Tricon a convention for the fans, by the fans
The Tri-State Comic Convention in Huntington is the kind of event I’d be going to even if I wasn’t trying to get people to check out the webcomic I’m writing and maybe buy some stuff.
The second Tricon was held April 6, and in its short existence the show has already been able to attract an impressive array of comic industry talent, thanks in no small part to the efforts and networking of organizers James Maddox and Eric Watkins, founders of Broken Icon Comics. However, it’s not so massive and sprawling you’ll be fighting the crowd and standing in line for long periods of time instead of searching the back issue bins, picking up collectibles and memorabilia and meeting some of your favorite writers and artists – and others who might just become your favorites.
This year’s Tricon brought in some impressive names from the comic industry, including “Birds of Prey,” “X” and “Judge Dredd” writer Duane Swierczynski; new “Green Lantern” scribe Robert Venditti; longtime “Green Lantern” artist Darryl Banks; Marvel and DC artist Steve Scott and veteran Marvel, DC and many-other-comics-writer Tony Isabella. In addition, Huntington’s own Beau Smith, with a variety of independent and big-company credits to his name, was in the house.
And while the show’s focus remains on comics first, there were a few media guests as well, like a pair of veteran “Walking Dead” zombies – Jeremy Ambler of West Virginia and Kevin Galbraith, who (season two spoiler alert) killed Dale.
And don’t do what I’ve tended to in the past and focus only on the familiar companies and titles at a show like Tricon. You might miss out on a lot of creative and crazy (in a good way) comics and art.
Each year at Tricon, I’ve snagged a print from Dayton artist Rusty Shackles, whose brilliant “Great Comics That Never Happened” pieces always bring a laugh and whose video game comic mash-ups caught my eye this year. There are plenty of other folks with unique takes on favorite characters and their own creations that you should take a look at to broaden your horizons. And remember, as one artist across from our table told a few passersby, they can’t force you to buy anything. A lot of us just appreciate you checking out our work and won’t lay a guilt trip on you if you decide to wait to make your purchases after you’ve made a couple circuits around the show.
But discovering new stuff and tracking down old favorites is only part of the appeal of a show like Tricon. The highlight for me was the people.
For every exhibitor and guest there peddling their wares, there are several super-fans decked out in all manner of costume, from the cleverly conceived simple get-ups to the elaborate outfits that look store-bought but are actually just as homemade. These folks will be stopped all day long by fans – and not a few of the comic creators – wanting to get pictures of them, and most are happy to oblige.
Aspiring writers and artists can talk to folks who have been doing it for a while, or fans can just find out a little behind-the-scenes information from people who work with their favorite characters. There are exceptions from time to time, but it never ceases to amaze me how friendly and approachable many comic creators are at these shows.
Tricon’s done a lot in its first two years of existence, and I’m already looking forward to next year. Check them out on Facebook or at www.tristatecon.net to get details on the 2014 edition.
Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic “Support Group,” www.supportgroupcomic.com