Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Saturday would be our busiest day at Indy Pop Con 2016. I was not scheduled to be on any panels, but there would be a steady stream of fans coming into Artist Alley from start (9 am for the fans with VIP passes, 10 am for everyone else) to finish (6 pm). There were 40 events and panels on the day’s schedule as well as 20 showings of fan films.

My son Eddie attended some of the panels and did some shopping as well. He covered for me when I wanted to walk around the show and talk to friends or take other breaks. Our sales were excellent throughout the show: Black Lightning trades, individual comic-book issues written by me and the double-sided Superman poster I helped design for the 1988 International Superman Exposition in Cleveland. My supply of the poster is dwindling and I would not be surprised if this is the last year I’ll be selling them.

I cannot say enough good things about the incredible Indy Pop Con volunteers. My pal Stephan Friedt was my “handler” and made sure I had everything I needed. The con volunteers came by regularly with water bottles and snacks, and to cover the table when I needed to leave for a few minutes. I am very grateful for their assistance.

The cosplay at the convention was sensational. My favorite cosplay scene might have been when a lovely woman dressed as Princess Peach knelt on the floor to talk to a very young girl dressed as a Disney princess. The smiling child was in awe of the older cosplayer. At one point, the girl was arranging the woman’s bright-yellow wig as if she were playing with a life-size doll. This was truly a special moment for the girl, the cosplayer and those who saw it.

Raven of the Teen Titans was a popular character for the cosplayers at the show. Every incarnation of Raven from both the comic books and cartoons was seen as interpreted by over a dozen cosplayers. I confess I prefer the cute cartoon version over other versions. Yes, I know my pals Marv Wolfman and George Perez gave Raven one of the darkest origins imaginable, but, after the third or fourth story by lesser talents in which she embraced or threatened to embrace her dark heritage, I got bored. I’m Team Cute Raven.

My friend Jennifer Otto-Lahr was rocking her Batgirl costume. She was at the convention were her son Connor. They will be attending G-Fest this month and we look forward to hanging out with them at that stellar event. All praise the Great Scaly One who protects us with his fiery atomic love. It can be a tough love, but, you know, the folly of man and all.

Across the aisle from me, Cog Neutron was turning the lovely Rannie Rodil into “Sailor Popeye,” one of the most disturbing and yet fun cosplays I’ve ever seen. After making a few jokes...”This is what happens when you eat genetically modified spinach” and “She will punish you in the name of the Goon!”...I chatted with Rodil about the comfort of the appliances and learned that she was a huge Popeye fan. I enjoyed talking with her.

There was a Weird Al Yankovic cosplayer at the show. At least, I hope he was a cosplayer. I would have been crushed if I’d missed a chance to meet one of my favorite entertainers.

Carmen Sandiego was seen walking the convention with Waldo. Which explains so much.

There were Ghostbusters and ghosts from the Pac Man game. There was an Adam West-style Batman with a bomb. There were some pretty good Superman cosplayers, including my friend Mark Dooley. There a bunch of characters from anime and gaming which I did not recognize, but which Eddie thought were pretty cool. There was a young man dressed as Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He smiled when I thanked him for his service to the Rebel Alliance.

One of my favorite cosplays of the convention was a group dressed as characters from Jurassic World. There was a cosplayer dressed as the Chris Pratt character holding a small child dressed in a raptor costume. There was also a woman dressed as the Bryce Dallas Howard character. Later in the day, I saw her chased down an aisle by a T-Rex. I applaud her ability to run in high heels. I think I sprained an ankle just watching her.

As was done last year, there were “PopCon trading cards” designed by various artists for themselves and other guests. There were 42 of them this year, ranging from Tara Strong to Freddie Wong. Other cards showcased Night of the Comet, Joe Rubinstein, Lloyd Kaufman, Karen Gillan, Princess Rap Battle, Grizz Chapman and others. Last year, I tried and failed to collect them all. This year, I was too busy to even try. But the cards are very cool.

I got some free comics on Saturday. Wil Brendel, who drew my Indy PopCon trading card last year, dropped by my table to give me the new issue of his Redeemers series. Brian Wyrick game me the entire run of Henchmen. I read and enjoyed these comics, but you’ll have to wait a few days for my reviews of them.

I met comics artist Patrick Zircher, who stopped by my table for a bit. He’s drawing Action Comics these days and doing a great job on the title. We chatted about my early 1970s time working in the old Marvel Bullpen. Those were some good times for me. I got to learn from so many masters of the comics craft.

I spent most of the day at my table signing comic books and other stuff I’ve written, answering questions from fans and talking with too many old friends to name because I’ll feel terrible when I realize I’ve left someone out. I was interviewed a couple times for podcasts and what not. Most of those interviews took place in the convention press room, which, as I mentioned yesterday, is a great idea. It’s a much more comfortable setting for such interviews than the convention floor. You don’t have to shout over the din of the happy crowd.

Before Eddie and I left the convention on Saturday, I informed the promoters we would have to leave a few hours before the end of the event on Sunday. Eddie had scored a ticket to the watch party for the final game of the NBA championship game between our Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Though the game would be played in Oakland, it would be broadcast on huge screens inside and outside the arena where the Cavaliers play. The convention was cool with our early exit, but there was a problem.

The convention center wouldn’t allow anyone to part outside their loading area until the end of the show. That had not been the case last year, but, for whatever reason - I’m going to go with really petty bureaucracy - they wouldn’t allow it this year. Eddie and I would have to come up with a different plan.

Eddie is a terrific traveling companion in many ways. One of those is that he can usually find really good restaurants. For Saturday night’s meal, we went to The Yard House on West Maryland Street, “a “modern public house where food and beer lovers unite.”

The Yard House was clean and clearly family-friendly. The servers were attentive, fast and friendly. The prices weren’t low, but the quality of the food was very high. As best as I recall, we ordered buffalo chicken and crispy duck wings as appetizers. Eddie ordered several craft beers and liked most of them.

My meal was a Southern Fried Chicken Breast (boneless with creamed corn, BBQ beans, spinach mashed potatoes and bourbon gravy). Very tasty and the best creamed corn I have ever had in my life. Okay, I know the bar is set very low when it comes to creamed corn, but I’m going to give the side dish another chance soon. Perhaps there have been groundbreaking advances in creamed corn technology since my previous experiences with it.

Eddie ordered the Cuban Roast Pork Dip sandwich with pepper jack cheese, pickles, tomato, Dijon mustard, garlic a├»oli, garlic french bread and red mojo dip. He quickly pronounced it the finest Cuban  Roast sandwich he’s ever had.

Five stars for The Yard House. We’ll eat there again.

After dinner, Eddie decided he wanted to relax in our room. Feeling like I should show my face, I walked over to the official PopCon after party at the GFUEL Esports Arena. I didn’t see anyone I knew, so I headed back to the hotel.

As I walked through the lobby, I was waved over by the fine folks who’d been on the Friday comics panel with me: Lee Cherolis, Jackie Crofts and Brian Wyrick. We were then joined by Grizz Chapman, who played Grizz on TV’s 30 Rock and who also owns a comic-book store in the Bronx. We headed to the hotel’s Severin Bar for drinks. We were eventually joined by Christine Blanch and some of the guys who work at the comic shop owned by her and Mark Waid. A few days ago, I listed this evening as one of the...

THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY: Hanging out at the hotel bar with much younger than me comics people Christina Blanch, Lee Cherolis, Jackie Crofts, Brian Wyrick and others. I don’t know if they get anything out of it, but such times keep me engaged and keep me feeling young.

One or two drinks later, I headed up to the hotel room. Eddie and I needed to work out a plan for our departure from the hotel in the morning and from the convention in the afternoon. We did. It looked good. We just had to see if it would all come together.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the finale of my Indy Pop Con 2016 report. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella


  1. Game 7 was played in Oakland, not San Diego.

    No need to publish this.

    1. Thanks. I have corrected my brain fart. I guess I always have San Diego in my head in July, even when I'm not going to Comic-Con.

  2. :facepalm: Tony, Tony, Tony. Finn is in the Resistance. The Rebel Alliance was gone before he was born.