Convention Report: Mid Ohio 2011

 In conventions

So the odyssey of conventions continues, with back-to-back shows with NYCC last week and Mid-Ohio Con this weekend. And boy oh boy, did I find myself exhausted. In a good way. A different show always means different fans, exhibitors, and experiences. And Mid-Ohio has etched itself into my heart for some very specific reasons. But I’ll get into those in the daily breakout.

Early in the morning I waited for my ride, Alan (Rival Angels) and his wife, who were driving down from Wisconsin. Since I’m on the way (and because they’re both awesome people), they picked me up and we began our 6+ hour drive to Columbus.

I only get to see Alan a few times a year, and his wife even less. Over the years we’ve become good friends, and it was nice to have time to catch up with them on life and projects during our car ride to the convention center.

We made excellent time, hitting no traffic along the way, and arrived with enough time to drop off our stuff at our tables before meeting up with Lora (The Dreamer) and her husband for dinner.

Lora was busy making an apple pie when we arrived (what she and her husband continued to refer to as “the greatest apple pie of all time,” which had a lot of hype around it…I was anxious to try it out), so we were a little late meeting up our friends at Lora’s favorite local pizza place.

We met up with several comic creator friends: Thom Zhaler (Love and Capes), Paul Storrie (The Green Hornet, The Muse), and Sean McKeever (Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt, Onslaught Unleashed). It was another opportunity to hang out with old friends and catch up.

Writer Paul D. Storie and I at the pizza place.

While at the pizza place, I found out they had ingredients for my new favorite drink: root beer liquor, whipped cream vodka, and coke (I’ve heard it called “The Widow Maker”). The bartender made the drink and later came up to the table to say she made one for herself, and it’s going to become her new signature drink!

After dinner we went back to Lora’s to sample this famous pie. And let me tell you, the hype was justified. It was a buttermilk cream apple pie – and it was amazing!

By that time it was late and we all had an early morning (and a full day) ahead of us.

After a quick breakfast, the group piled into cars and headed over to The Greater Columbus Convention Center, where the show was being held. This was the first year Wizard had taken over the show, but it was nice to see the Henry brothers were still involved – as they greeted us upon our arrival.

The show was in a different hall this year, which featured a large glass wall that let in natural light throughout the day. The ceiling, too, had lights that were multi-colored and very cool to look at. Additionally, the show played music instead of doing announcements – but the music was at a level that wasn’t distracting or too loud, but was instead enough to enjoy when you could and ignore when you needed to.

Mid-Ohio has always been a very strong family show, and this year was no exception. There were a lot of families, parents with kids, or younger fans running around the show floor. This has historically lead to high sales for me, with the bulk of my books being all-ages. I did see a lot of Saturday only badges, however, which made me a little nervous for Sunday’s traffic – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Saturday was a strong day filled with good sales, and great fans both new and old. I had people who read the comic (or my twitter or facebook) coming up to the table all day to say hi and support the work, and also had new fans who hadn’t heard of the projects before but loved the ideas and purchased from me for the first time. It was a good solid day of socializing with friends new and old, and selling high quality books.

After show hours, the group headed off for a local Asian fusion place called Lemongrass. The food was tasty, the sushi was great, and the sake was just what we needed after a day on the floor.

After dinner, it was off to a quick taste of Jeni’s ice cream. Jeni’s is usually a post-convention tradition for our group, but this night we just had a craving for it before going back to the hotel for the after-party.

So many options, so little time….

At the after-party I split off from the group briefly to chat with David Mack (Kabuki) and actor Doug Jones (Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy). David wanted to get his dance on, and Doug was trying to re-enact scenes from The Matrix with him. It was an entertaining night, to be sure.

After a while I went back over by my friends and chatted them up some more, before we all retired for the evening back to Lora’s.

Traditionally “kid’s day” at a convention, I honestly think I saw more kids attending the previous day. I did get to meet with some great Reading with Pictures supporters, sold a few copies of my books, and ultimately finished the show as strong as we could.

As we thought, traffic on Sunday was a lot lower than the previous day – as most of those people had single-day passes. This meant that sales on Sunday were lower than expected, but books still went flying off the table.

After the show ended, the group packed up and loaded up cars – then met at Jeni’s again for our post-con tradition.

The gang hanging out at Jeni’s Ice Cream, a post-convention tradition.

The final outing with the group was too brief, because we had to get on the road to get back to Illinois at a decent hour. We all said goodbye and parted ways. All in all, Mid-Ohio was another successful show. Not just because sales continued to be strong, but also for those reasons I eluded to earlier in this post: because of good friends.

I’ll miss my friends, as I probably won’t see them again until next year, but we all continue to stay in touch online. And a special thanks to everyone who stopped by the booth – either for the first time or for the 30th time – as your continued support fills me with joy and creativity.

I have the best friends and fans a guy could ask for.

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