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.
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.
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!