Last year (2014), my hometown of Salem, Oregon hosted its first comic con. Even though it was held during Mothers Day weekend, it had a good enough showing that a 2nd event was planned for 2015. Last year I came in as strictly a consumer with an agenda of getting some autographs, having a sketch cover done and buying stuff along with taking in everything. This year, I went specifically to take in everything and let you know how the 2nd annual event has changed under its new management.
To start, this year the event is utilizing the entirety of the Jackman-Long building at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. Last year, the event only utilized maybe 2/3 of the building. The floor plan was greatly improved from the previous year as well and it had a feel of a comic con.
When I arrived shortly after 10am on Saturday, there were 2 fairly long lines. The lines were an obvious distinction between those who had paper tickets and those that were either purchasing or had them waiting at will call.
After waiting in line for 30-45 minutes, a dark-haired lady with a Cherry City Comic Con "STAFF" shirt came out and told those in line that if they had tickets at will call, they could get in the shorter line. When those of us who moved to the new will call line got up to the door, the staff there indicated that they did not have the will call list and could therefore not give us entrance to the event.
Needless to say this little SNAFU upset several people and the staffers were trying to rectify the situation. That is when I saw the organizer from last years event, Mark Martin, in a "STAFF" shirt telling others what to do. This initially upset me because I... along with several others... were informed that he was not a part of the event due to his PR issues in the past. (For further insight as to what I'm referring to, please check out my original comic con schedule for 2015 I posted in January HERE.)
|Mark Martin (picture from his account on Twitter)|
I put my personal feelings aside... got my media pass and wristbands... and went into the event to enjoy.
The 2nd annual event also brought us celebrity guests such as Michael Jai White, Honky Tonk Man and Naomi Grossman. This elevated the legitimacy of Cherry City Comic Con from the last year when there were no media celebrities.
My initial reaction to the show floor was a positive one. They set everything up more like a comic con rather than trying to fill space; something I felt that was done for the 2014 event. This setup allowed for a natural flow through the event. My only issue was the placement of the e-cig/vape vendor next to the entrance of the food area, which also was the only are where you could easily find a place to sit down for a moments peace/rest from walking around. I had to walk through a veritable wall of fog when I went past them.
While I am not against the idea of "vaping", but when you have a setup like that right in front of a high traffic area, I don't think it was a good placement choice. While a single "flavor" of the vapes might be a pleasant smell, the combination of probably 4-5 of them nearly had me choking on the "safe" vapor.
I didn't let this deter my enjoyment from the rest of the event.
My first priority was to connect with my friends who were vendors or guests for the event, so I made the circuit.
|Tony Grove of Tony's Kingdom of Comics in Keizer, Oregon.|
|Kira "Kitty" Hatfield (front) from Octo Kitty Creations and Kristel Joslin (behind) from Kristel's Kreations.|
|Adam Gallardo, author of Zomburbia & Zombified.|
|Robert "Floydman" Sumner of Planet F Studios.|
|Randy Emberlin showing-off his latest cover for Comic Book Covers 4 Cancer.|
|AnnMaré Grove & Shawn Cruz of Corrosive Comics.|
|Ryan & Ashley Alonzo|
|Anna Ewert (left) & Brenda "Spekle" Martinez (right) of Battle Ready Artists.|
Last year, Haven Gaming had a large contribution to the gaming events and demo's of various games. This year I didn't see that. I also saw a bigger area for Haven, Wild Things Games and newcomer to this years event Borderlands Games. I really hope for a larger gaming appearance for next years event. It was unfortunately that Cherry City Comic Con opened on International Tabletop Day. I know that there is a strong Magic: The Gathering and Warhammer presence in the area and I can't help but feel that if there were some connected events that included these, and other popular games, that there would be an extra level of attendance.
At the beginning of 2015, I wasn't sure that Cherry City would even be able to grace us with another event. Under the new management, they not only made a huge return, but also got it all done within 4 months time! Kudos! I can't wait to see what they can come-up with when they give themselves more time to schedule.
A special "THANK YOU!" to John Roach who helped make this happen and afforded me with my press pass. Hope to see you again next year!
|Me & my credentials.|