Ichibancon 8 Con Report (with Interview with Quinton Flynn)!

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In 2014, I began my career at Convention Scene with an article about Ichibancon, the Concord, NC anime convention that is now a staple of my family schedule. “Ichiban” means “number 1” in Japanese, a fitting appellation for a convention held over New Year’s Eve weekend.

We have attended since 2012, when my daughter was fourteen and stayed up all night in her bedroom watching one anime after another. Now she is nineteen, and she stays up all night in her bedroom watching one anime after another. She does have a job as a Pizza Hut deliverer, which is why she couldn’t go to the convention. This year was her first time missing Ichibancon, and I hated that for her.

I wrote in 2014 that the convention had grown. After spending its first three years at the Blake Hotel in Charlotte—which, after pissing off more Democrats than Donald Trump, was split into two hotels in 2013—Ichibancon moved to the larger, family-friendlier Embassy Suites in nearby Concord. It needs to move again. Fridays are usually the slowest days at conventions, but by 5:00pm on that Friday, this is where people were parking.

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I stuck my head into Vic Mignogna’s Q&A on Saturday, and it was less than standing-room only. A con staffer asked me to “choose another place to enjoy the presentation.” That sounds feng shui and all, but it was like telling a sardine, “You might be more comfortable at that end of the tin.” Managing growth is a problem all conventions face, and it is a good problem. Means you’re doing something right.

Ichibancon’s sister convention, Triad Anime Con, is moving this year from a hotel to the roomier Greensboro Coliseum. Ichibancon could step up to the Charlotte Convention Center, but that might be cost-prohibitive. Still, more space should be a priority in the next year or two.

Another consideration of managing growth is figuring out ways to smooth the experience for attendees. For that, Ichibancon developed its first mobile device app.

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The app was great for updates. Throughout the weekend, I got announcements for session delays and cancellations, price changes, and other things. The app was also a repository for policies and maps, relieving attendees of having to carry a program. Here, for instance, is the autograph policy.

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One criticism of the app is that I couldn’t find a master list of changes and updates. Once, I saw an update pop up, but it vanished before I could read it all, so I still didn’t know what was going on. This left me to dig through the calendar to find the change.

The best part of Ichibancon has always been its guests. We have seen Vic Mignogna there every year, and I still marvel at his star power. For a 5:00pm autograph session, his line started forming at 3:30. By 4:15, it stretched out of the room, around the corner, and down the hall. My colleague, Michaela McPherson, interviewed Vic last year, and I recommend the read.

I got a chance this year to talk to Quinton Flynn, a veteran of video game and anime voice work.

How did you get started doing voice acting?

Well, the long story short is, I got a voiceover agent in Los Angeles, and he started providing me with copy to audition. I started auditioning in a recording booth at their offices, or I would go to outside casting director offices to record me in a booth reading from copy, making it come alive on the page. Eventually, I started booking work for commercials on radio, some on TV, and then I started doing animation, where I voiced the Human Torch and Johnny in The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. And then I replaced Nathan Lane in the role of Timon in The Adventures of Timon and Pumba.

The longer answer is that I started doing impressions as a little boy. All through school, I did theater. I was also into rock and roll, so I had rock bands, and in college, I studied radio, television, and film. Once I got out of the university, I took some local voiceover workshop classes in Cleveland. Eventually, I knew I had to bounce to one of the major cities. That city became L.A. I took some animation voiceover workshops, and in that process, made a proper demo to go around knocking on doors in Hollywood that eventually yielded me an agent who got me to that place where I started answering your question.

You also do video games. What are the differences in voicing for a video game as opposed to a TV show?

Well, in video games, it is nonlinear recording. You might show up to a session and be jumping around in the script to different time lines, and you have to kind of turn on a dime. It’s great if one has an improvisational background, which I do, and if one is easily flexible in terms of taking direction and interpretation and using their mind in the way we always did as children: pure imagination.

That is different from an animated series in that, more often than not, we record alone for a video game. It’s just me in the booth. On the other side of the glass is the engineer who is working the knobs and the buttons and the faders. There is a director and sometimes a writer and producer.

In an animated series, if it is an original one, like when I did Johnny Quest or Timon and Pumba, or when I guested on Scooby-Doo or Animaniacs, the whole cast would be in there, and we would start the script from beginning to end, so you’d have the whole story in linear fashion. We would often get the script beforehand, and we’d get to read it and know it, and we’d also have the opportunity to work off one another. So you’d have some fun organic things happening in the moment. Sometimes, we’d be allowed to improvise, and then you’d have some kind of camaraderie.

Interestingly enough, in the video game world, depending on the writers and producers and actors, but largely those in charge of the cutting and editing, they have to be very sharp and clear about the scenes they are recording separately, so that when they bring the characters together, such as Axel and Roxas in the Kingdom Hearts series, they actually sound like they are talking to one another in the same scene, and I can tell you that, listening to the playthrough on YouTube, I was even blown away. It sounded like Jesse McCartney [who voices Roxas] and I were in the same room.

But you weren’t? You recorded separately, perhaps not on the same day?

No, never. In fact, I met Jesse at a release party the first time we had done Kingdom Hearts. We had said hello in passing, but we didn’t really know who we were to each other in the game. I’ve never seen him since. And yet, the relationship and the end result is very heartwarming, and I love it.

When I was growing up, video games didn’t have voice actors, and I’m always surprised at the number of video game fans who show up at conventions.

Oh, it’s true. I’ve done a huge body of work in animation, and some like it. Then I’ve done anime, which I have a bigger fan base for. And then, as you said, I’ve done video games, and the fan base is crazy. The way these things are released nowadays, they’re making major motion picture money, topping some of the biggest films that are coming out.

I once heard that the video game industry is bigger than the motion picture industry and the music industry combined.

Yeah, they’re making money hand over fist.

When you are preparing to voice a character, how do you get into the role?

Usually, I’m given a breakdown of the character, which tells me where the character is from, the character’s age, the tone and register of the character’s voice, what his position or role is, or title, what his background is. Based on that information, I then create and develop one character for them that I believe they are asking for, and I give it my Quinton Flynn take or spin. And then I might provide them with an alternate second or third read, just to give them something different, maybe something they hadn’t thought of, something that I think does apply to the character. I might sound older or add a different dialect, just to think outside the box. It’s kind of like painting or drawing, except I do it with my voice.

How did you get started doing conventions?

About ten years ago, my friend Jeff Nimoy, who was directing me in a show called Digimon Data Squad, was invited to a convention, and I believe another actor bowed out. He and I had done lots of improv together, and we had a fantastic relationship. He asked if I’d like to go, and I said sure, I’d love to go. I didn’t know anything about these conventions, and I didn’t know if anyone was going to know me. We showed up, and the attention, the adoration, the appreciation, the gratitude, the love, the interest, and the knowledge of the fans was immense. I had no idea. So over the last ten years, I’ve gotten to go many places in the U.S., Canada, England, and Ireland, and I’ve met people from all over the world. Recently, when I was in New York City for the New York Comic Con, I met people from Egypt, Scotland, Bangkok, Dubai, and Paris. I’ve had fans from Belize and Italy contact me on the Internet. It’s mind-blowing.

Switching gears a little, I love impressionists, which I know you are. Your YouTube video in which you tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood using 30 different impressions is terrific.

How did you develop your skills as an impressionist?

That is something I started when I was a little kid. My boyhood pal Billy Russ and I used to do impressions of impressionists’ impressions. At the time on TV, we were watching Frank Gorshin, Fred Travalena, John Byner, and Rich Little. Those were the four biggies. We started doing impressions of their impressions, and I was obsessed with entertainment, so I watched the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and I would do Johnny. I also watched Dinah Shore, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas, who would provide us with hours of entertainment, impressionists, actors, and characters that I would kind of sponge off and recreate with my voice. Then in 1975, when Saturday Night Live hit, I watched it until the 90s solidly, and I did impressions of those characters. It’s just been a skill I’ve had and developed since I was a kid, and I have found a method by which I’ve been able to do it. Some things take work. Other things just kind of fall into place. As I tell people, the characters talk for me; I don’t talk for them.

I always wonder whether impressionists ever get feedback from the people they do. Has anyone ever commented on your impressions?

I haven’t met any face-to-face, but I once did an impression of Paul McCartney on a morning radio show, and someone close to the McCartney camp called the radio station and said, “How did you get Paul’s private number, and why did you wake him up on tour?” Then they had to tell the truth: that this was an impressionist. That did get back to Paul, and he was actually impressed.

There was another convention I was attending, and I had been on a panel doing impressions of Christopher Walken and Christopher Lloyd. I found myself on a break speaking with Christopher Lloyd. His handler had been at the panel, and he said to me, “God, I loved your panel and all your impressions. Which was your favorite?” My Christopher Lloyd/Doc Brown impression went over like gangbusters and was by far the most fun. But there I was, as close to Christopher Lloyd as I am to you, and I was thinking, Do I tell him he was my favorite? If I do, will he be honored? Or will he be upset? What if he asks me to do it? I didn’t know him well, and I was afraid he would think I was mocking him. So I didn’t tell him. But I promise you this: if I see Christopher Lloyd again, I’m gonna flat out tell him.

Okay, last question. What’s the next convention you’re going to, and acting-wise, what are you working on now?

I will be in London for their anime convention [London Anime and Gaming Convention, February 3-5]. That is my next convention. I am currently working on an animated series on the Internet called Cartoon Hook-ups, in which I voice the role of Deadpool.

I saw a picture of that series on your table, and I wasn’t familiar with it.

Right. Not a lot of people are. It is put together by a gentleman named Jared Winkler, who is a terrific writer, and he has a fantastic artist with him. These are adult-themed, sitcom-type animated episodes where different cartoon characters and sometimes video game or anime characters end up hooking up in hotel rooms. They are cliffhangers in a way because the question is, are they going to hook up? Will they be accepted, or will they be rejected? It’s a lot of fun, and I got to do Deadpool, which was a thrill for me.

Who does Deadpool hook up with?

The closest he came to hooking up was with Harley Quinn. It is one of the best, and the actress who plays Harley Quinn [Lauren Taler] is spot-on. I encourage anyone to look that up. You’ll get a big laugh.

What else are you working on?

I’m a character named Jhin on League of Legends, which is a platform game you can sign up for online. I’m also creating a show called The Snozzberries, which is about three brothers who have the same mother who was a groupie, so they all have different fathers. They were latchkey kids who ended up living in front of the TV set, and their whole life is seen through a veil or prism of popular culture. They do a musical thing that is akin to Spinal Tap meets Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It will be a combination of animation themes, sitcom themes, movie themes, and original songs along with comedy interspersed. We may start out in the clubs playing it as a show, or we may do it into a little theater venue that tours. We’re not sure yet, but we will start out shooting episodes to post online, so look out for The Snozzberries starring Quinton Flynn, Scott Vaughn, and a third brother as yet to be determined.

Quinton and me

Quinton and me

Another area of Ichibancon that has grown is artist alley. In a world that increasingly devalues the fine arts, a convention artist alley is still a place where painters, sculptors, jewelers, and other artisans can make a living. I remember when the Ichibancon artist alley had only three or four members. This year, over a dozen artists were there, offering something for everyone.

An artist at work

An artist at work

Ichibancon was one of my first conventions, and it remains one of my favorites. The venue is posh (if a little crowded), the staff is among the best I’ve worked with, and North Carolina in January is not the deep freeze that other parts of the country are. Check out Ichibancon next year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

It was great seeing Vic Mignogna again.

It was great seeing Vic Mignogna again.

This couple decided not to leave the kids in the hotel room. Understandable.

This couple decided not to leave the kids in the hotel room. Understandable.

This couple decided not to have kids. Totally understandable.

This couple decided not to have kids. Totally understandable.

A look at the Ichibancon video game room.

A look at the Ichibancon video game room.

Artist alley can be a little cozy.

Artist alley can be a little cozy.

This Cruella is a fella.

This Cruella is a fella.

Coffee, tea, or LSD?

Coffee, tea, or LSD?

I thought I was coming down with something, so I asked to see the nurse. Then I really came down with something.

I thought I was coming down with something, so I asked to see the nurse. Then I really came down with something.

Spellcheck, where are you when I need you?

Spellcheck, where are you when I need you?

WA – Lazarus Signing

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Writer Greg Rucka (Lazarus, Black Magick, The Old Guard, Queen & Country) signs at Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics on Wednesday, February 1, 2017 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Image Comics!

RSVP on Facebook!

Gabi’s Olympic Cards & Comics
4230 Pacific Ave SE, Lacey, WA 98503
(360) 459-7721

Image Comics Celebrates 25 Years on February 1st

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Press Release:

On February 1, 1992 seven comics superstars Erik Larsen, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, and Jim Valentino came together to form their own company that would ultimately change the landscape of comics forever. Current partners McFarlane, Valentino, Kirkman, Larsen, and Silvestri collectively have brought creator-owned comics to the forefront of industry change and, after 25 years of amazing storytelling freedom, Image is pleased to celebrate the milestone anniversary with Image Day—Feb. 1, 2017.

Image Comics wouldn’t have succeeded without the tremendous creativity and passion of its creators, the unwavering support of retailers, bookstores, and libraries, or the unbridled and unrelenting enthusiasm of the fans who show up each and every Wednesday to purchase Image titles. On Image Comics Day we celebrate together, nationwide, the exciting legacy that Image’s creator-owned publishing model has cultivated as we prepare for the next 25 years of amazing creator-owned comics to come.

There will be Image Comics promotions, giveaways, creator signings, social media events, and more—don’t miss out on all the festivities and check back to the events pages on imagecomics.com for more information and announcements about Image Comics Day celebrations near you.

Comics retailers are encouraged to jump on board this Image Day, February 1 and will be contacted by Jeff Stang, Director of Specialty Sales, with more information on how to participate.

Join us for the single most anticipated day of the year, as we come together and celebrate the 25th anniversary of Image Comics—but more importantly, the 25 years of true creative freedom and history-making storytelling from the best writers and artists in the world.

Chris Evans Surprises Comic Fans at Local Shop

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Some lucky fans got a big surprise when actor Chris Evans unexpectedly showed up at Comicazi, a comic shop in Somerville, MA, for a series of pranks which were captured on video (see below). The event was organized to advertise a contest Evans is currently running with Omaze in which participants contribute to charity for a chance to meet and participate in an escape room with him. Proceeds from the contest benefit Christopher’s Haven, a local nonprofit that provides support to kids fighting cancer.

Comicazi co-owner Mike Burke said they were contacted out of the blue by Omaze, whose team had previously scouted the store and found it ideal for their purposes. “Once everything was finalized, they had a crew set the cameras up the day before,” said Burke. “The next day Chris Evans came in to participate and get the whole thing going. He was a very nice guy.”

A Boston native, Evans has appeared in several comic book based movies most notably as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has previously benefited Christopher’s Haven at their fundraiser and two years ago famously visited their patients alongside actor Chris Pratt after winning a bet with the star of Guardians of the Galaxy that the New England Patriots would defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Click here to enter the Omaze contest…

photo courtesy of Comicazi 

IL – An Evening with George Takei

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Join George Takei at the Chicago Theatre on Saturday, February 4th at 7:30 PM where he will be interviewed on stage and share behind-the-scenes stories from portraying Star Trek’s original “Mr. Sulu” as well as discuss his career in film, television, and theatre. The evening will also include a screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and an audience-led Q&A. Tickets available at the link…

With a career spanning five decades, George Takei is known around the world for his founding role in the acclaimed television series Star Trek, in which he played Hikaru Sulu, helmsman of the Starship Enterprise. But George Takei’s story goes where few stories have gone before. From a childhood spent with his family wrongfully imprisoned in a Japanese Internment Camp during WWII, to becoming one of the country’s leading figures in the fight for social justice, LGBTQ rights, and marriage equality, George Takei remains a powerful voice on issues ranging from politics to pop culture. Currently, Takei hosts the AARP-produced YouTube series Takei’s Take, and is the subject of To Be Takei (2014), a documentary on his life and career. On his own YouTube channel, Takei and his husband Brad bring viewers into their personal life in the “heightened reality”webseries, It Takeis Two.

RSVP on Facebook!

The Chicago Theatre
175 N. State Street, Chicago, IL 60601
(312) 462-6300

GatorCon in West Palm Beach on May 13th!

Gatorcon copyFrom the Creators of RocCon! & Central PA ComicCon..both successful shows in the 3K-4K attendance range…….
It’s GatorCon! A full day of Comics & Pop Culture fun on Saturday May 13th, 2017 from 10am to 6pm  at the Hilton Airport, West Palm Beach!

150 Australian Ave, West Palm Beach, FL · (561) 684-9400
We start all our shows with one day the 1st year and expand from there. This model has worked for us,our vendors and attendees so we stay with what works! It’s that’s simple.
Come get in on the ground floor of Florida’s Newest show!  You can always count on tons of advertising, great guests, moderately priced food, lots of parking and most of all, fun panels to keep people there all day!
VENDOR SIGN UP LINK
OUR VENUE! 
The Beautiful Airport Hilton
150 Australian Avenue
West Palm Beach!

We have taken up all their Ballroom and Breakout Room space to accommodate
Vendors and Attendees alike!  Tons of free parking!

THE BEST PART? The hotel is adding a ballroom giving us room to grow for at least the next year or two of the show!  In the meantime, we have the Main Ballroom and breakout space!
If you are coming from a distance or just want to stay over for a different reason…..the Hilton has given us  a $99.00 Group Rate for a Single or Double FRIDAY AND SATURDAY NIGHTS for attendees and vendors.  We have 20 set aside, get yours while they last!
There is a moderately priced restaurant on the premises along with a snack bar and a bar area for after the show!
Tons of parking for vendors and attendees alike.
Vendor space is limited and a great value!  All our prior shows have started with no less than 1500 attendance….we are expecting at least the same with GatorCon!
SPACES AVAILABLE:  1 CORNER 10X1010 ($150) , 7 10X10’S ($125), 6 8X8’S ($99)AND 14 individual 8ft tables at $75.00.
Signup for your space before they’re gone at www.gatorcon.net

Questions?  Email us anytime at akentertainny@aol.com. or Monday-Friday between 9-5 at 585-317-4046

SPECIAL GUESTS SO FAR WITH MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!

WELCOME CHRISTOPER DOOHAN TO GATORCON!

 As a child, Chris spent time on the sets of the original series with his father, James “Scotty” Doohan. At 19 years old, Chris was asked to be in the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which was only the beginning of several appearances on that beloved ship. His most recent credited Trek movie role put him in the transporter room of J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness”, which followed his appearance in the directors first “Star Trek” in 2009, where Chris shared the screen with the new Scotty, Simon Pegg.

Chris is currently playing “Scotty” in the critically acclaimed, award winning web series, Star Trek Continues and also voices the character of Scotty on the popular game, Star Trek Online: Agents of Yesterday.

COMIC BOOK GUEST OF HONOR:  MARK SPARACIO!

 Successful illustrator Mark Sparacio studied sequential art for three years under the legendary Will Eisner recognized as the creator of the graphic novel at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. While still in school, Sparacio received his first contract job to do a painting for the movie poster for the United Artist film, The Draughtsman’s Contract. This opportunity resulted in a long run as a freelance illustrator for the advertising industry.   When the market for illustration collapsed, the door opened for Sparacio to return to the medium that is his first lovecomic books. In addition to painting covers for Billy Tucci’s Shi, D.C. Comic’s Green Lantern, Comics Buyer’s Guide and Alter Ego, Sparacio has also worked for Marvel Comics, painting covers for Heroes for Hire as well as covers for the Comics Values Annual from 2007 and 2008, and The Overstreet Price Guide for the same two years.
Sparacio recently completed the interior sequential pencils for issue #34 of Jonah Hex, along with painted covers for a new six issue Sgt. Rock mini-series being released by DC Comics. He has also done paintings for card sets for UpperDeck /DC Comics and for Topps Wacky Packages and Garbage Pail Kids.
In addition to handling the illustrations for No Quarter, Sparacio is currently penciling and doing painted covers for the new, on-going series Captain Action from Moonstone Comics, based on the classic Ideal Toys action figure (written by former X-Men writer Fabian Nicieza).  Mark is constantly developing new ideas and creating the corresponding artworkFor more information, please visit Mark Sparacio’s website: www.marksparacio.com
OTHER ARTIST GUESTS OF HONOR TO BE ANNOUNCED!
Visit www.gatorcon.net for more information!

Dark Heron Official Beer of Emerald City Comicon 2017

000 eccc17 beerPress Release:

Fremont Brewing and Emerald City Comicon have teamed up again to bring you the Dark Heron – an exclusive IPA specifically created as the Official Beer of Emerald City Comicon 2017, featuring a female superhero lead – Dark Heron.

This year’s Dark Heron defends the taste buds of her city against the Bland Beer League with a secret weapon of an explosive, international combo of American Experimental Hop HBC 438®, German Super-Hop Huell Melon and the Wonder Down Under Nelson Sauvin hops from New Zealand. Combining their fruity, tropical, and spicy aromas and flavor with the Legendary Northwest malts and a zap! of Oats, Dark Heron transforms water into a bold, expressive IPA and saves you from another corporate-mandated Bland Beer.

The beer will be available for tasting at a debut party sponsored by Emerald City Comicon and Fremont Brewing on Thursday, February 2 at the Fremont Brewing Urban Beer Garden – 1050 N 34th St in Seattle.

In celebration of the Pacific Northwest’s largest and most heroic pop culture festival (as well as Seattle’s official bird and Fremont Brewing’s logo), cartoonist Jennifer Vaughn (Nicki Minaj: The Empire, Plants Vs Zombies: Heroes) adapted Fremont Brewing’s heron logo and crafted the bold spirit of Dark Heron to embody the modern heroine.

Dark Heron will be available on tap at ECCC 2017, in bars and restaurants throughout Seattle and in 22 oz. bottles in regional grocery stores starting Friday, February 3, 2017.

CA – Day of the Scream Queens & Kings 2017

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Adrienne Barbeau, William Butler, Eric Freeman, Galyn Gorg, Laurene Landon, Monique Parent, Felissa Rose, Tiffany Shepis, Brinke Stevens, Helen Undy, Donna Wilkes, and Robert Brian Wilson sign at Dark Delicacies on Sunday, January 29th from 2:00 – 4:00 PM.

RSVP on Facebook!

Dark Delicacies
3512 W. Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505
(818) 556-6660

UK – Justice League/Power Rangers #1 Signing

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STEPHEN BYRNE will be signing the Forbidden Planet exclusive Artgerm variant of JUSTICE LEAGUE/POWER RANGERS #1 at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Saturday 21st January from 1:00 – 2:00 PM.

Two of comics’ greatest teams together for the very first time!

Something terrible has happened in Angel Grove! When the Command Center is breached and the teleporters are damaged, Zack is flung into another universe, where he’s mistaken for a villain by a mysterious masked vigilante. Can the other Power Rangers get to their friend in time to save him from Batman? Co-published with BOOM! Studios.

Also available at the event will be the brand new JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA: THE RAY REBIRTH.

Artist Stephen Byrne was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1986. Prior to Justice League/Power Rangers his work in comics included Green Arrow, and Joss Whedon’s Serenity. He has also provided covers for Titan Comics’ Doctor Who series and contributed artwork to the video game Plants vs Zombies: Heroes.

Forbidden Planet London Megastore
179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR
0207 420 3666

Charlotte Mini Con is Over the Hill

Charlotte Mini Con 40thCharlotte MiniCon is back and it’s turning 40!

Come celebrate at the original North Carolina comic convention. We’re keeping it old school with comic book vendors and comic creators at Grady Cole Center on Saturday, January 28, 2017. More info coming soon, don’t miss it!

CHARLOTTE MINICON TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

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