Fans flock to Free State Comicon

Craig Klotz at Free State Comicon 2011
Craig Klotz is the promoter of Free State Comicon. (Click to enlarge.)

Hundreds of comics fans attended the Free State Comicon in Lawarence, Kansas, on Saturday. Promoter Craig Klotz and his team managed an event that featured more than 30 special guests and more than 20 vendors for a day of fun.

Event highlights included the first area convention appearance of comics artist Terry Beatty since he moved to the Kansas City metro area this summer. Beatty was surprised to be greeted by a real life cosplay version of his comics character Wild Dog.

The guests included veteran comics creators such as Ande Parks (Green Arrow, Capote in Kansas) and Steve Lightle (Legion of Superheroes, Marvel Comics Presents) as well as newer creators,  webcomics cartoonists, and small press publishers..

Check out the photo gallery after the jump.

Wild Dog meets Terry Beatty
Comics artist Terry Beatty (right) meets Wild Dog (Don Janis), one of the characters he co-created.

I happened to be chatting with Terry Beatty in the early minutes of show when, looking behind me, he exclaimed, “It’s Wild Dog!” Of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a photo of the creator and his creation. (I hope this works out better for Terry than it did for that Frankenstein fellow.)

Terry co-created Wild Dog for DC Comics in 1987 with his frequent collaborator Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition). Terry posted an extensive behind the scenes account of the creation of Wild Dog on his blog.

Steve Lightle and Marianne Lightle
Comics creators Steve Lightle and Marianne Lightle meet with a fan. (Click to enlarge)

It was a treat to catch up with Steve and Marianne Lightle, who I’ve known for more than 20 years years. Steve is well known for his run as penciller on DC’s Legion of Superheroes and hundreds of memorable covers for DC and Marvel over the years. Marianne is also an accomplished artist and had her own career as a colorist for Marvel in the late 1980s.

After being away from the comics industry for several years, Steve has started taking on new assignments. At the show, he allowed us to take a peek at a very impressive cover he’s recently completed for IDW’s crossover of Star Trek and the Legion of Superheroes.

Gunther Dedmund
Horror host Gunther Dedmund is happy to see that his lunch order has arrived. Wait, no. We mean that Gunther entertained young and old alike. (Click to enlarge.)

Gunther Dedmund is the host of The Basement Sublet of Horror, which appears on public access channels and The Monster Channel online television channel.

Dedmund says he “takes a horrible film – one that had it coming – and chops away at it until it’s reduced to only the absolute minimum necessary to understand what little plot there.” He then “adds in an educational short, an industrial film, a pinch of the odd luncheon meat – and the result is  the condensed version of the film without all the nasty padding and filler we’ve come to expect from Hollywood, but with a zesty humor and hilarity we now know as The Basement Sublet of Horror.

Dedmund sees himself as both a descendant of and a parody of the great horror hosts that  preceded him.

CW Cooke
Writer CW Cooke and his wife Katie. (Click to enlarge.)

Writer Cameron “CW” Cooke and his wife Katie were at the show. Cooke — an occasional contributor to this website — is probably the most widely publicized but one of the least recognized creators in the area. He has found steady work writing comics biographies of celebrities like Lady Gaga, Steve Jobs, and Kate Middleton for Bluewater Productions, resulting in worldwide media coverage. Cooke is branching out with other writing projects, including Baneberry Creek: Academy for Wayward Fairies, also published by Bluewater Productions. He’s an up-and-coming writer whose career is worth watching.

B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck
Writers B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck. (Click to enlarge.)

I had the chance to learn more about the current projects of writers B. Clay Moore and Seth Peck. On the comics front, Moore is working with fan favorite artist Tony Harris on The Further Adventures of the Whistling Skull. On the Hollywood side, Moore is helping to steer a number of his comics projects toward film or television deals. In at least one case he’s been involved in a draft of a pilot script. As with most Hollywood projects, however, each of Moore’s efforts is at its own stage of a long waiting game. Some of them sound like they could be heading toward production — or at least an announcement moving to the next step — very soon.

Peck’s latest comics project for Marvel has just wrapped up. Fear Itself: Wolverine is a three-issue tie-in to Marvel’s Fear Itself company event. Peck coordinated closely with two of Kansas City’s biggest name writers: Jason Aaron, who writes the main Wolverine series, and former Kansas City resident Matt Fraction, who writes the Fear Itself limited series.

More reports and photos to come shortly.

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