This was the 30th anniversary of Mid Ohio Con, the second time I’ve attended the show, the first time I’ve attended as a guest…and also my birthday weekend. So there was a hefty expectation for how this show should go. Last year I had done somewhat poorly in the sales department, having only a single book (@$$hole!) geared mainly towards the teen audience. Mid Ohio is very much a kid and family friendly show, so this year I expected Reading with Pictures to do rather well. How well, that was the question.

FRIDAY
Friday was my birthday, and I had taken the day off from work. Early in the morning, Alan Evans (Rival Angels) and his wife Tracie came to pick me up, and we started our 6+ hour trek from Chicago to Columbus, OH. Good conversations, jokes, and music entertained us the whole way there. Alan and I have been friends for years, but I had just met his wife earlier this year and found out that the rumors were true: she was awesome. But having married Alan, who could say different.

We arrived in the evening to the home of Lora (The Dreamer) and Mike Innes to find Mike napping and recovering from a little eye surgery. Lora was no doubt working on the next comic page, and we socialized and caught up before Mike woke up and we all decided to go out for dinner.

Mike and Lora are the most gracious hosts and a role model for how I want to treat people who stay with me, and this weekend was no exception. Alan and Tracie were kind enough to take me out to dinner, and also got the group cup cakes to celebrate with after. Reconnecting with friends is one of the reasons I enjoy going to shows so much, and this show was no exception.

After dinner, we went back to the Innes household and talked about CS5, comics, and I also introduced Lora’s friend Megan to Angry Birds, Plants vs Zombies, and Archer. Before we knew it the time had passed and it was already Saturday, and time to try to get a little shut eye.

SATURDAY
Waking up to the smell of fresh blueberry bagels and creme cheese prepared by short order Mike, the group had a quick breakfast and then headed over to the convention hall to set up for the show. Lora was placed between Billy Tan (X-Men) and David Mack (Kabuki), two good friends of mine from the convention circuit. Alan was up against the far wall next to several small publishers. And I was positioned in the back of the guest area near artist alley and next to the David Peterson (Mouse Guard) and Patrick and Shell Block (Donald Duck). I couldn’t have asked for better neighbors and a better location as a guest of the show.

Sales for the day started off very slowly for everyone, although I did notice the larger named guests had some lines as soon as the doors opened. After a few sales Tracie came to watch the table as I went to moderate my Reading with Pictures panel at 2pm. Mid Ohio had asked me to moderate the panel instead of just lead it myself, which was a first time for me. The panelists consisted of Chris Giarrusso (G-Man, Reading with Pictures), Paul D Storrie (VALKRYA: DESTINY’S SPEAR), Lora Innes (The Dreamer), and Stephanie Forney (Ohio Art Education Association). The panel was well populated, and went better than I could have expected. I started off the panel by asking the creators to introduce themselves, and say how old they were when they first read a comic book. The majority of the panel started reading comics in elementary or early middle school. We talked about the role comics can play in education, the benefits of reading, increasing literacy and retention and creativity, and how to get comics into the hands of teachers – and most importantly, what to do with them once they have them. My final question to the panel was simply this: what kind of student were they growing up. Across the board, everyone was an A or B student.

Everyone on the panel had started reading comics at a young age, and everyone on the panel was an A or B student. Now that may not be research, but that’s certainly not nothing.

After the panel had ended, I came back to the table to find that Tracie had sold several copies of both my books (and the remainder of my Batman sketch cards – a hot seller). She totally rocked the sales while I was out, and I was very appreciative of it. I tended the table for the rest of the day, goofing around and telling jokes with Patrick and Shelly.

After the show ended, we gathered up the group and headed to a local pizza place for some drinks, food, and good conversation. Paul connected with Tracie and Meg, while I chatted with Lora and Alan. Mike was entertaining Bryan and Judy. And after dinner we all headed back to the VIP event at the Hyatt for VIP attendees and guests. The convention head and his brother came over and we talked about the show – which was going great, and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend my birthday weekend. After ordering another drink I chatted up Thom Zahler (Love and Capes) with Alan, joking and carrying on late into the night. After everyone was sufficiently buzz / exhausted, we all headed back to the house and got some much needed sleep.

SUNDAY

The final day of the show was upon us, and daylight savings let us catch an extra hour of sleep. Of course, we took advantage of that a bit too much – so it was a bit of a rush to get to the show before they opened the doors. After a quick stop off at Starbucks for coffee, we got in and set up the tables as the Sunday crowd entered the show floor.

I sold an RWP right away in the morning, and then sales slumped off again until the afternoon. I went to the Making Webcomics Panel moderated by Alan Evans, and the other panelists were Thom Zahler, Lora Innes, Lora’s friend Megan, and Dirk Manning (Nightmare World). Alan did a great job moderating the panel, asking us about the world of web comics and self motivation.


Comic creator Bryan J Glass (Thor, The Mice Templar) “flips out” after the convention. A sort of “victory dance.”

Returning to the floor, I sold my heart out until the show floor closed. Quickly cleaning up, saying my goodbyes, and then the group went to Jenni’s to grab some fantastic ice cream.


Comic Creators enjoy some gourmet ice cream after a long day at the show.

After ice cream, we all said our goodbyes and went our merry ways. Lora and Mike had once again provided an excellent hosting experience, Mid-Ohio Con provided a great venue to hanging out with comic friends, meeting fans, and promoting comics in the classroom, and I got to meet new friends and fans as well. It was a great way to spend my birthday weekend, and even the long drive home felt like a victory lap.

Thanks to all of my friends, the people who put on Mid Ohio Con, everyone who attended by panels, and especially everyone who bought some of my books. I can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend – especially a special one – than the way I did here. A thousand times I thank you all.