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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halcon 2012

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending Halcon 2012, the third in this new series of sci-fi/comic based conventions in Halifax.  Due to one thing and another, I couldn't attend from behind a table this time, but with the proverbial cloud's silver lining, this meant that I was free to wander and enjoy the con as an attendee instead of having to worry about table setup and sales pitches.
I only went on Sunday this year, which meant that I missed the costume contest, one of the real highlights of the show.  Still, if the costumes I saw on Sunday were any indication, the contest must have been tough to judge.  It's always amazing how much work people put into making these things, and they seem to be getting better with each year.
This steampunk "Wild Wild West" tribute was probably the costume highlight for me.  With the amount of detail and creativity that went into this, they looked like they just walked off the movie set.  I heard mutterings about a mechanical spider for next year; that's about the only way they could top this.

 
Of course, HALO had to get its representation, and this pair represented it well with what must have been a year long project to create these incredibly detailed costumes.

And what would a sci-fi con be without a Dalek or two?
 
Taking cosplay to the next level is the Society for Creative Anachronism and their combat sessions.  To give an idea of how intimidating these guys are in person....I'm 6'4", but that guy against the back wall on the right towers about 4" over me.  Not someone I'd want to meet on a battlefield.
As impressive for me as the costumes are the miniatures and models.  Take this scale model Millenium Falcon for example.  This photo doesn't do justice to the amount of detail the builder put into this thing.  It's about two feet wide, with obsessive attention paid to not just the details of the ship, but the textures of the materials.  George Lucas would be proud to own this thing.
  
I'm not sure who this guy is supposed to be (but it reminds me of a character from Ricardo Delgado's "Hieroglyph"), but it was an impressive figure, and an interesting counterpoint to the more mechanical pieces surrounding it.



My day at Hal-Con started off right with a presentation on "How to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse".  Informative and entertaining, with bonus machetes!  In the photo above, presenter Alex Hall shares a moment with Twilight's Kristen Stewart (actually her cardboard understudy) before getting busy on her with his zombie killing weapons.  She might be pretty, but Bella is still one of the undead, so don't be fooled.




Here, my Whovian daughter has the high point of her day as Nicholas "Exterminate" Briggs autographs a photo of her in last year's Dalek costume.  Mr. Briggs is, among other roles on the series, the voice of the Dalek's in the newest incarnations of Doctor Who.  This is a clear sign of the growth of Hal-Con that they can now fly in guest like this and (barely visible just to his left) "Lord of the Rings" star John Rhys-Davies.



Or this fellow, barely recognizable as more than a blob due to my low-rez camera and poor photography skills.  That's Rene Auberjonois, best known to current genre fans as Odo of "Deep Space Nine", although fondly remembered by me as the stuffy Clayton Runnymede Endicott III from "Benson".



I was also pleased to get the chance to talk briefly once again with Scream Queen Debbie Rochon, and purchase this signed trading card from her table.  Debbie is the star of one of my favorite Lovecraftian films, "The Colour From the Dark", a loose adaptation of "The Colour Out of Space".   I think she embraces and embodies the culture of B-movie horror in a way I've not seen since Linnea Quigley and Brinke Stevens in the '80's.

Of course, for me, the highlight of this, or any, con, is the swag I get from Artist's Alley.  That's where you really get to meet and connect with creative people.  It's part networking opportunity, part fanboy heaven.  




The highlight of the artist tables this year was Marvel legend Larry Hama.  Although he was too busy to really chat, I was able to get him to sign a short stack of comics that have long been treasures of my collection.  Now, of course, they've gained much more value for me for having passed through the hands of their creator. 



Even though he's local, and I've occasionally seen him just hanging out at the comic shop, it was still great to see Darwyn Cooke, and get him to sign a couple of Parker books.  These are my favorite of Darwyn's works, and I'm proud to say that I've had all the books in this series so far autographed and/or sketched by him.  His work is deceptively simple in the tradition of artist like Will Eisner, and he really seems to be most at home with the writing of Donald Westlake (aka Richard Stark).





Did I mention Darwyn Cooke was there?




Oh yeah...and, Darwyn.  See what I mean about the fanboyishness?


I have a small sketchbook that I carry with me to cons like this, and over the past few years, I've collected work from a number of personal favorites.  Drawings by Ty Templeton, Richard Comely, Jim Craig, the aforementioned Darwyn Cooke, and others grace the pages as it slowly fills in to completion.  Making a significant contribution to the roster this year was Men in Black co-creator, and cover artist to our own "Brutal Blade of Bruno the Bandit" Vol. 3, Sandy Carruthers.  I had a good, long chat with Sandy about his work and comics in general.  He says he's really enjoyed the Bruno stories he's read, and had fun working on our cover.  We were happy to have him, and I was just as happy to have him do this original piece for me, featuring a character of his own creation that I hope to see in print someday soon.


Not to be overlooked, cover artist for Brutal Blade Vol. 2, Geof Isherwood, was also in attendance.  As usual, Geof was just rocking the sketches and had some prints and originals for sale that were just mind-blowingly good.  I was also lucky enough to grab a preview copy of an upcoming book he's worked on, "Heroes of the North".  As you can tell from the cover above, we've got some Canadian superhero goodness to look forward to from this great artist.

 

Speaking of Canadian content, Nova Scotia's own Mark Oakley was also in attendance.  I seem to be making an unofficial mission of getting every obscure work by this creator autographed, as seen by the rarities pictured above, Mythography #1 and Blip, both from the defunct Bardic Press.  By the way, if anyone has a copy of Mythography #2, I'd love to get my hands on it, as it apparently contains a never reprinted short story by Mark that I'd like to read.


Finally, after two years of trying, I managed to track down the elusive (to me, anyway) Connor McCreery, co-creator of "Kill Shakespeare", the comic for English majors everywhere.  Connor is a very engaging person to speak with, and is very enthusiastic about this book, in which he's helped create a layered yet accessible story that deserves the praise it's received all around.


As usual, there were plenty of small press people represented as well.  I always enjoy picking up the odd books that I find with as yet undiscovered talent.  Some of them go on to greater things, some are never heard from again. Either way, they make great additions to my increasingly eclectic collection.  For example, there's this book, "Manga Ganda", an odd anthology of work that has some very interesting art in it.  Unfortunately, I can't recall the name of the person I bought it from, although I did give him my contact info.  So, I hope he'll contact me soon so I can update this page with his info.




To close out, but certainly not meant to be least, there's this piece by New Brunswick artist Danica Brine.  I've picked up a couple of prints from Danica, and am really enjoying her crisp, clear style.  The lovely creature pictured here is from her forthcoming zombie comic, "Pandemic".  If this is anything to judge by, it should be worth a look.

Hal-Con, or any con, is different experience depending on which side of the table you're on.  While I enjoyed spending more time meeting the other creative people, I did miss being behind the sketchbook, meeting the fans and promoting AIM Comics.  I'm definitely going to have to put a push on to get myself better organized for next year so that I can be back behind the table where I belong.  The good news is that Hal-Con seems to be continuing to grow, which means I should be able to look forward to many opportunities to participate.  Hope to see you all in 2013!




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