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Putting the Con in Convention for This Introvert

There’s a local, annual convention in Mentor, OH that’s been going seven years now, hosted by the “mall comic shop,” Comics and Friends. I’ve been going for at least four of those years now, and this year it was moved to a new, larger location–it outgrew the lobby of the mall’s movie theater that it’s been held in prior to this year.

It’s seemed like a solid event, with plenty of dealer turnout and foot traffic and such…all the more evident by the fact that it’s been an annual thing, ongoing, and OUTGREW its original location.

Unfortunately, for ME, that’s kind of a negative as I’m an introvert, to say nothing of issues I simply have with this type of show–the local one-day “dealer hall” things.


Admission was $5–very definitely a reasonable price and one I absolutely do NOT begrudge them!

Instead of being held in the lobby of the movie theater, it was held a few minutes away at a hotel where there were several rooms available for use, to house everyone.

Now, I’m speaking as a total introvert–tight spaces, loads of people, me by myself–that’s a situation I usually try to avoid; so even though I walked into it willingly, my “social anxiety” flared almost immediately. So I was not impressed with the space. When there’s no room to get past others looking at books on a shelf to look at them myself, I’m not a happy camper. Even less so when I realized the shelves and shelves of $5 or 6/$20 are all skinny-as-heck Marvel paperbacks, and the thicker volumes and volumes with classic material older than the last 8 years were price-as-marked…which while in some cases was better than half-off, was still isolated to primarily Marvel stuff of little interest to me (especially having had to “budget” ahead of time, with cash). I’d be interested in some series, but not random/isolated volumes or jumping in with 2-3 and my budget’s shot, even at half-off.

Then moving further through the space, realizing that most dealers had golden/silver age books where even the crummy-condition stock seemed to be at least in the $5+ range, or else stuff from very recently (like the last 2-3 years) was not very appealing. I’m going to be hunting down the New 52 Action Comics run and Superman run (probably also Batman/Superman and Superman/Wonder Woman, cuz hey, OCD) but one dealer had stuff at $2/issue…but isolated issues from Action 2-14 or so. Hardly a run to put MUCH dent into what I’m missing…and the crush of people was a bit much.

Other dealers were set up with boxes of bargain-books–some “half-off,” others fixed pricing–$5 paperbacks, $10 hardbacks; one had $3 paperbacks/$5 hardbacks that I saw–but the space was so cramped/crowded that it was hard to access the boxes–with constant flow of people trying to pass, and my trying to observe some basic courtesy and etiquette and NOT just wade in while someone else is going through a box, etc.

And it quickly became apparent that by far, the absolute VAST MAJORITY of the bargain books were old Marvel Premiere Edition hardcovers, and random non-sequential volumes of the skinny-as-heck Marvel Now books and such that just do NOT interest me in the SLIGHTEST.

While one booth had some DC Comics Presents (but not #1 or any of the Annuals) and another had some slightly-pre-Crisis Action Comics, nothing really stood out to me as worth my while and cash “in the moment.”

I finally–at the far back of the place–found a box of half-off books that (shockingly) actually included DC books, and found the Flash: Terminal Velocity tpb. The dealer rounded down, giving it to me for $6…and after paying, thanking him, and heading away, decided on the spot to cut my “losses” and get the heck out. $5 admission plus $6 meant I functionally paid $11 for an out-of-print, cover-price-$13 Flash tpb of a story I’ve been unable to find the singles for and been interested in reading–so while the experience was extremely underwhelming, it was (in the end) mostly worth my while.

YET–very disappointing on principle to walk in to a convention and wind up walking out with only a single, lone paperback when I’d had visions of a whole stack of comics or a handful of bargain paperbacks, etc.


To “make up for” my disappointment there, a few hours later I drove across town (some 45 minutes directly out of my way) to visit a Half-Price Books location I haven’t been to in a number of months–possibly as recently as February but maybe not since last year.

And hit the jackpot.

Two Superman books that’ve been on my radar. Yeah, For Tomorrow gets a bum rap, but I’ve wanted to “upgrade” to the single-volume edition from the crappy 2-volume set (just as I did with Batman: Hush a number of years back!). For $4.99 I grabbed Godfall–I’ve been thinking it was a 4-issue book but it seems to be 6, and I’ve meant to get it for a number of years.

Justice for $15 was a real treat to find, and I wasn’t going to pass it up for that price.

I’ve been looking for the Teen Titans Earth One in hardcover (only finding the paperback when I’ve found it at all), so getting it for half-price was great.

And then to add insult to an exploding budget-remnant, they had 2 of the 4 volumes I’ve been missing for years of Naoki Urasawa‘s Monster.

I actually had to pass on a couple other books I’d eyed…deciding the out of print/”rarer” books trumped several dollars’ savings that I can still get on the books I left.

One bookstore, one “every-day” kinda place that I could just choose to visit “whenever,” and I found this stack of books…but a once-a-year convention, an actual rarity tied to a specific date planned in advance, I wind up with ONE book.

Further kicking the pants regarding the convention, I’d stopped at another Half-Price Books the other day, and snagged a couple older Batman books:


For being old and long out of print, they sure were NOT PRICED as such! Batman and Me cost me $4.99 and Tales of the Dark Knight cost me $7.99! Both books for basically the cost of 3 Marvel comics.

And then the treasure of the weekend:


The “Collector’s Edition”/”Giftset” edition, Targetexclusive of the 2009 Star Trek film. Wherein the case itself that holds the discs is the saucer section of this awesome model of the Enterprise.

I was highly annoyed back in 2009 when the blu-ray edition was cheaper than the dvd, when I didn’t have access to a blu-ray player at the time; so with then-righteous indignation, I opted NOT to buy the movie at all.

I promptly regretted that decision–I should’ve just bought the blu-ray edition to have the case for whenever I would be able to use the discs (turned out it was just a few months later); but even going back the next day, they were sold out, and I never saw the thing in stores again (and only ridiculous pricing times I’d think to look simply online).

Figuring it’d surely be marked up to some ridiculous price as a long “out of print” collector’s item and such, when I spotted it amidst other movies, I cynically tipped it out to see if they were asking $40 or $80. For under $19, I picked it up and went straight to the check-out counter, prize in hand (almost put the Batman books back but figured I’d just totally regret that later).

Still, not a perfect visit…I spotted where they had a copy of the X-Men: Age of Apocalypse Omnibus hardcover marked $150.00 (behind the counter!) with an extra tag saying it was “out of print.”

Which–to me, offhand–is complete BS!

Firstly, it’s currently (as of this typing early June 2016) available through InStockTrades. Secondly, it just received a new printing not two months ago! (I ordered a copy either the week it came out or the week after, receiving a brand-new copy April 20th–not quite seven weeks ago!)

I didn’t bother to ask if it was the first edition/original printing, but usually they also mark the “out of print” to include “First Edition” or “First Print” if applicable…so I’m just assuming that it’s a second print that some worker unaware of the new recent re-printing decided should be displayed behind the counter and sold at full price, no discount.

4 Responses

  1. Brother, brother, brother… your timing couldn’t be better!

    I too have a bit of that introverted, social anxiety thing going on… and this weekend I was “working” the Phoenix Comicon as media, doing interviews and whatnot. I was *not* prepared for not only the size, but the sheer amount of humanity I’d be crammed in there with (added to the fact that it was teetering between 115 and 120 degrees outside, made it all the more uncomfortable).

    When I was finally able to get my bearings, with much thanks to the wife, I was able to have a very nice conversation with Kurt Busiek and even shared a (likely embarrassingly gushy) minute or two (and photo with) the man himself, Dan Jurgens.

    It looks like you came away with some great finds (Monster is a masterpiece, check out 20th Century Boys if you haven’t already!)… I wasn’t so lucky, I honestly think I have more comics in my spare bedroom than the con had on its sales floor. Guess that’s just a sign of the times.

    Great post, and thanks for sharing your experience! Makes me feel a bit less alone in the world of introversion (is that an oxymoron?).

    • I’d wondered if you were there, and didn’t get around to asking. Count me jealous on meeting Busiek and Jurgens…especially Jurgens!

      Met Jon Bogdanove, Norm Breyfogle, and Mike Barr several years ago…Jurgens in particular is up there with Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird for me. 🙂

      Not sure how you survived the temperatures…I’m roasting at 70.

      I’m gonna have to re-read Monster at some point…a buddy had recommended it before the English version arrived, and I followed it for a time, but then lost track, and then missed the rest of the series entirely (now they’re reprinting as 2-3 volme “omnibus” books but having most of the rest like this, I sure don’t want those).

      Also hear ya on the comics–that’s one thing that keeps me content for NOT getting to bigger shows, and away from Wizard World…my best (Comic) convention experience was a Chicago show back in 2007, where both Marvel AND DC had actual, official attendance and panels and such. Long story for another time.

  2. Oop, it appears I misread… you only grabbed ONE of those books at the Con (it’s a goodie tho!)… that sadly, sounds about right! Thank goodness HPB (almost) always has our backs!

    • no worries! Goes to show, as well, how “spoiled” I am with the main local shop I get to every week–just one shop, and puts entire conventions to shame with quality and pricing and such.

      Definitely a love/hate thing with HPB…plenty of great finds, even amidst the complaining.

      First World Problems, eh?

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