Baltimore Comic-Con Report!

Who watches the Watchmen? A few hundred people at least, all of whom were in line ahead of me at last month’s Baltimore Comic-Con (Sept. 5-7) for Dave Gibbons’s autograph.

Gibbons is, of course, the artist behind Watchmen, the 12-issue miniseries published by DC in the mid-80s. The accolades heaped on Watchmen are as legendary as the series itself. It was the only graphic novel to appear on Time‘s 2005 “100 Greatest Novels” list, and it appeared again in 2009 on the magazine’s “Top 10 Graphic Novels” list. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked Watchmen thirteenth on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years, calling it “the greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives.”

I have loved Watchmen since it came out, and when I saw that Gibbons, who lives in the UK, would be in Baltimore, I booked my flight immediately. By “flight,” I mean I got up at 5:00am and drove the six hours from Raleigh, NC, passing through Washington just miles from the White House and getting stuck in horrendous construction-related traffic that even President Obama is, apparently, powerless to prevent. Other great artists and writers were there, including Steve Leialoha, Walter and Louise Simonson, Greg Capullo, David Finch, and Al Milgrom, who does few conventions these days. Denny O’Neil left early due to a family emergency, and the wait for George Perez was four hours (!), according to one woman who endured it.

But Gibbons was, for me, the star of the show. I waited about an hour in his line, and when I got to the table, I found him to be gracious, funny, and down-to-earth. He was impressed by my Graphitti edition Watchmen hardcover (the first graphic novel version of the series) and my Marvel Comics Doctor Who #1 (for the wife, a consecrated Whovian). But he oohed and ahhed—actually, we all did—over something another guy had: the 1994 computer game Beneath a Steel Sky, still in the box. Gibbons did the background art for this game, and he said he had never signed a copy before. Get it on eBay, young man!

The Baltimore Comic-Con has long been a two-day affair. This was its first year spanning a third day, and everyone I talked to thought it a success. Vendors especially were pumped-up because their rate stayed roughly the same despite the extra day. They also praised the convention staff for being responsive and professional. Sales were good, too: one dealer sold an Action Comics #252 (first appearance of Supergirl) for $900.

Dr. Chilton, the captor/tormentor of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, says that Baltimore “can be quite a fun town, if you have the right guide.” The only guide I needed was the folks at this year’s Comic-Con. As you are planning your convention schedule for next year, mark down September 25-27 in Baltimore. It won’t be a baaa-d decision.

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They don’t look like minions, but I’ll take their word for it.

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Deadpool doing what Deadpool does.

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Hello, Walter Simonson!

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Hello, Louise Simonson!

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Don’t blink. Or wink. Or think about blinking or winking. Especially when drinking.

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The line to see Dave Gibbons.

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And, finally, Dave Gibbons, holding my newly-signed Watchmen hardcover (which, if it were shirt, I would never wash again).

Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2014 Report! (Including an Interview with Lou Ferrigno)

It is a truth universally acknowledged . . . No. Let me rephrase. Waiting sucks.

I was in line at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. Shoulders smarting, back stiff as a statute, legs wobbly like a wooden easel, I was waiting for Josh Peck, a guest at this year’s (August 21-24) Chicago Wizard World Con. Josh is best known for starring opposite Drake Bell in the Nicklodeon show Drake & Josh. My daughter loved that show, and I was standing in line for her.

Josh finally arrived, and a great cheer went up–until he realized neither he nor his handler had any photos for him to sign. So we waited another 20 minutes. Chatted him up (his take on appearing in the remake of Red Dawn: “Awesome.”). Someone asked if he would yell “Megan!”, his signature line from Drake & Josh; he politely declined. Oh, and I got a selfie.

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(OK, it wasn’t a selfie; I asked someone to take the pic. Shows you how superannuated I am.)

Josh was friendly but ill-at-ease. You could tell he was a convention novice, as opposed to, say, Lou Ferrigno. A regular at Wizard World cons, Lou is best known for his role as the Hulk in the 1978 CBS television series. I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes.

Me: How did you get started doing conventions?

Lou: I was out with a friend of mine one time, and I went to a place in Hollywood where they had a convention. I walked around, and they kept telling me I ought to do a convention because the fans really want my autograph. I’m so used to giving autographs, and I thought, why not have a table? That’s how it started. It’s a good living.

Me: How long have you been doing conventions?

Lou: About 15 years.

Me: What are some crazy fan stories you can share?

Lou: I had a woman one time who came to me about a year ago, and she had a Hulk tattoo on her leg, and she had my signature tattooed on her leg. She had both legs done, and she wanted to take a picture, and her husband is standing there looking like, every morning I have to get up and look at my wife’s legs with your signature and the Hulk’s picture.

Me: I guess we saw where her loyalties lie. How did you get into character to play the Hulk?

Lou: It came naturally to me. I use pantomiming, acting without speaking, and they just loved it. I used the sensitive part of me to become the character.

Me: You have talked a lot about an actual actor playing the Hulk versus CGI. You’ve said people have told you they preferred your version.

Lou: Over 90% of the people have said that.

Me: Why do you think that is?

Lou: CGI cannot compete with a human Hulk. There is no sensitivity. The Hulk, the character I created, with his vulnerability and sensitivity—it can never be replaced.

Me: When I was growing up, my mother didn’t let me watch the Hulk because she said he was “vulgar.” Did you ever get negative comments from people who didn’t like the character?

Lou: The only negative was a lot of mothers hated me because their sons ripped their shirts and walked around the house that way.

hulk

Another headliner was Stan Lee, whose first autograph session was scheduled for 5:00pm on Friday. I had paid online for an autograph ($80!), and though the ticket was good all weekend, I thought going the first day would help me eschew half-day lines. At 4:00, I strolled to his booth, saw about 20 people standing there, and got in line. Wonderful! I thought. Then: this doesn’t seem right. Next, I noticed three things in the span of 10 seconds:

  1. The Stan Lee VIP badges around the necks of the people in front of me;
  2. To my left, a separate line of proletariat-looking people, where I clearly belonged; and
  3. A con staffer walking toward me.

Once I was moved to the correct line, I waited about an hour, which isn’t bad. At one point, someone said Stan Lee was somewhere in the exhibit hall posing for pictures FREE. I found him, took this picture, and noticed something strange. Do you see it too?

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Five points to Gryffindor if you recognize that this person isn’t Stan Lee. I don’t know whether he was a cosplayer, a doppleganger, or something else, but I later got a candid (read: surreptitious) pic of the real deal.

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Stan was terrific, charming and humble, and his line managers took a bend-but-don’t-break approach that I appreciated. In fact, all the crowds were well managed. One helpful feature was a signing schedule at every celebrity’s booth, like this one at Josh Peck’s.

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Despite being the biggest event in the Wizard World portfolio, Chicago was a delight. I did a lot of waiting, but that is unavoidable, and I passed the time gawking at some world-class cosplayers. The rooms were laid out well, prices were clearly advertised, most things happened on time, and I saw little tension among staff or attendees. CGC was doing comic book grading on site, and that also went well, probably because Stan Lee had his own booth.

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If you go to only one Wizard World con ever, make it Chicago. You’ll have a ball. Here are a few more pics to show you why.

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No, this isn’t security removing an unruly attendee; it’s just a cadre of cosplayers.

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The long and short of it.

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Doin’ the Cybertron shuffle.

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Looking forward to the Ant Man movie in 2015.

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Even the queen had a good time hanging with a few (dis)loyal subjects.

Rafer Roberts, Gail Simone, and Matt Wilson Come to Baltimore Comic-Con 2014

September 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Comic Books, Convention News, Maryland

Rafer X-O

Press Release:

Rafer Roberts, Gail Simone, and Matt Wilson Come to the Baltimore Comic-Con!

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – August 27, 2014 – In its 14th year, the Baltimore Comic-Con returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor Friday, September 5th through Sunday, September 7th at the Baltimore Convention Center! You thought we couldn’t squeeze a few more guests into our already-packed room? Think again! We’re welcoming Rafer Roberts, Gail Simone, and Matthew Wilson too!

Rafer Roberts first made a name for himself with his self-published, underground title Plastic Farm, published since 2001. More recently, he has found increasing mainstream exposure, with stories in the Dark Horse anthology, the Harvey-nominated Once Upon a Time Machine, the New York Times best-selling FUBAR anthology from FUBAR Press, and back-up stories in Valiant’s X-O Manowar, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and a future issue of Unity. More of his work will see print in IDW’s Imaginary Drugs and Locust Moon’s Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream anthologies.

Gail Simone is a critically acclaimed, fan-favorite writer of comic books and animation. She has written classic runs on such titles as Batgirl, Birds of Prey, Deadpool, Secret Six, and Action Comics. Her creator-owned graphic novel, Leaving Megalopolis, created with co-creator and artist Jim Calafiore, was the highest funded straight comics project in Kickstarter history. She has written animation for Wonder Woman, Tomb Raider, Brave and the Bold, and Justice League United, and is currently working on the comics Tomb Raider, Red Sonja, and several creator-owned projects. In addition to appearing at the Dynamite Entertainment booth over the weekend, Simone will serve as Keynote Speaker at this year’s Harvey Awards on Saturday, September 6th.

Matthew Wilson is an art school graduate with a degree in Sequential Art. His color palettes have graced the pages of numerous books from multiple publishers, including DC Comics Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, and Batman ’66, Marvel Comics’ Secret Avengers, Uncanny X-Force, Moon Knight, and Young Avengers, Dark Horse’s Terminator Salvation: The Final Battle, The Guild: Fawkes, and Deep Gravity, Image’s The Wicked + The Divine, Suburban Glamour, and Phonogram: The Singles Club, BOOM! Studios’ Snarked, Pale Horse, and The Rinse, and many, many others.

“We’d already announced Gail with the Harveys, but not specifically as a guest,” said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “And now, to add Rafer and Matt to the list, we’re really bringing an amazing set of talent to the fans this year!”

The Baltimore Comic-Con will be held Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is located immediately across the street from the historic Camden Yards sports complex (which includes Oriole Park and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum). Tickets, a full guest roster, and additional information is available on the convention’s website.

Mark Your Calendars
The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in 2015 for another three-day spectacular! Block off Friday, September 25 through Sunday, September 27, 2015 on your calendars now!

This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Eddy Barrows (Earth 2); Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Darrenn Canton (Tunnels & Trolls); Greg Capullo (Batman); Richard Case (Sandman); John Cassaday (Doc Savage); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men:  Battle of the Atom); Amy Chu (Girls Night Out); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Jeremy Dale (Skyward); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Rachel Deering (In the Dark); Todd Dezago (Tellos); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); Ray Fawkes (Constantine); Tom Feister (G.I. Joe); David Finch (Forever Evil); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (All-Star Western); Gerhard (Cerebus the Aardvark); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Keith Giffen (The New 52: Future’s End); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Allan Gross (Road Song); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Marc Hempel (Sandman: The Kindly Ones); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Dan Jurgens (The New 52: Future’s End); Chris Kemple (Red Vengeance); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Billy Martin (Vitriol, The Hunter); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Mike McKone (Ultimate FF); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ron Randall (Trekker in Dark Horse Presents); Tom Raney (Incredible Hulk); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Craig Rousseau (Perhapanauts); Joe Rubinstein (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe); Andy Runton (Owly); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Louise Simonson (Power Pack); Walter Simonson (Thor); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Jim Starlin (Thanos: The Infinity Revelation); Paul D. Storrie (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Robert Tinnell (The Wicked West); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe:  A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mike Vosburg (Lori Lovecraft); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Lee Weeks (Daredevil); Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); Rich Woodall (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); Kelly Yates (Amber Atoms); Thom Zahler (My Little Pony); and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars).

Regrettably, Frank Barbiere, Eddy Barrows, Jimmy Cheung, Rachel Deering, Agnes Garbowska, and David Mack have had to cancel. We look forward to seeing their return to the show in the future.

Tickets
General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are now on sale! Visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets/ for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now!

In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Please take a moment to help us spread this message using the social media links embedded, reposting, or retweeting!

All Star Reception
Join us high atop the Baltimore skyline overlooking the Inner Harbor for an intimate evening that would be the envy of Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark! This cocktail party event with food, drink, and socializing will be attended by the likes of Reilly Brown, Mark Buckingham, Greg Capullo, Frank Cho, Alan Davis, Dave Gibbons, Dean Haspiel, Barry Kitson, Brandon Peterson, Gail Simone, Walter and Louise Simonson, John K. Snyder III, John Totleben, Rick Veitch, Matt Wagner, Mark Waid, Bill Willingham, and more on Friday, September 5th at 8pm. This unique opportunity is a limited ticket count event. Tickets are available at www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets — act now before the opportunity is gone!

Contact Information
Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:

press@baltimorecomiccon.com – for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution

promoter@baltimorecomiccon.com – for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications

registrar@baltimorecomiccon.com – for inquiries about submitted registrations

harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com - for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet

general@baltimorecomiccon.com - for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries

About The Baltimore Comic-Con
The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.

Valiant Entertainment Heads to Baltimore Comic-Con 2014

THE DELINQUENTS #1 – Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 Exclusive Variant by Michael Walsh

Press Release:

Valiant Entertainment Heads to Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 with Show Exclusives, Giveaways, Signings, Panels, and Much More

Hot off of 16 nominations at this year’s Harvey Awards – including six for the industry’s most nominated series, Quantum and Woody – Valiant Entertainment is proud to join Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 for a weekend jam-packed with show exclusives, signings, and panel appearances from the most talked-about comic book publisher of the year!

From Friday, September 5th through Sunday, September 7th, join Valiant at Booth #2008/2009 to pick up your The Delinquents #1 Baltimore Comic-Con 2014 Exclusive Variant by fan favorite artist Michael Walsh (Secret Avengers, Comeback)! Witness the beginning of summer’s most disastrous super-hero joyride right here as Harvey Award-nominated writers James Asmus (Quantum and Woody) and Fred Van Lente (Archer & Armstrong) and red-hot artist Kano (Quantum and Woody) collide Quantum and Woody and Archer & Armstrong for the crudest, lewdest, and most unsportsmanlike team-up in comics history!

And that’s not all! Debuting at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014, discover the battle ten millennia in the making with The Valiant: First Look preview edition, featuring an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look inside the all-new, prestige format mini-series event from superstar creators Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera. Packed with never-before-seen artwork, preview pages, and interviews, and featuring nearly every Valiant hero, do not miss your chance to find out why The Valiant is the astonishing new adventure that will be taking comics by storm this December.

Plus: join Valiant for signings and appearances all weekend long from some of the top talents in comics today, including The Delinquents’ own James Asmus, alongside colorist Laura Martin (Armor Hunters), artist Rafer Roberts (X-O Manowar #25, Harbinger #25), colorist Brian Reber (Unity, Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel), writer Vivek J. Tiwary (Harbinger #25), and more surprise guests!

Then, join an all-star panel of Valiant creators and staff on Saturday, September 6th at 1 PM ET for an in-depth discussion about the future of X-O Manowar, Unity, Rai, Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong, and more with writer James Asmus (Quantum and Woody, The Delinquents), writer Ray Fawkes (Archer & Armstrong: The One Percent), writer Vivek J. Tiwary (Harbinger #25), colorist Brian Reber (Unity, Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel), colorist Laura Martin (Armor Hunters), Editor-in-Chief Warren Simons, and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani, only at Baltimore Comic-Con!

We’ll see you in Charm City!

For more information, visit Valiant on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr, and at ValiantUniverse.com.

For Valiant merchandise and more, visit ValiantStore.com.

BOOM! Studios Heads to Baltimore Comic-Con 2014

Translucid

Press Release:

COMIC-CON FOR THEIR FIRST EAST COAST CONVENTION IN 2014

August 21, 2014 (Los Angeles, Calif.) - Award-winning comic book publisher BOOM! Studios is excited to announce it will return to the city of Orioles, crab cakes, and The Wire this year to once again exhibit at Baltimore Comic-Con, which will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland, during the weekend of September 5-7.

BOOM! can be found at booth number 2001 and will host the following creators all weekend:

Collin Kelly (Hacktivist)

Jackson Lanzing (Hacktivist)

Jeff Stokely (Six-Gun Gorilla, The Reason for Dragons, Translucid)

Josh Hechinger (The Grave Doug Freshley)

Michael Alan Nelson (Day Men, Hexed)

The publisher is also sponsoring the appearance of comics legend George Pérez, whose first original series in over 10 years, George Pérez’s Sirens, will debut at the show with an exclusive BOOM! Studios variant cover.

Other BOOM! Studios creators also appearing at Baltimore Comic-Con include Brian Stelfreeze (Day Men), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Eric Powell (Big Trouble in Little China), Frank Barbiere (Black Market), James Tynion IV (The Woods, Memetic), Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl), Justin Jordan (Deep State), and Marguerite Bennett (Sleepy Hollow, Butterfly). More guests will be added, so be sure to visit the BOOM! Studios booth (#2001) for the updated booth appearance schedule.

BOOM! will also host the following sketch artists at its booth all weekend:

Andy Hirsch (Garfield, Regular Show)

Missy Pena (The Amazing World of Gumball, Bee and PuppyCat, Adventure Time)

Travis Hill (Adventure Time)

Wook-Jin Clark (Adventure Time: The Flip Side)

Cary Pietsch (Bravest Warriors, Adventure Time)

For $30, fans can purchase a customized illustration of their choice on a blank sketch cover of an Adventure Time, Bee and PuppyCat, The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, or Regular Show comic.

BOOM! Studios is nominated for 30 Harvey Awards, whose winners will be announced during a ceremony and banquet held during Baltimore Comic Con on Saturday evening, September 6.

For tickets and more information on Baltimore Comic-Con, visit their site at baltimorecomiccon.com/.

ABOUT BOOM! STUDIOS
Founded by Ross Richie in 2005, Diamond Gem Award-winning “Best Publisher” BOOM! Studios (boom-studios.com) generates a constellation of best-selling Eisner and Harvey Award-winning original and licensed comic books and graphic novels with the industry’s top talent. BOOM! Studios is the home of Mike Carey’s SUICIDE RISK, Clive Barker’s NEXT TESTAMENT and HELLRAISER, Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos’ FAIRY QUEST, PLANET OF THE APES, Max Bemis’ POLARITY and Mark Waid’s IRREDEEMABLE. Steven Grant’s graphic novel 2 GUNS was recently released as a feature film from Universal Pictures, starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. BOOM!’s all-ages imprint KaBOOM! publishes Charles Schulz’ PEANUTS, Jim Davis’ GARFIELD, Cartoon Network’s ADVENTURE TIME and REGULAR SHOW, Mike Kunkel’s HEROBEAR AND THE KID, and Roger Langridge’s Eisner Award-winning SNARKED. In June 2013, BOOM! acquired Archaia Entertainment (archaia.com). Archaia is the Eisner and Harvey Award-winning graphic novel publisher of MOUSE GUARD, COW BOY, GUNNERKRIGG COURT, RUST, SPERA, JIM HENSON’S TALE OF SAND, and many other great titles. In October 2013, BOOM! Studios entered into a unique first-look relationship with 20th Century Fox, giving the studio access to its library of titles and giving the publisher access to Fox’s vast catalog of films.

Insight Studios Group Heads to Baltimore Comic-Con 2014

Press Release:

Insight Studios Group Heads to the Baltimore Comic-Con

Wheatley, Hempel, Gross, Tinnell and Canton on board September 5-7

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – July 21, 2014 – From the early Vertigo hit Breathtaker to CBS TV’s hit series The Millers, and from First Comics’ Mars to the cutting Breathtaker edge digital presentation of Return of the Human in Aces Weekly, Baltimore’s own Insight Studios Group has a long track record of breaking new artistic ground. Since Insight’s founding in 1978, Blood of the Innocent, Tug & Buster, Doctor Cyborg, EZ Street, Lone Justice, Gregory, Radical Dreamer, Jonny Quest, Tarzan, and many other characters, concepts, and adventures have flowed from the pens, pencils, keyboards, and brushes of the studios’ creators.

Anchored by Insight Studios founders Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster) and Marc Hempel (Sandman: The Kindly Ones), the group has always viewed the Baltimore Comic-Con as sort of their home base, an annual gathering of studio members even as the studios’ reach expanded across many different states. The fifteenth edition of the Baltimore Comic-Con – which marks the fifteenth time Insight has set up at the show – sees the convention roster growing to include longtime studio member Allan Gross (Road Song), writer-director Robert Tinnell (The Wicked West), and newcomer Darrenn Canton (Tunnels & Trolls) in addition to Wheatley and Hempel. And one never knows what Friends of Insight Studios might show up at the Baltimore Convention Center over the September 5-7, 2014 weekend.

Wheatley“I talk with all the Insight guys quite a bit. We’re always planning projects and keeping up on life events. But we rarely all get into a room together. The price we pay for busy schedules and the convenience of the Internet,” said Wheatley.

Even though 2014 is little more than half over, it’s already been a Love brothers very full year for the creators who make up the studio. Hempel presented his new series, The Love Brothers, this past year in the digital Aces Weekly, and he and Wheatley are now working with Titan Books to issue a new, restored edition of their Breathtaker graphic novel.

Rot brainGross, who is best known as writer of the syndicated Tarzan newspaper strip, has just returned to comics from other media projects. His new graphic novel project reunites him with Wheatley.

Tinnell, in addition to writing the award-winning graphic novel series Flesh & Blood, has been busy with a slate of projects including the just-completed documentary, That $#!% Will Rot Your Brain: How The Monster Kids Transformed Popular Culture.

Canton is the new kid at Insight. A fantasy illustrator, Darrenn will be sketching and painting at the show. He’ll have prints for sale, too, just like his studio mates.

The last year has been a big one for Wheatley in particular. He reached his largestMillers audience ever as his work was featured prominently on the hit CBS comedy The Millers. He co-developed and illustrated the ground-breaking Return Of The Human series for the digital comics anthology Aces Weekly, created a new Tarzan story for Dark Horse, illustrated covers for comics, provided illustrations for books and magazines, and he just completed a lengthy graphic novel for reality TV king, Thom Beers (Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers) in collaboration with Todd Livingston.

The Baltimore Comic-Con will be held Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is located immediately across the street from the historic Camden Yards sports complex (which includes Oriole Park and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum). Tickets, a full guest roster, and additional information is available on the convention’s website.

Tickets

General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are now on sale! Visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets/ for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now!

This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Eddy Barrows (Earth 2); Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Darrenn Canton (Tunnels & Trolls); Greg Capullo (Batman); Richard Case (Sandman); John Cassaday (Doc Savage); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men:  Battle of the Atom); Amy Chu (Girls Night Out); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Jeremy Dale (Skyward); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Rachel Deering (In the Dark); Todd Dezago (Tellos); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); Ray Fawkes (Constantine); Tom Feister (G.I. Joe); David Finch (Forever Evil); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (All-Star Western); Gerhard (Cerebus the Aardvark); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Keith Giffen (The New 52: Future’s End); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Allan Gross (Road Song); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Marc Hempel (Sandman: The Kindly Ones); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Dan Jurgens (The New 52: Future’s End); Chris Kemple (Red Vengeance); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Billy Martin (Vitriol, The Hunter); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Mike McKone (Ultimate FF); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ron Randall (Trekker in Dark Horse Presents); Tom Raney (Incredible Hulk); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Craig Rousseau (Perhapanauts); Joe Rubinstein (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe); Andy Runton (Owly); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Louise Simonson (Power Pack); Walter Simonson (Thor); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Jim Starlin (Thanos: The Infinity Revelation); Paul D. Storrie (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Robert Tinnell (The Wicked West); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe:  A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mike Vosburg (Lori Lovecraft); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Lee Weeks (Daredevil); Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); Rich Woodall (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); Kelly Yates (Amber Atoms); Thom Zahler (My Little Pony); and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars).

In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Contact Information

Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:

press@baltimorecomiccon.com – for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution

promoter@baltimorecomiccon.com – for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications

registrar@baltimorecomiccon.com – for inquiries about submitted registrations

harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com - for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet

general@baltimorecomiccon.com - for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries

About The Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards

The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.

 

 

Calafiore, Chen, Curtis, Kitchen, and Stanton at Baltimore Comic-Con 2014

Press Release:

Calafiore, Chen, Curtis, Kitchen, and Stanton at the Baltimore Comic-Con!

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – July 28, 2014 – Join the Baltimore Comic-Con at the Baltimore Convention Center this fall for our inaugural 3-day event on Friday-Sunday, September 5-7, 2014! Joining us in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for our 10th annual show are Jim Calafiore, XO Manowar Jo Chen, Mike Curtis, Denis Kitchen, and Joe Staton!

Jim Calafiore, whose early work was for the now-reformed Valiant Comics on titles like X-O Manowar and  Armorines, has made a name for himself working extensively for the Big Two: DC and Marvel Comics. Calafiore had noteworthy runs at Marvel on titles such as Black Panther, Deadpool, Exiles, and Iron Man, and over at DC on  Aquaman, Batgirl, Red Lanterns, and Secret Six. More recently, his successful Kickstarter effort, Leaving Megalopolis (with Gail Simone) has been published by Dark Horse Comics, he’s done interior work for Dynamite’s Red Sonja title, and he’s provided covers for Archer and Armstrong at Valiant.

BuffyJo Chen (at the show Saturday and Sunday only!) was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and came to the US in 1994. Working professionally in the Asian comic book industry since age 18, her work in the U.S. comic book scene caught people’s attention with her art work for the Racer X mini-series from Wildstorm/DC Comics in 2000. From there, her artwork graced interiors and covers of titles like Fight For Tomorrow, The Demon, and Robin from DC Comics, Runaways, Taskmaster, and Thor from Marvel Comics, and her covers for Dark Horse’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer became the title’s trademark. Recently, her work has been seen on covers of DC Comics Presents: The Demon – Driven Out.

The Harvey Award-winning (and nominated again this year!) Denis Kitchen began Al Capp his comics career as a self-published underground cartoonist (Mom’s Homemade Comics, 1969), but quickly became primarily a publisher. His Kitchen Sink Press for three decades published such legendary and diverse artists as Will Eisner, Harvey Kurtzman, R. Crumb, Mark Schultz, Charles Burns, Al Capp, Scott McCloud, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Eddie Campbell, Dave McKean, Howard Cruse, and countless others. Kitchen also founded the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and chaired it for eighteen years. A monograph of his cartoons, The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen, was recently published. Kitchen curates exhibitions, is an art agent, a literary agent, a comics historian and author (The Art of Harvey Kurtzman and a biography, Al Capp), and has recently brought back Kitchen Sink Books as an imprint of Dark Horse Comics with partner John Lind. This is Denis’s 5th appearance at Baltimore Comic-Con where he has a special connection: as the representative of the Kurtzman estate, he was responsible for bringing the annual Harvey Awards to us. Nominated for the same awards this year are Denis’s work on Best of Comix Book: When Marvel Comics Went Underground from Kitchen Sink Books/Dark Horse Comics and Al Capp: A Life to the Contrary with Michael Schumacher from Bloomsbury.

Dick TracyMike Curtis and Joe Staton are the writer and artist respectively of the Harvey Award-winning (and, like Denis above, nominated again this year!) Dick Tracy comic strip. Curtis began working in comics in the 1980s for kids comics publisher Harvey Comics, writing for titles such as Richie Rich, Casper the Friendly Ghost, and New Kids on the Block. From there, he created Shanda the Panda for Mu Press and, later, Antarctic Press. He later went on to create the publishing house Shanda Fantasy Arts. Staton got his start in the comics industry in 1971 with publisher Charlton Comics, where he worked on E-Man, and went on to work for Warren and Marvel Comics as well. He moved to DC Comics to provide art duties on All Star Comics, Adventure Comics, and DC Special where he illustrated tales of the Justice Society of America, and on titles like Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Showcase, Metal Men, and Green Lantern. His career at DC Comics brought him to other titles too, like Millennium, Guy Gardner, The Huntress, and, most recently, Scooby Doo.

“What a privilege to have such esteemed creators join us this year,” said Marc Nathan, promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “From critically acclaimed artists to award-winning creators and creative teams, adding this group of talent only adds to the experience our fans can expect from our show this year!”

The Baltimore Comic-Con will be held Friday, September 5 through Sunday, September 7, 2014, at the Baltimore Convention Center, which is located immediately across the street from the historic Camden Yards sports complex (which includes Oriole Park and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum). Tickets, a full guest roster, and additional information is available on the convention’s website.

Tickets

General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are now on sale! Visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets/ for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now!

This year’s previously confirmed guests for the show include: Eddy Barrows (Earth 2); Marty Baumann (Pixar artist); Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl); Marguerite Bennett (Batgirl); Mark Buckingham (Fables); Dave Bullock (Batman Black and White); Darrenn Canton (Tunnels & Trolls); Greg Capullo (Batman); Richard Case (Sandman); John Cassaday (Doc Savage); Bernard Chang (Green Lantern Corps); Sean Chen (Amazing Spider-Man); Jimmy Cheung (Infinity); Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman); Frank Cho (X-Men:  Battle of the Atom); Amy Chu (Girls Night Out); Richard Clark (House of Gold & Bones); Steve Conley (Bloop); Jeremy Dale (Skyward); Alan Davis (Wolverine); Rachel Deering (In the Dark); Todd Dezago (Tellos); Tommy Lee Edwards (Star Wars); Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys); Ray Fawkes (Constantine); Tom Feister (G.I. Joe); David Finch (Forever Evil); Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (All-Star Western); Gerhard (Cerebus the Aardvark); Dave Gibbons (Watchmen); Keith Giffen (The New 52: Future’s End); Bryan JL Glass (Mice Templar); Michael Golden (The Ravagers); Allan Gross (Road Song); Cully Hamner (Animal Man); Dean Haspiel (The Fox); Fred Hembeck (Garfield); Marc Hempel (Sandman: The Kindly Ones); Adam Hughes (Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan); Justin Jordan (Luther Strode, Green Lantern: New Guardians); Dan Jurgens (The New 52: Future’s End); Chris Kemple (Red Vengeance); Barry Kitson (Empire); Aaron Kuder (Action Comics); David Mack (Shadowman); Kevin Maguire (Guardians of the Galaxy); Alex Maleev (Moon Knight); Billy Martin (Vitriol, The Hunter); Ron Marz (Witchblade); Mike McKone (Ultimate FF); Bob McLeod (X-Men: Gold); Tradd Moore (Deadpool Annual); Mark Morales (New Avengers); Dan Parent (Archie, Veronica, Kevin Keller); David Peterson (Mouse Guard); Joe Prado (Justice League); Brian Pulido (Lady Death); Ron Randall (Trekker in Dark Horse Presents); Tom Raney (Incredible Hulk); Ivan Reis (Aquaman and The Others); Budd Root (Cavewoman); Don Rosa (Donald Duck); Craig Rousseau (Perhapanauts); Joe Rubinstein (The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe); Andy Runton (Owly); Alex Saviuk (Web of Spider-Man); Louise Simonson (Power Pack); Walter Simonson (Thor); Andy Smith (Superman #23.1: Bizarro); Allison Sohn (sketch card artist); Charles Soule (Thunderbolts); Jim Starlin (Thanos: The Infinity Revelation); Paul D. Storrie (Sheena, Queen of the Jungle); Ben Templesmith (The Memory Collectors); Robert Tinnell (The Wicked West); Peter Tomasi (Batman and Two-Face); John Totleben (Swamp Thing); Herb Trimpe (GI Joe:  A Real American Hero); Billy Tucci (Shi); Rick Veitch (Saga of the Swamp Thing); Mike Vosburg (Lori Lovecraft); Mark Waid (Daredevil); Lee Weeks (Daredevil); Mark Wheatley (Frankenstein Mobster); Bill Willingham (Fables); Renee Witterstaetter (Joe Jusko: Maelstrom); Rich Woodall (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles); Kelly Yates (Amber Atoms); Thom Zahler (My Little Pony); and Mike Zeck (Secret Wars).

In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our website, Twitter, and Facebook pages.

Contact Information

Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:

press@baltimorecomiccon.com – for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution

promoter@baltimorecomiccon.com – for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications

registrar@baltimorecomiccon.com – for inquiries about submitted registrations

harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com - for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet

general@baltimorecomiccon.com - for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries

About The Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 14th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards

The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 9 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.

 

Con-Gregate Con Report! (And Interview with the Carolina Ghostbusters)

This was the inaugural year for Con-Gregate, a general sci-fi convention held in Winston-Salem, NC on July 11-13. The guest of honor was New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia, known for his Monster Hunter series, though he does have other writing credits, including “The Christmas (Noun)” and “The Christmas (Noun) 2: The Nounening.” (What’s next? “How the Gerund Stole Christmas”?) Other guests included writers A.J. Hartley and Faith Hunter; Magic: The Gathering artist Mark Poole; and movie make-up professional Jennifer McCollom.

The con was led by a team of veterans, including folks from RavenCon, Stellar Con, and DragonCon. Yet, as with any first-time event, there were hiccups. Larry Correia’s first book signing was held on Saturday morning, when a lot of convention goers weren’t yet up and at ‘em. The lighting was poor in the vendor room, and though much was made in the convention program about name badges (even vendor badges bore individuals’ names), I never saw a staffer checking them.

Still, it was a fun weekend, with a costume contest, a book launch party (D.B. Jackson’s A Plunder of Souls), a charity auction (I won a signed photo of Avery Brooks as Capt. Benjamin Sisko), and some fascinating panels. Plus one of my favorite groups, the Carolina Ghostbusters (www.carolinaghostbusters.com), made an appearance. On Friday, I got a chance to talk to three team members–”Doc” Geressy, Chuck Carte, and Mikki Smith.

Me: How did the Carolina Ghostbusters get started?

Doc: About 5 years ago, I got divorced and laid off from work in the same week. I got a great severance package and didn’t have anyone to spend it on, so I was like, I’m gonna build a Ghostbusters car. That was five years ago. It took about 2½ years to get everything together. Once the car was built, we started getting requests for conventions, charity events, car shows, baseball games, birthday parties, weddings . . . we do a lot of weddings, oddly enough. We spend about 70-80 days a year on the road now, with the vehicle, and I never would have imagined, but it has been the most awesome thing ever. We got to meet Dan Aykroyd. He signed the car. We met Ernie Hudson from the film. So it’s been a lot of fun.

Me: How did you meet Dan Aykroyd?

Chuck: He was on his Crystal Head Vodka tour, doing signings of the bottles when the liquor had first come out. And we got treated really well by the Aykroyd camp as soon as they saw us in our car. He ushered us to the front of the line, took photos with us, signed the car, and he was just a real . . . I look at it as my favorite moment of getting to do this, getting to meet him, and just how cool he was to us.

Me: Why Ghostbusters?

Doc: I am a big fan of movie cars, always have been, and when I was originally going to build a movie car, I had thought about doing a classic Batmobile. I had some people looking for a late model Lincoln to use as the base for it, and we ended up finding this hearse first, and one of the guys called me and was like, hey, would you be interested in doing a Ghostbusters car? I was like, sure, love to, and so we ended up doing a Ghostbusters car instead. And it is actually, interestingly enough, the most recognizable movie car with the least amount of screen time. It is only in the film for 5 minutes and 28 seconds. But everyone knows it. We have had people drive 20-30 miles out of their way to take pictures with us.

Me: And you also have the Men in Black car, right?

Doc: That is our new one. We’re about a year into that build, and it was another one where the car kind of found me. We ended up getting it at a really good deal. It had low miles and was in excellent condition. So we started the build on that. We should have it done in the next year. It is actually roadworthy now, but there are a lot of things we want to do to it, and a lot of props we need to build. It’s probably about 80% done.

Me [to Mikki]: Tell me about your involvement with the group.

Mikki: Honestly, I asked. That sounds kind of like a boring way. Basically, I originally hired the Carolina Ghostbusters for a very small, one-off convention that I ran called Jax Con that happened in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida—

Doc: It was an awesome convention.

Mikki: Thank you so, so much. That’s what people say now. That’s not what people said right after it happened.

Chuck: That’s what I said right afterward.

Mickey: Me booking [the Ghosbusters] was literally the best thing I ever did for that convention. After that, I was still really into cons, and I started going to them more and more, especially local cons. I became really good friends with the team, became pretty good friends with Doc and Chuck and Cher [Cheralyn Lambeth, another group member]. That was kind of how I got involved. I think at XCon 2013 was my first official event, and I worked that one. I was an intern for about 6 months, and now I have been moved up to Acting Ensign of the Deck Department, and I serve under Chuck Carte, who is a fantastic immediate boss.

Chuck: Thank you. I don’t get that often.

Me: I was reading on your web site that you also do paranormal investigations. Tell me a little about that.

Doc: About 30% of what we do is paranormal investigations. We are the only Ghostbusters group in the country that actually does paranormal investigations as well. Sometimes we joke that the Ghostbusters car is our dog and pony show, but we have a lot of fun going out and actually not just dressing up as Ghostbusters but actually being Ghostbusters to an extent.

Me: How do you measure your success as paranormal investigators?

Chuck: Whether or not the check clears.

Doc: Yeah, that’s a good answer! [Laughs] We approach things from a very scientific viewpoint, very much like the Ghostbusters did in the film. We don’t employ or work with any mediums or psychics because we can’t quantify that information. We try to be as empirical as possible, and we have captured some amazing photographs, we’ve got some awesome EVPs [electronic voice phenomenon], and just the experiences of being able to travel around. One of the things that being Ghostbusters has provided us is a lot of access to places that other paranormal groups can’t get into. People see the car or they see us, and they’re like, oh, you guys are like legit! There are so many other paranormal groups out there that are just as legitimate as we are, but just that knowledge of Ghostbusters affords us the ability for people to just wave us in and be like, yeah, come investigate this place.

Me: What are you working on next? What are your goals?

Doc: Oh god. Replenishing my bank account is what I’m working on right now.

Chuck: The speedboat from Thunder in Paradise.

Doc: Yeah, I gotta buy a boat trailer first.

Mikki: You’ve been talking about the Blues Brothers car lately.

Doc: I would love to find a Blues Brothers car. That would be the next thing on the list. I also really like the ambulance from Cannonball Run. That would be another one.

Me: I guess it’s time to wrap up. Can you say a few words about your podcast?

Doc: Our podcast is called Sci-Fried Eggs, and we get to travel to all these conventions and meet all these cool guests, and we bring that to the rest of the people. So if you miss the convention, or even if you’re at the convention and you didn’t get to meet that person you wanted to meet, we may have interviewed them [on the podcast], so you can check them out.

And while you’re at it, check out the photos below.

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Carolina Ghostbusters: they’re ready to believe you.

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No, this isn’t a promo poster for Avengers 2. It’s the winners of the Con-Gregate costume contest.

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Must . . . not . . . make . . . bird-brain joke.

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“Good evening, Clarice.”

ConCarolinas Con Report!

ConCarolinas is a general sci-fi and fantasy convention held annually in Charlotte, NC. Attendance was 300 in the inaugural year, 2002, and the guests were small potatoes, but those days are done. Well over 2,000 people (my estimate) showed up this year, and the guest of honor was a bona fide celeb: George R. R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. Other guests included Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek: Enterprise and Laura Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott from the original Dark Shadows.

Sounds accomplished, right? GRRM was announced over a year ago—not even Comic Con International is that foregoing—so I expected the con to run like a thoroughly Penzoiled Sprint Cup chassis. In some areas, it did. Events started and stopped on time, and they were easy to find, for the most part. One exception was the ballroom divided into three smaller rooms that the schedule called, noninformatively, “Main,” “Programming 2,” and “Programming 3.” I missed the start of one panel because it was scheduled for Programming 3 but took place in Main, and each time I passed these rooms, the only sign I saw bore the Hilton’s name for the room: Lakeshore.

This plaint is piddling, however. The real mess came with Saturday’s GRRM autograph session. It was scheduled for 3:00, and by 12:15, a line was evident. “You should get in line now,” my wife said, to which I replied, “But the sign says the line will start forming at 2:00.” A woman of few words when she’s right, thank God, she pointed to the dozen or so people standing there. Just then, another two or three walked up. I assumed the position.

A few minutes later, a con staffer—I’ll call her “Bee”—came over to wrecking-ball the line. “We’ll start the line at 2:00,” she announced. Until then, we should “go enjoy the rest of the con.” Instead, the now-twenty of us moved six feet away to flank the concrete steps that led from the hotel entrance to a duck pond. Unsatisfied, Bee told us to move on, saying she had to “keep the steps clear.” They were currently so clear that piano movers could have carried a Steinway up them.

A guy who looked like Robert Downey, Jr. tried to tell Bee she was being unreasonable. We had paid for admission, he argued, and it was our prerogative to waste three hours in line—a line that had formed against the fence surrounding the patio, well out of the way. Someone else offered that there was “nothing else to do,” which hurt Downey, Jr.’s case. He wanted to negotiate, not inflame.

Bee was having none of it. She walked away and returned with con security, one of whom asked us nicely, in contrast to his Ghiscari Legion cosplay, to disperse. Downey, Jr. stood up defeatedly. “It’s a little unnecessary,” he said, more soliloquy than direct address, “but whatever.” And we moved away.

Things were tense after that. People arrived by the minute, and because we couldn’t form a line, we had to hang around pretending that we weren’t forming one. Annoyance passed from one person to the next, growing with each utterance as in the telephone game. “This is literally why we bought tickets,” one person said. “I don’t think they were ready for this kind of crowd,” said another. I took a philosophical tack. The con staff had taken an orderly line that had arisen spontaneously and, through human agency, made it into a mob. Maybe they were anarchists.

At 1:16, Bee pulled out a megaphone and announced, “If you are gathered here in order to rush the line, your badge will be taken, and you will be escorted off.” All 100 of us? 200? Versus her little honor guard? We didn’t move. When a Canada goose wandered off the pond, Bee walked up to it and blared through her megaphone, “This is a goose-free zone.” She said it to be funny, but nobody laughed. Too much had passed between her and us.

By 1:45, at least 400 people had gathered. The original group was still camped on the concrete steps, with newcomers forming parallel lines that stretched alongside the duck pond toward the hotel parking lot. About every thirty minutes, a con employee walked between the lines, urging us to keep the sidewalk clear because “the fire marshal is here,” though I never saw anyone official-looking. One person dubbed our station “the line to get into the line,” and we laughed—finally.

At 2:00, Bee started assembling the line. She did it fairly, calling ten people at a time from different spots, starting with the ur-group on the steps. I got in with the seventh summoning. My reward was to wait another hour before the 3:00 start, though this was better: Revolution had been averted, and I was now guaranteed an autograph. GRRM was scheduled to sign for only an hour, and those who didn’t reach him during that time might be turned away. (When someone griped about this, Bee said simply, “He is not a machine.”)

In all, I waited from 12:15 to nearly 4:00 to meet George R. R. Martin, and it was over with a few strokes of his pen. But it was worth it. The writer was gracious, even charming, and he signed two books for me. Autographs are my favorite part of conventions, and Downey, Jr. was right: You can have fun just sitting and waiting. Looking at cosplays. Writing a story (I got most of this done during the downtime). My wife and I rounded out the day with a couple of panels and that evening’s charity auction, hosted by podcaster and voice actor Rich Sigfrit, who also moderated a sci-fi-centric Whose Line Is It Anyway? starring the improv comedy group Pineapple-Shaped Lamps.

So that was it from Charlotte and the 13th ConCarolinas. Next year is already shaping up to be a good one with writer John Scalzi as the guest of honor. My next stop: Charlotte again for Heroes Convention on June 19. Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

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Indication #1 you are at a sci-fi convention.

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Indication # you are at a sci-fi convention.

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Guys, no need to fight. There are enough tickets for everyone.

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I would have seen GRRM sooner if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

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Inside the dealer room.

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People came from all over for this convention. Even Golgotha.

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No, Johnny Depp was not there. Would have been awesome, though.

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GRRM signing line: the Haves . . .

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. . . and the Have-Nots

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I’m not sure why I bought so much stuff at the auction. Any ideas?

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GRRM addresses fans during one of his readings.

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Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott pose for a picture.

 

Minneapolis Wizard World Con Report!

My feet were hurting. Throbbing, in fact. With blisters on each ball and heel, even short walks delivered a four square of pain. Ever had a pebble trapped in your shoe? How about a shuriken? Watching me walk, people must have thought, “The poor man. Must have forgotten his crutches. How can he get around on two broken legs?”

I was in this predicament thanks to walking twenty-seven miles in one weekend, mostly around the latest Wizard World Comic Con, which was held May 2-4 in Minneapolis. It was that city’s first-ever Wizard World con, and everything from guests to vendors to venue—the 87-room, 475,000-square-foot downtown convention center—was spectacular.

Headlining the event were Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who. Gillan, a former model, played traveling companion to Smith’s Doctor in series 5-7. I saw her on Saturday, smiling and chatting, her hair in a bun, amid a sea of fans. Smith showed up the next day, and the two had a joint photo op—the third time in North America that this had happened (the first two were the Louisville Comic Con and the St. Louis Comic Con). Other stars were William Shatner, Robert Englund, Ernie Hudson, Ralph Macchio, Neal Adams, Mike Grell, and Lou Ferrigno (my interview with Ferrigno will appear on ConventionScene in a few days). Other events included celebrity one-on-ones, panel discussions, a film festival, RPG tournaments, speed dating, at least 75 exhibitors, and a cosplay contest.

I caught most of Ralph Macchio’s one-on-one session on Saturday afternoon. Now 52 years old, Macchio delights in the Karate Kid franchise, though it used to bother him. In the early 90s, he said, he struggled to find acting work, and there were days he stayed hidden at home because he couldn’t face another “wax on, wax off” encounter. But film quotes were not all that fans said to him. Some told him how the movie had helped them deal with bullying, or it had changed their lives in other ways. When he thought about those people, he realized he would be “foolish” to reject his legacy. Ralph Macchio is a funny, humble guy who likes the Karate Kid re-make (though he doesn’t see it as “iconic”) and who is hoping his future includes more voice acting (he has done several episodes of Robot Chicken). And do his two kids understand their dad’s place in cinematic history? Macchio told the story of his son Daniel (hmm . . . coincidence?) coming across a trove of magazines and other memorabilia from the 80s. The boy raced into his sister’s bedroom and said, “Julia! Dad was huge and we missed it!”

Minneapolis was cold this May—unseasonably so, according to one native, which is just my luck—but the city was grand, the people welcoming, and the comic con a smash hit. If you weren’t there, browse the photos below to see what you missed. Next I am off to ConCarolinas (May 30-June 1) in the Queen City, Charlotte. Maybe I’ll see you!

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Day 1 of Minneapolis’s first-ever Wizard World

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Can’t wait to get in!

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I had trouble finding a parking spot, so . . .

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Robert Englund plans his next nightmare.

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Fabulous costumes!

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Deadpool! Get out of the picture!

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A couple of convention security officers.

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Minnesota isn’t quite the Caribbean, but this pirate didn’t mind.

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Look just under the poster of Karen Gillan to see the real Karen Gillan.

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My cell phone wasn’t working, so I asked this guy to call my wife. With his mind.

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Yes, it’s bigger on the inside, but how many licks does it take to get the Tootsie Roll center?

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I thought about asking this guy for directions but decided against it.

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Who scheduled a dance competition on the same weekend as Wizard World?!

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