Mid-Ohio-Con 2009 has gone into the record books. I'm sorry to report that, once again, it was the most wonderful comics convention of the year.
Not sorry for me, mind you. I was there and I had an awesome weekend hanging out with old and new friends, promoting my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, and signing more Isabella-written items than I've signed at any one show in years. No, I'm sorry for you because, if you weren't there, you missed out on that awesomeness. Do not make that mistake next year.
Brothers James and Bill Henry have continued the Mid-Ohio-Con tradition as begun by Roger Price, the event's founder and operator for over 25 years. Indeed, Roger continues to work with the Henry boys alongside a con crew that have been with the show for, in many cases, decades. The Henry brothers get this show.
They get the combination of friendly fans and congenial pros who leave their egos at the door. They get the mix of comic books and other forms of pop culture without letting the latter outshine the former. They have a panel program offering something for just about fan in attendance. The convention and hotel accommodations are pleasant and then some. There are lots of good restaurants within walking distance of the show. Those are just some of the many reasons Mid-Ohio-Con 2009 ranks among my favorite conventions ever...and why I'm already looking forward to next year's event, which will be held November 6-7 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. You can bet I'll be there.
Getting back to this year's wonderment...
My Mid-Ohio-Con started around 7 a.m., Friday morning, October 2. That's when I started packing for the show: suitcase, snacks, show supplies, three boxes of Archie comics/digests, two boxes of hardcovers and trade packages, a dozen bags of candy to give out at my booth, two dozen pages of original Black Lightning art by Eddy Newell, enlarged pages from 1000 Comic Books You Must Read mounted on foam board, and easels on which to display them.
Not to mention stuff for my son Eddie, who is in his junior year at The Ohio State University, and for my kind of niece Sara, just starting her freshman year there. To make the loading of my van even more interesting, I was also bringing Sara her bike. Much to my delight, I managed to pack and load all of the above by 10:30 a.m. Not too shabby for an old guy.
Now I don't think I'm an old guy. But, earlier in the week, interviewing for a job over the phone, I could hear the "click" in the voice of the other person on the line when he realized that my "impressive resume" - his words - represented more years than could fit into the life of a 30-year-old. When he requested a face-to-face interview for Monday evening, I figured it would take him the rest of the week to hire someone younger than me for the job.
Do I need to spoil the suspense and relay the message waiting for me on my answering machine when I got back home from Mid-Ohio-Con on Sunday night? I didn't think so.
It rained heavily for most of my two-hour drive to Columbus. Then, about fifteen miles north of OSU, there was no more rain. It was warm and even sunny. I attribute this sudden climate change to the proximity of Mid-Ohio-Con.
My first stop was the house Eddie shares with several fellow OSU students. He and I unloaded the stuff I'd brought for him and Sara as well as Sara's bike, which she would get later during the weekend. There might have been a few beer cans in the vicinity of his house, but, I'm pleased to report, no meth labs or passed out college students. Of course, it was early afternoon.
Eddie and I drove to the Hampton Inn, located right across the street from the Columbus Convention Center. It's actually closer to the convention than the Hyatt, which is physically connected to the center. I checked in, called Roger Price to fix a wee problem with the hotel, and then went to lunch with him and Eddie. There were wee problems with all the Mid-Ohio-Con hotels; Roger and the Henry brothers fixed them all quickly. It's the kind of thing the fans never see, but which makes the convention much more pleasant for the guests.
After lunch, we drove to the convention center loading dock. It didn't take long to transfer my show stuff to my booth. I drove Eddie back to his digs. He belongs to a service fraternity and had something scheduled for that evening.
Back to the convention center. I said "howdy" to the Henry brothers, to con crew chief Wes Aten, and to other members of the best con crew in the universe. Maggie Thompson met at my booth to talk about our Saturday panel on - what else? - 1000 Comic Books You Must Read. Let it be known that, without her and Comics Buyer's Guide editor Brent Frankenhoff, I would not have been able to write the book.
I took Maggie to dinner at the Hyatt Regency's spiffy Market Stand Cafe. I have to feed her a thousand more times to come close to repaying my debt to her. With Bob Ingersoll, we joined Roger, whose dinner was already in progress. Our energetic waiter praised the salmon and it was, indeed, a magnificient piece of fish. When the Market Stand is on its game, as it was that night, it's one of my favorite Columbus restaurants.
James and Bill Henry held a reception at the Hyatt for their guests and for those fans who had purchased "VIP" ticket packages. They say it's their favorite part of the convention, what with all the running around they have to do during the convention. It's way up on my list, too. It has an open bar and great food. You could make a meal from the reception buffet; some of the later-arriving guests did it that night and I did it on Saturday night. If you're a guest at next year's Mid-Ohio-Con don't miss these receptions. If you're a fan, spring for the "VIP" package. It's a great way to meet the guests in a relaxed setting and to shave a few bucks off your meal expenses.
Among the late arrivals to Friday's reception were some of my oldest friends in comics: Mark Evanier, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman. We had a great time catching up on this and that in our lives with the best line of the evening coming from Len:
"When did we go from talking about who was stronger - Superman or Thor - to talking about insurance?"
I can't think of a better closing line for today's column than that one.
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with part two of my Mid-Ohio-Con 2009 report.
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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