A Comic Convention by the shore. Sounds like a weird nerd romance fan fiction, and in reality it is the best of both worlds. The sunny warm weather, a gathering of cosplayers, boardwalk food, and the nerds getting a good airing out in the salty air.
Asbury Comic Con is a 2 day convention that gathers a mix of local artists and over 50 special guest in the comic industry. The convention was held in the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel and was evenly spaced out for many attendees to roam about, but boy did some selections generate heat. I think there has to be some credit given to the vendors and fans that are willing to withstand either waiting in a hot line just for an merchandise or a signature, or be that vendor that is stuck in a heat wave while trying to be a professional.
My journey into the con didn’t start with a slow build up, in fact the first thing I did was walk into the second floor to go check out the Comic-book Men table. However, I was distracted because one of my favorite movie characters happen to have a stand right next to the Comic-book Men‘s. Brian O’Halloran, the man of many Hicks, star of Clerks and Vulgar, was coming back from a lunch break and was nice enough to let me snap a few pics with him.
After the initial geeking out subsided, I headed outside to the food trucks to see what they had lined up. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but when I am hungry it doesn’t take much to grab my attention. Enter the Empanada Guy.
Literally, there was a guy that sold empanadas and he wanted you to know he wasn’t fucking around. He wants you to get addicted to his fried goodness.
Outside the grounds of the hotel, there was a selection of geek related vehicles parked. There was a replica of the Ecto-1 based on the Ghostbusters 2 model, the Tim Burton Batmobile and Green Hornet’s car, The Black Beauty.
I headed back inside to see the Chris Claremont panel, where he would be talking about work on Uncanny X-men, The Avengers, and that time he worked on that “Ms. Marvel Magic Baby Incident“. Chris Claremont’s time at Marvel is the reason we now have like 6 X-men movies coming out. Most of the awesome story arcs of the X-men comics came from Chris’s writing to get the X-men to do more awesome adventures, or added more characters that can do more than punch really fast. You have a favorite classic to mid 80’s X-men? Cool, you have Mr. Claremont to thank for that. It would be easier to list the characters that Chris didn’t help create.
After the panel, I wandered off to do some comic shopping. I did find a good deal on all 6 issues of Venom: Lethal Protector. I never had the complete set of these comics, and it wasn’t exactly an important milestone in the Venom history. Venom: Lethal Protector was a mini series that helped hype up the post Maximum Carnage arc of Spider-man and lead into the Separation Anxiety story. It was still worth owning because it was a complete set and I really enjoyed the artwork. As an anti-hero, there’s something menacing and cool about a huge muscle bound Venom, grinning with an endless set of sharp teeth.
If you notice in that pile are two issues of Ren & Stimpy. Well, another special guest that I managed to meet was Bob Camp, the co-creator of Spümcø and a giant influence on a lot of 90’s childhood. He has worked on the ThunderCats, Tiny Toons, The Real Ghostbusters, Ren & Stimpy, and GI Joe. I actually missed him at the 2013 New York Comic Con, and was hoping to run into him again at that event (Which is like 6 months away). But I finally had the chance to get a few minutes to speak to one of my cartoonist heroes. I got a signed copy of the Ren & Stimpy issue 6, where Spider-man fought Powered Toast Man. Now this comic was blending two of my favorite characters together and it blow up my tiny kid world at the time. I am a huge Spider-man fan. I am a huge Ren & Stimpy fan. 6 year old Chris was excited to own such a comic that fused two way different characters into a single event. 26 year old Chris lost his mind to meet the man that helped get that event created and have him signed that same comic.
On the opposite table from Bob, was Jim Steranko‘s booth. He’s area was presenting his artwork using many famous comic characters, but the ones that caught my eye was the selection featuring The Shadow. Steranko’s a legend in the comic industry, his artwork really does tell a whole story in one panel. Also, his hair is amazing. I asked to take a photo of it, but I got a not surprising “No”.
On my way out of the con, I stopped by the Exit Zero booth, a comic that follows a series of characters that try to survive a zombie apocalypse while in New Jersey. It’s neat to see a zombie scenario based in New Jersey, we already have famous roadways and traffic, why not add zombies to the mix.
Nearing the end of the con’s day, the vendors were closing shop, the fans were filtering out, and was clutching my new treasures like they were gold. Any large convention event would had an intense atmosphere of pushy vendors and loud nerd fact fights. I guess the scenery and the general mellow attitude of Asbury helped claim people. Now the beach traffic that follow the con, that’s definitely another whole other experience.
Some quick shots from wandering around the place: