Hellboy, photo by Bruce Guthrie
Guest columnist Bruce Guthrie has written a report on Mid-Ohio Con:
I attended the Mid-Ohio-Con in Columbus, Ohio last weekend. I used to go to the show a decade or more ago when it was in Mansfield, Ohio and I hadn't been back since then but they still send me postcards.
If you've never done the Mid-Ohio-Con, it's a nice little show. It doesn't have that many special guests but it's low-key enough that you can actually talk to them.
This year, one of the guests of honor was to be Margot Kidder, who had played Lois Lane in the Superman movies, and that sounded pretty cool given what I had heard about her bi-polar issues. Other people I was looking forward to were Sergio Aragones (Groo, MAD Magazine), Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean), Noel Neill (the original "Lois Lane"), Mark Goddard (from "Lost In Space"), Dave Dorman, Mark Evanier, and Steve Rude.
Tom Batiuk of Funky Winkerbean, photo by Bruce Guthrie
There was no appearance by local boy Jeff Smith ("Bone") but I did get lost in his neighborhood one night...
As far the convention itself was concerned, they thought their headliners were Doug Jones (who played Silver Surfer in the most recent Fantastic Four movie), Arthur Suydam, Rich Buckler, Gary Friedrich, Michael Golden, Arvell Jones, Tony Isabella, Keith Pollard, Roger Stern, Herb Trimpe, and Rob Wilson.
Well, long story short, Margot Kidder didn't make it. They said she was working that weekend up in Canada. Anyway...
The two-day ticket to the show was all of $15. Columbus is pretty quiet over Thanksgiving so I got a Motel 6 room for about $35/night. I was willing to walk a couple of blocks for parking -- parking on Saturday cost me $2 and parking on Sunday was free. And gas at the local Costco was $2.78.9. Okay, so I'm cheap. Deal with it.
All right, so back to the show. It featured two program tracks -- 10 sessions on Friday and 8 on Saturday. Being photo-obsessive, I hopped around to most of the sessions. (Pictures from the weekend are on my web site at http://www.digitalphalanx.com/bguthrie ) [editor's note - 6 pages of them!]
Sergio Aragones, photo by Bruce Guthrie
Over a quarter of the sessions involved Mark Evanier. He handled a birthday interview with Noel Neill, a panel discussing reprinting all of the comic strips from Pogo (Carolyn Kelly -- Walt Kelly's daughter -- was there for that), a Groo panel (with Sergio Aragones), an interview with Steve Rude, and a roast for Maggie Thompson (editor of the Comics Buyer's Guide). He's working on a biography of Jack Kirby who Evanier had served as an assistant to. You check out his Wikipedia entry and he's written for a number of television series -- including the third Bob Newhart series "Bob" and a variety of, well, kind of crappy cartoons. He's got Emmy nominations for that but he's on strike now along with the other TV writers. This is one interesting guy! He's got a wonderful, dry sense of humor and an amazing memory.
I ended up chatting with quite a few of the people including Mark,Sergio Aragones, Steve Rude, Noel Neill, etc. If you've never met Sergio before, do so! He's got a sparkling personality. And he draws so quickly and with such detail -- truly a marvel to watch.
One conversation was with Craig Boldman who was manning a booth for the National Cartoonists Society (Great Lakes Chapter) and the OSU Cartoon Research Library. In that capacity, he had been involved with the 2007 Festival of Cartoon Arts which our own Mike Rhode had attended just last month. A friendly guy, Craig's someone who likes to know everyone's name and home city when he talks to you. I told him I was from Silver Spring and he said Kim DeMulder was from around there too (Bethesda). He also told me there was an artist at the show who was from around me. It turned out she was from Harpers Ferry. Well, no, not *that* near me...
Craig Boldman of NCS, photo by Bruce Guthrie
Some of the panels were better than others. The most popular ones -- "Horror you? Fine by me!", "Superhero Trivia Challenge", and "Who Wants to be a Superhero?" -- were the least appealing to me. Most of the remaining panels were half-filled at best. I think all of Mark's fit into this category. This isn't a criticism of Mark.
Realistically, he represents the old guard in comic-dom -- Wikipedia mentions he's "the documented administrator for the official Walt Kelly Pogo site" -- and at San Diego, he often chaired sessions for golden age comic book folks. I asked him if he liked newer comics and he said, except for the ones he writes, he doesn't read them at all anymore. I asked if that was because he was stuck on the comics he grew up on. He said that might be part of it but he said most of the comic books these days have lost their emphasis on storylines. He also says they're too hard for most people to pick up anymore since they're usually confined to specialty shops. I'm a little younger than he is but I agree with him -- all of his panels were of interest to me.
There was a panel with three science fiction-related performers -- Mark Goddard (Major Don West in "Lost In Space"), Sarah Douglas ("Ursa" in Superman II), and Scott L. Schwartz ("bad guy" in a variety of shows -- even his web site http://www.ultimatebadguy.com/ promotes him as the ultimate bad guy -- including Bruiser on the three Oceans Eleven films). Mark and Sarah commented a lot about why you should pay them for their autographs because they don't make residuals for
their shows. Well, sorry folks, but you're not making buckets of money in part because you're mostly doing bit parts, often in shows that weren't that great in the first place. Personally, I used to watch "Lost In Space" as a kid but, unlike "Andy Griffith", "Gunsmoke", and "Combat", I don't think the show holds up very well and I have zero interest in watching the episodes again.
Sarah Douglas talked about working with Marlon Brando and how he never remembered lines. They'd put his scripts within eye shot using teleprompters and text stuck on fence posts, foreheads, etc. She said for "Last Tango," his lines were written on the naked body of the actress he was making love to. I know George Clooney is similar -- doesn't remember lines -- and Noel mentioned that the Perry White actor usually had the lines written on the papers he was always shuffling on his desk.
Bruce with Sergio Aragones
Anyway, that's about it. I enjoyed the show. I don't know what the attendance was -- after San Diego, everything is small. There were a higher percentage of people in costume than I'm used to seeing at the Baltimore and San Diego cons. I can't say much about the dealer room since I don't shop for comic books anymore -- they looked pretty busy so I guess things were good in that department.