By Jason Harris
Vermont Comic Con held it’s second annual convention this past weekend. It was bigger and better than it’s first convention in 2014.
NORTHEAST COMIC CON ZOOMS BACK TO SHRINER’S AUDITORIUM FATHER’S DAY WEEKEND – FAMILY FUN FOR POP CULTURE FANS OF ALL AGES
Kapow! Northeast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza is back at the Shriner’s Auditorium for a pop culture expo for fans of comics, movies, TV and nerd culture. Featuring Adam West, the original Batman celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first TV episode, this Father’s Day weekend event takes place Saturday June 20 and Sunday June 21, 2015 at the Shriners Auditorium in Wilmington, Mass. (99 Fordham Road). General show hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; VIP experiences are at 7 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday night, June 19th and 20th and early bird admission is available online.
This year’s event features a 40,000 sq. ft. entertainment experience for all nerds and the people who love them. Highlights include cosplay for all ages with “Create-A-Hero/Villain/Character” contests and Cosplay Death Match and Cosplay Dating Game, free-play video game arcade and tournaments, workshops forK!DZ, and celebrity autograph signings and panel sessions. Guests can shop at 150 vendors of vintage and modern toys, comic books, collectibles, art, jewelry, fashion and pop cultural artifacts. In between Father’s Day shopping, guests of all ages will enjoy music, contests and entertainment to marvel at between sessions and booths.
On Saturday, June 20, fans of the legendary Adam West, the original Batman (and now on Family Guy), can celebrate the 50th anniversary of the star’s first episode with a VIP event at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 20th at the Shriner’s Auditorium Fez room. The $100 VIP ticket provides fans with a chance to get their photo with West and then screen the first episode of the 1966 Batman TV program, introduced by West himself. This VIP experience includes free gaming play on the exclusive Starship Horizon bridge simulator as well as live entertainment, free soft drinks and snacks and a cash bar.
Visit the Northeast Comic Con Cosplay Stage, featuring puppetry, mask presentations, a Cosplay Dating Game, Create-A-Hero and Villain contests, a Cosplay Death Match, and “pose-off” contests for kids and those costumed as specifically as characters from Marvel Universe, DC Comics, Anime, Disney, Doctor Who, and even Video Game Characters.
NECC KIDZ can participate in a variety of activities hosted by comic book artist Emily Drouin, featuring imaginative facepainting with Sheri Sharkey of Chamillion Colors, get cartoonized with our caricature artist, participate in coloring contests and mask making, make your own monster, and listen a story, and even learn how to make your own comic book.
On the Fez Room stage, adults and kids will enjoy a host of performances and interactive games. Test your TV knowledge with TV Trivia with Morgan White Jr., with topics ranging from Star Wars and Movies to comics and cartoons, including Disney. Listen to musical performances by Emmarie and The World is Square, and laugh along with 20 stand up comics throughout the day on both Saturday and Sunday.
Other stars expected: Jim Steranko, Gigi Edgley, Julie McCullough, Vivek Tiwary, Jeff Kline, Philo Barnhart, Chalet Lizette Brannan, Noel MacNeal, and dozens of talented artists and illustrators; see website for full details on all convention special guests.
With free parking, regular Northeast Comic Con admission ticket prices are among the lowest in the industry. Advanced tickets are now available for purchase online; tickets are available at the door as well at a slightly higher price. Children are free when accompanied by an adult.
Pictures by Dale T. Phillips and Stacey Longo
Once more, I got to travel to another world or a lot of them, by attending Granite State ComiCon, organized by Double Midnight Comics. I was one of two authors at the Books & Boos table. The other author at the table being Stacey Longo. We were signing books for fans, new and old.
It was an amazing time at a well-run con, with thousands of fun people enjoying themselves and sharing their special likes of comics, TV shows, books, films, graphic novels, games, and cultural icons of all sorts.
You get to see people like The New England Brethren of Pirates.
The New England garrison of the 501st Legion.
All three groups make appearances to help raise money for charities. These people put a lot of time and effort into their outfits and shows, and they deserve a big hand for what they do.
You get to see celebrities, like Sam Jones (of Flash Gordon and Ted fame) and tough-guy actor William Forsythe, both of whom were
extremely gracious and kind to the fans. You also see the people behind the voices of your favorite animated characters such as Richard Horvitz, who voices Zim in Invader Zim, .
You get to meet writers such as Gordon Bean, Rob Watts, Katherine Silva, and Scott Goudsward, who are all members of the New England Horror Writers.
Author Matthew Bartlett, another NEHW member, was also signing books at the organization’s table.
Besides the NEHW and Longo, Chris Philbrook, another author, had his own table at the convention.
During my time at the convention, I also met author John Murphy, who was recently heard on the Sci-fi Saturday Night podcast. I can’t wait to hear their interviews with the cast members of Game of Thrones.
Speaking of which, lots of folks were Game of Thrones cosplaying to honor the cast members who were there.
Miltos Yeramelou (Syrio on GoT) hosted a Water Dancing class to teach beginning fencers. I watched some of it, and thought it superb– and I’ve been a fencer for over 35 years.
You get to see about every superhero and supervillain you can think of.
And many other costumes. A guy who plays Mr T. emceed the huge costume contest. I sure wouldn’t want to judge that one, because there are so many cool costumes, it would be too hard to choose a winner!
Two days of fun, and we just saw a small part of it. It’s a total experience, with panels, parties, and participation.
Haunted Acres is New England’s most exciting haunted attraction, with Maniac’s Midway, live bands, a beer garden, and lots of food and ride vendors.
J.J. Abrams Announces “Force for Change” Campaign to Benefit
UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and Programs
Beginning Today, Visit Omaze.com/StarWars to Enter for a Chance to Win
Today in a special video message from the set of Star Wars: Episode VII, director J.J. Abrams announced the creation of Star Wars: Force for Change, a brand new Star Wars initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm in collaboration with Bad Robot dedicated to finding creative solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. The first Star Wars: Force for Change campaign will raise funds and awareness for the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Innovation Labs and its innovative programs that are benefitting the world’s most vulnerable children.
Disney has committed US $1 million to support the launch of Star Wars: Force for Change. Fans can now contribute directly at Omaze.com/StarWars for a chance to appear in Star Wars: Episode VII. For each $10 contribution made through the Omaze fundraising platform, eligible participants will be automatically entered for a chance to win this once-in-a-lifetime experience. The campaign runs from 12:01am PST on May 21stth until 11:59pm PST July 18th.
The Star Wars: Force for Change Grand Prize includes:
- Airfare and accommodations to London for one winner and a guest
- Behind-the-scenes access on the closed set of Star Wars: Episode VII as VIP guests of J.J. Abrams
- Winner will have the opportunity to meet members of the cast
- Winner and their guest will then be transformed by makeup and costume teams into a Star Wars character and filmed for a scene in Star Wars: Episode VII
“The Star Wars fans are some of the most passionate and committed folks around the globe,” says director J.J. Abrams. “We’re thrilled to offer a chance to come behind the scenes as our VIP guests and be in Star Wars: Episode VII. We’re even more excited that by participating in this campaign, Star Wars fans will be helping children around the world through our collaboration with UNICEF Innovation Labs and projects.”
Star Wars continues to inspire generations of dreamers and doers to use their creativity to accomplish great things. Star Wars and Lucasfilm were built on the belief that in uniting creativity with innovation, you can make the impossible possible.
“The Star Wars films were made through George Lucas’s adventurous combination of technology and creativity,” says Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm. “We wanted to honor and carry on that positive spirit as we start production on Episode VII and use Star Wars to make a difference in the world. Star Wars: Force for Change will help us do that, letting us give back to the fans who keep Star Wars alive, and raising much-needed funds for programs like UNICEF’s Innovation Labs.”
By pledging support for Star Wars: Force for Change, fans are helping UNICEF create a brighter tomorrow for kids and families around the world. Through its global network of Innovation Labs, UNICEF helps create sustainable solutions to major issues facing children in the areas of nutrition, water, health, and education. The Star Wars: Force for Change campaign will help fund innovative, life-changing projects in communities around the globe.
“UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to help the world’s most vulnerable children and young people identify solutions and create change,” says Christopher Fabian, UNICEF Senior Advisor on Innovation and co-Lead of the Innovation Unit. “We work together with the greatest technologists and designers of our time to create open-source solutions that help millions of people. The support from Star Wars: Force for Change will help to bind these innovators together on a mission to solve the world’s most pressing problems, and create a better future.”
Visit StarWars.com/ForceForChange to learn more about this new charitable initiative and the work of UNICEF’s Innovation Labs and programs, and be sure to enter through contribution or free entry for your chance to win at Omaze.com/StarWars.
May the Force be with you!
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org. Follow us on Twitter: @unicef and Facebook: UNICEF.
Vader, Darth and Light
by Stacey Longo
This week, Jason and I watched Star Wars, Episodes I through VI. Watching all of these movies back to back made me realize two things: one, Jason and I have too much time on our hands. And two, these movies are really all about the life and times of one tragic hero: Darth Vader.
I’m not really sure why Anakin Skywalker gets such a bad rap. It’s not like he asked Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi to land on Tatooine and rescue him from slavery. I didn’t hear him begging to leave his mother and train to be a Jedi. No, all he cared about was fixing his pod racer and building himself a protocol droid, two perfectly normal activities for a well-adjusted, content boy. It was those rotten Jedis who insisted on ripping Anakin from his home and family to train him in a career that perhaps he was a tad emotionally immature to embark on. Can’t blame Vader for that – he was just a kid!
As soon as Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan get this forlorn boy on their ship, that’s when that sleazy seductress, Padme, starts to work her cougar magic. Before this stupid kid can stop himself, she’s entranced him with her wily seductive powers, which is a little gross, quite frankly. Really, how old is he? Eight? Padme was like a cat in heat, chasing after that child! She should be in jail instead of ruling over Naboo like some sort of pillar of society.
Well, the Nabooan tramp got her way, because by Episode III, she was pregnant with little Anakin’s twins. Poor Vader now had to figure out how to support a wife and family, and as we all know, Jedi Knight is one of the lowest-paying professions in the galaxy. When the Emperor offered him a higher paying job (and really, Dark Sith Lord is right up there with lawyers and doctors on the pay scale) what other choice did he have but to accept the position? Obi-Wan didn’t take Darth Vader’s resignation very well at all, trying to burn him to death for his efforts. Remember, folks: employees don’t quit their jobs, just their bosses — and we can certainly see why Darth wanted to quit that toxic tyrant!
Padme the pedophile dies, and Vader’s twins are hidden away, which is just a crappy thing to do to a new (and recently widowed) father. Luke and Leia grow up not knowing their dad, until Vader puts it together that this kid named Skywalker who looks just like him (maybe that’s a stretch) is his son. So what does Vader do? He asks — nay, begs! — his son to join him on the dark side. Great pay, good benefits, and sure, you have to be the Emperor’s lap dog, taking orders all day, but you get to live on a really cool Death Star. All he wanted to do was see his son follow in his footsteps. But Luke, little ingrate that he is, refuses to listen to his father. Darth Vader is killed for his efforts to try and connect with his boy, and those insensitive Ewoks actually hold a big party now that Darth Vader is dead. Quite frankly, Luke and Leia didn’t deserve to have a father like Darth. Hard working, sharp dresser, eager to work with his son and rule the galaxy…what more could a kid ask for? Apparently, if you’re Luke “I killed Yoda” Skywalker and Leia “I’ll kiss a wookie if the price is right … just like my mother” Organa, all of that wasn’t enough. They were clearly ashamed of their father, maybe because of his chronic asthma.
This entry comes from Stacey Longo, the New England Horror Writers organization’s chairperson, website.
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.
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.
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!
Experiencing Arisia 2012
by David Price
When did steampunk become so popular, would someone tell me? I went to Arisia for the first time this year, which, for those who don’t know, is a yearly science fiction and fantasy convention in Boston. Now, admittedly, my convention-going experience is limited. When I was a kid, I used to go to some of the local comic book and Star Trek conventions, but that was over twenty years ago. Last year, I went to a horror convention called Rock and Shock, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and a horror writers’ convention called Anthocon in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Neither one of those prepared me for the spectacle I would find at Arisia.
I had expectations for Arisia. I’ve seen these kinds of things on tv, so I thought I would find a bunch of people dressed up like Starfleet officers, Klingons, Jedi, Hobbits, Elves, and Battlestar Galactica pilots. My expectations were, however, blown out of the water. Instead, it seemed like every science fiction fan woke up one morning and said, “Hey, I finally get that 1960s television show, The Wild Wild West. You know the show, right? Robert Conrad and Ross Martin were James West and Artemus Gordon. These two were a couple of James Bond types during the time of the Old West. It was half science-fiction, half western. The gadgetry they employed was far in advance of what you would expect for the period, with things like cyborgs, force fields, flamethrowers, and batman-style grappling hooks. The 1999 version starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline really sucked, but they played up the whole steampunk angle even more than the series. So that’s what steampunk is, this blending of Old West and Victorian era time period with science fiction elements.
If the the Arisia I attended is representative of what it is usually like, they could just call it a steampunk convention. There were plenty of people dressed up in costume, that’s true, but most of it had that steampunk theme. I saw one Starfleet uniform, one hobbit, and a couple of guys who might have been Jedi, but they didn’t have light sabers, so I couldn’t be sure. Dressing for the occasion seems to be the way to go at one of these things too, as I would say a good three quarters of the convention-goers showed up in costume. I was in the minority. It was fun to go there and people watch, though. Let me tell you something; nerd girls dress up in some of the, ah, *ahem*, most appealing costumes you could imagine. I’ll admit they surpassed what I expected. There may not have been any Slave Leias, but there was a scantily clad elven archer from the Lord of the Rings or Skyrim, a seductive assassin from the video game Assassin’s Creed, and a very revealing Poison Ivy from Batman wrapped in only, you guessed it, ivy.
All right, so I still decided I would go in there and enjoy myself. I like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and Babylon Five as much as the next geek. Stepping into the dealer room was like entering some alternate universe, where geeks didn’t even know who the Doctor, Captain Kirk, Han Solo or Starbuck were. I wandered around and checked out everything they had to offer, but nothing really jumped out at me. I’m amazed to say that I walked out of Arisia without purchasing a single thing. When I went into the dealer room, however, it seemed the dealers got the same memo that everybody else did. It was Steampunk Central in there. I’m an introvert by nature and I have to admit that I found the place to be a bit overwhelming. I think I could have settled in better if I found some of the familiar Harry Potter and Star Wars elements that I expected to, but those things were almost non-existent, except for one notable exception. One of the highlights of the day was a life-sized stormtrooper cake that was on display. Towards the end of the day, it was sliced up and served to a very long line of hungry Star Wars fans. I passed on that, because hey, how good could it really be? If it was Darth Vader cake, maybe, but stormtrooper? It was probably just a cloned recipe, anyway.
The biggest lesson I learned from this convention, was that I should have made myself familiar with the schedule before I even walked in the door. There were hundreds of events that included movies, seminars, discussion groups, and even combat sword training. I know I would have enjoyed a bunch of those, and next time I intend to have a plan of attack. I missed the discussion I had planned to attend, which was a panel of critics wrapping up the science fiction movies from 2011. A friend of mine, Woody Bernardi, had what they call a “fan table.” Woody started a group called the Boston Science Fiction Association, which is really just a bunch of fans who get together and hangout sometimes. He got the fan table to drum up some more interest in the group. So far we’ve mainly been getting together for lunch at the Tavern at the End of the World, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. I agreed I would take a turn watching the fan table for Woody so he could go to some of the discussion groups that interested him. I think he was particularly interested in a tribute to Anne McCaffrey. I was happy to sit down and unwind a bit. I actually talked to more people sitting at that table than I had wandering around the crowded dealer room.
I look forward to the next one, though, now that I’ve had a chance to process the experience. As a writer, I dream of a day when people will be dressing up as characters from my fantasy novels. That would be something to see. Would I go in costume? I don’t think I’m ready for that yet. Of course, my ultimate goal is to be one of those guys sitting behind a table with a long line of people waiting to see me. I’ll be serving the Darth Vader cake, of course.