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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

Current TOT >> TOT Archives | About Tony | Books by Tony | Message Board

TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, December 16, 2004

Mid-Ohio-Con

Let's try this again, shall we?

I was writing about MID-OHIO-CON 2004 last week before an axis of evil physical ailments laid me low. The first installment of my report was posted here on Monday, December 6. I was clearly on the verge of succumbing to the terrible trifecta as I wrote it and, as a result, I have two errors and an omission to correct before I can press on in good conscience.

The first concerns the show itself. In my earlier column, I wrote that this year's con was the 25th Mid-Ohio-Con, counting when promoter Roger Price put on two shows in the same year. I've been corrected on that one by the "Con Daddy" himself, who thinks that I may have mistaken one of his North Coast Comic Cons - he did two or three of those - for a Mid-Ohio-Con. His guess is surely better than mine.

I received two e-mails from readers insisting the 2004 event - and not the one scheduled for 2005 - was actually Mid-Ohio-Con's 25th anniversary. I defer to Roger. Whatever anniversary he wants to call next November's convention is okay by me. As Douglas Adams so aptly put it:

"Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so."

Noel Neill and Geroge Reeve

Several more readers pointed out that the charming NOEL NEILL, shown here with George Reeves, was not "TV's original Lois Lane," which is how I identified her in that column. They are, of course, absolutely correct.

Neill is the original Lois Lane, but not "TV's original Lois Lane." She played the feisty reporter in the first two Superman serials [1948 and 1950], which predated THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN television series. Under contract to another studio, she couldn't return to the role for SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MAN (the 1950 pilot) or the show's first season. Phyllis Coates played opposite George Reeves in those episodes.

Neill again played Lois in the second through sixth and final season of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN. Between the serials and the TV shows, she has more screen time - large and small - as Lois than any other actress who has played the role.

The bottom line...Neill may not be "TV's original Lois Lane," but I'll always think of her as MY Lois Lane.

The Laughing Ogre

THE LAUGHING OGRE, one of the best comics shops in the known universe, is one of Mid-Ohio-Con's biggest boosters. In my earlier column, I mentioned their pre-convention party and their fine work coming up with and wrangling the show's panels...and then neglected to include their online and real-world addresses.

Their physical wonderfulness is located at:

The Laughing Ogre
4258 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43214

Their Internet home can be found at:

www.thelaughingogre.com

If any comic book store ever deserved a free plug here, it's the Laughing Ogre. I love them madly.

In that column, I also congratulated Ogre co-owner Gib Bickel on being named a 2005 Eisner Awards judges. A former Eisner judge myself, I gave Gib some tips on what to expect from the process and its aftermath, including this one:

Within hours of the nominations being announced, someone, usually multiple someones, will start complaining about the choices and the judges who made them. You're a mainstream flunky. You're an indy acolyte. People like you are *exactly* what's wrong with these awards. Wear your online scars with pride; only your fellow judges know how hard you worked to earn them.

I failed to take into account the growth of the online comics community since I was an Eisner judge. The naysayers don't wait for the nominations; they start bitching about the Eisner judges as soon as said adjudicators are announced.

I confess I didn't pay much attention to the complaints - just skimmed them as I found them via the COMIC WEBLOGS UPDATE website [www.simpleweblog.com/comics/comicweblogs.php] - but I tuned them out completely when I came across one blogger who seemed to ignore the backgrounds of various judges to cast their qualifications to serve as no more than "liking comics."

Heavens! We can't have people who like comics serving as our Eisner judges. The very idea!

Okay, maybe I am exaggerating a little. I've never much liked pre-judging art or people. My own position on awards and judges is closer to this:

Readers should never give too much weight to awards or sales or reviews. What's really important is if the readers themselves enjoy this or that comic book. If awards or reviews or sales steer readers to comics they might enjoy, then they have served a useful purpose. I love it when a comic book I like wins an award, sells well, and is lauded by the reviewers, but, even if it achieves none of those goals, it is no less worthy in my eyes.

Again, congratulations to the esteemed Bickel on being asked to serve, and my heartfelt good wishes to him and his fellow Eisner judges as they perform their noble service.

Mid-Ohio-Con 2004 crowd

Corrections in place, I can now move forward to give you some idea of the wonderfulness that is Mid-Ohio-Con.

When I left my room about an hour before the start of the con, I saw the line of fans waiting to buy tickets had already stretched down the hallway and around the corner to another hallway and all the way to the main doors of the hotel. When I left about twenty minutes later to greet/meet a late-arriving guest at the airport, the line had reached the far end of the hotel. My recollection is that this is the second year in a row the show has had fans lined up that far back from the ticket booth. But the ace Mid-Ohio-Con crew had the fans moving into the show areas nicely by the time I returned from the short airport run.

Steve Bacic

The airport run was to meet STEVE BACIC, who plays "Telemachus Rhade" on ANDROMEDA and who also played "Hank McCoy" in the second X-Men movie. He was coming in later than expected due to a change in his show's shooting schedule. Regardless, he was determined to get to the con in time for an early panel. With cooperation from the Hilton Columbus, we got him checked into his room quickly with a few - and I stress "few" - minutes to grab a shower and wolf down a sandwich before his appearance.

Bacic impressed me. Even under these grueling circumstances, arriving via a puddle-jumper and a prayer and clearly exhausted by the late shooting and the travel, he was nonetheless a charming and friendly guest who left a great impression on the fans who came to see him and the volunteers who worked with him. Here's wishing him all the best in his career and life. If you'd like to keep up on his screen and convention appearances, you can visit his official website at:

http://www.stevebacic.com

Mid-Ohio-Con has had remarkable success with its media guests over the years. They have been both gracious to the fans and good to work with. Even guests who had reputations for being difficult have been terrific at Mid-Ohio-Con. In 25 shows and many dozens of media guests, I recall only *two* whose behavior created problems. Roger Price just brings out the best in people.

I'll be presenting MID-OHIO-CON MOMENTS in TOT well into next month. I chatted with so many people and picked up so many review items that I could easily write about nothing but the show for the next three weeks. I'd rather mix things up a bit. However, here are some quick highlights:

I had hoped to hunt for bargains and cool comics at the show, but what usually happened instead is that I would spot a friend and have a conversation. Bob Beerbohm and I talked about Platinum Age comics and politics, I compared notes about my hometown of Medina with Mid-Ohio-Con regular Nelson Dodds, and I briefly discussed my appearing at shows in Chicago and New York with two other dealers. I didn't actually buy anything at the show, save for signed photos of actress CLAIRE KRAMER for my daughter Kelly and her pal Giselle. The lovely Kramer...

Claire Kramer

...is a Columbus native who played the evil goddess Glory on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. She was kinda short for an evil goddess, but a sweetheart of a guest nonetheless.

I spent most of Saturday talking with fellow fans and guests. I'll be writing about them in future TOTs.

Meanwhile...

Thom Zahler was trying to arrange for the release of the show program books, which were being held hostage by UPS for incredibly bad reasons. As reported in my previous column, the books were a mere twenty minutes away from the hotel and had been since Friday. A UPS supervisor was ready to release the books if he could get the authorization and a UPS worker attending the con was likewise ready to report for duty. UPS wouldn't budge.

Since then, the program books have gone back to the printer to be destroyed. No one will ever have a published copy of the book, but publisher Thom has made it available online. You can enjoy it from the fabulous Adam Hughes cover to the guest bios, ads and new small press comics section at:

www.ThomZ.com/moc04

If you want to thank the generous Zahler, you might consider purchasing his RAIDER graphic novels. When the first one came out two years ago, I gave it a favorable review. The second one made its debut at Mid-Ohio-Con and - no surprise here - I'll be reading and reviewing it in the near future.

Back to my con report...

COMIC-BOOK SQUARES returned to the con on Saturday afternoon, courtesy of hilarious host JOE EDKIN. The special event is exactly what the title implies, a comics-oriented version of the Hollywood Squares game show with the ever-vivacious ROGER STERN as the center square. If there was one do-not-miss event at the convention, this was it. For the big finish, Edkin gave Matchbox-like cars to the entire audience while Stern jumped up and down yelling "Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!"

Mid-Ohio-Con Poker Tournament

There was also much fun to be had after the convention closed for the night. CHUCK ROZANSKI of Mile High Comics, a great friend of Mid-Ohio-Con and comicdom in general, served as auctioneer for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND auction and then hosted the CBLDF poker tournament. I'll be writing more about Chuck a little later in today's column.

Across the street from the Hilton is Easton Town Center, known for its fine shops and restaurants. If convention attendees were of a mind to stay at the hotel, they had their choice of the Easton Sports Club bar or the invitingly large and open Lobby Lounge. I went with the latter and spent a very pleasant evening talking with friends new and old.

Sunday was a far more relaxing day than Saturday, which is the norm for Mid-Ohio-Con. In the morning, I did a signing stint for ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots). In the afternoon, I appeared on a panel about writing novels featuring characters and concepts from comic books and television shows.

I could go on and on about the good ACTOR does for the comics community, but I praised the organization at length in my "Tony's Tips" column for COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1602, which will be posted online in the fullness of time. For now, I'll simply direct you to ACTOR's website...

www.actorcomicfund.org

...with my recommendation that you do what you can to support the organization and the work it does.

The "What a Novel Idea" panel was surprisingly well attended despite its being the convention's last panel. Besides myself, the panelists were JOHN BYRNE (Wonder Woman), BOB INGERSOLL (co-writer with moi on a Captain America and a Star Trek novel), JEFF MARIOTTE (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), and ROGER STERN (Smallville and Superman). Byrne had some funny tales about butting heads with his prose editor...as did Stern about writing his novelization of the death and rebirth of Superman at the same time the comic books covering the same ground were being written and drawn. A good time was had by all.

Speaking of John Byrne...

John Byrne and Martin Arlt

I don't think it would be unfair to describe Byrne as a match drawn to sticks of dynamite. His views, as expressed online and in interviews, have gained him more than a few detractors. However, without debating the merits or lack thereof of his comments and the strong feelings they have generated, I think basic courtesy demands a fair accounting of his Mid-Ohio-Con appearance.

Despite the antics of a craven punk who tried anonymously and unsuccessfully to insult John and, by extension, Mid-Ohio-Con, what I saw at the show was a Byrne who was more approachable, friendly, and relaxed than I have ever seen him. He was clearly having a good time...and so were his fans, several dozen of which enjoyed John's and each other's company at a Saturday night pizza party. Several of them came up to Roger or myself on Sunday to tell us how happy they were for the opportunity to spend time with John. That's what I saw at the show.

Byrne signed for hours both Saturday and Sunday. He appeared on two panels and, again, was friendly, funny, and well-received by those who attended the show. He was everything a convention could ask for in a guest. Though this was billed as his last convention appearance, I hope he changes his mind and comes back to Mid-Ohio-Con in the near future.

One more thing. The other handsome gent in the above photo is MARTIN ARLT, editor, publisher, and main contributor of a keen zine called MAD SCIENTIST. Arlt gave me the latest issue at the con and I will be reading/reviewing it soon. While you're waiting, check out Arlt's website at:

www.geocities.com/madscie/madscientist.html

Returning to the convention once again...

I get a kick seeing Chuck Rozanski and his crew from Mile High Comics in action at Mid-Ohio-Con. I admire Chuck for his business savvy and his countless contributions to comicdom in general. One of the things he does is "spread the wealth" by buying a whole lot of comic books from other retailers. This year, as in other years, there were exhibitors who were already in the black at Mid-Ohio-Con before a single fan entered the show...because Chuck had purchased thousands of comics from them.

Chuck Rozanski

Yes, this is good business for Chuck. It takes a great many comic books to satisfy the ravenous sales machine that is Mile High Comics. Chuck gets good deals. The retailers who sell to him get quick cash. The customers who buy from Mile High get a selection of ready-to-ship comics that dwarfs almost every other physical or online retailer in the world...and I'm only adding the "almost" on account of I'm not omniscient. I can't imagine anyone having more comics than Chuck, but I suppose it could be possible. Heck, I've even been known to believe a man can fly.

I know Roger Price appreciates the encouragement and support Chuck has given Mid-Ohio-Con and the show's exhibitors. From where I sit, Chuck is as big a part of the event as any of the comic-book or media guests.

In short, I like the guy. I really like the guy.

If you would like to check out the Mile High catalog and also sign up for Chuck's e-mail newsletter, go here:

www.milehighcomics.com

It's become a Mid-Ohio-Con tradition for Roger, his crew, and those fans and guests who won't be heading home until the following day to pass a few hours at Fado's, an Irish pub which always makes us feel very welcome. I won't go into the details - what happens in Fado's stays in Fado's - but it was a perfect finish to another great convention.

Indeed, it was such a perfect way to end the show that I broke with another tradition: loitering around the hotel lobby on Monday morning to have a little more time with my friends. Truth be told, I didn't want the convention to end.

I checked out of my room and was on to road to Medina by 6 am. If the construction and traffic on Route 18 - which is where I-71 meets my hometown - hadn't been such a bear, I would have arrived at Casa Isabella in time to see my kids off to school.

Mid-Ohio-Con 2004 might well have been the best Mid-Ohio-Con ever. Except for the next one.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back soon with more stuff: more news, more views, more reviews, and more Mid-Ohio-Con moments. Who loves you, baby?

Tony Isabella

<< 12/13/2004 | 12/16/2004 | 12/22/2004 >>

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

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TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

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THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

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FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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