Cincy Comic Con

On September 9-11th I had the pleasure of attending Cincy Comic Con located at the Northern KY Convention Center (don’t worry, it’s basically Cincinnati). This was my third con of the year and 6th con overall in the past three years. Having attended and enjoyed this con last year my expectations were very, very high. The guest list alone was enough to get any comic fan excited. Well, my hopes were fulfilled and then some. For ease of review the con will be rated on 3 separate categories and then given an overall rating at the end. Let’s jump right in.

Location

The Northern KY Convention Center is a beautiful facility nestled next to the river and the football stadium. The outside is impressive with beautiful views of both the city and the river. Located just 10 minutes away from downtown Cincy,  it’s also not as congested as downtown would have been so it is a superb location for the con. The buildings absolutely sparkle in the sunlight

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The inside of the convention center was just as nice, with plenty of floor space for all of the artists and vendors. Cincy Comic Con did a great job of straddling the line between having it in to small of a room and it feeling claustrophobic, and being in to big of a room and it feeling empty. The con never once felt either claustrophobic or empty, but rather a perfect blend of busy but not hectic. The convention center also offered very affordable parking as all day parking only cost $5. This was a very nice change of pace from other cons I have been to this year that charge an arm and a leg for parking, leaving you cash strapped for the actual artists you came to see. They also had a parking garage option if you wanted a covered option for your vehicle.

Rating: 5/5

 

Guest Creators

This years guest list read like a who’s who of the comic book world. It included Jason Latour, Rico Renzi, Robbi Rodriguez, Skottie Young, Kate Leth, Brian Azzarello, Brian Level and too many more to count. I could go on and on but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop (If you’d like the full guest list of this years con then click here). All of the creators that I interacted with were an absolute joy. Jason Latour took time while he was signing my copies of Southern Bastards and Spider-Gwen to have a discussion on religious fanaticism in the south. Rico Renzi remembered me from the interview that we did together back in March (if you would like to check out that interview then click here).

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He and I spoke for awhile about the process of coloring comic books and he gave me some great advice. Brian Level was very kind and interactive as well, despite me not having any money left to spend. I commissioned a Starman (JSA era, not the steampunk version) from the spectacular Matt Horak and he certainly delivered a great sketch for an affordable rate.

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The indie creators that were there were all very interactive as well. I spent quite a bit of time with Bob Frantz who writes Monty the Dinosaur (available from Action Lab comics, check it out here), who it turns out is as hilarious in person as his comic book is. Another great indie creator is Andy Eschenbach. He writes the anthology series Strange Crimes (available from Challenger comics, click here) and the new series Red Shoes! His comics are excellent and you really should check them out. In fact everything that comes from Challenger Comics is top notch. Overall the talent level of both the guests of honor and the indie comic guys was first rate. The commitment to comics and comics first is very evident in who they invite to the con and how the show is handled. That’s one of the things that sets Cincy Comic Con apart from other cons.

Rating: 5/5

Affordability

For a weekend pass Cincy Comic Con checked in at $50. This is a very competitive rate to other comic cons of it’s size, and for the creators that it draws (pun intended) rather cheap. The only other con in the Midwest that can really attract those big of names is perhaps C2E2 which goes for $65-$75. Granted it is a much larger con in a bigger city, but you really lose the chance to interact with the creators like you have at Cincy Comic Con. What’s more they had a deal with Cincy Savers where you could get a ticket for half price. I took advantage of this deal so I only paid $25 for a Saturday Sunday pass. This is astronomically low price for the value I got. Add in the cheap parking and you have a very very low cost for such a high quality con. None of the creators I got autographs from charged a fee so there was no added cost there. The price of a sketch ranged from $30 to $200 depending on who you commissioned it from. The food vendor on site were pretty expensive though. I paid $13 for a pop and a burger. This is to be expected from a convention center. The second day I went off campus for lunch and was able to save money that way. All told I spent maybe $150 and that includes gas and the sketch that I commissioned. This comes in much lower than the average all in price of many cons in the general area.

Rating: 5/5

 

Overall

Cincy Comic Con was an incredible experience. With first rate talent, that you could actually interact with more than just for the 10 seconds while they sign the comics you brought. It was apparent that everyone involved liked being there and loved comics. The location was beautiful with just the right size convention floor to where it felt large but not empty. There was plenty of parking options for a good rate. The price was very affordable, especially if you took advantage of the Cincy savers deal. This was the third comic con of the year for me and by far my favorite. If you live in the Midwest and love comics and the comic book community then going to Cincy Comic Con next year is an absolute must. Below I have included a picture of how Cincy Comic con made me feel.

 

Overall Rating: 5/5

 

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Indiana Comic Con Review

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending Indiana Comic Con. This was my second year in a row of attending this event. Last year my main complaints were it was slightly disorganized, they didn’t have enough room, and the guest list for the event was underwhelming. This year the powers at be took steps to reconcile these problems. There were still some issues, but overall this year was better than last year. For convenience I will break up my review into sections to be reviewed: Venue Space, Guest Creators, Media Guest, Organization, and Affordability.

Venue Space

As I stated earlier, space was a problem that Indiana comic con (ICC) had last year. ICC sought to fix this problem by renting out 3x the space for this years con. This for the most part solved this problem. The booths were not as close together, and despite a larger turnout there was more space to move around than before. I would say on this front ICC was very successful. Aside from a larger main hall, there were also more rooms for panels and other events. They had a hall rented out for attendees to play board games, and a cinema area where they played movies all day, Overall ICC did a great job of addressing this glaring issue from last year.

Rating: 5/5

Guest Creators

This year ICC featured a good amount of guest creators. The highlights were: Mike Zeck, Jim Steranko, Denny O’Neil,John Beatty, Philo Barnhart, Mark Waid and Ryan Stegman. Of this list I personally met Zeck, Beatty, Waid, and Stegman. Of all the creators I met Stegman was the nicest. He was very interactive with me while he made a sketch, and seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Waid was also very nice. One thing I didn’t like was that both Zeck and Beatty charged for their autographs. IF they had been a massive star like Matt Fraction, or Alex Ross I would have understood, but as it was it was a little annoying to have to pay almost $20 to get my comics signed on top of my entrance fee. The over all quality of the guest creators could have been improved by having a few more current creators there. I know it’s hard for a new con to attract some of the big names, but I feel like they could have at least gotten a couple more “B” level creators. Maybe if they had had less Media guests they would have had more of a budget for that.

Rating: 3/5

Media Guests

This years media guest list had a little bit of everything, and a lot a bit of one thing. First what was wrong:This con had an over abundance of voice actors.(10 to be exact). This number should have been reduced to accommodate a wider audience. The rest of the media guest list was pretty solid. It included: Carrie Fisher, Jason Mamoa, Jenna Coleman, and Rory McCann. They also had Willon Shields and John Rhys-Davies cancel on them at the last-minute. Scoring Carrie Fisher was a big win for ICC. She was by far the most popular media guest, and her line proved it. Despite a high price per autograph and photo-op her line felt like it never shrank. Jason Mamoa and Jenna Coleman both had a very long lines as well. One complaint I heard from a lot of people was that Carrie Fisher actually ran out of time to sign all of the autographs that were sold. Although most of this list didn’t appeal to me, and in my opinion they had waaaaaay to many voice actors, they did a good job of trying to find people who would appeal to a wide audience.

Rating 4/5

Organization

Organization for this years ICC was better than last years. However it still was sorely lacking. They did not have enough workers stationed around to direct guests. The program they handed out did not have numbers or letters on the pictures to show what room number things were in. They had waaaaay to many lines for no reason. As I stated before they way over sold the Carrie Fisher autograph and photo-op tickets. From what I’ve heard they didn’t have any problems with the other media guests. They needed to have workers at the photo-op lines to make sure that things stayed organized. My big beef with the organization was the fact that they had a line outside of the main convention hall where you could buy tickets for an autograph, but you could also buy the same tickets while you were in line. This led to way to much confusion, and way to many angry guests. Organization needs a lot of work for next year, although I am encouraged with the direction it’s moving in.

Rating: 3/5

Affordability

The price of admission for ICC was $35 for one day, and $60 for a three day pass. I purchased the one day pass. Compared to other cons of equal or slightly larger size this is a great price. The charge for the media guest was $75 for Carrie Fisher, $50 for Jenna Coleman, and $40 for Jason Mamoa. Overall the prices for media guests were reasonable, although I wouldn’t have paid $75 for an autograph from Carrie Fisher. The vendors at ICC all had decent deals for the con and most were willing to haggle with you. Several booths had $0.50 comics and even more had $1.00 comics. The close food locations all had decent prices for their food and I only spent $11 on food. Parking was $25 for the whole day. This was steeper than I expected an I think in the future they should think about setting up some special parking at a lower rate. One think I didn’t like was, as I stated before, Mike Zeck and John Beatty charged for their autographs. It was an extra $20 that I hadn’t planned on. The price of ICC compared to other cons of equal size was still low and I would recommend it to people who are looking to go to a con on a budget.

Rating: 5/5

All in all ICC was a very fun experience. I really had a great time. The venue space was big enough to accommodate the number of people who showed up. The guest creators were nice and interactive. They had enough media guests to reach a wide audience. The organization needs work, but I am encouraged by the improvement from last year. ICC is also a very affordable con for attendees who are on a budget. ICC has promise, it is going through some growing pains, but I really believe it can emerge as a big player in the Mid-West Con scene.

Overall Rating: 4/5

-Andrew Horton