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Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Weekend At Fallcon

The first weekend of October each year is host to Fallcon, the largest convention in the area and the premiere event of the local comic book community, hosted by the Midwest Comic Book Association.

This year was the 20th Anniversary of Fallcon. Every year, the show gets bigger and bigger, in terms of dealers, creators, and attendees. Thus every few years the show gets moved up into a bigger venue. After spending several years in the State Fair's Education Building, this year we moved on up to the big time, State Fair-wise: the Grandstand.

Needless to say, during setup for the con it was odd to walk a deserted Grandstand void of hubcap clocks, Minnesota Moccasins and throngs upon throngs of people.

The empty floor before the doors opened

The larger venue definitely paid off. Several big name creators, including Howard Chaykin (more on him later) and Don Rosa (the modern master of Disney's Scrooge McDuck comics ) attended. There were more people in costume than ever before. The line before the doors opened Saturday stretched from the main entrance of the Grandstand back and around the WCCO booth and stayed that long for the first hour of the show.

The biggest addition to this year's con, for me at least, was Mrs. Teebore.


That's right, my blushing bride decided to brave the Geek Horde and don the proud t-shirt of a Fallcon volunteer this year alongside me and my brother. She quickly took charge of the creator check-in table and was the de facto information desk, becoming the go-to gal for creators and attendees alike with all manner of questions, including where Herb Trimpe was (sadly, the big name Marvel Silver Age artist and this year's marquee guest got sick and couldn't make it), if Frank Miller was at the show ("the Frank Miller," she asked? "Hardly."), and whether 21 was too old to still be living with your parents (Seriously-she was asked that question). She even managed to get hit on by Brainiac.

Brainiac was actually very nice for a super villain

The costumed folk were out in larger numbers than ever. The Bat Family was well represented


including several different incarnations of Batman, Joker, and Harley Quinn.


That group is standing in front of one of a fan favorite at the con, a custom-made, street legal Batmobile.

The owner and creator is, of course, the Batman seen in the pictures. He has three different Batman costumes (Adam West, Christian Bale, and a current comic book look) and to accompany his Batmobile, the Batcycle, complete with Robin's sidecar featuring the detachable go-cart.


Other DC heroes were in attendance

What's Thor doing in the DC Universe?

as was Spider-Man, doing whatever a spider can.


The Ghostbusters made an appearance, but I missed getting their picture, though I did snap a pic of their car when I ran out to get coffee for Howard Chaykin.


The Minnesota Force was out in full force (pun intended)


including this sharp looking Imperial Officer, Gentlemen of Leisure reader Opalnan,


and, of course, Darth Vader.


The Minnesota Force booth also had a nifty collection of custom Star Wars figures


Unfortunately, I once again failed to snap a pic of the Gonk droid.

Amongst the usual comic book writers/pencillers/inkers/illustrators, there was a guy who made his prop replicas


including some neat-o lightsabers.


There was also a table of custom supehero Legos.


Check out the angry hook-handed Aquaman in the Hall of Justice fountain:


One of the perks of volunteering (aside from free admission and awesome wardrobe additions) is the steak fry held after the doors close on Saturday night, in which volunteers and creators mingle over surprisingly good food. This year's evening soiree was host to a Fallcon first: a wedding. Longtime MCBA volunteers Mike and Lisa were married in a ceremony presided over by Len "I created Prime" Strazewski in front of a gathering of their family and friends, attired in either formal finery or an assortment of costumes (my personal favorites: the parents dressed as Joker goons with their son decked out as the Clown Prince himself and the Homer, Marge and Maggie triumvirate), as well as the MCBA volunteers and creators.

The highlight of the evening for me was either discussing baseball with Phil Hester (who's drawn a ton of stuff, including Kevin Smith's run on Green Arrow years ago) while in the chow line (we chuckled at the Brewers lack of offense against the Phillies and discussed Prince Fielder's vegetarianism) or sitting down to dinner with three of the biggest names at the con this year: Nom Breyfolge (Batman artist extraordinaire), Howard Chaykin (profane and opininated creator of American Flagg, who also illustrated the first Star Wars comics back in '77) and John Ostrander (a stalwart of Dark Horse's Star Wars comics and the author of one of the internet's favorite books, the 1980s incarnation of the Suicide Squad).

Chaykin dominated the politically-loaded conversation, goaded in large part by Norm Breyfogle. Near as I could tell, Chaykin and I share similar political views, only his are expressed in a more profane and acerbic manner. I also learned that the holdup on collections of Ostrander's Suicide Squad is due to a dispute between he and DC they are trying to work out regarding the best format in which to reprint the issues: either in cheaper black-and-white (ala the cancelled Showcase Presents volume) or slightly more expensive color volumes. All in all, it was certainly a distincitive and fun end to the first day of Fallcon.

Next: A Weekend At Fallcon: The Swag

7 comments:

Kate said...

I always enjoy it when you write about comics. I don't understand half of what you wrote, but I'm smart enough to know that if you're impressed with the names you mentioned, then they are pretty damn important. Glad to hear the Mrs. rocked Fallcon. That's the key to a successful marriage. :)

Opalnan said...

Hey look it's me!!! I really want to work on getting a different costume going however with the wife being pregnant there are more important things to take care of right now. Besides that one works pretty well and I don't sweat like a pig in it like the other guys do.

It was a pretty good time that weekend. Darth Vader was obviously the big draw out of our people but everybody is pretty popular overall. Darth even had groupies that were a little bit scary. And we created a new thing for us to look for at these cons, superfans!! We had two at our booth that were pretty amusing.

Overall the costumes were very good I thought. Flash looked like he could use a hamburger but otherwise they were pretty good. I'm still not sure what the guy with the sequined shirt and the doll arms attached to his head was supposed to be though. Just creepy I think.

Neat that you got to hang out with some of the big name creators. John Ostrander stopped by our booth for a little while since he has been writing Star Wars comics for almost 10 years now. Also the 501st made him an honorary member this spring and he was wearing his badge that he got from it proudly.

Interested to see the rest of your take on the con. Like the auction and the $5000 worth of cards you got to model.

Teebore said...

Thanks Kate!

opalnan, I always feel for the Stormtrooper/Vader types: I know if that was me, I'd perspire a lake's worth of sweat regardless of the temp. Your costume is much more sensible.

There were a few costumes I just didn't get. Probably because they were from manga/anime, or you as said, people just being weird.

There were just a ton of costumes; I really liked the Super Friends Green Lantern. I'm bummed I didn't get a pic of the Hagrid that showed up on Sunday; he ended up winning one of the costume contest categories.

I'll be talking about the auction in the next Fallcon post.

Opalnan said...

Hagrid was very cool looking. He came over and chatted with us for a little bit and he even had a Monster Book of Monsters in one of his many pockets.

It is very nice that our little con that used to be held at the Thunderbird Hotel has grown to be a pretty good size and is attracting cool people and creators.

Teebore said...

Yeah, it's been fun watching the con grow. I definitely think the uber-popular sketch cards this year was a step towards having con-exclusive material each year, ala all the con exclusives the toy companies have at Sand Diego, Wizard World, etc.

Another thing that sets Fallcon apart from its larger brethren is the lack of Hollywood presence (the studios don't screen trailers at Fallcon, TV or movie actors don't show up). I overheard some dealers talking this year about how they go to all the other shows, and Fallcon is their favorite because its still just about comics and hasn't been abducted by Hollywood to be used as a massive marketing tool, which was something I hadn't thought of before: that maybe its better that Fallcon is still "smaller" than the "big" cons.

The other thing I would like to see someday is Marvel or DC making big announcements about upcoming projects like they do at some of the other, larger shows.

Anonymous said...

Those costumes looked pretty swank - nothing is more embarrassing that horrible costumes. Embarrassing for everyone...

-S

Opalnan said...

Oh there were bad ones. Also not necessarily bad one but costumes where maybe the person wearing it should have thought twice. One of our lines for the weekend was "Somebody needs to give Flash a hamburger." Great looking costume but we thought that his super fast metabolism was showing.