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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rose City Comic Con 2015 Experiences

In the ever-expanding duties of this blog, I was fortunate enough to garner media passes for this years Rose City Comic Con. In the past, I've posted my personal experiences at conventions from around the pacific northwest, and I feel like I came-up a little short somehow. For RCCC, I think I figured out what I was lacking and I was able to fill that void. Unless otherwise noted, the photographs are courtesy of {Chrysalis Rising Photographic Studio}.

The Friday before RCCC, I drove-up to pick-up our media badges. I felt on top of the world when I met Paula Brister and she them to me. Sure they had a typo, but these made me feel legit after writing this blog for almost 5 years. Also, I was glad to be able to have brought my friends to help and take photo's. I think this will work well for future events.

Photo taken by John.

2015 was the 4th year for Rose City Comic Con, and I've been there for every one of them. From the beginnings at the Double Tree Portland... which had around 4100 attendees... to this years event where they had over 30,000! You could really feel the increased numbers this year. In years past, I've always been able to find a parking space on site. This year, we got there around 10:30am and the parking at the Oregon Convention Center was already full.

This is where the worst part of the event came in for me. We found a parking lot a couple blocks away, but they were doing some serious price-gouging for the weekend of the event. Where it was originally posted (I later learned) that parking was normally $3/hour or $9 for the day, that was covered-up and the machine was charging $5/hour with a 5 hour maximum. Also, when I bought our first 5 hours, it said that the ticket expired in less than an hour. Fortunately we didn't get towed or ticketed. I hope that the city would do something to make sure that things like this don't happen for future events... or this may be common for event weekends at the convention center. Who really knows. I didn't let this darken my day.

The first thing on our list of things to do was to was to go to the CBCS booth an get a witness for the covers we were picking-up and getting signed for Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer. CBCS donated 10 of their services to our cause. I had never used their service before, and had never had a witness for autographs I've gotten for my personal collection, so this was a new and unique experience for me. I am so thankful to both CBCS and especially Steve Paulus for making this an easy experience. I'll definitely be recommending them to anyone in search of comic book grading services.

Several months before the event, I had connected with a handful of artists who were going to be at Rose City to see if they would be willing to donate to our cause and help raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Our first stop would be to Phil Hester. Unfortunately, Phil had taken ill and was unable to make the event. We marshaled our forces and carried on to the next artist.

At this years Free Comic Book Day event at my LCS, Tony's Kingdom of Comics, I was officially introduced to Gary Martin and asked him if he would be interested and willing to donate a cover to help us out. He agreed and we provided the Mega Man artist with a Darth Vader blank to work on. What he produced blew my mind.

As a fan of the Fables series, I was giddy with joy when our next new contributing artist agreed to do a Princess Leia cover for us. I have met Chrissie Zullo before at a few other events to have my personal items signed, and have have always been a huge fan of her work. I knew that her art would look wonderful on a cover for CBC4C.

When I was getting ready to go for the event, I thought that it might be nice to ask get the pair of Will Eisner's The Spirit covers signed since both Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade were going to be there. They both liked the idea of CBC4C and also the art that graced the covers I was asking them to sign. Thankfully, this helped to fill-out the void that Phil Hester left.

The first of 2 big experiences for me was next on our list. I had collected a number of covers from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero from a few of our contributing artists, and the idea was to have Larry Hama sign them all and they would be submitted to CBCS. Several months ago, I even posted an artist challenge for classic G.I. Joe cover recreations especially for Hama to sign. Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances, those covers didn't arrive at our offices before RCCC. We did have enough covers to manage to fill the 10 services that CBCS had offered, though.

When we arrived, there was a small line waiting for Hama to return to his table from a panel he was speaking at. By the time he returned, the line stretched around half the entire table area. While not surprising, Hama had a 2 autograph limit. Unfortunately, we had brought about 5 covers for him to sign for CBC4C and it wasn't until after the covers were submitted to CBCS that I thought about handing 2 off to each of my friends. Lessons learned for future events.

Unfortunately, the photo of Hama that was taken at RCCC did not turn-out well.

As many of my regular readers know, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is the comic that brought me in to collecting comics. Later in the event, once my "duties" for CBC4C were officially done, I had Hama sign the very issue that my father had bought me over 30 years ago. Yes... I have kept it, and it's in great condition. Now that it's signed, it is now the personal prize in my collection. I was so awe-struck meeting him that I didn't even get a chance to tell him how much his work has meant to me. Fortunately, I will have another chance in November when we go to EUCON.

Next up was the 2nd of the big experiences that we at CBC4C have been building-up to for RCCC. When I received word that I would be getting media passes for Rose City, I also submitted a request to do an interview with Wil Wheaton. Unfortunately, Wil was not giving any interviews. No problem. Shortly after it was announced that Carrie Fisher was going to be in attendance, I submitted a request to see if CBC4C could get a special signing for a few covers by Carrie Fisher and Wil Wheaton. Unfortunately, that was not to be had either. Due to our level of financial resources, we could only do one of the autograph sessions. We chose Wil Wheaton.

Read bellow about why we don't have a personal photograph of Wil.

Getting a photo of Wil Wheaton signing the cover we received from artist Scott Carola was one of the primary reasons for having a photographer. When we came to the line for Wil, one of the henchmen informed us that no photography was allowed in the celeb area unless you had a "PRESS" pass. Upon hearing this, we each presented our "MEDIA" badges. The henchmen informed us that it would have to be specifically branded "PRESS" to be able to take photographs. This was a huge letdown for us, but I appreciate following the rules. I do wish we could have caught the expression on Wil's face when we presented him with the cover to sign.

Cover by Scott Carola.

His eyes lit-up when he saw this cover. I lost count how many times he said "Wow!" I gave him the information about CBC4C and let him know a little about Scott. I think the most telling part about how much he appreciated the cover came from his autograph. For the prints that he signed from people in front of us, he signed his name and circled it a couple of times. Pretty large signature. It took Wil a couple of minutes of admiring the cover before he finally decided to sign it at the lower left corner without the extra flourish. I can't wait to show you the final signed cover when it's returned from CBCS.

Our last stop for covers being sent to CBCS was with Batman `66 artist Jeff Parker. When I originally contacted him, he was enthusiastic about donating and even mentioned he had some blanks available. We originally stopped by his table earlier, but he mentioned how he actually needed to draw the cover and asked if we could come back later. This was not a problem, and I was happy with what Jeff provided.

Once we dropped-off the covers for CBCS, there was one last stop for my work for CBC4C at RCCC. I finally got to meet on our long-time contributing artists, Martin Sabala Jr.

Photo from Martin Sabala's Facebook page.

Martin has been a wonderful supporter of CBC4C since our meager beginnings in 2013. It's always great to be able to meet face-to-face with people who have helped make CBC4C the success it has become. As a testament to his continued support, Martin donated 2 more covers to us.

With my "duties" for CBC4C being done, now it was time to take-in the rest of the show. As I had previously mentioned, we came back to Larry Hama's table a couple more times to have most of my personal issues of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero signed. I really wished I had thought of giving my associates/friends the other CBC4C covers to have signed when we had the chance.

First was to get the rest of my personal comics signed by Larry Hama. It took a few trips, but we managed to get most of what I brought. The rest... and some carded action figures... will have to wait until November. (FYI- The photo's from here on out are taken by me. That's why they're not of better quality.)

The sketch cover in the middle is a work I commissioned from Randy Emberlin at Cherry City Comic Con in 2014.

That copy of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is the very same copy my father bought me when I was a kid. I have to admit that I felt very honored to have it signed by Larry Hama. These really made my day!

At the final Stump Town Comic Fest in 2013, I met Ron Randall. He introduced me to his character, Mercy St. Clair aka Trekker. I bought his Image #1 issue as well as the Trekker ashcan and gave it a look. I was hooked! It was my quest to find, and add to my collection, every issue of Trekker and her appearances. This meant several issues of Dark Horse Presents as well as a couple mini series. I even bought the trade paperback and the omnibus.

When I saw Ron in August at NW Comic Fest, I told him I was only a few issues away from completing the Trekker collection. Thanks to using Comic Collector Live, I was able to procure the remaining issues to complete my collection... and everything now has been signed by Ron. These are a treasure in my collection.

I will also admit that I some times have a speculative eye when picking-up comics. For instance, I don't collect Invincible, but I had my LCS put a copy of the issue 100 covers for me. It sparked my interest and I thought I'd add this to my collection. Now they are signed by artist Ryan Ottley.

Along with Ryan's cover for The Walking Dead issue 100. This is another great example of my speculative attempts at buying comics. They don't happen often, but they do happen.

The single comic I purchase at RCCC this year was from an artist named Ben Hansen. What drew me in was a G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero cover he had depicting Snake Eyes with Darth Maul, but it was this Star Wars cover that nearly took my breath away when I saw it.

Ben presented some great art at his table, and in the back of my mind I knew I wanted him to possibly be a contributing artist to CBC4C. So I asked, "Have you ever done work for charity before." His response was "Nobody has ever asked." Without thinking twice I said "Not any more." I provided him with my card and gave him the lowdown on CBC4C. I hope that we can make things happen in the near future.

While I was looking around in the artist area, I came upon the table for Gene A. Guilmette from Road Less Traveled Press. He asked me "What's 'Zanziber's Point of View'?" I informed him that I do weekly reviews of trade paperback and graphic novels. His response to that was "Have you ever reviewed a children's book?" Of course I haven't, but then he presented me with this...

As he explained it to me, Between Here and the Lint Trap would have been the type of book I would have loved to have read, or had read to me, as a child. I offered to buy the copy he handed me, but he informed me that he would appreciate the review. Stay tuned for it in the near future.

Things that I noticed specifically about the con:

  • I think the fact that there's a growing number of attendees every year and the parking at the convention center being full early is a testament to the popularity of this annual event.

  • Even though there were a large number of people. I never felt crowded as I did at the last Emerald City Comic Con I attended a few years back. I really hope it stays that way.

  • There was a moment where a woman had lost her daughter in the crowd. In a matter of maybe 10-15 minutes, mother and daughter had been reunited safely. Kudos to all the involved Henchmen and attendees.

  • I love how they have the areas marked off where you can see them. i.e. Section 600. Artist Area B. This made the floor easy to navigate to where we needed to go next.

As always, I wish I had done more. I've devoted my time to acquiring new autographs for my collection over getting new trades, comics or going to panels. Speaking of which... it wouldn't have been a northwest comic con without stopping at the I Like Comics area to pick-up some new trades to review... at 70% off! Unfortunately I didn't get as many as I would have liked, but I was being really picky. Next time... I won't be.

I didn't realize until I got to my hotel that the Ghost Rider trade is actually a volume 2. Now I need to get volume 1 somewhere.

That's it for my time at this years event. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

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