May 5, 2011

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Convention Report: Comics Geek Speak SuperShow

Convention season began a little early for me this year, as I decided to take advantage of being closer to the East Coast to start checking out as many conventions as I can. First up this year was the Comics Geek Speak Super Show, held just outside Reading, PA on April 30th and May 1st. I only attended the first day, so this write-up is based on Saturday.

Comics Geek Speek Entrance

The Super Show was a bit of an odd selection for me, because I actually do not have any interaction with the Comics Geek Speak podcast. However, after hearing about the con and knowing that several people I wanted to see would be a short drive away, I figured it would be worth going, even if I wasn’t a part of the podcast culture.

The drive itself was a bit tricky. The convention is not in Reading proper, and matching Google to signs on the highway did not go so well for me. It was then a bit intimidating to pull up to a gun show. I’m not a stranger to firearms, but when you’re expecting artwork and see AK-47s, the feeling is a bit strange.

Once I got inside and to the right place, I walked into a show that was really hopping. People came in and out for the entire time I was at the show, and it was clear there were a lot of people who already knew each other, from the tabling artists to the general crowd. I opted against any of the Saturday panels, as they related to getting into comics or doing podcasts, and neither are my preferences at this time. As with the con itself, I’m sure that’s a bigger draw for those so inclined.

Rafer Roberts from Plastic Farm

I did my usual walk-through, seeing what might look interesting and what was a must-do as a high priority. For me, that meant seeing Rafer Roberts of Plastic Farm, who has a new edition of the first trade that just came out. I also quickly sought out Fred Van Lente, telling him how much I like his comics and picking up a complete edition of Action Philosophers, now with even more philosophy. I also wanted to see what Katie Cook of Gronk had to offer, but the first Gronk collection won’t be available until later this year, so I opted for a quick painted sketch.

After making sure I had those important areas covered, it was time to look around and see what was interesting to me. A lot of the creators had some web-based product, so I made sure to pick up their cards or postcards or what have you so that even if I didn’t buy something from them at the show, I can see what might intrigue me later.

What I noticed primarily about the Super Show is that a lot of the creators did work together or had some of the same ideas. Whenever I perused collections, I saw names that I may have passed at another booth. This was both a positive and a negative, because while it made for some cool collaboration, it did cut down a bit on the variety of comics available at the show. This does not mean that everyone was doing the same thing, but there was definitely a pattern towards superhero-influenced drawing styles.

As at any other show I go to, I look for ways to introduce myself into the material of an unknown creator, and I was happy to see that the folks at this show had given potential readers plenty of ways to do so. There were definitely a nice supply of $1, $2, and $3 examples to feast on, and were I definitely picked up a few to try. There were also some very affordable longer collections in the $5 and $10 range. Not all of these were to my taste (nor should they be), but I am glad to see creators taking the smart approach, giving people something to try before they make a major investment.

Besides the major items I mentioned above from Roberts and Van Lente, I picked up the following things that looked interesting to me:

Three sketches in addition to Katie Cook’s drawing for me, which I will put in a later post.

The first three issues of Great Zombies in History, which seemed like a fun riff on the familiar zombie tropes we all know and love (or loathe).

Tyrannosaurus Beth, by the creator of War of the Woods, Matthew Petz.

The Kids anthology, which got some good Twitter press.

Woman King, from 2009 Ignantz winner C Frakes.

A Super Ugly sketchbook collection, which sold me by having the Muppets turned into Superheroes.

Short Stack, by Shawn Gabborin and various artists, which tries to tell horror stories in only two pages.

Show Crowd

Overall, not a huge hall, but I’m definitely looking forward to reading them. I also hit the jackpot and won one of the raffle items, the 6th volume of Dark Horse’s Creepy Archives, which would have made the trip worthwhile no matter what else I found that day.

The Comics Geek Speak Super Show was a nice way to open my con season for 2011. It’s a small show but had a lot of enthusiastic creators and if you are part of the Geek Speak community, I’m sure there’s even more enjoyment to be had since it’s a chance to see virtual friends. Next up, if I can swing it, will be Heroes, which would be another first for me. Yay for living on the I-95 corridor!