So, this was our second year exhibiting in Artist Alley at Wintercon 2018, located at the Resorts World Casino in NYC and we have to say it was even better than last year! The crowd seemed larger, the panels and guest speakers were exciting and there were even more eye-catching cosplayers met by eager fans and press for photo ops. There was the group of “Spidermen”, very sleek, fit and graceful as they stopped to pose for diehard Spider-Verse enthusiasts, the troop from "Army of Darkness", Chewbaca and many other well clad cosplayers. We ran into some previous artists like @infernalblossom (Instagram) and made friends with new ones. We'd like to divulge all of the details but there's just not enough time. Here's what excited us most about this year's event.
Let's start with SEAN ASTIN! This guy seemed more excited to be on stage and speak to the audience than we were to see him. He cracked quite a few jokes so it took almost 10 minutes before the on stage interview began. To be quite honest I was so excited to see him when he finally walked out to sit with the moderator that I only remember that huge smile on his face.
As with most Cons, there are a lot of celebs that also offer photo ops. As Sean made his way to his photo exhibit after his talk, the cutest thing happened with some especially cute children. But who could not notice these adorable special ability cosplayers running around on their pediatric crutches? They had to be no more than 4 years old. They were so excited just to be in cosplay, going about the convention floor and chasing each other. Sean immediately showered them with all of his attention. We all stood watching with "isn't that cute" smiles, as he engaged the children. I'd imagine some of us still crushing on "Bobby Newby" from Stranger Things or "Mikey" from The Goonies, may have been a little jealous.
Wintercons are a little more personal in the sense that it isn't as packed as San Diego Comic-Con with its super long lines and welcomed chaos, as our guest contributor, Brian Friedman from previous issues will point out. So it was easy to be front row of this scene with Sean. For ethical reasons, we chose not to photograph and exploit the moment.
Then there was the presentation by comic historian Arlen Schumer. He spoke about what was, in his opinion, the best comics of 1968. Arlen also presented some serious deets on the late Jack Kirby and Stan Lee regarding their works together. He leans toward Jack Kirby being the true talent behind the now famous superhero characters that people flock to see in theaters. He also reintroduced the controversy regarding Jack Kirby drawings and Stan Lee's filling out the dialogue bubbles. Earlier comics credit both talents for everything, but later issues break up the credits with Stan Lee getting story and/or writing credits and Jack Kirby receiving credits for the art.
Arlen also spoke about Neil Adams at DC Comics, who helped revitalize Batman, reestablishing his dark nature. Then he spoke about the influence that Bridget Riley, known for her singular Op Art paintings had on certain artists of the time. Op Art, short for Optical Art, is style of visual art that uses optical illusions. But another topic of surprise! Who knew that DC Comics, at the time, was trying to be hip while Marvel was actually indisputably hip. We learned about Steve Ditko, best known for his role in creating Spider-Man as well as, what makes a hero and how he was anti hippie. There were also referenced parallels between characters like "The Question" and The Watchman's Rorschach.
If you really want to dig deep on comic history, Arlen Schumer can pretty much tell you anything there is ever to know about comics.
We were also pleased to meet a group of some very special and talented individuals from AHRC NYC. The organization participated at Artist Alley, bringing in various artists to showcase their talent, throughout the day. “AHRC NYC, the organization that created the first schools, workshops, day treatment programs and community residences, continues to meet the needs of its individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They offer individuals a wide range of programs, services and supports tailored to meet their specific needs,” as stated on their website. One of those programs offers a studio for the artists to draft and produce comics. We met Ben Granoff who moderated the arrival of each of the artists to Wintercon and was gracious enough to introduce us to each artist and show us their original comics. One of those artists, who is a huge fan of the Back to the Future trilogy, is Deigo Francica. Diego will likely be able to tell you everything and anything there is to know about the movies and his love of it shines through in his comics. He’s even got the soundtrack down with Huey Lewis and the News “Power of Love.”
All of the artists we met were deliberate in their approach to their comic and brought life to it in their own special way. As a matter of fact, we hope to feature AHRC NYC and its artists in an upcoming issue and dive deeper into the programs and services they provide.
On to the Wintercon Caberet! I didn't get to see it, only heard a smidgen of singing in the far end of the casino. But I think it's worth mentioning since we don't ever recalling there being a cabaret at any of the other one's we've attended. Here's a report back from an eyewitness and I quote, "There really wasn't much to it. I watched the Army of Darkness characters perform and then watched this girl dance way too long while lip-synching to phrases from old movies, became sick of watching her and left. As I left, this one chick 'Uhura' we'll call her, was wearing a 1960s version of a Star Trek uniform began to sing while someone played the guitar. The Army of Darkness performance was the best if I had to judge what I saw. The three characters turned it into a musical with a bit of amateur choreography, relating to scenes from the movie. The lead guy who played the main character, sang while the other two acted out quasi scenes from the movie." And there you have it everyone! Doesn’t sound like it will be hitting Broadway anytime soon, but they all entertained and kept smiles on the faces of most convention goers.
Another Wintercon, another sad “see ya later”. We met so many interesting and talented people. Let’s keep our promises to stay in touch.
It does become a little difficult sometimes being able to report on events while exhibiting there, but we hope to only attend more Cons and sharpen our point of view to bring you more in depth personal accounts, up and coming artist and interviews from them.
Well, there you have it. We hope to see you there next year!