Matthew's First Comicon

My First Comicon

A Turtle Fan’s Dream Come True

While I have been to a couple conventions of a similar variety, I had not yet been close enough to a comic convention that contained much of anything I cared to pay for. A few months ago, I saw it announced that TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman would be in Raleigh at the NC Comicon and there were early bird tickets that included Eastman exclusive perks such as early seating for panels and extra signatures. I immediately bought one as a birthday present to myself, but I really didn’t need an excuse.

A few weeks later, I learned that Tom Waltz, the writer for all 79 issues that had been released of IDW’s TMNT series, would be in attendance as would be Ben Bishop and Erik Burnham who have both worked on the series.

Things started off rocky at the convention for most of the folks who bought the early bird Eastman pass. The people who put on the con were remarkably disorganized for such a large event and considering this wasn’t their first year doing it, I was frustrated as were many others. Also, they confiscated my plastic tipped hockey stick and lightweight golf club as weapons. My first cosplay was a bust. I was an unarmed Casey Jones.

Despite the frustrating start, I was determined not to let my weekend be ruined. I waited in line for two hours for my two signatures from Kevin. The wait was tough and another instance of where our Eastman exclusive passes did not deliver as promised, but being surrounded by so many excited turtles fans for the first time in my life was kind of awesome. I quickly realized how dedicated he was to his fans. Kevin took the time to talk with each person who came through for a signature. His wife Courtney was on her feet non stop making sure things ran smoothly.  Directly across from Kevin was Tom Waltz. He sipping coffee at a bare and unmarked table with not so much as the standard black table cloth that all other vendors were given. I ran right over and had him sign my first printing of IDW’s issue #1 that Kevin had signed a moment earlier. I asked Tom the price for his signature, and with a smile on his face he said it was free. Tom’s demeanor is laid back and he’s about as casual towards his fans and coworkers as one can be. It has affected how I read his writing in IDW’s TMNT.

During the first panel, Courtney ran a slide show while Kevin gave a brief history of the turtles and his involvement with the franchise as it grew. The panel was designed for a mass audience, so not too much new information was given if any, but it was still pretty rad to get to hear all the lore surrounding the turtle’s creation and path to fame directly from Kevin.

A few other interesting panels I attended were on queer comics and one titled after the RPG “TMNT and other Strangeness” and the person who helped moderate the Eastman panels was one of the panel guests in the former and the moderator in the latter. Shout out to Cap of The Nerdy Podcast! There was also a panel on women in nerd culture that I found very entertaining and necessary. All of these panels had remarkably small attendance for such a big convention.

I imagined that I would be excited about the vendors as well, but except for the discount comics (there were tens of thousands of them), most vendors were selling prefabricated merchandise. The more original and handcrafted items weren’t all that exciting either. I did a couple of passes through the vendors, but never found anything worth buying for a souvenir. Besides, I already  had my comics signed by Eastman and Waltz. What else could a turtle fan want?

The next Eastman panel was more interesting as there was a lengthy Q&A. I was able to ask Tom about his and Rhonda’s (the colorist for all IDW main issues) experience working on so many issues. It is unusual in the comic book industry for two people to spend so much time on one title. Kevin chimed in with a “Because they’re awesome.” I totally agree. The icing on the cake of the entire festival was that moments before it ended, Kevin’s wife Courtney (who worked her butt off the entire time) offered to let me get a final signature for free.  I was the last person in line and got both Tom and Kevin’s signature on a Jetpack variant cover of the TMNT 2012 annual. Kevin’s art and Tom’s writing. I was ecstatic.

What began with a rocky and frustrating start, ended as one of the most meaningful and special weekends I could ever ask for. All of it is thanks to the artists and creators who are so dedicated to their craft and their fans. Thanks for a great weekend Tom, Courtney, and Kevin.

Entertainment Earth



METALHEAD's picture

So great to hear that your first comic convention, albeit a rocky start, turned out to be a most memorable experience for you, Matthew! It stinks that you were disarmed. However, It’s good to hear that the security is doing their job, it’s not perfect, but they’re trying. Also, I know it’s not the same, but a Casey without his gear is no less a threat to purses-scrubbing pukes. lol  I too am in agreement that Kevin and Courtney are unbelievably kind and thoughtful people.  I have yet to meet Tom yet.  From your experience, I cannot wait till I meet him! Again, it’s great to hear you had a blast overall.  Hope to see you at a future convention!

Matthew Hayes's picture

Hope to see you too! Maybe NYC?