Off the Racks: Summit City Comic Con–Small Con, Big Fun

Ed. Note: From the writer of Apocalypse Meh comes a look at the world of comics, culture, and fandom–with a focus on comics and graphic novels that may be a little off the beaten path

As a comic fan, I read a lot of mainstream work and I enjoy it a heck of a lot. However, as a new comic creator, I want to do my part to help out and give my impression of works that people should be reading . . . or may not have even heard of.

We all know Amazing Spider-Man is great; you don’t need me to tell you that. So, for my kick-off article I thought: “What’s more off the radar than a regional comic show?”

The following are highlights from Summit City Con in Fort Wayne, Indiana on May 22, 2010.

We left to make our way to Indiana at 6 a.m. central time and arrived three hours later to a gorgeous convention center, just in time to reach our table as the show began. Later, we would have a four-hour drive back (I got us lost) and made it just in time to play our gig (but that’s a story for another article).

Brief highlights included meeting a lot of friends and people I admire (not limited to): Adam Besenyodi, Chris Neseman (ed note: interviewed once upon a time here); Steve Bryant, Dave Wachter, Michael Schwartz, Jim Rugg, Jeffery Brown, and Matt Kindt.

This was my first con at which I promoted my comic and my band. I had a table at Wizard World Chicago two years ago promoting a comedy website, but this was different. To symbolically enter into the comics community at this event and feel so welcomed was easily a high point in my life. There were panels going on all day, including a performance by the acoustic nerd band Wednesday Heroes that I sadly missed. I did catch a panel on Web comics with Katie Cook, Dave Wachter, and Michael Schwartz (hosted by John Siuntres!) that was fun and informative. I was even asked to do a horrible sketch, despite my pleading I wasn’t an artist. To summarize quickly: great show, great day, met great people and I hope people enjoyed the free Anti-hero CDs and Apocalypse Meh comics.

Now onto the stuff I got! There’s too much to name here, so I will highlight some of the “Indy” creators and products I purchased and, hopefully, help you decide to give them your business.

Dave Wachter–Guns of Shadow Valley

One of two people I was dying to meet at this show. It’s always nice to meet someone and for that person to be as cool as you hoped. This, coupled with great products, made Mr. Watcher’s the best table for me. Purchased the Guns of Shadow Valley convention special, a sweet Green Goblin/Spider-Man print and a “Guns” t-shirt. Dave also had a monster sketchbook that people should check out. He is an amazing artist –“Guns” is a “western with a super powered twist” and is worth it for art fans alone, with great art, colors and innovative layouts. The story is great to boot, so this is a can’t-miss. The T-shirt is of high quality as well. Also, check out the greatest commission ever done by Dave for Adam Besenyodi (below)!

Jim Rugg–Street Angel and Rambo 3.5

The second of the two people I really wanted to meet and Mr. Rugg couldn’t have been nicer. Once again, that combined with great product made for a con highlight. I walked up to purchase Afrodisiac, the deluxe edition, but none remained. I picked up “Street Angel” and “Rambo 3.5,” a mini-comic. I have seen Rugg’s art before; he has an amazing ability to change styles. “Rambo” was no different–this is a fun comic about George Bush recruiting Rambo to fight the war on terror. Absolutely hilarious and my friends and I were quoting it all day.

Michael Schwartz–Oceanverse

I saw Michael at the Web comic panel and bumped into him at Steve Bryant’s table. We had a highly intellectualized exchange about the movie “Monster Squad” and so I thought, “I gotta check out his stuff.” He was selling his drawings of well-known comic and pop culture characters reinterpreted as fish.

So I picked up a Venom fish and a Spider-Man fish and checked out his book “Oceanverse.” It’s an online comic in strip form, done all by Michael, and I really respect him on both production sides. I read the whole series online the next day and regret that I had been a little short on cash at that point in the day. It was a really enjoyable, high-adventure comic about underwater (and sometime over water) treasure hunting. A great all-ages find. He posts often and there is quite a backlog to read online . . . so check it out.

Ryan Claytor–“And then one day,” a series of autobiographical mini comics

I found this book simply while walking back to my table and I noticed the nicely laid out, tiny books in front of Ryan. He immediately seemed like a quality guy and we exchanged stories about our day as I flipped through. I hate to wax nostalgic, but as I getting older I’m really enjoying these “con-finds” more and more. First off, Ryan pours his heart into these strips you can really tell. He even had high-quality bags with his logo and bookmarks and the whole package just capped it all off. As far as the strip, it is what it says. I picked up the first collected volume and Ryan threw in a free copy of his newest issue in exchange for my comic (this was his idea and Ryan got the short end by far). These are short stories portraying his current life or that from the past 5-6 years. It’s not always as heavy as say “Blankets” or other autobio pieces, but it has some very touching moments, as well as humor and you can feel the personal touch. The latest issue he gave me takes a different turn as he chronicles a discussion with a mentor from college. Check out his stuff online and decide for yourself.

Jeffrey Brown–Funny Misshapen Body (and too many other books to name)

I had been putting off getting a book by him, partly due to it not really being my “type” of art and partly because I have friends who own everything he’s ever done. Upon approaching his table I thought “how can I not support this guy?” His books seemed as honest as any you would ever see and he was a nice (however shy) man. So, I picked up the book, recommended by a friend as his favorite. He later took one of my book and an Anti-Hero CD, so that was icing. The book was great. It was everything people said: funny, awkward, weird and heartfelt. I highly recommend it to any fan of autobiographical/slice of life and anyone afraid to try that type of book.

So, those are the highlights of a whirlwind day of fun and comics. It was a great experience and I can’t say enough about how fun it is to be involved in such a great community. Hopefully I have given you some insight into what regional conventions are all about, and maybe even inspired you to check out some books. Check back in the coming weeks as I review more comics you may have missed off the racks. (If O.O. lets me come back) [ed. note: of course!]

Jon does a weekly Web comic here on Osmosis called Apocalypse Meh, has a band called Anti-Hero (, acts like an idiot for Fight Fire with Aurthur Films, and frequently posts at He’s really a big dumb animal folks.


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