Monday, October 15, 2018 • Afternoon Edition • "For when life fails you."

C4: A Comic Con to Remember

Written by The Indie Huntress on Wednesday, June 01 2016 and posted in Features

C4: A Comic Con to Remember

A fantastic Comic Con right in the heart of the Cherry Capital of the World: Traverse City, Michigan. This show was amazing to say the least- indie comics galore and oh yeah... Brian O'Halloran, Bob Camp, and Larry Hama. *sighs dreamily*


Source: Cherry Capital Comic Con

Hello my faithful friends and followers, new and old. I know what you're thinking, "didn't she say she was done with this?" Yes. As a matter of fact I did. BUT I did promise the amazing Mike Akerley that I would come to his convention as press. I try not to break my promises. I am glad I followed through because this convention was INCREDIBLE. I will tell you here and now that this show was/is my favorite that I have attended in the last six years. Since I started going to shows, actually. I hit a few every year of varying sizes. Some big, some small, but nothing like C4. So I am sure you are wondering what could possibly be so special about this show. The first thing that comes to mind is one word: camaraderie.

There are at least 1,000 other words (and probably more) that I could say about this convention and that is the one that I am choosing first. The entire show was clearly built on camaraderie. Nearly all 100 of the vendors/exhibitors/creators/artists in attendance were people that knew each other in one form or another. I believe I personally knew a little over half of the folks tabling. It is something truly special to be able to walk up to each of them, and greet each other warmly with a hug and have authentic conversation for awhile.There is nothing more pleasing to me than to pick up some art prints or new comics, not just because I genuinely get REALLY excited about them- but because it is so heartwarming to see the creators light up because people are thrilled to see their work. And the fans? I don't think you could ask for a greater group of people to come through at a convention. Everyone I bumped into was friendly. I try to engage in casual conversation with random people. Make sure they're having a good time and check out their purchases and make other recommendations based off of their interests. Even though I am certainly not a worker of the show, it is ingrained in me to be that way after years of retail and the past year spent discussing comics and trying to link people together. Independent comics are something that is still and will always be a deep passion of mine.

The volunteers and workers of this show really went over and beyond to make sure that everyone was well taken care of. Water was kept fully stocked for those with tables, jugs of water were available in the main hall for guests, and there was a small food cart around the corner that sold drinks, chips, and hot dogs for dirt cheap ($2 ea.). There was never a time while I was on the floor where I didn't see a volunteer giving a hand to someone. Whether it be a vendor needing a bathroom break, more bags, or a fresh water- someone was there to help them. The convention itself took place in the gorgeous Grand Traverse Resort. A mammoth building that sits on countless acres. They have a large golf course available and within the hotel itself are several clothing and food stores, a toy store, several meeting rooms, pools, and of course ice cream. The convention was able to secure an early rate special of $100-$130 per night if you reserved by the deadline. That figure is impressive for Traverse City, which is home to several beaches and a large tourist area. Every hotel in town sold out for Memorial Day weekend, most of the rates at other hotels ranged anywhere from $350-$599 per night. No word yet on whether they will be able to secure the same rate for next year, as it was their first year at this location, but I have a good feeling they'll be able to. The convention drew over 3,500 people this year. The convention itself is still growing. This was the first year they were able to secure media guests which included: Larry Hama, Brian O'Halloran, and Bob Camp.

c4f bob

Now let me stop there for a moment. THE Bob Camp. Co-creator of Ren & Stimpy. A show that changed my childhood and life forever. How silly, disgusting, rude, and insane was that show? For pete's sake, Powdered Toast Man farted to power himself back into the air, while spreading powdered sugar or cinnamon/sugar onto children's toast. Also, what about the episode where Ren exploited Stimpy and used him to sell wads of spit and fur? He forced Stimpy to lick the hair from men's backs after he had licked off all of his own fur. I remember my dad walking in on me watching that episode. He asked what the hell was wrong with me, and then proceeded to join me in watching. Then I got the, 'don't tell mom' speech and had to cut the grass after. I would go on watching that show well into adulthood and even went as far to find the ultra rare BANNED episodes from a local film dealer that specializes in cult films. So.. when I approached his table and met his fabulous wife, what happens? I am standing less than a foot away from someone that gave me all kinds of weirdness to look forward to. Something that I could relate to. I was always a really strange kid (still am) and am VERY socially awkward. I froze. I stood there goofily and spelled out my name for my autographed print and got all misty because it was something that I always hoped I would get to do, and here I was. In front of someone that gave me many special memories and laughter and I couldn't do anything but stare and say thank you for what he gave to me.

Larry Hama was one cool cat. The owner of my favorite comic shop happened to show up to this convention. He had requested Larry to draw on a baseball (collecting baseballs with original art is his thing) and Larry more than delivered. Not only did Chris get a rad pen sketch, but Larry also offered up several chocolate donuts as well! Admitedly, I am not very familar with his work and vow to fix that. All I know at this point is that he was a big part of G.I. Joe, he served in the military, and is one of the nicest men I have ever met. He made my friend really happy, and that's all that mattered to me. 

chris larry

I moved on from his table. The whole first day that I was there, I walked around making my purchases, killing time until the panel. I was honored when Rob Humphrey (Punching the Clock, Unlawful Good) and Pat Kawula (Digital Nerdage) asked me to moderate the Women in Comics Panel. Honored and terrified. I had never moderated a panel before. I decided to watch some videos on Youtube from other conventions to get an idea of how they worked. I have been to a few panels, but a lot of them were just one person speaking- not several. The very few Women in Comics panels I did find, barely scratched the surface. There were a few from bigger shows but did little to tackle issues that women face in the industry. I did manage to record audio from the panel, but not video. The participants included the brilliant minds of Comfort Love, Corinne Roberts, and Stefani Manard. For it being my first moderated panel, and on one with a lot of angles to tackle- I felt it went well and cannot thank these women enough for joining me.

You can listen to the panel here:

The rest of the first day included several purchases from indie creators. I circled back around to the front in the late afternoon to find Brian O'Halloran. His table was packed when I first came in. So here I was, awkwardly standing in front of a character that I adored dearly: Dante Hicks. I remember the first time I watched Clerks, I was like 11 years old. Didn't really get half of the jokes but thought it was cool. Several years later I would return to that, the second Clerks, Mallrats, and many other Kevin Smith films and grow to love them fiercely. The Clerks Cartoon series was something VERY special. You know it only lasted six episodes before it was cancelled by ABC? That show was too raw for it's time. That is why it was cancelled, (IMO). There was a lot of over the top humor, that during the early 90's- people just weren't ready for that. Or at least, the studio wasn't. It is a shame too. I can tell you that the first time I watched the episodes (reasonably priced box set from Walmart for $20) I nearly pissed myself from laughing. The show was brilliant. The animation was brilliant. EVERYTHING was brilliant. Unfortunately, it was gone way too soon. The print I chose to buy for autograph from Brian was of the Clerks Cartoon. I couldn't help it. I loved it so much. He explained to me that Kevin had tried getting the rights back from ABC, but they simply wanted too much money. It is a shame. I really think that if he were to crowdfund more episodes, people would kick in. I believe in that show, 100%. So Kevin, if you happen to be reading this- please consider trying again. I'm good for at least a fiver.

c4f brian

brian selfoe

Meeting Brian was another dream. I mean. C'mon. It's Brian O'Halloran. He signed my print and in the classic voice of his (and in pen) said, "get to work!" Perfection. Again, like with Bob, I stood there goofily unable to speak. By now, after interviewing so many people you would think I would be past stage fright. No matter. He knew and was so incredibly sweet to me. And again the next day when I walked up and awkwardly asked for a selfie. I must say though, the crowning achievement was the karaoke contest that evening in the panel room. Free tap beer (good local stuff to boot) was available. Hearing Brian belt out War Pigs was something other worldly. That night he wasn't Brian O'Halloran- Dante from Clerks behind a table- he was one of us. Part of the 'con-family', someone we were cool hanging out with. The room was pretty packed with people, and everyone was having a good time. Bob Camp was also present with his wonderful wife. It was incredible. It was a truly magical evening. I *do* have the video of Brian on my Facebook page, but didn't put it on YouTube. In fact, there was a contest held and Brian was named winner for the evening and the show presented him with this trophy:

brian tweet

brian mic

The following day I came back and it was all business on Sunday. It was time to get down and start interviewing people. This is the first time I did video interviews. Armed with only my Motorola Droid Turbo 2 phone and Cannon SLR camera, I set off on a mission to interview some folks- both new and old. I primarily just had people walk about the books they had to offer, some of their technique, advice for other creators, and what they would have comics out for merchandise in the coming year. To that I owe Rob Humphrey a great deal of thanks for introducing me to some new folks. I will tell you that I did not get to every table I was hoping to. I would like to hit more next year, because I tell you there were some incredible people there. A lot of amazing looking books and art. Before we get into the video interviews, there is one book in particular that I was pleased to see. Psychopath #1 from Stefani Manard. Stefani is a blogger, podcaster, social worker, and all around badass woman. This is her first comic that she has released under the name of ScapeGoat Press, a company that she has formed with her best friend Jason Chmielewski.

Stefani  2

It is something truly special what Stefani has accomplished with this book, the first of three in a short series. She started out strong in the beginning, already playing on the depths of psychosis of the mind. The story is about a young boy who is forced into a mental institution as the result of witnessing a crime he wasn't supposed to. He is heavily medicated and even raped by the staff of the ward. Because of the torture he has faced, something snaps within him and he lashes out, slitting throats with busted glass and transforming into someone else completely. Perhaps some of the mind altering drugs he was made to consume aided in that, personally- I believe a person can only take so much before they snap. We may be human, but at the end of the day we are still animals trying to survive. If we need to ward off attackers, then some unsavory means may be necessary. But that is the premise of the book- what does it take for someone to snap? What happens when they do? There are a few panels midway through the book that vividly display the boy having several echoing thoughts, that are causing him to curl up into a ball and shake. You can clearly see that he is struggling within his own mind and trying to overcome it. That's when he snaps. He cannot possibly take the voices of those that harmed him, the flashbacks, the reoccurring thoughts...and that's it. He goes off after that in a display of violence that is truly wicked- yet justifiable. It is powerful. It is horror. Real horror. Why? Because this can happen a lot easier than say a slasher film. And what is more frightening in life than the thought of losing control of one's mind? The creative team for this included:

Stefani Manard: Creator/Writer

Paul Gori: Pencils/Inks

Ramon Hitzeroth: Colors/Digital Cleanup

Ted Woods: Letterer

Each of these people went above and beyond in this book. It is gorgeous visually, and painful to read, as it should be. If horror (especially that of psychological nature) is your thing, please consider purchasing a copy.

WoW-Final-Cover

I did attend Dirk Manning's panel on branding; however, I unfortunately lost the video that I recorded from the panel. It was powerful, though. This is the first time I have attended one of his famous Write or Wrong panels. For those of you that don't know Dirk, he is a king amongst the indie crowd. He has written multiple books and has appeared in even more anthologies. A while back I did a round table discussion article on branding and asked several creators questions about branding. Dirk told me last year that Write or Wrong 2 would put the focus into this more. What made this panel so good, was that Dirk doesn't talk down to people when he is doing his presentation. He lays out the facts and guides you through in a motivating way. He explains that your 'brand' as a creator can be the difference in your career. Are you the person that is seen at all of the after parties and only has one book out? Are you the person that doesn't utilize social media for project promotion but rather for self indulgent pity parties? Those things affect your brand. This is how people liken you. If you are that person, they may withdraw. That is what you will be known for. The person getting lit at a party, rather than the person that has made not one but several comics. You have to consider what YOU want to be known for. If you're happy being the person that was known for those things, and that is your legacy, then that is fine. But if you want to leave your legacy as being the creator of books, then you gotta step up. As he always says, you have to ask yourself two things, "What do you want and what are you willing to do to get it?"

Something else that really stuck with me during the panel was he talked about how several years ago he met Axel Alonso. He told the audience,

So I approached him and talked to him about making comics. I told him that I just KNEW if I had the chance at doing this that I could do it and do it right. But that I didn't have any money. Dirk went on to say that Axel was smiling and nodding, listening to Dirk speak. After he was finished he asked Dirk, "So tell me. Do you like music?" Dirk at the time was a music journalist. Of course he loves music. Axel then asked him, "do you buy a lot of CD's?" Dirk replied, Oh yeah I have all sorts of metal bands.. Axel then cut him off and said, "Oh. So you DO have spare cash?" Dirk said he looked at him and simply said, thank you.

I think that was the one thing, out of everything in that panel that I personally needed to hear. Because that is something I relate to. Not attempting books on my own because of the financing involved, yet I will think nothing of dropping $160 at a convention like this on prints and books. Again, it all comes back to those same two questions, "What do you want and what are you willing to do to get it?" Dirk explained to the audience that not long after that meeting, he chose to get a second job to fund the cost of creating comics. When he had enough built up, he began making Nightmare World. A horror anthology series that would go on to be published as one of the first webcomics available.

Fast forward, sitting in this panel room 12 years later, he was finally able to let go of his second job because the comics he creates are paying for themselves. In fact, his latest trade of The Tales of Mr. Rhee was just funded on kickstarter. It had a goal of $6,666 and raised a total of $23,110. WOW. With that, he was able to put so much back into the pockets of the backers through extras like additional comics, bookplates, and a whopping total of six prints. You got all of these things at no extra charge if you pledged for a hardcover for $30 or more. This is also a part of Dirk's brand. Giving back to his fans and friends. You can hear more about this in his video interview.

Fast forward in the day. I circled around to 11 people to do interviews via video and here they are. I will warn that this was my first time doing video interviews, they were done with a phone, and even though I downloaded editing software- there just wasn't much I could do to snip and trim or reduce noise. So you are getting the essentially, fully live versions. Please enjoy. For your convenience, each person's name is hyperlinked to their website. Simply click their name and it will take you there! 

Interview with Victor Dandridge Jr. :

 

Interview with Ryan Lee:

 

 

Interview with Jeremey Bastian:

 

Interview with Ted Woods:

 

Interview with Tom Savage:

 

Interview with Corinne Roberts:

 

Interview with Dirk Manning:

 

Interview with Jay Jacot:

 

Interview with Dan Dougherty:

 

Interview with Curt Neeb:

 

Interview with Gary Reed:

 

Here are the purchases I made at C4 (you already saw the prints from Bob and Brian)

I know some amazing people and hope to support them for the rest of my days. If you have the chance to meet some of these fine folks, flip through their books and art available. You won't be disappointed. I have included each of their website links. Everything I purchased below- nothing went over $25. The priciest thing I bought was the Rainbow in the Dark saga from Comfort and that came with the Mario print. Support the indie community. They will treat you right. ;) 

Matt Murdock/Daredevil and Bat Girl by Ted Woods. I have to say that this Daredevil piece is something that I wish were much larger. I love all of the pieces I picked up, but this really sings. Ted works in inkwash and is brilliant with a brush. Thank you so much for this, Ted. I will be back to buy more! 

You can find more from Ted here: 

https://www.facebook.com/tedwoodsart/

c4f ted

 

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The complete run of The Samaritan By Victor Dandridge Jr. and Ren McKinze. You can read more about that here: 

http://vantageinhouse.blogspot.com/

 c4f victor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Naturals by Chris Meeuwes and Ryan Lee. You can find out more on this at: 

http://www.thenaturalscomic.com/

 c4f ryan

 Batman Coffee print by Dan Dougherty. You can find more of his work here: 

http://www.beardocomics.com/

c4f dan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out and About, a picture book by Corinne Roberts and a Totoro Print from her as well. I really loved Out and About. It is about a dragon that has tiny wings that don't allow him to fly, but he still roams around- meeting new animals and seeing new places. It is completely done in watercolor. At the back of the book, Corinne takes time to explain her process and show the differences that hues can make. This book was very delightful to flip through and I hope she continues these for a very long time. Totoro speaks for itself- how can you NOT love this piece? You can find more from Corinne here: 

http://www.corinneroberts.net/

 c4f corinne 2

 c4f corinne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rainbow in the Dark by Comfort and Adam and Mario Print by Comfort. You can find more of their work here: 

http://comfortandadam.com/

c4f comfort

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bat Girl print from Bruce Gerlach. You can find more of his work here: 

http://tattooed-sky.blogspot.com/

 c4f bruce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These three cards were purchased from Bill Pulkovski. You can find more of his work here: http://www.billpulkovski.com/

c4f bill 2

c4f bill 3

 

c4f bill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gapo the Clown by Tony Miello. You can find more of his work here: 

http://rocketinkstudios.com/

gapo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, I was able to procure some fantastic items. The show was simply phenomenal. It was what you would call a fan show. Built to be enjoyed by everyone. In the two full days that I spent there, I didn't come across anyone that wasn't having a good time. I look forward to coming back here next year, and the year after that, and the years after that. I'm sold on C4 for the rest of my days. <3 

As always, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter @indiehuntress 







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About the Author - The Indie Huntress


Indie is an on and off again writer for The Outhouse. She fell deeply in love with independent comics a few years ago, and has made that her focus. She loves all forms, types, and styles. She is genuinely excited to see what people have created and admires the passion put into comics greatly.
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