Monday, February 27, 2012

Report: Image Comic Expo 2012 Wrap-Up

This past weekend Image Comics celebrated their 20th anniversary by holding the first Image Expo at the Oakland Convention Center in Northern California. The three day extravaganza featured a floor full of vendors, an impressive “Artist’s Row” and a whole lot of Walking Dead. So how did things turn out? Read through to find out!

I want to preface this by saying that I’m really more of a toy collector these days than a comic book collector. Most of my comic collecting consists of picking up old back issues of Uncanny X-Men when I find a good deal on them. That being said, back when Image was formed, I was more into comics. I remember the excitement of hearing that Todd McFarlane, after some amazing work on Spider-Man, was going to be branching off and starting a new publishing house along with Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Marc Silvestri, Erik Larsen, JimValentino, Whilce Portacio and Chris Claremont. Being a long time X-Men fan, I knew that Image was going to kick some comic ass.

So here we are, 20 years later, and Image is still going strong. The Image Expo was a great tribute to some of the classic Image titles like Spawn, and also a great look at some of the newer titles that will carry Image into the future, like the Walking Dead and Chew. The founders (minus Jim Lee and Chris Claremont) were all in attendance, and surprisingly accessible. It seemed like every time I turned around, Todd McFarlane was obliging a new interviewer.

There were some great booths to be found. Being a big Jack Kirby fan, I was excited to meet the people at the Kirby Museum booth (more on that in a future blog). There were a lot of artists, both amateur and bigger name, and a lot of independent comic publishers with some great looking booths.

Panels for the weekend included an exciting 20th Anniversary Panel, a spotlight on Chew and the Walking Dead Live. There were also plenty of contests, live art and plenty of chances for autographs. The undisputed hit of the show was the Walking Dead, and the presence of NormanReedus (Daryl) and Steven Yeun (Glenn), who seemed to garnish as much adoration as McFarlane himself. There was a large Walking Dead presence, which I won’t get into much now (additional info in a blog to follow soon).

I was a bit surprised that the Image Expo was so overwhelmingly comic-centric. I understand that it was meant primarily as a celebration of Image Comics, but I repeatedly saw the event advertised as “the premier comic con experience of North California in 2012” and as an alternative to Wonder Con. Given that, I was expecting a bit more toys, gaming, anime, etc. After all, it is a Todd McFarlane event, so I expected a larger McFarlane Toys presence.Being primarily a toy guy, I was drawn to the McFarlane Toys display. I didn’t see anything too terribly new, but it was still a cool display, and in a way, it was nice to see some things on display that, were I inclined, I could actually head down to the local comic shop and purchase.

If I wanted, I could also pick up many of the toys from one of the many vendor tables. But let’s face it, who wants to pay convention prices for something that’s not too tough to find at retail? There were plenty of vendors, and when it came to comics, there were even some good deals to be found.

Overall, the Image Expo was a success. For being the first Image Expo, the event was remarkably smooth. While not as large as I was expecting, what was there was very solid. Hopefully it was successful enough that we’ll see it return (and expand) next year. And of course, I couldn’t make it out of the Image Expo without picking up at least a couple of things. I managed to find a great deal on a first appearance Juggernaut X-Men, and found a great Colossus shirt at a reasonable price.