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Archive for the ‘cons’ Category

The floor plan’s been rolled out. Here’s where ‘Panel Row’ is seated…

looks like more of the Michigan contingent will make it out this year. Nate Powell, Tom Scioli, and John Porcellino are back as well as some regulars and new faces. Should be a good show. S.P.A.C.E. is on April 21st thru the 22nd. Same place. Same price to get in the door. See you there.

I’m one of the guests at Gem City Comic Con this weekend, in Dayton, Ohio. Hours are Saturday March 31st, 10am – 5pm, and Sunday April 1st, 10am – 4pm

Tickets will run you a mere $8/day, or $15 for the weekend.

Other guests include Mark Waid, Larry Hamma, Dan Parent, and many more, including my fellow PANEListas Andy Bennett and Tom Williams. I’ll have my graphic novels and comics available for sale, lus all the PANEL anthologies.

If you make it to the show, please drop by my table and say hi.

Bob Corby, founder and show runner of Columbus’ own Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (S.P.A.C.E.) has just announced the finalists for the 2011 SPACE Prize. And your humble blog hosts in the PANEL Collective are well represented:

General Category:

PANEL: Pulp – volume 17 of our twice yearly anthology series, edited by yours truly, Sean McGurr, and Tony Goins, and featuring the talents of the writers and artists of the PANEL Collective. Available for purchase here.

The Ineffables: All of Creation, by PANELista Craig Bogart (who is unfortunately having website issues right now, but hopes to be back online soon).

Also featured in this category, fellow Columbusites Max Ink (Blink:So Far) and Joel Jackson/James Moore (Radio Free Gahanna #2)

Mini-comic / Short Story Category:

PANELista Brent Bowman for his story from PANEL: Pulp, “Noor Jama, Somali Pirate”

You can check out the full list of finalists here.

Congrats to all, and we’ll see you at S.P.A.C.E. 2012, April 21-22.

Well, in the case of Wizard World’s Mid-Ohio-Con, their SEC filing reveals that:

“The production cost of the 2011 Mid-Ohio Comic Con was approximately $160,000, which we funded out of existing cash and cash flow from our Company’s operations and proceeds from ticket sales and exhibitor sales prior to the event.”

So Gareb Shamus was removed as CEO of Wizard a few months ago. Now, the company’s executive chairman is talking about repairing some of the damage, and the poor reputation of the Wizard brand.

“In an interview with The Beat, Wizard’s executive chairman Mike Mathews revealed that a new era has already begun at Wizard World, which will include outreach to the entire industry in a move to repair damaged relationships with both other industry players and fans.


“Gareb is one of these types of personalities who has taken strong positions over the years with various people in the industry and brands. And that kind of hurt us because of where we are trying to go—we’re trying to be a Switzerland of entertainment and we want to try to try to reach out to brands.” Accordingly, Mathews and other Wizard personnel are in the process of reaching out to industry players, dealers, and vendors and attempting to mend fences…”


Via The Beat, which looks at their SEC filings.

Consideration: Wizard will pay total consideration of $77,500 for the Transaction comprised of an Initial Purchase Price of $60,000 and a 5-year consulting agreement with GCX for $3,500 per year payable in annual installments commencing in the year after the $60,000 Initial Purchase Price has been paid in full. The $60,000 purchase price will be paid out based on an annual royalty from Wizard’s revenue from Artist Alley/Creators’ Common tables, Exhibitor Booths, Sponsorship and related revenue streams (collectively “Exhibitor Revenue”) from Mid-Ohio-Con. For the avoidance of doubt, GCX will not be entitled to any revenue royalty related to box office ticket sales or merchandise sales.

Hey, sounds great. I’d love to sell my con for $77,500 too!

Wait, what’s that? That’s not a lump sum cash payment? But I still get $60,000 right off the bat, right? No? Oh, I see, “The $60,000 purchase price will be paid out based on an annual royalty from Wizard’s revenue from Artist Alley/Creators’ Common tables, Exhibitor Booths, Sponsorship and related revenue streams…”

Well, there’s still the $3,500/year consulting fee I get, right? Wait, what do you mean I only get that after the $60,000 “purchase price” has been paid. That thing’s based on royalties from table and booth fees, and there’s no guarantee how much that will be each year….

Oh, right. Nice work, Wizard lawyers. Well played.

Not to contradict Dara’s Mid-Ohio Con beef, but this weekend’s Mid-Ohio Con was seriously the best show I’ve ever had in my life.

I have never seen so much foot traffic, and I’ve never had so many sales. It’s true, with the higher table price, I did not make my table. But compared to previous years it was about comparable.

For one thing, Wizard showed a baseline competence in marketing. Remember that year we sent out a press release about the pre-show party, and the Dispatch called us to ask why MOC didn’t send out its own release? That didn’t happen this year. MOC was on the front of the Other Paper, was featured in the Weekender, and I think Adam West spoke to Channel 4. Adam West’s job was to get people in the door, and he did it.

We talked to several people who were attending the convention for the first time. I don’t care that some people got in with a Groupon. That meant they had more money to spend with me.

It is also true that we were stuck in the back corner, and I know of at least three people who were there and never found me. But, I think the quieter setting made it easier for us to capture the foot traffic. I think I had an easier time getting people’s attention, even if we were right next to the Mandalorian dress-up club.

Should they have invited Dara and Sean McKeever? Definitely. Could they have used more space? Sure, although “too many people” is a good problem to have. Prices too high? Absolutely, although judging by reports of price cuts, they may be learning that.

All I can say is I personally had a good show, and (if I can afford it) I’ll be back next year.

That is, according to its new owner:

“It is the third-oldest comic convention,” said Gareb Shamus, CEO of Wizard World, which is taking over the event. “It is near and dear to my heart.”

In fact, Shamus said he considers only the San Diego Comic Con and the Chicago Comic Con to be more influential than Columbus’s.

Did you catch that? This show is near and dear to his heart.

You guys already know how I feel about Wizard, so I’ll just post the above without any further comment.

Panel 18 debuts at the Mid Ohio Con of Wizards… which starts right… now. It can be yours for $3. We’ve got page numbers! Go get your hot lil’ hands on this anthology at Andy B’s and or Tony G’s table. Missed the Groupon $10 deal on tickets? No worries. If you didn’t hit the blood bank for admission money,  the anthology will soon find it’s way into local shops so keep your eyes peeled. As always thanks for supporting small press and remember Panel loves you. Hard.

You’re on my turf now, nerds! Let me show you around. Got specific requests? Hit me up on Twitter, @tonygoins

Pre-Mid Ohio Con Party: That’s at Packrat Comics out in Hilliard, going on until 11:30 p.m. tonight. They’re also running a shuttle service from THE HYATT AND HAMPTON INN main entrance every 30 minutes, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Packrat Comics 

3872 Lattimer Street
Hilliard, OH 43026

Google Maps http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&num=10&ie=UTF8&q=pack+rat+comics&fb=1&gl=us&hq=pack+rat+comics&hnear=0x883889c1b990de71:0xe43266f8cfb1b533,Columbus,+OH&view=map&cid=6410232749100972516&iwloc=A&ved=0CDUQpQY&sa=X&ei=QMWhTsSJI4iCNKKmqMQI

Where you Are

You’re in the Short North district, which is one of the cooler areas around here. High Street is the big north-south drag, and it runs in front of the Convention Center.

Bars: I have nothing against the hotel bar, but if you want to venture out, here are some recommendations:

Across the street is Barley’s, which is chill and they serve their own microbrewed beer. Also across the street is Knead — I’ve never been there at night, but during the day they have housemade twinkies. Believe it. MoJoe lounge (just north of the center) is pretty cool, too.

South of the convention center there’s not much, but if you want to walk four blocks you’ll find Elevator and Barrio, which are a little fancy but still chill.

If you want to venture north of the convention center, I’d recommend Press Grill and Short North Tavern. But really, if you can walk a mile, I’d recommend

* Surly Girl Saloon: 1126 N. High – if Suicide Girls were a bar. 

*Barrel 44: 1120 N. High – Whiskey. Lots of whiskey.

* North Star Cafe: 951 N. High St – Lots of fresh, lots of vegetarian, extremely super chocolately cookies and housemade ginger ale. www.thenorthstarcafe.com/

*Tip Top Kitchen: 73 E. Gay St – Fresh local food, and Ohio-themed cocktails. Have an Alex P. Keaton for me.

Getting Around: Don’t be afraid of the bicycle cabs, they’re here for you.

And the No. 1 bus runs up and down High Street until midnight, and the No. 21 “Night Owl” runs until 2:30 a.m. That’s $1.75 one-way, $4 for a day pass. Either of those will take you to anything I just mentioned.

White Castle: It’s at 965 North High St. Now that I’ve mentioned it, you can’t not do it.

click to embiggen

Nightclubs: I haven’t done a lot of dancing since we got the baby, but here’s what I know:

Ravari Room is having its Heaven vs. Hell pre-Halloween party Saturday night. I’m personally going to try to make that one. That’s 2661 N. High St.

Outland on Liberty was the longtime goth club here, but it has some competition these days. That’s south of you in the Brewery District (ask your cab driver)

Shrunken Head has Communion (gothwave-industrial-darkalt-synthpop) on Fridays. 

Long Street used to be the big dance club, and it seems to be coming back.

Gay dance clubs nearby are Wall Street (a mile or two south) and Axis (about 6 blocks north, back behind the smoothie shop). I used to love me some Wall Street back in the day (2004).

Park Street area: Just west of the Convention Center is all the Park Street bars. I can’t vouch for them, and they seem a little douchey. Don’t come crying to me if some jock throws you into a locker and takes your lunch money.

Found this helpful? Stop by and say hi to me, Molly and Craig at table 1325, and Andy over at table 801.


So here’s a little story about something I witnessed at the New York Comic Con yesterday. If you’ve never been to the show, it’s practically an East Coast version of Comic-Con in San Diego, in terms of scale and crowds. I think the estimate for this year’s attendance is 100,000 people.

Anyway, we were walking around the massively crowded main show floor yesterday when I saw this little altercation. There was a guy carrying one of those medium size swag bags full of something, I’m assuming books. We’ll call him Guy #1. Suddenly, another guy (let’s call him Guy #2) runs up behind him at full charge, violently yanks the bag out of his hand, and starts walking away, glaring the whole time at Guy #1. And I mean a super pissed-off, murderous kind of glare.

The first thought that ran through my head was “holy crap, Guy #1 just got robbed!” But then I noticed instead of reacting the the way you’d assume he would, he not only didn’t say a word, but just kept walking the way he was going. If anything, he picked up his pace a bit, and within a few seconds he had disappeared into the crowd.

Looking back towards Guy #2, I saw him walk behind one of the smaller publisher booths and put the bag down, still pissed off. So it seems like he was just recovering his merchandise that was stolen in the first place by Guy #1. Oddly enough, no words were exchanged during the whole incident, and there was no call for security. But also luckily, there was no violence.

Made me wonder how often this kind of “shoplifting” occurs at big, crowded cons like this.

Just a quick note to let you know I’ll have a table at the 2nd annual Cincinnati Comic Expo, taking place Saturday September 17 at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati.

I had a blast last year at the inaugural show, and this year’s guest list has expanded to include legends like Jim Steranko and Jose Delbo, plus writers and artists as diverse as Darryl Banks, Stan Goldberg, Jackson Guice, Tony Moore, and many others. Friends of the Ferret Sean McKeever, Andy Bennett, Dave Aikins, Chris Sprouse, and many other local and regional creators will also be in attendance.

10-5:30, only $10 to get in, plus panels, costume contests, and gaming. Check out the official site for more info.

Hope to see you there!

Well, well, well, look what showed up in the mail today:

Oh, so they do have me on their mailing list. That’s nice.

By the way, want to see all the big name comic book creators who are featured on the front of the postcard? You know, the postcard advertising the Mid-Ohio Comic Con?

That’s right, only Jeff Smith. Only 1 out of the 9 pictured featured guests is an actual comic book creator.

Oh, and if you want the affordable $40 2-day ticket, you’d better hurry. Because as the card says, “pay more at the door.”

(By the way, there’s an update here.)

Last year, my hometown comics convention, Mid-Ohio-Con, celebrated its 30th anniversary. Sadly, that was also the year that the independent show was acquired by Wizard World conventions. Almost immediately, comic creators and fans of the venerable show took to Facebook and Twitter to lament the passing of an era. Like any other long-running comic con, it had its share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day, MOC was always a fun show to attend, never too crowded or too “Hollywood,” where guests were easily accessible to fans, and the atmosphere was relaxed and congenial.


(Above: a couple of the earliest sketches in my con sketch book, acquired at Mid-Ohio-Con. Typhoid Mary by John Romita, Jr. (1990) and Beanworld by Larry Marder (1993).


MOC was the first comic con I ever attended as a fan, starting sometime in the late 80s, 1988 maybe? I know it was when it still hadn’t moved to Columbus. And I’ve been attending the show as a comics fan for over 20 years. As a creator, I’ve had a table at the show since 2002. Coupled with Columbus’ own indie/small press show in the spring, S.P.A.C.E., these 2 shows are more than just comic cons to me. They’re institutions, traditions. They’re a chance to meet old friends, respected creators, and new fans. Colorist Matt Webb and I used to get together for a drink every year he was there. I looked forward to catching up with fellow Columbusites Sean McKeever, Darryl Banks, and Chris Sprouse at the show, and going out to dinner with my fellow PANEL Collective members and new friends after the show. The pre-con parties that used to be sponsored by my local store, The Laughing Ogre, were legendary. Free beer, food, entertainment, and a chance to mingle with creators in a fun environment. What a blast!

I remember the first time my young daughter attended the show on my guest badge, dressed up as Batgirl. Or the time before that when a life-sized remote controlled R2D2 chased her around the convention floor, much to her delight. Having slowly built up my profile as a writer over the last several years, I can’t explain the sheer joy and appreciation I felt when folks would seek me out at MOC and ask what new books I had out since the previous year. The first time I was invited to participate as a comics pro on a panel was at MOC.


(Above: Mid-Ohio-Con 2002, my first year attending as a creator, not just a fan (yes, I had green hair). Also my table at MOC ’03 (or maybe it was ’04?) This is when the con was at the Hilton at Easton Town Center)


Several years ago, the con’s long-time showrunner, the personable and accessible Roger Price, sold the show to James Henry and his brother. The con had been struggling for a few years by this point, but I feel that the Henry brothers did an admirable job of trying to turn things around. Certainly, they were very open to working with local creators and the Columbus community, and were especially fair and generous with me.

But that’s all in the past, as this year, it’s a different story. Sure, Wizard World retained the Mid-Ohio-Con name, but that’s just window dressing. The guts of the show are now all Wizard World, and everything that entails. Just Google Wizard World conventions and see what folks have to say about the infamous Gareb Shamus’ low-rent outfit.


(Above: me and the PANEL crew on a small press panel, I believe at MOC 2006. And my booth at MOC 2008, when it had moved back down to the Greater Columbus Convention Center.)


I debated whether to apply for a table or not. An artist alley table which used to cost $125, is now $200. Yes, a 60% increase. And attending the show as a fan will also cost you a lot more this year. For the past 3 years, I had been comped a table at the show. So after hearing from other creators that they were offered free tables, I broke down and decided to contact the new organizers. In my email, I introduced myself and my history with the show (20+ years attending, 9 years tabling as a creator, 4 years organizing/sponsoring a pre-con party, volunteering for con programing as both moderator and panel guest, etc.), listed my credits (Image, IDW, DC, etc.), listed my upcoming projects (Dark Horse Presents, CBLDF Liberty Annual), and asked if they would be willing to provide a comp table. Their answer?

“Unfortunately, we have no more comp tables available for Mid-Ohio. If you would like to attend tables are $200. See artist alley form attached.”

Now, I completely understand my place in the “hot celebrity guests” pecking order. I know I’m not a main draw like Bill Sienkiewicz or Jeff Smith. And I’m not saying I automatically deserve a free table. But at the same time, I’m not some Joe Shmoe off the street whose only contribution is selling photocopied “prints” of copyrighted Marvel & DC characters. I’ve got a body of work that I’ve been building for the past 10 years, including high profile properties like Ghostbusters and Terminator, as well as creator-owned books and small press publications. And I’m a local Columbus guy who has been been supporting and promoting this show for a very, very long time. To go from being comped a table for the past several years to being summarily rejected with a one-sentence form letter response stung a little, to put it mildly.

So I waited a few days to think about it, and not say or do anything rash. And I contacted Wizard World back and explained that while disappointed, I was still interested in having a presence at the show, especially since I have a story in this year’s CBLDF benefit book and have been invited to sign at the CBLDF booth to raise money for the fund. All I was asking for was a measly guest badge to the show. Again:

“If you would like to attend as a professional pro passes are $25 for the weekend with a valid business card.”

That’s right, at a Wizard World show, comics professionals are treated to an amazing discount of 26% off the advance price tickets. Incidentally, as a means of comparison, I’m attending the NYCC show in New York as a professional, and their pro badges cost a mere $10 compared to the regular $85 advance price. For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that’s an 88% discount for a 4-day show that features a couple hundred more guests than MOC, and boasts major publishers, etc.


(Above: Unmasked party, 2006 & 2007. Live music by Poop House Reilly.)


And again, I  understand that Wizard World has a business to run. But I find my treatment a bit puzzling, and very frustrating, given my long association with the con. Doubly so, in light of reports such as this one on The Beat that shows WW comping all sorts of creators:

“In recent months, Wizard has also been reaching out to pretty much every cartoonist on earth to invite them to be guests at their shows. The basic invite includes a table but no travel or hotel room…Yesterday there was evidence of Wizard taking it to a whole new level, as indie cartoonists were tweeting about their own Wizard invites.”


“[Brian] Harbin further tweeted that his invite was particular surprising given past history: ‘Back when I ran HeroesCon, there was a ton of bad blood between us. They’re dicks. So I was like ??? at the invite. …Well, I don’t bear them super ill will or anything. I’m tempted to email back and ask for a plane ticket/hotel room.’

I don’t know, maybe WW somehow forgot about me. I mean, I’ve only been on the MOC mailing list for 20+ years, and their guest list for 9.

Seriously, what’s the point of going around and buying up regional shows, when you’re not going to make the slightest attempt to build any sort of relationship with the community and the show’s long time advocates? As you can see from the canned replies above, there was zero effort and zero interest on their part in engaging me in conversation or trying to work out some sort of a deal. Not even a nominal, token one. Nothing. Thanks for contacting us, here’s our website where you can pay us your money, good bye.

(Above: posters from 4 years of “Unmasked,” the pre Mid-Ohio-Con party organized by me, with a ton of help from my friends in the PANEL collective. Artwork by Tom Williams and Andy Bennett.)


So ok, I should just let it go and take the high road. After all, it’s just a comic convention. But you know what? It’s a comic convention that means something to me. And being dismissed in this manner sucks, and bothers me a great deal, and just validates every crappy thing I’ve ever heard or read about how Wizard World runs a con or treats fans.

So this is the part where, despite my better judgment, I lapse into an unprofessional rant. I know I shouldn’t, but screw it. Not only will I never pay money out of my own pocket to attend Mid-Ohio-Con, or any Wizard World convention, but Mid-Ohio-Con’s new corporate overlord can go fuck itself. And while we’re on the topic, Wizard World can take their precious Rob Liefeld, and has-been convention whore actors like Adam West and Burt Ward, and “celebrity” guests like William Holman (“Contestant – Bachelor Pad; The Bachelorette”…wow!) and shove them straight up its ass as well. I don’t wish for anyone to lose their job, especially in this economy, but when they day comes that Wizard World goes extinct the way of Gareb Shamus’ other much-maligned venture, I won’t shed a tear. The comics industry will be better off with a more progressive, responsive organization being in charge of regional conventions. We as creators deserve better, we as fans deserve better, and Columbus certainly deserves better.

RIP, Mid-Ohio-Con.

PS. For nostalgia’s sake, you can check out one of the longer con write-ups I did, for the 2005 show, here. And there’s a bunch of pictures from the first Unmasked pre-con party we (the PANEL collective) sponsored in 2006, after The Ogre stopped doing so, here.

Today I’m continuing the series describing my process for creating my cover image for PANEL 17: PULP.

Last Friday I described the sketch stage, where I cut the design from whole cloth and prepare for a final drawing. Once I have a sketch I’m happy with, I transfer it directly to the final art board. Since my sketches are frequently so small, this usually involves a scan/scale/print/graphite transfer affair. I print the sketch at final art size, coat the back of the print with graphite, and trace it over onto the board. This leaves a ghost-image on the board, with all the correct proportions/perspective of the smaller sketch.

In other instances, such as times when the final art is much larger than my printer’s capability and I don’t care to assemble pieces, I’ll do a grid transfer. In this method, I draw a grid over the sketch, usually about 10 squares high by 6-7 squares wide, for images in this ratio. I then draw the same grid on the blank art board and re-draw each square one at a time. It’s a quick way to accurately re-draw a smaller image without all the intermediate steps of a graphite transfer.

In this case, I decided I could probably improve the composition a little by re-drawing it entirely. So I started instead on a blank board, and re-drew the sketch freehand, and put everything exactly where I wanted it. After filling out the drawing enough to where I could ink confidently, I began the ink stage. This is where I spend the most time on an image, and where I think my style really emerges. Here’s a side-by-side of the original sketch with the inked cover art (click to enlarge):

The sketch was rather spontaneous, so it was not drawn in the correct ratio, which is why it isn’t as tall as the final. As you can see, I pushed the “Femme Fatale” character further into the foreground, and enlarged the “hero” in the background, to improve the drama and overall design of the page. In addition to the composition changes, I changed the figures in many ways. I fixed her legs, tilted her head, showed a bit more of his face, and I gave her a cigarette so I could use the smoke as a design element. I also eliminated a lot of the extraneous props on the desk, as they seemed like too much clutter to me, and angled the shadows on the wall quite a bit more, for added drama.

In the next step, I’ll be adding the digital colors and effects, as we get closer and closer to the final art. Tune in Wednesday to see the results…


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