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Con Report: Paragould Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

So, this post was written and somehow got filed away in my “saved” files without me ever posting. So, as is the mantra of many comic artists, better late than never! (oh stop it, you artists! I’m just kidding!)

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Me and mah boy!

Me and mah boy!

Imagine my surprise when I learned that Paragould, Arkansas was having a full-fledged comic/geek convention! And it happened to be near a time when I would be in town (Piggott, but that’s close enough) to try to attend. Of course, my second thought was “why didn’t they do that when I actually lived nearby!”

Regardless, I was extremely happy to be a part of the comic guestlist for the inaugural Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo in Paragould, Arkansas. And if you didn’t make it out, shame on you! It would have been well worth your time! The good news is, the con-organizer is already planning a second one!

New readers of Tiny!

New readers of Tiny!

There are three main things I enjoy when I go to comic conventions: the first is meeting fans old and new and talking with them about my projects. Yep, this is certainly an ego thing as all creative types like to hear that there is something about a work they’ve done that stood out with a fan. The second is getting to hang with the creators that I know. A third is getting to meet creators I’ve never had the opportunity to meet before. The cool thing about Paragould is all three of these things happened.

Me, Jason Boyster and son Greydon.

Me, Jason Boyster and son Greydon.

Jason Boyster approached me with his son, Greydon, and picked up a copy of (actually, I forget—but maybe it was Krey). Jason remembered talking to me in the late 90s when I’d actually been at a booth at the Piggott Fourth of July Picnic. He enjoyed our conversation and the books he picked up. He wanted to share a similar moment with his son. Yeah. Pretty cool, huh? Makes a writer all misty-eyed!

Friend Mitch Foust was an artist guest at the show and our mutual good buddy, mega-talented Dean Zachary made the drive up with his sweetheart (brave Dean, introducing her to the comic scene!) to say hi and to deliver a very cool item to me (sorry, that’s all you get for now. You’ll get more later—promise!). John Lucas was there, but didn’t get to talk much to him as he stayed pretty busy!

Timothy Lim (waving) and Mark Pellegrini (oblivious!).

Timothy Lim (waving) and Mark Pellegrini (oblivious!).

I also got to meet artists Timothy Lim, Kelly Williams, Larry Cathey as well as Timothy’s writer pal Mark Pellegrini. Many of us piled up and went to eat on Saturday night where we had a blast! (and my fifteen year old son got hit on by our 20-something waitress!) We talked comics, art, geeky stuff, a little politics (friendly, though, not that facebook hatred stuff) and more comic geeky stuff. Made me really wish I was back in that area because of the coolness!

My cousin, Dr. Kevin Mann stopped by to say hi. He’s made his home and dentist practice there in Paragould. Always nice to see family. And, of course, speaking of family, I love it when my kids get to go with me…and Brett got to attend the show with me! It’s always a fun papa time to show off mah kiddos!

So, not sure if I’ll get to make it back next year—I hope so. But if you’re in the area, you should plan to go!

View from the running track above

View from the running track above

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Paragould Arkansas: Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo

Hey all my NE Arkansas friends, family, and fans! I’ll be appearing as a COMIC GUEST at the Friendly Neighborhood Comic Expo this Saturday and Sunday in Paragould, Arkansas. It has the longest show hours of any show I’ve ever been to: Saturday is listed as 9am to 9pm and then Sunday from 9am until 7pm.

ParagouldFNCEOn Sunday, I’ll have my very own Q&A, which starts at 12pm—that’s noon for those of you who (like me), have a hard time remembering exactly if 12pm is noon or midnight. It’s noon, so show up and ask me some fun questions about working in comics as a writer or an editor…or about my cool day job teaching comic writing these days at Full Sail University!

This will be about my fourth time to appear as a guest at a show in the state of Arkansas, but only the second time as a “comic” guest and certainly the first in this part of the state. The first time I was a comic guest in the great state of Arkansas was in either 1999 or 2000 and was in Little Rock. I think the name of the show was “RockCon,” but I can’t find my notes from then, so I’m not sure. I DO remember that whoever it was putting on the show, treated me well.

The next time I was a guest was in 2010, and I was the Keynote Speaker at the Arkansas Writers Conference in Little Rock. My invite there, of course, was thanks to the writing retreats I’d done at the Hemingway Writers Retreats at the Hemingway-Pfieffer Museum and Education Center in Piggott, Arkansas. You can read about my fun experience as Keynote Speaker here: https://rolandmann.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/at-the-arkansas-writers’-conference/

I returned to Arkansas as an author guest in February of 2011 at Ozarks University in Clarksdale. Regrettably, it snowed that weekend and very few people attended the actual show. However, I still had a great time because I got to meet new people and make new writerly/artist friends.

So I’m very much looking forward to being a comic guest in Paragould. I’ve got a lot of family and friends in the surrounding area—my cousin (first cousin, for those of you keeping score), Dr. Kevin Mann is even a dentist in the area—so I’m hoping to see many of them during the two days.

As a diehard Razorback fan, I’d really like to be invited to do more comic shows in this state–hint hint to all you comic show coordinators!

See you Saturday and/or Sunday! Bring some stuff for me to sign, or pick something up from me there!

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MidSouthCon 30 report

When I first started writing comics, I lived in Hattiesburg, Miss., and was a regular guest at CoastCon for several years beginning in 1989. The crew was good to me (and the entire Silverline crew), it was close, and it seemed like everyone locally was attending. But I was always aware of MidSouthCon and really wanted to go. I couldn’t go because it was either on the exact same date or the weekend before or after. Being a struggling writer, I couldn’t really afford to go to both. It wasn’t until the late 90s that I had the opportunity to go to MidSouthCon, held in Memphis, the city of my birth.

Thus I didn’t really realize it was the 30th until sometime during the day Saturday (they use the Roman numerals and since I’m not Roman, I can’t read them easily)…and I don’t know if it was that or just that it is a sign of recovery, but there were a ton of people there; it was very crowded at times—which is good.

This was the first year that a)I didn’t set up at a table; b)I didn’t attend the entire weekend (I couldn’t); c)my son, Brett, had the chance to attend a con. Because I didn’t have a table, I felt a bit orphaned. It was a strange experience. Brett seemed to love the experience, though. He played games practically the entire time (though I did tell him he couldn’t spend $60 on a sword), even electing to skip out on my panels!

My first panel of the day was shared with a few folks, including John Jackson Miller and Anthony Taylor. The topic was “Playing in other people’s sandbox,” which is about writing material that belongs to someone else (like Star Wars or Planet of the Apes). One of the common questions there was about fan fiction as it seemed several were under the impression that writing it is a good way to “get noticed.” Miller was quick to point out that the Star Wars franchise folks do not want that for fear of possible lawsuits. So it doesn’t get read by people who would matter. I’ve never really understood the draw of fan fiction and have read very little of it. My thoughts are write something original; create your own world to play in. That, or get HIRED to do the work.

I then had the opportunity to sit on the “Marketing for Authors” panel with such writers as A. P. Stephens, Janine Spendlove, Mike Preston, Peggy DeKay, and Stephen Zimmer. Zimmer was the only one I’d ever met before, but was a good panel with lots of questions from those in the audience. As you might guess, digital publishing was a big topic!

The last panel I did was “Indie Comics” with Sean Taylor and Tom Bondurant. I’ve “known” Sean for several years now, but never had the pleasure of meeting him in person and was nice to finally get to do so. Go visit Sean’s site to learn more about him. Tom writes for CBR.

I would tell you that Dean Zachary was also on the panel, but he bailed! (in his defense, he was making money in the Dealer’s Room) But I did get to visit with him and other artist extraordinaire Jim Hall and Mitch Foust. Actually, I had a more lengthy chat with Mitch on comic story-telling standing in the hallway at the close of the con which was quite enjoyable.

There’s a whole host of folks that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with but who I want to shout out to here: A. Christopher Drown (who was the recipient of a Darrel Award!), Alexander S.
Brown, David Blalock, Herika R. Raymer, J.L. Mulvihill, AND, some folks I had the opportunity to meet for the first time: Kimberly Richardson (who is the editor for an anthology to which I’ve submitted AND who said she remembered my story and liked it—so that bodes well for the story), S.P. Dorning (who I’ve swapped a ton of emails with, but had never met face to face), and Bobby Nash.

And since Brittany had the camera with her for Prom…I didn’t get to take any pictures. Still, a good time was had!

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MidSouthCon 2010 report

I mentioned in this space several weeks ago that 2010 was shaping up to be a busy year. On March 12-14, I was a “comic industry guest” at MidSouthCon, held in Olive Branch, Mississippi. (Though I understand the Federal Government is requiring them to move back to Tennessee next year). While I attended ShadowCon in January, this was the first full Sci-Fi/Comics Convention I’d attended as a guest in nearly a decade. Yes, it feels weird to say that as it doesn’t feel like that much time has passed.

My stay was made possible by my sister Angie who lives nearby. She put me up and gave me a soft bed to sleep in, even if I wasn’t there to visit too terribly often. I was able, though, to talk her into coming out and visiting a real geek-convention for the first time ever. She has remained oddly silent about the entire experience. This was also Brittany’s first time to visit a convention—she even got the shirt!

I was seated next to a couple of guys I used to hire during my Malibu days. They happen to be some pretty talented artists, as well. Dean Zachary, Mitch Foust, Jim Hall, all shared a joint booth space and practically didn’t move the entire three days, steadily drawing whatever was requested by fans. And the Star Wars fans were out in droves. They came to see Star Wars comic writer John Jackson Miller, and Kevin J. Anderson, who was the Guest of Honor. Though I’ve known John for some 15+ years, I guess it’s been more peripherally than directly. To my knowledge (and his as well, he claimed), this was the first time I’d met him in person. John was just as nice as I expected, and novelist Anderson—of whom I had no expectations—was equally nice. Anderson sat to my left when he wasn’t on panels.

Some of my new acquaintances were there as well: Imagicopter founder David Blalock was there, but I regrettably didn’t get to speak much with him. Novelist Bryan Davis came for the banquet on Saturday. I spoke with him briefly and met his wife. I even had the chance to try to recruit him a little for Imagicopter (Yes, I’ll blog about that a little later).

I met some other new folks as well. Musician Chris Brown manned Anderson’s table most of the time while Anderson was away. An incredible guitarist, I anticipate he will be performing as the music guest at cons to come in the very near future. Lin Workman has been working in comics for a while, and I find it odd that he’s located so close in Memphis yet I’d never had the opportunity to meet him.

A surprise visit by Mississippi 4H leader (don’t know her official title) Linda Mitchell surprised me a bit. But I tell you, she is always on the lookout for events that her incredibly talented group of 4H kids might like. She and husband Dean were all smiles as they made their way around the convention. It’s highly likely she’ll bring a group of 4H kids there next year…and I suspect they’ll have the time of their lives!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention MidSouthCon Committee member Carlin Stuart. Carlin was my liaison and the entire reason I attended and was able to attend. He took good care of me! I’m hoping to hear from Carlin in the coming months with an invitation to do it all again next year!

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