Ticket Price: ★★★★☆
First Appearance Comics and Games makes its return to the Queen’s City for our annual visit to the Duke Energy Center. I didn’t think this year would be any different from other years. I want to thank our hosts for the concern for all of the convention goers. What I mean specifically is the metal detectors. The last thing anyone wants is for the show to be tainted by an unnecessary scene of events. Granted the vendors sell plenty of weapons anyways, though not quite as dangerous as what someone could have tried to sneak in. The Expo did change-up how we actually entered the convention hall. They set up a much larger space to get your tickets so once you did get through the metal detectors, it was smooth sailing.
The comic book artists are the primary reason I personally want to make it to the show every year. I usually spend much of my time after photographing trying to get signatures from the guests. I must thank the guests for making the trip this year, this includes but definitely not limited to:
Bob Layton. Bob has attended the con over the last three years. His Iron Man work is above and beyond some of the best “Shell-head” work you’ll ever seen. I had Bob sign a copy of a Hercules graphic novel he did in the 90’s I asked him if he kept up with Hercules at all over the years. He basically said, “He was a seller not a buyer.” Considering the picture I got of him hard at work I consider it to be true.
Jae Lee. Many, many, moons ago I was enamored by the Namor comic. John Byrne was my go to guy for some solid reading. During his run on Namor a new artist jumped on the scene. Jae Lee had taken over illustration duties on the Namor book. His artwork is dark, sketchy and different then Mr. Byrne’s. Otherwise Jae made an appearance this year and we welcome his arrival.
Darryl Banks. Right next to Jae Lee happens to be Green Lantern 90’s for a life time. This guy got to kill off the entire Green Lantern Corps and live to tell the tale. I’ve seen Darryl many times before. He is a solid artist, a swell guy and I’m happy he takes the time to come to see the fans. Sadly I only had a couple of comics for him to sign this year.
Ty Templeton. By the time I got to see Mr. Templeton I had many books to bag and un-bag so that I could have him sign my goods. We made a funny joke about bagging a good date or bad date. At this point his wife mentions that they had kids together and the conversation was a little off. Otherwise I asked Ty which project he enjoyed working on the most. He said, “Whatever I happened to be working on.” I can appreciate his solid work ethic and I’m glad he enjoys is art.
V Ken Marion. Another illustrator I got met was Mr. Marion. V Ken had recently been illustrating Green Lantern. I really liked his art so I might start picking up some his work. The man was dedicated and was working on Trinity as he was sitting at his booth. I felt bad interrupting his work time.
Adam Hughes. Adam has been one of my favorite illustrators of all time. I understand that most of his work has been risky pics of the ladies, but it’s always solid. As approached his table I noticed he was doing sketches for other guests. The precision in his line work was amazing. He knew exactly where each line had to be and it was perfect. I asked him if he could work on any project again what would it be. He said Catwoman pin-ups, ironic for a guy with a big white dog at his table with him.
Greg Capullo and Scott Synder were also in attendance but I could never find the time to get in their long line to get books signed. The Expo attracted some great talent this year and I can’t wait til next years line up.
Remember this guy? WAX ON. WAX OFF. Ralph Macchio was one of the headliners guest of the EXPO this year. He signed my copy of Kirate Kid, “To Kim, Wax on…Ralph Macchio!” Oh, yeah Kim is my wife. She was being a fan girl hardcore. This year’s guests ranged from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Spaceballs and even Good Burger. Sadly Cary Elwes cancelled last-minute, but never fear, Wallace Shawn was also one of this years guests. This is the best improvements that they made this year. The entertainment guests were not jammed in the back of room which clogged up the end of the isles. They were off to the side and it worked really well.
Like many other cons the Expo had panels for the guests to go and enjoy. Of course it was a great excuse for us to get off our feet too. There were 14 panels on Friday including a spotlight on Ralph Macchio. Saturday had 25 different panels including the one panel I attended with Jason Isaacs. Jason has started in Harry Potter as Lucious Malfoy and William Tavington in The Patriot. He most recently has starred on Star Trek Discovery as Captain Lorca. His stories about shooting Harry Potter were fantastic and enlightening. I am truly a fan of his work now. Sunday saw another 20 panels for the guests to attend. You could also spend all day in the panels if you truly wanted and there were plenty of gems to choose from.
The show floor was once again flooded with tons and tons of vendors. You could find almost any comic you wanted or any collectible FUNKO character imaged so far. The image below is a shot of the sales floor from the glass window above.
There were many other events for the guests to look at and do. The 501st were in attendance with the many fans dressed up as Stormtro0pers. Every year they also bring their Dewback and Stormtrooper display. Luke Skywalker’s landspeeder was also in attendance along with a jeep from Jurassic Park.
The Expo also considers the needs of the young fans. A dedicated kids area was there well for my daughter to enjoy the fun this year. I was hoping for the lego set-up they have had the last couple years and I sadly disappointed. Otherwise the kids could pay to make slime or pick an image from a free comic to make a button. There were several other dexterity games such as a ring toss and a shield throwing that would keep the kids busy.
Lastly I want to say thank you for the promoters of the show for allowing us to attend and cover the Expo. You continue to put on a great show. I hope the vendors walked away with enough profit to make it worthy of their time next year. Like every other show I have gotten to attend here is my “booty pic” of all the goodies from this year’s Expo.