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Convention Field Report

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Sunday, June 10th: warm, a light breeze and the day of yet another of Sacramento’s annual comic conventions at the Scottish Rite Center in College Town. Only the second one this year. Or is it the third? They’re getting fewer and farther between. I preferred the every-two-months format. Maybe this is a better set up; it definitely built the anticipation in me to where I seriously would have regretted missing the show.

The fact that it’s not as big as it used to be has created a familiar, intimate atmosphere that I’ve come to appreciate. Even with the inclusion of what I once thought of as an intrusion - the many card based tournaments. I had some misgivings about them taking over floor space, as well as twisting the comics and collectibles theme of the convention. Thankfully, the tournaments have never gotten in the way and are barely noticeable.

Parking too is never a problem, even in the early hours when the lot is shared with patrons of the church across the street. My brother and I found a space right up front. Getting out of our car, we spotted a young man in the distance dressed as a samuri. Or possibly a Jedi. His color scheme matched that of Venger, the main bad guy from the eighties classic Saturday morning cartoon Dungeons & Dragons. Anybody remember that one?

I’m not quite sure what that guy was doing. There was a nice breeze outside but not enough for what he was wearing. He did these trippy moves with his arms, and darted down the sidewalk. He disappeared behind a tree, but was back to his original spot in no time. He looked antsy and may have been talking to himself. For a moment I thought he might be an employee directing traffic into the parking lot. It’s also possible he thought this was one of those bigger conventions where lots of other people get dressed up, only to discover he was the only one. A short time later a car stopped to pick him up. He seemed eager to leave. Or to go home and change.

Whatever the case, I sure as hell didn’t want him anywhere near me. Getting inside was priority no. 1. Admission is $4.00. Very affordable and made cheaper still with a dollar-off coupon from the convention’s website. If that isn’t a deal than I don’t know what is.

The floor plan has stayed much the same since when I began attending in ‘91. The only major difference is that the special guests’ tables have been moved up front to accommodate the many tournaments. It’s a much better arrangement that shows a respect for the guests more than spreading them all over the room would have.

Between the two entrance doors is the table reserved for the auction. All proceeds are donated to Loaves & Fishes. Amongst the other items I recall seeing at least two very impressive paintings. Dave McKean drew and donated one; the large, framed poster. Dave also painted the Black Orchid mini-series about ten years ago and regularly contributed to DC’s Vertigo line of comics. On the same table is a place for flyers. The very same place I was able to lay the many business card promos I printed for the Jazmaonline site. I sure hope these things are paying off.

To give you an idea of the size of the room, there are a total of four aisles up and down, one across the front and one across the back. Each aisle is about seven to eight feet wide. There’s more action up on the stage (more tournaments) and a concession stand in back. Unlike the WonderCon, beverages were actually affordable. Soda was a mere fifty cents. Turns out I would need more than one drink before the evening’s end.

This convention was hot. The hottest of all I’ve been to. Not hot as in “great fun for all.” Hot as in “will someone please turn on the air conditioner!” I like to walk the aisles once before buying. This way I get an idea where everything is. For the first four or five minutes I was fine. At six, I was all but on fire. I had to buy a comic just to fan myself. It could have been crap like the first issue of Superman vs. Terminator. I didn’t care. I needed relief from the thick, hot air.

I don’t know if it’s the energy crisis, or that it’s just flat out cheaper to have the air off. Whatever, it was unbearable. After less than twenty minutes I was ready to split; too annoyed to care about talking to any of the guests or buying comics. I even asked Ron Lim what he thought and he said the air was uncomfortable. The fact that drinks were so cheap is all that kept me from leaving. I got a Dew for half a dollar, but had to drink away from the tables. I didn’t want to ruin any rare copies of Action Comics #1.

In time the doors were closed, and the AC switched on to a tolerable degree. I decided to stick around after all. However, I was too soured from the whole thing to get back into the necessary mindset. The still lingering humidity really changed my usual convention buying habits. Whereas I normally scour the twenty-five cents boxes, I decided to search only those that were clearly marked for content. Regardless of the prices. This way I didn’t have to move around so much and I could do less work.

The guests were Brandon McKinney, Ron Lim, and Chris Marrinan. A couple days ago I visited Brandon’s website and discovered some Star Wars original artwork for sale. Even in its simplicity, and maybe because of it, his is some of the best Star Wars stuff I’ve seen. In an e-mail I asked him to bring three pieces in particular that I’d be able to purchase at the show (minus postage, Whoo-hoo!). This inspired him to bring all of his SW stuff. Up close and in person the drawings are even more impressive. I ended buying six altogether, all of them signed and at a great price.

In addition, Brandon was selling issues of his Journeyman mini-series: Star Wars big-little books: Elfquest and Lord of the Rings prints. I mentioned seeing him at the Oakland WonderCon in April. I argued that he may have had the best seat in the house. Across from the Playmates. He expressed his regret in not saying hi to any of the movie and tv stars. He’s not scheduled to appear at the Broadway Comics signing (which may have already happened depending on when this is printed). I’d guess because he doesn’t live in Sacramento. But Brandon did say he’d be local within a month and that he might pop in.

Ron Lim was present to promote his new comic book with Tom DeFalco, Randy O’Donnell is the Man. A story of how “the average guy suddenly become[s] a distant world’s greatest defender”. Ron was also giving away posters and signing any of his past work for free. As was the case when a woman brought him six issues of the same comic. Six signatures, no cost. That’s class. I suggested he could make at least two dollars a pop, but he was happy to do them free of charge.

All three artists had their drawing pads open to take requests for a quick convention sketch. Their ability to whip up a drawing on the spot, and finish before the end of the convention, is something I’ve always envied.

I’d also like to mention Heather and Dawn - two artists who are present at every SacCon. These women never fail to show up and have a wide range of art to sell. From Akira to Xena to Voltron. They’re part of what gives these shows an intimate feeling. It wouldn’t be quite the same without them.

World’s Best Comics had a ton of videos for sale. Two men I’d never seen before had a couple boxes of “underground comix” I’d never seen before. I picked out a few doozies.

Action figures, trading cards, Hot Wheels, lunch pales, toys, classic magazines, DVDs (nothing to do with comics but what the heck), videos, amateur art, and comics of all kinds ranging in price from five cents to $1.00 and up beyond my budget. The usual stuff, right?

The next SacCon isn’t until September 9th. Daniel Brereton of The Nocturnals will be there. It’s a good bet the next convention field report I do will be from the other side of the table.

November 18th is the date of Super-Con 6, “The Bay Area’s Biggest & Best 1 Day Show!” Special Guests include George Perez, Mike Grell, John Estes, Keiron Dwyer, and Brandon McKinney. For info, check out:

www.super-con.com

Brandon McKinney’s artwork can be seen and purchased through his website at:

http://journey-man.com/

He promised to revise some of the prices. so keep your eyes open and your phone lines clear.

Thanks to Dan Houck for helping with this report on getting some names straight, and his work putting the SacCon’s together.


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