Category: Conventions

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”

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Continued After the Next Page #017: Looking Back At The Good In 2020

Well, we made it to the end of 2020. I am sure that it didn’t turn out like any of us expected. There have been plenty of low lights, and there are too many people who have been irrevocably harmed by the local and global tragedies that happened this year. That is awful.

However, someone told me something recently that stuck with me. Despite the horrible dumpster fire that 2020 has brought, your mental health can benefit from the activity of looking at the good things that happened in this past year. So, that is what this final post of 2020 will be about.

The SquadCast

This year I finally got off my tush and started presenting the interviews that I do with comic book professionals in a podcast format. In the past, I had merely transcribed the interview, but I found that there was more interesting content in the discussions that people would enjoy that didn’t quite fit in a text post.

So, I went to Buzzsprout and created a hosting site for the Pop Culture SquadCast: Interview Edition. I learned enough of Audacity to edit the interviews and splice some sound together, and here we are.

I need to say thanks to our artistic genius Marc Allan Fishman for the logo and episode art. Also Space In Time is the band that we use for the intro and closing music. You can check there music out at Bandcamp.

And of course, thanks to the pros who to took the time to talk to me about their work.

The Books

While all of you Pop Culture Squad Members know about our digital presence here on the site and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, there is now physical printed evidence that Pop Culture Squad exists. On the back covers of two trade paperback collections, I have blurb quotes for reviews.

I cannot tell you how awesome it is to see my name on a comic book. I could not even have ever imagined that five years ago.

Both of these books are special to me. Hyperbreed from Louise Simonson and Guy Dorian is a fun YA space story from Storm King Comics. Did you notice that? My name is on a book written by THE Louise Simonson!!!!

I have been following the Love and Capes stories that Thomas Zahler creates for years, and when he told me last year that he would be coming back to that universe, I was stoked. He totally made it work, and I am grateful for his putting my review blurb on the back of the book in some seriously impressive company.

The Comics Industry Adapts and Supports Itself

This year has hit the comics industry hard. Publishers and retailers had to deal with a nearly two month shutdown of new comics distribution. But through it all, people worked hard to support each other and save the industry that relies a lot on in-person contact.

So many great new comics were made and you can check out our list of the years best here.

Fundraisers and charity auctions popped up all over the place. We detailed some of those as they occurred.

Give Comics Hope is one of the charities that we highlighted through the year and will continue to do so.

There were plenty of Kickstarter campaigns launched to find different ways to publish and create comic book content. You better believe that we covered them.

Conventions Happened… Sort of

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit America hard in March, comic conventions were scrapped as we all needed to isolate to stop the spread of the dangerously contagious disease. But plenty of talented people scrambled to turn the experience of seeing pop culture personalities and comic creators in virtual cons.

Some were better than others, and none truly replaced the experience of strolling down artists alley and chatting with creators and friends. However, they were good enough to be a decent placeholder for the time that we will be able to be vaccinated and able to go out and see each other in person.

Geek Culture TV

There was a massive amount of quality television programming that was produced and broadcast this year. There are more outlets, streaming and otherwise that are now committed to delivering high quality shows. Here is a list of some of our favorites in no particular order:

  • SCHITT’S CREEK: SEASON 6 – AMC
  • WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS: SEASON 2 – FFX
  • HARLEY QUINN: SEASON 2 – HBOMax
  • THE BOYS: SEASON 2 – Amazon Prime Video
  • THE MANDALORIAN: SEASON 2 – Disney+
  • LOVECRAFT COUNTRY: SEASON 1 – HBOMax
  • THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY: SEASON 2 – Netflix
  • STARGIRL: SEASON 1 – CW
  • I AM NOT OKAY WITH THIS: SEASON 1 – Neflix
  • STAR TREK: PICARD: SEASON 1 – CBS All Access
  • KILLING EVE: SEASON 3 – BBC
  • PERRY MASON: SEASON 1 – HBOMax

And don’t forget there were some other shows like Tiger King (Netflix) and The Vow (HBO) that left us captivated, or horrified, or both.

Based on the announcements from Disney, Warner Bros, and others, it looks like this trend of high quality serialized episodic programming with continue.

Pop Culture Squad Thrived

Even before the pandemic shut down a lot of the world, we worried that this would be a slow year for PCS. However, we persevered and continued to bring you content as best you can.

If you are not a regular reader of Mike Gold‘s two columns here, you are missing witty and entertaining stories and opinion.

Ed Catto’s regular With Further Ado column finds new ways to look at comics, books, film and other cool stuff.

While we have bigger dreams for what is to come, it was a pretty good year for Pop Culture Squad and we are excited for making them happen in the next year.

Thanks for being here, and READ MORE COMICS!

Give Comics Hope Is Still Going Strong

Give Comics Hope Is Still Going Strong

As we head further into the weirdest Thanksgiving week in memory a lot of people are trying for some way to fill their time while frantically scrolling through an unending deluge of Black Friday ads, we are here to point out some great options from Give Comics Hope.

GIVE COMICS HOPE is an charitable initiative that is rallying together our comics community to help local comic book shops. Our own Ed Catto has been involved from the beginning and wrote about it here. There are plenty of eBay auctions going on for some excellent classic comics. The proceeds will go to support local comic shops in coordination with the Book Industry Charitable Donation (BINC). Continue reading “Give Comics Hope Is Still Going Strong”

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta

Bill Turner is guy who’s been impressing me for over 40 years. I first met him when I was a kid attending the early ITHACON Comic Conventions.  As a college student, my school was located in town so I joined the Comic Club of Ithaca and helped out a bit on a few legendary ITHACON conventions. And now, teaching at Ithaca College, it’s a privilege and an honor to work with him again (along with Professor Katharine Kittredge, Carmela Merlo and many other impressive folks) on ITHACON.

And with that, I have a real treat this week.  I’m turning over the reins of With Further Ado to Bill Turner, as he’s the guest columnist this week with a fascinating tale of comics and fandom – from 1977.  Take it away, Bill!

Frazetta 1977

Sept. 10-11, 1977
Penn Stroud Hilton Inn, Stroudsburg PA

by Bill Turner
©2020 William R. Turner III – all rights reserved

Advertised guests of honor: Ellie Frazetta, Harvey Kurtzman

Other scheduled guests: Michael Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Charles Vess, Steve Hickman, Ken Kelley, Ian and Betty Ballantine

Surprise guests: Will Eisner, Burne Hogarth, Jerry Robinson

In September of 1977, I decided to attend the Frazetta 1977 exhibit in Stroudsburg, PA that was being organized by Charlie Roberts and Chuck Miller. I had met them both at the Lancaster Comic Art Convention that they held in 1975 and 1976, and I had bought an item or two of artwork from Charlie and the first of the Underwood-Miller books from Chuck, so I was on their mailing list. We had just bought a house, so I was quite busy and planned to go down only for Saturday; it was a bit over three hours each way, a day trip. I invited Tim Gray and Aaron Pichel to join me, and they accepted. We are three of the founding members of the Comic Book Club of Ithaca and had run two ITHACON conventions by that time, so of course we could talk about comics all day, any day. I was 25, Tim 24, and Aaron 15 years old. Continue reading “With Further Ado #120: Bill Turner and Frazetta”

With Further Ado #115: The Sprawling MetaVerse of a Virtual Comic Con & the Simple Joy of an Old Comic Story

With Further Ado #115: The Sprawling MetaVerse of a Virtual Comic Con & the Simple Joy of an Old Comic Story

The best part about conventions, for me, is that they that they transcend commerce and blow past marketing to blossom into big parties where you spend time with old friends and make new ones (who all share the same pop culture interests).

Days gone by…

New York Comic Con was held virtually this past weekend. I was surprised how nostalgic so much of fandom and the industry was for “the good old days”.  And I was surprised how much I missed it.  Make no mistake, I had so much fun there for so many years, but I didn’t expect to be sappy about it. I thought the ache of my feet and the crush of the crowds was still fresh in my mind, but as time floats by we tend to forget all the crummy aspects of things and just remember all the cool parts.

Hats off to Reed Expo’s Mike Armstrong, Lance Fensterman, Larry Settembrini, Mark Fitch and their merry band who pulled this all together. This 2020 NYCC virtual convention, also branded as Find the Metaverse,  had some very interesting parts.  The exhibition floor was, by and large, a pretty straightforward conversion to an online version. Certain companies, like BlueFin, created incredible virtual booths where attendees could roam freely…and discover treasures. Continue reading “With Further Ado #115: The Sprawling MetaVerse of a Virtual Comic Con & the Simple Joy of an Old Comic Story”

Comic News Roundup: Comics News for the week of 10/5/2020 -10/9/2020

Comic News Roundup: Comics News for the week of 10/5/2020 -10/9/2020

Welcome to our new feature Comic News Roundup. We are giving you a run down of the news from comic book publishers and other pop culture news that was released throughout this week. We have news from NYCC/Metaverse, Archie Comics, Boom! Studios, Scout Comics, Valiant Entertainment, and Amazon Prime.

 


Archie Comics

South Side Serpents:

Archie Comics announced a new one-shot comic that comes out in January 2021. It is set in the world of Riverdale and stars Jughead Jones and the South Side Serpents biker gang.

From the press release:

“I’ve known David and Richard a long time and have wanted to work with both of them,” said Archie Comics Co-President Alex Segura. “David’s a pro — a journalist who’s written some great comics. Richard has a clean, memorable line and is an editor’s dream. So, when we knew we wanted to spotlight the South Side Serpents corner of the Riverdale universe, it made sense to pair them together. The end result is a dark, compelling, and unique take on some of fans’ favorite characters — plus plenty of surprises.”

Here is the cover and solicit:

RIVERDALE PRESENTS: SOUTH SIDE SERPENTS ONE-SHOT
FP Jones is worried for the future of the South Side Serpents. The biker gang is getting old and finding it hard to attract fresh blood. But FP has a plan, and it revolves around his son, Jughead. Hunted by the most fearsome biker gangs in the state, an unwilling Jughead has to step up into the role of leader to guide the Serpents on a perilous journey. There will be adventure, there will be thrills, there will be chases, and there will be death in this special one-shot event featuring fan-favorite characters from the CW Riverdale series.

Script: David Barnett
Art: Richard Ortiz, Matt Herms, Jack Morelli
Cover: Richard Ortiz
Variant Cover: Tyler Boss
On Sale Date: 1/27
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.


New York Comic Con / Metaverse

This weekend is ReedPop‘s virtual New York Comic Con. As will all comic conventions this year NYCC is not an in person event. Metaverse is hosting the virtual experience that consists of live programming panels, artist alley “booth”. vendor kiosks, and lots of other cool stuff. There is content from the world of comics, anime, film/tv, as well as paid experiences and lots of exclusives. You can find all the fun stuff at https://www.findthemetaverse.com/.

A highlight is the 2020 Harvey Awards Ceremony tonight at 7:50PM EDT.
https://www.findthemetaverse.com/videos/_MW18JGRHko

There was some news that was released regarding a new project by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore which is sponsored by the Travelers Insurance company. Simone broke the news of this heartwarming project that supports the campaign to reduce distracted driving on Twitter yesterday. Here is the thread to Gail’s storytime, but be warned you may need a tissue, or a box of them.


Boom! Studios

Power Rangers:

Boom! Studios has announce a few new comics this week. They include a new graphic novel in the Hasbro licenced Power Rangers universe called Power Rangers: Sins of the Future.

From the press release:

“BOOM! Studios, under license by Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ: HAS), today revealed a brand new look at the original graphic novel POWER RANGERS: SINS OF THE FUTURE, written by Matthew Erman (Bonding), with story by Trey Moore (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), illustrated by Giuseppe Cafaro (Saban’s Power Rangers: Soul of The Dragon), and lettered by Ed Dukeshire. This all-new graphic novel, available on October 28, 2020, features two of the most popular Rangers of all time and what happens to them after the events of the hit Power Rangers: Time Force television series!”

Continue reading “Comic News Roundup: Comics News for the week of 10/5/2020 -10/9/2020”

With Further Ado #114: Give Comics Hope Promotes Modern American Optimism

With Further Ado #114: Give Comics Hope Promotes Modern American Optimism

The Thrill ISN’T Gone

The weirdness – and tyranny –  of COVID-19  wasn’t supposed to last this long. I will admit I thought It would all be over by this fall.

I miss in-person comic cons. The lack of conventions is a drag. I always enjoy pawing through long boxes and looking lost treasures. I love seeing the cool vintage collectibles and new toys. But what I really miss are the people. I miss the buzz of the fans. Their unique, positive excitement is, I would argue, unique to Geek Culture. It’s different from fans going to a concert or a big sports game. Although each of those types of events have their own enthusiastic fans, it’s an entirely different flavor than what you would find at comic conventions.

Maybe people are nicer to one another? Maybe they are more excited? Maybe it’s that shared joy that comes from finally finding your own tribe?  I’m not sure, but whatever it is, I miss it.

I miss the old normal of comic shops too.  In my neck of the woods (The Finger Lakes Region of New York State) they are all open again. Finally. But there’s still a stilted caution that is a part of every visit. Everyone’s a little more cautious. Everyone lingers a little less. Everyone finds some excuse to cut short their visits.

Publisher’s schedules are getting backing to normal. I’m hearing positive news, anecdotally, that some publishers are actually doing pretty good right now. That’s encouraging news.

On the other hand, so many comic shops are still struggling. They’ve had to pivot, to adapt and to get ready for the new reality, and it hasn’t been fun.

Give Comics Hope is a new initiative that’s looking to make a difference.  Their premise is straightforward:

Give Comics Hope is an ambitious charitable initiative that calls on all members of our community to rally together to provide vital aid to comic book shops. Continue reading “With Further Ado #114: Give Comics Hope Promotes Modern American Optimism”

With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres

With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres

Right now, the Democrats are working hard to create on online convention that resonates with true believers and motivates anyone still on the fence. And it’s gotta feel like an effort that’s worth it all.

American business, and specifically Geek Culture is doing the same thing. A few weeks back, San Diego Comic-Con. (officially entitled Comic-Con international) pulled together a virtual comic convention. Seem like a lot of folks participated at various levels. From a personal level I was pleasantly surprised; my typical on-location panels can fill a room of 350 fans but this year, online, they drew 5,000+ viewers!

Looking ahead to the weekend, FanDome will celebrate DC Comics, despite the depressing anguish fans felt from the recent corporate “bloodbath”.

And this past weekend, two online comic conventions debuted:

  • Reed Expo’s Metaverse – The pop culture division of Reed Elsevier (full disclosure; I worked there and frequently collaborate with them) created this online event which many thought, at first, to be a dress rehearsal for the virtual New York Comic Con in October.
  • Mainframe Comic Con – This live event virtual comic con from YouTubers Chuck Lindsey from Chuckload of Comics and Chad Ramsden of Comic Corps looked like a lot of fun. I really enjoyed a few panels. And it was all made better by the fact that this con’s Big Ideas is to support that worthwhile charity, The Hero Initiative.

Continue reading “With Further Ado #108: Virtually a Comic Con : Catching-Up with John Siuntres”