Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) 2017 Report!

Chicago. I had been there before. It was 2014, and the occasion was Wizard World. April 2017 was my second trip to the city that the poet Carl Sandburg called “Hog Butcher for the World, / Tool Maker, / Stacker of Wheat, / Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; / Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders.” Railroads are no longer America’s arteries, and big shoulders are now an 80s fashion relic, but I, like Sandburg, “have seen painted women / under the gas lamps / luring the farm boys.”

   

Such women in Chi-Town can mean only one thing: the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, known as C2E2. I went with my convention buddy John, whom you will remember from Spooky Empire, Minneapolis Wizard World, and Florida Supercon. We stayed at the Congress Plaza Hotel. Opened in 1893 in anticipation of the World’s Columbian Exposition–i.e., the Chicago World’s Fair–the place was a blend of grand and shabby. John likened it to “the Stanley Hotel meets Super 8.”

We grabbed some dinner and walked around downtown, which was eerily empty for a Thursday evening. I saw a few people with the telltale Pokémon shirts, beanies, and/or Barbossa beads and thought: convention goers. Things would heat up the next day and be full-bore by Saturday. John was looking forward to panel discussions and stellar cosplays. I had my usual assortment of books to be signed.

One thing going to conventions with John has taught me is the value of the convention app (if there is one). I still like the printed program of course–great for signatures. But John always downloads the app because it is (1) updated in real time, (2) doesn’t require him to keep up with something else, and (3) makes him feel tech wizard-y. And the C2E2 app is sweet! It has autograph schedules, prices, and locations for every celebrity. The prices were an especially nice feature. Most conventions don’t post these in advance, which makes budgeting for the weekend Mulvaney-esque.

Another innovation was getting my badge in the mail. If you read my first DragonCon report, then you know my acrimony regarding registration lines. John agrees: “Just charge an extra 40 cents and mail everyone’s badge.” How satisfying it was to open an envelope in February, slide out my shiny badge, and reflect on at least one queue not in my future.

Of course, it is impossible to avoid lines altogether. It is an axiom that, no matter which line I choose–supermarket, toll road, ATM, wherever–it will the line with problems: a technical malfunction, say, or a non-English-speaking customer, or an employee who skipped training. At conventions, I am similarly thwarted. Steve Blum was scheduled to sign at 11:00am on Friday, which was great. Fridays are the least crowded days, making them best for autographs–except this Friday. All around me, guests were meeting fans, posing for pictures, translating Celtic texts, building additions onto homes. Meanwhile, I waited. And waited. Blum’s line grew longer than the Santa Fe Trail, and still I waited. The con staff began setting up his booth at 11:50, suggesting he would arrive at 12:00 rather than the advertised 11:00. In fact, it was almost 1:00 when he got there.

Autograph lines. Look closely, and you’ll see me with a floor-length beard.

Rob Liefeld was also late, though not as egregiously. His line would have been long anyway–everbody loves Robert–but there was a new thing complicating it: VIP clients. For $125 in advance ($160 on-site), you would get two signed exclusive comics, one signed Deadpool print, one autograph ticket for your own item, and a picture with Liefeld. He is a quick signer, and friendly without being effusive, which moves the line along. But it is a gut punch to get aaaaaaalmost to the table and be superseded by a group of VIPs. I said there should be VIP signing times and non-VIP signing times, but John argued that would dilute the perks of being a VIP, one of which is the freedom not to have to visit the booth at a specific time.

Those who eschewed the VIP ticket could choose from Liefeld’s a la carte menu.

The growing practice of comic creators charging for autographs has been discussed a lot lately. I don’t mind a blanket charge because, as Dan Seitz argues, “sign your name a hundred times in a row. It’s simple work, but it’s work. You pay people for work.” I do mind creators charging more for a CGC-witnessed signature. Is it more work to write your name when a third party is watching? And charging more to sign a more valuable book like New Mutants #98 is merely a money grab. After all, a number of market forces affect secondary value that have little to do with the quality of the product.

But I care less about cost than about time, the latter of which is more precious and fleeting at a convention. Memo, then, to all creators and celebrities: don’t be late to your signings! The convention is your job for a particular weekend. Do your job. I cannot conceive of any legitimate reason for a guest who is in a city where they have no other business and is staying at a hotel across the street to be unable to make an 11:00am appointment. I am at this convention to meet you, be enthralled by you, and then carry your name across the land. Hard to do that when you’re a no-show Jones.

As for the rest of the convention, it was a delight. C2E2 is big–70,000+ attendees–but the open floor plan gives plenty of space, so I never felt pinioned. The dealer room had all the comics dealers together, all the anime dealers together, all the T-shirt dealers together, etc., which made shopping go smoother. The family area had games, a play space, chairs for adults to rest, and circus performers. The selection of comic creators was spectacular–Stan Lee, Frank Miller (too bad he was there Saturday only and sold-out), Greg Rucka, Rob Liefeld, Matt Wagner, and some who don’t do many conventions anymore, like Dan Jurgens. There were fewer actors than I expected, but this reinforces the focus of C2E2–comic and entertainment, not the other way around. John said there weren’t enough panels and seminars for a convention this size, but the ones he attended were good. His favorite dealt with using comics to boost literacy and teach science. Finally, there was a larger selection of (over-priced) food vendors than I find at most conventions.

If you’ve never been to Chicago, go. And if you’ve never been to C2E2, go. Most conventions are run by small nonprofits, who are exposed as amateurs in a number of ways, but the power of ReedPOP ups the professionalism. Despite three different volunteers being unable to tell me where Frank Miller’s autograph sessions would be held, I found C2E2 to be well-managed, well-marketed, and an all-around pleasure.

Want to see more images from C2E2? Here you go!

“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse / and strong and cunning.”

 

Must. Catch. Train.

 

I always wanted to be an Ivy League graduate.

 

Look at that chicken . . . and the two cosplayers beside him.

 

At least I didn’t have to queue to see Q.

 

Strangely enough, John lost his voice after this picture with the Sea Witch.

 

“Wait’ll they get a load of me.”

 

“Sure, honey, I’ll go get your purse from the car. Be right back.”

 

Some people put a lot of thought into their cosplays. Others just wing it.

 

Two big reasons to go to C2E2 are . . . um . . .

 

C2E2 just goes on . . .

 

and on . . .

 

and on.

 

Cosplay Central: the heroes behind the heroes

 

Chicago is cold enough without this guy being in town.

 

Massive Comic Con 2017 Throws Pirate-Themed After Party

Press Release:

Yo ho ho mateys, you are hereby invited to the official after party of the 2017 MASSive Comic Con on June 24th, from 9:00 PM til 1:00 AM!

Join us for an evening of music, merriment, pirate themed drinks and shenanigans!

This party be 21+ plus. Entry is $10 in advance (click here) or $15 at the door!

Entertainment for the festivities:

  • A “DJ” playing merry melodies to get even the most drunken pirates dancing
  • Pirate games to prove who is the greatest pirate of the seven seas
  • Rum, rum and more rum!
  • A contest to see who is the the most swashbuckling buccaneer or pirate
  • The First Ever “Captain Jack Sparrow Off” to find who’s the real Captain Jack!
  • Live performances featuring the best performers from Tortuga!

RSVP on Facebook!

The MASSive Comic Con is New England’s newest comic con experience happening June 27th & 28th at the DCU Center in Worcester, MA! This year’s guests include: Comic book authors and artists such as Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner (Harley Quinn), Cully Hamner (Blue Beetle), Ming Doyle (America, The Kitchen), Dave Johnson (100 Bullets), Franco (Aw Yeah Comics), Agnes Garbowska (My Little Pony), and Cat Staggs (Wonder Woman). Film and TV stars such as Kevin McNally (Pirates of the Caribbean), Martin Klebba (POTC), Diamond Dallas Page (WWE Hall of Fame), Chester Rushing (Stranger Things) and Booker T (WWE Hall of Fame). Famous cosplayers such as Rikki “Riddle” Lecotey, Bethany Maddock, Abby Darkstar, Keith Zen, and more. Tickets for admission to the convention are available at the link…

Don’t Miss Ka-Blam! 2017 on April 22nd

April 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Convention News, Cosplay, Pennsylvania

Press Release:

Join us for ToonSeum’s annual fundraiser, Ka-Blam! on Saturday, April 22nd at the Teamster Temple in Lawrenceville, PA!

Our theme this year is Cosmic Cause-Play and will feature great sci-fi costumes, themed activities and a pop-up showcase highlighting the work of Joss Whedon, creator of Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Live drawings, coveted auction items, music provided and great fare and refreshments from some of Pittsburgh’s best local establishments, this is an event you don’t want to miss!

Click here for tickets!

VIP starting at 7pm
General Admission starting at 8pm

VIP Tickets: $75
General Admission: $45

Or – buy a table and save!
VIP Table of 10: $675/table
General Admission Table of 10: $405/table

RSVP on Facebook!

The Crystal Ball Fantasy Masquerade

January 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Convention News, Cosplay, Georgia

Dragon Con and MomoCon present a night of fun and fantasy at The Crystal Ball, a formal event at the world famous Georgia Aquarium Oceans Ballroom on February 25th, 2017 at 7:00 PM!

The night will be alive with hosts of costumed fairies and fae in their best formal attire, framed by the gentle creatures of the deep from all sides, dancing the evening away to orchestral favorites and some secret gems. Each woodland faun and goblin king will be dining on heirloom greens with the cursed blood oranges, toasted pecans, and roquefort, the finest of stewed ovine (or braised short ribs) or vegetarian option for our elven friends, finished with the legendary lemon souffle tart, which opens it’s delicate pastry only once every thousand years for a chosen few.

For the dwarves of the party, a cash bar is available for the evening with brew, ale, wine, and assorted cocktails. The night will come alive with the orchestral stylings of the most popular of entertainment, including ballroom arrangements from The Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy, Harry Potter, The Legend of Zelda, Miyazaki movies, and many many more, with a full dance floor on which to take your favorite necromancer or lamia for a swinging good time!

VIP access is available, including a special VIP gift bag with custom event artisan-etched glassware, commemorative cloisonne pin, drink ticket, and special reserved seating.

Dinner consists of a three course meal, with the main dish featuring beef (vegan and vegetarian options are available). Dinner will begin at 8:30pm. VIP exclusive hors d’oeuvres are available at 7:00 PM.

Tickets available now while supplies last

LINK: DC Heroes: DIY Raven Cosplay

October 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Animation, Comic Books, Everything Else

DIY Cosplay Raven

Uncanny Megan and the Costume SuperCenter bring you a step-by-step tutorial for creating a Raven (Teen Titans) cosplay.

EXCLUSIVE: Registration Now Open for Long Beach Comic Con 2016 Cosplay Contest

Press Release:

REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN FOR THE LONG BEACH COMIC CON 2016 COSPLAY CONTEST!

One of the Most Celebrated Events of Long Beach Comic Con Returns on September 17!

LBCC CosplayAUGUST 10, LONG BEACH, CA–Just over a month before the doors open to the seventh annual Long Beach Comic Con, MAD Event Entertainment is pleased to announce registration is now open for this year’s Cosplay Contest!

Hosted by Nerds Like Us’ Rhapsody Artejo & Chad Everett Lee Edward, this year’s contest takes place on Saturday 9/17 at 7:00pm in Room S7 in the Long Beach Convention Center.

“Cosplay has always been one of the most celebrated parts of the show,” says Executive Director and Co-Founder, Martha Donato. “It is very important that our show be friendly to cosplay in every aspect, on and off the show floor, with programming and events geared toward cosplayers from beginners to professionals. Our annual cosplay contest has grown into one of the highlights of the show, and it is always exciting to see the passion that goes into all of the costumes of our participants.”

Entries for this year’s Long Beach Comic Con/Expo cosplay contest will include several categories. Awards will be given for: Best Hero, Best Villain, Best Youth, Best Group, Funniest, Best Tv/Movie, Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Judges’ Choice, and of course, Best in Show. Judges will be scoring for overall difficulty, creativity, accuracy(for recreation), and showmanship/character. Look for further announcements on prizing in the coming weeks!

All participants must register in advance, and complete rules and registration info can be found here (hyperlink to rules on site?)

Enjoy an exciting weekend full of exceptional guests and exhibitors, and engaging panels, at Long Beach Comic Con, Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sunday, September 18 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm at the Long Beach Convention Center. The show opens to advance ticket holders at 9:30 AM on Saturday and 10AM on Sunday. Tickets are available now through the website: www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

Follow Long Beach Comic Con on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and information.

ABOUT LONG BEACH COMIC CON: Long Beach Comic Con is an annual event held at the Long Beach Convention Center that celebrates comic books and pop culture and showcases the exceptional works of talented writers, artists, illustrators and creators of all types of pop culture. At Long Beach Comic Con, you’ll find exhibitors promoting and selling all types of related products, as well as entertaining and educational programs for all ages, guest signings and meet & greet sessions with celebrities. Long Beach Comic Con is a MAD Event Management, LLC production. To learn more and purchase tickets, please visit www.longbeachcomiccon.com.

Batman cosplay cosplay Captain American and Winter Soldier girls cosplay Joker The Killing Joke cosplay Darth Vader, Deadpool, Joker, Batman LBCC Cosplay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baltimore Comic-Con Releases New Cosplay Props Policy

August 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Convention News, Cosplay, Maryland

BaltimoreconPress Release:

The Baltimore Comic-Con will be held on September 2-4, 2016 at the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center.

Our first priority at Baltimore Comic-Con will always be the safety and welfare of all our fans, guests, vendors, and the Baltimore community. Our amended policy is intended to address sharp-edged blades and realistic, functioning firearms. With that in mind, our AMENDED Weapons Policy follows.

The following list is not meant to be all-inclusive and the Baltimore Comic-Con reserves the right to prohibit additional items not listed in this policy. Prohibited items include, but are not limited to:

  1. Functional firearms of any kind (including air soft guns, BB guns, cap guns, paintball guns, and pellet guns)
  2. Replica firearms (including reproductions, or toy guns that can be confused for actual firearms by law enforcement)
  3. Sharp-edged (non-dull) bladed weapons (including axes, daggers, hatchets, knives and swords, sword canes, and switch blades)
  4. Explosives of any type (including black powder, firecrackers, and fireworks)
  5. Chemical weapons (including mace and pepper spray)

If you purchase a sharp-bladed weapon (not blunt or rounded) from a Vendor at the convention, please be careful and consider keeping it in its original packaging while you’re on the show floor.

We completely appreciate the time and effort that so many of our fans and guests put into their costumes and convention attire. Whether dressing for our annual costume contest, cosplay, or simply showing your fandom, we understand that weaponry is often part of the overall presentation. We sincerely hope everyone understands these extra measures that have been designed to preserve a safe and enjoyable environment for all, and we strongly encourage everyone to continue wearing the costumes on which they have spent so much time and effort.

Thank you in advance for working with us to ensure a safe and fun time is experienced by everyone at the Baltimore Comic-Con.

General Admission and VIP Package tickets for Weekend, Friday, Saturday, andSunday, as well as the Harvey Awards, are now on sale! Visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com/tickets/ for more information and to purchase your advanced tickets now, and as always, kids 10 and under get into the show free with a paid adult General Admission.

While they are available, be sure to take advantage of discount rate arrangements we have made with hotels near the Baltimore Convention Center. For all the details, see: http://baltimorecomiccon.com/about/hotels

To make parking easy and stress-free, we have partnered with Parking Panda, the nationwide leader in online parking reservations, to allow attendees driving to the show to purchase guaranteed parking near the Baltimore Comic-Con. Click here to book your guaranteed parking spot, or if you need help or have questions, call 800-232-6415

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, Instagram, and Facebook pages.

2016 Florida Supercon Con Report (Including an Interview with John Stover)!

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I know many of you are asking: who in the name of J. Jonah Jameson’s sideburns is John Stover? In fact, you have met him before. He introduced me to DragonCon in 2011. In 2014, he was my boon companion in Mouse-town for Spooky Empire. In 2015, we took a break from Florida to stay a few miles from the oldest Baptist church in America (founded in 1638) for Rhode Island Comic Con. This year, over the July 4 weekend, we were back in the Sunshine State for another convention new to me: Florida Supercon

John and I have been tight since eleventh grade, when he transferred to my high school midyear, walked into my Spanish class, and took the only available seat—next to me. Twenty-eight years later, we have seen each other through four divorces (two each), five weddings (I lead 3-2), a knot of children (my 2 step, his 3 bio), the near death of his first son, new jobs, new homes, graduate degrees, and a Playboy bunny ex-girlfriend (his, wouldn’t you know). Spooky Empire and Rhode Island were new to me, and I’m glad I could experience them with John.

Held in Miami, Supercon is the largest comic book, anime, cosplay, sci-fi, fantasy, video gaming & pop culture convention in South Florida, according to Instagram. Over 51,000 people attended in 2015, and it seemed this year’s total would surpass that. Four-day passes had sold out weeks before, and Saturday-only passes were gone by Friday afternoon. Unlike smaller conventions, which tend to be held in hotels, this one was at the Miami Beach Convention Center. I am biased toward hotels for their intimacy (Michaela McPherson discusses this in her Anime Fan Fest article), but except for DragonCon, which is unique, shows of 50,000+ people need the vastness of a convention center.

They need this vastness for, among other things, effective line operation. There were some major celebrities at this convention: William Shatner, Henry Winkler, Ben McKenzie, and some members of the Deadpool cast. Lines were long, but they never felt crowded or unruly. (For line management, it doesn’t get much worse than the George R.R. Martin debacle at ConCarolinas 2014.) I don’t mind the waiting part of being in line. You learn a lot by talking to other attendees. One couple talked about how accessible the mega-celebrities are at San Diego Comic-Con. The year they went, they were waiting to get into a panel when Ian McKellan showed up and started mingling. Another guy said he waited in Stan Lee’s signing line at Mega Con for five hours. Why? Stan was a no-show for the morning session—his M.O., according to the guy.

And sometimes cool things happen in line. Henry Winkler stood in front of his signing table, and he occasionally walked to the end of the line, shaking hands and thanking people for their patience. (Of course, if he didn’t take these breaks, there wouldn’t be such a need for patience.) Once, he stopped to perform a magic trick for a group of kids. John and I went to Henry’s Q&A, which was held in an honest-to-goodness theater next to the convention center. From the moment Henry stepped on stage, he owned it. I had read before that Henry was dyslexic, but I didn’t realize how problematic that was for him. He said that, academically, he was in the bottom 3% of the United States. He can’t spell and isn’t good at math. In high school, he took geometry four times, finally passing with a D.

But he had wanted to act since he was seven years old, and he found a way to do it. How? Tenacity and gratitude: “two words I live by.” Both traits power his lifelong advocacy for literacy and education. “If you have trouble in school,” he said, “it has nothing to do with how smart you are”—good advice from a man who overcame his obstacles. He has a new show coming out on August 23 called Better Late Than Never. He lauded the cast and writing of Arrested Development, and of course, he talked about being the Fonz, whom he based on Sylvester Stallone’s character from Lords of Flatbush. “One of the things I brought to the Fonz,” he said, “was loyalty to my friends,” which was why Fonz was always watching out for Richie, Ralph, and Potsie. Fonz was the anti-bully, at a time when bullying was becoming an epidemic. And when someone asked him about working with the late Robin Williams on Happy Days, he gushed for five minutes about Williams’s brilliance. The next person asked about Ron Howard and got this response: “Ron Howard looks like a loaf of Wonder Bread.” He didn’t say “Ayyyyyy” after that line, but it was implied.

The Fonz signs something for me. Whoa!

The Fonz signs something for me. Whoa!

What else can I tell you about Supercon? Actually, I’ll let John Stover tell you in his words. John and I have been to a lot of conventions together, and he tends to give thoughtful feedback on things.

Me: Tell me about a couple of the panels you attended.

John: Okay. I attended a tap dance show which was based on video games such as The Legend of Zelda. Link was the lead, and there were about 6-7 other tap dancers.

Me: Were they children performers?

John: No, I’d say late teens or early 20s. It was set to music inspired by video games. I watched about 15 minutes of the hour and decided that was enough. Then I went to watch a short film which was part of the short film festival. It was okay. You know how those are. Some of them are good, some are mediocre.

Me: The one I watched with you, Attack of the Killer Donuts, was worse than mediocre.

John: Cheesiness.

Me: Thirty minutes of my life I won’t get back.

John: I stuck my head into one session that had something to do with light saber technology [actual title: The Lightsaber Combat Global Movement and How to Participate]. That was a little over my head.

Me: It turned up the nerd factor. That’s like the people who teach themselves to speak Klingon or Elvish. They are immersed.

John: Yes. That is one reason why I liked this convention more than any of the others we’ve attended. I like the breakout sessions. Those to me give it a more local feel. They are organized by local fans, and I feel like there is more enthusiasm and more energy in the convention when that happens.

Me: As opposed to, say, Wizard World conventions, which are more commercial.

John: Yes. This is not a bunch of experts. It’s local fans volunteering their time for the thing they love.

Me: So you would recommend Florida Supercon?

John: Yes!

Me: What does someone need to know before coming here?

John: Don’t be a fuddy-duddy. At least buy a nerd-related T-shirt at Target or something. We made that mistake for the first few years. I was looking this weekend at all the people not dressed up or even wearing a T-shirt, and I thought, get some enthusiasm. I would also recommend wearing comfortable shoes. But that’s what I liked about the panels. Whenever you get tired of walking, just find one that interests you or that you want to learn about.

Me: I liked the eating choices. Often, in conventions held in a convention center, there is only one restaurant, the convention center snack bar. This one had several food courts with Papa John’s Pizza, a Chinese place, a taco place, a French place, gyros, barbecue. There were lots of options for dining—all overpriced but lots of options.

John: The biggest food court could have had more tables, though. Did you see that?

Me: Yeah. It had a huge open floor with nothing on it where they could have put in more tables.

John: I liked how, at the photo op area, there was a schedule of all the photo ops for each day with prices. There was a big screen monitor with a spreadsheet listing them all. Too often, it is hard to know when the photo ops are scheduled and how much they cost. It might be printed in the program, but then you have to dig that out and flip through it. Here, the information was right up on the screen, so I appreciated the organization.

The whole convention was well organized, in fact. I saw few signs rescheduling things, and as far as I know, only three guests cancelled: Jerry Lawler, Karl Urban, and Arthur Darvill. I liked the extended dealer room hours: until 8:00pm on Friday and Saturday. And the cosplays were among the best I’ve seen. I guess my only disappointment was the schedule on the web site, which was not a single printable sheet. Each day had its own web site page. There was a convention app, but my antediluvian Android is not app-friendly, meaning I had to rely on the web site—not good for a place where 50,000+ were soaking up the Wi-Fi.

I agree with John: Florida Supercon is terrific, well-organized and fun. Despite its size, it is not unwieldy. We’ve all attended conventions that were too much for their staff, but this is not one of them. Check out the pix below for more fun!

I see the Scarecrow, but I don't think either of the other two is Mrs. King.

I see the Scarecrow, but I don’t think either of the other two is Mrs. King.

 

The site of wonderful cosplayers fills you with determination.

The site of wonderful cosplayers fills me with determination.

 

Now that's a good idea: homemade wings to fly to the front of autograph lines.

Now that’s a good idea: homemade wings to fly to the front of autograph lines.

 

I see Link, so I guess that means he isn't missing.

I see Link, so I guess that means he isn’t missing.

 

You, robot.

You, robot.

 

John and Lady D sittin' in a tree, K-I-L-L-I-N-G.

John and Lady Deadpool sittin’ in a tree, K-I-L-L-I-N-G.

 

Springfield awaits!

Springfield awaits!

 

If I leave John alone too long, he ends up with some unsavory characters.

If I leave John alone too long, he ends up with some unsavory characters.

 

Greg Capullo signs a book for me.

Greg Capullo signs a book for me.

 

Why is no one in this guy's autograph line?

Why is no one in this guy’s autograph line?

 

Cool tats, bro.

Cool tats, bro.

 

Best. Cosplay. Ever.

Best. Cosplay. Ever. The frame is PVC pipe, the wheels are spray foam, and the seat is an overturned mop bucket with wheels on it.

Squad Up! Suicide Squad Cosplay Contest

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Press Release:

The Squad Up! Suicide Squad Cosplay Contest launches today from DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. and invites you to cosplay as your favorite squad member for a chance to win a trip to San Diego this July for Comic-Con International. Have you always wanted to build a Deadshot mask? Is Harley Quinn your spirit animal? Got a purple alligator-skinned coat in the back of your closet that you’ve been wondering what to do with? Then this contest is for you!

Here’s how it works:

  • Assemble a costume based on the look of any of the following characters from Warner Bros.’s upcoming Suicide Squad film: Deadshot, The Joker, Harley Quinn, Colonel Rick Flag, Amanda Waller, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc, Enchantress, Slipknot, and Katana.
  • Take a photo of yourself wearing your costume. Make sure it’s a good quality photo that really shows off your costume!
  • Enter using one of the three methods of entry listed here.

You can find the full list of rules and conditions here. Trust us, you’ll want to check them out. After the entry period, fans will be able to vote in two separate rounds and help us choose finalists in each of the character categories. Once we have our finalists, eleven different winners—one for each character—will be chosen.

We expect some heavy competition, but don’t worry, we’re here to help. At the link are some tips, as well as a gallery of characters to help with your costumes. Click on the photos to zoom in on them.

Rhode Island Comic-Con 2015 Report (with an interview with Chris Claremont)!

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I went to Rhode Island to see John and Chris. John is my best friend of 25 years. We have been through it all: four divorces (two each), five marriages (he can make it six), new careers, new houses, and the almost-death of his first son, Jonathan, back in 2000. John and I have been to a number of conventions together (see here, for example), and it was time to add the Rhode Island Comic-Con to our roll.

Chris is Chris Claremont. I love John like a brother, but let’s be clear: Chris is what drew me, a lifelong Southerner, to New England on the cusp of winter (November 5-8). I have been a fan of Chris since high school, when my friend Margot introduced me to a pretty cool comic called The Uncanny X-Men. The first issue I bought was #216. I read it, was hooked, and started buying it each month. My father noticed my zeal, and realizing he could teach investment skills while doing something fun with his soon-to-be-too-old-for-him son, he started advancing me allowances to buy back issues. I learned to grade comics and spot value, and within a year, I owned issues as far back as #12, the first appearance of Juggernaut.

I just realized: that was when Stan Lee was still writing the series.

Eventually, I let my collection stagnate, and then I sold it in 1999 for a couple thousand bucks so I could marry wife #2. (Now I don’t have her or the comics, and guess which I miss more?) But I never forgot my adoration of Chris Claremont. Then I saw he would be in Rhode Island, and I called John, with whom I hadn’t planned a trip all year. John said, “I’m in,” and I thought, You better be.

Rhode Island Comic-Con isn’t as large as San Diego or C2E2, and it isn’t as venerable as, say, DragonCon. But it is on the rise. I had this brought home to me when I talked to Susan Soares, the director of media. She told me she was expecting 60,000 attendees. In 2012, there were 16,000. This is an increase of 275%—in only three years! It is the “largest and most income-generating event in the state,” according to Susan, who expects the convention to keep growing because (1) Rhode Island is not a saturated market, (2) the staff is professional and easy-going, and (3) they advertise the heck out of it.

The growth hasn’t been easy to manage, however. In 2014, the convention made headlines for the wrong reasons, overselling and getting shut down for half a day by the Providence fire marshal (see this link for the full story). I asked Susan how that contretemps would be avoided this year, and she outlined a three-part strategy:

Expansion. Last year’s event was confined to the convention center in downtown Providence. This year, they planned to situate some elements (like the dealer room) in the adjacent Dunkin Donuts Center.

Day 3. Instead of being Saturday and Sunday only, this year’s convention would start on Friday.

Scanned badges. Using the New York Comic-Con model, convention employees would scan badges as people enter and exit. This would allow them to track how many people are in the convention center at any time, thereby not exceeding capacity and getting shut down.

Overall, the strategy was a success. They had sold out of Saturday one-day tickets by 11:00am on Saturday, but I heard no other accounts of people being turned away. There were, however, navigation problems. In a convention spread across two buildings, I was surprised by the dearth of directional signs. Plus there were no printed maps—the only map was on the mobile app—so all weekend, I heard people murmuring “Where is the dealer room?” or “I can’t find Vic Mignogna’s table!”

After two circumnavigations of artist alley, I found Chris Claremont, who had been gracious enough to agree to an interview.

Me: Chris, I want you to know: you are the reason I am at this convention. I wanted to see you. Princess Leia? Pssssh. Besides, she cancelled.

Chris: Oh, really? She cancelled?

Me: Yeah. [And she wasn’t the only one. Nearly a dozen celebrities were quietly flensed from the web site as of Friday morning. I’m used to one or two no-shows, but double digits?]

Chris: The funniest thing I’ve heard is the projected opening weekend gross for that film global is one billion. I saw the very first show of Star Wars at the Astor Plaza in New York, and it was empty. It gradually filled up, but there were empty seats, and we figured, nice movie when it started, but when it finished, it was like, holy shit. We walked out the door, and the line was four-deep around the block, and it didn’t go away for about three months.

Me: Speaking of movies, what do you think about Marvel’s movies, especially X-Men?

Chris: So far, Marvel has done very, very well. Kevin Feige is a brilliant film exec. Lauren Shuler-Donner is a brilliant film exec. Between the two of them, they have nailed the Marvel pantheon. The X-Men movies maybe aren’t as financially lucrative as The Avengers. On the other hand, the casting of them is breathtaking, from the first X-Men to Days of Future Past—and, from all accounts, Apocalypse. Kevin, by the same token, starting with Iron Man, it’s been an incredible ride. I mean, Ant-Man? Who would have thought Ant-Man?

Me: Ant-Man was good.

Chris: That’s the point. It was good. And, more importantly, the actors playing the roles seem to enjoy the experience. They want to come back for more.

Me: Did you have any involvement in the X-Men movies?

Chris: Well, I helped crystallize the deal that got it all started back in the beginning, when I was briefly an executive at Marvel. I provided north of 80 percent of the source material for the characters. I mean, they’re all my guys and gals. And two-thirds of them are pretty much straight adaptations of my work. I suppose you could honestly say it was all my fault.

Me: And we’re very grateful.

Chris: Actually, the funny part is, every so often I sneak into the Marvel movies. Scarlett Johannson’s secret identity in Iron Man 2, when she walks into Tony’s house and is introduced as Natalie Rushman . . . well, Natalie Rushman is a secret identity that I invented for the Black Widow when she did a four-part team-up where she had lost her memory as the Black Widow and thought she was a schoolteacher from Boston named Natalie Rushman [this takes place in Marvel Team-Up #82-85, and the alias is actually Nancy Rushman].

Me: Cool. Switching gears a little, you’ve written comic books, and you’ve written prose novels. What’s the difference in writing the two?

Chris: When you’re writing comics, the writer’s job is to tell the story to the visual artist. All the work that goes into writing a novel goes into describing the scene. [He opens a copy of Marada the She-Wolf. A Red Sonja-like character, Marada was created by Chris and the English artist John Bolton.] So it’s describing this scene so that John Bolton could bring it to life brilliantly. Which he does. It’s giving him the sequence of events and allowing him to do what he does best, which is draw a picture that makes you go, wow! When I first drafted this scene, there was going to be lots of dialogue about how she lost her father, lost her mother, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. But when I got to the scene, when you see the images, when you get to this image, you don’t need any words. I mean, if you can’t figure out what’s going on, if you can’t figure out the emotional relationships just from looking at it, then neither of us is doing our job. John did his job brilliantly, unlike me talking now. The key to being a writer in comics is to know when to shut the hell up and let the artist do the work.

Me: So would your instructions for that panel be “Have someone lying on the bed,” or would you describe exactly how it should look?

Chris: Well, depends on the scene. Marvel did a 9/11 remembrance book [Heroes, released December 2001] where a writer and an artist would team up to do a poster commemorating what happened and how they felt about it, and when my page came around, I spent about 2,000 words describing the scene, and Salvador [Larocca] just drew this brilliant, brilliant picture, and as far as I was concerned, it didn’t need anything more from me. I had done my work, he had done his work, and the end result was brilliant.

Me: Very good. So you were inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame earlier this year. What was that like?

Chris: A lot of fun. One of the more unexpected things in my life. It’s way too cool for the likes of me.

Me: It doesn’t surprise me at all.

Chris: Well, you can think that. I’m not supposed to because I’m supposed to be shy and modest. But it’s way cool.

Me: When did you start doing conventions?

Chris: When they started asking me. How else can you meet the fans? In the old days, it was more fun because people would write letters, and the nice thing about them is it tells you what they were thinking of and how they were reacting to specific issues. Now it’s all posted online, and you seriously have to go looking for it. There aren’t that many hours in a day. But conventions are a really nice way of putting a face on the readership.

Me: What are a couple of your more memorable convention experiences?

Chris: Just meeting people. It’s a weird sensation when you run into creators, actors, people you’ve respected, and they tell you how cool you are, and you go, “No no no, that’s my line.”

Me: Do fans ever just go to pieces meeting you? Do they cry? Hyperventilate?

Chris: Oh yeah. But the cool thing is that now I’m starting to see a lot more young kids coming, which leads one to believe there’s hope.

Me: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Chris: Get a day job [laughs]. Being a writer is like being an artist: if you’ve got the bug, you do it. You don’t argue. You can’t argue. Then it’s just a matter of kicking at the wall until something sells. And then, once you make the first sell, you go for the second, then the third, then the fourth, and so on. There’s no real secret to being a writer. There’s just having an idea and then having the madcap determination to see it through to fruition.

You might assume this is an excerpt from the interview. It is not. This short conversation lasted over 20 minutes because we were sitting at Chris’s table in artist alley, and he was signing books all the while. My recording of the interview is peppered with crowd noise, his sidebars with other fans, and announcements blasted over the PA system. Chris had trouble getting into the convention—apparently, his vendor badge could not be located—and the interview started late, when he already had more people waiting for him than a Soviet bread line. Yet it was one of my best interviews ever. Chris is articulate and witty, and he cares a lot for his fans. Though I didn’t hyperventilate, meeting Chris Claremont is one of the highlights of my life. And it happened at Rhode Island Comic-Con.

The rest of the convention was as you might expect. Dunkin Donuts Center is a basketball arena, which makes it an odd venue for a convention. The dealer room was on the court, which was roomy, but some of the celebrities were tucked away in what looked like janitor closets. Know who had the longest signing lines that I saw? Tom Kenny and Bill Fagerbakke—you know, SpongeBob and Patrick, which confirms my theory that the next growth market for collectors is 1990s memorabilia.

There were few fan-led panels, which disappointed John. Such panels were the seed of conventions back in the 1970s, but they are in danger of disappearing in this bigger-is-better era. John likes the panels. He considers himself a fan but not a super-fan. The super-fan award goes to the girl I saw at Jim Beaver’s table. Tears streaked her teenaged face, and after she and her mother walked away, they stopped and hugged as though a dog had died.

Friends, that is fandom. That is love. Wil Wheaton says that the defining characteristic of being a nerd is that “we love things. Some of us love Firefly and some of us love Game of Thrones, or Star Trek, or Star Wars, or anime, or games, or fantasy, or science fiction. Some of us love completely different things. But we all love those things SO much that we travel for thousands of miles … we come from all over the world, so that we can be around people who love the things the way that we love them.”

Rhode Island was a great place to go for love. The convention is young, so I have no doubt they will work out the problems of limited space and no maps and unreliable celebs. Every staff member I saw, every volunteer I talked to, was a delight, which confirms what Susan Soares told me in the beginning.

So if you have the chance, go to Rhode Island Comic-Con next November. Buy your badge early. Study the schedule. Stay hydrated. It will be one of your best shows all year.

_______________________

karen line

John and I weren’t the only attendees.

deadpool

This guy was also there. Wait, he’s at every convention!

knight

Due to the no-weapons policy, this guy wasn’t allowed to be armed.

chris

Chris Claremont signs my comic.

fonz

The Fonz tells me to leave the convention.

lost

Whoops! This isn’t the way to the men’s room.

metatron

An angel just below my shoulder.

contest

Various winners from Saturday night’s costume contest, which had 70-80 total entries.

catwoman

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.”

Bobby

Jim Beaver asked me where I am from. “North Carolina,” I said. He nodded and said, “That explains it.” I wanted to say, “Right. Like Bobby Singer doesn’t have a rural accent!”

groot

John and Groot, not seeing eye-to-eye.

tardis

“Uh, Doctor? I think you regenerated a little too far back.”

lois

This gal is a great little Kidder.

cosplay repair

Not something you see at most conventions, but a good idea.

doctor

This guy also shows up at every convention. It’s like he has a time machine or something.

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