Thursday, October 31, 2019


What Has Gone Before:

I’m in Knoxville, Tennessee for Fanboy Expo 2.0. It’s nearly 5 pm on Friday night and the event is about to open.

Occupying the location of the US Pavilion of the 1982 World's Fair, the Knoxville Convention Center is 500,000 square feet with 120,000 square feet of exhibit space. It’s an enormous and mostly very well maintained facility. Some of the restrooms did leave something to be desired, but others were fine.

Fanboy Expo 2.0 was only using a third of its summer event space, but that was still an enormous area. My booth was across from the Charles Bond Comics tables with lots of great old comics and very reasonably-priced hardcovers and trades. Charles and I have known each other for years and it was great to catch up with him. Kudos also to Jimmy, his assistant at the show, who always kept the comics conversation flowing.

Just before the show opened, a bulky, squirrel-y looking character walked close to my booth, which, as you probably figured out, had a great deal of Black Lightning material on sale. Posters, pins and trade paperbacks. He stopped in front of my table and...

...flashed a white power symbol at me.

I realize some dispute the “okay” hand symbol is a racist symbol. In this case, there was no mistaking the intent of this individual or the terrified look on his face when he realized I knew exactly what he was doing. I shot him an angry look and he scurried away. I didn’t see him again that weekend. 

Everyone else I met in Knoxville, whether they were associated with the convention or working at the hotel, were wonderful, welcoming  people. I didn’t let this one guy occupy my brain for more than it took to write about the above incident.

These Friday night previews are interesting. Sometimes they set the tone for the convention. Other times they reveal nothing about what to expect on Saturday and Sunday. If a promoter asks me to do them, I do them.

My sales at my table were about what I expected. My biggest seller was Marvel’s Greatest Creators: Tony Isabella #1, reprinting the first appearance of Misty Knight. This is an exclusive variant that is only available from me. It’s signed and number and the print run was 1000 copies. I sell them for $10 each. I brought ten copies. I had sold them all before noon on Saturday.

I do charge a modest $5 per item for my signature. (I sign comics and other items purchased from me for free.) Over the weekend, the signatures amounted to 52% of my take for the convention. In case you were wondering why I charge for signatures.

Besides people telling me how much love Black Lightning and the TV series, I think the line I heard most often was:

“Tony Isabella? I read some of your comics when I was young!”

Tempering the anguish of being so freaking old, I was delighted by how many fans, including many not born when I was writing comics in the 1970s, said they felt my stories hold up as well today as they must have when first published. I have always given everything I had to every assignment I’ve taken. It pleases me to know all of that hard work was worth it.

One of my all-time favorite convention vendors was at Fanboy Expo 2.0: Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda Company. I’ve enjoyed their root beer at many conventions, but the mix was off at the last one I attended. The heavenly brew was back to its usual incredible at this convention. I bought a mini-mug with free refills.

Were there legendary burps? There were.

I’m cutting today’s bloggy thing short so I can spend time with my Saintly Wife Barb. I will be back tomorrow with a brief interlude to this report. I hope you’ll be entertained and intrigued by what I’ll be writing about. See you then.

© 2019 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. LOOOOVE Wild Bill's, althought in Dallas it seems to have been replaced with Pecos Pete's (same set-up and great root beer!)

    Hoping to see you in Dallas soon!