One of the things I rarely talk about on this site is my love for comics. As a teenager, I collected them avidly and enjoyed the latest and greatest and even hunted down some solid back issues. When I hit my late teens, I sold off all of my back issues to some local comic shop and moved on. But my love for comics continued on and I eventually decided to just pick up collected works. Anyway, basic background covered, I have always wanted to go to a comic con. My goal is to one day get out to the San Diego comic con (as that’s one of the best in the world), but I started small in my home town of Columbus, Ohio at the Mid Ohio Comic Con (http://midohiocon.blogspot.com/). As this was my first ever comic-con, I thought I’d share a little bit of my experience. My wife (not a comic book fan) and I went on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011. She was excited to come along when I mentioned that Adam West and Burt Ward (the Batman and Robin from the 70’s show) would be there.
So, even though I’m a Columbus native, it was a bit of a challenge to find any parking. It took about 15 minutes of driving around to find a lot that wasn’t full (lots of conferences happen downtime in Columbus on the weekend and this was no exception). Once we found a spot, we had about a 10 minute walk to the con. As we get to the outside of building, we see more than a few folks outside smoking and chatting it up, but don’t really see any folks in costume. Knowing that there is a price of admission, I’m wondering where I need to go to pay, but I’m surprised when my wife and I are just able to walk in (and there is no ticket booth in sight).
As we enter the building, we see several small booths that appear to be selling game cards and things of that nature. Nothing of any particular interest to me, but it made me wonder if this is really all there is to it… and if so, I would be quite disappointed. To our right, I notice several people sitting at tables with 12 packs of dr. pepper, etc, (these folks were clearly prepared to stay in one place for quite some time ) outside of a large ballroom. My wife and I pop our heads in to see what’s going on in there. There were easily hundreds of people throughout the ballroom sitting at tables playing various board/card games. We see large countdown timers going as well, presumably to indicate when certain games begin and end. Anyway, we figure that we definitely must not be at the main event (where is Billy Dee Williams? Where are Batman and Robin?), so we decide to start wandering about.
So, this place is fairly huge. We wander down the hall lined with those game card vendors I mentioned and off to the left. We get to a place that looks like it might sell tickets or perhaps where we can get some more info, but we notice is registration for some sort of beauty school or something to that effect. Off we go in the other direction. We ride up an escalator and see my brother and a few of his friends going down the other way (my brother lives in Canton and mentioned that he was coming to Columbus for this event). We ask them where everything is, they have no idea, and we eventually continue our quest to find the comic con proper anew – only now, we are a party of 5 – and we are beginning to see folks in costume.
We head back up that escalator we were originally on when we passed my brother when we encountered cosplay “Batman on an escalator” and the happy zombie (happiest zombie I’ve ever seen). Delightful. One thing I was soon to learn is that just about everyone in costume at a con apparently loves to have their picture taken.
We continue onward and eventually get to the place where we can buy tickets. As we aren’t 100% sure we need tickets, we continue to look around, never really finding the con itself. Eventually, after roaming for another 20 minutes, we return and buy tickets, and then are told where exactly to go. Mayhaps I could have saved some time if I bothered to ask for directions earlier, eh?
Anyway, here are some of the folks we encountered before we even made it into the con proper.
The lady who poses. This girl LOVED to pose. As soon as she saw me with a camera, she went into all sorts of poses, etc. She really seemed like she picked a spot where she’d have a ton of exposure and just strutted her stuff. It was a bit surreal snapping pictures while she did her little poses and folks just kept walking on by.
Then there are the green lantern corps.
Here’s Steel – a spin off character from when they killed Superman a long time back. He’s actually standing where my group needed to be to get into the con.
Here’s that… person with capt jack
During our wanderings, I found this father and son combo starring out over the food court. This is probably my fav set of pictures from the day.
So, it turns out that we needed to simply go up some stairs behind the booth that you could buy tickets at. It was right there the whole time and we kept wandering around like goof balls. Anyway, we head up the stairs and enter comic con proper. The first thing we see is the original bat mobile from the 70’s series with an Asian family inside (insert silly Asian driver joke here :P) with someone dressed up as Poison Ivy.
Glancing around quickly trying to get my bearings (the place was packed!), I notice Billy Dee Williams almost immediately. I’m sure most know, but Billy Dee is most well known for his role as Lando Calrissian from Star Wars (and his Colt 45 commercials from the 80s). He’s sitting at a both with many folks around him signing autographs and taking pictures. At this point, my brother and his friends split up and I head off with my wife to wander.
Just about everything in the comic con proper was contained in a smaller room than the ballroom I mentioned earlier. At the middle of the room towards the front was the bat mobile. Directly behind the bat mobile were booths for the various celebrities that were there (more on them in a bit). Then everywhere else (wherever they could fit it) were comic book vendors, artists, t-shirt vendors, etc. It was extremely crowded and we were often hard pressed to move at all with how tightly packed people were. I believe it took about 3 ½ hours to have a go around and at least briefly see everything there was. There was also a room that held about 200 people where they had panel discussions where my wife and I attended a Q & A session with Adam West and Burt Ward (more on that later as well).
And the wandering in the con begins. The first thing I come to is a comic booth selling a wide amount of hard cover comic collections for like $5 a pop. I pick up a couple (regular price was $20+, so it was a nice deal) and continue to move on. We continue to move through all of the comic vendors, me hunting for any noteworthy deals and spying out for any interesting figures (I figure my office would still be fit for purpose if I add a cool figure as a decoration). I see plenty of interesting things, but make no more purchases. I decided I was going to save my money for some artwork from Bill Sienkiewicz (sin- KEV- itch). Truth be told, I was most excited about meeting him in person and seeing/purchasing some of his work. He has a very unique style of art, probably the most notable being his work on Electra for marvel. Unfortunately, I think my decision to wait until I got to his booth kept me from picking up anything else. Even worse still, it doesn’t look like he even showed up, as I could not find any sign of him. Quite a disappointment.
We came across many, many more cosplay folks as you can see here.
One of the more interesting things I came across was a booth that sold the original artwork that was used to make comics. These are 1 of a kind works that this company acquires directly from the artists and then sells at a mark up to anyone that is interested. In my nerdy mind, it’s the difference between buying a copy of a famous painting or owning the painting itself. To give a better frame of reference, this artwork, though it’s used for an actual comic book page, is a good deal larger – they just resize the artwork for the comic. I spent about 30 minutes looking through the original works of several artists. They had the originals from various artists going back to the 70’s and as recent as the current run of astonishing x-men. The prices for each work fluctuated quite a bit. Some, not super exciting works were as cheap as $50. An original of a well know comic book artist, Andy Kubert, ran about $750. Come to think of it, maybe it was a good thing that I was waiting to see Bill Sienkiewicz’s booth – I might have been very tempted to drop quite a bit of dough here.
Another thing I saw at the same booth was just gorgeous. There apparently was a comic some time back that I never read that covered the origin of Ra’s al Ghul (a Batman character). Anyway, they had full blown originals of the entire book, completely painted. It was very impressive. Pretty impractical to own, even if the cost wasn’t prohibitive, but really, really cool to look at the originals. All of these were in protective sleeves and laminated so folks like me could thumb through them.
We continued on and looked at various artists work. You could buy what they had, have it autographed, get them to sketch something for you, etc. I felt a little awkward when I’d walk past an artist with no one talking with him – probably not a good sign if the place is packed and no one is even looking at your stuff, but I only encountered 3-5 booths that were like this. One booth was a little sad. There was a guy there that apparently carved/created miniatures of the OSU football band and had a booth all to himself. Looks like he certainly put a lot of time and quality work into his craft, but it was something I certainly didn’t have an interest in.
So, back to the celebrities. I didn’t really interact with any of the stars, per se. I don’t really feel a need to shake Billy Dee’s hand or pay for an autograph or pose with him for a picture. But Billy wasn’t the only star there. I already mentioned Adam West and Burt Ward. Walter Koenig (Chekov from Star Trek) was there. Gil Gerard from Buck Rogers was there. Doug Jones from Hell Boy (he was the fish guy). There were several others as well. I mostly just took a quick look at these folks while I walked around. Walter Koenig looks a lot like Neil Simon.
Anyways, we walked and saw what we could. Then we got in line and waited for the Batman and Robin panel to begin. We waited in line for about 40 minutes with more people than would fit in the room and eventually were allowed to enter. It was scheduled to start at 4PM but Adam West and Burt Ward did not show up until 4:10. The panel was scheduled to last from 4-4:45PM. You’d think they might extend the duration of the panel by an extra 10 minutes for showing up late, but they did not. Anyway, they had a moderator that did a great job leading the panel. He introduces the stars and after they enter, let us know that it’s a Q & A session and that if there were no questions, then the Q & A would be over. So, he managed to herd several people to a microphone and we were off. The 1st question came from someone dressed up as the old 70s style Riddler. He bantered briefly with Batman and Robin and it was funny to hear Adam put on his Batman voice. None of the questions were super interesting, but Burt and Adam fleshed things out nicely. Burt told a few stories that I’ll briefly relate that really help paint a picture of what life was like starting out on the Batman and Robin show.
On the first episode, there’s a scene where the Batmobile comes out of the bat cave and then makes a high speed turn onto a dirt road. Well, the director apparently chose to use stunt doubles as it wasn’t necessarily the safest thing. So, not knowing this, Robin gets into the bat mobile and notices that the person in the Batman costume isn’t Adam. After asking who he is and finding out it’s a stunt double, he looks around and sees Adam speaking with the stunt double Robin. Burt yells for the director and says there must be some mistake and that his stunt double should be in the car. The director shouts back that the stunt double doesn’t look enough like you. Burt had to do his own stunt. So, during the hard turn during the stunt, the door to the Batmobile flew open and Burt’s finger got caught in the door and ripped out of socket. That was day one.
Another story he told is even worse than that. There was a scene where Robin was kidnapped and tied up on the ground. The scene called for Batman to break through a wall and save him. Well, the set they were on didn’t have a breakaway wall. So they came up with a solution. They put 2 sticks of dynamite in the wall to make the whole. Well, they set off the dynamite, it made a hole alright, but it also sent debris everywhere… and onto Burt. Burt got a broken arm and some bruised ribs from that. I trust you are starting to get the picture.
One of the last stories was related by Adam. In it, he mentioned a scene where both he and Burt couldn’t stop laughing. Apparently it was an episode that had Catwoman in it. He said there were 2 golden cat statues that they apparently kept putting into quite inappropriate poses (I’m assuming this meant sexual poses). Anyway, during this, they’d banter back and forth as their characters. One of the things Adam apparently said was “Watch out for that giant pussy, Robin! I think it may be radioactive!” Anyway, with that, the time was up and the start were ushered out of the room.
As we filed out, I said my goodbyes to my brother and his friends. We saw several storm troopers doing script Ohio.
Here’s what they are doing…
Then I went and have a great dinner with my wife at Knead. All in all, a pretty fun and memorable day.