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Skid Marks: Mid-Ohio Con 2009!!!

Written by Zenguru on Sunday, October 11 2009 and posted in Columns

Read about my misadventures in Columbus!

High points:  Meeting artists like Fred Hembeck, Scott Kolins and Arvell Jones.  AND DEADFETT!!!

Low points:  Traffic, parking, walking a frickin' half mile from said parking, accidents, and detours.

Really low point:  Starlord did not attend......:+(

Okay, I shed some tears because Starlord wasn't able to attend this year.  Which is double bad, since I was supposed to meet him at last year's show.  So maybe this is his revenge for me being a cheap bastard.  But I did get to meet DeadFett, so the show wasn't a total loss.  More on that later.

On with Mid-Ohio Con 2009!

The trip to Columbus was uneventful.  I found my way there easily enough for one who had not been that way since 2007.  A lot of the landmarks were still pretty much the same.  Zanesville Pottery was at the same place.  The Adult Video Superstore is still off exit 193 on I-70.  And Love's Gas Station is still at exit 160.

If you've never been to a Love's Gas Station, go there.  It's an experience.  You can get EVerything there.  You can even take a shower.

Here's where the day sucked a little bit.  When I got to the hotel, I parked in the garage, went up and down in the elevator, and saw empty space on every floor.  No sign of the show anywhere.  Where the heck was it?  I learned, after about a half hour of wandering, it was on the extreme other end of the complex.  About a half mile away.  I lugged my full shortbox of comics over a series of stairs, walkways, and ramps.  Thank God there was an escalator about halfway.

Not surprisingly, I was exhausted by the time I bought my ticket.  I thought I'd never get there.  I didn't even see any signs for the show until I was a quarter mile in.  But I was there, goddammitt.  Everything had to come up roses after that.

And they did......sorta......

Since it was Sunday, I knew I had to rush to get autographs.  I had to get them done quickly because I knew some of those guys liked to leave early on the last day of a show.  So the first guest I walked up to was Fred Hembeck. 

Damn, but I've loved his doodly cartoons my entire comic reading life.  Especially that kooky self-cariacature he always did.  I was expecting him to look somewhat like it.  Without the swirly things on the knees, of course.  But he looked nothing like it!  Still, there he was.  Gray hair, short beard, glasses, a nametag that read "Fred Hembeck", and a Hawaiian shirt that would make George Perez squint.  He kinda looked how Corey Haim's Lucas would look all grown up.  Minus the butterfly net.

As I approached, he was working on a sweet Jack-of-Hearts drawing on one of those Secret Invasion sketch variants.  To his right, I saw a couple Hembeck Omnibuses for sale.  Y'know, the Nearly Complete Omnibus that's over 900 pages of Hembeckity goodness?  It's frickin' ginormous!  I wanted one.  And I only saw two on the table.  And I couldn't afford to carry one of those things around all day with my box so full and my car being a relative parsec away.  Fred assuaged my worries by pointing to the boxes of Om-nom-nom-nomibuses below the table. 

Fred promised there would be plenty left as the day went on.  He assured me he wasn't leaving early.  He said he'd be there to the bitter end.  I said "Don't you mean the fun end?"  "Of course," he said.  "What was I thinking?"

Next up was Scott Kolins.  I just had to get this man to sign his Solomon Grundy books.  I can't remember the last time I liked a miniseries this much.  Heck, I can't recall the last time I cared about the character this much.  Scott Kolins had made Solomon Grundy cool.  Not an easy task with a character many may have seen as a second rate Hulk.

When I met Chris Giarrusso, I told him he must be a big fan of Calvin & Hobbes.  He said he was more of a Peanuts fan.  But he did admit to liberating the triangular mouth on his Mini Marvels characters from the esteemed Bill Watterson.

A table or two down from Chris was Mark Sumerak.  Mark who?  I know.  His name sounds like that purple cabbage I see in the produce section in my grocery store.  He may be a little known Marvel writer, but he's up and coming.  I first saw his stuff in the What If: Fallen Son one-shot.  His latest is the just released Hulk Team-up.  And if you haven't read Hulk Team-up #1, do so.  It's enjoyable.

Mark looked like an All-American guy with a wavy mop of light brown hair.  He had a big smile and was really enthusiastic about being there.  As he signed my Hulk Team-up, he encouraged me to also get it signed by Michael Golden.  Until then, I hadn't realized Golden had drawn the cover.

Mr. Golden was sketching at his table.  He had a sign that he'd be signing around noon.  As it was then about 11:30, I told him "I'll be here."  He said "I will look for you, sir!"

So I head over to Len Wein's table.  I see a gray-bearded man with a cowboy hat sitting in a chair.  I had a huge stack of comics for him.  "The first five are free" he told me, as his eyes popped out.  "I charge a dollar a book after that."  Well, I had 25 books, and I came all this way.  $20 wasn't too much to put out.

Another guest I had a lot of books for was Marv Wolfman.  I guess he could have charged.  But instead, he allowed others to cut in line after signing portions of my stack.  He did this until my stack ran out.  It didn't piss me off.  I thought that was rather ingenious.  Instead of setting a limit, or turning me away, he implemented a solution that pleased everybody.  I got all my comics by him signed, so I'm not complaining.

I'd only met Wolfman briefly once before, at Mid-Ohio Con 2002.  That show was rather busy and I didn't have as much time as I wanted to talk to him or other guests back then.  But I got to hear him talk at length this time.  And his voice just screamed New York at me.  He could seriously double for Mike Meyers on Saturday Night Live's Coffee Talk.  I mean, Cawfee Tawlk.  Sorry.

Then I told Bernie Wrightson that House of Mystery was one of the best books out there.  And that I'm gradually moving more towards Vertigo and non-superhero books because I'm just getting fed up with them.  He almost imperceptibly nodded and said he didn't really care for superheroes.

Right next to Wrightson's table was Todd Nauck.  Mr. Young Justice himself.  His line was kind of a wait.  He was doing sketches, but no waiting list.  Meaning he wouldn't let people drop off stuff.  You wanted a sketch, you waited in line for it.  And paid $30, but it was worth it.  I didn't get a sketch, but I didn't mind waiting and watching him do a couple.  He was very friendly.  Before signing anyone's books, he always introduced himself and asked your name.  Kinda made me like family for being there.

By this time, it was nearing 12:30.  A little after, actually.  So I hot-footed it over to Golden's table.  I only had a couple books, but it was likely the only time I was going to be able to catch him all day.  "See?" I said.  "I returned as promised."  "Yes you did.  And you carried out that promise with great efficiency."

After that, I bagged a few more guests on my list:  Mark Texeira, Keith Pollard, Jacob Chabot, and inker Joe Rubinstein.  I had quite a revealing little talk with him.  But I think I revealed more about me than he did about himself.  I had never met Joe Rubinstein.  I didn't know what to expect.  As I walked up to his table, I witnessed a diminuitive and very muscular bald man.  First thing I thought was, Puck from Alpha Flight on steroids.  Except taller.  As he signed my Firestorm #1 (from 1978), I said that DC really screwed up Firestorm.  Sorry folks, but Ronnie is the one, true Nuclear Man.  And somehow, I got to berating Didio for pissing off Chuck Dixon and making him leave DC.  Joe seemed to agree with this, but he also said that people like Didio have the unfortunate task of making unpopular decisions.  So I relented and now I hate Didio a little less because of Joe Rubinstein.

Hear that Didio?  Now hire this guy back pronto.  Do it or I will put peanut butter in your socks.

Well, my last guest of the day was Arvell Jones.  Arvell Jones had been on the guest list several times before, but had been unable to attend those times.  He was here this year.  Of course, it was the year I didn't have anything for him to sign.  I managed to score a few All-Star Squadron from a dealer for real cheap, though.  As he signed my stuff, he told me stories of how it was to work for Roy Thomas on those issues of All-Star Squadron.  Stories that he gregariously delivered in an almost Cosby-like manner.

Roy Thomas, Arvell told me, was notorious for being late with plots and scripts.  Arvell would show up at DC looking for a plot.  Characteristically, Roy was running late with it.  He told Arvell to draw 4 or 5 pages of a fight between somebody.  It could be anybody.  Or sometimes he would say "Use anybody you like from the time except this guy or that girl" or something like that.  Then Roy would add dialogue to the fight pages and splice them in with the finished script. 

Here's an example of the effect this had on the books.  My copy of All-Star Squadron has art credits shared between Mike Clark and Arvell Jones.  The first 20 or so pages are all Mike Clark.  The very last page, and only that page, is Arvell Jones.  It shows Captain Marvel flying towards Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Green Lantern Alan Scott in a very angry manner.  As if a fight is about to start.  And it does in #52.  Arvell had expected that page to begin ASS #52.  Yet Roy used it as an epilogue to set up the next issue's events.  It was a haphazard way of doing things, but that was the way Roy Thomas worked.

I thought that was very cool.  Sort of a behind the scenes of one of my favorite books when I was a kid.  I really always wondered why they had two or more people share the chores on the book.  Especially when, on other books, it only took ONE person to get them done.  But I was 14 or 15 back then and not too concerned with comic book politics.

So after I left there, I thought my day was over.  Starlord wasn't there.  I had yet to meet DeadFett.  I kinda remembered what he looked like from his pictures, but there were a lot of people there.  It wasn't until I passed this guy carrying a Dead Pool print that I came up and said "Excuse me.  Is your name Tony?"  He said "Yeah" with a get-ready-to-run-away-from-this-freak look on his face.

I screamed "DEADFETT!!!!!!"

He introduced me to a couple of his buddies who were there with him.  I related my parking woes.  He said he walked a half-mile, too.  But HE had FREE parking.  He musta saved all those quarters for the Dead Pool print.  *Nyuk nyuk*

We talked about Ryan Reynolds and the Dead Pool movie and other comic stuff.  Whenever we got to a bit of news that he liked, he pumped his fist and had a little fan-gasm on the spot.  Nothing that fell on the floor, though.

Alas, he too was saddened that Starlord was unable to attend the show.  It just doesn't feel like a gathering of Outhousers unles there's at least three of us present.  But as good as it was finally meeting him, I had to go my separate way.  I had three hours of driving ahead of me.  DeadFett said he was going out to eat at Hooters.  He grinned and nodded his head as he said that.  Which told me he had more on his mind than just chicken wings.

Then I made the half-mile trek back to my car, shelled out $9 for parking, and I was on the road.  Willie Nelson notwithstanding, I couldn't wait to get back home again.

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About the Author - Zenguru

Zenguru has been an Outhouser since the days it was blue. He's the Rick Jones of The Outhouse. Not always in the mansion, but always around in a pinch. Just don't pinch too hard, okay? He's written a few articles, notably $k!d M@rks, and has published several books of poetry. Lately, he's been writing poems and fiction about diners. He's been reading comics since the mid-70's. He dreams of one day traveling between dimensions to be Jonah Hex's sidekick.

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