XCon 2010 Wrapup with My Bob Camp Story

Bob Camp at XCon 2010

This year I attended the XCon comic book convention in Myrtle Beach at Springmaid Beach Resort a few weekends ago, as I have for all three years of its existence. I’m told the attendance was the largest so far and on the growth track that one might expect for the third year of a newish regional con. I had a good time myself. This was the longest time I ever spent on the floor, getting there right at when it opened on Friday at 2 PM and staying through about 5 PM or so, and then spending another 5 or so hours on Saturday. It’s one of those things where a convention in the town you already live in is tougher to spend time at than an out of town one. When I go to Heroescon or Dragon*Con, I check into a nearby hotel and basically do nothing but the con. When I go to XCon, I still have all my normal life in play to work around.

There seemed to be fewer of the ultra-cheap comic dealers at the con this year. I do my standard heuristic where I scope out all the boxes, and then dig through the boxes in order of cheapest up. What I do is try to go through each dealer’s bargain bins thoroughly all the way, one time and one time only. It takes a while but going back and forth is a super drag and very difficult to keep track of. Thus, once I’m done I’m done. I did find a fair number of books I was looking for. It’s one of those great feelings in a comic collectors life finding books that were already on your wishlist in 50 cent or 3/$1 boxes.

Dalek at XCon 2010

There seemed to be a lot of gaming around. If I had a little more time to devote to it I would have actually tried to get into one of the games of Fiasco that were being run by Darren G. Miller. I had just read up on the game a few days before the con and then in one of those small town coincidences met Darren when he was talking to one of his friends who is also on my softball team. There was a good bit of buzz around the area with the games being run and a lot of smiling people that seemed to be having a good time. There were lots of costumes, and a thing called “Lolita cafe” that seemed to involve lots of the young women cosplayers and what one dude on Twitter wondered “how this wasn’t getting the whole venue shut down.” I never did venture upstairs to see what it was all about.

I got books signed by local comics pro Jonathan Hickman and chatted to him a little about Thor and Nick Fury, two characters he is currently writing. Over the course of my time, I tried to pick up something from a lot of the pros that had books for sale. I’d guess that I bought a little something from around half the guests at the tables. Generally if the only thing available were higher priced paintings and sketches I passed, but if you had a comic for a few bucks, I got that. I feel a little bad for the media guests every year. I never know who the people are, not many folks are talking to them and I usually just walk past them briskly.

I will have to say that one of the coolest part of the whole deal was the full size Dalek. It had a voice treatment that sounded spookily authentic and moved about like the Daleks in all the Dr. Who shows I’ve watched. I was assuming a dude had a radio control setup with a microphone and I kept looking for it. Eventually I found out there was a guy inside the Dalek. Holy time lords, that is dedication! I can’t imagine actually doing that but I’m a little claustrophobic.

All in all, I had a good time. I heard some of the organizational stuff about 2011 already, and I think they are going to a solid 2 day Saturday/Sunday con and getting rid of the half Friday, which I think is a good move. Overall, I think things are right where you want them to be and progressing nicely. It’s nice to have a local con and especially one that is more relaxing than the heavyweight other Southeastern cons.

So here is the Bob Camp part of the story. He was an inaugural guest at year one, and came back this year. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of Ren and Stimpy, of which he was a co-creator. I like it well enough whenever it was on TV but I never sought it out. Still, he seems like a really great guy and folks who had talked to him report it being really fun. I would have enjoyed that and I was looking for a reason to talk to him.

Bob Camp Sketch from XCon 2010

As I was browsing through some of the magazine boxes (where I found a copy of an old Warren Spirit!), I ran across Savage Tales #5. I remember buying issue #1 when I was a teenager, mainly because of the Michael Golden artwork. As I pulled it out and looked for it, I noticed the signature on the cover painting – Bob Camp. “Hell yeah,” I though to myself and gladly shelled out the $2 for this very nice copy and took it over to Bob’s table to get it signed.

His eyes kind of bugged out when I handed it to him to sign. He said “Wow! I haven’t seen that in years. I did the painting and sold the original, and I don’t even have a copy of this issue. The only scan I have is low resolution and not that great.” My reply was to hand him the copy and tell him to keep it. “I’m not attached to it,” I said. “I’ve only owned it a few minutes.” He felt bad about just taking the magazine so he offered to do a “really nice sketch for me” in exchange for it. I said sure and went off about my business. I gave him some time and came back about half an hour later, and he handed me the Ren and Stimpy pencil sketch to the right. Check out the full-sized scan on Flickr to get a sense of what it really looks like. I really like it. He did not lie, it is indeed really nice.

So, it was neat to have this little exchange with Bob. To be honest, even without him giving me the sketch I would have given him the magazine just for the story of it all. It was a win-win. I got a nice sketch that he was selling for $20 in exchange for a magazine I paid $2 for. He got a copy of his work that he had been missing for 25 years in exchange for a few minutes of drawing time. I got to talk to him and hang out, and he seemed really happy to have the copy to scan. These are the kinds of moments I always shoot for at cons, and it was great to get one at my local show. Rock on, comic nerds!

XCon 2010 – Myrtle Beach’s Comic Book Convention

Starting tomorrow and running through Sunday Oct 24, the 3rd annual XCon comic book convention will be held at Springmaid Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach. The con was the cover story of this week’s Weekly Surge, so hopefully that will help bring some locals in. I did like the cover with it’s Marvel style cover including Steve and Robin as superheroes launching off of Springmaid Pier.

I’ve been to all of them so far and am looking forward to this one as well. It’s a no brainer, occurring in my area as it is. I tend to focus on filling in my wishlist from the cheap comic boxes. Last year there were several vendors with 3/$1 boxes and I’d be delighted to see some more of them this year. I’m also planning on getting a lot of stuff signed by area comics creator Jonathan Hickman. I met him at the first XCon and bought everything he had published at the time, which was mostly his Image work. Since then, he’s come on strong as a hot ticket writer for Marvel Comics. I just recently bought and enjoyed his Ultimate Thor so I’ll be getting that signed and chatting with him about it for sure.

One of the nice things about this con is that its the opposite of Dragon*Con or Heroes Con. It’s growing but still a pretty small regional con. You have plenty of time and room to shop, and lots of chances to talk to and interact with creators. As much as I enjoy those larger cons, they exhaust me with the bustle and size of them. I don’t mind having one at the opposite end of the spectrum in my year as well. Hope I see you there!

Jonathan Hickman on the Marvel Podcast

Even as I get back into buying comics regularly, I’m still learning a lot about the state of the industry as it is today. I used to read the Comics Buyer’s Guide cover to cover ever week for many years. Nowadays I don’t even understand 2/3 of the things Marvel and DC are up to. I’ve been getting Daredevil and Invincible Iron Man because those were two of my favorites as a kid. This weekend I read a year of Daredevil and I have to admit I liked it better than the new Invincible Iron Man series. I really liked issues 1-6, so so on 7, but once this Norman Osborn “Dark Reign” nonsense started, the book immediately began to suck. If it doesn’t pick up soon, I’m dropping it. If Marvel’s big idea is to make their universe such an unpleasant place that I can’t stand to read about it, good luck with that. There are plenty of other comics to read that don’t involve Marvel.

However, I did listen to my first ever episode of the official Marvel podcast with Jonathan Hickman. I’m always interested in Hickman because he’s a homeboy. He lives in Florence SC which is about 50 miles from here. I’ll admit that after listening to him talk about Secret Warriors, I’m going to pick it up. It did sound kind of interesting, even with my general bad taste in the mouth of current Marvel comics.