When I first started attending conventions in what has become Columbus' cool Arena District, there wasn't much around the Greater Columbus Convention Center. A few hotels, a few decent places to eat, and a whole lot of empty-for-the-weekend office buildings. I think the change has been amazing.
Unfortunately, since my hotel room was only on the third floor of the Hampton Inn, I got to hear all the Arena District fun until around three o'clock Saturday morning. I wish I could say I made good use of those unquiet hours, but mostly I tried to ramp up the self-esteem for the first day of the convention. My readers and my friends want to see the smiling Tony whose caricature graces all of my reviews, but, after nearly four decades in an industry that will wear you down mentally and physically, it takes me a while to get into that character. Outside of when I'm with my family, I'm at my best at conventions.
I grabbed a quick, unsatisfying breakfast at the Hampton Inn, but I also had a few pleasant moments with my old friends Dick and Lindy Ayers. Then it was over to the convention center to set up my booth. My son Eddie would be joining me later that morning to man the booth while I was doing panels.
Bob Ingersoll's booth was right next to mine and he allowed me to use his table to put up a trio of blown-up pages from my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read. On my own table, I had a booklet of sample pages from the book, two boxes of half-price hardcovers and trades, original Eddy Newell art from the second Black Lightning series, a box of Archie comics priced at a quarter a pop, stacks of Archie digests at fifty cents each, and a box lid filled with free Halloween candy.
Sales were brisk throughout the day. In addition, as I later calculated, I signed more Isabella-written stuff than I've signed at a convention in years. I didn't get much of a chance to visit the tables of other guests, but a few of them did make their way to me. They just can't resist the candy.
The first of my two Saturday programs was the "Men of Bronze" panel featuring guests who'd begun their careers during what could be considered the Bronze Age of Comics. Moderator Mark Evanier and I each got our starts in the early 1970s, Len Wein and Marv Wolfman made their first sales in the very late 1960s, and Ron Frenz landed his first comics work in the 1980s. Still, if we weren't able to date the Bronze Age definitively, we were able to define it to some extent through tales of our experiences therein.
My intent in this and my other panels was to provide balanced commentary on my life in comics. Sometimes I had opportunities to cheer the remarkable age in which comics currently exist, a Golden Age when readers can find great new work of stunning variety side-by-side with some of the greatest comics works from the past seven decades and from around the world. Other times, I'm certain I came across as a bitter industry veteran. There is truth to both of my roles: cheerleader and accuser.
Besides the blown-up pages from my book, I had 1000 Comic Books You Must Read fliers and postcards at my table. I also had preview books showing about a dozen or so pages from the book. Moderated by Maggie Thompson, the second of my two Saturday panels was devoted to the book. I'm pleased to report we packed the room, something which only happened with a couple other panels during the weekend. If the crowd's enthusiasm is any indication, I may just have a hit on my hands.
I didn't get to see much of the costume contest because I was either at my booth or on panels, but Luke Cage - also known as my friend Mike Maloy - came by to wish me a "Sweet Christmas." I also saw a terrific Phantom costume, an Aquaman who looked more like an Aquaboy, a decent Green Arrow and Black Canary, and what appeared to be Amy Winehouse as the Silk Spectre. I searched in vain for contestants dressed as Black Lightning, It the Living Colossus, or Tigra. Maybe next year.
I got to chat with a bunch of online friends during the show. A representative sampling would include Alan Coil from my message board and Lou Mazzella from the Grand Comics Database mailing list, just to name two. I made many new friends as well.
After the show and a few calls home, it was off to the Hyatt for a Hero Initiative membership drive and the convention's own Saturday night reception. As veteran readers of this column know, The Hero Initiative is a not-for-profit organization that helps out comics professionals who are in need of assistance. I'm a big fan of the group and I urge the loyal legions of TOT readers to sign up for membership and support this worthy work. For more information, you can go to:
Mid-Ohio-Con's Saturday night reception was even better than the previous evening's affair. I dined on delicious mini-burgers, cheese, and crisp vegetables. I also got to hang out with old and learned friends like P. Craig Russell, Roger Price, Brian Kane, and too many more to list.
My ego was well and truly boosted by an artist who's done fine work for Marvel, DC, and other top comics publishers. He wants to work with me, I want to work with him, and will be looking into how we can accomplish that in the coming months. I'll add that he has fascinating real-life experience in an exciting field...and that I hope to tap into that when developing a project for us.
It was another great Mid-Ohio-Con day and, on my walk back to the Hampton, I was already looking forward to the second and final day of the show.
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more on Mid-Ohio-Con 2009!
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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