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Hall of Fame City Comic Con 2019

Comic conventions have come to be a fairly "mixed" thing for me. On one hand, they’re a place to meet creators, and get access to all sorts of back issues and deals and such that are NOT available at the comic shops I frequent usually (and whose stock I largely "know" as-is and take advantage of weekly). On the other hand, I’m not thrilled with large crowds and all the unpredictability that comes with them, unknown parking situations, added parking and admission costs just to get access to the con, certain long lines, etc. Especially when attending alone (whether no one else wants to go with me, or "life" gets in the way and I don’t decide 100% that I myself am even going until the day-of).

This past weekend, I attended what apparently was the fourth annual Hall of Fame City Comic Con (and my second attendance of the show). I’d last gone to the 2017 show two years ago. I’d intended to attend last year’s show, but "life" was not going well at the time, which combined with trying to go alone, parking, and a monstrous-looking crowd that saw me forego the whole thing.

Probably "the" guest for the year was David Yost, the actor who portrayed BIlly Cranston in the original seasons of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. I knew going in that I definitely wanted to attend his panel/Q&A…which was definitely a quick hour! Me being me, I wasn’t interested in coming up with any questions to throw out, and don’t REALLY think I learned anything particularly "new," but I enjoyed the time. There’s something about simply hearing stuff "live" from someone, and taking in their presence and impact on a crowd of people that has such a different impact from simple "facts" or information gleaned by READING (online or otherwise).

I took a small poster that I’d planned to get signed, and looked forward to a quick photo with the actor…waiting until later into the day for the initial line to die down, and still stood in line for nearly an hour.

Only to THEN realize that it was $30/signature, $30/photo op, $50/shout out (whatever that is–something for podcasts or YouTube channels, perhaps?). So, disgusted at spending so much time in a line but unwilling to spend $30 for a "signature of opportunity" or a random photo that would embody "this was a $30 commercial transaction" to me, I bailed.

Lesson learned: look up signing/autograph costs ahead of time, and remember that there’s a significant difference in such "celebrity guests" and comic creators.

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After 3-4 times around the block, I finally found parking nearby. Then had to stand in the 11am sun for over a half-hour. Which admittedly wasn’t as bad as it initially looked–at first, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be in by noon. Where other conventions would have several lines going–at least at the point of admission itself once you got up there–this one seemed to have one line for pre-ordered tickets and one for on-the-spot/at-the-door, which created a definite bottlenecking effect; as well as only one person checking bags and such (I was thankful my bottle-opener and mini-pocketknife (that I always forget I even have on me til I need it) didn’t raise any alarms.)

Once in, I was handed the ashcan-sized "program" for the con, which included a map of the floor’s layout with where the various creators and vendors were located.

The only actual back-issue purchase I made of the whole show was this Batman/Spawn: War Devil issue…which is itself a "convenience purchase" to have it immediately with my Spawn stuff…I’ll get into that eventually with an upcoming "SpawnQuest" post.

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Where I first walked in, I was greeted by the Toys Time Forgot booth, which was fantastic, as that–with Dirk Manning–was one of my primary "goals" for the show. I got the store-exclusive Hope #3, and signed. While I make no secret of loathing variant covers in general…I find that something like this works as an exception. I haven’t thought too deeply on it, but I think part of it is that it’s not DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, etc. And that it’s SO limited as to be negligible; it’s NOT part of the "marketing" of the title "in general," and that Dirk is present and signing the issues in-person, such that the thing being a ‘variant" is nearly incidental, as it’s another creator-owned title; as a store-exclusive, it’s benefiting a specific retailer, and it’s a great souvenir/artifact of attending a particular event (store signing, or in this case, convention appearance).

I also got my Tales of Mr. Rhee hardcover signed; and Dirk gifted me a glow-in-the-dark pin!

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I’m pretty sure that at this point, Manning is the creator I’ve met most frequently, as he’s local to the region, attends a lot of shows and such, and is such a friendly, personable guy and just great to catch at the various shows. He’s really set a high standard in my book, which I’ve certainly held others up to in a big way.

I went from getting Hope and Tales of Mr. Rhee signed to the panel room to be sure I got a seat for Yost‘s panel.

From that panel, my aim was Mark Texeira and Mark Bagley. I’d spent a couple hours going through my comic boxes the night before specifically to locate my original 1998 Marvel Knights Black Panther #1 to get signed, and had bought a Wolverine issue (to avoid having to dig through boxes) earlier in the week.

Unfortunately…I saw that Texeira was charging for autographs–it looked like $10 each. Which immediately nixed the novelty of it, of spending a couple minutes (if that long) at the table and all. Outside of the likes of Stan Lee, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, I just don’t see paying for autographs!

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So I cautiously made my way onward to Bagley‘s table, and was disappointed to see that he was charging, as well! BUT…then I realized his charging was specific. Signature-only: $10. Personalized: free.

As I’d intended anyway to have them personalized, nothing on my part was changed.

I got The Amazing Spider-Man #375 and Venom: Lethal Protector #1 signed; both being "key" books to ME personally, as a couple of my earliest Spider-Man and Spidey-related comics, and fairly big deals at the time. Though admittedly in 1993, I could not have told you these were Mark Bagley and actually hadn’t even realized the connection when I was getting Ultimate Spider-Man junior and senior years of college.

One of my favorite memories of early Ultimate Spider-Man was the shared enjoyment of the series with one of my best friends. There was something to getting the new issues, reading them, talking about them "in the moment" and the shared enjoyment that went a long way. And I’m pretty sure that was one factor that helped get me into reviewing and eventually blogging, and those few months in particular of it remain a high-level standard unmatched in recent years for me.

My friend had spent some time in Italy one summer for school, and brought back an Italian edition of Ultimate Spider-Man for me. It has the cover image of the U.S. #13, though it has the contents of #s 12 & 13, I believe.

So a gift from a friend from a shared period of shared enjoyment of a series, and signed by the creator…makes that a particularly key, sentimental issue in my collection.

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As I browsed, trying to determine if anyone had any Spawn comics, I spotted a familiar cover…TMNT: A Fishy Adventure. (I detail that book’s significance to me in my 2017 Super Blog Team-Up post on the Mighty Mutanimals.) Seeing that this was in much better condition and without any ex-library junk on it, I stepped in for a closer look and saw that a couple of the other storybooks were also available.

While I’d have been thrilled to have had Fight for the Turnstone and The Magic Crystal present, I was happy to also be able to get Return of the Shredder and The Incredible Shrinking Turtles.

That I was able to get these 3 for a mere $2 total was fantastic! Half the price of a cheap/standard-price comic these days, for 3 long-out of print and (in my experience) rare (especially in such good condition!) storybooks. Definitely the "deal of the show" for me!

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I then made my way back to the "panel room" for Mark Bagley‘s panel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. As someone else suggested when Bagley threatened that we’d just have to listen to him ramble if no one had questions…that’s one thing people enjoy with such panels. Just hearing the creator talk about their experiences and such, in their own words.

After the disappointment regarding bailing on meeting David Yost over the $30-$60 signature/photo op pricing, I ended up taking a 2nd look at a booth with some $6 ea/4-for-$20 books, and wound up getting the deluxe hardcover Marvel: Generations, Marvel Legacy, and Thanos: The Infinity Conflict. I also grabbed IDW‘s Saucer Country. Compared to the all-too-frequent-of-late $6 single-issues from Marvel, these oversized/deluxe hardcovers and OGN would actually BE worth $6/ea, and even better at functionally only $5!

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I then swung back around to Toys Time Forgot and caught Dirk again briefly, and then opted to "pull the trigger" on getting a couple of "exclusive" Pops (and hey, what convention’s complete without buying at least one of these little buggers, the last 8-some years?). I still have my eyes on the Swamp Thing one and possibly Lobo, but decided the TMNT branding meant more to me; especially as I do specifically still want to get Michelangelo, Donatello, Splinter, April, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady if I can ever find them for what I consider reasonable pricing (i.e. NOT $20+ apiece!).

I departed the con from there. Met/got stuff signed by Dirk Manning and Mark Bagley; got to attend the David Yost and Mark Bagley panels…truly "more success than not" for the show, disappointing as it was discovering prices for Texira and Yost and choosing as such to pass on them.


I was yet again not particularly impressed with "dealer stock" for comics at the show. Bargain collected volumes, but those are by and large skinny, non-sequential volumes in a longer series and clearly "overstock" without much in the way of being ‘special’.

Plenty of generic variant covers overstock; and plenty of isolated modern back-issues that (at surface glance/appearance) seem to be overstock and primarily Marvel, with a fair bit of DC. I did manage to find 2-3 instances with some Spawn presence…one of which was that Batman/Spawn issue pictured at the top of this post. It seems that "everyone" that has Spawn stuff at a show has the earliest issues, isolated or as a run; but much past #40 or before #270 is not present.

While it makes sense for dealers to bring overstock to shows to try to get rid of it with people that normally don’t make it to their shops; it’s disappointing for someone like me looking for stuff that isn’t "just" random overstock.

It’s also discouraging when I’m looking for very particular back issues that no one’s "bothered" to bring; while any particular "fun" to serendipity in $1 bins or 3/$1 bins or 50-cent bins is totally lost on realizing that stuff is not sorted in any meaningful way. DC? Marvel? Image? Alphabetical? With so many other people around and also flipping through such bins…and MY knowing darned well that any significant "keys" are NOT going to be in there (especially at a convention) it’s just not worth the hassle (to ME) of riffling through such bins on the off-chance of finding anything "worth" getting.

ESPECIALLY when I’m very specifically interested in particular back-issues (Spawn, cheap X-Men #141, non-shiny Uncanny X-Men #350, shiny Wolverine #145).

I suppose we’ll see what I come across at a couple of upcoming shows if I actually make it to them.

All this said…I’ve now been to 2 of the 3 iterations of the Hall of Fame City Comic Con that I’ve been consciously aware of. And as such shows go, it’s been enjoyable overall. "Too many people" for my preference in a way…yet NOT so many as to have choked aisleways and such.

Employment, finances, and timing-permitting, I’ll very likely attend next year’s show. All the more now having this second instance in my experience, I’ll be that much more ready for a third!

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