This past weekend Nicki and I traveled up I-40 to Nashville, TN and the Nashville Comics and Horror Fest. It was definitely a case of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly” since costumed attendees dressed up as superheroes, villains, and zombies roamed the aisles of the Creative Arts Building at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds.

We got the Batmobile packed late Friday night after our traditional Friday Walmart Date Night, and after a few hours sleep we left out early Saturday morning. We headed up I-55 towards Memphis and stopped at Chick-Fil-A in Southaven, MS for some chicken biscuits and some much needed liquid caffeine in the form of large sweet teas. The weather was chilly, but gorgeous, and many times I wanted to just pull over and take pics- especially outside Memphis after getting onto I-40. The morning sun was coming through the trees and some low lying fog over the cotton fields and lakes near the right side of the interstate. But we had places to be so I just kept the cruise control set for 70mph (the speed limit)- which was fortunate since we saw many “smokies” as we left Shelby County. I had “The Bandit” call Kevin Williams to see if the “Snowman” and Antone Wade had left Memphis yet to give them a “bear report”. They had just gotten onto I-40 leaving town and were about 20-30min behind us. Puttin’ the hammer down didn’t look like a good idea on this trip.

We made good time, and I only had to make one pit-stop before Nashville on our 3hr+ road trip. Almost a new record for me and my bladder! We had our GPS directions get us a bit lost after getting to Nashville, but we got our bearings and after a couple quick emergency bat-turns and one ridiculously long red light we found the fairgrounds a few minutes later. Didn’t realize we’d have to pay for parking, but I had a fiver in my pocket so we paid the lady and motored on up the hill to the convention building. A line had already formed outside of the doors, and as we walked up they started letting folks in. I walked past the line and inside and as I entered I told a couple folks that I wasn’t skipping- just needed to find out where we were supposed to set up. One of the guys in line told me, “You’re late!” Yep, the extra time I thought we would have for a quick set up was eaten up by our scenic tour of that part of town. I found Marc Ballard, the show’s promoter at the front table and he pointed Nicki and I towards the middle of the space and said my name would be on the table there, which it was and right behind Kevin and Antone’s table who were already setting up. After a couple trips to our car which was parked in “the back forty”  we started setting up, too.

I wasn’t sure what the space was going to be like so I decided not to bring one of my “monsterpiece” paintings and display easel- was afraid folks might trip over one of its legs behind the table. Well, since I didn’t go into the attic for it I forgot the smaller table top easels as well as my comic book stands, price sign stand, and even my old Bushi Tales banner. After setting up I realized I had broken one of my basic con rules and had little to nothing vertical on or behind the table. Bad, Lin- bad. I don’t know how much it hurt sales at the show, but it didn’t help them for sure. I talked to a few other artists and vendors at the show about their set ups and displays and will be creating a new table set up for next year’s con schedule. At least I had new products to sell, and will have my “Scared Silly” comic ready for next season.

One of the guys I talked shop with was artist Billy Tackett. Billy’s most known for his “Uncle Sam Zombie” art, but is working on a new comic series called “Dead White & Blue Comics“. Nicki and I met Billy and his wife Heather at Midsouthcon a couple years ago. Billy was flying solo at this show. We talked products, displays, shows, and more. He gave me a preview of his new comic, and I bought one of his “For The Love of Monsters” art books- which he then drew a zombie sketch in. Thanks, Billy! Also talked to his friend and booth neighbor Nathan Thomas Milliner. Nate is a fellow monster fan we ended up trading art prints at the end of the show. Also talked to the World of Strange t-shirt folks, and artist Chris Range, and picked up a print and sketchbook from artist Jason Horn.

Even though this was my first Nashville show, there were a lot of familiar faces there from Metropolis, Memphis, and Phoenix. Comics Guest of Honor and Lady Death creator Brian Pulido was one of those familiar faces from Phoenix. Stopped by to say hi to him and talk briefly about the Phoenix Comic Con. He said the continued growth of that show was- “Insane!” I hate that Nicki and I missed it this year, but hope to make it back to Phoenix for next year’s. It’s our favorite comic convention.

Two of the other familiar faces were comics creator Sean Dulaney and writer/editor Sean Taylor – the “Seans”. Sean D I know from my trips to Metropolis, and Sean T from his trips to Memphis and Chattanooga and comic work with our buddy Antone.

Sean T had his sketchbook with him and asked me to do a sketch for him. Since it was a horror show, I was wearing a Bride of Frankenstein shirt, and Sean likes “Bad Girls” I drew a Bride sketch while sitting at my table. The only sketch I did all day. I usually don’t do them because it’s hard to draw at shows and keep an eye on the table. Even with Nicki there helping I still have to stop and talk to folks, and some people won’t stop to talk if they think you’re too busy.

Speaking of some busy people, two of the other Artist Guests of Honor there were married couple Elizabeth Breitwiser and Mitch Breitweiser. Mitch is a cover and interior artist primarily for Marvel Comics and is best known for his Captain America work. Elizabeth (AKA”Bettie”) is a former art teacher turned Marvel exclusive color artist and has worked on Captain America & Bucky, Hulk , Agents of Atlas, Girl’s Comics, Amazing Spiderman, Uncanny X-Men, and many more. Nicki got a few Cap books signed and an art print from the comics couple.

The TN Ghostbusters had a fun table. We recognized a couple members who had made it down to Memphis for MidSouthCon last year, who plan to make it back again. I really got a kick out of their inflatable Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, promo buttons, and Slimer puppet. After a trip to the men’s room I told Nicki that if the urinals were any closer I would have been sharing one with the guy next to me. She replied without missing a beat, “Don’t cross the streams. Crossing the streams would be bad.” I cracked up!

Nicki and I had to leave a little early on Saturday to go check into the hotel and then head to the Saturn Drive Baptist Church to talk to her former pastor Joe Coleman about the plans for our upcoming wedding. After meeting with Joe and visiting with some of Nicki’s friends at the church we headed over to McNamara’s Irish Pub for some good Irish grub. We went there for dinner the last time we were in Nashville and timed it just right because we were seated almost immediately. We had missed the church’s fish fry so we were starving by this time. Nicki had the lamb and cabbage and I had a house salad and Irish stew. The warm stew hit the spot on a cold night, and the cabbage was the best I’ve ever tasted! We topped off dinner with a coffee for me and an Irish coffee for Nicki. They also had some live Irish music, but when we started to hear “Dueling Banjos” we figured it was time to go! After that we hit a Walgreen’s to get me a new toothbrush (I forgot mine) and then headed back to the hotel. After taking some outside night shots of the hotel we crashed for the night.

The next morning we were surprised to see another line of people waiting for the doors to the con to open. This was a smaller show- kind of a large dealer con, but did have it’s fair share of comic creators, celebs (many from “The Walking Dead“), freebie items, and foot traffic. It also had a silent auction that had some amazing deals and steals! I got outbid on a couple Batman promo items, but not by much. I did win a “Death of Captain America” sketch cover comic by Billy Tackett for way too low of a price, as did others on other items. Saw some great balloon animals/hats/guns and funny tees around the con, too.

The funniest thing at the con had to be the Macho Man look-a-like who was walking around passing out Slim Jims and promoting a podcast called The Show. We also met a Harley Quinn who was promoting it, too- wearing a nurse outfit from Akham Asylum. (More pics of her and other costumers on my HGWT Facebook page).

Before we left the con I stopped by TV’s “Captain MarvelJackson Bostwick’s table to give him a copy of my “Shazam” art. I’ve met Jackson in Metropolis a couple times now and would run into him over the weekend but didn’t get a chance to say more than “Hi!” as we passed each other. I loved watching the The Shazam!/Isis Hour as a kid.

We found out a bit too late about the PredsFest 2011 (Nashville Predators Fan Fest) going on at the same time as the comic show, but Nicki was able to stop and pick up a new gold jersey before we left town. Also grabbed some Greek food near the shopping center for dinner before hitting the road back home. Those both made her happy!

Had a fun and productive time in Nashville and hope to head back up for some Preds games this season, and next year for the con again if schedules allow. Hope to hit Comic City’s next Metropolis comics show this spring, too.


Contact info for Comic City and Marc Ballard-

Twitter: @comiccitytn
Phone: 615-573-4537
Business hours for calling are Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm Central Standard Time.

Next upcoming show:
Murfreesboro Anime and Comic con
Jan. 21-22
Clarion Inn
I-24 exit 78
Sat 10-6 and sun 11-4
Admission $5 per day
$30 all-access pass (limited to 50)


Next week’s Have Geek Will Travel blog will be Haunted Web of Horrors which opens this weekend in Memphis, TN!