Cincinnati Comic Expo - 9.17.2011

It was a Red, White and Blue Saturday on September 17, 2011 at the Cincinnati Convention Center.  It was the time of the 2nd Annual Cincinnati Comic Expo.  Last year the Expo was a great success when it was held at the Cintas Center on the campus of Xavier (Zav-yer, not X-Av-yer) University.  This year, the venue was bigger, with more programming, more tables, and more memories to be made.  And, thankfully, more people came out.
The Guest of Honor was Jim Steranko.  Steranko is known the world over for incredible runs for Marvel Comics Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, among other properties and his own creatives of noir graphic art.  Steranko is an amazing character.  He was once a boxer who moved on to comics and art.  Even though Mr. Steranko requested no pictures taken due to the effect it has on his eyes, I was able to snap a few when he was not looking AND BEFORE he told us no pictures. He was full of great stories about the 1960s and 1970s, what some call the Marvel Age of comics.  He told about the good and bad of working for Marvel, as well as his outstanding work “Spirit of America” that supports scholarships for 9/11 victims.

Steranko made a special poster for the expo that was available to VIPs along with the poster made by Jose Delbo.  Jose Delbo is famous for his runs on Wonder Woman in the 1970s, as well as his run on Tranfsormers for Marvel in the 1980s and early 1990s.  Delbo was not nearly as talkative as Steranko.

The highlight for me was the artists of Captain America.  Steranko, of course, but also Allen Bellman, who drew Cap in the 1940s under both Timely and Marvel Comics, as well as Mitch and Elizabeth Breitweiser, who draw and ink/color Cap today.  Allen Bellman is a dear old salt who embodies the American Dream as much as Cap.  He is a sweet and dear old gentleman, who made a special poster for his panel with the Breitweisers on the Sentinel of Liberty.  Mitch and Bettie inked and colored Mr. Bellman’s work.  Mitch and Bettie are great folks who love the Cap character and understand the mythos.  Bettie is a very serious colorist who is also a very beautiful, fetching young woman with a wonderful Southern accent.  They were a beautiful couple and I hope they will have a great career together.   

In addition to Cap artists, there were several other artists I talked with.  Darryl Banks, of Kyle Rayner Green Lantern fame, was there, and was very kind and commiserated for a while.  Also, Chris Sprouse, who worked on the Return of Bruce Wayne, was there as well and signed a number of the Marvel 2099 titles he worked on.  David Mack, famous for Kabuki and Alias, as well as his run on Marvel Knights Daredevil, was there as well.  Sterling Clark, who has worked on Spawn and other titles, was there as well.  These artists were very appreciative of the fans and enjoyed the company of their devotees.  Also in attendance was Craig Boldman and Stan Goldberg, who work on Archie.  Stan also colored the very first issue of Fantastic Four.  He is a legend.  Both of these two gentlemen regaled me with tales of their time in the biz and Mr. Boldman was great in telling me about the stories behind the stories of the books I brought. 

As with most comic shows, there were also people dressed up.  Here are some of the cosplay pictures I took, including Imperial Storm Troopers:

It wasn’t all Captain America.  Michael Uslan, the man who was responsible for bringing both the 1980s Batman and the current Batman to the silver screen, was also in attendance.  He is a true comic devotee and was at the show plugging his new book, The Boy Who Loved Batman.  His panel was very inspirational about how he kept at his dream of bringing the Dark Knight to the silver screen.  He is one of the people in Hollywood who “get it” when it comes to comics.  Kind of makes me wish he had worked on Green Lantern.

All in all, the show was fantastic.  The layout of the show was very easy, with a big convention main hall and a nice sized ante room for panels.  The VIP package was quite nice with all sorts of goodies.  Most of the artists were there just as much to associate with fans as get paid, but some were there to just get paid.  I am a little miffed because I think you were supposed to get a t shirt with the vip and I didn’t get one.  I am hoping that this improvement and the larger crowds will cause this show to grow to two days next year.  This show, unlike its better known predecessor in Columbus, still is all about the comics and the characters and fans, as opposed to being about Hollywood and stars and just autographs and crap.  This one is still about the fans and comics, and I hope it doesn’t get gobbled up by the same “Sorcerors” who may ruin the show in Columbus.

I got a few sketches and prints.  Here are some of them.  All in all, I give this show a 4.5 out of 5 shields, as I would have loved to have seen Butch Guice, but he had to cancel due to family issues.  So, that takes it down just a little.  But, Here’s to more continued success to the Cincinnati Comic Expo!

New Hope Patriot Missile Rating:
4.5 out of 5 Shields
Mike Norton and Doctor Fate:

Stan Goldberg and Jughead:

Allen Bellman’s sketches of Captain America:

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