Boston Comic Con was held this weekend at the Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston. I'm still recovering so apologies for the late recap. It was a bit of a whirlwind, but I made it through for all of you loyal Comic News Insider listeners! Ready? Here we go.
The Flash's Rogues Gallery
I took the Bolt bus on Saturday morning and arrived around 2 in the afternoon. It's a small show (with lots of room to grow) so I knew I could get there later and still be able to see it all. I dropped my stuff off at my roommate Ben Templesmith's table (first of the name drops..be prepared!) and then did my con walkabout. Whenever I get to a convention, I like to just get a lay of the land and figure out where everyone is located. The Boston show is small enough to walk in about 20 minutes. Most everyone is in the main room but there are a row of tables with various exhibitors outside the main hall as well. And the panel rooms are located a bit further out. Some found them difficult (I didn't) to find but maybe some better signage would help with that. (Not that it was bad, but some did get confused). The only bad thing I feel I have to mention is the AMOUNT OF LOUD ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT WERE CONSTANTLY MADE THROUGHOUT THE CON. Sorry for the caps but I'll bet it wasn't as annoying as the announcements. Of course, during interviews, it sucked as they were so loud that it was obtrusive. But several cartoonists I spoke to said they were just disruptive in general. And SO loud. Some even seemed unnecessarily overdetailed like when they would literally explain how to get to a panel room ("walk to the left wall, turn right, then walk forward, etc"). I'm barely exaggerating there. Though perhaps that had something to do about helping out with the confusion of finding the rooms that I mentioned earlier. Also, and I know names are a tough thing, there were so many mispronunciations of last names that it was laughable. Bisley (biz-lee) became Bye-zlee. Chiang (chyang) became Chai-ang. And so many more. I know it's hard to get them all down but maybe check on it all beforehand? Mostly, it was the loudness and frequency of them. To be honest, most con goers don't even pay attention to announcements. Hopefully, there will be a better system set in place next year with fewer announcements and a better volume control. That being said, the show was still awesome and this is just a minor gripe.
The usual convention exhibitors were about. Comic/toy retailers, small press companies and lots and lots of comic book folks! A lot of great local talent was there and I chatted with several that I had met before and others I sought out or caught my eye. I didn't do any interviews on Saturday but set them up for Sunday. It was a great mix of local talent and some big names that the con brought in. The likes of legendary MAD magazine creators Al Jaffe, Al Feldstein and Paul Coker were in attendance. As well as comic book biggies like Geoff Darrow, Simon Bisley, Kevin Eastman, Skottie Young, Cliff Chiang, Jill Thompson, Kevin Maguire, Phil Noto, Billy Tucci, Ed McGuinness, Tim Sale, Arthur Suydam, Jo Chen, Chrissie Zullo, Alex Maleev, Bill Sienkiewicz, the aforementioned Templesmith and so many more!
I attended part of the Creator Owned Comics panel with Ben Templesmith, Becky Cloonan, Jeremy Bastian, Joe Benitez and Geoff Darrow. Really interesting stuff to hear especially when the whole "indie vs mainstream" argument was brought up. I agree that there shouldn't be any disparity between the factions as it should just be about doing comics and supporting one another. The whole idea of being a "sellout" if you are creator owned and then do work for DC or Marvel is utter bullshit.
I also finally got to meet the lovely and talented Adri Cowan and got along swimmingly. We knew of one another for years now but never met when she was in NYC. She's been in Boston for awhile and is the Community Manager for Google Places/Zagat. She's a proper nerd and knows her comics well. I'll have to get her to co-host the podcast some time in the near future.
Post-con, we headed back to the Sheraton where a majority of us were staying for the weekend. As per usual with multiple groups of friends, we all planned a mighty dinner but there were just too many of us. After a lengthy walk, we found a place that we didn't have to wait too long to sit. The final group that ended up dining together (including myself) was Templesmith, Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, Francis Manapul, Agnes Garbowska, Stephanie Buscema, and Rob Harrigan. The place (Sibling Rivalry) had a lovely atmosphere (though we all agreed a horrible name for a restaurant) but the food was mediocre and our server was a bit too smarmy for my tastes. After dinner, we headed back to the Sheraton bar to hang out where we were joined by Jill Thompson and Cliff Chiang. Lovely chats with lovely people!
Near the end of the evening, I walked over to where Jill Thompson and a few others were talking to Simon Bisley. They had just done last call about 15 minutes earlier and with how smartly I was dressed (the usual tie, waistcoat, etc), Mr. Bisley mistook me for the bar manager or security and said, "Are you here to kick us out?" Ha! I assured him that I wasn't and Jill vouched for me after I reminded him we met at Bristol Expo a couple of years back. Of course, I don't think he remembered but it was pretty funny. I'm actually attending Bristol again this year and think it would be awesome if the same thing happens in the Ramada bar. LET'S MAKE IT HAPPEN! Off to bed soon after. Way too many drinks consumed but a fun night!
I got to the con on Sunday around 11am and went around getting many an interview. I got to meet local cartoonist Patt Kelley (Parasitic Twin) which was very cool as we both were featured in the Slave Labor Graphic anthology Fat Chunk 2: Zombies. I actually had him on the podcast back when it came out but we had never met in person. He's got some really funny stuff to check out! Also chatted with another local, Boris Savic (Banimon). I had met him last year and picked up his comics but only recently read them. His art is FANTASTIC and you must go to the website to explore it all. I stumbled upon a cartoonist who's work caught my eye. Jason Deeble (Monster Haiku) had a great set up and the title and art of Monster Haiku immediately took me in. I read the first book Sunday morning (having picked 2 of them up on Saturday) and loved it. Another table that pulled me in with some beautiful painted art was with Alicia Giuffrida/Phil Amylon (Lucas). Chatted a bit with them about their upcoming comic. Filmmaker/photographer Mike Pecci (Grindhouse Shorts/Suicide Girls) stopped by to talk about his filmwork and photography. I finally talked on mic to 2 well known cartoonists whom I've been friends with for a bit but never had them on the podcast. First was Jill Thompson (Fairy Godmother, Sandman). We talked for about 30 minutes and could have just kept going. She's magnificent, I tells ya! Billy Tucci (Shi, Sgt. Rock) was tabled next to Templesmith and I talked to him a lot over the weekend as I helped to watch Ben's table on occasion. I eventually pulled the recorder out and we talked a bit about his amazing career and what he's working on now. The guy is a great positive ball of energy at cons! Just great to be around. All of those interviews will be up later this week in either the regular format show recorded on Tuesday or later in the week in the special Boston Comic Con show on Thursday.
Me, Patt Kelley
People started packing up pretty early since the show ended at 5pm. I'm guess because they had to catch a flight or what not. It's certainly their right to leave when they'd like, but that's always slightly bothered me that people don't stay til the end. There could be that one con goer who can only make the show for the last couple of hours on Sunday and show up to find their favorite cartoonist has already left. Not hating on the cartoonist, of course.
Oh, other way too small gripe. Wrist bands given upon entrance. Are badges that more pricey? I feel like I'm going into a club. And then when I ask what I'm to do about the next day, they say, "Just keep it on". Um...I do shower. I ended up taking if off and saving it and then taping it back together for the next day. Again, minor but badges are better. Plus, when people see a "Press" badge, they're more apt to chat to me and I could cover even more for the show!
After the end of the con, I had planned another "Dinner For Five" style podcast dinner recording. I've done it a few times in a bar and restaurant and last year's TCAF one with Paul Pope and company was terrific. This year, we went to the fantastic restaurant Sonsie whom accommodated us with a great table in the back. Food and service was outstanding! (Our server was perfect and handled dealing with the recording so well). Joining me in the dinner were Jeremy Bastian, Andy Belanger, Becky Cloonan and Ming Doyle. Besides their own amazing work, we talked about the state of the industry, creator owned comics, indie vs. mainstream and more. Really fun, laid back and quite charming. I'll think you'll all enjoy it! That episode will be up on Saturday.
Overall, the convention was outstanding. Aside from the 1 or 2 minor gripes mentioned, it seemed to go swimmingly and everyone I talked to (both creator and attendee) really liked it. Well attended too! Also had some great cosplay going on for a smaller con (as evidenced by many pictures in this post). I think Boston Comic Con is on the way to becoming one of the better true comic book conventions like Heroes and Baltimore. I know I mentioned a couple of gripes, but I want to stress how GREAT a convention this was and am looking forward to it next year. Any criticisms are only meant as positive suggestions.
Keep it wicked, Boston! (Sorry, I couldn't resist).