They're located at:
4801 Shore Drive, Suite D
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
Today was one of those days when I just wanted to take my family out for a long drive without a specific destination and just wing it. Fill up the gas tank, lower the door windows, open the sun roof, turn the volume and just enjoy the ride; so that's what we did! We drove for a while and my wife spotted a dance studio (she's a professional dancer) and asked me if we could stop real quick, to which I replied: "Sure". Of course, I immediately spotted a book store right next to the dance studio and I told her I wanted to check it out afterwards. The books store was independently owned and it looked inviting.
There were tow male clerks who immediately acknowledge me and my family and were very courteous, something that employees from every field are missing more and more these days! I looked around for a few minutes and they asked me if I needed help, but before I could ask them, I noticed that one of the clerks had a pile of at least 50 comics in front of him! All I could say was "Yes you do!" He looked at me funny and I said "Comics, do you guys carry comic books?" And he said "Yes we do!" He showed me three aisles full of comics ranging from Batman to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to The Mighty Thor to Wildcats! It was a beautiful thing!!!
As soon as I turned that corner where the clerk told me to, I was suddenly in front of what can only be described as a comic book hidden treasure! Even more so when it's located in Virginia Beach, so to me it felt like I was a pirate, and I discovered an abandoned treasure chest full of comic book gold! I'm talking about hundreds, if not thousands of comic books, and at great prices too! It's too bad that I had just went to my local comic shop and spent a pretty penny there, because I only had so much extra cash to spare. But rest assure, I'll be stopping by this book store on a more regular basis and I'll be getting a bunch of those comics they had in their store.
So, next time you're in Virginia Beach and get the mood to buy some comic books, visit AFK Books, Music and Movies.
They're located at:
4801 Shore Drive, Suite D
Virginia Beach, VA 23455
By Alvaro Cortez Ortiz Jr.
Last summer I attended the Puerto Rico Comic Con (PRCC) for the first time. It was the third edition and that one was the biggest yet. And it was the first con that had the big show feel to it. Big name creators attended like Greg Capullo, Joe Madureira, DC comics co-publisher Dan Didio, from Japan Toshio Maeda, and a slew of local talent selling their merchandise. It was a great atmosphere with the biggest attendance the con ever had. It was a runaway success and an experience I will never forget. You can read more about it at this link http://www.truthfulcomics.com/1/post/2012/05/puerto-rico-comic-con.html That being said, that did not prepare me for the craziness that was New York Comic Con (NYCC) 2012.
My girlfriend and I went for the 4-day pass, 2012 being the first year they decided to extend the event an extra day. On Thursday, day 1, she had to work at a booth so I spent the entire day by myself. That first day easily surpassed the amount of people that I saw in PRCC by a lot. And still, it was a relatively “slow” day in the eyes of the vendors and the attendees! How did I start that day off? By going to a comic booth and purchasing Batman #0, of course. I actually spoke with the vendor and he was the one that expressed that while things looked a little slow, he was actually surprised he saw a nice amount of people, and was very happy I was the first customer of the day.
J. Scott Campbell signing stuff!
As I made my way through the show floor and looking through the comic bins and video game presentations, I found out when J. Scott Campbell was going to be there. As some as you may know from my PRCC blog, I have that special Wizard Magazine insert of the Cliffhanger! preview comic that has a jam cover done by Humberto Ramos, Joe Madureira, and J. Scott Campbell. I had already gotten Joe Mad’s signature on it, so I went for Campbell’s as well. As I nervously made my way to his table, there was a fan in front of me with like 70 comics. No kidding. A box full of comics for Campbell to sign, I was going to be there a while. But before that, he looked at me and saw me only holding that preview comic and a copy of the volume 1 Danger Girl trade (the one that has only the preview and issue 1-2), and he politely asked the guy in front of me if he’d let me go ahead of him, to which he didn’t mind at all. He looked at the Cliffhanger! preview and his eyes actually lit up! “Wow, this is old!” he said with a big smile. We actually engaged in some small chit chat about the old times, what he was planning to do in the future with the other fan as well. I was just plain star struck. After my girlfriend finished working at the booth, we walked around before the first day officially came to a close.
Awesome Gundam is awesome!
Day 2 on Friday was pretty much the “official” first day of the convention. We arrive there early, and to her shock (she had gone to the 2010 NYCC), she sees the mountain of people waiting to go the con and tells me that easily this crowd was bigger than the Saturday crowd of 2010, and Saturday is the busiest day of the cons, to which she said that the following day was going to be insane. As we waited to go inside the Javitz Center, there was a nice group of wrestling fans that started chanting “YES, YES, YES!” in homage to WWE wrestler Daniel Bryan as a new group would be allowed to enter the convention. That was awesome! That day we got quite a lot of freebies from different booths like anime posters, DC were handing out pins and various reprints of comics. One thing that caught my attention, DC was randomly giving out owl masks from the “Court of Owls” story from the first year of the N52 Batman! Believe me I would constantly hound the area for a chance to get a mask! I strolled around artists alley because Tony Daniel and Jay Anacleto were going to be there. I missed out on both that day, but I did meet Mexican artist Carlo Barberi, who drew Impulse and a handful of Superman comics, who is now working for Marvel. He signed an issue of Superman and spoke a little bit about what he was currently working on, he was very nice. Then we went to make the line at the DC booth for the Scott Snyder signing, where we found out that earlier in the day, we had to make a different line to get bracelets to meet certain creators at the booth. Yes, to meet certain creators you had to make two lines!
But fortunately enough, we made it in time for the Jim Lee signing line for the bracelets. After that we killed some time walking around and getting some comics and mangas. We spoke to some indie creators and vendors. Then I went to the Aspen booth to get Peter Steigerwald’s autograph. I couldn’t talk with him unfortunately because, and I am dead serious here, there was a guy that was in front of me that he was already signing for, that had what seemed to be over 1,000 trading cards. And he was signing each one. One by one. The poor guy looked tired, and the dude in front of me had this condescending look on his face like “yeah, you BETTER sign them all!” After a small while, Steigerwald just glances up and sees me standing there with just a solitary “Soulfire: The Definitive Edition” volume 1 in my hands (a birthday gift from my girlfriend, actually, one of the best birthday presents I've ever had), and he asks the guy if he didn’t mind if he quickly signed my trade. He just looked at me and scoffed in a “whatever” kind of way, got my trade signed, and I was out of there.
Afterwards we killed some more time looking around until the Jim Lee signing. Then it finally happened, I was about to meet Jim Lee! The problem was Lee was at a panel and he arrived late to the scheduled signing, so his time was up and had to leave to keep the schedule of the other artists that were scheduled for the spot after him. And this is how awesome Jim Lee is. He actually told the people in charge of the line at the booth to keep the fans in the line, and the he would walk up the line and sign everyone’s memorabilia! Of course I got the NYCC book signed, along with WildCATS #1, and actually a promotional graphic novel of Everquest he did back in the Wildstorm days that I had bought years ago at Electronic Boutique long before they were bought out by Gamestop. He signed the graphic novel, proceeded to sign WildCATS when he suddenly looked stumped, and he actually flipped back to the Everquest graphic novel. “MAN this is old!” he exclaimed with laughter. Then he actually asks my girlfriend and me if we ever played the game as he continued to sign other comics. We exchanged some laughter and I nearly wet myself. Jim Lee is that awesome. Also, I believe it was colorist Alex Sinclair that was doing the signing with Lee also was signing at the line. That was cool. So after that incredible high, it was time to call it a day a little afterwards. And yes, I was searching high and low for the owl masks at the DC booth.
This was in the morning to get in! YIKES!
Day 3 on Saturday, it was absolutely crazy. I had never seen the amount of people I saw that day. I almost felt claustrophobic. We went to a DC panel and later we went to a Kodansha panel where my girlfriend heard delightful news on Sailor Moon and other releases. On that day Puerto Rican artist Amin Amat was going to do a signing. The ironic thing is I always miss his signings here in PR. And it looked like I had my chance finally! But I thought he was going to be signing for an hour, so I made it to the Zenescope booth like maybe 10 minutes after the signing ended, which lasted half an hour. Once again I missed out! Oh, well, next time, Amat, next time! Then we made our way to make the line for the bracelets for the Scott Snyder signing later that evening. Owl masks were handed out but missed out again. Then we went to Artist Alley, there we saw American Vampire Artist Rafael Albuquerque. He signed volumes 1-4 of American Vampire and we actually chatted for quite a while. Enough that I actually even gathered the courage to ask him what advice he could give to an aspiring creator. “Never, ever, give up” he told me. And we kept on talking a while longer and he was very nice and encouraging. After the conversations and the handshakes, came a huge moment for me. Tony Daniel was at his table just on the next row behind where Albuquerque was.
It's TONY DANIEL!!!!
For those who know me personally for a long time, know that as far as artists that influenced me goes, Tony Daniel is right up there with Joe Quesada, Greg Capullo, Todd McFarlane, Humberto Ramos, Michael Turner, and J. Scott Campbell. His work on F5 and The Tenth is some of my all-time faves. I was a nervous wreck waiting on the line to meet him. Then it finally happened. I got to meet Tony Daniel. I took F5 #1 and 4, because those were my favorite cover s he had done and also because I just loved that mini-series. He was excited to see the F5 comics and commented how much fun he had doing that mini and told him about how it was one of my all time faves. We talked quite a bit about those times when he was doing his creator owned F5 Entertainment stuff as I tried to convince him to one day rerelease a hardcover F5 trade, have my fingers crossed on it happening one day! My girlfriend was so amused by my sheer fanboyism that she actually bought a Batman poster he was selling and he signed it for me as well. That was an experience I will never forget. And later on, it was on to Scott Snyder! As we make our way back to the show room floor, I actually ran into a familiar face. Back in PRCC I had gotten some Toshio Maeda prints and had him sign it personalized for my girlfriend as a present, to which he and his wife were so excited about. I had totally forgotten he was going to the NYCC as well. When we approached the table and saw me, he actually remembered me from the PRCC! The four of us talked for a little bit and she bought a manga from him, and it was just awesome and surreal at the same time, but in a good way. After that we went to the HUGE line for the Scott Snyder Signing.
Scott. Freaking. Snyder. That is all.
It was the longest line we made yet. I was carrying around the “Batman: Black Mirror” trades as well as Batman issues 1&2, the American Vampire volumes and my Girlfriend bought his novel, Voodoo Heart. We had small talk with other fans waiting on the line. The owl masks came out again and my girlfriend darted to where they were and FINALLY I had an owl mask! Anyway, again, those that know me personally know how high I hold Scott Snyder. I had never read his work before Batman. I had stopped buying mainstream comics for many years until DC announced Greg Capullo as the new artist on Batman. And from issue 1, I became a BIG fan of his work. As the series progressed, I can honestly say he has turned into my all-time favorite comic book writer and inspired me to look for ways to better myself and challenge myself as well. And then the moment finally came. I met Scott Snyder. He was very nice as he signed my comics, and I just out right told him the words I typed here. He looked incredibly humbled and even asked what my name was, and we actually started talking for a little bit along with my girlfriend. And even though the booth at that point had said to not take pictures to make the line move fast, he was kind enough to actually take a picture with me, and shook my hand when I left. I hope that one day I can be half the writer and professional that he is. And with that day three came to a close. Afterwards we went to the Darkness and Light Exhibition which was in its final day in New York and saw the paintings and sculptures for the We Can Be Heroes campaign.
Day 4 Sunday, the final day. That day was pretty insanely full as well. We went to a DC panel with Dan DiDio and jim Lee. When the mics wer eopened for questions, I actually asked DiDio and Lee questions. That was pretty sweet! I had asked DiDio about how digital comic sales may or may not influence cancellations of series, to which he responded not really because he found that sales for the digital versions are actually usually on par with the physical sales of the comics. Then I asked Lee if he would ever consider bringing Max Faraday into the New 52 universe. He responded that while he loved the character and would like to introduce him, it would have to be at a time where he himself could do the character because he held that story and characters close to his heart. After the panel was over we made our way to the Batman panel, but we couldn't get in because it got filled to capacity. We decided to eventually check out the The Walking Dead and right after it the Firefly reunion panel, but unfortunately we discovered to our horror, that contrary to previous years, the auditorium was not emptied after the panels and screenings. So that means that there were hundreds of people that stayed there since 6 in the morning and went through screenings and panels they did not even want to see, just to see the panels of The Walking Dead and Firefly which were in the evening and night. Yeah, that sucked. So we just took advantage of the last day sales on comics and graphic novels throughout the various comic bins.
The awesome David Mack!
I visited Artist Alley one more time and got to meet and briefly chat with Ben Templesmith! He signed my copy of 30 Days of Night trade and was very nice. Then back on the show room I met Tony Moore and he signed my volume 1 trade of The Walking Dead, and we talked a bit as well, which was awesome! I gave one last tour of artist ally and found another artist that inspired me, David Mack! He signed an issue of Kabuki as we talked for a bit, and took a picture of him because a good friend of mine loves his works and she had asked me to take a picture of him, he was very cool to talk with. And in a nutshell, that was my NYCC 2012 experience.
I hear that last year was weak compared to the previous two years. But to me, it was a rush. It was almost like coming home. Returning to my roots, this being only the second time I had gone to New York since I moved to PR as a teenager. To that first love of. Of doing what you only talked about with fellow fans and friends, meeting the writer and artists that entertained and influenced you so. There was a common theme, almost a mantra throughout this con. “Never give up”.
If there is something I can say I took from this experience is to never give up. Who knows? There are many stories about creators who attended as fans one year came back the following year as a professional. So, if you read this far into the blog, I say to you, and I say to myself as well, don’t give up, if this is your passion, your goal, your dream, don’t give up.
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