… but Wisconsin’s weather had other plans. A week after I wrote about how spring was finally here (you’ll see that post in two weeks), we got another helping of snow, gray skies, and cold temperatures. And so, I drove my wife Kat and myself the fifteen minutes across town to get to our local comic con.
I don’t know that Madison Comic Con was a going thing the last time Kat and I lived here. I certainly hadn’t gone before. I didn’t expect much, given that the con was in the rather-small downstairs exhibition space in Monona Terrace, and being held on a Sunday to boot. But it’s been four years since I went to a comic convention, this one was fifteen minutes from my house, and it cost only $8 to get in. So there really was no good reason not to go.
If we were dishonest people, we could have easily gotten into the con without paying. After ponying up our $16 for entry, we weren’t actually given any tickets. We weren’t really regarded at all. (The people at the cashier next to us at least got directed to the table giving away free comics.) But we made our way inside, where we were greeted by rows of longboxes, Funko Pops, custom-crafted dice, and more good cosplays than I expected. Geeks had assembled to do geek stuff, and all was right with the world.
Kat and I had just enough time to poke at some art and some longboxes before meeting up with our friend Mike Drew (of The Dream Journal fame) and his kids. Mike’s wife, Sarah, joined us after she got done with work. I’ve never done a convention with a stroller before, and let me tell you, it’s quite the double-edged sword. Navigating an aisle can be tough if people don’t move out of your way, but most of the time? People see you coming, and they move out of your way. Because they know you’ve gotta deal with kids, and they don’t want to make your life any more difficult than they have to.
For people who were looking for $5 or $10 or $500 comics, Madison Comic Con had a decent amount to offer. Me, I’m a dollar bin guy and a discount trades guy. And while I’d hoped for a bit more selection (especially on the trades front), I quickly zeroed in on a few vendors that had good $1-2 single issue bins, with some real gems hidden in among the rough (and also, some parts of Batman: Legacy I’ve been missing for years). I didn’t end up buying much, but I’m happy with what I found:
I can’t fault the vendors at Madison Comic Con for bringing more key issues and $10+ books than dollar bin stuff. (Also, I know back issue prices are still booming, so there are just less dollar issues these days.) I’d imagine that if you only have so much booth space to work with, you want to make sure you’re actually making money on each book you sell. Kat would certainly tell you I spent enough time looking in longboxes for good deals, and I’d be inclined to agree. Even though the show floor was small, we wore ourselves out walking it (partly because as a big group, we ended up getting separated and then trying to find each other multiple times – a problem that was not helped by lack of cell service).
The wares other than comics were very impressive, with everything from Poké Ball terrariums to neat coffin-shaped wallets to a booth that sold only prints featuring Stitch from Lilo & Stitch cosplaying as other fictional characters. We had action figures, we had a decent number of artists and original comics, and we had a really personable group of vendors, who were willing to chat you up if they weren’t busy. Amusingly, Mike and Sarah’s son Ryan was talked into buying the first Star Wars Nerf rifle he happened upon, within roughly a half-hour of his arriving at the con. His younger sister, Amelia, was a bit more discerning. She settled on a blue Spider-Man Funko Pop later in the day.
After having covered every aisle roughly three times (I think – again, our pattern was broken up repeatedly by having to track each other down), we decided to head out for an early dinner. The results for the costume contest were just about to be announced – again, the cosplay at Madison Comic Con was better than expected. Some highlights include a very well-put-together Yellow Diamond from Steven Universe, an Alfred Molina Doc Ock with what looked like movable arms, and a Christian Bale-esque Batman that made me do a double-take as I turned toward him on the show floor. But by that point, we were far more interested in good burgers than good costumes. Mike, Sarah, and kids drove to Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry; Kat and I walked over. Dotty’s is a Madison staple and highlight that Kat and I had not yet been to since we moved back. Getting to go with the Drews post-Comic Con was a good way to finally get back there.
All in all, Madison Comic Con was about what I thought it would be. A small con, with not as much comic selection as I was hoping, but better cosplay and non-comics ware than I expected. While the management and logistics were a bit lacking, the atmosphere on the floor itself was quite fun and positive. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that the con was basically in our backyard, and we could go out for delicious burgers with our friends afterward. I don’t know that I’ll be back to Madison Comic Con next year. But I’m happy we went this year.