Miner Recs Newsletters & Podcasts

Comic Books and Comic Conventions

On this episode, Angelo, Sarah, Michelle, and Annie discuss comic books, graphic novels, and the conventions that celebrate them.

Listen to their conversation in the player below:

Place a hold on some of our recommendations across genres of comics and graphic novels:

Justice League Dark cover

Justice League Dark

Justice League Dark follows a team of DC superheroes who come from supernatural, occult, and offbeat origins, including popular characters such as John Constantine and Zatanna. Issue 1 has this team tasked with taking down the villainous Enchantress, who is using her magic to cause all sorts of chaos throughout the world. For ages 16+.

Batman: Year One cover

Batman: Year One

A critically acclaimed Batman origin story from Frank Miller (Sin City, 300). As the name suggests, this comic shows us the first year in both Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon's crime-fighting life, before Wayne becomes Batman and Gordon becomes the chief of police. For ages 16+.

Saga cover


A sweeping space opera/fantasy epic from one of comic book's most iconic authors, Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Paper Girls). Two star-crossed lovers, from opposing sides of a massive galactic war, fall in love, and risk everything to live in peace. For ages 18+.

Maus cover


In his widely acclaimed graphic novel Maus, Art Spiegelman recounts his father's experience during the holocaust, in which he depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. As of writing this, Maus is the only graphic novel to ever win the Pulitzer Prize, a status it has absolutely earned. Emotional and powerful, I would recommend Maus to anyone; it will completely change your view of the comic medium. For ages 12+.

Naruto cover


A classic of shōnen, a genre of manga aimed at teenage boys and which tends to be action-packed and comedic. Naruto was many people's first foray into manga and anime; as such, it is still quite beloved by many and seen as a staple of the medium. For ages 13+.

Emma cover


Emma is quite unique among manga. A historical romance, Emma is set in Victorian London and tells the story of the titular character, a housemaid who falls in love with the rich, aristocratic William Jones. For ages 13+.

A Firehose of Falsehood cover

A Firehose of Falsehood

A nonfiction comic book detailing how disinformation can oppress and ruin societies. A Firehose of Falsehood explores many civilizations throughout history, from Ancient times to the modern internet age, where tyrannical leaders used lies to control their populace.

Owly cover


Owly is a perfect comic for kids in kindergarten or elementary school. A completely wordless comic, told entirely in pictures, Owly follows the titular Owl as he goes on adventures with his best friends, Wormy the Worm and Scampy the Chipmunk.


ANGELO: Hello, and welcome to Miner Recs. I'm Angelo, and today I am joined by Sarah, Michelle, and Annie. On today's episode, we will be discussing comic books and comic book conventions. There are a few reasons for why we're discussing these topics today. The big one is that the first Saturday of every May is Free Comic Book Day, but another major reason is that May is around the start of what I like to call convention season, kind of late spring to early fall. One of the biggest comic book conventions around here just passed -- C2E2 -- which takes place at the McCormick Place in Chicago, but there's others happening fairly soon. Anime Central this month, Anime Midwest in July, and finally Wizard World in August, all three of which are down the street at the Rosemont Convention Center.

But before we talk too much about conventions and comic books, Sarah wanted to share kind of a brief history of comic books.

SARAH: Yeah, so I'm taking this little clip from the PBS website as well as a Book Riot blog post, just to have a more concise explanation on the history of comics.

Comics have been in existence since the end of the 19th century, but it was only after the Great Depression that the popularity of newspaper cartoons expanded into a major industry. The precise era of the Golden Age is kind of disputed, though most agree it was born with the launch of Superman in 1938. The sales of comic books increased markedly during World War II, which is from 1939 to 1945, so Superman came into being a year right before that started. They were cheap, portable, and had inspirational, patriotic stories of good triumphing over evil. The tales very much reflected the events and values of the time. Pro-American characters were popular, such as Superman, Captain America -- a superhero whose entire creation was based on aiding the country's war effort. After the war, the superhero genre kind of lost steam, marking what we consider to be the end of the Golden Age. The era itself, though, left an indelible mark on comic books, with many of the characters remaining popular almost 70 years later. The first superhero, Superman, is still alive and well in popular culture today.

And I wrote a note here. I kind of disagree that the superhero genre lost steam! I think that we have a massive boom with superhero movies and it's still a huge part of our culture, so I don't know about that!

But anyway, in the 1980s, so about maybe like 40, 35 years later, another new style took over the world, which is the Japanese comics known to us as manga. And manga nowadays have many different styles, but the most defining characteristics are the black and white color palette and the exaggerated emotional expressions, often in genres such as shōnen, which is geared towards boys, and shōjo, which is geared towards girls. Manga in Japanese can literally mean comic book or comic strip, and it is developed as an art form from the old woodblock illustrations that used to be present throughout Japanese history. The modern manga style only gained mainstream notoriety in the 1980s, when Japan became a household name in terms of international technology and entertainment. One of the most versatile types of illustrated storytelling mangas, like American comic books, started off being exclusively marketed to children, but soon expanded to encompass every aspect of human life, from overtly specific categories like cookbooks and even tech manuals, to the more mainstream subjects like horror, romance, and comedy. And then now you consider all of our comics are now online on apps such as Webtoons or Tapas, and then we're seeing those comics being published to physical copy after the fact. So we have a really great international reach of different cultures' comics. 

So we've got American comics, which I just kind of refer to as, like, comics, and then you get graphic novels, which are still American, but they're more inspired by Japanese manga and the animated TV shows that were made in America. So it's kind of like a blend between the two. And then you get manga, which is made in Japan, which is separate. Then you get manhwa, which is comics made from Korea. And on these Webtoons apps, it's kind of a blend of all three, four -- you'll see literally all the different kinds of international genres on their own as individual kind of style, but then you'll see them blend together and have them kind of married in that way.

ANGELO: I do want to say, because you brought up like digital apps for comic books, I want to say that Hoopla is actually probably my favorite way to read comic books nowadays. 

SARAH: Oh, true.

ANGELO: Yeah, they have so many comics on there.

SARAH: A lot of the new ones too. 

ANGELO: Yeah, that's the other good thing about it, yeah. Well, thank you for sharing that. I wanted to mention that one of my favorite like regions of comics is actually France. French comics, their like art style and color palette is unlike anything else.

SARAH: Exquisite. What do they call them?

ANGELO: Yeah, I don't think -- they're just comics...

SARAH: Comiques! Something like that. (laughter)

ANGELO: Well, I thought I'd start today's discussion by going around just saying what type of comic books we tend to read. And as you brought up, manga and graphic novels, I use the term comics loosely, containing all those different regional styles of illustrative storytelling. So does anyone want to start?

ANNIE: Yeah! This is Annie. I read really indiscriminately, so it's kind of all over the place. Not necessarily as much the superheroes, though I do read those too. I have a soft spot in my heart for nonfiction graphic novels, so that could be anything from like memoirs or like historical. A lot of them are like immigrant or refugee narratives. It could be a science or a how-to. It could be just topical. So the one that I'm reading right now is kind of relevant to libraries, but it's called A Firehose of Falsehood. I don't have it with me. I don't have the author! But I love nonfiction. But I've dabbled in pretty much anything, and remember, everybody, that comics are not any genre. They're just a format that includes every single genre. So anything that you can think of that can be written can be put into a comic or graphic novel format.

SARAH: And they're a real valid genre, too. It's not cheating. There's still words. There's inferencing. 

ANGELO: I just want to go off of you talking about how-to comic books. There is a cookbook comic book. It's basically how to make ramen.

SARAH: Oh, yeah, I love that one.

ANGELO: And after reading this, I'm like, every cookbook should just be a comic! It makes total sense.

ANNIE: Yeah, it does.

MICHELLE: It does.

SARAH: 100%. On the exact opposite spectrum, I tend to read more fiction than nonfiction. Most of my comics are webcomics simply because of the accessibility of it being on my phone or on a computer. Some of my favorite popular webcomics are stories such as Lore Olympus, Jackson's Diary, The Crow King, I Am the Villain, and like we were talking about earlier, some of these, like I Am the Villain, is a manhwa that is posted on this app, whereas like Lore Olympus is clearly an influenced graphic novel webcomic of all the different variations. And then I also do the graphic novel selection for our collection. There's just so many! I would say my favorites are probably like the Transformers comics. They're exquisitely written and the artwork is incredible, but then on the other end of the spectrum, you got Naruto and the manga section, which is always a classic. There's just too many. Way too many.

MICHELLE: I kind of dabble in all sorts. I don't really just read just superhero or just manga. I kind of -- whatever piques my interest, I don't really care what exactly the format or the art style is. I'd say probably my favorite comic slash graphic novel would be Justice League Dark. Sort of like focusing on the more mystical, magical, darker characters of the DC universe. So like characters like Satana, John Constantine. And then for manga, I tend to go for more like historical fiction for manga. So my favorite series from that is called Emma. It's by Kaoru Mori. It's about a maid who ends up falling in love with an aristocratic man and kind of like all the trials and tribulations of late Victorian period. And that's unique, in that there really aren't the same stylizations of other manga. It's drawn more realistically, but it still has that unique feel to it.

ANGELO: Interesting. Going off of you saying Justice League Dark, I was going to start off by saying that I tend to not read too much from DC and Marvel.

SARAH: Same!

ANGELO: In terms of DC, definitely one of my all-time favorite comics book series is Sandman. And John Constantine is one of the main characters of Sandman. But yeah, I definitely read more of the alternative comics. Not really superhero, but I'm a big fan of Frank Miller and Alan Moore, their original IPs. So Frank Miller's Sin City and 300. And then Alan Moore's V for Vendetta, Watchmen, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. 

SARAH: Those are classics.

MICHELLE: Ooh, yeah.

ANGELO: But yeah, there's plenty in DC and Marvel to still love. As I said, Sandman.

SARAH: They're just not as accessible.


SARAH: You have to pay for the app. So DC and Marvel have an app just like Webtoons, but you have to pay for it. And not everyone has the money to pay for it.

ANNIE: Right.

ANGELO: Totally. 

SARAH: We'll do our best to get as many comics as possible for our collection, but the Transformers, for instance, it's out of print. They're fantastic comics, but I can only buy them off of Amazon in these massive omnibuses. And then people rip them, and then it's like, oh my God, I got to spend $50 again?

ANGELO: Those omnibuses are insanely expensive too.

SARAH: Oh my God!

MICHELLE: Especially if they're soft cover and not hardcover.

ANNIE: It's like a phone book. 


SARAH: So it's so terrible to try and maintain a good collection because they're so fragile.

ANGELO: Well, you kind of bring up the next topic that I wanted to bring up, which is that DC and Marvel in particular, how difficult it is to start with them. Because I'm just imagining as a first-timer, where do you even begin? And you have all these terms like Silver Age comics, Golden Age comics.

MICHELLE: You just have to jump in. And then just be like, okay, this is what it is. And you just try to make sense of wherever you started.

ANNIE: I grew up watching the old X-Men cartoon and loving them. And this year they came out with that new one. And I realized there is so much that I still don't know about the whole lore and the history in that world.

SARAH: Oh my God. Literally, there's a graphic novel that I just read on NetGalley (because librarians get special privileges). And I think the title is Big Barda. And apparently there's this entire other universe within... I'm thinking it's Marvel. I might be wrong. And it's like the fourth dimension or there's an entire... You got the whole Guardians of the Galaxy thing. You got the whole Avengers and all that stuff. And apparently there's an entirely new, slash... You know what? No, it's not Marvel. It's DC. Because I remember talking to my friend about them ripping off of... Who's the purple guy? Thanos? Thanos is a rip-off from this new universe that I didn't even know existed. So it's just like, ah!

MICHELLE: They do borrow from one another. Somebody did a comparison between a Marvel character versus a DC character. There's so many that it's the same character.

SARAH: I'm sorry. I'm not making this any easier.

ANNIE: And they're all smashing them up together. Yeah.

SARAH: There's just too many. You were like, okay, where do we start? You don't. You don't start. You just go cry in a corner!

ANGELO: Well, based on what I read online, Michelle had the right answer: just jump in. And I once Googled where do you start and how do you plan out how to read the reading order? And someone online once described to me perfectly, which is just a soap opera, and that you have your daily soap operas with like 3,000 episodes that are ongoing. And it's just like, just turn on the TV and whatever is happening on the episode, that's your starting point.

MICHELLE: Yeah. And that's kind of how it is. 

ANGELO: But on a more specific way of answering this question of like, for first-timers that haven't ever read comics before, what would be your recommendation in terms of, like, which comic book would you recommend to them? Yeah. And once again, general answer, it could be comic, graphic novel, or manga.

SARAH: I kind of feel like manga, even though it's hard -- like, you read manga quote-unquote "backwards" because it's made for Japanese readers and translated. So you read from right to left instead of left to right. And that can be a little confusing for beginners, but the fact that manga comes in volumes, and there's so many, like most manga have at least 10 volumes to a series, and they're all relatively the same size. The uniformity is a really good selling point, not to mention there's such a wide array of genres within manga. So you get Naruto, you get Dragon Ball, and that's like more action-packed series. But then you get like Sailor Moon, and you get like Attack on Titan. Like you got horror, you got girls-focused, you got boys, like there's just so many different options for you to go through. And it's very linear and structured as compared to the American comics. So I feel like stuff like Fruits Basket or Naruto would be like a really good start. 

ANGELO: Okay, yeah.

ANNIE: This is such a hard question for a librarian, because it really depends so much upon the person asking! Kids, I feel like it can be very easy. They have like the drawn diary type. They have like Amulet and Bone and so many things that are based on the characters they love already. For teens, I would probably go with some manga. I might do like a So Cute It Hurts or maybe like a Soul Eater, depending on the kid. I don't know about that one actually.

SARAH: That one might be too --

ANNIE: That one's a little, yeah. I'm thinking a lot about adults or even that in between part, like college age, maybe Giant Days and Check Please and things like that. And then for adults, I would really probably point them to a lot of stuff by Image Comics, which is my favorite. They have a lot of things that are made for adults, more relatable, more funny to a maybe older crowd. A lot of fourth wall breaking.

SARAH: Something Is Killing The Children. Is that Image?

ANNIE: I don't remember.

SARAH: I don't remember. It sounds about right.

ANNIE: But yeah, a lot of the ones that got me into it are by Brian K. Vaughn. And weirdly enough, his Y: The Last Man is not from Image, it's DC. But his other stuff, like Saga is probably one of my favorites that I would recommend to anybody. Invincible by Kirkman, the maker of Walking Dead. Lazarus, I think that's Greg Rucka. Rat Queens, The Wicked + The Divine. And then there's all these reboots of old, old things like Archie and The Flintstones. The Flintstones comic is hilarious. And if you are like -- because you're never taken hostage by a comic, unless you want to be. You can always stop. And in that vein, web comics or Instagram comics, people you can follow is a good way to dip your toe in without having to commit and then decide, oh, I want more of this.

SARAH: Well, so much of Netflix's most popular shows are adaptations of comics like Sweet Tooth, iZombie, Walking Dead.

ANNIE: Umbrella Academy.

ANGELO: And then on Amazon, you got Invincible, which is one of the most popular. And The Boys.

SARAH: So chances are, even if you've never picked up a comic, you've already been exposed to them and almost read it just visually.

MICHELLE: I was gonna say, that's a good way of -- if you don't know if you're into it, but you kind of know the story -- like, I know even for kids, there's a manga Kingdom Hearts series. So if you like the games, but you don't really know if you're gonna like comics, you could always read those.

SARAH: Or even the games, the games, the shows and vice versa.

MICHELLE: Yeah. But like for other like kids, or even like teens or whatever, I'd recommend Owly. It doesn't have any words. It's just pictures. But it's the tale of a cute little owl and his little wormy friend. And they meet other little animals. So it's all visual, but it's all really cute. It kind of gets you into the whole like, reading with the different panels. Another one is called Cat's Cafe. It deals with all these little animals. The cat, he runs a cafe, and it kind of shows awareness and support for mental health issues. So all the little animals support one another. And they're four panel strips. So each one can be kind of read individually. But they're in a graphic novel format, they compiled a whole bunch of them together.

And if you, I know we're talking about how it's hard to get into like superhero comics. One series though, if you're really want to get into it, I think would maybe be a good one is called Injustice. Because you don't really have to know too much about the DC universe. It's kind of like an alternative universe where -- what if Superman did something really bad? (laughter) And so how would people react? So that's definitely for like older teens or adults. But that's a good jumping off point for not -- you really don't have to know anything about the characters because they act completely differently from how they would in the regular universe. And it's not terribly long. So if you don't want to be committed to over 100 issues, you wouldn't have to be. So that would kind of dip your toes into like, do I like superhero comics or not?

SARAH: It's true. Like Teen Titans and Young Justice kind of similar. Like, there's so many variations of it, but you're going to have different mixes of the same characters. And it really doesn't matter, because there's no real linear following to that.

MICHELLE: Or even like Guardians of the Galaxy. If you like the movies, that's another, because you're like, "Oh, cool. It's the characters and they do silly antics." Like the story is almost like secondary to their banter. So again, if you don't really know whether you're going to like it or not, that would be something to try.

ANGELO: I kind of approached this question the same way you did, Michelle. You know, the angle of superhero comics. And my answer is start with Batman.

SARAH: Shockingly, that's what I started off with.

ANGELO: I actually think Batman's one of the easiest ones because everyone knows who Batman is.

SARAH: There's always a million copies of all the comics.

ANNIE: You can always find one.

MICHELLE: Yeah, that's true.

ANGELO: There's actually quite a lot of good starting off points. Online, I see a lot of people recommend one called The Long Halloween, which is a good one, but that wouldn't be my particular recommendation. I think Batman: Year One by Frank Miller is the best starting point. This one is about Bruce Wayne learning to fight crime. (laughter)

SARAH: He's so sad!

ANGELO: And what's awesome about this is that he's not good at it! (laughter) So there's a lot of times where he messes up. So it's probably the most human betrayal of Batman in any of the comics I read.

ANNIE: I love that.

SARAH: We need more of it.

ANNIE: I think there is one that, I don't know, I would recommend to adults who are wanting to get into it. And it's a little bit of a behemoth, but Art Spiegelman's Maus.

SARAH: Oh, yeah.

ANNIE: Yeah, it came out in the 80s. And I feel like it's one of the early ones that really kind of deconstructed what people thought comics were or should be. They're not always fiction. They can be on very heavy topics. It's just such a good comic, even though the art style is very simple. I think families and anyone who is a human or knows a human will feel touched by that.

ANGELO: It's pronounced mouse or moss or..

SARAH: Maus!

ANGELO: Mouse, along with Persepolis -- those are the two where I feel like...

SARAH: And George Takei's book. 

ANGELO: Oh, They Called Us Enemy.

SARAH: Oh, God, that was really powerful.

ANGELO: It's like these three that were comic books definitely reached a different level of art.

SARAH: Oh, 100%.

ANGELO: And literariness, yeah.

SARAH: Especially when they're such difficult topics to talk about. You know how when you watch a TV show, it's just going to be graphic and you have no time to, like, actually comprehend it. Whereas a graphic novel, you could pause it. You could pause it right there on that page because it's not moving. And then you could think about it, or put it down if it gets too hard and then go back to it.

ANNIE: And often the creators talk within the comic about why they made the choices they did. Even in this one, he talks about why he made them animals. It's all interesting.

ANGELO: I want to say, Sarah, that you said stopping on the page and the panel. That's one of the best aspects of comic books is just taking in all the panel, seeing all the background elements, especially if it's a really good artist that likes to put in hidden Easter eggs.

SARAH: Oh, 100%. Like Transformers -- it's very complicated. Sometimes there's too much stuff on a page because it takes you so long. I think Watchmen is another one of those things where there's so many words to each bubble, and then you add in all the art to it. You're just like, oh my gosh, it's going to take me forever to read this! But it's also such an experience that you don't mind. But there's a lot. It's not just cheating! I can't believe, some of these kids that I've given graphic novels to, their parents won't let them check out graphic novels because it's "not a real book." It's not true!

ANNIE: You're reading the whole time.

MICHELLE: You are reading.

SARAH: Yeah, it takes me several hours to finish one.

ANGELO: That's the thing. A parent that says that, I would say give them Maus or Persepolis.

SARAH: Oh, 100%.

ANGELO: Definitely, they'll change their viewpoint on that. I wanted to say that, because we listed so many recommendations, that we'll compile a list and it will be on dppl.org along with this posting. There will be a list of all the books we've talked about. And I'll probably add for this age group or this type of person.

SARAH: True, good idea.

ANGELO: But I wanted to jump ship to the next topic, which is conventions, of course. Sarah, you had quite an interesting convention experience. I don't know if you want to start us off.

SARAH: Oh, my goodness. Yeah, I can start you off with that. You may or may not know, but I'm also an artist/illustrator/graphic novel illustrator. My friend Andrew does the writing for our graphic novels and I do the art. And so we finally got an Artist Alley table at C2E2 this year, and it was a doozy of a weekend, but it was a lot of fun. Basically, we had a booth in the middle of Artist Alley, which is a part of the convention that's kind of like an art gallery, but also kind of like a merchant table. So you can look at people's art and talk to artists and also purchase their art and their zines. And that's basically what I was doing. I had a whole bunch of my art prints that I printed, as well as a zine of a bunch of smaller art sketches that I was selling, along with stickers and buttons. Basically, it was a very interactive and enjoyable experience, a very tiring experience. (laughter) But I did make some friends with some of the comic writers. I bought some of their graphic novels because if you have a graphic novel, you could sell it at your booth too. A lot of other people compile their artwork into zines, so little paperback collections of smaller comics.

ANGELO: You talked about meeting other artists and stuff at Artist Alleys. One of my favorite aspects of when I go to conventions and there's an artist for a book that's here at the library, it's always like a celebrity experience!

SARAH: Oh, 100%!

ANGELO: There was one time, Sarah, actually, I think it was you that recommended Magical Boy. Was that it?

SARAH: Oh, I love Magical Boy!

ANGELO: And I went to Anime Central and the Magical Boy artist was there.

SARAH: I think they're Kai or Kao.

ANGELO: Oh, okay. But I went up to them and I was like, whoa, my co-worker recommended that book on our newsletter.

SARAH: Yeah, I saw them there this past weekend. 

ANGELO: Did you mention that you're the one that recommended that book?

SARAH: I don't know -- I feel like I say hi to them every single convention. They're just like, oh, it's that person that I probably forgot existed or something. I don't know.

ANGELO: First kind of major question I had with conventions is just what is your favorite local convention? This could be Chicago based, but also...

SARAH: ACen, hands down.


SARAH: Oh yeah, 100%. I mean, C2E2 is fun, but it's very much more of a commercialized buying stuff sort of gig. Whereas ACen -- it's kind of catered to a younger crowd and that means there's more interactive activities for con-goers to do. So there's the Artist Alley and there's the merchant area where you can buy little toys and books and stuff. But there's also the basement has a giant room full of board games, or the other room over is a giant arcade with both American and Japanese arcade games for everyone to play for free. There's just whole rows of TVs with Smash Bros on it.

ANGELO: It's basically a party. 

SARAH: It's a major party. And then it's attached to a hotel. And so parties go on all night and all the nerds go crazy! It's just a wild time and it's closer to home. So therefore, way better than McCormick Place.

ANGELO I will second ACen as my favorite. As I said, it's like a party. They have multiple major dances every night.

SARAH: Prom.

ANGELO: There's the ballroom dance. There's the raves. You don't really go for the panels. You can if you want to.

SARAH: Yeah, no one goes for the panels. (laughter)

ANGELO: I've been to a couple decent ones. And you mentioned interactive. One time I went to a Death Note Mafia panel. It was the party game Mafia, but someone is given the role of Light and you basically have to deduce among who's Kira.

SARAH: There's karaoke. And there's those trivia panels too. Those are fun. 

MICHELLE: I only went there once. They have where you go to different rooms and you watch different anime too, right?

SARAH: Oh, yeah. They have movies. I think they had My Little Pony blasting on through the -- that was like during the brony season. (laughter)

ANNIE: I've only been to it once too. And I gotta say, I actually liked C2E2 better, but maybe because I've been to it more times and I went to it before pandemic.

SARAH: And you're an adult. 

ANNIE: I actually did go for the panels and sessions and I liked all of those were better than what was at ACen, I thought. But I feel like, maybe after pandemic, a bunch of conventions are still bouncing back and getting back to the level that they were at. I think for C2E2, there were fewer panels and sessions.

SARAH: They didn't have any of the library panels this year. It was really weird.

ANNIE: It's crazy. Yeah, I loved those.

SARAH: I'm really hoping ALA isn't dropping out of attending the con in the future.

MICHELLE: I haven't been to a convention since before the pandemic either.


MICHELLE: It's been a while. I know. I actually kind of -- back before C2E2 was a thing, I liked the Wizard World in Rosemont. And then C2E2 kind of stole its thunder.

SARAH: Yeah, it did.

MICHELLE: I guess I would go for C2E2 or Wizard World just because I like buying a lot of stuff that I don't need. (laughter)

SARAH: See, it's more adult, merchant-y kind of things.

MICHELLE: But I can understand why if you're not into that, why you'd like ACen much more.

SARAH: It was a kid's wonderland. I would go in junior high, high school, we'd have three days, completely free to do whatever the heck we want. And as an adult now, I'm like, oh my god, there's children running everywhere!

ANGELO: I'm like, what's this Demon Slayer? Why aren't these kids watching Naruto?

SARAH: I know, right?

ANGELO: Well, I was going to ask, because I've never been to C2E2 or Wizard World. Did Wizard World become Fan Expo?


SARAH: I think so.

ANGELO: These conventions, celebrities and more industry, they go there, right?

MICHELLE: Yeah. When I went, obviously the ones who were really famous, they were behind a curtain because you had to pay.

ANGELO: Oh my god.

SARAH: Big money!

MICHELLE: But you could see a lot of, like, B-, C-, D-list celebrities. I'm trying to think of an example, like Lou Ferrigno, who played the Hulk in the seventies and eighties. You can see him, the guy on Seinfeld. He had like the soup, the soup Nazi --


ANGELO: That's hilarious.

MICHELLE: He was at a table, he was actually selling like his own cans of soup.

SARAH: That's amazing.

MICHELLE: If you're looking to see someone like that -- but yeah, don't expect to just catch a glimpse of someone really famous, cause you're going to have to pay a lot of money.

SARAH: Well, I've met William Shatner -- had to pay money. I met Alexander Siddig. He's from Deep Space Nine. I met Doug Jones! Oh, hell! Best man ever!

ANGELO: Was he dressed up?

SARAH: So he was in his little, you know, his vest.

ANGELO: Oh, he wasn't fishman from --

SARAH: I mean, he was fishman, but he wasn't dressed up as fishman. I feel like it's so exhausting being a celebrity and talking to people that, like, doing that in costume might just kill him. (laughter) And then this past C2E2, I didn't pay for it, but I just kind of stood in line was like, can I say hi to -- what's his face? Who's the guy who played the Doc from Back To The Future?

ANNIE: Christopher Lloyd?

SARAH: I went up and said, hi, Mr. Lloyd, how are you doing? He's like, mmph, okay. He just seemed really done with it. I mean -- fair.

ANNIE: Oh, I never did the behind the curtain stuff, but I did go to -- like, this is why you got to go to panels and stuff. Cause you don't necessarily know how big these people are, but also I remember going to see Stan Lee with Frank Miller, there was George Takei.

SARAH: Oh, yeah.

ANNIE: And that's something that really like sticks with you for the rest -- you remember going there and being in the room with them and you know, now we don't have them anymore. Some of them, so --

MICHELLE: That's special.

SARAH: George Takei's still here!

ANNIE: Yes, yes, very much so!

ANGELO: Stan Lee, he's the only one. Well, we kind of talked about it, but just as another question, if you had to narrow down your favorite aspect of a convention, what's the number one thing you always look forward to?

SARAH: Artist Alley, hands down, but I'm biased.

MICHELLE: I mean, I guess it's hard. Cause I do like just the whole experience of it, you know, just doing different things, but it's really nice when you find something you were looking for and you're like, yes! I've been looking for this forever and it's a good price. So that's, I guess that'd be like my favorite moment, but --

SARAH: Like a plush Torchic?

MICHELLE: Yeah. I remember one of my first times I really wanted a plush Princess Peach and it was like my first convention and I got one, I was just so happy.


MICHELLE: I was like, I got plush Princess Peach!

ANNIE: Definitely the cosplay, seeing people walking around.

MICHELLE: Oh that's fun. That is fun too.

ANNIE:  Yeah. And taking pictures with them. It's just so great. And then Artist Alley, sometimes you'll find really good gems, like somebody's doing a podcast recording and you've never been in one.

SARAH: Just like, "Oh, look, it's so-and-so at the con. How are you doing? How are you feeling?"

ANNIE: Well, I went to one of, I forget which group this was, a Dungeons and Dragons play, and it was just hilarious. And they had audience, like, choice and everything.

SARAH: Oh, Gen Con's another one. That's a --

ANNIE: I'm going!

SARAH: Oh, you're going? I still have never been.

ANNIE: I've never been.

SARAH: It's in Indiana.

ANGELO: Yeah. That's close enough.

ANNIE: It's like four-ish, five hours, but yeah. I'm so excited!

SARAH: Yeah. You'll have to let me know.

ANGELO: This is more tabletop gaming.

MICHELLE: That's the board game, right?

SARAH: More tabletop, and fantasy, and Dungeons and Dragons, and there's an escape room. There's like --

ANNIE: Me and my hub are going to be really -- it's going to be really hard to resist buying stuff.

SARAH: You're telling me!

ANNIE: And I also, I buy the board games for the library. So, yeah, give us suggestions if you have them! But yeah, I'm excited.

ANGELO: I wanted to just second your, your cosplay. It's not just the convention itself that's fun. It's kind of the road leading up to the convention, planning your cosplays with your group of people going, just planning out your agenda. Yeah.

SARAH: Spending money, blood, sweat and tears.

ANGELO: I'm too old to do the build your own cosplay from the ground up. I'm just like, I'm just going to get it online. That can take so many hours.

SARAH: I used to do that. And I used to go around the con in high heels, eat only a sandwich for the one whole day. Like, I don't know how I did it. Now I'm like --

ANNIE: With a wig.

SARAH: With a wig, with full gloves and like -- Oh God, I don't know how I survived. Now I'm like, I can barely do one day of a con in regular clothes! (laughter) I'm getting old!

ANGELO: And recently, there's this kind of new development for ACen. They made like photoshoot areas.

SARAH: Oh, yeah!

ANGELO: And they're like based on your typical like anime scene. So like, you might have like a tea room, like a zen garden, a beach, a classroom.

MICHELLE: That's fun.

SARAH: My friends and I, we went as Kirk and Spock and I just did the "paint me like one of your French girls" poses on the beach and we had a little photo shoot. It's very funny. There's opportunities!

ANGELO: So, uh, out of curiosity, did you want to talk about Quimby's at all before --

SARAH: Oh yeah. So like Quimby's is --

ANGELO: Yeah, what is it?

SARAH: It's an indie comic book store and basically, you can make your own zine, which is kind of like a little folded paper comic that you can make, scan and print out, and then fold and then give to Quimby's and they'll sell your little zines for you. So even if you don't have the money or the resources to start a real substantial comic and have it published, you can still submit your own comics to places like Quimby's and people can purchase your little zines and your art is shared and spread throughout the world.

ANGELO: Wow. That's pretty cool.

SARAH: Yeah, it is pretty cool.

ANGELO: And you said it's in Chicago? About where? I definitely want to visit this place.

MICHELLE: That sounds like a great opportunity for someone who's just starting out or just wants to get their work out there a little bit.

SARAH: 100%. The people in art school, we're very obsessed. Let's see, it's North Avenue in Chicago. Oh, it's Wicker Park. Okay. That makes so much sense.

ANGELO: That sounds like a Wicker Park place. (laughter)

SARAH: Yeah.

ANGELO: So, uh, was there anything about comic books or conventions that we only glossed over or didn't mention that you wanted to add real quick?

ANNIE: I think you've got to really budget your energy. Like Sarah said, you've got to budget your energy for the whole day and pick -- really be selective about what you want to do, what you want to go to and certain things you have to be way early, or else you are not going to get in.


SARAH: It's true.

ANGELO: That's the big one, yeah. At ACen there's a Final Fantasy concert that happens every year. With -- did you know about this?

MICHELLE: You know, I might have --

ANGELO: It's Distant Worlds. And they actually have composers from the game come in an audience. 

MICHELLE: Oh, wow. No, I did not know that part.

ANGELO: It happens Sunday morning, and you have to get up really early and make sure you're in line. Which is hard to do after, after 48 hours of, you know, nonstop convention going.

SARAH: Even the cosplay contest, if you want to get seats to watch the show, like you have to line up hours before, and they've also got musical performers too, and the same thing. You can't show up the moment of expecting to get in cause you will not get in.

ANGELO: Yes. I just wanted to say thank you for joining us today and that if you do plan on going to any of these conventions, definitely seek us out and let us know, and say 'hi' if you see us at any of these places. All right. Thank you.

SARAH: Thank you!

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