Friday, October 12, 2012

Buffalo Comicon 2012, by Alec Frazier


On Sunday, October 7, 2012 at the Buffalo Niagara Marriott, over 1,000 fans attended the annual Buffalo Comicon. The really neat thing about this convention is that it is completely local and run by an independent family business here in Buffalo. It focuses more on what the community has to offer in terms of artists, writers, merchants and other guests, as opposed to bigger conventions which focus on getting as many big-name guests as possible. Buffalo Comicon proves that Buffalo and the surrounding area has plenty of awesome talent.

Convention organizers and guests started to arrive at 8:00 AM to help put the convention together. A number of volunteers, myself included, made the convention possible.

One can see the large line of fans waiting for admission to the convention, half an hour before it began at 10:00 AM. Some diehards had been there for a full hour. By the time the convention finally rolled around, the line was past the wall in the left background of this photograph.

By far, I was not the only person taking photographs at this convention. It is an old joke in my family to take photographs of other people while they’re taking photographs! The young man in the center is a Dr. Who cosplayer, and the gentleman on the right is the official Buffalo Comicon photographer.

Several people showed up in costume. They did not limit themselves to portraying just comic book characters, but also characters from hit movies, TV shows, science fiction, zombies, anime, vampires, and much more. Arguably the best cosplayers I saw at the convention were these two girls posing as Tony Stark and Pepper Potts from the Iron Man movies. Tony even had a (fake) glass of scotch!

The zombie apocalypse is here! No, seriously; with comics and TV shows like The Walking Dead doing extremely well in today’s market, there has been a huge rise in the popularity of these brain eaters. The photograph here shows a man made up like a zombie and locked up in chains, while his guard keeps an eye on him with a (play) shotgun. There were also four professional zombies present from Terror Technologies’ Zombie Outbreak Unit.

Within the convention hall itself, crowds were packed shoulder to shoulder. Not only were there many local and regional artists and writers, but there were merchants and representatives from local venues such as the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library and the Burchfield Penney Art Center. There were even independent film companies present!

The sheer number of vintage comics for sale blew me away! Another cool point of Buffalo Comicon is that it is still mostly comics related. Many large Comicons, such as the one in San Diego, have given in to market pressures and mostly abandoned comics in favor of movies and other pop-culture.

The star guest of the 2012 Buffalo Comicon was Graham Nolan, the cocreator of, and artistic force behind, Batman’s darkest nemesis, Bane. Nolan lives in East Aurora, New York, and we’re lucky to have him in the region. The previous day, he had given a lecture on his career at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library’s annual Comicfest. Although he had no input on Bane’s role in the latest Batman film, he full heartedly approves of Tom Hardy’s performance in the movie.

Emil Novak, Sr. is the owner of the Queen City Bookstore. The Queen City Bookstore is a very successful comic bookstore on Main Street immediately south of the University at Buffalo’s South Campus. It was founded by Emil’s father in 1969 and is still an independent, family-owned business. The Queen City Bookstore is the company that puts on Buffalo Comicon, and Emil is the convention director.

While I, Alec Frazier, was present at the convention, I had three roles. My first job was to take photographs of the convention for the UB Spectrum, now visible on the Spectrum’s website. Secondly, I was a convention volunteer, making sure that everybody who was admitted joined our mailing list. And lastly, I was there as the commanding officer of the U.S.S. Diversity NFC-97028, a chapter of the International Federation of Trekkers (IFT or The Federation), the only Star Trek fan organization formed by Star Trek founder Gene Roddenberry.

The Northridge Star Wars Fan Force was there, too. Many of their members were dressed up as characters from the movies, but there were also members dressed as characters from the comic books and TV show. There was even a robotic R2-D2! At one point, Luke Skywalker saw me in my Star Trek uniform, and asked me, “Can I interest you in the force, my friend?” I said, “No.” To this he replied, “Ach, then you’re on your own!”

The whole convention was a rousing success with more people present than ever before. While today the event is in the capable hands of Emil Novak, Sr., the future is assured by the third generation to work in the business, as shown here in the person of Emil Novak, Jr. The Buffalo community had an awesome time, and we can rest assured that the show will go on!

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