by Steven Ringgenberg
As with almost every convention, Saturday is the biggest day for the Amazing Arizona Comic Con with thousands of people in attendance. Despite the large numbers of people who came today, I didn’t get the impression of the convention halls being overwhelmed with crowds because people arrived in waves at different times all during the day. Frankly, it was a relief not to be oppressed by the crush of the crowds, as one is every Saturday at San Diego’s Comic Con International. Saturday was also the day when the cosplayers came out in earnest, including a pair of Cupids, wearing their wings and white loincloths in honor of Valentine’s Day, no doubt.
There were lines for all of the major artists and a special autograph session that featured creators who had worked on Wolverine. One of the best surprises was the presence of long-time Marvel freelancer Herb Trimpe, who is most renown for his extended run drawing The Hulk in the ’60s and ’70s, and has achieved newfound fame as the first artist to draw The Wolverine (in The Incredible Hulk #180). Such is the current popularity of the character that first page featuring the The Wolverine sold for an astronomical $657,250 in a May, 2015 Heritage Auction. Unfortunately for Herb Trimpe, he had long ago given that page away to a friend and didn’t benefit from what would have been a huge payday for the veteran artist. Still, he is now able to bask in the reflected glory of Wolverine’s massive popularity at conventions. I didn’t interview Trimpe, though I did manage to chat with him for a few minutes where he reminisced about legendary comics artist Wally Wood and his longtime inker on the Hulk, the late great John Severin. By the way, if you think the Hulk stories he drew are the be-all and end-all of Trimpe’s career, I should point out that during the ‘80s, Herb drew a series of spectacular aviation-themed stories for Marvel’s revival of Savage Tales in a style that was strikingly different from his artwork on the Hulk comic book. Those issues of Savage Tales are well worth looking for up for Trimpe’s work alone, to say nothing of the excellent work done by Michael Golden, John Severin, and Gray Morrow for the title. When I approached Trimpe, I let him know that we share a mutual friend in artist George Pratt. Trimpe, a pilot, took Pratt up in his biplane back in the 1980s as part of George’s research for writing his Enemy Ace graphic novel Trimpe seemed surprised when I brought it up, and was kind and friendly while we spoke, sharing his e-mail address with me. I’ll be following up at some point this year to do an interview, so stay tuned, Metal-Heads.
Also attending the con was former Spawn artist and current Batman inker Greg Capullo, as well as one of the other founding creators of Image Comics, Rob Liefield. While I didn’t see Todd McFarlane at the con on Friday, I can attest to the continuing popularity of the Image Comics creators because Liefield had one of the longest autograph lines of any of the featured guests. Because this is a smaller con, with only about 30,000-40,000 people attending, the lines didn’t match the scale of what you’d see at a mega-con like San Diego or New York, but it was still a testament to the fame and popularity Liefield has achieved over his career that people were willing to stand in line for an hour just to get a comic or poster signed and share a few words with the artist. Adam Kubert, the son of the late comics legend Joe Kubert, and an art superstar in his own right was there, and had a long line of fans waiting to get his autograph on comics and posters too. And no con would be complete without the demonic artistic stylings of the excellent Tim Vigil.
On Saturdays, the cosplayers were out in greater numbers than the previous day, with groups of people wearing coordinated costumes. I saw a Walking Dead group, some Wonder Women (a very popular costume of late), an adorable mermaid being pulled around on a little wagon because she couldn’t walk, having a tail instead of feet, an excellent Batman, who stayed in character perfectly while being interviewed. I also saw that aforementioned pair of pranksters puckishly dressed as a pair of cupids (in honor of Valentine’s Day, natch!), a corgi in a Teenage Mutant Turtle costume, and several women who were professional cosplayers with their own tables where they sold autographed photos and art prints of themselves. I spoke briefly with a couple of them, Cara Nicole, and her friend “Stray Kat” about their cosplay careers. Cara assured me that she is able to make a regular living from her cosplay appearances, spending around 30 weeks a year appearing at conventions and trade shows. Cara strikingly embodied Elektra, the red-garbed assassin, while her compatriot was a voluptuous Poison Ivy. I’ll be looking up Cara in a future blog post to discuss the life of the professional cosplayer.
In the last decade cosplay has mushroomed beyond all expectations, with a high percentage of all con-goers wearing some kind of costume, even if it’s just a mask, some steampunk goggles, or carrying some kind of prop. Of course some people mock that phenomenon, like the two guys I saw wearing capes fashioned from bath towels. Way to under-achieve, guys!
Unfortunately, along with the rise in the number of cosplayers, many of whom are women wearing tight/sexy costumes, comes a rise in unwanted attention, inappropriate comments, and even outright sexual harassment, including women being groped or followed by creeps. People need to know that this is not cool. Wearing a sexy costume is not an invitation to be touched, and you should always ask permission before photographing someone. If you’re a male con-goer, keep it simple. Just behave like a gentleman and you’ll be fine. The fan community is generally very welcoming to everyone, and we need to keep the bar high with regard to the way we treat female fans of all ages. Let’s keep it classy, people.
That’s it for my Saturday blog post. I’ll send out a wrap up on the Amazing Arizona Comic Con tomorrow with a few final photos. Till then, be well Metal-Heads!