Here is a convention panel with Maurice LaMarche and Rob Paulsen. I love to hear my favorite cartoon characters cuss.
Archive for the ‘Conventions’ Category
This last Saturday, I attended the 3rd annual WASFen convention. That’s the Wausau Area Science Fiction Enthusiasts. Organizer Evan Cass invited me to be a Guest of Honor after meeting me at last year’s Wizard World. I found it to be a fun time, with several hundred attendees to the one-day convention.
It gets off to a slow start, probably because it is a largely local crowd and many of them are taking their time on a Saturday morning. Of course, “first thing in the morning” is when the news media shows up with their cameras to cover the convention. By afternoon the interviews were hopping, the tables were getting plenty of visitors, the most famous Guests of Honor had small lines at their tables and I had had sales of only a little less than I make during two long days in Artist’s Alley at Chicago. Actually, that isn’t a fair enough comparison: Chicago also costs much more in transportation and hotel and I have to buy my table space, whereas WASFen’s space was free and I got the Guest of Honor treatment. That makes WASFen probably the most profitable convention I’ve ever attended!
The guests of honor included sci-fi and fantasy authors such as Patrick Rothfuss, Kelly McCullough and Kathryn Sullivan, plus comic book creators John Jackson Miller (who also does the webcomic Sword and Sarcasm) and Tim Seeley. Kathryn has three interconnected juvenile fantasy books, and I had to buy one of them (“Talking to Trees”) because the write-up on the back intrigued me. A teen-age girl takes her brother’s silver bracelet because it matches her outfit, unaware that it is a magical key to another world! He’s the protagonist in the other novels. It piqued my curiosity enough that I grabbed a copy for my niece Jenny.
I didn’t have enough spare time to explore the vendor area. The table space seemed quite affordable to the vendors who were there, and there were about 7-10 different vendors with probably enough room for 6-10 more next year. The vendors included a few creators as well, such as Jonathan L. Switzer of “Scwonky Dog” and Jim Yoho of Episode Fun, a goofy look behind the scenes of The Phantom Menace. (Liam Neeson is represented in the comic as a trailer, since he refuses to come out after having read the script.) I also met Ryan Schwartzman of Dorkfathers, a comic shop in nearby Merrill.
There was another room for readings and other features, such as a one-man Rocky Horror Picture Show (My wife loved that one!) and another room for gaming.
The day’s program began with Q&A for the Guests of Honor, including me. (I’ll have that video online sometime soon.) This was followed by a Jeopardy tournament, which sounded like fun. The categories included: The Demon, Swamp Thing, WildCATS, Sandman, Marvel 2099, Marvel Epic, Marvel UK, Savage Dragon and The Ray. Yes, The Ray. Unfortunately, the categories featured not one of my favorite characters, so I was at a serious disadvantage. Somehow, I still won!
The interviews and trivia game were run by David Alan Cohen, a gregarious and funny guy whom I could probably talk comics with for hours and hours. (Unfortunately, he does not yet have a microphone headset and a Skype account, so he won’t be in any Monitor Duty podcasts soon…but maybe someday!) David has an excellent voice, reminiscent of Kevin Pollack or Albert Brooks (or Kevin Pollack doing his impression of Albert Brooks). He was also selling his comic collection, and having won $30 in comics from his Comic Book Jeopardy game, I stopped by to spend it. Hey, guess what’s written on the ends of the boxes in his collection? The Demon, Swamp Thing, WildCATS, Sandman, Marvel 2099, Marvel Epic, Marvel UK, Savage Dragon and The Ray. Well, you write what you know.
The show concluded with a costume contest that graded the participants on how much work they put into the costume, its quality as a costume and whether they would act out something appropriate for it. I was invited to be one of the judges. One person came as raccoon Mario from Super Mario World 3. When asked where he(?) got the tail and the ears, Mario replied, “From a leaf”. Bonus points! The winner was a tie between two women who came as the light and dark mages from Final Fantasy. The contest was then followed by a charity auction with all proceeds going to a local women’s shelter. Evan, who probably hadn’t slept much the night before and by then was quite burned out overseeing the whole show, was running on fumes while performing as auctioneer. I believe at one point, while holding some DC Heroclix, he fell asleep and then ordered waffles. (Kidding!) I won a couple items which I’ll probably donate in turn to the FallCon auction.
Wausau is a lovely, small city in the center of Wisconsin and it contains roughly 40,000 people. At least, that was the population when I lived there in the mid-1990s. That’s right, this was kind of a Old Home Week for me. From 1994 to 1996, I lived in a small duplex apartment and wrote radio advertising for WOFM when I wasn’t rewinding VHS tapes professionally at Blockbuster. In my spare time I read comic books and watched my five free movies a week. And that’s all I did. Wausau is certainly a nice town. Only problem is, there was never anything to do! How I wish someone had organized something like WASFen when I lived there.
I believe WASFen may have a chance to really take off. After all, Wausau, Wisconsin, is centrally located for comic book fans from all over Wisconsin, eastern Minnesota, northern Illinois and Da YouPee. It’s on a straight route from Minneapolis to Green Bay and straight north from Madison. When talking to Evan about the possibility of finding more pros that might want to attend, I pointed out that I knew many guys from the Twin Cities who attended a convention in Des Moines and that’s a longer drive than the simple three hour tour to Wausau.
The nice thing about a convention like WASFen is that I’m meeting comic book readers who may never make the majorly expensive trek to Wizard World in Chicago, or even to FallCon in the Twin Cities. In other words, it’s a whole new market, and I got to meet some great people…and move some product, which is always nice.
After the con, Evan Cass and I talked about the possibilities for 2010. WASFen was a thrill and I hope to be back next year.
Check them out on MySpace, and visit the Facebook page for Evan Cass, the organizer of same. If any sci-fi/fantasy authors or comic book creators are thinking of attending a future WASFen con, they should contact Evan. (His info is on the MySpace page, right under the picture of Yours Truly.
Evan, thank you very much for inviting me.
I’ve created a new Facebook page for Metro Med.
This also allows me to have an embeddable version of the comic book’s trailer:
If you’d like to embed this in your blog or other web page, use this code:
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If you’re near the Wausau, WI, area, don’t forget to visit WASFen this weekend!
Maybe I haven’t ever been to Comicon, but I will be able to say that I’ve attended a convention this year. The Wausau Area Science Fiction Enthusiasts have invited me to be a Guest of Honor at their convention in Wausau this Saturday! If any of you are in central Wisconsin, be sure to hit that!
As we haven’t had a vacation trip of any kind since last August, Melinda and I are making it a three-day weekend. We’re going to stay at a fancy hotel room on Friday night, and then Saturday after the con we’re going to a bed and breakfast somewhere north of there. I lived in Wausau from 1994-96, and I’m going to show her Rhinelander and Crandon (where my folks lived for a decade), so I gave Melinda free reign to pick the place we stay. She spent much of Monday night hunting for B&Bs and not finding anything quite right.
Here is our conversation as we were driving to work Tuesday morning:
Melinda: I looked at places in Merrill, Rhinelander and Waukegan.
Me: You could even look in Crandon. Even that’s only a 90 minute drive after the convention.
Melinda: How far is it from Rhinelander to Waukegan?
Me: I don’t know where Waukegan is.
Melinda: Duh. I mean Waukesha!
Me: You mean Wausau?
Melinda: Wausau! Yeah, that’s it.
Me: Are you sure the places you looked at last night are even in the city we’re going to be visiting?
Melinda: Maybe I should double-check.
Note to the WASFen folks: If we don’t show up Saturday, it’s because we’re in Waukesha.
I’m not going to be a bandwidth-thief. If you want to see it, go to Big Hollywood.
The first commenter wins the caption contest: “For once, middle-aged, out of shape fanboys have the perfect body type for the characters they’re cosplaying.”
When Erik and I were at Wizard World Chicago this year, we saw about 30 “Heath Ledger Jokers” walking around. That made this all the funnier:
I’m just posting it here because it turns out Erik didn’t see it. Enjoy, buddy!
I was bumming because my wife had the digital camera and my cellphone was broken, so I didn’t have any pictures from FallCon. However, my buddy AirDave had a picture taken with Erik and me.
I don’t know what that white smudge is. (Water drop?) Too bad, because otherwise this is a great picture of me. I don’t photograph well, what with my being overweight and pasty and bald and hideous, but this is really good.
FallCon, annually held on the first weekend of October at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, celebrated its 20th anniversary with its biggest convention ever.
For the first time, it was held in the grandstand facility, which was not only bigger but more comfortable than past conventions. (We were freezing in 2006 and drenched in sweat in 2007, though admittedly the reasonably crisp weather this year may have had more to do with it than the building.) I don’t know whether this was a special case for the 20th convention or if they can get this hall next year, but I hope they try.
Attendance was amazing. I arrived 40 minutes late and the line STILL extended out the door and to the end of the block.
The big thing this year was the sketch cards. All artists attending, and many professionals friendly to the Midwest Comic Book Association (MCBA), were asked to do several sketches on trading card-sized cards. One batch of cards was given away to the attendees on a first-come first-served basis, with all of the cards flipped over so that you don’t know if you’re getting a card from a struggling artist or Adam Hughes. The next batch was, I believe, distributed by raffle on Sunday. And finally, a third complete set of cards from all participating artists was auctioned off as a single lot for the charity auction. (Winner was Nick Post of the MCBA with a bid of Five Thousand Dollars!)
As always, the convention guys knocked themselves out putting the show together and attending to everyone with refreshments. There were more costumes than ever before…including TWO Mrs. Incredibles! The special guests included some first-time attendees including John Ostrander (whom I never did find when wandering around) and Peter Tomasi (whom I teased for his recent GL Corps issue where Green Lantern rings now store retinal ID information on every person in the universe — I mean, come onnnn!).
I attended as an invited guest, which was as always a great honor. For the first time, I had a lovely backdrop promoting Metro Med, my attractive collapsible display stand for the books, as well as a brand new comic book trailer playing on a monitor screen, all to draw the attentions of anyone passing by. I did another print run of 100 issues of Metro Med. I purchased some new sign-making software and created a better handout promoting TooManyLongboxes.com and Metro Med. Also, I took three days off from work and spent the entire time updating the catalog for Too Many Longboxes so that it was ready to be visited by all the newcomers. This is probably the most prepared and professional I’ve ever been for a convention.
I sold one comic.
I know, I know. Unless you can draw and thus sell sketches, you never make a profit on a convention appearance. Really, the cost of gas and such can’t be offset by selling comic books. It’s about promotion. Still…
One comic. That’s, like, the least possible amount of money TO make.
Erik Burnham, who shared my table, also had a rougher time selling sketches than he has had in a while. At WizardWorld this summer (which was pretty poor overall), Erik was cranking out the sketches for $10 each and people were snapping them up. Here, $5 was the asking price and sales were still limping. (Oddly enough, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle sketches were hot. Don’t ask me why!) Numerous vendors expressed concerns about making enough sales to warrant the trip, too. Thus, I’m inclined to not take it personally, as though I was the only one having a hard time making a buck.
I don’t blame the convention. It was well-attended. We may have not had the best location in the hall, but most attendees get around the whole convention floor anyway.
I think it is partly the overall economy. Independent creators have a rough time convincing people to try their books even in the best of financial times, so when money is tight it is mainly used to buy collectibles, art from big name professionals or back-issues at discount rates.
I can’t control the economy. However, one thing I should have thought of is that by printing the new Metro Med Special Edition #1 with the same cover artwork as my 2005 ashcan edition it looks like I’m displaying the same comic I’ve had for the last few years. Sure, there are many modifications to that cover piece, and inside it’s not only got new content but the original content has its first quality printing, but from far away no one can tell. So I think I need to approach some of my artist friends and see if I can create some variant covers.
Pity I won’t have another convention to sell at until Micro-Con (and that’s assuming that a guy who sells one book gets invited back)! I suspect that promoting my book online may be my main source of sales for the foreseeable future.
I am getting very excited about FallCon, which is having its 20th Anniversary show at the Minnesota fairgrounds in just 9 days. Remember: FallCon is ALWAYS the first weekend in October. Put it on your calendar for next year if you can’t make it this year.
This one is going to be wicked awesome. For the 20th annual FallCon, they’ve moved to a facility that is THREE TIMES AS BIG as the usual grounds, and the guest list goes on forever. The dealer list is longer as well. There’s going to be a wedding between two of the MCBA volunteers…and the minister is Len Strazewski! The two-day con always culminates in a colossal auction for charity and I can only imagine how mind-blowing the prizes will be given that big-name professionals often donate geek-shaking art even if they can’t attend.
I will be appearing there, of course, with my “Metro Med Special Edition #1″… and if all goes right I will have something new to show people. Erik Burnham is on the guest list, too. He’ll probably be charging too little for his sketches, as always, so come on by and ask him to draw the entire Legion of Super-Heroes for a nickel. I know I say this every time, but FallCon is the best con I have ever attended. If it’s at all possible for you to attend this year, you should. If not, you’ll miss out on the 20th FallCon, but put it on your calendar now for next year.
I’d meant to do a Wizard World Chicago wrap-up, but I just couldn’t find my business cards. I’d collected cards, fliers, handouts and freebies, all with the intention of posting a links-and-pictures heavy post… but having misplaced the cards I put it off. Now that I found these, it’s time for a belated Wizard World post.
The other reason I put it off was that it was so demoralizing. Attendance was low (blame the economy, blame gas prices), Chuck Dixon had just been fired from DC, and I sold only a few issues of Metro Med. There were some positives, sure, but overall the thing was disappointing. My spirits have been low for a while, so I haven’t been posting. Sorry.
I shall share the pain shortly.
Toldja there was a big announcement coming!
It’s 36 beautiful pages, with two Metro Med stories, pinups, character profiles, a new Annotations section, plus an all-new color 1-page story on the back cover. As a bonus, I included my out-of-print story “Melvin and Marvin Middler, Time Meddlers”.
In 2005, I published Metro Med #0 via my buddies at Shooting Star Comics. A thin volume selling for $2, this #0 issue was rushed to the printer in time to have it for Wizard World Chicago. Unfortunately, the quality of the printing was not what we would have liked and it ended up as our ashcan edition. (I’m still glad we published when we did, since afterward not only did someone else do a superhero hospital book but there was also another superhero using the same name as one of my characters. Thank God for ashcans!) Shortly afterward I lost my artist on the book, so it’s taken me a while to decide how to proceed. While I’m looking forward with some new artists, I decided it was time the first volume got a quality printing.
I didn’t tell you any of this because, until I saw it at Wizard World Chicago, I wasn’t sure how the printing would turn out. Yes, I was in the same “no proof” boat I was in back in 2005. However, the final result is stunning. I thought the quality of #0 was just disappointing, but once I saw the quality of this new one printed through Ka-Blam/IndyPlanet… well, I regret ever showing anyone the old one. THIS is how Metro Med was meant to be.
Well…at least until I can get it redone in color.
Take a look for yourself. IndyPlanet has a six-page preview.
Yes, I’ll be talking this up for a while.
For the first time in several years, I’ll be an attendee instead of a guest. It’s been a while since I published my last book, and competition for space at MicroCon is fierce. I’ve been honored that they have invited me back year after year, and have felt like I was skating on their largess. I think I’ll actually have more fun this weekend because the pressure’s off… especially the pressure on my butt in those chairs for six hours! It’ll be great to stop in, stay as long as I want, see all my friends, scout out some talent, and then vamoose.
By this October, I’ll have a new book printed and more in the works, and hopefully they’ll invite me back as a guest for FallCon.
I know I say this every time, but the guys who run this con are simply some of the nicest people in comics. It’s a thrill to go, it’s a treat to be a guest, and I hope you all make an effort to get out here for at least one MicroCon or FallCon.
(Did I just say “new book printed”? Yes, I did. I guess I haven’t really mentioned it here yet. And I still won’t. However, plans are to have this book ready by Wizard World Chicago. So…more soon!)
FallCon was a lot of fun, and I brought back some absolutely amazing pictures of the Green Arrow and Black Canary, and I can’t wait to offload them from my picture phone.
Unfortunately…that phone was in my pants pocket. And the pants went into the washer. So I won’t get the pictures off my phone until I get a new phone, put the card in and offload them.
Someday, you’ll see some really cool pictures!
Comic Con in San Diego is this weekend, so plenty of movie companies have been saving their fanboy movie announcements for the convention. There will also be plenty of comic book news. My buddy Chuck Dixon has had a major announcement which he’s been keeping close to the vest…reportedly involving his writing an ongoing series featuring a character he’s written before. Batman? Punisher? Robin? Perhaps Teen Titans since Robin is the leader? I’ll let you know when it’s made public.
Robert Zemeckis’ new movie “Beowulf” has its trailer debut. I was hesitant to watch this one because Robert Zemeckis has this annoying tendency to ruin his movies by intentionally telling you how the movies end in the trailers. Fear not, you can watch this one. It doesn’t reveal anything aside from a naked Angelina Jolie (and no, that’s not some lure to get you to watch the trailer; she’s shot from the neck up).
I must be the only guy who feels nothing looking at Angelina Jolie. She’s so over-hyped and I just don’t get the appeal. It’s not like she’s Jennifer Connelly or anything.
So… Beowulf, eh? I read the book, back in college. Frankly, it’s boring. I think it’s a Citizen Kane thing where you have to respect it as a monumental influence on all that came later, but because it’s been so influential it’s hard to appreciate on its own merits.
Want to know the entire story of Beowulf? This is, I suppose, a spoiler, but it’s not much of one:
Dan DiDio: “Batman to die like a whiny bitch!”
DC Comics announced Saturday at Emerald City Comicon that Countdown is counting down to the moment when all of DC Comics’ characters will have been killed off, which will lead into a new event beginning a new era. While killing off characters has been done before, the big difference will be the change in methodology. Past “death” events like Superman, Flash, Supergirl, Hal Jordan, Green Arrow, etc. have focused on the main character going out with a blaze of glory, defeating an enemy and saving the city/nation/world/universe in the process.
However, prompted by the massive, worldwide news coverage (and resulting stellar sales) that Marvel garnered by having Captain America gunned down while hand-cuffed and placed under arrest, DC’s Editorial Staff and Countdown lead writer Paul Dini began making plans to put an end to many of the characters in the most pathetic way possible.
“‘Degradation’ is hot right now,” DiDio said in a surprise appearance at the Seattle convention. “When Superboy sacrificed himself during Infinite Crisis, the readership replied with a yawn. We got more buzz from Black Adam pushing the Medusa Mask through Psycho Pirate’s skull. The rape and death of Sue Dibny, the torture and death of Spoiler, the deaths of The Question and Osiris in 52, those are what people respond to…big time! And we’re listening to what people want!”
The big surprise revealed at Emerald City was that Batman will be killed off early in the event rather than being one of the last to go. “Batman is going to go out, and not in some ultimate fight with the Joker, either. Bane proved that Batman can be broken, and now Batman’s going to go out begging to be put out of his misery like a whiny bitch! The rest of the book will be about Nightwing and Robin trying to take up the mantle after witnessing the sad end.” When questioned at the Q&A later about why Batman isn’t going out as a hero, DiDio was uncharacteristically frank: “The ‘blaze of glory’ thing’s been done. It’s a cliche. If we did that, the world would barely notice and figure we’ll resurrect him in a month. But killing off Batman in the most pathetic way possible will get us in the papers for months! It’s the kind of thing that gets mentioned in Time Magazine’s Year In Review.”
As to what will happen to the DCU at the end of Countdown, DiDio said that that was a year away and it was too soon to reveal anything.
Hat tip to my buddy Rob at Comics Continuum which confirmed the story on the scene. Visit the link for the full story.
For most of my life, it was true that DC Comics had the best movies, whereas Marvel’s attempts at doing other media resulted in embarrassing garbage that ended up straight to video or hidden in vaults. But for the last decade, while DC has turned out camp Batman & Robin, Steel and Catwoman (we won’t even mention the Birds of Prey TV series. Oops, just did!), Marvel has rocked our world with X-Men and Spider-Man franchises that could go on forever as well as the passable Hulk, Daredevil and Fantastic Four (and only a few bombs like Elektra).
Marvel’s still going strong, with plenty of sequels on the way and David S. Goyer’s Captain America slated for 2009. The “Hulk vs. Wolverine” movie that was just announced also sounds like a good way to resuscitate the Hulk and see more of Hugh Jackman. Part of the reason for Marvel’s recent success is their ability to entertain interest from many studios, whereas DC is part of the Warner Brothers conglomerate.
However, it sure sounds like DC is on a roll. Batman Begins was a success and the sequel is in the works. Superman Returns is going to be huge, and it looks like the Wonder Woman movie (it’s been in the works for so long that the actresses once in the running for the lead are now too old for the part) may happen. From the list below of movies that are now in production, are scheduled for future release or just in the works, it looks like DC has finally hit on a multimedia strategy. We had inklings of this last year when DC began stamping their new logo on all of their movie/TV properties, followed by their hiring of Buffy/Angel/Firefly creator Joss Whedon to finally make the Wonder Woman picture a reality.
All right, that’s enough of an intro. Click “Extended Entry” for more details on DC’s movie (plus TV and straight-to-DVD) projects.
Reposted from the Dixonverse message board (which does not archive):
*Doors opened at 10am (rather than the promised 9:30 am when we bought our advance tickets.) Some “comedian” with a bullhorn walked the lin making jokes about people’s weight, which really got us into a lather. (Apparently the high-muckety-muck of the Wizardworld had overslept, and no-one would start without him.) We finally got to the doors at 10:15 am, at which time “Ed Dupree” announced we were all standing in the “Special Events” lines, and those tickets were all gone. Sone of the pithy comments heard around me included “unprofessional”, “ridiculous,” and “b.s.” One guy was going to consult his lawyer-cousin to see if he could get a refund by Texas code for opening the doors so late.
Obviously, a very unhappy bunch before we even got into the doors.
The band was so bad I was **grateful** for the opportunity to sneak outta the Wizard Party that erupted around us at the Wyndham to go eat at the Saltgrass and try to track down the “The-Dixonverse-Dinner-That-Never-Was!” I mean, think about it: which would you rather do: try to track down a 3-person D3 dinner, or sit next to Mark Waid and Bob Wayne talking about the next two years of LEGION?
The band ***WAS*** that bad! And so loud, Waid was 18 inches from my ear and I couldn’t hear a furshlugginger thing, dammit!
The waits for the opening of Wizardworld (30 minutes late Saturday; **90** minutes late Sunday!!!) really cast a pall over the whole thing. But it was okay.
BTW, I’ve got a good handle on where all the good restaurants are at Dallas now that I drove up this year. I’m going to publish recommendations for Dallas Wizardworld next year. (BIG recommendation: spend the extra $20 bucks and stay at the Wyndham. You’re ***50 feet*** from the Wizardworld entrance (making potty stops and re-provisioning a breeze), plus the Wizard Party is in their Sports bar — until the band starts playing; then it spills out into the lobby. Ande there you are, at the Wizard Party without an invitation!
Comic Highlight of the night: the Restaurant at the Wyndham was hosting a dinner foran Homest-to-God Debutante Ball that night; so here’s a hundred drunk comic-book-guys drooling over 16-year-olds in taffeta dresses with their long-haired pimply dates trying to look mean enough to scare them off. Whatta riot!
I’d actually posted about Scott Kurtz as well but it appears that the system didn’t “take” that post, so here it is again, even though Chris has summarized it fairly well.
Last year, Scott had the good fortune to be next to a quiet, friendly booth. Namely, mine. Let me tell you, Scott’s line never disappears the whole day…and since then, he’s added a lot more merchandise to sell (books, plush toys, etc.). A good convention is a gold mine for someone who has fans and good merchandise…so if it’s gotten so bad that he’s thinking about skipping the convention on Sunday (today), it’s bad!
Those booths cost just shy of a thousand bucks, folks. For that much dough, exhibitors ought to be treated like kings…especially Scott, who is a local supporter of his Texas convention and gives it good publicity (up til now).
If you spend a thou and get stuck next to a band that ruins your business, I think you have a good case for demanding a refund. It makes me glad I didn’t go this year…and depending on how this turns out, I’ll have to do some hard thinking about whether I want to go next year to promote Metro Med.