This past weekend was the second annual Cincy Comic Con. Like many things in Cincinnati, it was technically in Northern Kentucky, which is the nice part of Kentucky that Ohio likes to lay claim to as if it were our own. The con was a three-day affair, with a short four-hour preview Friday afternoon, a Drink & Draw event at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal (aka The Hall of Justice) that evening; a long day Saturday followed by an art auction, featuring pieces from the Drink & Draw; and a short day on Sunday. It was a star-studded event, especially for only its second year, and well-worth the price of admission.
Day One – Friday: The Preview-ening
Friday at 3, the doors finally opened on Cincinnati’s purest comic con. The pleasant surprise of the whole affair was that it was truly a comic con. There were no appearances by people who were famous in nerd movies, there were no signings by the guy who played the son on The Munsters—it was just us (the fans), the star creators, the indie creators, and a literal fuckton of shops, selling storage supplies, toys, gizmos, and of course, comics comics comics.
My fiancée and I were three-day attendees at the con which, if we’re being honest, was a little much. If you could get there right at 3 when the doors opened, the lines were short enough for all the stars that you could get your signatures Friday, then head back Saturday for shopping. As it stood, we were able to get signatures from Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky in under ten minutes, and beat the sometimes-hour-long wait they had for the rest of the con (Chip’s commissions were especially popular).
In terms of star guests, this con was no slouch. Aside from Fraction & Zdarsky, there were strong showings from Hilary Barta, Comfort & Adam, Robbi Rodriquez, Mark Brooks, Ryan Browne, Katie Cook, Sean Dove, Gerry Duggan, Jenny Frison, Rob Guillory, Phil Hester, Dennis Hopeless, Kyle Hotz, Jason Latour, Brian Level, Tony Millionaire, Mike Norton, Phil Noto, Ande Parks, Andrew Robinson, Chris Samnee, Tim Seeley, Steve Seeley, John Siuntres, Chris Sprouse, Ryan Stegman, Kyle Strahm, legend and rare con-attendee Kelley Jones, and convention organizer/local superstar Tony Moore, as well as many more. Skottie Young, Ethan Van Sciver and Rus Wooton were booked, but had to decline due to illness. Skottie Young sent an assistant with all of his merch and set-up, and will be doing a make-up appearance at Up, Up and Away comics on the west side of Cincinnati on October 4th, which this reporter applauds as being a truly class act.
The convention space was very attractive, as far as convention spaces go. The main floor was carpeted which is a luxury after about noon on day two, and there were two halls upstairs for panels. One, larger, was the Fortress of Solitude, which played host to a Kelley Jones panel, a sketch off between Katie Cook and Chip Zdarsky, an old films panel hosted by John Siuntres to replace the Skottie Young spotlight, and the Sex Criminals panel. The second, more intimate space was the Batcave, which hosted a lot of panels that were geared more towards making it in the business, including one that I will be writing up on this site in the very near future.
Day Two-point-one – Dinosaur Bones and Sketches
The Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal is renowned to generations who don’t even know it, as it’s the visual referent for the Hall of Justice from Superfriends. It’s an old train station that has museums where the trains used to be. In the Museum of Natural History portion, the convention hosted a Drink & Draw event. Tables were set up all over the museum, with plenty of scrap paper and pencils, as well as a cash bar.
Further down near a cave attraction and a child mummy, there was an old-timey band set up who were pretty great, and whose name I regrettably never caught. People tended to congregate there, but there was plenty of wandering through the rest of the museum, drinking and carousing. I have to say that walking through a natural history museum with a bit of a buzz on is probably the perfect way to walk through a natural history museum.
It was a little awkward in that there wasn’t a real structure to it. It was like trying to force the creators who just wanted to head out and have a beer with each other to go out and still be “on” for the crowds. I like the idea, but of course, as the worst person at striking up conversation, the most I did was a “’Sup” to Ryan Browne and a “Thanks [for holding the door for us]” to Gerry Duggan.
Day Two – The Madness
Saturday was the day the shit went down, in the best possible way. Friday was a little sparsely attended, which is understandable. It was a preview day, and it was a workday, so it was pretty much just us few, us lucky few, who could get the day off work to have people sign our funny books. Saturday, there were tons of kids, and a respectable amount of cosplayers. They ranged from little kids dressed as the blond woman from Frozen (I’m not up to date on movies), to grown men in perfect, functional Iron Man or Galactus costumes.
The highlight panel of the day was the Sex Criminals panel, moderated by John Siuntres, the host of the Word Balloon podcast. The whole panel was recorded for the podcast, which is presumably up by now. Fraction and Zdarsky played off of each other for a solid hour as a Laurel & Hardy who couldn’t decide who was the straight man and who was the goofball half the time. Generally, Chip was the goofball and Fraction was the straight man, but Fraction is also the one who suggested the one person he would slap in the face with a dildo is Baby Hitler, so draw your own conclusions.
Day Three – Denouement
Sundays are weird days at conventions every time. The vendors just want to unload their material as quickly as they can while still making a decent amount of cash, the exhibitors and guests are exhausted, and the super awkward reviewer for a comic website starts trying to make small talk about the comic books he’s been writing to try to get people interested.
Basically, I loved this con. It’s the only decent-sized convention between Chicago and NYC geographically that caters right to the heart of the comics market. There were a lot of little kids there, which I love to see because little nerds grow up to be big nerds, and nerds are rad. A big thanks to Tony Moore and company for putting this bad boy together. Can’t wait for next year’s!