Friday, December 28, 2012

Cincinnati Comic Expo 2012

Cincinnati Comic Expo 2012 – “Unleash Your Inner Geek”        

My review of CCE 2012 is featured in this month's issue of Comics Buyer's Guide #1698, but in case you don't get a copy, here is the online version!

The third annual Cincinnati Comic Expo (CCE) was held on September 22nd and 23rd, 2012, at the Duke Energy Center in downtown Cincinnati.  For a relatively small show that started out at Xavier University’s Cintas Center just two years ago, the show has grown at an incredible rate.  With dozens of dealers, artists and fan groups, it now rivals veteran regional shows like Wizard Mid-Ohio Con and the Small Press and Alternative Comics Expo (SPACE). 

With top comic and media talent, plus unique attractions such as “sci-fi speed dating,” this show is holding its own in the highly competitive pop culture convention industry.  For this year, the guest of honor spots were shared between artist legend George Perez, and an amazing “Swamp Thing Reunion” that featured creators Thomas Yeates, John Totleben, Rick Veitch and Stephen Bissette.  This reunion was an incredible accomplishment for CCE, because none of these creators, with the exception of Yeates, had appeared at a convention for more than a decade.  The long lines for sketches and autographs were made more pleasant, thanks to representatives of The Cincinnati Symphony Pops Orchestra, who gave out concert passes to fans, and played selections from popular musical scores, such as Superman and Star Wars.

John Totleben, Thomas Yeates and Rick Veitch signed and sketched for fans during the "Swamp Thing" Reunion!

Media guests included Actor Chandler Riggs from The Walking Dead TV series and Jason David Frank from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series.  Also attending was Star Wars Light Saber Choreographer Nick Gillard, who conducted a “Jedi Training” session for fans.  Several comic book publishers were also in attendance, including Arcana Publishing, Devil’s Due and Skystorm Studios. 

CCE 2012 also provided a family friendly atmosphere with the Sunday “Kids Con” event, which featured Star Wars Padawan Training, a Lego Scavenger Hunt, face painting, raffles, and much more.  Artists from several “kid-friendly” comic titles were also in attendance.  Children’s book illustrator Dave Aikins, known for creating dozens of books featuring characters like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob Squarepants was there, and Mike Norton from Young Justice did free sketches for kids.

My son Jordan was thrilled to get a free Beast Boy sketch from Artist Mike Norton!

Another unique attraction at this convention was the opportunity to play vintage arcade games for free, including Ms. Pac-Man, X-Men and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  All of these classic machines were brought to the show floor courtesy of Arcade Legacy, a local business that offers both vintage and modern video gaming at hourly and daily rates.  Their website boasts “7,800 square feet of arcade gaming goodness, with sixty plus arcade and pinball cabinets.” Convention attendees apparently loved the idea, as the arcade machines were busy throughout the weekend, especially the ones that could be played by two or three people at the same time.

My son Jordan got to play several vintage arcade games, courtesy of Arcade Legacy.

Of course no comic convention would be complete without a large variety of comic dealers, and CCE had plenty of them.  Vendor merchandise ranged from Golden Age and original art, to modern comics and variant covers at bargain prices.  In addition to more than 30 comic dealers, there were dozens of other vendors selling art supplies, glasses, buttons, t-shirts and non-sports cards.  One of the more unique vendors was Cincinnati Bricks, an online Lego marketplace that sells individual pieces (or “bricks”), complete sets and other product that is often exclusive to the European market.   

Brett Pinson of Boomtown Press brought his animation style cell art to the show!

As I’ve mentioned in prior reports, convention experiences can be more fun when you turn the trip into a complete family vacation, or even a quick day trip.  Cincinnati is just minutes from the Kentucky border, which means lots of possibilities for additional fun, such as The Newport Aquarium, Big Bone Lick State Park and the sleepy town of Rabbit Hatch, where you can have a barbeque pulled pork sandwich for breakfast, check out the old fashioned general store, and even visit with the town’s mayor, who is (literally) a dog. 

CCE 2012 was a great success, and before the convention even started, the first big name guest was already announced for 2013.  Art Balthazar, known for his beloved Tiny Titans comic series, is scheduled to appear at next year’s show, and more guest announcements are expected soon.  The convention’s catch phrase, “Unleash Your Inner Geek” was embraced by all, and this reviewer is looking forward to next year’s convention!

Comic Creators Rob Worley and Paul Storrie