My last HGWT blog post¬†was a Flashback Friday on the Delta Fan Fest, so I thought I’d do this one on another backyard con I hadn’t posted about- the Memphis Comic Expo, AKA “DonnieCon” or “MCX“. The latest Memphis Comic Expo was held on October 20 & 21, 2018 at the Agricenter International out in east Memphis, TN.¬†Saturday the show was open from 10:00 am-6:00 pm, and on Sunday from 10:00 am-5:00 pm. Admission at the door was $25 for a one day adult ticket,¬†$35¬†for a two day adult + gaming priority admission, and ages 12 and under were FREE!

I’ve been set up as a guest artist at all of the past 5¬†DonnieCons, and all but one (which was downtown at the Memphis Convention Center) have been at the AgCenter. This year I was back in Artists Alley across the main aisle from where I was set up last year and the year before, and just up from where I was at the first MCX.

 

As usual, my wife and booth-babe Nicki was with me. I had some new mini-canvas prints, stickers, tees, prints, and some sketchcovers for sale.

 

I was also promoting the Memphis Ghostbusters group I helped co-found recently with my buddy Kevin L. Williams. Got to cosplay my newly finished Ghostbusters costume at the show, and at the Pink Palace Museum that month as well.

Also ran into the DeSoto County Ghostbusters, who were there with their Ecto-17 car and a fan group table. They had mini-pins for sale, and some of their props on display. We exchanged contact info, and I ended up going to a few of their upcoming Halloween events around DeSoto County, which is the county just south of Memphis across the TN/MS stateline.

Their member Cory Coffman did a mash-up cosplay of Friday The 13th and Ghostbusters on Sunday. My friend and toy dealer extraordinaire Eric Crimmins approved of it.

One of their other members,¬†Andrew Highlander, was also there as the DeSoto County Spider-Man. At times he seemed to be torn between two fandoms as well…quite literally!

He had his custom Spider-Bike parked between the Ecto-17 and the Bluff City Batman’s Batmobile. You can occasionally see him riding it or the Ecto-17 crusing around DeSoto County.

 

The Bluff City Batman is James Fyke, and his car is based on the Batmobile from the Tim Burton/Michael Keaton films. It’s still a work in progress, but looks better and better each time I see it.

He and his crime-fighting partner Bluff City Iron Man/Jeremy Jones (not pictured) do many appearances around town, including helping out several charities. They also occasionally take the Batmobile out of town for other events like the Metropolis Superman Celebration. I’ll be doing a future spotlight blog post on them and their heroic efforts around the Mid-South. Jeremy just recently did a heroic action by donating over half of his liver to someone else! He and the recipient both seem to be doing fine after the surgery.

 

While at the con I was pimping the Rogues Radio Podcast¬†that I was co-hosting (at the time) with comic artist Dave Beaty. After 13 episodes I decided to call it quits because of creative differences. We both seemed to want different things from the show, it became something different than what had originally been discussed, and was getting difficult to get together online to record (Dave’s out in Arizona). I thought he would continue on his own or find another co-host, but after episode 19 Dave finally pulled the plug on the podcast all together. I do think we had some good episodes, did some fun interviews, and shared some good info.

Dave was sick the weekend of DonnieCon and wasn’t going to be able to record on Sunday like we normally would try to do. I didn’t want to skip a week of recording the podcast, and since I had just gotten some new lapel mics in I decided to try them out that Sunday.

So I did a few quick interviews with the MCX2018 guests cartoonist Greg Cravens, comic book artists Mike Norton, Jenny Frison, Dietrich O Smith, our booth neighbors the Wade family, my wife and favorite fangirl Nicki Workman, James Fyke/Bluff City Batman, wrasslin’ historian and author Mark James, and wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler!- who has his own podcast, “Dinner With The King“.

My longtime buddy Greg Cravens was the first victim- uh, interview. He’s one of my oldest friends, and I don’t just mean age wise. I met Greg back in the early/mid ’80s when I was looking for advice on getting into airbrushing. We became friends and co-workers a few years later, and he introduced me to the Mid-South Cartoonists Association/MSCA. He’s done graphic design, cartoon illustration, comic books, web comics, syndicated comic strips, and more.

 

Greg was at the show doing caricatures as well as promoting his webcomic Hubris, syndicated strip The Buckets, and latest comic book Stoned Ninja¬†creator/writer Gabriel DeRanzo (and son). You can find their comic at local comic shops and “smoking paraphernalia” shops across the country, and you can usually see a lot of Greg’s work in The Memphis Flyer newspaper each week.

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Another longtime friend of mine is Eisner Award winning artist Mike Norton. Mike’s worked for several comic book companies like Image, Marvel, and DC Comics, creator owned webcomics like BattlePug and Lil’ Donnie, as well as having done graphic design and advertising art.

I had a lot of fun catching up with Norton- he’s a podcast veteran and former MSCA¬†member. We talked about pugs, bad movies, Memphis State/U of M, and the gun show going on next door..! He’s originally from the Selmer/Jackson, TN area (not too far east of Memphis) and got his start in comics when he lived here for a while during his college and advertising days. Mike moved up to Chi-Town to work for Devil’s Due Comics¬†many moons ago and has lived there with his wife Julie and their pugs ever since. He gets back down to the M-Town at least once a year for DonnieCon.¬†I would be hard pressed to name a comics company Mike hasn’t worked for during his comics career, and every time I turn around he’s got another great comics project going that’s getting rave reviews.

 

I had to have Norton sign my copy of his Lil’ Donnie¬†book while he was in the M-town. Like I said, he puts out so much work it’s hard to keep up with it all, but I have managed to pick up his new comic book series¬†Grumble. He’s working on it with writer¬†Rafer Roberts, colorist Marissa Louise, letterer Chris Crank, and editor Danny Khazem for¬†Albatross Funnybooks. Mike and Rafer are scheduled to be in town at Comics and Collectibles this Saturday, February 16th for a special Grumble sale and signing for their latest issue #3.

Another artist I was lucky to interview was Jenny Frison. She’s been doing some amazing comics covers and we talked about her creative process and her recent travels to Africa. She’s a fellow Chicagoan and former studio mate of Norton’s.

Nicki and I met her a couple of DonnieCon’s ago and hoped she’d make it back someday. We picked up some prints and sketchbooks. We also ran into cosplayer and con-volunteer Traci Brothers McDoniel. She was dressed as Wonder Woman and Batgirl during the con.

 

Both costumes were great, but I was partial to the Batgirl one- I’m a bit bat-biased.

And speaking of cosplay, there was plenty of that going on at Donnie-Con!

 

As usual there were several Harley Quinns in attendance. These days it’s not a con unless you see at least one Harley and one Deadpool cosplayer.

 

This was my favorite Harley, but this little Walking Dead kid cracked me up!

 

We saw some familiar “faces” including Marc and Marcy Meeker, and Nikkie and Garrett Dunnewold.

 

Also ran into Chris Jowers– AKA “Mr. J” who was emceeing the costume contest and was the voice of the Bluff City Batmobile’s security system and villain voices.

 

Lots of Spidey‘s this year, a Loki with a Tesseract/Cosmic Cube

 

…a fellow Ghostbuster, a happy Buddy The Elf

 

…a Fallout couple, and a¬†MS./Captain Marvel

Well, actually a few! Even some of the comics guests there were big fans and “MARVELed” at the cosplay going on! But, hey- this con is one where “Creators Come First“, so let’s get back to them. As per usual with a con of this size there were some¬†cancellations: John Lucas, Kevin Maguire, Rafer Roberts, Darick Robertson, Ty Templeton, Chris Schweizer, Don Kramer, Drew Swift, and Taylor Sterry. Don’t worry true believers, this con was not lacking on creators.

 

One of the Guests of Honor was the man himself- Chris Claremont! He was the writer on the first X-Men comic I ever bought (far right) and I got Chris to sign my copy of “The Death Of Jean Grey” comic. I enjoyed hearing about how his SNL/Marvel Team-Up issue came about, his meeting John Belushi at the Marvel offices, and more.

 

Artist Jae Lee was sitting near Chris, and I got a signed Catwoman print from him. Kicking myself for forgetting to take my Before Watchmen: Ozymandias hardback trade with me..! I also ran into two other Jokers- well, artist who have drawn the Joker many, many times: Rick Burchett (L) and Joe Staton (R). They’ve been working for DC for years, and some of my favorite work of theirs was on the Batman Adventures comic book series based on the Batman: The Animated Series cartoons.

I’ve met Rick a few times, and this was the second time for me to meet up with Joe again. Hadn’t seen him since he was a table neighbor at the Memphis Fantasy Con¬†when¬† back in 1992..! I own original comic pages drawn by both of them. Got Joe to sign my Batman: Going Sane trade paper back.

Joe’s been working on the Dick Tracy comic strip for a while now, and my friend and fellow MSCA‘er¬†Charles Ettinger (R) has filled in a few times for Joe when he needed a break. My artist buddy Anthony Biggers¬†(L) also made an appearance at the con this year.

 

Charles, Anthony, Greg, and I all worked together for a screenprinting company back in the mid-late ’80s. Hadn’t seen Anthony for years. He’s legally blind, but amazing with markers, pastels, colored pencil and probably a lot more I don’t know about. He used to do the posters for WEVL‘s Blues On The Bluff posters- and I have one in my collection (which I need to get framed).

I love getting to catch up with folks I haven’t seen in quite a while, even though I get reminded of just how old I’m getting..! Between living a bit out of the city, work, and married life I just don’t see my friends like I used to. One of the great things about DonnieCon is being able to run into folks again and catch up at least once a year. Glad¬†Donald Juengling and his crew put on such a fun show in our hometown.

 

No official dates or any other info on the next MCX has been announced- yet, but when it is I’ll be sure to share it. So until next time- Cheers and Wakanda Forever!

Lin

 

Memphis Comic Expo/DonnieCon/MCX

Memphis Comic Expo is the truest Comic Convention in the Mid-South area. Our motto is “Creators Come First”, because you don’t have a comic convention without COMICS and COMIC CREATORS! Come join us to celebrate the people that make comics happen with all their hard work!

www.memphiscomicexpo.com

Agricenter International
7777 Walnut Grove Rd, Memphis, TN 38120

 

You can hear all of my Rogues Radio Podcast interviews from MCX here: roguesradio.libsyn.com/episode-11.