Roger’s Comic Ramblings: Duck Season! Rabbit Season! Convention Season!

Roger Ash & Walter Simonson

Roger Ash & Walter Simonson

by Roger Ash

Some people believe that the San Diego Comic-Con is the be all and end all of comic conventions. And while it is the biggest and pretty darned impressive, it’s only one of the many conventions that compose what I think of as Convention Season. This is the time of year when the majority of regional and national comic conventions take place, which this year seems to be bookended by C2E2 in April and the New York Comic Con in October. I wrote about my adventures at C2E2 here and at Heroes here. I was disappointed to miss the Chicago Comic-Con this year as it’s usually an annual event for me, but it conflicted with other plans. This weekend, I’ll be at the Baltimore Comic-Con. I scheduled the panels for convention organizer Marc Nathan again this year, so you’ll stand a good chance of finding me in the panel area if you’re there and want to stop by and say hello. And you’ll be reading of my adventures at Baltimore right here in a week or two.

So, I think it’s fair to say that I enjoy going to comic conventions. Why? Well, there are a few reasons. First, it’s fun to spend a weekend with like-minded people. That may sound like an odd thing to say since I work for a comic retailer and think and talk comics every day at work. The difference is twofold. First, I am surrounded by the same group of people every day at work. I am NOT complaining about this, but it’s nice to get out and hear what other comic fans are talking about. I love hearing about what comics other people are reading and are excited about. Second, at a convention, you’re around comic and pop culture fans all day. That’s nice and it gives you plenty of time to talk with people about the things we love. At the end of a convention, I’m always reinvigorated about comics.

Secondly is meeting friends. In my job at Westfield, I have contact with a number of different people in the comics industry. But we’re all scattered across the country and don’t often see each other. Conventions bring us all together. It’s great to get together with friends I’ve made through work over the years. I’ve also become friends with some folks from the John Byrne Forum and we always make a point of getting together at conventions. In both cases, we’ll get together for meals or drinks and late night BS sessions in the hotel bar. It’s basically a big, fun family reunion.

Roger Ash & Sergio Aragones

Roger Ash & Sergio Aragones

Thirdly is meeting creators. We’re really lucky to be comic fans in that the creators of them are so willing to meet with the fans. I got into comics because I’m a fan of comics. Meeting a favorite creator in person or hearing them speak at a panel is out and out exciting. Meeting folks like Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Steve Gerber, Nick Cardy, Steve Englehart, John Romita, Walter Simonson, George Perez, Sergio Aragones, and many others over the years has been a privilege, an honor, and a thrill.

The Swedish Chef convention sketch by Roger Langridge

The Swedish Chef convention sketch by Roger Langridge

Finally, there’s the shopping. If you’re looking for anything comic related from that hard to find back issue to that toy you had as a kid and destroyed, chances are good you can find it at a convention. While I’m not looking for any particular back issues any more as so many comics are collected these days, there is always that special, unexpected  find. Recently, I’ve been enjoying finding old Dell cartoon-based comics like Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw. These have never been collected and can get expensive, but the stories are great fun and make me happy, so they’re worth the price. Also, a number of years back, I started collecting convention sketches. I love having original pieces of art by my favorite comic artists. Looking at them always brings a smile to my face. When I started, dinosaurs roamed the earth and the sketches were fairly inexpensive, with $50 being a really, really expensive sketch. Today, prices have gone up and can range into the hundreds of dollars , but the sketches have become more elaborate and more like commissions than sketches. The thing is, you don’t have to break the bank to get convention sketches. You can find something to fit nearly any budget. And many artists often sell sketch books that collected many pieces you won’t see anywhere else. These are great for fans of comic art like myself.

So, those are my top reasons for going to conventions. If I were to bottom line it, it comes down to I think they’re fun. They will wear you out, it usually takes me a couple days to recover after a convention, but it’s worth it. If you’ve never been to a comic convention before, I urge you to give one a try. I think you’ll have a great time. For those of you who have, why do you go and do you have any convention stories to share? If so, post ‘em below!

Now, go read a comic!

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