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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Making a big splash down at the 2018 Niagara Falls Comic Con

Niagara Falls Comic Con only occurs once a year (in early June) and is always the best opportunity for comic fans of the Niagara region to meet comic pros in person. This was my sixth year in a row attending the event, but my first time as a correspondent for DC in the 80s.

This was a good year to be a fan of early 90s comics; featured guests included Peter David (Aquaman, Hulk), Chris Bachalo (Shade the Changing Man, Generation X) and Renée Witterstaetter (She-Hulk, Silver Surfer). Other big-name comic pros in attendance included Jim Sternako, Neil Adams (we interviewed him at Ottawa Comiccon earlier this year), Michael Golden and Gerhard (Cerebus).

Chris Bachalo waving 'hello'. Yes, we interviewed him. :)
Photo credit: Sheldyn Prime

Not surprisingly, 1980’s fandom was on full display this year. There were a few celebrities in attendance like Ralph Machio (the Karate Kid himself), signing autographs and promoting the new Cobra Kai show he’s made as a Youtube Original series.

Coincidentally, the original cast of Revenge of the Nerds were also in attendance (and held a panel Q&A), which I was lucky enough to attend. I even got to ask them a question: if they ever met Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo (who did the score to Revenge of the Nerds II). Sadly, they didn’t remember. In that panel sat Donald Gibb to the far right, who played the recurring role of Ray Jackson, the dimwitted but lovable sidekick to Jean-Claude Van Damme in the classic 80s martial arts flick Bloodsport.

Revenge of the Nerds Q&A panel. Photo credit: Sheldyn Prime

Other celebrities in attendance: Johathan Frakes of Star Trek, Jaleel White (aka: Steve Urkel of Family Matters), Kim Coates of Sons of Anarchy, Micheal Rooker of Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Dead, Dean Cain (star of Superman: The Adventures of Lois and Clark), Steve Whitmire (voice of Kermit the Frog from 1990 to 2016), George Wendt and John Ratzenburger: Cliff and Norm of Cheers. Wrestlers included Big Show and Ric Flair. Woooooo!

Arriving early with my friend Tyler Højberg (who had a booth of his own) we checked in on Friday and decided to walk around before the crowds showed up. I noticed that my Alma mater, Brock University had a large space set up for them, advertising the schools video game development program among other things.

Some other feature attractions included the 1989 Batmobile, a replica of The Interceptor from 1979's Mad Max, the Mystery Machine, and a life-sized replica of a Return of the Jedi speeder bike.

All vehicles photos above taken by Sheldyn Prime

There where a lot of vendors selling various trinkets and collectibles, figures and fragrances, movies and games. One of the oddest was a booth selling heated neck pads for upper back problems. Not sure what that has to do with comics. There where plenty of comics vendors. My LCS, Mostly Comics, from St Catharines Ontario was there, as well as Big B Comics from Niagara Falls. I also recognized the guys from the Kitchener Comics Warehouse.

Above photos taken by Sheldyn Prime

DC cosplay was sparse this year, however, we did note a lot of cosplay based on the Marvel Avengers films this year. Some of the cosplay that stood out:

Wonder Woman:

Photo credit: Sheldyn Prime

TWO John Constantine’s. This was a total coincidence, the one John was at a booth selling prints when we asked if we could take his picture, when another walked behind us and I asked if I could get them both.

Photo credit: Sheldyn Prime

The Teen Titans. Inspired by my favorite version of the team, the 2003 Cartoon Network series.

Photo credit: Sheldyn Prime

This event also had a 'retro zone' filled with arcade cabinets from the 80s and 90s:

Above arcade photos courtesy of Sheldyn Prime

Scouring the vendors I found a few cool things I couldn't resist picking up:

An Ice figure to add to my JLI action figure collection. It was a little dirty, probably from a million fans touching it con after con. But I brought it home and after a little mild cleaner it looks good as new. Now I just need to find a Fire to keep her company.

photo by Anthony Kuchar

A few Superman TPBs and single issues of Weird War I picked up on the cheap.

photo by Anthony Kuchar

A reprint copy of 1982's SwordQuest written by Roy Thomas and with art by George Perez (originally by DC comics but now reprinted by Dynamite).

photo by Anthony Kuchar
There’s actually a pretty amazing story behind this comic, and the Atari video game it was based on: it was included as a pack-in with every cartridge of the game sold, and hidden inside of George Perez’s art (for example on a column or in a rock formation) are clues that correspond to details in the game that solved certain riddles. Atari held a contest and prizes that were offered included a *real* gold sword, crown, chalice, talisman and philosophers stone. If you solved the riddle, the first one to mail-in the answers would win the prize. Almost all of these prizes disappeared when Atari suffered the video game crash of 1983. (Pictures exist of the prizes in the Atari offices and in the official Atari newsletter from the time so we know they existed. There's still controversy about what happened to the prizes to this day. For more info, you can watch The Angry Video Game Nerd's review of SwordQuest.

All in all, I'm going to have give credit to Niagara Falls Comic Con for organizing another successful show. Special thanks to Susan Carver of Press Relations. Extra special thanks to Sheldyn Prime for being such a cool photographer.

-Anthony Kuchar

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