Author’s note: This is the second in a three-part series on my day at Planet Comicon in Kansas City.
Planet Comicon’s artists row at Bartle Hall Convention Center was filled with more creative people than I’ve ever seen in one place, and I’ve been to the Vegas Gentlemen’s Club in Darien, Wis.
This “comic book and pop culture convention,” which took place March 14-16, didn’t have strippers (note in the suggestion box for next year), but it did have the kind of artistic talent that I always wanted to have but didn’t. I also can’t hit a curve ball. Thanks, God.
A booth with Neal Adams, who helped create the modern comic book depictions of Batman, Superman, The Avengers and The X-Men, was just down the row from Terry Beatty, who draws The Phantom, and a booth with Anna-Maria Cool, who not only has the best artist name so far, she draws “Barbie Fashion Comics.” I’m not sure how “Barbie Fashion Comics” fits with the fact that this was the kind of convention that featured the Blue Power Ranger as a speaker, but I’m not one to judge.
All these great artists had one thing in common. They were busy sketching. You have that kind of time when people who just want to dress like Han Solo have no idea they’re mindlessly walking past a great artist.
But artists row wasn’t just for big names. Lots of local talent was there.
Rudy Garcia of Overland Park was a bit overshadowed at his booth by the sculpture of a big, purple zombie head, but the purple guy did attract attention.
Garcia is a comic book artist and sculptor who’s worked created action figures for the toy industry for 10 years. His most recent line of toys is a lot like his purple friend – they’re zombies.
“We’re doing this line of toys called the Walking Dud since ‘The Walking Dead’ has taken off,” Garcia said. “We’re geared more toward satirical type of zombie.”
Garcia, who mostly does illustration, enjoys carving. Some of the faces he’s carved on pumpkins have been featured on the Syfy network’s program “Carvers.”
Down the row, Alexis Henja’s Honeysuckle Rose Creations, based out of Kansas City, offers a different type of artwork. Henja makes jewelry, some from dominoes and Scrabble pieces.
“I started making jewelry because a girlfriend got me into it,” Henja said. Because of that random event she now has a business.
“This is my second time at Planet Comicon,” she said. “Planet Comicon is family friendly, and there’s children. The more colorful and more shiny the more kids want them.”
Uh, maybe I should go back and take my card out of the suggestion box.
Michael Debolt and Lauren Mulvenon of Kansas City, were looking at Hejna’s wares when I stopped by. This was Debolt’s second trip to Planet Comicon, Mulvenon’s first. Just like me.
“I’ve never been to Comicon before,” I told them. “What do you suggest?”
“You wander around, look for the most awesome costume and follow them,” Mulvenon said. “I’m shocked to see who put an amazing amount of hours into it. They’re crazy good at what they do.”
From Darth Maul, to Wonder Woman, to a teeny-tiny Hulk, I could see she was right. So I set out to find some of the best homemade costumes at Planet Comicon, and maybe find someone who made a costume famous.
Next week: I meet a childhood hero.
Jason Offutt’s latest book, “Across a Corn-Swept Land: An Epic Beer Run through the Upper Midwest,” is available at amazon.com.