For the last few months I was trying to decide if I should attend the East Coast Comicon that was going to be held on April 11th and 12th in the Meadowlands Exposition Center. It sounded like it would be a cool show with a lot of great guests. Unfortunately my finances were shaky, so I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I should skip it.
Then a few weeks ago 13th Dimension, who were organizing the show, announced a contest for free tickets plus Planet of the Apes action figures. I entered the contest and then promptly forgot about it, since I was busy stressing about work and personal stuff. That is until April 2nd when Dan Greenfield from 13th Dimension e-mailed me to let me know that I was one of the winners. Okay, so I guess that meant I was going to the show after all!
Michele and I went to the convention on Saturday. Due to that aforementioned “personal stuff” both of us were exhausted and got a late start. And once we got to the Port Authority the bus to the Meadowlands was running a half hour behind schedule. So we didn’t get to the show until 3:30 PM, which gave us two and a half hours to try to take in as much as possible.
One of the first people we saw was cartoonist Rick Parker. He is a really cool guy with an insane sense of humor. I’ve met him at a few shows in the past, and we’re also friends on Facebook. The last time I actually saw him in person was May 2011, when he was generous enough to give me a ride from the train station to the Hawthorne High School Comic Con. I’m happy that I got to see him again after all this time.
Rudy Nebres was another guest. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a big fan of his work. He was at the show with his family. He and his wife are always friendly. This time I also met his son Mel, who I’m friends with on Facebook. It’s always nice when you get to actually meet FB friends in person.
One of the guests I was really looking forward to meeting was Arthur Adams. I’ve been a fan of his work for years but I’d never met him before. Adams’ work is amazing. He puts an absolutely insane amount of detail into his art. Michele wasn’t familiar with Adams, but once she some of his work she was instantly impressed.
I brought along a few comics for Adams to sign, along with The Official Godzilla Compendium, for which he contributed a number of illustrations. Adams is a lifelong fan of Godzilla. He also really enjoys drawing gorillas. Given those two passions, I mentioned to him that it was too bad Toho Studios does not like to have their Godzilla character appear in crossovers, because he would be the perfect guy to illustrate a graphic novel version of King Kong vs. Godzilla. Adams actually responded that in the mid-1990s when he was involved with the Godzilla comic published by Dark Horse he pitched a “Superman vs. Godzilla” crossover. DC Comics was all for it, but Toho had zero interest, and so it went nowhere. Too bad, that could have been amazing.
Another creator I was happy to see at the convention was Ann Nocenti. I’ve reviewed some of her work on this blog before. Nocenti is one of the most distinctive writers in the comic book biz. She brought with her unique sensibilities and an unconventional outlook when she began writing for Marvel Comics in the 1980s, which led to a number of memorable stories. I look back very fondly on her run writing Daredevil in the late 1980s.
I’ve actually met Nocenti before, a couple of years ago when she was doing a signing at Jim Hanley’s Universe. But that was pretty crowded, and I didn’t have much of a chance to talk to her. At the East Coast Comicon there was much more of an opportunity to share my thoughts about her work and ask her some questions. Nocenti was definitely very generous with her time.
Also among the guests who Michele and I got to meet were underground cartoonist John Holstrom, current Heathcliff comic strip creator Peter Gallagher, the amazingly funny Fred Hembeck, longtime Marvel writer & artist Bob Budiansky, and Ren & Stimpy co-creator Bob Camp. There were a bunch of other guests there, as well, but we just didn’t have enough time to catch everyone.
I was glad that at towards the end of the show I did have a few moments to stop by Eric Talbot‘s table. Talbot has a long association with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book. I was a huge fan of the series back in high school, and I fondly remember his work on it. Most of my collection is packed away in storage but I was able to bring along a few issues of the more recent Tales of the TMNT anthology series that he contributed to and have those autographed. I wish I could have afforded to get a sketch from Talbot because he was drawing some amazing pieces at the show.
Fortunately I was able to obtain one sketch at the convention. Rudy Nebres drew a beautiful pencil head sketch of Vampirella for me. I’ve really enjoyed his work on the character in the past so I was happy to be able to get this.
Actually It’s been a while since I’ve been to a convention and gotten more than one or two pieces of artwork, anyway. I guess nowadays, with my finances being more limited, I’m concentrating on quality over quantity.
There were a lot of cosplayers at the convention. Some of the costumes were fantastic. Since we were rushing around Michele unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to take too many pictures. As we were on our way out, though, she was able to take a great photo of this “Spider-Family.” From left to right that’s Venom, Scarlet Spider, Spider-Woman aka Spider-Gwen and the original Spider-Man.
Oh, yes, one last thing… Michele is a huge fan of Planet of the Apes. Last year she rented all the movies from the original series and we watched them over a five day stretch.
In addition to winning two tickets to the convention, I also won two Planet of the Apes action figures. One was Charlton Heston himself, Colonel Taylor, who wishes those damn dirty apes would keep their paws to themselves. The other was a gorilla soldier who looks ready to hunt down some of those pesky humans. Sadly neither figure came with a half-buried Statue of Liberty, but despite that deficiency they are still very cool. Of course I gave them to Michele, who I knew would appreciate them.
Despite only getting to the convention for less than half a day, and being on a really tight budget, Michele and I both had a lot of fun. Hopefully we will be able to make it again next year.
A big “thank you” to 13th Dimension publisher Cliff Galbraith for organizing the East Coast Comicon. By the way, that’s his artwork on the cool banner up top of Darth Vader cosplaying as Doctor Doom.
(All photos are courtesy of Michele Witchipoo and her wonderful smartphone.)