This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending The Great Allentown Comic Con Summer Show at Merchants Square Mall. As usual, it was filled with vendors of comic books and other pop culture paraphernalia, artists and other vendors, as well as, my fellow attendees, those in cosplay and those who just showed up with their geek on their sleeve.
I have said before and I’ll say it again, The Great Allentown Comic Con is getting too big for itself. This is not a complaint, more of an observation, and a good problem for the organizers to have at that.
I do love the location at Merchants Square Mall, “a dirt mall,” as Brodie from Mallrats would describe it, but a “mall with character”, as I would describe it. This year, it was super crowded and super hot. There appeared to be a few less actual vendors of comics, but no shortage of artists and other vendors, in addition to the celebrity tables.
I visited two show veterans, Darren Auck and Chris Flick. Darren Auck, who I will be posting my Q & A with shortly, is previewing his next project “My BF BF!” (My Best Friend Bigfoot!), which I picked up a copy of it, as well. Although everyone is nice, I truly enjoy talking to Darren at any show of his I can get to.
It was also a treat to catch up with Chris Flick, the artist behind the Capes-N-Babes comic strip. I picked up his Great Allentown Comic Con exclusive, Jay and Silent Bob Clerks – Minions mashup. And because I follow him on twitter and said the magic words, “I like Monsters,” I also received a free print of my choice, which allowed him to choose, and I ended up with a Minion Hellboy print as well. It does pay to follow these artists on twitter, not only can you keep up with their works, you might get free stuff!
I also asked him about “Why all the minion mashups? He told me it was one request from James Rowe and it took off from there. Which it really did.
It wasn’t all about artists, either. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Stan Konopka of Nemesis Studios, Marc Lombardi of Grayhaven Comics, Aaron Clutter of ComicBooked.com and Josh Steinhouse The Geek Ballonist.
Stan Konopka of Nemesis Studios, is an eccentric artists. The man is launching a fresh version of his website soon www.nemesis-studios.com, in addition to doing shows, comics and it isn’t just about the 2-d medium. He doesn’t seem satisfied with just one medium, he also had on display a Mjölnir (Thor’s hammer), which he created himself. Next up, for the physical artist in him, is a life-size Tardis. Stan is truly ambitious.
Marc Lombardi of Grayhaven Comics was a joy to talk to because there was a sign on his table that read, “ask me how to get published.” He explained how Grayhaven Comics, puts out The Gathering and they give people a way to get published for their very first time. Grayhaven Comics will help pair up writers and artists to get published in their anthology comic The Gathering. The artists and writers retain their rights to whatever they create and in my opinion, this is a comic publisher that has the formula right, for helping you start out in the industry if you are interested.
I also met, the Editor in Chief of ComicBooked.com, Aaron Clutter, and I may be doing some work for them in the future, we will see what happens. Josh Steinhouse, The Geek Balloonist was a very interesting man. He told me he spends very little time at home, spending most of it on the road at events and conventions. The Geek Balloonist, is exactly what you’re thinking, balloon creatures of geekiness; superheroes, Dr. Who, video games, you name it, he can make it with balloons.
As I mentioned before, there was a lot of cosplay to take in. Although, I did not go in costume, there were plenty of people who did.
The Joker, many Doctors from Dr. Who, DC and Marvel Superheroes, Halo, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Rocketeer, Casey Jones of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fame, Ness from Nintendo’s Earthbound, Archer’s Dr. Krieger and his Virtual Wife, and an amazing lifelike Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama.
Back to the show with its vendors, purveyors of comic book deals, and artists, where I did pick up more than the sights of cosplay and sparkling conversation with artists or The Joker.
Aside from the two prints I picked up from Chris Flick and the first issue of Darren Auck’s My BF BF, there were plenty of comics and magazines I walked away with as well. A trade paperback of “The Spectre: Tales of the Unexpected,” a couple issues of “Marvel Fanfare,” a couple issues of “Cheval Noir,” “Anything Goes #4,” “Geeksville #2,” and “Comics Interview #33” featuring John Lennon, Spielberg and Cheech and Chong.
It wasn’t all comic books, of course, I picked up two old “Heavy Metal” magazines, “Magical Blend,” and Richard Corben’s “Den Saga #4,” because I do enjoy Richard Corben’s Den.
Overall, my experience was as good as it always is. Sure it was hot and crowded, but there was a lot of talent, sparkling conversation and deals to go around. But all of this leads me to “What is a Comic Con?”
I have not attended the big ones, San Diego, New York, Philadelphia, or even the medium ones, in say Greensboro or Baltimore, but that’s more a problem of my time and getting the finances in order. The Great Allentown Comic Con is in my backyard, which makes it easy to make time, because the travel to it, is less than the time it takes me to travel to work everyday.
Anyway, what is a comic con? The Vendors, the Artists, the Cosplayers, the Panels, the Actors, the screenings?
With Geek becoming more mainstream, what is a comic con any more. Even as much as five years, ago when The Great Allentown Comic Con had its inaugural show in November, the crowds weren’t this big, and I would have been less than willing to tell you that geek was mainstream, but now, there is no doubt, it is.
I had a good time, but as someone who never took being called a “geek” as a negative, it is still a little weird to be in such a fervent crowd in Allentown, where just a few years ago, I would have only expected such a crowd had a traveled to one of the big cons.
What is a comic con? For me, it will always be about the deals and the conversation. For me, that’s the essence of a comic con and in that regard, I will continue to attend The Great Allentown Comic Con.
Although I do wish they would get a larger venue. It’s getting a little crowded and that’s a great problem to have, although it is still a problem.