On the scene: Tucson Comic-Con 2012

The con season is finally wrapping up and I end it with a high note in my backyard.

 By: Henry Barajas

The con was founded by Mike Olivares a previous employee for local used book store Bookmans who decided to run the convention full time.  He ran the first year’s convention in 2007 at a small conference room in a Sheraton hotel that has since been knocked down.  After five years of bouncing around to different locations the convention out grew all previous venues and was forced to showcase Tucson Convention Center.  I was the “social media manager” for the event for three years, but because I decided to focus on my career in comics, blogging and stand-up comedy I wasn’t volunteering this year.  So Mike is virtually a one man show, with the help of his lovely wife Terasita and his immediate family members as volunteers.

Tucson Comic-Con isn’t your typical con because it actually showcases it’s comic book artists.  No one from the cast of Star Trek or long forgotten television series’ or dead beat wrestlers trying to sell you their signed action figures or trading card collection need apply.  It was Katie Cook that said on twitter “I feel like I’ve been to so many comic conventions this year that Virgil the wrestler and I should start getting a booth together.”  I found this hilarious but he’s at more shows than most comic book creators.  The best part of this con was that there was cell phone service and free WiFi.  This was a blessing compared to the hourly WiFi rate I was paying at the NYCC.

Tim Seely the creator of Hack/Slash and one of my current favorites is working with Eisner award-winning artist Mike Norton on Revival.  Revival #5 will out this month and the cover art by Jenny Frison looks gorgeous.

B. Clay Moore and Tony Harris and based on Tony’s instagram they had a blast downtown Tucson.  I’m very excited for their new book  JSA: THE WHISTLING SKULL that is due for release on December 19th.  I suggest that retailers order high Whistling Skull because the art work looks so F-ING amazing.

The insanely talented Zack Howard you know from The Cape and his successful Kickstarter project Wild Blue Yonder made his first Tucson Comic-Con appearance.

Big thanks goes out to Matt Sams and the crew of Fantasy Comics for bringing out Moore, Harris, Seeley, Howard and Tim and Ben Truman to the show.  They are the oldest comic book shop in Tucson and a large component to the popularity of this show.

Local comic book blog site Comic Book Therapy flew out  S. Steven Struble and Sina Grace the creators of the critically acclaimed Image series The Li’l Depressed Boy.  I met them at NYCC and they were at Detroit Fanfare last week.  Li’l Depressed Boy #14 is out in stores with an amazing cover by Chynna Clugston Flores.

One of the hardest working creators in comics is none other then Tom Hutchison.  He’s the publisher and writer of Big Dog Ink‘s Critter series.  Hutchison has been all over the nation and has had a space in every con for the last couple of years.  The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West was recently nominated for the Shel Dorf Best Mini Series of the Year.  You can catch Tom at the New Orleans comic con at the end of this month.

John Layman is the creator of the highly successful Image muliti-award winning CHEW and one of my personal favorites, Bay City Jive.  He had a copy of Detective Comics #7 on hand to preview and that book just keeps getting better and better.  Arizona is lucky to have him because Layman recently announced he will be only be doing one convention overseas and limited shows in the states.

Local favorite Eric M. Esquivel has been working Thor The Unkillable Thunder Christ and Blackest Terror at Moonstone Comics.  Esquivel is also working on Big Dog Ink’s mini series The Legend of Oz: The Wicked West and his own Sonic Youth.

Ernest and Beatrice Romero are the husband and wife creative team of BREED and I also collaborated with Ernest on the Girl Scouts in Space! comic book for the Southern Arizona Girl Scouts.

Adam Yeater is one of the Tucson indie veterans and has large cult following outside of comics.  Yeater is widely popular for his paintings and sculptures and is always teaching art classes at local libraries and schools.

I had the honor of sitting next to Josh Shaleck the creator of a series of books that are printed with soy-based ink and recycled paper.  Shaleck grew up in Tucson and currently resides in Portland and was recently at the SPX show and had a booth at San Diego Comic-Con.

Eric Mengel the creator of OCHO and dennann came all the way out from Phoenix.  They are known in Arizona as the classic example of DIY and self publish their prolific mini comics and weekly comic strips.

University of Arizona Alumni Daniel Bradford the creator of the Ghastly & Shel Dorf Best Digital Comic Disappointing Monsters and award winning series Robot 13 made his second appearance since 2008.  He has a Sopranos singing voice and great hair to boot.

Syndicate Press is made up of Santino Castaneda, Kyle Stephens and Mariah Wall who were promoting their Kickstarter project Unbound:  The Awakening.  I will be mentioning their project in my next Kick-Watcher article but they managed to hit their goal of $1,500.00 and are now trying to reach their second stretch goal.

Local stand up comedians Jacob Breckenridge and Mike Esham make their debut Tucson Comic-Con appearance and publish their first comic book Orbital Decay.  Breckenridge performs regularly at the Stand Up Live in Phoenix and infamous Laugh Factory comedy club in San Diego.

When I went to Tucson High I felt like I was the only one that read comic books.  The comic book section in the library was at the end of the enormous manga section.  I ended up giving them a list of books for them to buy and they did and hopefully someone read them.  I was approached by Patrick Billings who creates custom figures; he approached me about the Tucson High Comic Book Club and wanted me to come talk to the kids about the process and my experience attending the school.  Now the club is made of 20 students and they published their first anthology with more to come.  Take a good look at the future movers and shakers in the comic industry.

Oh look, it’s IFN Comics! IFN is made up of  me and Phoenix cartoonist Don Blackwell, Christian and Rianna Vilaire.  We were promoting our comic books Captain UnikornEl Loco and the successful Kickstarter project Break The Walls – Comic Stories Inspired by the Pixies.
 
Arnie Bermudez the cartoonist for FOX News Latino and co-creator of  El Loco.
What’s a con without Cosplayers?

The few complaints that I heard from the general public was that on the website there was no indication of what time the event was starting and no information on the panels that were taking place.  Since it’s only a two day event, Saturday was the busiest and Sunday was the slowest.  This is still a very young convention and will learn from trial and error.  Tucson never really had a comic book convention to call it’s own before Olivares came along.  We had sci-fi cons and there used to be some “comic book” events held in bars but nothing on the scale it is today.

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