That the programming at this year's event ran as smoothly as it did is mostly due to the hard work of Gary and Amanda Herrmann (shown above) and Jeff Martin (not shown above). It was they who reminded guests of their panel schedules, helped arrange for table-sitters when necessary, and a dozen other behind-the-scenes tasks. They also served in front of the camera.
Gary did much of the heavy lifting for our first "Movie Night" and acted as host/moderator for one of those panels. Amanda was a lovely assistant for our "Superhero Trivia Challenge" game and, in one of the costumes made by Scott Crawford, was quite the fetching Catwoman. Jeff was the host of our "Spotlight on Mike Avon Oeming" panel; a long overdue "promotion" for Jeff and an equally overdue honor for Oeming, a top comics creator who has been a great friend of the show for many years.
Sunday, the second day of the show, featured the legendary Al Feldstein being interviewed by the legendary Mark Evanier. Al was the driving creative force behind the classic EC comic books of the 1950s and, for decades, MAD magazine. He's also one of Mid-Ohio-Con's favorite guests. I wasn't able to attend this spotlight panel, but, as always, I had several pleasant conversations with Al during the show. We talked about Matt Baker, other comics cons Al might enjoy going to, and our political leanings.
Baker was one of the few African-American artists working in the comics industry in the 1940s and 1950s. Al credits Baker with teaching him how to draw pretty women. As for the other con, I'll be sending an e-mail or two to promoters I think would appreciate hosting Al. I give and I give and I give.
Politics? Though we've discussed the issues of the day on a mailing list or two, Al couldn't remember if we shared like views on them and if I was on his private mailing list. In assuring him we did and I was, I cracked him up by telling him we were "fellow travelers." If you get that joke you're either as old as I am or a good student of American history.
This year's Mid-Ohio-Con media guests included Joyce DeWitt, Mira Furlan, Corin Nemec, Richard Kline, Larry Thomas, and Marcia Wallace. Besides Stargate SG-1, Nemec has starred in some delightfully cheesy Sci-Fi Channel movies and we chatted about how much I enjoy those. Thomas is a great friend of the show and also of comicdom in generally; for The Hero Initiative, he auctioned off a lunch with him. But, if I had stars in my eyes, they were mostly for Marcia Wallace.
Ever since I first saw Marcia on The Bob Newhart Show, I've thought she was one of the funniest women on television. She absolutely floored me as the sassy White House maid on the oh-so-unfortunately-short-lived That's My Bush on Comedy Central. These days, she's best known for her Emmy-winning role as teacher Edna Krabappel on The Simpsons. Once again, promoter Roger Price hit guest gold when he signed her for Mid-Ohio-Con. She was a sweetheart and the fans loved her. Me, too -- I got a salaciously autographed "photo" of Edna for my Simpsons-loving son Eddie and a copy of her book - Don't Look Back, We're Not Going That Way - for myself. Watch for a review early in the new year.
Every Mid-Ohio-Con, my biggest personal goal is to spend more time with the exhibitors, fans, and guests, many of them friends of mine. It never seems to work out that way, but I'll keep trying. In the meantime, here's a shout-out to exhibitors Bob Beerbohm, Nelson Dodds, Dave of North Coast Nostalgia, and "Coop" of Coop's Comics. Likewise to Mid-Ohio-Con chief Wes Aten and con volunteer Dave Phelps. Not to mention way too many comics guests to mention by name, and I apologize in advance for only mentioning some of them in the next few paragraphs...
DC/Vertigo editor Bob Schreck was a joy to have at Mid-Ohio-Con, even if he looks too young to have been kicking around comics as long as he and I both have. We had time for a good-albeit-brief conversation and it may be a conversation we continue at some near-future date. He makes two DC editors who have shown me respect in recent months. Maybe it's a new trend.
Beau Smith, my fellow Comics Buyer's Guide contributor, was only at the show on Saturday, but we did get to chat for a bit about a certain unscrupulous new publisher who's failed to pay some talented comics creators and who has since earned himself a special place in Hell for threatening to sue some of the same creators he stiffed. Gee, if Publisher Boy has the money for his lawyers, and I suspect he doesn't, why doesn't he just make good on his debts? Anyway, Beau is another good friend of Mid-Ohio-Con and he's always welcome there or at Casa Isabella.
Cartooning juggernauts George Broderick, Jr. and Chris Yambar gave me several comics and trades, most of which I reviewed for my column in the on-sale-in-mid-January CBG #1627. That same edition of "Tony's Tips" also features my review of Thom Zahler's Love and Capes #2. The rest of my con swag - six or seven books as I recall - will be reviewed in TOT next week.
Dennis Mallonee, the head honcho of Heroic Publishing, came to Mid-Ohio-Con all the way from Long Beach, California. During all my "life" issues of the past year or so, Dennis has patiently and continuously urged me to write some stories for Heroic and, though the comics marketplace continues to be incredibly challenging for small publishers like him, he still wants to work with me. Since I get a kick out of his comics and respect him, we're going to make that happen in 2007. For starters, it appears I'll be writing two done-in-one stories for existing Heroic titles...and I'll announce those here once the scripts are written and approved. After that, we'll see what else we can come up with.
The last panel of the convention was on the business of comic books. Since much of my career has been a testament to what *not* to do, I was the moderator of a panel which featured Michael Davis of the Guardian Line, Chuck Rozanski of Mile High Comics, and Tim Stroup of Cold Cut Distribution. I suspect I'll never see eye-to-eye with some of their positions, but you can't sit down with these guys without learning all sorts of useful information. I hope all of them will return to Mid-Ohio-Con soon.
Mid-Ohio-Con doesn't really end when the exhibitors and guests start packing up their tables. There's always a group of folks who are staying over Sunday night and we usually end up in the nearest bar/saloon/tavern, which, this con, was in right there in the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Often these after-the-con gatherings are the first time I get to talk to some of the guests. It's a good way to wind down after an exhausting weekend.
Monday morning usually finds at least some Mid-Ohio-Con folks having breakfast before hitting the road for home. Bob Ingersoll and I put our gear in my van, got underway before noon, had lunch in Medina. My last Mid-Ohio-Con 2006 job was sending thank you e-mails to everyone who had participated in this year's programming. What with having to write columns and such, it took me the rest of the week to write all those notes.
When fans and guests would ask about next year's Mid-Ohio-Con, my stock answer was that Roger and I would start working on it once we got out of "convention rehab." But, you know, the ideas for the next show start coming to you almost as soon as the last show has run its course. Insane as it sounds and is, I've already contacted people about panels for next year's programming.
I know I want to add some volunteers to my programming crew. My entirely selfish aim is to not have to do any actual work at the next Mid-Ohio-Con, save for appearing on a panel or two. If you're interested, send me an e-mail.
Hero Tomorrow director Ted Sikora had some great ideas for a Mid-Ohio-Con Film Festival. Roger and I will be discussing them early next year.
With the assistance of costuming master Scott Crawford, next year will see the return of the Mid-Ohio-Con costume contest. More details on that will be forthcoming in the new year.
Mid-Ohio-Con is my favorite convention. I love being a part of it and I urge you to make plans to attend in 2007. For further details, keep watching the official website:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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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