Preface:Since 2007, the Boston Comic Con was the comic book show at which Jay Kennedy, Fat Cat Funnies, and I were raised. We took plenty of criticism, formed relationships, and deferred most praise. We grew as creators, members of the industry, and as people in the process. Jimmy, Jackie, and company made an environment in which young artists, like me, could be a part of the comics-event which bore our City’s name. I first want to thank them for nine years of great memories. Cheers!
[SIGNING COPIES OF THE TICK COMICS AND PRINTS AT THE NEW ENGLAND COMICS IN QUINCY and DOING A COUPLE OF SKETCH COVERS]
Jay Kennedy, Hannibal King, and I worked very hard to deliver new books and original art in time for this year’s convention. It took up most of our free time for several months prior to the show. This year, I also did the exclusive cover for New England Comics’ ‘The Tick’ Boston Comic Con Exclusive and contributed to Josh Dahl’s ‘Artists Alley: Boston poster project (which is a fun idea that artists should look into on Facebook).
[THIS YEAR I TOOK A SHOT AT GOING COMIC-HEAVY INSTEAD OF ART. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE THAT HELPED ME GET ANY AND ALL OF THESE DONE (FOR AXE: THANK YOU QUENTIN, FRANKIE, PAT, HANNIBAL, TONY, CAMILLE, ERNIE, RICH AND JOE!]
[JOSH DAHL'S ARTISTS ALLEY POSTER FOR THE 2016 BCC]
This year, load-in had to be done on Thursday. I worked a half-day at my day job office, and went home after that to meet Jay. He picked me up; we loaded our inventory, banners, and the rest of our junk into the Jaymobile and went to the venue. Jimmy and Jackie greeted us in person at the gate with the annual smiles and handshakes. We got our badges and wristbands from the young Shaws and found our booth towards the back corner of Section D.
[A MOSTLY SET UP TABLE--GOT NEW BANNERS FOR THE FRONT.]
Traditional first day of Boston Con Formula:
Super Early+Jay Driving+Ian’s Kick-Ass Egg Sandwiches+Coffee+Dio=Good Start
Friday started in the traditional way. My egg sandwiches this year were with sharp cheddar, sun dried tomatoes, and over-medium eggs on toasted deli rolls. After setting up the last of our booth, I walked around getting a variant cover to AXE OF HELLENA signed by the creative team in attendance (Hannibal King, Pat Broderick, Rich Woodall, Tony Sedani, and myself). Books were signed, so we prepared for the opening of the show.
Friday was great! It took a couple of hours for all of the people to get in and make their way to Artists Alley but, after that, it was very good. I was at the NEC booth for two hours on Friday signing Tick comics. I was probably there a bit too long, but I wanted to support them as much as possible for giving me that cover.
I made my way around to see some people after the NEC signing. I saw Fred Hembeck and his lovely wife, Lynn. We’d met at Baltimore a couple of years back. He agreed, then, to do a piece for the next issue of AXE OF HELLENA. He finished it at home and brought it with him. It’s spectacular!
[Fred is DEFINITELY known for his dark and brooding portrayals of modern superheroes. This seemed appropriate.]
I caught up a bit with Jennie Wood (Flutter, Boy Like Me), John Yuskaitis (Boots and Pup), Joe St. Pierre (New Zodiax), Jim Savard (Hellion), Mark Willis (Indie Comics Review), Bob Shaw (Comic Art House), Rich Woodall (Kyrra), and the rest of the Boston-area core group that I'd known for years. I met a young man named Zachary at a Silver Moon Comics signing a while ago, and he was at this show displaying his comics for the first time (Toxic Bull Comics—best of luck, it’s a tough road! Keep at it!).
I did some fan stuff that day. Howard Chaykin made an appearance, so I asked him some questions. I had him sign a copy of his new book ‘Midnight of the Soul’ and the old Nick Fury/Wolverine Graphic Novel. Art Adams was at the next table over, so I had him sign my first comic, the 1991 Marvel Holiday Special. Both of them were very nice, and took the time to talk shop a bit.
[John Y., Jennie, Me]
Friday night I had dinner with John Yuskaitis. He cut back his convention appearances this year, so I was really happy to spend some time hearing about what he’d been up to. I had the Portobello mushroom tacos. The company was great, but I had to be ready for action at the DRINK AND DRAW.
Side Note: The Drink and Draw at the 2016 GEM CITY COMIC CON was the most fun I’ve ever had at an after-con event. Great people, great food, and the atmosphere was totally charged with creative energy. I made new friends there and, without that event, I would have never gone back to another Drink and Draw. There were some negatives to the BCC Dink and Draw.No art supplies were provided. In addition to our time, we had to use our own gear. There were some canvases and easels in the front, but we were not allowed to use them in favor of artists that will, “make them more money.” It was unfortunate, but not unexpected.
I went in by myself, but I texted Pat and Pat Broderick on the way. I didn’t see anyone I knew and there were ‘RESERVED’ signs on many of the tables. I ran into Jackie, and I asked him, “Where can I sit? All the tables are reserved.”
He said, “Sit anywhere you want, Ian! You’re the King here.” With that, I just picked a table, and set up shop in the back. I took out my own pad and supplies and got to work on a TMNT piece.
[Ben Bishop and I]
Ben Bishop came by and we sat together for a bit. We’d met in 2008 at an early Boston Comic Con, but we never really had the opportunity to get to know one another. We were both in Volume 14 of the IDW TMNT comics. He does fantastic work, and he seems like a really great fellow. I was really happy that I got to know him a little bit better (congrats again on the whole marriage thing!). He’s going places, and I recommend you check out his work.
[Pat Broderick working on a Doom 2099 piece for the auction]
The Pats Broderick came down a little bit later. We spent the next couple of hours drawing and sharing tales of comics past. The Brodericks are wonderful people. All the while, Pat drew a fabulous DOOM 2099 pinup to donate to the auction (with my art supplies). Drink and Draw wrapped for me shortly after the Brodericks went back to their Hotel. I stayed to finish my Ninja Turtles pinup. It eventually sold in the auction for $75.
[TONY AND I DID SOME MORE JAMS! THESE ARE ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS TO DO AT A CONVENTION!]
[WE KEPT IT PRETTY SERIOUS AT THE NEC BOOTH.]
[AT THE NEC BOOTH WITH TONY SEDANI]
Saturday had ups and downs. More books sold, I did a few commissions, and I spent an hour at the NEC booth. One highlight was Jay trolling a photographer that was being creepy. He appeared to be only photographing women in costume, and he was definitely not asking each of them for permission (The following is an approximation of the exchange from the recollections of Jay and I combined).
Jay: Hey man, what you doing?
Photographer: Taking photographs.
Jay: You want to check out my books?
Photographer: (while continuing to take photos): I’m not here to buy anything.
Jay: Then why are you here?
Photographer: To take PHO-TO-GRAPHS.
Jay: Why is that?
Photographer: It’s my art. Aren’t you just happy doing your art, even for free?
Photographer: What? Why do you do it then?
Jay: CASH! To get PAID HOMES!
All the time this was going on, the cosplayers had made their way to somewhere away from this guy, and he was forced to leave and chase some down. Well done, Jay. It was very funny.
[ADAM WARLOCK! YES!]
[My friend, Kels, killing it as Captain Britain!]
I didn’t buy much at the show (I spent all my money making new books, paying artists, etc.). I did get a couple more books signed on Saturday. I finally met Ken Lashley. When I was a kid we didn’t have a ton of money to buy comics. One birthday my big present was a copy of X-Men/Exiles #0 signed by Ken Lashley and the writer. It was my first autograph, and I followed his work ever since. I tried to meet him at other shows, but it never worked out. This time, I stood in line, and when I shared the story of the book, he was really cool about it. It was a very nice exchange that was many years in the making.
[George O'Conner - Writer and Publisher of Homeless Comics]
Towards the end of the day, I met up with George O’Conner (Homeless Comics) and Griffin (Ess), and we had dinner together at the No Name restaurant. We talked about the con, projects, and the usual stuff. We all live relatively close, but I wish we saw more of one another than we actually do. The meal was excellent and the company was very nice.
Sunday began fine. Things were slower, but it was business as usual. We worked on some sketches at the booth. It was the start to another great Sunday.
[A fantastic gift from Pat. I had him sign the inside of it for me.]
[A photo of Pat, Pat, myself, and Camille]
[Pat Broderick, Pat Broderick, Joe St. Pierre, Hannibal King,and Camille.]
Around lunch, my neighbor, Jennie, handed me a piece of paper and asked, “Did you see this?” I hadn’t. It was a renewal form for tables next year with another management company for the show. The sale of Boston Comic Con was confirmed. The day-of discounted price for Artists Alley was over $400 per table. We talked in the alley, but I decided to go to the source.
My wife, Camille, and I went up to the booth and asked questions professionally and directly. They informed me that the vendors only had to leave a deposit, while artists had to pay in full. I offered a larger deposit than the vendors were required, and they said, “Sorry, no. It’s policy.” Other statements from folks around the information table included, “It’ll sell out quick,” and, “The price is going up after 5 pm, today.” Nothing was said about anything positive about next year’s show. In fact, according to the paperwork, the operating hours for next year's show were going to be reduced.
I could only reply, “OK, then… Well… No, thank you.”
These forms were dropped on us halfway through the last day of the event. People were furious. I was upset, but I was more disappointed that Boston Comic Con was probably over as we knew it.
For any show:
I expect an annual increase in cost.
I expect at larger shows renewal forms to be passed out on the last day.
I was asked by a staff member, “Well, then, how would you have handled it?” One of two ways:
Announce it before the show to the vendors and artists on the mailing list (a list that was used for months for numerous informative and sales-related information) to allow them/us to plan for the changes.
OR you let Boston Comic Con 2016 end like each previous one. Don’t do the renewals for Artists Alley on Sunday. Announce it formally afterwards-via formal press releases and use the email mailing list.
The cold and corporate treatment from the staff exacerbated my suspicions. It’s a small community, filled with wonderful people and dedicated professionals. I will repeat that, for my fellow non-Marvel and non-DC artists: PROFESSIONALS.
I’m not saying that I won’t end up there in some form next year. It just won’t be the same, and the new management and I have definitely started off on a bad foot. They told us that they would email us updated availability and costs which, as of September 1st, had not yet happened.
I don’t blame the previous owners for how things were handled on Sunday. I was thrilled for them to make whatever sum of money they made. They worked their asses off for a very long time. The amount of garbage that they put up with from petty, small, overly-dramatic people over nine years of running Boston Comic Con is indescribable. They made an event that I am and was proud to have been a small part of. Thank you guys! While this year was wonderful, with the uncertainty ahead, I am obligated to describe the 2016 Boston Comic Con as bittersweet.
[JAY KENNEDY, HANNIBAL KING, AND ME]
To not end on a bad note, here are some of our earliest memories from the Boston Comic Con. These are from 2007 and 2008. I had books from my college gigs at Midgard Comics, and Fat Cat Funnies was just beginning.
[The above poster is the only BCC poster that I don't have. If somebody has one that they wouldn't mind selling, drop me a line!]
[In 2007, Carmine Infantino was featured on the poster, and my copy is only signed by him. Beginning in 2008 and going through 2016, I got my poster signed by pros and alley neighbors alike. 2008 Highlights: Bernie Wrightson, Paul Ryan, Peter Laird, Bob Almond, Mark McKenna, a young Ben Bishop, and many others.]
[Based on the books, I believe this was a 2008 show]
Boston Comic Con was the right show at the right time in my aspiring comics career. I haven’t gotten to where I want to be yet, but I would’ve never gotten this far without it. Comic-On!