Tag: Comic Convention

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?””

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 #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.

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!

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol

Welcome back to another spotlight interview. In this session, we talked with comic writer Frank Gogol.

Frank Gogol is a comic writer who if following up the hit series Dead End Kids with his latest creator-owned story, No Heroine. He is an alumnus of the Comic Experience program and also produced the Ringo Award nominated anthology Grief. All three of those books are published by Source Point Press.

No Heroine is a three issue mini-series on which he is working with Chris Madd on art, with colors by Shawna Madd and letters by Sean Rinehart.

We spoke to Frank in May, and below, is the result of that conversation.

You can find the audio recording of our discussion below, and we transcribed a big portion of it for you as well.

We hope you enjoy the conversation.

Download

Pop Culture Squad: Frank! Welcome back to Pop Culture Squad.

Frank Gogol: Good to see you again or to hear you again, I suppose.

PCS: Sure. So, let’s start out with this. We are on the verge of a new “Frank Gogol” story. What do you want people to know about No Heroine, in terms of the story?

FG: That is a big question. I’ve been talking about this book for, what is it the middle of May, for about six months now, and I still don’t really know how to say everything succinctly. I guess, this is my love letter to Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. I grew up on Buffy. I started watching Buffy, the Vampire Slayer way too young. I was eight when it premiered in 1997, and I’ve been watching it pretty religiously ever since.

So, I was a little too young for it, but I watched it and knew sort of immediately, instinctively, it was something different, something special. I always loved the storytelling, and it has definitely informed my storytelling. Joss [Whedon] is a dark guy. He writes these stories, and he really sticks the knife in and twists it. I think that’s the stories I try to tell. It’s definitely the case in No Heroine. It doesn’t pull a lot of punches, it’s a dark book about a young woman dealing with drug recovery, and there are vampires too, I guess. But that isn’t really the point.

PCS: I think that is a good starting point. This book is clearly not the slice-of-life or reality-based books that I have read of yours. How did you find having the shackles of human-only characters being removed? As you said, it’s not necessarily a vampire book. There are vampires in it, but there ARE vampires in it?

FG: When I starting writing four years ago last month, and I remember about that time right before and right after. I was sort of setting down some sort of principles or pillars for myself as a writer, like the kind of stories I want to tell and the things that I would not do and things I would do. One of the things I said I would do, and I think I stuck to this pretty well, was to tell character forward stories and have a genre and action take a back seat in favor of really good character work. Weather its good or not, it’s definitely taken a front seat. Definitely in Dead End Kids and definitely in Grief.

In this book, I wanted to do the same thing. So, the vampires are not an afterthought in the story but an afterthought in the creation of the story. I wanted to tell a story that gave a fair and honest, sort of “gray space”, look at the recovery part of addiction. We have a lot of pop culture that deals with addiction. We see this sort of phase of people’s lives where they are using drugs, and we see the rehabilitation phase quite a bit, but we don’t usually see the part that comes next, which is, for the people who find success in rehab, the recovery phases. Continue reading “Squadcast Spotlight Interview with No Heroine writer Frank Gogol”

How The Comic Community Is Coping with Mass Event Cancellations

A national disaster has been declared due to the global pandemic of the COVID-19 coronavirus. We are being told to employ social distancing and further the work of the isolationist tendencies that our nerd culture has employed for decades.

The reality is that there is a very serious illness that is spreading through humanity and it is fatally dangerous to a large segment of our community. Unfortunately, the solution that have been implemented includes the cancelling of numerous chances for our normally isolationist community to get together.

I was listening to a special video version of John Siuntres’s Word Balloon podcast with Ed Catto. They were lamenting the understandable cancellation of Ithacon45, and noted that “Con Season” is a great way to get together with friends and colleagues. This is absolutely true.

The economic cost of this coronavirus pandemic cancelling mass gatherings is felt throughout various industries including air travel, hospitality, food service, and more. An often ignored real cost for the cancellation or postponement of events like Emerald City Comic-Con, SXSW, Planet Comicon, Wonder Con, and others is the loss of revenue for artists and creators who depend on those shows for a significant portion of their income.

In the spirit of coming together in crisis, we would like to highlight both the effects of these cancellations and offer ways to help those who are affected. Continue reading “How The Comic Community Is Coping with Mass Event Cancellations”

Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!

Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!

What the new year brings to you will depend on a great deal on what you bring to the new year !

 

Welcome to 2020!

In the past year, the news has often been filled with confounding rhetoric, and there have been some truly terrible events, but we need to resolve to focus on the positive, while committing to make things better. We can be the agents of change that we need in this world.

What an amazing year that 2019 was around here!!! As Pop Culture Squad celebrates the completion of its first full calendar year of existence, we have a lot of great accomplishments to look back on.

Here are a few highlights: Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #011: Goodbye 2019 – Welcome 2020!!”

Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!

Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!

The weekend of October 18 – 20, 2019 was the twentieth anniversary celebration of Baltimore Comic-Con. It is consistently one of our favorite conventions of the year. That is a sentiment that is shared by visitors, invited guests, and exhibitors alike.

A consistent refrain you will hear is that it is a “comic book convention that is about comics”. The vendors and guests are heavily weighted toward the comics side of fandom. The show is sponsored by Cards, Comics and Collectibles in Reisterstown, Maryland, and there is a very family-like atmosphere to the event. It is not easy to pull off an event of this magnitude as an independent convention. Marc and Shelly Nathan, the showrunners, put their heart and soul into this weekend, as do all the people who work on planning, logistics, and making sure everyone has a blast.

This is the sixth time that I have attended this convention, and it never disappoints.

Location

The convention was held at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. It is located across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. There is a light rail station across from the Convention Center, and there is also a ton of parking garages in easy walking distance to the event.  The convention partners with Parking Panda to provide easy access to pre-paid parking from its website.

The convention floor was an easy escalator ride down from the main entrance, and the programming panel rooms were one flight up. Continue reading “Pop Culture Squad was at Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 and it was a BLAST!”

Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 – Cosplay Pics

Baltimore Comic-Con 2019 – Cosplay Pics

We are back from the fantastic Baltimore Comic-Con. As we walked the aisles and convention areas for three days in Charm City, we were treated to wonderful display of cosplay. There was a vast array of characters from every genre and medium that showed up at the event.  We collected a small spattering of the cosplayers we saw and are bringing them to you here.

The cosplay game at Baltimore is serious business. There are a bunch of meet-ups and you can see photo shoots going on all around the convention center. However, even the most basic costume is welcome and appreciated. It is a truly accepting convention. There is a very comprehensive Weapons Policy for the con and it is posted on its website in an easily located place.

As a special treat, we got a shot of the über-talented Afua Richardson in her Okoye cosplay.

If you are following us on Instagram or Facebook, you will find some bonus cosplay pics there.

 

 

Photography by Shari Harrison.

This is just our first post from the Con. Stay tuned for more…..

2019 Annual Ringo Awards Ceremony LiveBlog

2019 Annual Ringo Awards Ceremony LiveBlog

 

The Mike Wieringo Comic Book Industry Awards is an annual celebration of the creativity, skill and fun of comics. The nomination ballot is determined by fans and pros alike.

The third annual awards return as part of the fan- and pro-favorite convention, The Baltimore Comic-Con.

Top honors will be announced at an awards ceremony Saturday, October 19, 2019 as part of the Baltimore Comic-Con.

Follow along below as we are there to bring you the awards news as it happens.

Continue reading “2019 Annual Ringo Awards Ceremony LiveBlog”