Wizard World L.A., the shocking aftermath.

§ March 17th, 2008 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Wizard World L.A., the shocking aftermath.

Well, that was certainly a convention.

So Saturday morning, pal Dorian, his boyfriend Pete, my girlfriend Nora, and I all piled into a car and made our way down to Los Angeles for the Wizard World convention, and aside from a minor incident involving a nasty bump in the road and a blown tire, it was a reasonably uneventful trip. (We didn’t notice a problem at first…there’s nothing quite like driving along and having everyone who passes you on your left honk at you and point in the general direction of your front left wheel.)

Anyway, we made it to the convention, waited in line for about five minutes to get our badges and our freebies…well, Pete and Nora got the freebies, since Dor and I had the comp tickets I got through the store…that was freebie enough, I guess. Which is okay, since Nora gave the freebie (a Hulk comic with a convention-exclusive cover) to me anyhow. You know, now that I think about it, I just realized I haven’t even looked at the comic, since I just tossed it in the bag on the way into the show. Lemme go take a look at it.

Oh good heavens.

Michael Turner, you’ve done it again! But, what the hell, it’s free. I was told by customer George, who had also attended the show, that there was a dealer there offering $10 to attendees for their copies of this comic.

It’s been a while since either Dor and I have been to a full-on comic book convention, so we were both a little overwhelmed at first. We just sorta wandered around aimlessly, poking in the occasional back issue box, looking at the folks wandering the convention in their Star Wars costumes (and there were a lot of Star Wars costumes), and seeking out the people we knew at the artists’ tables. Speaking of whom, I got to see longtime customer, now comics pro, Weshoyot at the Archaic table, sketching her little heart out. And I got to see this guy:

Because I take photos like Uwe Boll makes movies, I totally got a glare on the book, so here you go:

That man there is Matt Maxwell, comics blogger and writer, and he was nice enough to sign a copy of his book for me, as well as put up with my request to take a picture of him for my site. Anyway, everyone go look at the preview for Strangeways, and look for it on the shelves of your better comics shops by the end of this month.

My few passes though the artists’ alley netted me no appearance of Bob Burden, sadly, and I don’t think I ever spotted Keith Knight at his table, which is a shame. I met Knight several years ago at one of the Alternative Press Expos in San Jose, and we got to chat for a few minutes. He was a swell guy, and I wanted to say hello to him again at this con, but no luck. Ah, well. Just bad timing on my part, I think.

Once we settled down and stopped the aimless wandering, the delving into the actual comics began. I decided before even showing up I wasn’t going to spend a lot of money…I was going to look for cheap old stuff, which…yeah, okay, stop laughing out there, I know that “cheap old stuff” is a contradiction in terms when it comes to comic book conventions. Usually it’s the “antique shop” mentality at work: “Hey, it’s old, it’s gotta be expensive,” which I saw an awful lot of at the show. But I did find a few things, poking through some Silver Age and ’70s boxes which were marked down to 50% off (which in some cases meant the prices came down to what the books probably should actually have been selling for in the first place). I found a few Nancy & Sluggo books, as well as a nice copy of Turok #99. At another table I found a Fritzi Ritz #25, and my big splurge of the day was an Amazing World of DC Comics ‘zine for $15…probably too much, but I never see them anymore, and I don’t feel like competing in eBay auctions for them. Oh, and I also grabbed a DC Comics Presents #65 (Superman and Madame Xanadu) out of a dollar box, since I’ve been meaning to buy the stupid thing for years for the great Gray Morrow art.

Otherwise, it was a lot of window shopping…looking through boxes of ’40s and ’50s horror and romance comics was a lot of fun, seeing those great “Bride Romance”-type photo covers and wishing I had the cash to spend to bring them home with me. Oh well.

I’ve discovered, too, that I don’t have quite the patience I used to have to go through the countless boxes of bargain books. Maybe seeing the endless parade of Wolfpack depresses me. I did find a few random things for a buck each for the shop, however…some later Hellblazers, the first issue of the Married with Children…hey, it wasn’t much, but I can use ’em.

As a retailer-type person, I did have some concern on the behalf of some of the sellers here, particularly those who had hundred-dollar books just sitting out there, in the front of boxes at the edges of their tables, just waiting for someone to stroll on by and yank the comic when the guy behind the counter wasn’t looking. I know they have to have the books out for people to look at, but I can only hope they all kept a close eye on their stock. It made me nervous, and these weren’t even my comics.

And then there’s the new stuff, the recently-released comics that are still on most stores’ new arrivals shelves that some dealers have marked up at…adventurous prices. The new X-Force #1 at $6.50 surprised me a bit, and that one fellow who had Terry Moore’s new funnybook Echo marked at $6.00…wonder how many he sold. A Hulk #2 “variant 2nd printing” was also at the six buck mark. And the guy who had Locke & Key #1 at $5 — man, don’t get me started. Pal Dorian noted this too, but there was at least one table with the most recent issue of Buffy Season 8 marked at five bucks, with a little sign that read “BUFFY IS GAY!” Hey, you stay classy, comics industry.

The actual events and such at the show, we didn’t much take part in. There was a huge line for the Alyssa Milano appearance…I didn’t see her myself, but my girlfriend spotted her at some point and let me know that Milano was a tiny little wisp of a petite person, which, well, in case you were wondering. And I happened to see Lou Ferrigno wandering the floor, and I looked right at him and thought, “huh, I know that’s a famous person of some sort, but I wonder who it is?” Yes, that’s right, I didn’t immediately recognize Lou Ferrigno. I’ll turn in my nerd card right away. (But I did spot Jeph Loeb walking by while I was looking through a back issue bin…go figure.)

We did catch the costume contest, which was fairly entertaining. Alas, I was too far back in the crowd to get many photos, but Dorian got plenty of good ones, so I’ll link to his Flickr pages as appropriate.

The costumes on these two guys ruled:

That Jawa costume with the glowing eyes was disturbingly awesome, and that Optimus Prime get-up…that was the clear favorite of the crowd, and why he didn’t win the prize is beyond me. Some website or TV show or whatever interviewed “Optimus” after the contest, and ignored the actual winners as far as I can tell.

And who did win, you ask?

These cats:

Okay, granted, they were funny, and they totally played up the fakey Italian accents, and there was a nice bit where Luigi there was comparing his tiny mallet to the HUGE FREAKIN’ MALLET being wielded by a young lady dressed as Harley Quinn (whom you can see here smacking Peter in the stomach).

Other people I didn’t get good photos of, but Dorian did:

Elektro and Hellcat – “Elektro” actually had little electric buzzing/shocking/light-up bits in his fingertips which was a little scary and probably not entirely legal, but still looked neat. (You can kinda see it in action here.) And Hellcat’s costume worked out quite nicely as well…when they came onstage, there were a few cameras out for Elektro’s appearance, but the picture-taking came on full-force when Hellcat showed up, so I imagine you’ll be seeing some of those photos on your finer “mature interest” websites.

Green Hornet had a nice costume, I thought. Simple but elegant.

And here are Iron Fist and Harley.

We don’t have a photo of the guy dressed as Superman, but he was a…thinner fella, but he was game enough to show up in costume and have fun, but that didn’t stop some wag in the audience from shouting “more like Superboy!” which we all thought was kind of a dick thing to do.

There were a couple guys who didn’t take part in the costume contest, but were sort of hanging around it, like this excellent “Desert Storm” Wolverine:

Here’s another pic, this time posing with Dorian. No, Dorian isn’t doing anything salacious with Wolvie in the photo.

And then there’s this guy in the Hulk outfit, which just plain cracked me up:

And this fella was just part of the people wandering the convention in Star Wars costumes, but as long as I’m talking about costumes, I’ll put it here:

I mean, anyone can go to a show dressed as a run-of-the-mill Stormtrooper, but a Snowtrooper? That’s commitment, my friend.

And apparently there was someone at the show dressed as Drunk Boba Fett (wearing a leisure suit, carrying an ersatz martini, and wearing the Fett helmet) but I never saw him. Alas. Plus there was the assortment of catgirls, with the fuzzy ears and safety-pinned tails, some booth babes for a horror movie site who, I suppose, were technically clothed, and that one person who perhaps was a little too into The Matrix, and not only had the overcoat get-up, but even had a computer port tattoo on the back of the neck. Egads.

Also, no Klingons. Dammit.

We all wrapped up our day attending the DC Comics panel, where DC executive editor Dan Didio headed a discussion, accompanied by James Robinson, Bob Wayne, Darwyn Cooke, and, for some reason, a pretty young woman dressed as Evil Mary Marvel. Of note:

  • New Justice League title, written by Robinson, featuring a more proactive team, and starring the Hal Jordan Green Lantern, Green Arrow (the Oliver Queen version), Ray Palmer (but not as the Atom), Supergirl, Freddie Freeman (as whatever he’ll eventually be called), Starman (not Jack Knight, but the blue one), Batwoman, and…believe it or not, Congorilla. Freakin’ Congorilla, man. Robinson promises that this will be everyone’s favorite character on the team within six months of the series’ debut. (EDIT: Though the name “Congorilla” was thrown out there, specifically he was originally described by Mr. Robinson as a “90-year-old man named Bill” — later revealed to be Congo Bill, “yes, Congorilla” as I believe Didio said. Dorian recorded the whole thing…we’ll check the tapes.) No artist announced, despite someone waving a ten dollar bill in the audience in an attempt to bribe the info out of Didio.
  • Cooke will be drawing a Jonah Hex story set in Canada, featuring, quote, “crooked, drunken mounties.”
  • The Arthur Curry Aquaman may reappear this year, as they’re trying to cook up a version that “works best for fans.”
  • When Manhunter returns, they’ll have enough material in the can to avoid publishing delays. In fact, Didio specifically addressed the publishing delays issue they’ve been having, saying measures are being taken to correct this problem. I’ll believe it when I see it, frankly.
  • It was hinted that some of the fake covers in the New Frontier special may actually become real published books.
  • When Didio noted that they’re trying to create a “cohesive continuity,” Cooke openly laughed at him. “These panels are a gas,” says he.
  • The Dr. Fate regular series is a no-go at this time, as it was to be written by Steve Gerber, spinning out of Countdown to Mystery. Didio felt it didn’t feel right to simply hand the title off to a new writer so soon after Gerber’s passing.
  • Some plot points from Justice League of America #0 may be addressed in the 50-cent DC Universe #0, among other places.
  • Someone asked if, with the current popularity of Sinestro, if the mini-series Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II will be reissued. That resulted in an emphatic “NO” from pretty much the entire panel. They’re trying to forget that story, apparently.
  • Question about Barry Allen’s return: Bob Wayne says, “if I say ‘yes,’ you’ll be disappointed, if I say ‘no,’ you’ll be disappointed. So, ‘no comment.'”
  • And there was some fun had at Cooke’s expense, regarding his affinity for older material. When current DCU plans were being discussed, Cooke piped in saying he had no idea what anyone was talking about. “We send you a box [of comp books],” Didio said — “Do you even open it?”

Anyway, those were the things that stuck out. I imagine one of the comic news sites will have a more complete transcript of the events.

I honestly tried to think of a question to ask, but my brain kept revolving around Swamp Thing queries, and I didn’t really have any. It wasn’t until the drive home that I realized I should have asked: “Since All Star Batman and Robin is the finest book currently being published by DC, is it possible to keep Frank Miller and Jim Lee on the title for ever and ever?”

I’m sure I have more to say about the con at some point, but I’ve already gone on long enough for this installment. Overall, the show was fun, but I’m glad it’s over and done with. In the meantime, here’s Kid Chris’ con experience, as well as he and Dafna Trekkin’ out.

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