Monday, October 24, 2011

Mid-Ohio Con: Photos and Commentary

 Today in The Cube:

So I attended Mid-Ohio Con over the weekend at the Greater Columbus Convention Center in - where else? - Columbus, Ohio. It was, I admit, my first real convention, but I will tell you right now - a good time was had.
A view down Artist's Alley at Mid-Ohio Con
While the Con has stirred some contention online due to the fact that the formerly independent event had been bought by Wizard World, I found the ticket price - $25 per day - to be reasonable considering what I got out of it.
I was lucky enough to get there early (before 10 a.m., the official starting time) and while the crowds were large, they were still manageable and I got onto the main floor just after 10 a.m.
First stop: I made a beeline for longtime Invincible artist Ryan Ottley's table and picked up a copy of his new sketchbook, Violence and Pinwheels. Unfortuntely, his sketch list was closed, but still nice to meet him. Definitely worth the modest line that had formed at the time. (The line for Phil Jiminez was also quite lengthy.)
Franchesco! at work
Chad Spilker at work
Next Stop: the table of one of my favorite artists, Franchesco!, known for his superlative covers for a number of titles, as well as The Savage She-Dragon, a one-shot part of the Savage Dragon universe from a few years back. As it was still early in the con, I was able to speak with him for a good amount of time, shooting the breeze about art. And, to my joy, he even did a sketch for me in my sketchbook.
I next had the opportunity to speak with cartoonist Tom Batuik, creator of, among others, Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft, two of my favorite newspaper comics. He was very personable and it was wonderful to meet him in the flesh.
My Franchesco! sketch
I next met with pin-up artist Chad Spilker, who also drew a sketch for me in my book. I had the opportunity to talk with Chad for quite a while and he shared valuable tips on working with Copic markers.
After taking a much-needed break, I then sought out Chris Sprouse (Tom Strong) and got on his list for a sketch - of Tom Strong, natch. Wandering around later I was also pleased to be able to see - in the flesh - James Marsters (Spike from Buffy), Adam West and Burt Ward (the original 1960s Batman and Robin), Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). However, while seeing those actors, among others, was a thrill, I was really there for the artists - I was not about to stand in line and pay $40 for an autograph or a photo op, though manymanymany people did so. Those lines were prodigious.
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Sprouse was unable to do my sketch (though I had the pleasure to observe him work on a great drawing of Nightcrawler for one lucky fan), but I was able to talk to his next-door-table mate, Karl Story, inker on such titles as Tom Strong, Ex Machina and Buffy.
Story had a great pile of $25 inked pages, and I picked two up (both over the pencils of Georges Jeanty) and was thrilled with them. When he found out I was interested in technique, he really lit up and we talked for a while about the practice of inking hair, how he interpreted ink work in cross-hatching and other subjects.
Cosplay at the con was not enormous, but there were some great ones: the 501st Legion was there with their superb renditions of Star Wars trooper regalia, and there were a large number of Catwomen and Harley Quinns, especially. One group that particularly caught my eye (but not, unfortunately, my camera) was a classic Joker, Harley Quinn (with comically a HUGE mallet) and a Batman Forever Riddler dressed to the nines. Well done, folks!
Suffice it to say: Great time! Despite the controversy of the change in management, the con was run very well, and while crowds decidedly picked up after 12 p.m. on Saturday (the only day I could attend) they never got unnavigable. I'll definitely be coming back!
[I apologize for the dearth of photos - as it was my first con, getting my bearings was a new experience, and so I snapped shots when I thought to. Additionally, some of the images I took simply didn't turn out in any publishable fashion.]

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