Cosmos: Old School (2002) – part twenty

Tony banner
What’s my favourite time of the year? GrandéCon season. Although I attend several conventions and events during my average business year, the biggest – and the best – is the one that takes place in my very own home town, Pago Grandé. I’ve been associated with GrandéCon since the very beginning, when it was just a bunch of tables in the local community hall: despite the flurry of activity and organisation I have to cram in leading up to the event, I love it. It’s a fantastic opportunity to interact with my pop-cultural brethren – fans, fellow business owners, industry professionals, comic artists and graphic designers, celebrity guests….

Yes, yes, and and make zillions of dollars from the impulse purchases of hordes of rabid, common sense-exempt geek-jobs. Thanks, MOM.

By 2002, thankfully, I wasn’t having to handle things alone: one Arthur Deacon (Artie to his friends)was on tap to help me sort, stock, sell and generally strategise (very good at tasks beginning with ‘S’, is Artie) at the Tony’s Comic Utopia booth…. and such fun we had on that long weekend in mid-Octember!

2002 20_1
Top: you’ve got to hand it to the hard-working folks at the Pago Grandé Convention Centre – they do their jobs, and they do them exceedingly well. We business owners have to do a fair bit of schedule-juggling to get our booths ready, sure, but these guys? They’ve got to organise the entire CONVENTION! While also keeping track of all the other events showing up in and around ours…. So you can perhaps forgive them
for being a bit freaked out….

Bottom: since Artie and his pals enjoy geeking out at gigs such as this, I thought it would be a nice treat (just for once) if they didn’t have to pay $8 a head to get in. Fair enough, right? Well, I may have reckoned without Gene: he knows a good thing when he sees it, and getting a free pass was such a giddy thrill, he is now made an annual tradition of (unsuccessfully, for the most part) attempting to wheedle one out of me every single year! Means fair or foul, subtlety, sneakiness, reverse-psychology, begging and grovelling or out-and-out emotional blackmail…. You can’t blame him for trying –
buuuuuut I frequently do.

2002 20_2
Above: for some people, working the ticket queues gives them a bizarre feeling of power – hundreds of geeks stand in your queue, all ready to enter GrandéCon; and YOU have the authority to take their money, issue their tickets and decide whether or not they get a fully-stocked showbag! A few, however – like the guy above – take their power-trip a bit too far, and start acting like a oafish bouncer at a nightclub, turning away any who do not meet their arbitrary and impossible-to-satisfy ‘standards’. Needless to say,
people like him are also lynch mob magnets….

2002 20_3
Top: although there is a lot of crossover between different ‘types’ of geek – Animé fans can still collect X-Men action figures, for example, and that Lord of the Rings nerd is perfectly entitled to also love Star Trek – Jon thought it would be fun to craft this set of four ‘Spotters guides’ for some of the main ‘Con archetypes you might spot down at your local geek-fest. And is that me posing for the sword n’ sorcery guy illustration?…. My answer is a definite, unqualified Maybe.

Bottom: Ah, showbags – the essential ‘starter set’ for anyone set on amassing a laudable hoardable of convention swag on their day out. Depending on the ‘Con you’re attending, your showbag will be either a cornucopia of free comics, vouchers, gift items and snacks (such as at GrandéCon), kind of average (most places)…. or three random brochures and a half-crushed lollypop (wastes of your time, frankly). And even if you don’t buy anything else – but Gundam model kits are 30% off! Aren’t you looking? – at least you can say “I went to GrandéCon! See, I got awesome free stuff! In a bag!”

2002 20_4
Top: this seemed like such a good idea when we started out – although I was reminded that I might have to call it something other than ‘Trivial Pursuit’ (getting sued is not a sound business strategy, kids!), our game prototype went off like Thunderbird Three launching from Tracy Island! Unfortunately, everyone who tried it out had a ‘helpful suggestion’ of something to add, or some obscure piece of nerd trivia that we just had to use in our list of questions, or yet another way to organise the rules…. By the end of the ‘Con, it was all a giant unwieldy mess! Broth + far too many cooks = sigh.

Bottom: in the pop-culture biz, these guys are our bread and butter – the regular subscribers, the complete set collectors, the “Hey, this Indie comic is neat! I’m adding it to my reading list!” sayers. Whether it’s comic books, action figures or associated merch, they are proudly omnivorous….

2002 20_5
Above: does this look familiar to you? It should – this is a full-bore remake of the Sunday strip which graced Jon’s first GrandéCon story (1999, part 7) back in our inaugural year! Taking advantage of his more-evolved art style and new, larger Sunday panels (the original art is A3-size), he decided to pack in a whole bunch of new character cameos that weren’t in the 1999 version – namely (deep breath): She-Hulk, H.E.R.B.I.E, The Mole Man and his Moloids, Annihilus and Doctor Doom (title bar); R2-D2, C3PO, Yoda, the Silver Surfer, the Scarlet Spider and the Green Goblin (panel 3); Green Lantern, a Gundam mech and the Legion of Superheroes (panel 4); Cyclops, Wolverine and Beast from the X-Men (panel 5); some Doom-bots (panel 6); and a bonus
obligatory Dalek (panel 7)! Phew.

GrandéCon part 1 is done! Stay tuned for part 2!



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