Monday, May 8, 2017


I had a great time at Joe Nieporte’s FantastiCon, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30 at the Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center in Lansing, Michigan. My weekend was not without some problems, but, as most of them were not FantastiCon’s doing, I’m leaving my discussion of those bumps in the road for tomorrow’s bloggy thing. Today’s report is all about the fun.

I left my Medina Ohio home and drove to FantastiCon on Thursday afternoon. It was a four-hour drive. The Causeway Bay Hotel and Convention Center are attached and that made things a little easier for me. I parked outside the convention center entrance, where there was plenty of parking. In fact, I was able to park mere yards from the entrance and stay there the entire weekend.

Loading into the convention was easy. I had help from a volunteer with a cart. In one quick trip, everything I had brought was behind my table. Being an early riser, I figured I would set up the next morning before the convention opened.

The convention guest and vendors area was good sized. There were a lot of guests and vendors, but there was also ample aisle space so that the fans could move around the convention easily.

My guest table was next to Arvell and Wanda Jones on my right and makeup special effects artist Daniel Phillips on my left. Arv and I have been friends forever. Wanda is one of my favorite people on account of she’s incredibly nice and super-smart. Daniel was good company, even if the werewolf head on this table reminded me of a former in-law.

My good friend Rick Santman was set up with a vast display of old, cheap comics. I hit his five-dollar boxes hard, coming away with Daredevil Comics #118 (the Lev Gleason version), Treasury of Dogs #1, Dennis the Menace Giant Christmas Special #6, Boy Comics #86, Adventures of Bob Hope #34 and #38, The Shadow #7 (the incredibly silly Archie Comics version), Millie the Model #137, Dracula #1 (the Dell super-hero version), Young Love #46 and Stan Lee's Monsters to Laugh With #3, 5, 6 and 7. I also got some Isabella-written comic books from the 1970s, which I have repriced to sell at future convention appearance. Those comic books and magazines were from my first and second trips to Rick’s booth. I would return to his booth on Sunday and buy some more stuff.

At my booth, sales were slow both days. However, I did sell enough comics and books to cover my Rick Santman purchases. My low sales aren’t on FantastiCon. Sometimes you just don’t have the stuff the fans want. Sometimes you do. You try to learn from a poor weekend to make the next convention more profitable for you. Even an off  weekend can inspire ideas.

There were lots of other cool guests at FantastiCon. I spent some time talking with artists Scott Rosema and Jason Moore, to name just two.

One of the most special moments of the show was when a young girl, wide-eyed at a Misty Knight action figure and the Misty print done by Arvell, looked at Wanda and asked her if that was Wanda. Though Wanda denied it, I assured the girl that yes, Wanda was Misty Knight.

Speaking of Arvell, he and I did what is become our regular Misty Knight panel. We’re certainly getting a lot of mileage out of our creating the character, even though we only wrote and drew her for two pages. Our pal Marty Hirchak joined us on the panel and asked us a few questions. It was a good panel.

Scott Crawford, the master cosplayer of the Roger Price-run Mid-Ohio-Cons, came to the convention both days. The first day he was dressed as the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby Thor of the 1960s. The second day he came in an equally terrific Lone Ranger costume.

Scott was doing great cosplay - making costumes for himself and for others - decades ago. He’s going to be appearing at one of my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales this summer. Check out his in-progress website here.

Getting decent food at the hotel was something of a problem. More on that tomorrow. However, on Saturday night, Arvell, Wanda and I went to a nearby Bob Evans. All of us enjoyed our meals. Sometimes I think I could eat breakfast three times a day.

There was more fun to be had at FantastiCon on Sunday. I started my time by being my usual beloved self. Two young women, dancers from a dance competition whose participants were staying at the hotel, asked me if I was with the convention and if they could go into the ballroom to look around. With an okay from the FantastiCon crew, I escorted them into the convention. They didn’t flee in terror and they seemed to enjoy their quick visit to the event.

There were a lot of swell cosplayers at the convention. My favorite was probably Eternity from the Doctor Strange comics. The cosplayer was a tad shorter than I imagined Eternity would be, but his outfit had a real Steve Ditko vibe to it.

Alas, my own Certificate of Cosplay efforts didn’t pay out at this convention. I need to find a better way to publicize this promotion of mine. However, I did award Scott Crawford the first Certificate of Cosplay for his Thor costume.

I hit Rick Santman’s table for the third time of the weekend. This time, I picked five of Titan’s Modesty Blaise graphic albums, The Monster Times #35 and Monster Madness #2. I probably already have the Modesty Blaise books in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. But, at five bucks a pop, if I have them, I can always resell them in one of my garage sales.

Another nice FantastiCon moment was when Arvell and I met a young woman who was just getting into comic books and very interested in characters of color, especially female characters of color. She’ll be traveling to South Africa and other foreign climes soon, but, as she apparently hails from Philadelphia, I suggested she try to get to the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention before she leaves. That event will take place on Friday evening and Saturday, May 19 and 20, at the TECH Freire Charter School. I’ll be giving you more details on ECBACC 2017 soon.

FantastiCon was fun for me. The fans were friendly and so were the guests and vendors. There were a lot of good buys to be had in the dealers room. Between what I bought and what I sold, I broke even. I’ve no complaints about that.

FantastiCon was fun, but other aspects of the weekend were not so much fun. I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you about them.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

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