Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Con Report - Cincinnati Comic Expo 2016

Alas, the 2016 Cincinnati Comic Expo has come and gone. But what a show!

Thanks to some fortunate circumstances, my friend Steve was able to get us 3-day passes to the con, in return for some video work done for the fine folks at HLM Productions. We helped videotape the celebrity panels at the con. I’ve never been to a con for three days in a row, I wondered if I would find enough stuff to do. The answer was a resounding yes.

On Friday I walked the con floor and made notes about the folks I wanted to meet and vendors I wanted to visit. The bulk of the evening was spent at the Stan Lee presentation.

Stan the Man
At 93, Stan Lee is still a phenomenon to be reckoned with. Stan came into the exhibit hall greeted by thousands of adoring fans. He was accompanied by his assistant Max, who sat down with him at the display table. They opened up the floor for questions, and the line was immediately filled with eager fans. Stan is a bit hard of hearing, so Max had to repeat most of the questions loudly in Stan’s ear. Stan answered the same questions he has heard for years, but managed to be gracious and engaging with each answer. He told the crowd how he created Spider-Man (he put the hero in the last issue of a cancelled book, Amazing Adult Fantasy, and the character just took off). Editor Martin Goodman hated the name, insisting no one liked spiders. On The X-Men, the book was supposed to be called The Mutants, but Goodman insisted no one knew what a mutant was. He was right, Stan mused, but Goodman liked X-Men, and who knew what an “X-Man” was?

Stan and his assistant, Max
Stan is extremely careful never to criticize Marvel, its comics or its movies. So I was surprised to hear he didn’t care for Dr. Doom in the 90s Fantastic Four films. “He didn’t have the body armor or the backstory of the original Doom,” Stan pointed out. I like those films, but I do agree with Stan’s criticisms. The perfect Fantastic Four movie has yet to be made. Speaking of films, Stan has already shot cameos for four upcoming, unreleased Marvel films. Not to be morbid, but I’m sure Marvel is using him as much as possible while he is still around.

Stan's Question Line
My friend Matt Tauber chats with Stan

Couple Married by Stan
Near the end of the presentation, a young black man stepped up to the mic to engage Stan. He said he had heard Stan had the credentials to marry couples and asked if he would marry him and his fiancĂ©e, who was in the audience. Amused, Stan said “Sure!” and advised the young man he should see a “real” official after the wedding to be sure everything was legal. The couple stepped up, Stan said the usual stuff and the young man kissed his bride. That got a thunderous standing ovation.

It's Stan Lee Day in Cincinnati!
When Stan’s time was up, the convention organizers presented him with a certificate from Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley marking September 23rd, 2016 as “Stan Lee Day.” Stan seemed touched and many photos were taken.

Stan having a blast!
Stan had the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hand for the entire presentation. Can you imagine, everywhere you go every day of your life, people do nothing but ask for your autograph, tell you that you made their childhood and list the reasons they revere you? It must be wicked amazing to be Stan Lee.

As part of the convention pass provided by my friend Steve, a photo op with Stan Lee was provided. I was incredibly excited about that. I’ve met Stan a few times before, but have never gotten a photo with him. I got the appointed time from Steve and made sure to be prompt. Four people were allowed in each photo with Stan. I was supposed to meet Steve, his son Daniel and Daniel’s friend Matthew for the shot. My girlfriend Terry was with me to see Stan. Steve was filming some of the panels and the costume contest for the con. It turned out he was not able to attend the photo session—very disappointing since his video work made everything possible. Instead, Terry was able to jump in and we got the following shot:

A motley crew
Why didn’t anyone tell me I was fat? That is embarrassing ... Unfortunately, we were not able to engage Stan or spend any time with him. It was form the group, snap the photo, move on, repeat. Although we didn’t have to pay due to our passes, the VIP/photo package was around $350, and a LOT of people were in line. Stan had a good financial weekend, as he always does at cons. “Idol o’ millions,” as Ben Grimm used to say.

David Mazouz from Gotham
There were many other celebrities there selling photos and autographs. The only one I wanted to meet was Teddy Sears from The Flash. Teddy played Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick on Flash Season 2 last year (among other parts), and I’ve always loved that character. Sears’ autograph was affordable so we got in his line. He had a unique system—whether fans bought anything or not, he spent five minutes or so with each person or group who approached, just chatting. I chose a nice color Jay Garrick photo to have signed:

Teddy Sears as Jay Garrick
Terry and I engaged Teddy. As he signed my photo, we discussed the con, meeting Stan (he was extremely respectful of Mr. Lee) and his role on The Flash. He recognized how venerated his character was, and how some of the show’s imagery captured the comic’s iconic moments. He wished us well and was on to the next group. An affable fellow.

Terry and I spent the rest of the evening in the convention hall, seeing exhibits and looking at art, props and clothing for sale, and admiring the cosplay. It was her first comic con and she didn’t run screaming. I appreciate that.

The missing link, MTU #4
Sunday was the original day I was going to attend the con. My friends Eric, Tyler and I met early and Eric and I got down to some serious comic book shopping. The first booth we ran into was full of dollar boxes. I filled some holes in my Avengers and Fantastic Four collection, he pulled out enough books to start his own comic shop. We love bargains! We then checked out a few booths with cheap graphic novels, but their selections were a bit sparse. I think the dealers were low on stock for the year and had not replenished lately.

I found a dealer with a great Silver Age comic collection he just bought. I looked through a lot of it and found way too many books I liked. I needed only one book to totally finish the series Marvel Team-Up from the ‘70s, MTU #4. He had one in great shape for an excellent price, so I picked it up. Another series complete! Other huge finds were Avengers #6, #20 and #28, all in great shape. This dealer wanted to take home as few books as possible, so I was more than eager to help him!

Avengers #6
A bought a few other small things, and a print from artist Nen Chang. Her booth was stuffed with absolutely beautiful artwork, prints and sketches. I chose a print of a stunning woman with cascading red hair. While wrapping it up, she told me it was the Red Witch from Game of Thrones. I love the connection, since I’m a huge GOT fan. Here’s the print:

For the Night is Dark ...  
The one and only Neal Adams
My last bit of business before I left was to drop by and see my favorite comic book artist, Neal Adams. Neal is the Grand Old Man of comics and has been drawing since the mid-‘60s. The man doesn’t lack talent, energy or strong opinions. And he is the greatest comic book artist of all time, just ask him (and I heartily agree). I wanted to get a photo of Neal for the blog. When I got there, he was in the middle of a cosmic-level rant about art and young artists to an attractive young woman. I stood there politely for around 10 minutes; Neal didn’t even slow down. I had to pee, so when he stopped for a breath I asked politely if I could snap a photo.

“You can,” Neal said, irritated, “But you shouldn’t interrupt the conversation.” He was right, and graciously accepted my apology. He struck a pose, I snapped a photo, then headed for the men’s room. Hey, when you have to go you have to go! I’m sure Neal would understand.

Being at the con three days allowed me to take a lot of fun photos. Here they are:

Terry with the Darth Vader Patrol
A very nice Harley Quinn
Some Disney Fairies
Ye Author confronting a dangerous Predator
Spider-Man villain Mysterio
Love this animated Supergirl
Jay Garrick from The Flash TV Show
Black Canary
More Disney characters
Rogue/Leia and Gambit/Han Solo. Really. 
Very young Huntress and Black Canary
This remote control R2-D2 actually worked
Dr. Fate and a cross-dressing Green Arrow
A ... hot chick and ... the Toxic Avenger?
Playing hooky from Hogwart's

All in all, one of the best cons I’ve ever been to. I got to camp out at the con three days in a row, met and got a photo with Stan Lee, found some fantastic deals and introduced Terry to the world of comic book nerds. This is really one for the history books—how am I going to top this? It will surely be fun trying. And a very special thank you to my friend Steve for getting me in and making the Stan photo happen. I owe you one, pal!

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