I spent part of the day today at the Mid-Ohio-Con. This was my first time at the MOC since they moved it to the Columbus Convention Center, so it was a little hard for me to compare crowds. Things had been physically crammed the last few that I'd attended, but the Convention Center has more floor space, allowing the booths to be more spread out. Things looked busy, but it was hard to tell since I didn't have to trip over anyone just to walk through the aisles.
What struck me about this year's con was a seemingly greater emphasis on a few "key" sub-markets. Obviously, a good representation of marvel and DC superheroes, mainly through the retailers, but also in the guest list. Star Wars was pretty well seen with several booths devoted exclusively to it. There were a smattering of independent folks, but their visual presence seemed more stifled by and large. And few retailers had any independent books. Admittedly, it's a pain to cart 100 long boxes to a convention hall like that, and you're going to want to focus on the stuff you have the least likelihood of having to haul back home, but the indie market was slim.
It also struck me the type of comics being sold. A lot of high grade Golden Age and early Silver Age books. A lot of new/current material. Not much in between. And not much in the way of TPBs or hardcovers, aside from a few folks who had some Masterworks and Archives titles. Also not much in the way of original art -- I think I looked at three small portfolios and one pile in the whole show. Lots of commission work, but not a lot of originals used for publication.
I only attended one panel discussion: "I Go Pogo" with Mark Evanier, Maggie Thompson and Carolyn Kelly. Not a large crowd there, but I did learn that the Fantagraphics Pogo collection has been delayed (probably until Fall '08) because they're having trouble getting some high quality artwork from some of the earlier strips. Mark was quite effusive on Carolyn's attention to detail regarding the Pogo license, and said that's helped a great deal in maintaining the high quality of Walt's legacy.
I wasn't able to catch up with Rich Buckler like I'd hoped (he seemed to be darting in and out most of the day) but I did get a chance to chat with Ron Wilson and Keith Pollard. Both guys seemed quite humble about their work and seemed to enjoy talking with old fans. Pollard was selling some old originals, and I picked up page 16 from Marvel Super-Heroes #1. It's a Hercules story, and the page in question has some interesting things going on visually with regard to the storytelling. I'll try to scan it in later and comment on it.
I wasn't able to catch up with Maggie Thompson until late in the day, so I tried not to take up too much of her time. She was quite willing to chat, though, and noted that everyone at the Con would probably be diagnosed with Asperger syndrome but the whole notion of the "disease" is a load of baloney. The only benefit she saw in the label was a specific example she cited of a young girl who was diagnosed with it and, because of that diagnosis, had access to grants and funding which Maggie was able to help channel in the direction of sequential art. The girl is evidently quite talented, and has already gone on to help get her school's gifted program involved in comic book creation classes. In any event, I'll be trying to follow up with Maggie in greater detail.
I didn't get much in the way of loot. There's the original art I mentioned earlier, of course. I stumbled across Erik Evensen's table and picked up his Gods of Asgard and Sketchbook Diary. (More on those when I get a chance to read them.) I also grabbed the last volume of Transmetropolitan TPB and the hardcover, slipcased The Deadman Collection which has been wavering in and out of stock for the past several years.
All in all, a decent show for the limited time I had to spend there. As always, I think I'd have a more enjoyable time if I had friends to go with and hang out during the con, but it was still a pretty good show.