When I went to C2E2 2020, there were already rumblings about Covid being a bigger problem than people thought. In the airport I saw people starting to cover their faces with masks, and several people were keeping their distance.
I wasn’t worried though. I washed my hands, kept my distance as much as possible, and enjoyed my first major con in too many years to count. It was a good time, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
It was right after that con that the major shutdowns began, and the rest of 2020 was marked by closing after closing, big cons and small cons alike. People were scrambling to get their heads around our new normal, and for a lot of people, it seemed like cons would never return.
Since then I have gotten both my shots (seriously people, the vaccine is safe. I know a lot of people who got it and other than a little upset the next day, we’re all fine). I also now own a lot of masks, a few pair of gloves, and more bottles of hand sanitizer than I know what to do with. So when I got word that my friends were headed to Cincinnati to go to our first con since C2E2 I knew I was ready.
The results: a darn good time for everyone involved. Oh, it was crowded, but people were wearing masks, doing their best not to crowd too much, and generally having a good time. I have all the praise in the world for the organizers, who made sure everyone was wearing masks, and keeping everyone safe. No system is going to ever be 100%, but considering the fear a lot of people still have, I feel confident in saying that if you have your shots, a mask, and are not at high risk, it might be ok to start thinking of going back.
So, having laid that all on the line, let’s get into my review of the con itself. The highs, the lows, and some of the amazing creators and artists I got to meet along the way!
I want to start with this because there are not many, but they are something to think about. For one thing, while most people were masking, there were sadly people who were not following the rules as much as they should, with some people pulling masks down to talk and breath. Again, it was a small minority of people, but if you are worried about getting sick, it’s something to be aware of.
There was also a bit of a dearth of comics, at least, a dearth of the big old longbox filled tables. Don’t get me wrong, there were a lot of people there selling books, and plenty of tables, but for my money, those tables were a bit too few and far between.
Finally, and this is just a personal gripe, cons really need to up their food game. I know, I know, you don’t go there to eat, but as someone who suffers from food allergies, it would have been nice to see more than just a handful of stadium food style options. I know a nice salad might not work for everyone, but still, yeah, just a complaint of my own. Especially since they did not allow outside food and drink, I was a hungry boy most of the day.
But enough complaining!
Oh baby, were there some highs. First off, while I can complain that there were not a ton of comics like in cons past, the comics that were there were fantastic. I saw a lot of beautiful graded books, no doubt due in part to dealers using the time off to clean, press, and mail in stock. A single wall behind one booth easily had a half a million dollars worth of graded gold, so if you’re in the market to buy, that’s something to consider.
The crowd too was pretty positive. With the exception of a handful of people not following the rules, everyone else was on their best behavior. People were polite and kind, and generally respecting each other. Dealers were friends and willing to deal, and I saw a lot of happy boys and girls snag some real treasure for great prices.
And I also got to meet a personal hero, but more on that in a bit.
For me, this is why I love cons. I have a sickness for beautiful art prints, and hands down that is where most of my money will always go. I dropped about $300 on prints in a single day, and regret nothing.
I support small artists, and I support the heck out of those artists who are out there hustling and chatting and getting their work in front of eyes. I really, really enjoy chatting with small, independent creators because they are there for the love of comics and the love of art, and if you want to see happy people talking about their passion, just ask any creator to talk to you about their self published title.
There were three in particular I’d like to shout out for being fantastic to talk to: K. Lynn Smith, Stuart Sayger, and the brothers Lee and Nate Xopher.
K. Lynn Smith is a creator I’ve know the work of for a while. She is close with the owner of my LCS, and so when her first book Hope hit the shelves, she was there on free comic book day signing copies and greeting fans. Since then she has published several collections and her work gets better and better with each book she puts out.
She’s also a legitimately kind person, who was happy to take a few minutes to chat and talk about the work she has coming out. Her latest work, For Goodness Sake, deals with a young man who ends up cursed, and quickly finds his life entangled with a woman who says she can help. It’s a fun read, with lots of twists and turns, and you can pick up the first two volumes on her website KLYNNSMITH.net
The next two artists I spoke with ( bought a lot of prints from) were the brothers Nate and Lee Xopher. Nate and I had a wonderful conversation about the importance of indie comics, and the need to get people breaking out of the DC/ Marvel bubbles they get into. He and his brother also have written a comic together The Wyld!
Here’s the blurb:
Generations ago, the Animal Kingdom fell after the Extinctionary War depleted all the world’s magic. The once peaceful creatures of Metazoa have now returned to the law of the jungle as they fight to survive in The Wyld. Join Rok, Ari, Juna, and Tekos on a fantastic journey to stop the insect queen Vespa from reigniting the spark of magic for her own insidious vendetta.
Nate and Lee’s art was a big hit with my friends and me, and I know I dropped at lot at their table. I’d highly recommend you get yourself over to their page and check out what they’re doing. You can find their prints, and their self publish book here .
And then there was Stuart Sayger.
What to say about this art. Every person I went with had to pause and just stare at what he had created. As a big fan of The Princess of Mars, I had already seen, and purchased a few of his Dejah Thoris covers before, but he broke out the good stuff for me and hooked me up with some legitimate gold.
You see, Morgan Lofting was at the con. You’d know her as the voice of many, many classic female cartoon characters, but for me, she’d always be the Baroness. Stuart had done a handful of fantastic G.I. Joe covers, and when he heard I was hunting for something for Ms. Lofting to sign, he broke out a 14x 24 print of his wraparound cover to G.I. Joe #252, an image I had only seen parts of but now got to witness in all it’s glory. He told me to take it to her to get it signed first, and then he would do his best to make sure his signature matched.
Well Ms. Lofting loved the print and spoke very, very highly of the art and artist. That print is legitimately my biggest high from the con, and moments like that, meeting artists you love and childhood heroes, is what comic cons are all about!
You can check out more art and art prints from Stuart Sayger at his website www.stuartsayger.com. Get over there and spend some money! Help support these self published authors and artists or we won’t have them anymore! Covid hurt the comic industry bad, and a lot of these people rely on cons to not only make money, but to get their work in front of people’s eyes. We all need to do our part to help these artists out and make sure they have a future in this industry.
So that’s it from me for now. I’m hopefully going to be able to start hitting up some more cons in the future and I’ll let you all know how they go. If they are as good as this con was, I think the rest of 2021 and 2022 are going to be a lot of fun!