While I am often guilty of cheerleading for my homebase of Columbus, Ohio, I think its fair to say that with two significant comic conventions we have an embarrassment of riches.
For those of you not up to speed on the subject, Columbus is host to both The indie oriented Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE) and the pop culture celebration Ohio Comic Con. SPACE, my personal favorite of the two, primarily consists of vendors who are selling their own self published comics and zines. Ohio Comic Con is more of what the general public has come to think of as a comic convention, as much about cosplayers, science fiction actor autographs and Bat-spider-swag like prints, posters and tee-shirts as it is about the comic books.
The differences between the two shows are significant enough to cause a schism among local comic creators about which is the better show. People, myself included, have really strong feelings on the subject.
ONE WEEK LEFT!
Pledge for comics and records today and then share this link! It ain't hopeless, but the odds are agin us at this point!
I was invited by Victor Dandridge of Vantage Inhouse Productions to take part in his Heartland panel presentation, which was my primary reason for being there. I don't mean that to sound like I'm special or anything... Victor posted a more or less open invite to Ohio creators on facebook. I responded in smart ass fashion that my appearance "could be bought" and Victor took that at face value... Buying the appearance by finagling a free pass to the show for creators not already attending. (I think the entry fee for most fans was $50 or so for the whole weekend. I didn't inquire about table fees this year, but I assume they were in the $300 range for the artist's alley.)
The panel's intent was to give the local audience a taste of the history of Ohio Comics followed by introductions to people living in Ohio and currently working in the field. I say "a taste" because Victor's recruiting efforts were so effective that the stage couldn't hold all of the creators presenting. Each of the recruited creators got a chance to introduce themselves to the audience, with some of us getting an opportunity to run up on stage Price is Right style. I hope the panel hipped the audience to the notion that they should be as proud of their local comics as they are of the rest of the city/state. I'll stand by my four year assertion that if Buckeye Fever ever hits the indie comic scene, shit's gonna be big. I sure would like that to happen. I think Victor's panel was a success in the sense that there were certainly people in the audience who were previously unaware of the large population of comic creators in Columbus.
The Vendors ranged from used and collectible vendors with rows of long boxes to licensed horror movie Tee-shirt salesmen to actual publishers/producers like Troma Video and Jeff Smith's Cartoon Books. (Cartoon Books was the only comics publisher I noticed in this section. I assume that these booths were in the $500 to $1000 range.) I was a consumer...picked up some old Archies and Monster magazines from a discount bin.
There were a lot of familiar faces in the Artist's alley section. In No Particular Order: Victor (Naturally), Tony Isabella, Todd Beistel,Andy Bennett, Lora Innes, Sandy Plunkett, and Dirk Manning. Many of these folks were special guests at the show. Todd's appearance was courtesy of Mikey's Late Night Slice, which I thought was terrific that a local business would sponsor an artist's appearance at this huge show. It certainly got my wheels turning... Assuming I'm still doing Sketch In The City for the Alive next year, maybe they could sponsor a Nix Comics run local comic pop up shop in the Vendors area. I would love to run something like that.
I can't tell you much about the celebrity area. It was a series of long lines to meet and get autographs from assorted wrestlers, actors and actresses. I'm too much of a cheap old crank to go in for that sort of thing. I wouldn't stand in line to pay for an autograph for anyone short of Buddy Holly risen from the grave. (I'm clearly in the minority... As I said, there were a lot of people standing in line to meet their favorite celebrities. far be from me to tell other people how to have fun.)
And I guess that would be my overall impression of the show. Not really my scene, but it's hard to argue that there were a lot of people there having fun. (Actually capitalize A LOT. It was crowded.) There's certainly a purist in me that wishes for a higher ratio of actual comics to foo-fer-rah, the old codger in me who will insist that things were better in my day, and the cheapskate in me that would only ever attend Ohio Comic Con on a free pass or at a sponsored table, but those are all my foibles. Overall its hard to hate on a room full of smiling fans of all ages.