Blogs of things to come!

I have changed my web-page!

I added a tab for my Financial Wise Guide books. As an attorney I have helped thousands of people (and businesses) with their financial problems and have put that knowledge in a series of books. The books (available only through Kindle – so far) include a guide on how to get out of debt and guides on bankruptcy.

Another tab is for my fiction.  So far it only includes my short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, but I will add others as they are published – also through Kindle.

On October 1st I hope to have two short stories ready for reading: a horror tale and a horror/historical fantasy story. Just in time for Halloween!

December should see a Christmas mystery short story.

More about that as the details develop! But browse my newly-edited web page and tall me what you think!

 

The Odd Couple

“I don’t think two single men living alone in an eight-bedroom apartment should have a cleaner house than my mother!” – Oscar Madison…

playbill2

            This requires a little back story. Don’t worry, I don’t mean voluminous amounts like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, more like the beginning of Season 3 of Agents of Shield or Sleepy Hollow or the usual modern-day TV drama … it won’t take long.

Spring 1981 – my High School drama club tried to put on the farce “Murder in the Magnolias”. I tried out for and got the part of Cousin Thornbird Chickenwing. Two girls tried out for the main part. Both girls had earlier in the school year also tried out for the hand of an eligible young man. The same girl won both parts. The other girl’s BFF (a term in use now, not in 1981) also got a part of “Murder …” and there was much yelling, hair-pulling and thrown punches.

Add more raging hormones: the part of Colonel Chickenwing, whose monolog opens the play, was given to a young man who felt the need to leave practice after his one-and-only-yet-pivotal scene to go to his girlfriend’s house to ooo and aaa sycophantically over her. Said young man not realizing that it is possible, indeed likely, that we might need to go over his scene more than once.

Add a drama club coach fresh out of college and only four-or-so years away from these very issues herself and it added to uncontrolled rehearsals and cast members walking out with three weeks to go. Not that by this time anyone had known their lines or marks yet.

So they cancelled the play that spring.

Fall 1981 – the Sparta (IL) Community Chorus is known for putting on lovely and very professional musicals! This year they selected “Oklahoma”. I tried out for and was given a small part with one line. George was the character and his line was “sounded like a shot!” I was also in the dream ballet. You read that right. About five years later it was announced the SCC would begin doing plays as well as musicals.

Spring 1982 – in our senior year of high school we put on “The Odd Couple”. I tried for and won the part of Felix Unger (or Ungar in the play). My best friend Scott tried out for and won the part of Oscar. It was typecasting at the time, and it was a wonderful play. It was also well-received. Drama clubs from schools as far as Benton came to see us. We had articles in the papers and reviews on local radio shows. It was probably the second-best show the school put on next to “Arsenic and Old Lace” from 1978. Oh, and the girl who won the part main part in “Murder…”? She was one of the Pigeon sisters in “Odd Couple”.

Winter 2014 – I am Facebook friends with the girl (now grandmother) mentioned above in “Murder…” and “Odd Couple”. She has been involved with the SCC for decades by this point and announced that she would direct “Murder in the Magnolias” for their Winter Play (rehearsal in January and February with the play in early March). I posted that I would love to try out for it but the dress from Act Two probably would not fit me anymore.

She asked me to try out for it anyway. Try-outs were the weekend of our family Christmas party and the day after my wife and I went to see Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas concert in St. Louis. My daughter spent the night at my sister’s and her four children.  It was her first time away from us and they ate nachos and “camped” in the living room. We needn’t have worried.

At the auditions the director asked if I were trying out for my old part, Thornbird. Yes, I was. Would I also be interested in trying out for the Colonel? Sure, I said. This has since turned into a comedy routine: “Are you dumb enough to take two parts – er – I mean are you will to do two roles?”

I worked in radio for ten years and also did stand-up during that time. Both require a bit of acting but not the kind you really do on a stage. “Oh that this too solid flesh would melt” is light years ahead of “two Jews walk into a bar”. But by the time my family and I drove home the director called to say I got both parts! Both she and I got to finish a part of our youth. The circle was complete. Hakuna Matata! Plus I made lots of wonderful new friends!

Fall 2014 – The SCC announces that its fall musical would be “Legally Blonde”. They usually “begin” the season in the fall with a musical, followed by a kid’s cabaret at Christmastime, then a play, then a musical review. They asked if I would try out and respectfully declined. It was a wonderful production! It would have played well at the Fox Theater in St. Louis. Excellent stuff from a bunch of so-called amateurs.

Winter 2015 – The SCC announces its play in December 2014 – “Unnecessary Farce”. The director – who played the part in “Murder…” that “Murder…”’s director played with me in high school (are you still following this?) asked me to try out for the Scottish hitman. Can I do a Scottish accent? “Och, ye needn’t wurrah ‘bout dat, lassie!” I said. In December I tried out for and won the part of Todd, the Highland Hitman. It was a big hit with the audience in stitches!

Fall 2015 – the spring musical review was the music of Michael Jackson. They asked if I would be interested but said no thanks. The playhouse was an hour-and-a-half drive from home – although I could stop off to visit with my father and/or sister for an hour or so each time. That much driving really takes a toll on me and my car, but so far the plays have been worth it. Brilliant fun! But doing a review so close to finishing a wonderful-but-very-complex comedy would be too much of a strain.

They had yet to announce the fall musical (remember they did musicals in the fall). Unless it was something that knocked my socks off – like “1776” or something equally fun or silly – I would probably not try out for it.

The announcement was made on the SCC Facebook page. It was not a musical! That was not unprecedented but it was still odd …

… that adjective was intentional …

In July the SCC held auditions for their October production of “The Odd Couple”. I asked for an audition packet. On a lark I emailed Scott to see if he were interested in trying out as a team – reliving our old glory days. He declined (actually he never answered …). So in July I tried out for Oscar and Felix.

Was I crazy? They were both huge roles in the play with hundreds of lines. I would be driving three to four days a week again! Getting home at eleven o’clock if I was lucky then getting up for work and/or court again!

But it was the Odd Couple – one of my favorite plays/movies/TV shows. Of course I would try out for it. There were about ten men trying out for the six male roles that Saturday. Fortunately, only two women showed up to audition for the two female roles. That would be easy, eh?

It wasn’t until Monday night that I heard from the director – she also had a part in the 2014 “Murder…” play. She offered me Oscar. I told her how happy and thrilled I was. I told her I played Felix in high school, but didn’t mention it earlier. I was afraid I’d get a “you’ve-had-your-chance” response. I should not have worried

I wanted Oscar more than Felix. Felix would have been great fun – joking about 33 years between the roles, beating out Jack Lemon by three years! But something inside me wanted the role of Oscar more. Maybe it was the challenge of being on the other side of the fence – how many people can say they’ve played both parts?

I spent July until the first read-throughs in mid-August watching the plays online and reading the script I still had. It’s a lot of lines, so I didn’t feel like I was cheating trying to get a head start. Plus work was light in August (I had both my staff members off on vacation and other things and I was in the office alone for a full week – plenty of time to shout out my lines in an empty office at lunchtime and between appointments).

And now we are practicing. The drive is a drag, but rehearsals are wonderful; the cast is wonderful and I enjoy working with each one of them. It is a mix of new friends and old comrades from previous plays.

As they said on the Simpsons, “perhaps we are all a little mad, we who don the cap and bells and tread beneath the proscenium arch”. For the second time this year to spend three hours a day/three days a week for two –plus months driving to perform in an amateur production for no monetary gain – only for accolades? Only for the sounds of laughter and applause?

Is it worth it?

Are you kidding?

Playbill

Original material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Abby’s Road is a 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist!

The cover of Abby's Road

Abby’s Road is a 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist in the category of Non-Fiction Humor!

You can see a complete list of winners here!

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption: And how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped by Michael Curry is much more than just a book with a long and quirky title. The story follows the journey of the author Michael and his wife Esther as they undergo infertility treatments and ultimately adoption in their endearing quest to become parents. Curry is refreshingly honest, descriptive and raw when describing this roller coaster of a time in his family’s life. As you can tell by the book’s title, Curry also has a sense of humor, which he demonstrates throughout the story (so many fun geek and pop culture mentions in this book). The quest to bring Abby home is an endearing and enlightening read to say the least.
Anyone going through infertility, difficulties conceiving or the adoption process will find a kindred spirit in author Michael Curry. And even those who have zero issues adding to their family will find this book informative regarding the real life struggles of other parents. The POV of a male will probably appeal to readers who are expectant or struggling fathers-to-be and I found the light-hearted tone throughout the book enjoyable. I applaud the author for revealing to readers not only the happy times but also the dark and heartbreaking moments that he and his wife endured. The author’s use of quoting his and his wife’s Facebook posts throughout the story was an accurate reflection of the current digital age and added a realistic tone to the book. Highly recommended!”

Charity Tober, Readers’ Favorite

Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here:
 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

Copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

DC Bicentennial banner comics by the numbers: lies, damn lies and statistics!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

Tale of the Tape

 This is for all the number crunchers …

 Tally:

Of the 33 Bicentennial comics …

 

 July issues: 12

August issues: 21

 50-cent issues: 5

35-cent issues: 28

 

Bi-monthly issues: 20

Monthly issues: 11

9-times-a-year: 2 (Superboy/Legion and World’s Finest)

 ***

             Comic books were “required by law” to publish an annual sales statement, including individual issues sold closest to the reporting month. Here are the comics I have during that reporting month from 1976 that stated their individual sales figures.

Brave & Bold 151,000
JLA 193,000
World’s Finest 132,185
Adventure 104,309
Superman 216,122
Superman Family 156,636

***

 Editors:

 Denny O’Neil edited one comic

Nelson Bridwell two

Gerry Conway, five

Joe Kubert, three

Julius Schwartz, seven

Murray Boltinoff, seven

Joe Orlando led them all with eight comics

 ***

Cover artists:

 Bob Oksner

Dave Manak

Keith Giffen

Ricardo Villagran

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, two including one with Bob Wiacek

Mike Grell, two

Jim Aparo, two

Luis Dominguez, three

Joe Kubert, four

Dick Giordano, five issues, including one with Terry Austin

Ernie Chua drew an astounding ten issues

 ***

 Writers: keep in mind there are more than 33 writers here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue. Some comics, such as Ghosts, did not list the writers, and neither Grand Comics Database nor DC Comics Database list authors for that issue.

 Barry Jameson

Bart Regan (two)

Bob Haney (three)

Bob Rozakis (two, including one with Michael Uslan)

Cary Bates (three)

Dave Wood

David Anthony Kraft

David Michelinie

David V. Reed

Denny O’Neil

Don Cameron & Joe Samachson

Elliot S! Maggin (three)

Gardner Fox (two reprints)

George Kashdan (two)

Jack Oleck 

John Broome (two reprints)

Len Wein

Martin Pasko (two, NOT counting two more with Gerry Conway and Paul Levitz)

Michael Fleisher

Russ Manning

Sheldon Meyer (a reprint)

Steve Skeates

Weshley Marsh (Murray Boltinoff)

Gerry Conway (seven, including one with Marty Pasko)

Robert Kanigher (our leader with nine total stories written in the 33 comics)

Did I miss any? Wouldn’t surprise me… 

***

 Artists: as with the writers category there are more than 33 artists here, that’s because obviously many comics had two (or three or sometimes more) stories per issue

 Buddy Gernale

Carmine Infantino (two reprints)

Chic Stone and Mike Royer

Curt Swan (three, including one with John Calnan)

Dick Dillin & Frank McLaughlin

Don Perlin

ER Cruz

Ernie Chua (two including one with Tex Blaisdell)

Nestor Redondo (and/or his studio)

Franc C Reyes

Fred Carillo

Gene Ureta

George Evans

George Molintorni

Gil Kane & Sid Greene (reprint)

Irv Novick (two, one with Ted Baisdell)

Jerry Robinson (reprint)

Jess Jodloman

Jim Aparo (two)

Jim Mooney (a).

José Delbo

Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (two, one with Bob Oksner)

Keith Giffen & Wally Wood

Keith Griffin, Ricardo Villagran and Oscar Novelle & Luis Dominguez

Mike Grell

Mike Kaluta (reprint)

Noly Zamora

Pablo Marcos

Pablo Marcos  & Bob Smith

Paul Kruchner and Tex Blasdell

Ricardo Villamonte

Rich Buckler

Rico Rival

Romana Fradon & Juan Canale,

Ross Andru & Mike Esposito

Rubeny

Ruby Florese

Russ Manning

Sam Glanzman

Sheldon Moldoff (reprint)

Terry Hensen

Ric Estrada (an amazing 8, which includes 2 with Joe Staton and one with Al Milgrom – with that many comics I can imagine he would need the help!)

 ***

             Comics, especially from the Big Two, rarely have letter columns in these days of email and Instant Messaging. I think that’s a shame. But letter columns made up an integral part of a comic book – it’s how fans kept in touch with one another. Some fans became professionals simply because their letter writing gave them name recognition at hiring time (Bob Rozakis for one) – it helped that the letter writers (Bob included) were also talented! One wonders how many hacks were turned away – “but I had 46 letters published!” “Your letter writing skill is good, that’s true, but as a comic book fiction writer … you stink.”  The only future comic book talent from the letter writers of these July 1976 comics that I recognize is Bob Rodi (from Karate Kid #3).

            “Hey!” I write for comics and I’m on that list! Oops, sorry I didn’t recognize the name. What comics do you write/draw/etc. for? I’d love to read them!

            I left out anonymous and obvious fake names. Here are, I think, all of them:

            The most prolific writers were Mike White, who appeared in 7 issues (nearly one third of the comics) and Fred Schneider in 5 issues.

 Adam Castro of New Rochelle, NY (3 letters total)

Arthur Grance of Staten Island, NY

Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE

Barry Charles of Louisville, KY

Bart Casey of Dayton, Ohio

Bob Robinson, Lincoln, NE

Bob Rodi of Columbia, MO

Brian Dyke of Goodlettsville, TN

Brian Scott of Streator, IL

Burt Fowler of Jacksonville, FL

Cadet Captain Ruby S Nelson of Jacksonville, AL

Carlton McDaniels of New York

Clifford Gerstman of New York, NY

Craig Kenner of Massillon, OH

Damian Brokaw of Denver, CO

Dan Cardenas, San Luis Obispo, CA

Dave Wilcox, Arlington Heights, IL

David A Jones of Horse Cave, KY

David B. Kirby of Richmond, VA

David Hanson of Swartz Creek, Mich.

David J. Brown of Hammond, IN

David L Klees of Newton Centre, Mass 

David Trenton of New York, NY

DK Thomas of Brunswick, ME

Doil Ward of Ardmore TX

Don Vaughn of Lake Worth, FL

Drury Moore of Springfield, IL

Edward Wojcik of Detroit, Michigan

Elizabeth Smith of Tacoma Washington

Eric Ehrlich of North Platte, NE

FL Watkins, Champaign, IL

Fred Schneider of New York (6 issues)

Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA

Glenn Rowsam of Oakland, CA

Hugh J. Leach, Mason, MI

Charles Backman of Sterling Heights, MI

Jack Gregotz, Mayfield Heights, OH

James Parker of Clarksville, TN

Janet Fadel of Hollywood, CA

Jeff Sporn of Bethesda, MD

Jerry Rosen of New York, NY

Jim Dever of Philadelphia, PA

Jim Humm of El Monte, CA

Jim Planack of Poughkeepsie, NY

Jimmy Holcomb of Mesquite, TX

Joe Peluso, Brooklyn, NY

John Baker of Baltimore, MD

John Elliot, New York, NY (3 letters)

John Jesse of Hobart, IN

Jonathan Kuntz, Los Angeles, CA

Judy Newton of Thompkinsville, RI

Katie Raisler of East Lansing, MI

Ken Kemble of San Antonio, TX

Ken Regalado, South Pasadena, CA

Kevin L. Callahan, Brea, CA (3 issues)

Kirk Anderson of DeForest, WI

Linas Sabalys of Laval, PQ, Canada (3 issues)

Louis A, Latzer of St. Louis, MO

Marie Munas of La Mesa, CA

Mark McIntyre of Atlanta, GA

Mark Schmeider, Concord, Mass (5 issues)

Mark Wannop of Camden, NJ

Mark Zutkoff, Timoniom, MD

Mary E. ReCasino, Vernon, CT

Matthew Elyosin, Madison, CT

Michael D Dargay of Royal Oak, MI (3 issues)

Michael Lapsley of Morrow, GA

Mike Karvalas of Chicago, IL

Mike Thompson of Lockemup Prison

Mike White of Mackinaw, IL (the most: 7 issues)

Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI (3 issues)

Paulo Mariorann of Parma, Ontario

Peter Sanderson of New York, NY

Robert Gustive of Grand Island, Neb

Robert LaChine of Chicago, IL

Robert Vias, Dover, NJ

Robert W. Chan of Edmonton, Canada

Rod McLaughlin of Ramsey, Mont.

Roger Thomas Enevoldesen, North Augusta, SC

Ron Lindsey of Augusta, GA

Ronald M. Fitz, Valparaiso, IN

Sam MCHendley of Berkeley, CA

Sarah Finnegan of Washington DC

Scott Gibson of Evergreen CO (5 issues)

Scott R. Taylor of Portland, TX (3 issues)

Steve Kalaitzidis of Toronto, Ontario

Teddy Arnold of Houston TX

Terry Chadwick of Phoenix, AZ

Thomas Edward Bigham of Matt, Mass

Thomas Russon of Mt. Kisco, NY

Tim Corrigan, Rochester, NY

Tom Kelleher of Norwalk, Conn.

Tom Weyandt of Broadtop City, PA

Wade Sears of Calgary, Alberta

Walter Green of Wading River, NY

 ***

 Thanks for reading the blog series. It was as much fun to read (and re-read) these comics as it was to comment about them.

 My father would bring home stacks and stacks of DC comics for me. He worked for the Air Force, but some of his staff’s spouses worked for Sparta Printing – where they used to give away comics to the employees by the truckload. It was literally, “your boss has a kid? Here!” {thud}

Doing this blog series reminded me of that. I had a stack of comics next to my chair. I also had a notepad and pen to make notes. But at times I imagined my dad bringing home these 33 comics for me to enjoy.

This blog series is dedicated to him.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

            Images used are copyright their respective holders and and reproduced here under the “fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

Abby’s Road Wins New York Book Festival Award!!

 

first family photo

Abby’s Road received Honorable Mention in the Biography/Autobiography category at the 2015 New York Book Festival! 

What an honor to be mentioned in the same list as these wonderful authors:

http://www.newyorkbookfestival.com/

cover

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

 

Winner, Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival  (looks nice, doesn’t it?)


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: 
http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here:
 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

Copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

Five years ago today – One last Abby’s Road Anniversary: Abigailegalities!

Last summer and through early October regular blog readers were entertained (I hope) by the fifth anniversary of the events of my memoir Abby’s Road. There is one last fifth anniversary to celebrate…

 

On June 16, 2010, at 10:00 am, “… the Honorable Judge Karkula signed the following Order from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois:  IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that from this day the minor (child) shall, to all legal intents and purposes, be the child of (Michael and Esther Curry) … IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the name of the child be, and is hereby changed to ABIGAIL SHELDON MARYJEAN CURRY…

                The findings said I was of sound mind. There, it’s official. A court of competent jurisdiction has so held. Take that, former girlfriends …

                Also on June 16th, 2010 my sister gave birth to a baby girl. As with the call allowing us to go home; if I had made up that coincidence for a story, an editor would slash it out.

                Esther and I always celebrated June 17th as “I Love You Day”. It was halfway to Esther’s birthday and the anniversary of her first marriage. And with our anniversary, both birthdays (now three birthdays) and Christmas all in the last part of the year; we wanted something to celebrate in the summer.

                Now we call June 16th and 17th “Abby Day” or “Adoption Day”.  Some adoption advocates like to call it “Gotcha Day”, but that sounds like something that would trigger an Amber Alert.

                “Gotcha Day” is the day the parents receive the child into their custody. It can also be a substitute when the real birthday is unknown. We know her birth date. And her “Gotcha Day” was two days later, so there is no point for us to have a ”Gotcha Day”. We like our two-day “Abby Day” holiday. …”

The cover of Abby's Road

The cover of Abby’s Road

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.


Abby’s Road is available at Amazon here: 
http://www.amazon.com/Abbys-Road-Long-Winding-Adoption/product-reviews/0692221530/ref=cm_cr_pr_top_recent?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending


at Barnes and Noble here: 
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/abbys-road-the-long-and-winding-road-to-adoption-and-how-facebook-aquaman-and-theodore-roosevelt-helped-michael-curry/1119971924?ean=9780692221532


and at Smashwords here:
 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/457270

 

Copyright 2015 Michael Curry

 

 

Wizard World Con 2015

St. Louis Wizard Con 2015: Hey Kids! Comics! Finally!

Wizard Con has held a convention in St. Louis for three years now. I have been to all three and blogged about the 2013 and 2014 cons.

Although at times during this little review it may seem I thought this year was a disappointment, it will probably turn into one of my favorites! And for reasons other than why I enjoyed previous Wizard Cons. Opposite reason!

The first thing I noticed was the lack of vendors’ booths and lack of celebrities attending. The list of attending celebrities definitely lacked the star power of last year – Shatner and Adam West for us old folks and Nathan Fillion, Bruce Campbell and others for the younger crowd.

This year’s list left this old timer shouting out a resounding, “Who!?” People I didn’t know starring in shows I don’t watch. George Romero was the only one on the list that raised my eyebrows. It might be interesting to shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoy his work. But then another part of me wanted to slap him and say, “Look what you’ve done!”, Tara Reid, Elvira, Michael Rooker, Billy Boyd, Hayley Atwell, Jason Mewes,  Naomi Grossman, Joey Lawrence , B.J. Britt, Mark Dodson, Jason David Frank, Robin Lord Taylor,  Paige of the WWE  and a few St. Louis Rams linebackers (which I believe is some sort of local sports team). A few stars who were supposed to be there weren’t – such as Guardians’ Dave Bautista.

Looking at the guests of other Wizard Cons (Indianapolis and Des Moines) show the dearth of stars in St. Louis: Shatner, Billie Dee Williams, Robert Englund & Carrie Fisher to name a few.

(NOTE: if the “dearth” of stars includes your favorite performers … or heaven-forbid the performers themselves or someone they know reads this and thinks of it as a slam – fear not! My heart will grow three sizes this day before the blog is through. Stay with me and let me rant on for a bit longer…)

Lou Ferrigno wasn’t in St. Louis, but will be at Des Moines. Ferrigno! He’s ALWAYS at these things!

               Even the list of artists was disappointing. Indianapolis had Jim Steranko! Steranko! And while St. Louis had Michael Golden and Gary Friedrich … still … Steranko

               Neal Adams wasn’t in St. Louis, but he will be at Des Moines. Neal Adams! He’s ALWAYS at these things!

Was this a Ferguson thing? Did the local St. Louis promoters not treat the guests properly? In all my internet trolling I have not been able to find anyone even guessing why St. Louis got a bit of a short shrift on the guest list. I WAS told there was a major convention in Detroit that weekend – and it was Memorial Day weekend. Was that enough to keep other stars from attending?

And there were only about half the vendors (if that) attending than from previous years. Were they expecting a small crowd? Was it too expensive to attend (I found out the answer was no …).

And the crowd was only about half (if that) from the previous years. It seemed there were more cosplayers than non-cosplayers. Of course that day was the cosplay contests for adults and kids, but still…

But it wasn’t all bleak. In fact, when it was done I realized I had a lot of fun!

Once again I went with my sister and her family. Also attending were one of my best friends and his wife. We met their daughter and son-in-law there, too. We ran into another friend there, too. “I didn’t think you were going to go,” he said.

I didn’t plan on it, to be truthful. But my sister and her husband and two of their sons were going and asked me to join them. My wife said it was fine – she would watch our five-year-old-master-of- all-time-and-space for the day and told me to go enjoy myself.

And I did. Here’s why:

My sister and family helped me see through my solipsistic dislike of the guest list. Sissy was so happy to meet and speak with her idol Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) that she cried when she spoke to her. This made Cassandra cry. “My sister made Elvira cry!” I told anyone willing to listen.

The friend who came with me had an Elvira supplement of a Chill role-playing game for her to sign. She said she must have a copy of this in her house somewhere but otherwise didn’t recognize it!

My family wanted to meet Michael Rooker and have him sign various Walking Dead/Guardians of the Galaxy things. I got in line with them and as I left held out my hand and said how much I enjoyed him in JFK and Tombstone. He shook my hand and thanked me.

My nephew met Jason David Frank, one of the Power Rangers, last year. He showed the star his Tai Kwon Do moves and a video of their meeting was on Frank’s Facebook page and website! He got a picture with Jason and brought that picture back to be signed. Unfortunately he would not be available until 4:00, so we decided it would be our last thing before leaving.

While waiting, at different times of course, Robin Lord Taylor and the quite pretty Naomi Grossman walked past with their entourage. My sister said hello to Robin Lord Taylor and he stopped, very briefly, to thank her. Same with Naomi Grossman.

Both were very friendly and neither of then stood higher than my mid-bicep! Short people, these stars…

While the family was in line for Jason David Frank, I saw actress Tara Reid at her autograph booth. She was between signings and sitting with her aide and I thought, “why not? When am I ever going to meet Tara Reid again?” I walked up to her booth and offered my hand. I said I was a big fan and enjoyed her work. She smiled and shook my hand and said, “Thank you.” I turned away and she resumed her texting. I wasn’t going to buy a picture or pay for an autograph or picture so she certainly wasn’t going to spend a lot of time chatting with me. That’s okay, I don’t blame her. But she was polite about my wanting to meet her and that’s all that matters, isn’t it? I didn’t make any of the stars any money, but I didn’t bug them either. Fair trade. She was also very small, even sitting high up in her booth.  I doubt she would have come up to my elbow standing next to me.

There were two artists I wanted to meet. I talked with Michael Golden for a few minutes as he signed a Star Wars comic I brought and a Marvel print I bought. I told him I had that poster on my college dorm wall. I also told him what I thought of the comic – after that issue the comic had better stories and art than in the issues before. I said it was all his doing. He laughed and thanked me.

I brought a Ghost Rider book for Gary Friedrich, its creator to sign. He was scheduled to appear at Wizard Con in 2013 but had to cancel. He has had health problems. He cancelled this year, too. I was disappointed but not angry – still I could have done without lugging that thick paperback compilation around.

That was my only “meeting of the stars” I did this year.

***

               With fewer vendors, it was easier to take my time in artists’ row. They had local authors this year and I enjoyed talking to them. Who did they use to self-publish? How long have they been doing it? What were their books about? I did not spend too much time talking to them as they were there to hawk their books, not talk shop. But they did in between shilling to the other customers and I thanked them. I might even buy their books!

One author spread his debut science fiction novel into five parts. No one is going to buy a thousand-page book from a first-time author, he said, which is true. We discussed the trend of writing stories in series to bring in fans to your work. I mentioned some authors I’ve met had written a few short stories set in their fantasy worlds and gave them away from free online or as chap books to draw readers into the rest of their line. He liked that idea – maybe we’ll see some short fiction from him soon!

***

               I not only got to chat with authors but also some of the vendors and employees. I asked one local comic shop owner if he knew why the low vendor turn out. He did not know, except for perhaps the Con in Detroit. I asked if the rental space was too high. “No,” he said, “we pay $(blank) for this and we have a pretty big spread.”

“Is that per day?”

“No, the whole weekend.”

“That’s pretty good. You’ll make that back just today.”

“Yep.”

While my family was waiting in line an employee (I will not say who or where in case he gets in trouble for telling me) told me that stars have to give a cut of their autograph and photo op money to the Con. I asked if the guests get paid for attending. Not a lot, although they do get their rooms free. They make their money from the autographs and photo ops – what they don’t give to their Wizard Con overlords. That is why the stars have a few “attendants” the young man told me, “to make sure they don’t pocket the cash for themselves.” That’s another reason some stars need line tickets – not just for crowd control, but to keep a rough account of money made…

Hearing about the dark business side of the Con was almost as fun as hunting for comic books.

Comic books? Oh, yes …

***

               The main difference in this year’s Wizard Con was the focus on the one item that was shoved aside in the previous two years.

This year the comic book convention was about comic books.

With the thinner crowds and less vendors came more opportunities to shop for comics. Perhaps to make the weekend worthwhile, the vendors were more willing to negotiate and barter. Some of them. But I found some beauties and some comics to finally plug some holes in my collection.

I spotted a Superman from the 1970s and he charged me more than I was willing to pay. But he made me such a deal on other comics I bought I accepted it. When I got the comic home and saw was great condition it was I realized what a bargain he gave me.

There were some comics I bought for less than cover price. I can name four that I paid only twice the cover price. The rest of the silver age comics I bought (mostly Green Lantern) were within my purchase comfort zone. Since I did not have to plunk down eighty bucks to shake hands with William Shatner and Adam West, I could spend it on comics I was looking for.

Since the crowds were thinner I was able to get the comics I was looking for and not leftovers.

Since the vendors were fewer I was able to get back to the booths that I found the comics that were still there and that I could afford. In prior years I would try to go back to a booth only to “lose” it. “I think it was by this store …  no … it was by a t-shirt place. Now, which t-shirt place…”

What I mean is that I subscribe to Nihilistic Shopping. I see something I want but then go away to get it later. If I still want the item an hour or more later I will go get it. If the thing is there I will get it; if it is gone it was not meant to be. At a place like Wizard Con that usually means I do not get it – someone else snapped it up. We even joked about that waiting in line to enter the convention hall. “NO! They are all in there buying everything I wanted!”

But this year: more money, thin crowds, and fewer vendors. I was able to find the vendor that had the golden age issue of World’s Finest within my purchasing comfort zone AND it was still there. Ditto the three Green Lanterns at a silver age booth across the convention floor. This guy near the entrance still has those tabloid-size comics.

By the time the family was in line to talk to the Power Ranger my bag was full and my back was aching. Later that weekend I swam with my daughter and spent Monday walking around the St. Louis Renaissance Festival. My back, hips and thighs have not said a kind word to me yet.

Fortunately I have some sweet comics to read while I mend.

***

               You can’t talk about Wizard Con without talking cosplay. Lots of great superheroes and gamers on this day.

Aaron Rabe, who does a pitch-perfect Captain Jack Sparrow, won Best in Show for the first two years of the Con. He was on a panel this year and helped to judge – like Carol O’Connor with the Emmys you get tired of winning all the time. We met him on the convention floor and he asked us the time. He stopped long enough to take his picture with my nephews – one is a huge Captain Jack fan!

As we left we saw this group:

 Princesses

They gave us a card and said they are available for birthday parties and other events. One friend asked for several cards to give to her Girl Scout troop families. I said they will inevitably be doing my daughter’s birthday party as soon as she sees the picture.

My wife hinted that she might go with me next year. She will be less likely to stand and wait for me while I troll the comic boxes if there is a bigger crowd of friends and family there. She can visit or look around the vendor booths herself.

Some of the vendors sold age-appropriate items. For every Walking Dead bobble-head there were Annas and Elsas and Olafs…

Obviously it all depends on our five-year-old Master-of-All-Time-and-Space.

She gets scared during the climactic scenes of Sophia the First. She would be SO excited to see Captain America or Thor or Batman and faint at any Disney Princess. But then she would see a man with an axe through his neck and we will have to go home. I call this picture “this is why I don’t bring Abby to Wizard Con”…

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Although my sister took her son, who is only about two years older; I don’t think mine will be able to handle it. Even my nephew got a little skittish at that clown-puppet.

There were plenty of kids there, though. Some even younger than mine. But as I said last year and the year before; my daughter would freak out too much at some of the more gruesome cosplayers.  Hence why I wanted to slap George Romero…

But we’ll see. Now if you will excuse me, I have some comics to read…

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