Another crazy week at work coupled with another episode of minor health problems resulted in Ye Old Editor's almost not making the Tampa Giant Comic Con this year, in addition to slowing down what I'd hoped to achieve video-wise by this point. My condition's improved a little, though, and creative action has resumed, if a little tardy (tardily?).
And...in case anyone's counting, this homepage scored its 300,000th hit earlier this week. That's to this page alone. The rest of the site's hits are in the millions, but this is the only page with a counter.
Long-time PCR readers may remember the mysterious female known only as "Lauré Piper" who not only wrote several reviews for this website years ago, but also took over editing and email chores for me while I was hospitalized in the late summer of 2005. For as long as she's been on the internet, she always used a pseudonym to create a safe distance between her personal life and her web life. Plus, there are always, you know, stalkers out there and such.
That all changed this week when she scored a gig as a "paid blogger" for the Miami Examiner website, and they insisted on her real name, which now it can be told, is Julianne Draper. Juli and her husband (who still wishes to remain, shall we say, clandestine) have been two of my top closest friends for over 20 years. Their insistence for privacy is the only thing that kept them from being mentioned here before.
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L-to-R, Mason Troupe, John Miller, and Terence Nuzum discuss DVD purchases at Sunday's MinReg Con
L-to-R, Terence Nuzum, festival organizer Tim Gordon, and Ye Olde Editor Nolan Canova.
L-to-R, Mary Ann Talento, Mason Troupe, John Miller, Terence Nuzum, and Chris Woods are deep into fan talk.
One of 3 bird's-eye views of the Con taken from the second level. Here, the celebrity artists' table can be seen at right. This is the first space encountered after you enter the hall.
Second bird's-eye view shows the opposite end of the hall.
Third bird's-eye view, dead center of the action.
Just one of the many, many comics dealers present. This man was kind enough to return my cane to me after I'd hobbled off without it!
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The smiling face of, I believe, comic artist Georges Jeanty at the near end of the celebrity artists' table.
Comics legend Herb Trimpe (The Hulk, Wolverine) and the missus at his table.
St. Pete underground comics mover and shaker Greg Vondruska, left, with Mr & Mrs Herb Trimpe in a touching portrait.
Not to be redundant, but I just had to get in one group shot at least! L-to-R, John Miller, Mary Ann Talento, Mason Troupe, Chris Woods, Terence Nuzum, and yours truly.
This is where I found an old Whiz Comics tabloid-style edition, evidently from the '40s (store giveaway?) for about $850. (On the right side of the stand-up rack at left, third from bottom.)
A late-arriving Lisa Scherer Ciurro talks with an amused Terence Nuzum, just before lunchtime.
Well, we don't really know how to refer to it in shorthand anymore. To avoid the mouthful of "The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show" we've been using "the DoubleTree Con" as the name of Tim Gordon's show for years as that's the location on Cypress Ave where it's always been held. Until the end of 2008, that is. At that time, no agreement between Tim and the hotel managers could be reached regarding the future of of the Con and its scheduling, so a new venue had to be found. That venue turned out to be the MinReg Building at Largo's Honeywell Plant. Not a terribly romantic address, I know. "The MinReg Con" would be accurate, if confusing, to anyone who doesn't know what a "minreg" is (I know I don't), and the "Largo Con" is rather generic and semi-inaccurate as I believe the Con still has "Tampa" in the title. Be that as it may, our shorthand will likely stay "MinReg Con" until we think of something cleverer.
Finding this place was another adventure as not many of us knew our way around that part of Pinellas County. Terence Nuzum and I picked up John Miller (a Pinellas resident) on our way out there, a seeming advantage since John claimed to know the directions. Once we got underway, however, John's self-assuredness started to slip and we began a half-guessing, hit-and-miss trip to the Con. As we neared, Terence got a cellphone call from 18-year-old Mason Troupe, one of our Youth Nation constituents, who reported having already arrived with no problem. Since we all left Tampa at the same time, that was a little embarrassing, as we were still negotiating the twists and turns around this large industrial park located across the street from a trailer park (which I found very funny for some reason). We finally found where "IN" was and saw young Mason waiting for us by the door. Parking, thankfully, was not too much of a hassle given the comparatively small lot. With my walking stick in hand, we headed in.
My first impression was that of holding a comic convention in a high school assembly hall or basketball court -- unadorned concrete block constuction and a 2-story high ceiling with the accompanying echo. When I approached the ticket counter, I saw that Newsradio 970WFLA's Tedd Webb had cancelled due to illness. Darn shame, 'cuz it would've been the first time I'd seen Tedd in months. I heard him on the radio the next day, though, so I'm happy to report whatever the illness was was short-lived.
My second impression is that this Con had grown in size, but Terence disagreed thinking the industrial layout made it look bigger than it was (Tim Gordon himself said it was a little smaller, so I stand corrected here).
My third impression (and this should be the last impression for a while, haha), is who I didn't see behind a booth: Horror authors Andrea Dean Von Scoyoc and Glenda & Tony Finklestein, actors Jeffrey Bresslauer and Joel D. Wynkoop (advertised as a guest, but was detained on a movie shoot), and about a half-dozen independent artists, ALL of whom I saw with regularity when the Con was held in Tampa were conspicuously absent. I'm forced to conclude the hike to Largo was the deal-breaker for these fine folks, and I hope they find their way back some day.
On a more positive note, many comic and DVD dealers did return, and for those who did not, a few new ones took their place. Chris Woods (who'd joined us earlier with visiting cousin Mary Ann Talento) and Terence never seem to have a problem finding desirable bootleg DVDs. I myself found two vintage comic/magazine dealers who had surprisingly rare issues from the '40s and '50s, all in good condition. Unfortunately, I couldn't swing the $850 -- $1,000 for some of those titles! (And before anyone asks me, no, I don't remember specific issues -- the sticker shock swept 'em from memory. Maybe Terence remembers.)
Doug and Wanda Vaters were back holding down the Creature Film Fest, although this was now located on the second floor. Unfortunate, I think, as it's too out of view to encourage much traffic. We went up anyhow to check it out. It's a decent-sized room with terrific window-views of the main hall (I got some pictures from there). A little extra promotion from outside would improve the turn-out for this nice piece of real estate!
"Artists' Alley" was fairly bustling, and guest-of-honor Herb Trimpe (The Incredible Hulk, the first artist to draw Wolverine) was easy to access. I spoke to him as I'd done during the previous Con, and took a couple snaps. A really nice man and an influential artist! Although it looked like comic artist Pat Broderick was a no-show (at least by the time we left for lunch, but we've met Pat a few times before, he's a good guy), the smiling faces of Georges Jeanty, Pablo Marcus, and Fran Matera greeted us. Dick Giordano I didn't see either, but truthfully, I didn't check back before we left for lunch, so he may have been there.
Lunchtime at the DoubleTree was convenient in that The Players Lounge was located onsite. At the MinReg, there was a food room kinda sorta, one of those with a window where you can get hot dogs and pizza slices, and that's about it. OK in a pinch, I suppose (and it did smell good in there) but fighting for limited table space was not conducive to fanboy talk, so the decision was made to stop at an Arby's located not far from where Chris and John live. As always, the fanboy/girl lunch is possibly the best parts of these excursions! Afterwards, we were homeward bound.
UPDATE: 3-26-09. After re-reading the convention overview above, I noticed it seemed that I concluded the article without much...er....conclusion. So here it is: The PCR gang had mixed reactions to the new venue, but (risk of sounding mushy here) we always have a good time whenever we're together, regardless of location. So...we are planning on going back for the July show, and we figure the MinReg will grow on us over time. In fact, while I was re-reading the article it occurred to me that in many ways, it already has.
I'm mentioning this again for two reasons. One, we expected much more feedback about this last week than we got (thanks to those who did post their very positive comments, we appreciate it). If anyone was not able to watch it due to browser incompatibility issues, please let me know.
Two, I re-encoded and re-posted the entire affair after I discovered video interlacing problems in the display that had been aggravated after it had been posted the first time in 16:9 ratio. The "video line noise" has since been removed and the movie reformatted to 4:3.