May 19, 2012

The Compost Pile

San Jose Big Wow Comic Fest Convention Report

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The title of this post is a mouthful, but that’s what it is! This weekend was the Big Wow Comic Fest in San Jose. It is a smaller regional show, but despite being a smaller show, still manages to pack quite a punch.

I’m going to take a Valiant-centric approach to this report, and include some of my own anecdotes. I’ll hit on some of the over-all notes that I noticed too.

And probably some sweet brags over the sweet deals I got 😉

Da New Valiant Comics

There was none. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Nothin. I was hoping to see at least one or two of the variant covers to s a bit, there were not a ton of dealers there. This was not a Wondercon, C2E2, NYCC, or other large show. There were a couple dozen dealers, each with their specialty. There was only one dealer selling the table and wall of new, hot books. If you’ve been to a convention, you know the booth: a wall of books, and a long table covered with hundreds of new books, all covered with a thick layer of plastic. The one dealer of this type seemed like the most likely to have X-O Manowar books, and they had none.

X-O Manowar QR Code Poster

X-O Manowar QR Code Poster

I kept an eye out for the new Valiant X-O book, but new Valiant Comics were not to be found.

Da QR Impression

I met up early with a couple of fellow Valiant Comics fans, and we hit the bins.

At one table, we mentioned the QR Code variant of X-O Manowar #1, and the dealer asked what that was.

A quick aside: Hunter, Valiant’s marketing director, was kind enough to give me some of the QR posters at Wondercon a couple months ago, and I brought a few with me to Big Wow, to hand out to Valiant fans and folks that were interested, to spread the Valiant love.

I had a few of the QR posters, so instead of just describing it when the dealer asked about it, I pulled out a poster and my iPhone, scanned the QR code, and let Aric speak.

When the voice of Aric started speaking, I was playing it only for the dealer. By the time it was done, 4 or 5 people had crowded around to check it out. There was a young kid flipping through boxes who stopped, watched it, and said, “wow”.

This QR thing, I gotta say, it sounded kinda strange when I first heard about it, but once you see it in action, there is no denying how cool it is.

Classic Valiant Back Issues

I noticed a bit more classic Valiant Comics back issues in bins at this show. The majority of them, as usual, were issues from the boom years, late 1992 to early 1994 (from just after the Unity crossover to the Chaos Effect crossover). There were some treasures to be found in the bins, and I found them.

Harbinger 1 - Rai 0 - Solar 10

Harbinger #1, Rai #0, Solar #10

When I first got in to the convention hall, I made a quick pass by all of the dealer booths to look for Valiant wall books. After all, if there were deals to be had on variants of the new X-O Manowar issue, I wanted to scoop up those deals.

As I mentioned above, there weren’t any deals to be found on X-O Manowar #1 variants. I noticed a dealer that had a box marked “Valiant” though, which jumped out at me like a homing beacon. I “beaked” in. Most of the books were common books, as mentioned above, but then I found a couple treasures: Harbinger 1, 2 and 5. I asked to take a look inside. The mail-away coupons for Harbinger #0 were still intact, and the books were in pretty good Near Mint shape.

The price marked on the Harbinger #1 was nine dollars. A pretty good deal. Then the dealer spoke up – “all the books in these boxes are fifty cents to a dollar.” He pointed at the Harbinger books I pulled out, “those are a dollar, since Harbinger is relaunching next month.”

I’ll take it!

I’ll buy Harbinger #1 for a dollar, up and down the street, all day long, every day of the week.

This was the dealer I mentioned above, that I showed the QR poster to. I bought my Harby 1, 2, and 5, and happily moved on.

In the past, it has taken some searching to find Valiant books at conventions. I am used to finding one dealer, maybe two, if it is a bigger show, that have any Valiant books other than the people that rave the random X-O Manowar #0, Archer & Armstrong 13, and Turok #1 in their bins of old junk books.

I found several dealers that had decent amounts of Valiant books, and more than anything, I was surprised that several dealers had books in higher than average condition. Usually the common books in dealer bins have some damage to them. I saw a lot of common Valiant books in top shape. I don’t need more copies of Bloodshot #8, but if I did, I would want these copies.

I found some other Valiant semi-key books, and ended up with a decent pile of books:

  • Harbinger #1, #2, and #5, as mentioned above
  • Solar, Man of the Atom #10 (first Eternal Warrior and awesome cover)
  • Rai #0 (first full appearance of Bloodshot)
  • Eternal Warrior #1
  • Eternal Warrior #4 (first cameo appearance of Bloodshot)
  • Bloodshot #1 (nothing special, but it was a really sharp copy!)
  • Solar, Man of the Atom #60 (final issue)
  • Valiant Voice #5

And a purchase I just couldn’t resist:

  • Goat: Haedus (the Acclaim Quantum and Woody tie in)

Hangin’ With The Valiant Fans

I can put all of the conventions I have been to into two categories: those I went to before I met up with people I had met from various message boards, and those I went to after I started meeting people from the various message boards.

There were four of us from the message board, three of us got together for lunch to chow down, talk Valiant, and relax from the convention.

I always stress this, but if you know people that are going to conventions, make an effort to get together with them for lunch, a beer, or whatever. It makes the entire convention experience much more fun.

Get involved! We all love comics, and meetups like this are our chance to geek out and talk about our love of comics.


Thanos was everywhere.

Seriously, the comic-collecting world has become Thanos crazed. You probably know why.

I’m Thanos crazed too, so I’m right there with them.

One dealer had a stack of Infinity Gauntlet #1 for $10 each. Seriously, it must have been 30 or so copies. They were almost gone at the end of the day.

Multiple dealers had multiple copies of Invincible Iron Man #55 (first Thanos) on the wall for hundreds of dollars. I even saw ridiculous prices for Logan’s Run #6, which has the first stand-alone Thanos story. Spoilers: Thanos doesn’t like flowers.


Here’s my chance to talk about the non-Valiant comic stuff I found at the show.

Marvel Super-Heroes 18 Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Super-Heroes #18, 1st Guardians of the Galaxy

Believe it or not, I like comics other than Valiant. Valiant is just a sub-set of my overall fascination with comics. If all you like is Valiant, eject now, because I’m gonna talk about all the other sweet books I bought.

Big Wow felt very much like a dealer show to me. While there were some very impressive guests (Jim Lee, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Cho, Bob Layton, Michael Golden, etc), the artist alley was a pretty small part of the show, and there wasn’t the small press booths that I usually see at larger shows, and spend time exploring.

I’ve also been feeling a bit overloaded with work, so a day of diving through back issue bins seemed just about right for me. As a result, I approached this show mostly as chance to search for some sweet back issues.

I’ve got two fascinations right now. The first is cosmic Marvel, mostly from the 70’s. I’d like to get a nice, high grade run of Jim Starlin’s epic Captain Marvel/Warlock/Thanos run. I bought a couple high grade copies of Captain Marvel to get this run going.

I also bought a few books to speculate on a possible Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Anyone who has read Guardians of the Galaxy knows that Rocket Raccoon is pretty much the best character, so I bought three copies of Incredible Hulk #271, the first appearance of Rocket Raccoon in comics. I also bought a beat up copy of Marvel Super-Heroes #18, the first appearance of Guardians of the Galaxy.

Weird Science-Fantasy 23 and 27

Weird Science-Fantasy #23 and #27

I couldn’t find a copy of the first appearance of Groot. That’s a sweet issue though.

My other current comic book fascination is EC Science Fiction comics. My interest in EC has been slowly growing since I bought my first Crime Suspenstories issue, and I decided to jump in to the pool and buy some sweet EC books. EC is most known for their horror books, Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Terror, and Haunt of Fear. I’m not as much of a fan of the horror books as I am the Crime and Sci-Fi books. Give me Weird Science, Weird Fantasy, Crime Suspenstories, and above all, the almighty Weird Science-Fantasy.

I picked up two issues of Weird Science-Fantasy, issues #23 and #27. Seriously, do these not have the coolest covers to any Sci-Fi comics ever published? I think they do.

Tales of Suspense 52

Tales of Suspense #52

Last of all, I recently thought about getting this book, especially since the movies have made me think about it (along with everyone else). I’ve had my eye on a Tales to Astonish #52 for a couple weeks now, since it is, of course, the first appearance of Scarlett Johansson Black Widow.

How can anyone not love Scarlett Johansson Black Widow?

The copy I got is pretty beat up, with a ton of spine roll, but the price was within the amount of cash I had left at the end of the day, so thems the beats.

Sometimes you need to dig through bins

It’s like fishing

The worst day digging through bins is better than the best day workin’ and all that

And this was a pretty good day of comic-conventioning.

Big Wow couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a day to dig through bins of comics, and find some treasures.

A day spent buying comics, hanging out with buddies, and being surrounded by comics, is a good day indeed.


  • MarrowMan comments:

    I love reading your posts. Awesome stuff.

  • @MarrowMan, right on! Glad you like it.
    Sean recently posted..“Sunrise” Mylar Sun PrintMy Profile

  • atomic99 comments:

    Sorry I missed you at the con, Sean.

    Positives for me….
    The crowds were up this year. A pent-up Bay Area Wonder Con audience?
    Improvements in the masquerade. Last year was terrible.
    More awesome art demos by Frank Cho, Joe Jusko, and more.
    Hanging with friends and Gordon Biersch afterwards.

    Negatives for me….
    Oliva d’Abo backs out of the con. (At least they announced this).
    Jim Lee on Sunday only. (Ploy to spike Sunday sales from dropping?)
    Despite top billing and his rep running the con, Travis Charest fans are once again greeted to an empty table.
    Brandon Peterson’s empty table.
    Buzz leaves early.
    Kathy Garver’s empty booth.
    The guy who brought the “Library of Congress” to be signed by Kevin Nowlan. I couldn’t tell if that happy look on his face was from a happy fan, him counting his eBay flips with each signature, or it was just that happy and oblivious look of a fan who didn’t have a clue to the people behind him in line.

    Seriously, what was up with so many artists not at their tables? Certainly not the majority but many on my list were not there. Is it all about the hanging with their peers at the winery afterwards and not the fans?

  • Hey Ralph,

    Sorry I missed you too!

    I noticed a good crowd, but it wasn’t so big as to be too crowded. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking to the various artists at this show, so I didn’t notice the lack of creators showing up.

    We’ll have to meet up at the next convention!
    Sean recently posted..“Sunrise” Mylar Sun PrintMy Profile

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