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.

ghostbusters

Carolina Ghostbusters: they’re ready to believe you.

2014-07-12_19-39-58_750

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

2014-06-27_20-32-27_423

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

20140713_125416

“Good evening, Clarice.”

Jay and Eddie’s Comic Book Show (October 2014)

Convention Name
Jay and Eddie’s Comic Book Show
This convention will take place:
  • for one day only.
Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
10/25/2014
About This Convention
Comics, Toys and local artists.
Venue Name and Address
Holiday Inn Express
1943 Blowing Rock Road
Boone, North Carolina 28607
United States
Map It
Number of Dealer/Exhibitor Tables
20
Projected Attendance
200
Please select the Category that best describes the convention
Comic Books

Jay and Eddie's Flyer

NC – Marvel: Year by Year Signing

myby

Matthew Manning appears at Barnes & Noble to sign Marvel Year by Year on Saturday August 2, 2014 at 3:00 PM!

Asheville Mall
3 South Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC 28805
828-296-7335

NC – Slingshot Across America Signing

gws

Author and artist of the fantastic GIRLS WITH SLINGSHOTS, comics creator extraordinaire Danielle Corsetto appears at Comic Envy on  Wednesday, August 13th from 3:00 – 7:00 pm! Danielle is also the writing talent behind two of the Adventure Time original graphic novels, and we’re thrilled to have her!

RSVP on Facebook!

Comic Envy
144 Tunnel Road, Asheville, NC 28805

 

NC – She-Hulk Signing

soule-nc

Charles Soule, writer of Letter 44, Superman Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, Red Lanterns , She Hulk , Inhuman, 27, as well as the upcoming Death of Wolverine mini series will be in the store signing at Ultimate Comics on Saturday August 16th! Mark your calendar now! Don’t miss your chance to meet one of the newest superstars in comics!

Ultimate Comics
6120 Farrington Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517
(919) 806-8282

NC – Supreme: Blue Rose #1 Signing

heroesAHTF14

Artist Tula Lotay appears at Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find for her only 2014 scheduled U.S. appearance besides SDCC! Lotay, artist of the Warren Ellis penned Supreme: Blue Rose will be signing copies of this exciting first issue from Image Comics at the store on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 12 noon. Plan to spend your lunch break at Heroes that day!

RSVP on Facebook!

Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find
1957 E 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
(704) 375-7462

NC – Sold the Store Signing

chc

Ed Piskor, Jim Rugg, Tom Scioli, Chris Pitzer, and Andrew Neal appear at Chapel Hill Comics on Saturday, July 12, from 6pm until 9pm!

RSVP on Facebook!

Chapel Hill Comics
316 W Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
(919) 967-4439

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!

 

2014-05-31_09-08-59_718

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

2014-05-31_09-12-54_774

Indication # you are at a sci-fi convention.

2014-05-31_09-41-59_693

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

2014-05-31_09-49-39_521

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

2014-05-31_11-03-52_437

Inside the dealer room.

2014-05-31_16-04-58_465

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

2014-05-31_16-06-12_573

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

2014-05-31_14-11-06_582

GRRM signing line: the Haves . . .

2014-05-31_14-11-18_561

. . . and the Have-Nots

2014-05-31_19-31-38_648

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

grrm-1

GRRM addresses fans during one of his readings.

kathryn-leigh-scott-and-lara-parker-dark

Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott pose for a picture.

 

Hickory Comic Con (September 2014)

Hickory Con

Convention Name
Hickory Comic Con
Convention Website Address
http://hickorycon.com/
This convention will take place:
  • for one day only.
Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
09/27/2014
About This Convention
We will have the 501 Star Wars Brigade, Star Trek Fleet and the Klingon Assault Group as well. Bring your camera!
We will have Tons of comics from the Golden age to current. also action figures,anime, and lots of other collectibles to choose from.
Artist list includes Stacey Fleming and Brian Monroe are just a few of the artist that will be attending.You can get you own sketch from any of these guys!
We will also have a yugioh card tournament and 3 booster boxes will be given away in prizes $10 entry for tournament.
Admission to the show is $4.00 entry for adults and $2.00 for children 13 and under at the door. a fun filled day for all. Hope to see you there.
Venue Name and Address
Hickory Metro Convention Center
1960 13th Ave Dr. SE
Hickory, NC 28602
United States
Map It
Number of Dealer/Exhibitor Tables
100
Projected Attendance
650
Please select the Category that best describes the convention
Comic Books
Additional Categories
  • Anime
  • Gaming
  • Collectibles

HeroesCon 2014 Displays Bill Watterson Original Art

Watterson-300x357

Press Release:

HeroesCon 2014 is proud to display the first published comic strip art from Bill Watterson in nearly twenty years! Watterson completed his inimitable Calvin and Hobbes strip in 1995, and has since remained largely private in his life and art. If you happened to read Stephan Pastis‘ popular Pearls Before Swine strip this week, you may have noticed that Pastis employed a guest artist, billed as a second grade girl named Libby, to help him with three strips. Astute readers speculated about the true identity of the guest artist, and today the Washington Post revealed it to be none other than the legendary Bill Watterson! Pastis tells the whole story on his blog.

In conjunction with Chris Sparks and Team Cul de Sac, we are happy to be bringing all three Watterson and Pastis strips to Charlotte to display at HeroesCon, June 20 through 22 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The art will be displayed on the convention floor all weekend, at our Drink and Draw event on Friday night, and at Saturday night’s Art Auction. We’ll also be hosting a panel on Friday, June 20 where fans will get to hear the story of how this remarkable art was produced, how it came to be featured in Charlotte, and the part that Cul de Sac cartoonist Richard Thompson plays in all of it.

The three strips produced by Watterson and Pastis will be auctioned off in the coming months, with all proceeds from the sale going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. This charity works closely with our good friends at Team Cul de Sac, for whom we host our annual HeroesCon Drink and Draw charity event. More specifics regarding the auction of these pieces will be available at HeroesCon, here on our site and at Team Cul de Sac‘s page in the coming weeks.

HeroesCon is the only place anyone will be able to see the rare Watterson and Pastis original art in person before they are auctioned off. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for comic and art fans across the country, and we are humbled and honored to be bringing it to Charlotte.

HeroesCon takes place June 20 – 22 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The Bill Watterson and Cul de Sac panel takes place Friday, June 20 at 5:30 at the convention center.

Next Page »