By Beau Smith
San Diego Comic Con will engulf you like a tsunami. Smaller shows (names left out to protect the not-so-innocent) can leave you feeling like the last man in a phone booth without a phone. I’m happy to report that the Mid-Ohio Comic Book Convention is not like either one of the above.
The Mid-Ohio Con is a show of near perfect size. It’s a two-day affair in a nice convention center attached to the Columbus Hyatt Regency and across the street from other fine hotels. The Mid-Ohio Con is downtown and near the Arena District, so there are lots of great places to walk to and eat. I’ve been attending the Mid-Ohio Con since the early 1980s and have tons of fond memories of the wonderful shows put on by then showrunner Roger Price (“The Velvet Voice”). A few years ago, Roger sold the show the James and Bill Henry. Roger still helps out with the show, but has handed the steering wheel to the Henry Brothers.
James and Bill are top-notch guys, very professional and very friendly. They make every comic creator/guest feel like a VIP and every con attendee feel like the red carpet has been rolled out just for them. Last year’s show was a great start for them and this year the size of the show had expanded greatly. Not one glitch during the entire con. I have to say that I have never been as relaxed and feeling good as I was when I got back from this show. That’s saying a lot, because I’ve attended a lot of conventions all over the country in the last 25 years? A lot!
This year I was lucky enough that my long time buddy Gary Kwapisz was also a guest of Mid-Ohio Con. Gary drove up here to the Flying Fist Ranch from his massive farm in Virginia where we piled his gear into my truck and headed north to Columbus. Gary was the long time artist on Marvel’s Savage Sword of Conan, Moon Knight, The Punisher and DC’s Hawkworld. Recently, Gary was the artist on my IDW Publishing www.idwpublishing.com book Lost and Found. In December of this year, Gary will be the artist on my B’Wana Beast story in this year’s DC Holiday Special. Make sure you check that out.
The ride up was filled with manly conversation and opinions. We discussed old memories, family stories, art, creative stuff as well as who we would poke fun of at the convention. (Billy Tucci was on top of that list.)
The Henry Brothers were kind enough to place my booth beside my other creative friends, Billy Tucci (Sgt. Rock – DC Comics), Lora Innes (The Dreamer – IDW Publishing) and, of course, Gary Kwapisz. Mayhem ran amok during the con as we all threw abusive banter and blunt objects at each other. At one point, Lora’s husband Mike “Mandom” Innes and Billy tussled a bit when Mike refused to give his very attractive boss’s phone number to Billy. Billy whipped out his always large Bowie Knife and “persuaded” Mike to give up the number as you can see in the photo below. Lora and I would’ve stopped all this violence but as you can see we were busy posing for photos at my booth. (You can see why my booth got voted “Most Friendliest.”)
Nice guy and Mice Templar co-creator Bryan J.L. Glass continued to sign his books and keep up business as usual as we turned our booths into a barroom brawl of bloody proportions. I think Bryan figured he’d be the last man standing and that would equate into more sales for his books. Like I said, he’s a nice guy and a smart one.
Many years ago I was lucky enough to work with artist and co-creator of Aym Geronimo, Todd Fox, on Scout: War Shaman #13 with a character I co-created with Tim Truman called Beau LaDuke-Real Man. It was good to be able to spend some time with Todd and talk over the old days, the new days and the success he is having with his book Aym Geronimo. Todd brought his Evansville Enforcers with him and they doubled as security at my booth when the women tried to rush my table. (A man’s gotta protect himself.)
This year I was saved from Roger Price’s good-natured brow-beating as he made announcements during the con over the loud speaker. Last year he started many a nasty rumor about me and caused many a fan to come by my booth, point at me, snicker and then leave. One day I’ll find out just what he was saying a take my revenge.
Two of my favorite artists were also stationed near my booth, Scott Kolins (Solomon Grundy – DC Comics) and Chris Sprouse (Tom Strong – America’s Best Comics.). I had a great time getting to meet them and tell them of my admiration for their fine work. Once they get to know me well I will reduce our friendship to that of Billy Tucci where I throw things at them and take their lunch money. Needless to say, both Chris and Scott had big lines and did lots of sketches.
Speaking of sketches, my good amigo, John Popa stopped by to show me a wonderful sketch from his sketchbook that my former Guy Gardner: Warrior artist and lifetime friend Mitch Byrd had done for him at a con down south earlier this year. As you can see below, it’s an amazing sketch of King Kong fighting a dinosaur while rolling down a cliff. I swear Mitch could be the son of Frank Frazetta. Why editors aren’t busting down Mitch’s door to offer him work I’ll never understand.
Many of my other amigos were at Mid-Ohio Con, Ron Frenz, Tony Isabella, Maggie Thompson, Joe Jusko, Michael Golden, Darryl Banks, Jay Fife, Mike Grell, Fred Hembeck, Sean McKeever, Keith Pollard, Joe Rubinstein, P. Craig Russell, Powerful Paul Storrie, Thom Zahler, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and more that don’t actually owe me money or beer.
I had a chance to pick up all sorts of great deals at the con. The dealers had amazing deals that I just could not pass up. I came back to the ranch with Silver Age issues of Star Spangled War Stores, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Blackhawk, “B’Wana Beast” and Challengers Of The Unknown, as well as loads of trade paperbacks and hardcovers that I was missing. Like Pittsburgh Comicon, the Mid-Ohio Con is a great place to pick up on wonderful deals from the dealers. I want to thank Paul Mullin from Comic Book World for helping me find and add to my already huge collection. Paul is a fine guy and friend that always brings some hidden gems to the shows from his various stores. Thank you, Paul!
Most of all I wanna thank all the readers, fans and friends that came by my booth. I really enjoyed signing comics, talking and spreading more tall takes to them all. I was treated like a king and that doesn’t happen to me every day. I appreciate that.
Next year for the 30th Anniversary of Mid-Ohio Con, I hope you will make time to be there and enjoy the show as much as me. It’ll be a fantastic time and you will not be sorry. I promise you that. The weather is always beautiful and the entertainment is always A-List.
Merry Christmas From B’Wana Beast!
Christmas comes a little early this year for comic book readers.
On December 9, 2009, DC Comics will ship their annual DC Holiday Special just in time for the holidays…but this year is different: B’Wana Beast! I’m bringing back the much loved, but under-rated King Of The Jungle, B’Wana Beast, in a very special Christmas story that is action-packed and carries a very unique twist/slant, one you would never expect.
I hope that this is just the beginning of a new age for ultimate Alpha Male superhero. There are many more layers to pull back on the jungle wildman. With the support of you, the readers, I hope to be able to kick start a whole new era for B’Wana Beast. The art for this short Christmas story is by noted Conan, HawkworldPunisher artist Gary Kwapisz! The Diamond Distribution order number for the DC Holiday Special is OCT09 0223. Make sure you ask your local retailer to order it for you. I hope you enjoy this rough sketch that Gary has done for this column.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Showcase Presents B’Wana Beast-Jungle Master #66
Cover by Mike Sekowsky & Joe Giella
Come on, you just knew I was gonna pick this cover as the Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week after reading the above news item.
I will never forget when I first saw this issue in the spinner rack of the Tradewell Supermarket as a 12 year old kid. I thought to myself “That is the weirdest looking superhero I have ever seen.” The character design, the logo, the colors and the name was just too much for me to pass up. There was also the added fact that he was punching out a purple gorilla. The story and the origin of B’Wana Beast is even more weird than the cover. This was just too much fun. It was truly the strangeness of the whole package that made me such a fan of the book. Through the years I always wondered what how they came up with this book and character. Now after forty-two years I find myself getting to write B’Wana Beast! How weird is that? If you would’ve told me that forty-two years ago, my pointy little head would have exploded right there in the Tradewell Supermarket. Then again, I never thought I would’ve ever gotten to put words into the mouths of Batman, Superman, Lady Blackhawk, Wonder Woman, Wildcat and so many other DC heroes of my childhood. I am and have been blessed. I hope you enjoy this Manly Cover of the Week.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Moran Atias
Moran Atias makes me wish I had Showtime on my cable system just so I could watch her on the show Crash. She is an amazing looking woman born in Israel and has been acting since 2005. She is super smart and can speak about 6 different languages. At five feet nine inches, she is one full-length, leggy beauty. She had a minor part in the recent film Land of the Lost. Let’s hope she shows up in more movies I can throw my money down on.
It’s been a very hectic month here at the ranch. I’m still catching up from Pittsburgh Con, Mid-Ohio Con, deadlines and general stuff that needs to be done. I’ve gotta say that I am looking forward to Sunday, October 25th. That’s the day my son Nick and I are traveling to Cincinnati, Ohio to see our much loved Chicago Bears come to play the Cincinnati Bengals. I haven’t seen the Bears play live since 1980, and my son has never seen them in person. This will be a true father/son day for us.
It has all the readings to be a great game. I’m very stoked and I think Nick is already juiced. I’m hoping that the weather will be good that day and parking won’t be too much of a pain. My only real problem is to choose between wearing my vintage Dick Butkus jersey or my Tom Waddle jersey. If I had a Bobby Douglass jersey, there would be no choice. Anyway, it’s gonna be fun. I’ll make sure to post up photos and a report for the Busted Knuckles column after the game.
This week’s column has been a little long, so I better let loose of your eyeballs before they start to bleed. As always, I look forward to your comments and emails.
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!