Retro Con 2013 was a blast from the past. I have never attended a show with such an enormous concentration of childhood nostalgia in one place. We were one of only a handful of artists at the show which was focused on collectibles and memorabilia, but we knew that going in and it was part of the attraction. In fact, we had a successful weekend, selling some of our old toys we no longer had room for, receiving a couple of commissions and promoting both Blue Milk Special and Once Upon a Caper.
What really made my eyes light up was the Return of the Jedi Darth Vader costume, which seemed highly appropriate given that our brand new BMS Vader based on his ROTJ appearance just debuted last Friday in the strip. Vader posed behind our table and made the obligatory BMS Vader bunny ears with Leanne. Another great and unexpected costume was the bounty hunter Zuckuss. He’s a favorite of mine, so to see such a great replica of him, complete with light up nozzle was, for me, like stepping into the movie beside him.
One of the highlights was meeting the 501st Legion’s branch for the Pennsylvania region, Garrison Carida. We discovered we had some readers among them, and made some new friends. I spoke to Patience, one of the out-of-costume members, who told me a little about what the garrison was planning for later in the year.
There were at least 4 Stormtroopers that I counted, as well as one of the great Biker Scout / Stormtrooper hybrids from the PT / CW period. We spotted a jawa, albeit without his milk bottles and cigarette, and a mean looking Tusken Raider. In fact, Carida, who do a great job supporting charities and communities in the area, were running a Blast-A-Trooper event at their table. Blast-A-Trooper allows kids, and adults to have a chance to shoot Star Wars villains with a Nerf gun and I guarantee the experience puts a smile on faces. They were kind enough to invite me to take up the automatic Nerf rifle and lay down some suppressing fire on the resident scum and villainy. I did try a crotch shot on the trooper, but the Nerf bullet didn’t want to stick.
To my surprise, I discovered there were several kids sitting under the 501st’s table, ready to come scurrying out to recollect all the Nerf ammunition. I was informed by Patience, that these were the garrison’s “Nerf herders”. I nearly fell over laughing!
The Carida Garrison have several events lined up that should interest our Pennsylvanian readers. On Sunday, September 22nd they will be at Tredyffrin Public Library in Stafford, PA. “This will be a two hour Program where children and adults experience real live Star Wars Characters. The Characters will be there to promote Literacy and Reading in today’s youth while keeping the attendees fascinated with their movie quality costumes from the greatest Movie Saga ever told.” Then on Saturday, September 28th, they will be at Wildcat Comic Con at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, PA. This is a “college-wide event that brings awareness to and fosters relationship-building between Academics and the Comics/Graphic Novel Industry.”
But it wasn’t all Star Wars for us at the show. We were joined by Kevin Conn, our co-host on the Blue Milk Special PodCast. He’s well known for his comedic YouTube hit, Unemployed Skeletor. Skelly scored us an interview with Nerd Caliber and also covered for us at our table while we went on our Stormtrooper blasting spree. Hanging out with our friends Kevin and Scarlett was one of the highlights of the year and made our time up in Pennsylvania even more enjoyable. I also had the surprise of meeting long time reader, Phil Custodio, the creator of Living Room Wars the webcomic, who showed up in a great Voyage Trekker’s costume, complete with a bad ass looking blaster. And old friend, John Grayshaw also stopped by with his family to support us and bring us some fantastic local ice cream which served as our fuel for the day. We had several readers come out to see us and that was one of the coolest and most humbling things about doing the show. Sometimes you wonder if anyone will know us in an area we have not been to before, but we are always amazed at how far BMS has reached over nearly 5 years of webcomics.
Finally, on a more personal note, both Leanne and myself got to meet voice actor Neil Ross, who was a big part of our aural childhood experience. Neil brought many cartoon characters to life in the 1980s, but is probably better known for providing the voice of the Game Show Network and numerous A&E documentaries. For Leanne and myself, he is the voice of Shipwreck (G.I. Joe), Keith (Voltron) and numerous voices in Transformers. However, there were two other Sunbow / Marvel Productions shows in the mid-80s that few remember, Inhumanoids and Visionaries. I wrote articles about both shows for Cereal:Geek magazine. Leanne actually drew the illustration to accompany the Visionaries article and it was technically the first published work that we both shared a credit on. We gave Neil a print of the illustration and got a photo with him holding it. Fittingly, the character in the center is Leoric, the leader of the Spectral Knights who was voiced by Neil Ross.
For a relatively small, single day show, Retro Con had a great atmosphere and brought back many happy memories along with providing new ones. I can’t recommend the show enough. Its rare to do a show where childhood nostalgia is so concentrated in one place. Screw everyone that says growing up means putting away “childish things”. What really capped off a great weekend was hanging with Conn-Dor and the Princess of Fights.
A big thank you to Rosemary Ward and Anthony Tuski for organizing the event for a second year. And an even bigger thank you to everyone that stopped by our table and showed an interest in our hobby / work. I wish everyday could be so inspiring!