I’m finally getting around to writing about and sharing photos from my trip to the North Texas Comic Book Show – Day Two. You can read about day one, part one here; and day one, part two here. This will be long as I’m trying to fit it all into one post.

The Sunday morning crowd was very, very light when I arrived at 10 am, but you’ll hear no complaints from me. Since I had taken care of the “have to get” items on Saturday, the sparse crowd Sunday allowed me to indulge in a couple of “wants” that I hoped to fulfill.

Michael GoldenFirst up was a book and autograph from artist Michael Golden. I first became aware of Mr. Golden back in 1977 when he did some pencilling on the Mister Miracle comic book, but his big claim to fame came when the first Micronauts comic book was published by Marvel Comics in 1979 with him as the artist. He pencilled a variety of Marvel Comics titles throughout the 1980’s, became an editor at DC Comics in the early 1990’s and returned to Marvel Comics as Art Director in the late 1990’s. In the 2000’s he drew covers for several DC Comics titles such as Superman, Nightwing, and Man of Steel.

Excess- The Art of Michael GoldenSo, the day before I had looked over several books he had for sale, trying to decide which one I would buy to have him autograph. I settled on “Excess – The Art of Michael Golden” and if you follow the link you can see in the photo here that the copy I purchased had a different cover, but it wasn’t the cover that made my decision (I’m sure my brother will say otherwise), it was all the great artwork inside. Mr. Golden kindly autographed it for me, signed the Certificate of Authority form and, since no one else was around, spent a few minutes chatting with me.

Next, it was over to the opposite side of the convention floor where artist/writer Jim Starlin (isn’t that a great comic book name?) had his table. At home in the cabin I have several comic books and books by Jim Starlin, but of course none were with me in Irving, Texas. So while making my way across the convention floor I was looking along the way for a comic book or graphic novel I could purchase to have him autograph.

Warlock - The Complete CollectionAs luck would have it (I’m being sarcastic, it was great product placement) there was a dealer right across from Mr. Starlin’s table selling “Warlock – The Complete Collection” 300-page trade paperback for the unbelievable price of $10! If you’re not a comic book fan you most likely think this is an exorbitant price to pay for a “funny book” (though Warlock, while it does have some humor, is anything but a “funny book”), but the book normally sells for $35, so this was a great buy for me. I asked the dealer (he had 3 more copies on display) how he could afford to sell these for such a low price. He told me he bought a bunch of them from a collector for an unbelievably low price and decided to pass the savings along to other collectors. After I flipped through the book to make sure it was complete (yeah, I’m cynical that way), I paid the man his $10 and stepped across the aisle to Mr. Starlin’s table.

On Saturday, the line at his table had snaked around a third of the convention with people waiting for his autograph. I literally took five steps from across the aisle and walked right up to his table and to the man. He shook my hand, asked where I would like him to sign (while at the same time making an excellent suggestion as to where it would stand out), signed it and thanked me. We were both in a hurry because he was leaving to go speak at a panel and I was leaving to listen to said panel.

The day before, Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and John Beatty held a fantastic panel on the first Secret Wars series. Today, Jim Shooter would be interviewing Jim Starlin about his career in comics, his art, his writing, and various memories that they shared while at Marvel Comics. These are the things that fascinate me; the stories behind what we all know (well, fans know) and how many times those stories behind the stories cast an illuminating light on the stories, books, and lives of these artists. The panel was supposed to last for an hour, but Mr. Shooter and Mr. Starlin graciously indulged us for more than an hour and forty-five minutes, using the last forty-five minutes just to answer questions from the large audience.

Jim Starlin on the left and Jim Shooter on the right as they conducted their 90-minute panel at the North Texas Comic Book Show.

And that wrapped up the day and the North Texas Comic Book Show for me. I had a great time, met some great people and got some autographs I’ve wanted but hadn’t had the opportunity to get in the past.

And I lied. I didn’t get it all into this post. I’ll have one more “sidebar” post about some of the other parts of the convention in a few days.

I can count on one finger (guess which one) the number of times I have used the self-checkout lane at any store I shop at. Actually, I should amend that; I’ve used the self-checkout lane successfully one time, the other three times required an attendant to come over and fix something that went wrong with their machine. I decided that something which didn’t work correctly three-quarters of the time was not worth my time and effort. Plus, it inevitably ended up taking longer than standing in a line with a real, human cashier.

Self-Checkout Lanes

But despite my disdain for this excuse to make me do the store’s work, without even the offer of a discount for doing so, I’ve never thought that I should practice self-checkout theft. I mean, how do people work up the chutzpah to do something like this?

This article in The Atlantic Magazine points out how an estimated 20 percent of people who use the self-checkout lane are practicing self-checkout theft. And it’s not even called “shoplifting” any longer by loss prevention workers, it’s called “external shrinkage” and is accomplished in a variety of ways from failing to scan an item or items to mislabeling an item that a cashier would spot but the scanner doesn’t.

“Anyone who pays for more than half of their stuff in self-checkout is a total moron.”

Self-Checkout Theft

This person is trying to pay the price of bananas for their T-bone steaks.

That seems to be the mentality of some shoppers who love to use self-checkout. The article points to an audit of transactions.

“After auditing 1 million self-checkout transactions over the course of a year, totaling $21 million in sales, they found that nearly $850,000 worth of goods left the store without being scanned and paid for.”

In the U.S., at least, it seems that this is a behavior that goes mostly unpunished. According to the article, some police departments, like the Dallas Police, won’t respond to a theft in this manner unless it is for more than $100.

But in Germany, at least, that seems to not be the case. A man who earns the equivalent of almost $30,000 per month was fined $256,663 for putting $58.00 worth of veal liver in fruit bag to scan at a much lower price.

It would seem like, if there ever was one, that this is a crime of opportunity that at least one-fifth of us can’t seem to let pass by. And most stores, it seems, let it happen.

 

Do you regularly use the self-checkout lanes? If so, what has been your experience?

Leonardo da VinciSo, if you follow me on Goodreads or see my status updates on Facebook of what I’m reading and where I’m at in the books I’m reading you know that I’m currently reading Walter Isaacson’s “Leonardo da Vinci”, the outstanding biography of the original Renaissance Man.

I had no idea that there were plans to make an adaptation of the book until I read about it in one of the newsletters I subscribe to from Book Riot. And in an interesting little twist, Leonardo DiCaprio is set to produce and star in this planned movie.

Leonardo DiCaprioWhich brings me to an even more interesting twist. The other day, while reading the book, I got to wondering how Mr. DiCaprio came be named Leonardo and if there was any connection to Mr. da Vinci. According to Book Riot, Mr. DiCaprio “got his first name because his pregnant mother was looking at a Leonardo da Vinci painting in a museum in Italy when the future star kicked for the first time.”

Now THAT’S a kick in the gut…

Emergency ShelterAccording to this article from The Bradenton Herald via the Emergency Management Magazine website, folks in Southwest Florida, Central Florida and the Tampa Bay area will find the availability of emergency shelter during the next hurricane to be in short supply. Some of the shortages cited in the study that the article is based upon are staggering.

Looking at these predicted shelter shortages, I would say that if a destructive hurricane (category 3, 4, or 5)  is coming your way and your home is in one, both, or all of these areas it might be best to evacuate as soon as possible and drive north until you’re out of the path. Otherwise, your chances of finding emergency shelter in your area look to be greatly reduced.

If you missed it, you can read about the first part of day one at the North Texas Comic Book Show right here.

After getting my main mission accomplished, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the show.

First up was Jim Shooter’s one-man-panel on storytelling. When Jim Shooter was 14 years old he began selling comic book stories to an editor at DC comics, who had no idea at first that the writer sending him these great stories was barely a teenager. When I was 9 years old, I was reading Superman, Superboy, and Legion of Super-Heroes comic book stories written by Shooter, who was 5 years older than me, and loving them! Of course, I didn’t know that at the time.

Here’s a couple of photos of Jim Shooter expounding on aspects of storytelling.

Jim Shooter on Storytelling

Afterward, I just meandered around visiting the various seller’s booths remembering when I paid 12 cents for a comic book that now sold for $2,400 and walked down “Artists Alley” admiring some of the comic book drawings.

Next up was the staple of every self-respecting comic book convention – the costume contest. They had one for kids and one for adults who were still kids. I’ve never competed in one, but I could see myself having fun doing that, so don’t take that previous sentence as a snarky poke at those adults who were letting their inner child out to play.

Here are some photos of some of the contestants.

Wonder Woman and Maelficent

Can you name all of them in the comments?

Then it was on to the final panel of the day; the Secret Wars reunion panel composed of writer/editor Jim Shooter, penciller Mike Zeck, and inker John Beatty. This was one of my favorite parts of the convention and these three gentlemen spent about 90 minutes telling us how the comic book came about, why they made some of the changes to established characters that they did, how hard the project was, how fun the project was, and sharing little-known behind-the-scenes stories while answering audience questions.

Here’s a photo of, from left to right, John Beatty, Mike Zeck, and Jim Shooter during the panel.

John Beatty, Mike Zeck, and Jim Shooter

By the time this panel was over, I was too. It was time to make my way to my nearby hotel, get something to eat and crash for the night so I could be fresh for the next day at the North Texas Comic Book Show.

I enjoyed lunch at Panera today with two of my co-workers. After I filled my cup with unsweetened black iced tea, I noticed the cup looked a little different.

Upon closer inspection, I found this rundown of how many teaspoons (teaspoons are easier than grams) of added sugar are in a drink that size, with no ice, depending on what drink on the list you were having.

Both of my co-workers are young men in their early 20’s, and neither of them like the taste of cola drinks, so thank goodness for that. Every time we’ve been out to lunch together they both have ordered water to drink. But one admitted that he LOVES sweetened iced tea.

I mentioned to them that I grew up drinking sweet tea and did so until my late 20’s. At the time I was trying to lose some weight and my physician recommended cutting out cokes, which I drank almost all the time, and trying to have my tea unsweetened. Giving up the cokes was not as difficult as I thought it might be, but it took me quite a while to even tolerate unsweetened tea, much less enjoy it.

But one of those funny things happened as over time I drank more and more unsweetened tea; I found I now hated the taste of sweetened tea. If a server accidentally refills my glass with sweet tea, I almost gag when I take a sip and realize it tastes sweet.

Now, as I pointed out to my co-workers, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a sweet tooth because I definitely do. I have to constantly watch myself to not overindulge. But for some reason, sweetened tea is absolutely repulsive to me, and maybe that’s a good thing.

By the way, extra points to the first reader who comments with the name of the late actor-comedian who made the title of this post one of their signature phrases. I’m guessing no one will unless they google it, but we’ll see if anyone as old as me reads this blog, lol.

I’m happy to say I have my ticket to see Black Panther: The IMAX Experience this Saturday at noon. I’ve been a fan of this character since he was first in the Fantastic Four comic book back in 1966 when I was 11. That character, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, has undergone extensive changes over the years, but has always maintained the regal demeanor expected of a ruler.

This looks like it will be a, forgive the pun, marvelous movie!

I arrived at the convention center on Saturday for the North Texas Comic Book Show at 8:30 am for a 10 am “doors opening” time. There were already a few people in line to get their tickets, but I already had mine so I stepped outside to get a shot of the exterior of the convention center.

Exterior shot of the Irving Convention Center

It was 44 degrees outside and the wind was brisk, so I took several quick shots with my “real” camera” and my camera on my phone and then headed back inside quickly to the welcome warmth.

I got in line to exchange my tickets for wristbands and then joined the now much longer line of attendees waiting for the doors to open. I did not spend the extra $20 to get in an hour early, but later I would wish that I did.

Jim Shooter signing my bookI finally entered at 10:02 am and immediately went looking for the line where former Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief and writer for the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars series, Jim Shooter, was signing. After standing in the very long line for about an hour (the last 15 minutes of that spent enjoying conversation with Mr. Shooter as he talked to the two men in front of me and myself while he signed their books), I finally stood in front of him and presented my book and a couple of prints I purchased for his autograph. He kindly signed a dark interior page of my book with a light marker, then the prints, and then the Certificates of Authority (COA’s) to prove he signed said items, should I ever wish to sell them. He graciously shook my hand, said it was a pleasure meeting me and hoped I would have a good time at the convention.

Fortunately, the other two men who were the artists (penciller and inker) on the series were right next to Mr. Shooter, so I quickly got in the short line for Mr. John Beatty, the inker on the series. I only had to wait about 15 minutes and then got so involved in talking to him that I forgot to take a photo of him signing the book and COA’s. I took note of the fact that Mr. Beatty purposely left a space between Mr. Shooter’s signature and his (also in a light marker on the dark page) so that the penciller, Mr. Mike Zeck would have room to place his, holding the usual order of credit appearance as writer, penciller, inker.

Mike Zeck signing COA'sThen it was over to the line for the penciller of the series, Mr. Zeck. The wait in this exceptionally long line was about 45-50 minutes. I’ve always liked Mr. Zeck’s art so I picked up a print of a Captain America drawing he had done that I had admired for years to have that signed as well. We only spoke for a few moments while he was signing, because there were a lot of eager fans behind me who were also waiting anxiously for a chance to have their various books and prints to be signed.

So, after 90 minutes waiting for the interior doors to open and then another 90 minutes in line to get the three most important autographs I wanted from this show, I considered the paramount purpose of my visit to have been accomplished and could take time to enjoy the seller booths, artist alley and panel discussion that were to come over the next two days.

Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars TPB signed by Jim Shooter, Mike Zeck, and John Beatty

I’ll write and post about the rest of the show over the next few days, but here’s a panorama shot of the floor on Day One from the top of the bleachers.

North Texas Comic Book Show Day One Panorama Shot

This appeared in my situation update this morning:

Asteroid 2018 CB Close Approach

  • Asteroid 2018 CB will safely pass earth at a distance of about 39,000 miles (less than one-fifth the distance of earth to the moon) today at around 5:30 p.m. EST
  • 2018 CB is estimated to be between 50 and 130 feet in diameter (for reference this is larger than the asteroid that entered the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013)
  • Asteroids of this size approach this close to our planet maybe only once or twice a year
  • This is a 0 on the Torino scale

The Torino Scale is a method for categorizing the impact hazard associated with near-Earth objects (NEOs) such as asteroids and comets. – Wikipedia

Asteroid 2018 CB

Since it’s well past the appointed hour, it looks like the astronomers were right, but one day some pool-playing cosmic entity is going to use Earth to spin a shot into the corner pocket and then…

North Texas Comic Book Show logoIt’s been a while since I’ve been to a Comic Book Convention, so I’m especially looking forward to going to the North Texas Comic Book Show this weekend for my first visit to this event. I marked this on my calendar back in November in case I was still here in Austin, so I’m really glad I’m getting to go.

I haven’t read any newer comic books in the past 16-17 years for various reasons, so I have very little visibility on books, artists, or writers from that time period. I have, however, been buying relatively inexpensive kindle collections of old comic book titles I used to read from the time I was a kid until 15 years ago or so. It’s been a nice stroll through time for me.

One of my favorite story runs was the Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars, a 12 issue story that changed a great deal of the Marvel Universe back in 1984-1985. And at this weekend’s North Texas Comic Book Show the writer, artist, and inker from that series will all be on hand to hold panel discussions and sign autographs over Saturday and Sunday. I bought this dead-tree collection of the issues so I could have each one of them autograph it to add to my collection.

Marvel Super Heroes: Secret Wars collection

In addition, legendary comic book artist/writer Jim Starlin will also be making a guest appearance. There will also be cosplay events, which are always fun to take photos during. Other comic book artists such as Michael Golden, Al Milgrom, Mike Grell, and many, many other comic book luminaries will be appearing which should make for a fun weekend, something I could really use!

North Texas Comic Book Show ticket

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