Wizard World Philadelphia Re-Cap (Part 2): Comic Con Partying 101
It was Saturday night and my friends and I were on our way toward the Raven Lounge after being lucky enough to find free street parking one block away. We could hear the noise of the crowd inside as soon as we turned the corner and crossed the street. There was music and there was people, lots of people. Since this was my scene (most of my friends aren’t into comics and don’t know the creators), I led the way into the packed to the gills club and instantly I was pulled away from my friends by none other than The Hunger creators Jose L. Torres and Chris DiBari. I hadn’t seen them in a while and from the smiles on their faces, they looked to be having a good time this evening, one-hour into the Zenescope / Silent Devil party. Yes, my friends and I were “fashionably” late and I had to leave my 2005 Wizard Philly drinking buddies and find all the people I came in with! Up the stairs and toward the second flood I went, taking a momentary respite and looking down on the first floor. There was absolutely nowhere to walk. Everyone looked to be having a great time and most important of all, there was lots of each gender down there! It was well lit and dance club loud, on floor one. Floor two was the total opposite, and I almost tripped on a small table as I walked fully into the room, squeezing by thin man Chris Moreno, currently showing his artistic chops on Silent Devil’s The Last Sin of Mark Grimm. My eyes adjusted to the darkness and more mellow tone up there as I made some introductions for my pals to many of the surrounding people from the comic book biz. A Corona magically flew into my hand from the bar, and a genuine grin crept over my usually sarcastic face. This was how it was going to be now.
To put it simply, the comic book world is getting cooler. To look a little more in-depth, maybe the mainstream is finally accepting our hobby with open arms after what, fifty or more years? However you break it down, the fact is that creators and fans are no longer just “geeky” men. With the influx of difference that the masses bring along, things start to change, some more rapidly than others. I can remember just a year or maybe even a whole two years ago. Comic convention nightlife didn’t really exist as anything more than just creators hanging out at a lobby bar or dining out and that was about it. Already this year with Devil’s Due tossing an excellent party in their penthouse at the Pittsburgh Comic Con (complete with open bar!) and now with this joint venture between Zenescope and Silent Devil, the bar has been set. Yes, there will be hotel lobby drinking in the evening hours. That is a given. But the Saturdays during a convention, that is the night for that one big party. Just like the wave at a sporting event, this is something that will only keep growing and flowing across the country. Word will get out, and parties will playfully compete for bragging rights on who tossed the best one, and inevitably we’ll get tired of all the cool parties because we’re used to them, and they’ll just be passé to the people who attend virtually every convention across the country. After all, our livers can only take so much. But for now…before all the over-doing begins, it is time to enjoy a kick-ass party. For all intents and purposes, the Raven Lounge had it.
The bar was full but thankfully not yet two-deep with people. There was a small stage on the left side of the room with a microphone upon it which Silent Devil Marketing Director Tony DiGerolamo took a moment to thank everyone for coming and reminded us to “get bagging and boarding” once the party was over. As I mentioned earlier, it was dark upstairs. In some corners I actually had to squint to try and see who was where. Ironically, the darkness of the upstairs also brought out many of the darker denizens of the Wizard World comic convention. Some like Jennifer Rodgers (2006 Harvey Award nominee, Best Colorist) are out and out Goths while people like artist Tommy Castillo (Batman) simply have a dark air about them, be it from their body of work or simply their personalities. All I know is that it is always cool to have a pirate around and to that extent, Nigel Sade was on hand and playing “meet the press” with yours truly. It was hot upstairs, stiflingly so. I had heard someone mentioning air conditioning and a dance floor in the rear of the first floor so that was where I wanted to be. Not necessarily to dance, but just to have cold air blowing on me due to easy over-heating. With another Corona in hand, I made my way back downstairs, bumping into Silent Devil Editor in Chief, Christian Beranek. He was standing still for a few moments, talking with Matthew Mohammad (writer, Black Bastard). I would see Christian and his brother Adam most of the night no matter where I was. They were co-hosts of the party along with the Zenescope guys, Joe Brusha and Ralph Tedesco and all of them were playing the part of the good host chatting up literally everyone inside the Raven Lounge.
While the downstairs bar was at capacity, the dance floor didn’t hit it’s stride until I got down there at about 10pm.. Trust me, I had nothing to do with it though it could have been the workings of the tarot card reader. The combination of the excellent Hip-Hop and Electronica with the red lighting and the cold air falling from the ceiling was just magnificent. All it took was Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” to come on, and the women began to lose all sense of everything except the will to dance. Within seconds the dance floor went from a place I was standing and cooling off to dance fever central. They were grinding. They were spanking asses. They were spilling drinks that remained in their hand while they were dancing. On-lookers were experiencing comic book girls gone wild! Then TNA wrestler Brother Devon appeared out there. Writer of Image Comics’ The Gift, Raven Gregory was out there. James Rodriguez (artist, Quantum Rock of Ages) was out there dancing like a madman. This stone-footed reporter had nowhere to go! And then it happened. I felt someone grabbing my hand out on the dance floor. Yes friends, Raven took my hand and proceeded to twirl me. My face to color of the room, I exited to go and grab another Corona.
Outside the club I spotted The Last Sin of Mark Grimm writer M. Sean McManus, so I thought I’d see what else was happening out there. Apparently there were other people who were over-heaters like me and the outside air and breeze was helping to revive most of them. Jennie Breeden, creator of the web comic turned actual comic book The Devil’s Panties was seated comfortably on the pavement with a gang of her own friends, including second floor defector Nigel the pirate. Once again I was without drink, so it was back inside and to the bar for me.
Near midnight, the party was finally in decline. People were talking about heading back to the Marriott to drink in the spacious hotel lobby. Once word got out, this seemed to be the consensus plan for the comic book attendees at Raven Lounge. Some of us hopped into cars as others walked the city streets all on our way to the unofficial after party. It was a late night. It was a great night. For four hours we partied hard and even did a little eating courtesy of a table full of hors d’ouvres, all thanks to indie comic book companies Zenescope and Silent Devil. Don’t believe we had that incredible a time? Maybe you don’t think there were as many hotties there as it seemed? Hmmmmm? Well here, check out the photos:
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