs of Geek Culture.

One guy that was always working hard, and doing it with his natural, movie-star smile, was Thom Zahler. Since I can’t walk up to his cool booth at San Diego Comic-Con this summer, I just had to catch up with him ..via this column!


Ed Catto: How have you been managing during the pandemic?

Thom Zahler: I’m not gonna lie. It’s been rough and interesting and everything in between.

When the lockdown first happened, I was kind of designed to be fine through the summer. I was working on season two of Cupid’s Arrows for WEBTOON and that wasn’t affected by anything. I converted the last convention-exclusive issues of Love and Capes: The Family Way into a shop-exclusive version that I was able to put out when Diamond shut down. And, when it comes to how I work at home, quarantine isn’t a lot different than normal times. I couldn’t go to the gym anymore, and everything had an extra layer of complexity, but it wasn’t a big change. I was fortunate to be close enough to my parents that I could take care of them, do their shopping, things like that. And I live in a small town where you could still go out and take walks and not run into anyone.

Losing conventions certainly hurt, as much from the emotional hit as anything else. Conventions kind of recharge me. I can see the people who read my comics and that helps fuel me to make more. The loss of the revenue stream wasn’t great. But it was manageable.

Then the summer rolled on and nothing changed, and it got a lot tighter. I’m glad I bore down and prepared for the worst, squirreling money away and preparing for the long game. It still wasn’t awesome, but it was better than the alternative. Continue reading “With Further Ado #137: Catching Up with Thom Zahler”