Fallcon 2009 Walkabout + Round Up

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fallcon2009postcardThe Midwest Comic Book Association throws a big event each year called Fallcon.  In most ways it’s a con like any other con.  Costumes, long boxes, xeroxed minis that don’t sell well, and a lot of dudes wearing black coats.

To me, the identity of Fallcon was apparent long ago: it’s just your average hero-worshiping local comic convention.  Make of it what you will, but in the end, creators go because their friends go and the more they go the more friends they know.  It’s fun, but even if you come out a few books light, you’re not leaving with a book deal and you’re rarely getting out with a date.

Fallcon is a hospitality show that fosters comics love in the Twin Cities.  It works that way because it’s basically the pet project of a very successful local comic book shop owner.  Comics love = comics business.  Our good fortune comes as easy as that but it’s not a formula that could work everywhere.  Luckily, this show is very good at achieving it’s mission, but it’s also been decidedly predictable.  Until this year.

I recently noted a change of tone in MCBA’s marketing strategy.  At least, it seemed new to me.  I perceived this year, for the first time, that the identity of Fallcon is slowly attempting to morph.  Into what, I don’t know.  But while Fallcon certainly appears to be just another fanboy-centric con to you — look again.  Look at that postcard!  This year the MCBA slogan for this show was realized by me for the first time.  Suddenly I couldn’t think of Fallcon as “just a con” anymore because, as the postcard notes, it is “A Comic Book Celebration.”

Wait.  “Celebration.” That’s like a party!  Huh-freaking-zah.  We’re all friends here.  It’s about time we got down.

That word “celebration” got me totally psyched to attend Fallcon this weekend, but looking back on things, I think I took it the wrong way.  All weekend long I sought evidence that Fallcon was much more than a sales floor, but was in fact one big swinging bash the likes of which Saint Paul, Minnnesota, would not see again until its next annual, epic appearance in 2010.  We were gonna tear down the rafters and spike the cola and open a kissing booth and gamble on real life Superman vs. Batman combat bouts in the adjacent conference room.

I took my camera and snapped what I could, but found none of this highly anticipated debauchery.  When I finally discovered the source of Fallcon’s celebration mojo, however, I was pleasantly surprised.  And while I’m sure that the celebration aspect of Fallcon takes on different forms for different people, to me it has become something very specific.

I’m taking you now on a photographic tour of the 2009 Fallcon.  Maybe the fruits of my walkabout will prove “celebration” enough to you, but it wasn’t until I reached the final piece of evidence that I really knew what it meant to have a comic book party.

The parade of butt cracks inspired by the low shelves at the Half-Price Books area.  (Actual butt crack withheld due to modesty and courtesy.)

The parade of butt cracks inspired by the low shelves at the Half-Price Books area. (Actual butt cracks withheld due to modesty and courtesy.) Photo substitute is meant to illustrate how EVERYBODY NOTICED the cracks so this image is meant as a cautionary tale. If you go for the low boxes, man, belt yourself in.

The growing body of Aaron Poliwoda's work.  Brace yourself, world.  The effect of Poliwoda's observational prowess and personal honesty is strangely engrossing and might be addictive.

The growing body of work from MCAD grad Aaron Poliwoda. Brace yourself, world. No kidding. The effect of Poliwoda's observational essay-style comics, personal confessionals, and crude humor can be strangely engrossing and might be addictive.

Birthday cake.  Comes in in an edition of 1/1.  Highly collectible.

Birthday cake. Comes in in an edition of 1/1. Highly collectible.

The ubiquitous Fallcon Superman...in black?  Seems Supes was "in mourning" because his real suit was being fixed.  No kidding.  Had to attend Sunday as Mr. Incredible.  Ha ha.  Awesome.

The ubiquitous Fallcon Superman...in black? Seems Supes was "in mourning" because his real suit was being fixed. No kidding. Had to attend Sunday as Mr. Incredible. Ha ha. Awesome.

Man in a mysterious luchador mask selling porn comics from a long box.  Again I say awesome.

Man in a mysterious luchador mask selling porn comics from a long box. Again I say awesome.

The hulk.  Being incredible.  Doing the robot?

The Hulk. Being incredible. Doing the robot?

Sarah met Will at Fallcon three years ago.  Aren't you happy for her?  Will's books are so pretty.

Sarah met Will at Fallcon three years ago. Aren't you happy for her? Will's books are so pretty. If you buy enough of them next weekend at APE, maybe he will buy Sarah something nice for their anniversary next month.

That guy who sells laminated KISS posters that he draws.  They are so awesome!

That guy who sells laminated KISS posters that he draws and colors himself and sells for like $1. They are so awesome! I've got the 17"x12" "Psycho Circus" edition. It features such quotable quotes as "STANDING PROUD COS' WERE THE CHAMPIONS!" and "RAISE YOUR GLASSES!"

The release of "L.A. Diary" by Gabrielle Bell.  This mini was published by Uncivilized Books (Tom Kaczynski) just special for this weekend.  Gabrielle signed at the Rain Taxi Book Festival on Saturday, and Fallcon on Sunday.  If you let her draw a sketch for you, she will draw your face.  THAT is awesome!

The release of "L.A. Diary" by Gabrielle Bell. This mini was published by Uncivilized Books (Tom Kaczynski) for special release during the weekend's concurrent Minneapolis book events. Bell signed at the Rain Taxi Twin Cities Book Festival on Saturday, and at Fallcon on Sunday. If you have her draw a sketch for you, she will draw your face. THAT is awesome!

So Fallcon was pretty great this year.  Definitely close to party status if you keep standards low. Clearly a non-discriminatory celebration of the comic book in all its forms.  But what really cinched the fun for me?  I will tell you.

Lucy Knisley and John in line on Saturday night for the annual FREE STEAK DINNER.  Hell yes.  Does your local comic book convention throw in a free steak dinner on Saturday night?  Didn't think so.  Party on, Fallcon.  Party on.

Lucy Knisley and John pose in line on Saturday night for the annual FREE STEAK DINNER. Hell yes. Does your local comic book convention throw in a free steak dinner on Saturday night? Didn't think so. Party on, Fallcon. Party on.

Oh yah, and Peter Bagge was there too.  Everybody said he was great to chat with and incredibly nice.  I didn’t get to meet him though.  I guess the MCBA guys have been on him for years to come out as a special guest but this was the year they said pretty please with a cherry on top.  Hopefully he had such a good time, he’ll come back again next year of his own free will and I’ll get to slap him that well-deserved high five for being a great cartoonist.

But seriously guys, free steak for everyone?  That’s quite a gesture, and it’s a Fallcon staple.  That, and good company.  Thanks again, Midwest Comic Book Association!

– Sarah Morean

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5 Comments to “Fallcon 2009 Walkabout + Round Up”

  1. Blake | October 12th, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    THAT’S why I didn’t see Superman. I was looking for him on Sunday, since he’s always outside texting when we show up.

  2. smorean | October 13th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Texting? I love it. But where on his person does he find space to stash a cellphone? Is there a fanny pack hiding under that cape?

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