Con Report: Leesburg Comic Con, 2015

Me with a new fan (hopefully he'll like my work and seek out more) and his young Dr. Who son!

Me with a new fan (hopefully he’ll like my work and seek out more) and his young Dr. Who son!

On Saturday I attended the Leesburg Comic Con in Leesburg, Florida. I’ve been under the impression that this was the first ever such event, however, several attendees told me they’d been to that event several times before, albeit smaller, making me think they’d done a “comic con” before just on a much smaller scale. So, truthfully, I’m not really sure if it was the first one or not.

Regardless, Brett and I had a fun time. While we had fun, the show was actually pretty slow for those on the 2nd floor; the first floor was a hap’ning place. Regrettably, though, many didn’t make it upstairs, which is were I was…I was…well, in the bio section and there was barely enough room to walk by…and that’s what many did despite my attempts to engage them. I considered tackling some, but decided better. That said, I did meet some cool folks and some who took the chance to pick up some of my work without having heard of me before. That’s always cool and I’m ever thankful to the READERS who take that chance. I also always solicit feedback in order to help me grow as a writer.

I got to meet Charlene Qazi (a former online student of mine. Here she is with me and her grandmother.

I got to meet Charlene Qazi (a former online student of mine. Here she is with me and her grandmother.

I took a small stash of comics to give away since this was a library thing. I’ll tell you—I’m surprised at the number of folks who actually decline a free comic. I was giving away a bunch of the extra copies of ROCKET RANGER that I have so maybe had it been Spider-Man or Batman the responses would have been different. I dunno…but I rarely turn down something free when I’m at a con.

I got to meet Charlene Qazi, one of my former online students who brought her grandmother with her to the convention. Grandma was pretty cool, too, traipsing around all the cosplay and geek folks.

I also got to chat with Kingstone publisher Art Aryis who was set up right next to me. Kingstone was there because they’re local to Leesburg. They’re the publisher of the graphic novel THE REMAINING that I was pushing to you all a few months back (and I TRUST you all ran out and grabbed a copy!). Manning the Kingstone table for much of the day was Stephen, one of the

Me with Kingstone publisher Art Aryis.

Me with Kingstone publisher Art Aryis.

hardworking staff at Kingstone. It was cool to learn that he wasn’t just a “worker,” but he was both a comic geek and a Christ follower!

Unless something comes up, July and August will be quiet for me in terms of signings/appearances/conventions. September, however, gets busy-busy! I’ll talk more as the dates get closer, but on September 19, I’ll be at the Mt. Dora Comic Show. The following weekend (Sept 25-27) I’ll be a comic guest at the WizardWorld show in Nashville, TN. The weekend after that (Oct 2-4) I’ll be a comic guest at the WizardWorld show in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Two week after that (Oct 16-18), I’ll be a speaker at the Florida Writers Conference in Altamonte Springs, FL. Whew! But I’m very much looking forward to them!

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Daytona Beach Comic Con Report and Leesburg Tomorrow!

Last Saturday I attended my first ever Daytona Beach Comic Book Convention held on the campus of Embry-Riddle. Wow. Pretty much what I have to lead with! The show was held in the basketball gym…but it’s not like you think; remember, this is a university gym, so it’s much fancier than most high school gyms. Truthfully, except for entering and exiting, I didn’t notice it at all.

What I DID notice, however, was the abundance of comic books! If I were a betting man—and I’m not—I’d bet there were more comic books at this show than at MegaCon. I didn’t count them, of course, but it sure felt that way.

Me with Jeff Whiting at Daytona Beach Comic Con

Me with Jeff Whiting at Daytona Beach Comic Con

A highlight was having my table situated next to both my old pal Jeff Whiting and my new pal Jesse Hansen. I’ve swapped some email with Jesse over the last year that might end up turning into something in the future (you always know you’ll be the first to know here); and Jeff I’ve known since I worked with him back in the early 90s. Jeff was one of my go-to inkers when I was an editor. He was there with his own creator-owned book, Shanghai! We had a blast catching up. Plus, he rocks a pretty mean hat!

I also got to meet a couple of folks I’d never met face-to-face before. Artist Alex Saviuk (who I seem to recall meeting briefly when I was at con while a Malibu editor) and Bill Black, now retired publisher of AC Comics. (Bill is also the photographer of the photo of me and Jeff; while Jeff’s wife Patricia is the photographer of the Jeff POV photo!)

Jeff's POV from our tables at Daytona Beach Comic Con (actually, this is Patricia's POV, Jeff's wife)

Jeff’s POV from our tables at Daytona Beach Comic Con (actually, this is Patricia’s POV, Jeff’s wife)

It was such a fun show, I’m working hard to stay in the good graces of the show’s organizer Tom Raupp—because I want him to invite me back for the next one!

Tomorrow (Saturday, June 13), I’ll be at the first ever Leesburg Public Library Comic Con

. They’ve got a whole slate of guests, including the band Grabthar’s Hammer (if you don’t know that reference, what are you doing still here? Go Google it so you can be cool like the rest of us!); some live action roleplaying; and a bunch of cool authors…including me!

So, head on up to Leesburg, listen to some music, buy some books and get some autographs—it’s FREE! I’ll see you there!

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Come see me at Daytona Beach

This Sunday, June 7, I’ll be at Daytona Beach Comic and Toy Convention. Those of you in driving distance, get there. I mean, what more could you ask for? Comics and beach! Just be sure you avoid the sharks. Follow the link above for directions, but it’s only $5 to get in the door and there’ll be some cool creators I get to hang out with, including Jeff Whiting, an artist I worked with “back in the day.” I’m also working hard to convince him to do some creative stuff with me! Hopefully this will help! Ha Other folks there include: Tom Lyle, Jim Fern, Jesse Hansen, some of the Walking Dead’s actors, and some other creative types!

Me and mah boy manning the table at SCNF 2015

Me and mah boy manning the table at SCNF 2015

Last week Brett and I hid out at Space Coast Nerd Fest and had a great time meeting folks there. Brittany and BJ hit the beach for some sun and sand. Brittany even brought back a trophy: SUNBURN! Ha.

I enjoyed SCNF as it reminded me much of the shows in Mississippi I went to when I first started going to shows. The name is a giveaway, of course, but it was all things nerd, from comics to games to toys to Walking Dead. I got to meet Sebastian Piccone (no, don’t ask me to pronounce it for you—he graciously said I could call him “Seb”), a teacher/comic writer local to the area, and had a great time chatting comics with him. Here’s a link to his site—go show him some Mann-love and tell him I sent you!

Next weekend, on Saturday the 13th, I’ll be in Leesburg for their first ever comic con. I’m excited to be a part of their first event. If you’re local, you should make plans to help them make it successful! More about it next week!

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Space Coast Nerd Fest 2015

As if being over near Cape Canaveral where rockets frequently blast off into space (how cool is it to know that still happens regularly?) wasn’t cool enough, where miles of Atlantic beaches await the sunworshippers, the area is going to have a geek convention this weekend…and YOU should be there.

Space Coast Nerd Fest in in Melbourne, Florida and is happening tomorrow and Sunday (that’s May 23 and 24, for those of you who are checking in late on this blog). The website tells me that tickets are $10 for one day and $15 for both days. That’s a steal! And I gotta tell you, in my experience, shows that charge less at the door are generally going to offer you more of a personal experience inside.

SCNerdFestIf you’re coming out to see me—and I hope you do!—I’m only able to be there on Sunday (12-5). But there will be some pretty cool guests there, including Michael Winslow, the guy who makes all those cool/whacky/funny sounds in the movies. Michael Koske, from The Walking Dead will be there. Met him up at the Geek Gathering in Alabama and he’s one heck of a nice guy. So if you’re a WD fan, go meet him and get his autograph. Tell him I sent you and to leave your brains intact!

I’m supposed to be participating in a panel on Sunday, but I’m not sure what time that takes place. A full report will be coming next week—maybe I’ll have a new tan, too, you never know! Meanwhile, head on over to their facebook page and give them some Rolo-love and “like” them. See you there!

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Free Comic Book Day 2015

Saturday, May 2, was Free Comic Book Day all over these United States. Hopefully all of you reading my blog already know that. If not…well, I’ve failed you.

FCBD300WFree Comic Book Day (FCBD) is the brainchild of comic store owner, Joe Field. I’m fortunate enough to have met Joe during the 90s and enjoyed talking to him about his take on how to run a store. A short history of the day is written here by John Jackson Miller much better than I could attempt. This is the fourteenth year for the annual event. If you’ve never been to one, shame on you. It’s your opportunity to snag free comics and check out new material.

Interestingly, I told everyone I saw on Saturday that it was the second time I’d participated, the last time was two years ago. That’s part true. It was the second time I’d been at one of the cool local stores to promote comics (and myself), but the last time I did it was actually 2011. Wow, that was FOUR years ago. My how time flies. (and I just learned that the store where I signed books is no longer open. Very sad, because Heroes and Dreams was a very good store!).

Me manning the table during FCBD 2015 at Coliseum of Comics Fashion Square Mall. You can see my pal Barry off to my right.

Me manning the table during FCBD 2015 at Coliseum of Comics Fashion Square Mall. You can see my pal Barry off to my right.

This year I was honored to be a part of the creative assemblage put together by Aaron and his crew at Coliseum of Comics in the Fashion Square Mall in Orlando. To help matters, Avengers: Age of Ultron was playing in the theater right above us. Hundreds of folks turned out there, so I can only guess what it was like all over the US.

The day was also made fun because I got to sit right next to my old pal Barry Gregory (and son, Fox). Barry was there pushing his new comic John Aman: Amazing Man. He’s also got a kickstarter going on to support the next issues, so you should consider going to support it!

Speaking of kickstarters, Chuck Bordell’s Victor’s Horror Compendium was a success, so be looking for it. It contains a short Civil War ghost comic based on a short story I wrote. Chuck will be illustrating it and I’m very excited to see it! If he lets me, I’ll post some sneak peeks here, and also let you know where to go grab it if you didn’t pledge (shame on you!).

Events up next for me are Space Coast Nerd Fest on May 24th (I’ll only be there the one day, but all day); Daytona Comic Con on June 7; and Leesburg Public Library Comic Con on June 13th. If you’re in the area then, come see me!

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25

Twenty-five years ago today, I married the love of my life. Fortunately for me, she’s been able to put up with me for 25 years. Well, plus a little more.

Roland and BJ posing after the wedding

Roland and BJ posing after the wedding

BJ is fond of telling folks that we should really add seven years to the number of years we’ve been married, because that’s how long we dated. Usually, when she tells folks—especially the ladies—she gets all sorts of sympathy in the form of “wow, you really waited on him a long time.” It works for her. But you can read more about that in this post seven years ago (the one I wrote for my 18th anniversary).

Had you told me twenty-five years ago that I’d be living in Florida, I’d have told you that you were nuts. Florida was never on my radar as a place to live…never. Alas here we are…

Way back when BJ and I were still just talking about getting married, she once told me she didn’t care where we lived as long as she was with me, all was good. She even said she’d live in a tent! Well, we’ve not had to live in a tent thus far, but there’s been a time or two I had to ask her if she was serious about the tent thing.

But what’s more important impressive is that she’s put up with me these years. Even through all the moves: Mississippi-California-Mississippi-Alabama-Tennessee-Arkansas… She’s let me keep my 10k comics (which have actually dwindled down to about 7.5k these days because I’ve gotten very tired of moving them!), puts up with me going to silly comic conventions (and have pretty successfully gotten my kids hooked on them), actually encourages me to play war games with my son (how cool is that? “Yes, I guess I should spend some quality father/son time and play some war game.”), and will stand in line to watch a superhero movie when it’s released, even if she’s not that excited about it.

Roland and BJ wedding reception 1990

Roland and BJ wedding reception 1990

So while I’m taking the time to say it aloud (and to the world, so y’all listen up!), I say it privately (mostly to myself) pretty much every day: I’m doggone lucky that she’s put up with me for so long.

BJ, you are the love of my life. Don’t ever forget that.

Happy 25th anniversary!

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MegaCon2015 = MegaCool!

Me, Brittany and Brett (attempting--but failing to hide behind us) at the booth!

Me, Brittany and Brett (attempting–but failing to hide behind us) at the booth!

As has been my habit the last few years, today’s entry will be a report on MegaCon 2015, which was held last week (Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 10-12). This was the third year sequentially for me to be at MegaCon since moving to Florida, and my fourth MegaCon overall (the first time I went to MegaCon was in the late 90s—I wasn’t blogging then). Some of you recall my post from last year when I talked about the clogged aisles. It seems all that was resolved this year with the move back to the west arena. While there were still massive crowds (I never saw a final count), the aisles had been expanded allowing for greater foot traffic and stopping for cosplayers. It was still crowded, but with lots of elbow room.

So my move to Indy Press was an interesting experiment as well. There are pros and cons about the location. Pro: I was on the end of the row, a corner, so lots of traffic passed by on two sides. Con: the show would only let us open the booth to one direction, kinda negating the corner aspect. The other—and this was the far bigger issue, I think—is that I signed up to be in “Indy Press,” an area where I thought I’d be surrounded by other small press publishers. There was one. The people to the booth right beside me were selling…get this…pillows. Uh. What? How is that “Indy Press?”

I'm making the face because the young fan (to the right) said I didn't look like my caricature. After I smiled, she agreed I was indeed Roland Mann.

I’m making the face because the young fan (to the right) said I didn’t look like my caricature. After I smiled, she agreed I was indeed Roland Mann.

Sigh.

I shared the booth space with writer Wes Locher (who is also a former student of mine) because the price tag was higher than I really thought I could make. That was a good decision because a)I got to spend time in the booth talking with him when there were occasional lulls (and they were occasional); b)it cut the cost in half…which ultimately meant I covered my portion of the table—which is always nice. We did a give-away together and gave away $50 worth of books to Matt de Simone and Lucas Loman.

I got to take the annual photo with Robert McGinty…but I can’t seem to locate it. Had great dinners both nights; Friday night with the aqua-talented Paul Pelletier and Saturday night with Barry Gregory (and son!). Missed this year was old pal Bill Sawyer.

Autographs are always FREE!

Autographs are always FREE!

I didn’t do a panel this year. There seemed to be confusion about the Mega-folks the last part of the year—at least in their communication with me. They announced they’d sold the show a few days before the start, so I’m guessing that’s where all the confusion came from. The previous two years were smooth sailing.

As with good shows, I’m already anticipating next years. It’ll be moved to May (Memorial Day) next year…which I’m skeptical of (but note that I already said I was anticipating next year!) only because there are so many other shows in the summer, I’d rather see them move it the other way on the calendar. Part of the reason I think the April show worked is this is Florida. It’s not cold in the winter, regardless of what the locals say!

And for you Orlando-local people, don’t forget to mark May 2 on your calendars. It’s FREE COMIC BOOK DAY and I’ll be signing books at the COLISEUM OF COMICS in the Fashion Square Mall—all day long! Come see me!

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