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The Tampa Giant Comic Con for August áby Nolan B. Canova
"Superbad" áby Mike Smith
Whadda You Wanna Do With Your Life? áby Corey Castellano
DVD Review: "Space Academy: The Complete Series" áby ED Tucker
Tampa Comic Con Chronicles .... Comic World 25th Anniversary áby Andy Lalino
American Band: The Byrds, from folk rock to country rock. áby Terence Nuzum
Great Issue .... Who Said This?... How 'Bout Dem O's .... Barry Bonds .... Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City .... I'm a Traveling Man .... Whatever Happened To? -- Chapter 28: Next Week .... The Answer áby Mike Smith
Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Established A.D. 2000, March 19. Now in our eighth calendar year!
Number 387  (Vol. 8, No. 34). This edition is for the week of August 20--26, 2007.

The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show for August
Sunday, August 19th, 2007
The DoubleTree Inn Hotel
4500 West Cypress St.
Tampa, FL

by Nolan B. Canova

It will be a challenge to follow Andy Lalino's excellent coverage of the Tampa Giant Comic Con published earlier this week with my own humble memoir, but I am committed to express myself -- can't seem to help it. Sorry for the delay.

The second of three "DoubleTree Cons" (my shorthand for Tim Gordon's shows) for 2007 happened last Sunday and for some reason -- don't quite know why -- the small but enthusiastic handful of the Crazed Fanboy crowd that managed to make it to the show had a more outstandingly good time than we usually do. And we usually have a great time! It really clicked in August, and maybe, just maybe, it's because a few subtle expectations we brought with us were surpassed.

A few personal notes: My ride for this outing was PCR senior staff writer and film director Andy Lalino, which in itself is unusual. Clearwater-based Andy's appearances at these Tampa things have been few and far between and brief when they happened. Andy's social outlook seems to have changed this year, and I'm certainly not complaining. Corey Castellano, an old friend who works in Hollywood as a make-up artist, but lives in Valrico, has, amazingly, missed very few of these Conventions, despite being out of town 85% of the year. Whereas usually he's accompanied by his 7-year-old son Nicolas and a couple nephews, this time he showed up alone. Of course, I'm grateful he showed at all! Brandon Jones, eagerly expected to arrive with at least two of his children, was a no show (later explained as a personal family situation that came up). We were hoping for a return appearance by 100 Tears director Marcus Koch and Alana Baker, who met us for lunch back in May, or a surprise visit by Will Moriaty (again, like in May), but such was not the case.

The show opened at 10:00am, Andy and I arrived about 10:45am, after trying to park for at least 15 minutes (well-chronicled in Andy's column). This was but the first of several clues observed during the day that promoter Tim Gordon's show is on the verge of possibly outgrowing the DoubleTree Inn.
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Beauty and the Beast. (Ahem, I'm the beast on the right.) The lovely, talented and gothic Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, my traditonal first stop at the DoubleTree and good luck charm.
Glenda C. Finklestein, another very talented author and movie maker, with husband Tony. Their movie Perfect Copy debuted at the Con.
Hey! World's Finest! Batman and Superman prove they can get along when the conditions are right.
ScreamFest's Pete Mongelli, left, fends off an attack from actor/wildman Joel D. Wynkoop.
Pinellas underground comics artist Greg Vondruska, left front, smiles as he shares a table with Jim Fern (next to Greg) and other comics legends!
Artist Pablo Marcus autographs some comics for a fan. The artists tables are always popular stops for fans.
Writer Chuck Dixon, left, smiles for this great shot of the "upper-tier" artists booth. All the celebrity artists were very friendly.
The star of the show and the man I came to meet. A rare appearance by Marvel Comics artist legend Herb Trimpe. (Hulk Comics/first appearance of Wolverine.)
Another very pleasant surprise, Gary Friedrich, creator of Ghost Rider, and a very nice man. We had a laugh or two about the movie adaptation, haha.
One of NY's favorite sons, Marvel artist Alex Saviuk, at the table, bottom right. At extreme left, hunched over is, I think, John Beatty.
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Impressive hall display of the Silver Surfer whizzing by Han Solo frozen in carbonite. The Stormtrooper is sticking close, naturally.
(L-to-R) John Lewis, Andy Lalino, Terence Nuzum, and Nolan Canova (yours truly). Thanks to Scott from Wonder Water Comics for taking this terrific group shot.
(L-to-R) Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, and Andy Lalino found a lot to like with this video dealer who's about to make several sales!
I went back out into the lobby to get a picture to give you an idea of how it's grown. Here, Big City Comics is centered in the frame. But a bigger surprise was to come next...
Joe Leone, Jr., left, and Terence Nuzum are reunited after several years. When Joe's name was advertised as an artist-dealer, Terence and Drew were skeptical it could be their friend from high school. But, located directly across from Andrea Dean Von Scoyoc, was Joe Leone.
There were several impressive comics displays at the Con. Here, HooHah Comics, one of the larger dealers, certainly knows how to dress the landscape to get attention!
View from the entrance to the main dealers room, center lane.
Hollywood makeup maestro Corey Castellano, left, has been very regular at these Conventions I'm delighted to say. I'm always proud to pose for a shot with Corey, who I've known for 30 years.
Quick shot before leaving of a toy booth with a fairly representative mix. Across the lane was a Star Wars table, and there were some Godzillas around but nothing quite impressive enough to shell out bucks for...at least not this time.
In fact, the first friendly face to greet us was Tim Gordon, who, as usual, was very cordial, and gave Andy and me our dealers' room passes (press passes, basically), which lit up Andy's face like a Christmas tree -- "Wow, there are some perks with this job, huh?" HAha....Andy, Andy, Andy.

Now, let me take a second to draw you guys a picture. In the beginning was the already generously-spaced main dealers room. At 10,000 square feet, it's BIG. Not MegaCon big mind you, but big. The adjoining lobby was where you paid to get in, at a small table manned by a few friends of Tim's. Starting last year, maybe the year before, the dealers room started spilling over into the lobby, basically lining the walls with tables. The ladies, or whoever, who sold tickets were still parked comfortably next to the dealers room entrance. This time, however, the original entrance lobby has become, for all intents and purposes, a secondary dealers room, as there were tables arranged in a rectangle in the center of the room in addition to the tables lining the walls! So, the table where you pay the (very reasonable) $5 to get in has been pushed back even farther, nearer the entrance to the hotel.

I remember remarking to Andy that this show is bursting at the seams with growth, to the point where they may have to spill over into even more rooms, or, if there isn't a larger room for Tim to move into found soon, he may have to find a larger venue. But I hope it's not soon, because I love the DoubleTree. However, it is a testament to Tim Gordon's business savy and fan awareness that this show has thrived when all other small comic conventions have pretty much dried up in Tampa.

OK, history lesson over, back to the show....

It's traditional now, don't remember why, that my first stop always be the table of goth-princess / horror authoress Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc (Michael, The Two). She always welcomes me with open arms and a big kiss and --well, hell, I guess that's why I race to her table, haha! She caught me up on her latest adventures, including the pre-productions status of her book-into-movie, A Man Of Two Worlds.

Next to Andrea was Glenda Finklestein and her husband Tony. She also has books out (Nemesis Rising, The Edge of the Universe), but like Andrea has made a move into movies. In face her first effort, Perfect Copy, starring Glenda herself, was showing at the Creature Productions Indie Fest this very afternoon. Unfortunately, due to timing considerations and the fact I still have to work a "day job", I was unable to stay and see Glenda's movie. Hopefully, I'll get a DVD of it someday for review.

Much of the rest of the "dealers lobby" was occupied by independent comic artists/writers/publishers (I stumbled on Wet Ink Studios while traversing the area). There was another surprise awaiting me there, but I wouldn't realize it until Terence Nuzum (who had arrived by this time) helped me focus on trying to locate one Joe Leone, Jr. Advertised as an indie artist, it is also the name of a classmate of Terence's and Drew Reiber's. Initially, the boys were skeptical it could be the same Joe Leone. But it was! Joe has, evidently, branched out into semi-pro comic publishing and further astounded us with the news he's also the manager of one of the Demolition Comics stores. Terence and Joe had a great reunion and Joe even drew a comic piece for Terence, a custom Joker portrait.

The main dealers room by this time was shoulder-to-shoulder packed. I think Chris Woods had arrived by this point, and he, Terence and I were attracted to the many bootleg DVD booths. Not all that many, but one near the entrance turned out to be a very productive stop for the boys (see Andy's column for specific titles).

There was also quite an impressive array of comics dealers, and while that's to be expected at this show of this size, we were more impressed than usual (but by this time we were climbing the walls, tho -- I dunno maybe the DoubleTree is putting something in the water, hahaha).

Of course, no Con experience would be complete without a stop by the table of Joel D. Wynkoop, local actor and general-purpose wildman. His dozens of movies were laid out for sale and something was always playing on his portable DVD player. I got an unexpected surprise when I found ScreamFest organizer Pete Mongelli at Joel's booth: it is the first time I've ever met the man. (And is no doubt the "Petey" referenced in ED Tucker's Letter to the Editor this week.)

Making my way back to the "celebrity artist" section towards the back of the hall, my personal mission was to meet Marvel comic-artist legend Herb Trimpe. I always think of Herb as "the punk who took over The Incredible Hulk from Marie Severin" in the late '60s/early '70s. (He's usually promoted, and justifiably so, as the artist for the now-extremely-collectible "Hulk vs Wolverine" issue of The Hulk.) I was able to meet the man, and when I told him the "punk" comment I got a hearty belly laugh. (He told me another hero of mine, Hulk artist Marie Severin, had been hospitalized recently, but she's doing much better now, thankfully.)

At the same table were the very friendly Chuck Dixon (writer for Marvel and DC comics for decades) and Gary Friedrich, creator of Ghost Rider. I asked him what he thought of the movie adaptation. He smiled widely and very diplomatically made a "so-so" gesture with his hand, haha. Good enough. All three gentlemen were exceptional to fans.

At the other celebrity table, regulars Alex Saviuk, John Beatty, Jim Fern, and Pablo Marcus were holding court (I apologize if I've left anybody out -- I'm writing this from memory), and surprisingly, St. Pete underground wonder Greg Vondruska got a space at the table (Hey! Who let him in here!), hahaha.

Promoted this time as a collaboration between John & Ashley Lewis's Creature Productions and the Finklestein's Final Destiny Productions. I couldn't resist starting a conspiracy theory that recent evidence of inactivity pointed to the possibility that Creature Productions was, basically, handing over the reins of the Indie Fest to Final Destiny. I confronted John about that and he flatly denies that's the case. He's been distracted setting up his other endeavor, Comics & Critters Too, pet and comics store located in Clearwater over the past few months. And....Yes I gave him major sh*t about that "secrecy" business from last May!! He was apologetic that the news about the store's opening got to me so late (I was expecting a bigger argument about it, but it never launched). Further, John offered to personally pick me up to take me to the store. I'm still grumbly about the whole thing, but, I soften when I'm pampered like that, haha. Ashley Lewis did make an appearance at the Con, but explained that she couldn't stay as she had to get to her new job selling cars at Stadium Toyota(!) in mid-Tampa. (Must...suppress....confusion...) Terence and I wondered if maybe John and Ashley, down the line, might get a dealers booth for Comics & Critters Too. I forgot to ask John about the possibility.

With our schedule very tight, we only managed to see some of Bill Black's The Blue Bulleteer: Captured by The Cloak and John Lewis's short, The Tracker. The star of the Bulleteer, Maria Paris was present in costume as was the main villain The Cloak, Mike Accord (Well, actually he was roaming the halls as the Comic Con's mascot, "Lon Madnight"). We did enjoy the movies, but by this point, we were starving.

The Players Lounge, conveniently located in the DoubleTree itself, is where we go for post-con lunch and drinks and we were there at the crack of their opening time of 2:00pm. Corey Castellano, Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods, Andy Lalino, and Yours Truly settled in for great drinks and great food (OK, I'm the only alcoholic here, but you get my drift). Andy was kind enough to buy me a grouper plate as a late birthday gift (thanks, Andy). Chris and Terence mulled over their DVD purchases, continually amazed that Andy could not only wax eloquent about all the movies, but chances are owned them in some form already! Well, not so surprising when you consider that the movies bought this day were all pre-1987 classic horror schlock!

We parted ways. On the way home, Andy asked to see some special places from my youth in South Tampa, so we quickly ran by Robinson High School (Class of '73! Yeah!) and the Gandy Civic Center (where yours truly nearly burned down the building with his rock band's electrical needs, sometime in the mid-to-late '80s!).

Hope to see you all later this year when the Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show reconvenes this November!

For more information about the Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show, please visit their website.

"The Tampa Giant Comic Con and Toy Show for August" is ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ę2007 by Nolan B. Canova.

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