On the Road to Two Comic Book Shows

On the Road to Two Comic Book Shows

by Rick Silva

Boston Comic Con 2012

Quick introduction: I’m Rick Silva. I’m a relatively new member of the NEHW, but I’ve been involved in the local convention scene for quite a number of years. These days, most of the conventions I attend are in my capacity as a small press comic book publisher, although I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a couple of prose stories published in the last year or two, and have done panels and readings in that capacity as well.

For Boston Comic Con, my Dandelion Studios comics were sharing a table with Joe McGlone of Fallenmage Productions and his comics. We drove in early Saturday morning, and were shown right to our table by the very well-organized convention staff.

The show was held in one of the main exhibit halls of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. We parked at the Prudential garage both days, which was pricey. I’d originally thought we could get around some of that cost by validation deals, or by moving the car to the street for part of the show, but those options proved to be too much of a hassle and we ended up paying full price both days. I think I will go back to taking the subway in (which I did for Anime Boston) if I attend this show again.

Photo by Rick Silva.

The show itself was lively and well-attended. There were some incredible cosplayers making the rounds. Star Trek, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters fan groups were set-up where the fans entered and the hallway was crowded with people taking pictures. The Ghostbuster guys even had a giant inflatable Stay-Pufft Marshmallow Man.

We had a steady stream of people stopping by our table, and just about all the local small press comic creators I know were present at the show, so I caught up with a lot of friends, and bought some new comics and mini-comics in between selling my own books.

Joe was thrilled to get a stack of book autographed by iconic horror artist Bernie Wrightson, and I bought a copy of Womanthology as a birthday present for my wife and got it signed and sketched in by eight of the contributing artists.

Photo by Rick Silva.

Boston Comic Con has been growing every year. I didn’t get too much time away from my table, but the guest list was really incredible this year, and the fans seemed to be having a great time shopping and meeting an impressive guest lists of great comic artists.

Maine Comics Arts Festival 2012

The Maine Comics Arts Festival is one of my absolute favorite shows for a bunch of reasons.

First of all, it’s all small-press creators. As much as I love buying older collectible comics, there is something really amazing about a show made up entirely by comic creators and their labors of love.

Organizers Casablanca Comics does a great job of getting the word out, and the show is always well-attended, and a lot of the audience are families discovering small press comics for the first time. It also helps that the price of admission is only $5.

Then there’s the setting. The venue is the Ocean Gateway terminal in Portland, a cruise ship facility that sticks out into Portland harbor. Forget about dimly-lit rooms or cavernous conventions halls. This place has huge windows all the way around and a spectacular view of the harbor.

It’s also in walking distance of restaurants, and for our son, the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum.

The Maine Comics Arts Festival was the first convention our son attended, at age 2. This year was his third time at the show. He’s old enough to have some input into the plans, and what he wants is a train ride!

Portland is a little over three hours from Cape Cod, so we got on the road around 6 a.m. To make things a bit more challenging, I’d pulled an all-nighter scrambling to put together the newest issue of our mini-comic series Unpopular Species (a science/nature comic about creatures that are, well, less loved). Gynn did much of the driving while I got some much-needed sleep on the way up to Portland. Fortunately, even Boston is quiet traffic-wise early on a Sunday morning, and the trip went smoothly.

We spent the day taking turns selling comics and taking the Kiddo on train rides. Turns out you can ride all day for one price. Kiddo was thrilled. Unpopular Species was a big hit, and we had a really good show in general. The ride home was exhausting, but we got back without incident.

This was the finale to a whole series of Spring conventions we’d done appearances at for the comics. Starting with Conbust at Smith College, we were at Anime Boston, Boston Comic Con, the Rochester New Hampshire Free Comic Book Day festival, the Southcoast Toy and Comic Show, and finally the Maine Comics Arts Festival. Now, we get a couple months break before a major road trip at the end of July to Baltimore for Otakon. See you out on the road!

An Outing to Boston Comic Con

An Outing to Boston Comic Con

By David Price

I had no intention to attend Boston Comic Con this year. My son’s girlfriend, Amy, had brought it up a few weeks ago, but no plans were made to go. On Friday night, however, she was over visiting and brought it up again. My son, Devon, had no desire to go either, so she was doing her best to convince him. Now, I haven’t been to a comic con in many years, but the prospect of going piqued my interest. I pulled up the website and checked out the details. There was going to be 74 featured guest artists there. 74! Wow, these things have gotten much bigger since the last time I went.

I use to collect comics. I stopped pretty much cold turkey back in the nineties, when all those endless crossovers became big. They drove me nuts, interrupting the ongoing story lines of your favorite series and also forcing you to buy books you didn’t want, just to keep up. It was a sales gimmick that I quickly grew to despise and drove me away from comics completely. I’m still a fan, of sorts. I see every comic book based movie that hits the screen and I’ve been pretty happy with Hollywood’s attempts to bring some of my old favorites to life. I still have probably thirty boxes of comics in storage. It’s like the fan in me is in hibernation, I guess, like my collection.

So when I looked over that list of 74 artists, I didn’t recognize quite a few of them. I’m guessing there are many who have entered the business since my comic collecting days. But still, there were a few that really caught my eye, like Bernie Wrightson, for instance. Wrightson is an artist I have admired since I started reading and collecting comic books. You see, what first drew me into comics were horror comics. I was reading them for a couple years before I even noticed the super hero books. Maybe it was growing up watching Creature Feature on Channel 56, but I’ve always had this fascination with monsters. Wrightson was of course, an illustrator on many of the horror comics that I grew up loving. These had titles like, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Tales of the Unexpected, and Vampirella. Did I mention he was the co-creator of Swamp Thing? Yeah, that too.

Wrightson didn’t stop with comic books, though. He did an illustrated version of Frankenstein, which is absolutely beautiful. Later in his career, he went on to do some illustration for my favorite author, Stephen King. Mr. Wrightson illustrated The Cycle of the Werewolf, The Stand, and even did some work on the Dark Tower series. Needless to say, I was excited at the chance to meet him.

Also on the list of artists, I noticed the name Bill Sienkiewicz. Wow! There was another guy who had impressed the hell out of me with his art. You see, Sienkiewicz brought a style unlike any other I had ever seen when he entered the comic book industry. In 1984, Sienkiewicz took over as the artist for the X-Men spinoff, New Mutants and brought an expressionistic style that was mind-blowing. I’m not sure it was for everyone, but I know he gained quite a bit of recognition and managed to work with some of comicbook greats at that time like Frank Miller and Alan Moore.

There were a couple other names that stood out to me like Bob Layton of Iron Man, Kevin Eastman of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Simon Bisley whose work I remember from Judge Dredd and Lobo. It was enough for me to want to go. To top it all off, my twelve-year-old daughter, who to my knowledge has never read a comic book, begged to go. Between my son’s girlfriend and my daughter, they managed to convince Devon to give it a try. I was happy to drive, so the plans were made. My daughter invited her cousin, Roberta, so she would have someone the same age to tag along with her.

Saturday morning, I picked up Amy and brought her back to the house. She was carrying this trash bag full of costumes because apparently the three girls were determined to dress up. They had the idea that people went in costume to these cons and they wanted to participate. I certainly wasn’t going to put a costume on, but I didn’t mind if they did. There wasn’t a lot of planning involved here, so my daughter Kay ended up as Alice in Wonderland, Roberta was a sort of Victorian age vampire, and Amy wore a Pink Floyd shirt and flag as a cape. With the girls dressed up and ready to go, we headed off to the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

The first problem encountered is that the Hynes is near Fenway Park, and the Yankees were playing the Red Sox that day. Finding parking was an adventure. As we passed the Convention center looking for a parking garage, we saw this ridiculously long line outside of the building. That couldn’t be the line to get in, we said. Spotting several people in line dressed as comic book characters confirmed our worst fears, though.

The line moved quickly, however, and we probably only waited thirty to forty minutes to get in the building. None of us were prepared for what we found inside. It was wall to wall with people. You really couldn’t get anywhere without fighting your way through the zombie-like horde of comic book fans. At first, this really bothered my daughter. She complained to me quite a bit. I reminded her that she begged me to bring them. After a while, we all just got used to it.

Devon and his girlfriend went right over to the Newbury Comics table to check out The Walking Dead books. My family is a fan of the show, but none of us have read the books. He grabbed the first few, which was okay with me, since I wanted to read them, too. Amy grabbed a few things that she was really excited about, including a Doctor Who book as a thank you present to me. We stopped at an artist who did a portrait of my daughter and niece in anime style. This put them both in happier moods. When we hit the back row, I saw the line for Bernie Wrightson. I stepped up and he asked if I had anything to sign. I knew I had forgotten something. Oh well, he had some prints from his work on Frankenstein, so I bought one of those. More importantly, I got a picture with him.

Bernie Wrightson and David Price at Boston Comic Con.

We fought our way through the mob and did our best to take in the whole thing. I had just about given up on finding Bill Sienkiewicz when we finally stumbled upon him. I got another cool picture and my daughter got an autographed Cat Woman print. We tried to find another vendor called Madknits, who had these handmade stuffed little monsters, on the way out, but after bumping our way up and down a bunch of aisles, we gave up and decided to call it a day. The kids were hot, tired, and feeling a bit claustrophobic.

All in all, Boston Comic Con was very cool, but it definitely needs to find a bigger venue. The Boston Convention and Exhibition center on the waterfront is much bigger and more suited to something that attracts as many people as comic con does. They should probably consider upgrading, even though I heard that this was an upgrade from previous years. We all had fun, which was the most important thing. Well done, Boston Comic Con.