The moment I walked onto the floor for the Tennessee Comic Con and heard a “Best Of” Weird Al CD playing over the PA system, I knew these people were the real McCoy. I ambled around and took in the sights while vendors put the final touches on their booths and “Like a Surgeon” played softly in the background. It was a relaxed and casual atmosphere that carried through the entirety of the convention, helped along by the enthusiasm of both the staff and the guests of honor.
There was a lot of cosplay going on at the year’s Tennessee Comic Con, but sadly our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man was a pretty rare sight. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” proved it was a huge hit with the fans and perhaps some of those who would have normally dressed as another character were eager to try out a new costume; the floor was a sea of Kylo Rens and Reys with small islands of Deadpools and Harley Quinns. Also largely represented was “Dragonball Z,” due in no small part I’m sure by the fact that Sean Schemmel, voice of Goku and many others, was one of the guests of honor.
The most exciting guest for me, however, was Howard Mackie, creator of the Danny Ketch Ghost Rider as well as one of the main Spider-Man writers through the ’90s, writing on Web of Spider-Man, Peter Parker, Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Amazing Spider-Man, and several other titles covering both “The Clone Saga” and “Chapter One.” Mackie spoke at length in a panel about what it was like writing for Marvel in the ’90s, the challenges faced during “The Clone Saga”, and the friction that can sometimes arise between the creative side and the business side of comics (not to mention his opinions on a particular Marvel superhero film starring Nicolas Cage). Mackie came off as a genuine, humble guy who takes pride in his work, but also someone who is ready to admit when things didn’t go as well as they could have.
When I introduced myself as a writer for Superior Spider-Talk, a Spider-Man podcast and website, I believe the first words out of his mouth were “I’m sorry for ‘The Clone Saga’”. He confirmed for me a story first told to Dan and Mark by the “legendary” Tom DeFalco in regards to the redone “Clone Saga” in 2009. As DeFalco recalled, Mackie had rediscovered a notebook that contained some of his original ideas for “The Clone Saga” and pitched it to Marvel, saying DeFalco was on board to collaborate. This was news to DeFalco. Upon hearing me recount this story, Mackie gave a wide grin. “Well, he was okay with it!” We both had a laugh and he went on to explain that he and DeFalco are good friends and he knew that he would be happy to work on the project, which is exactly what DeFalco himself said in his interview with Dan and Mark. By then a few people had gathered to meet with Mackie so I thanked him for his time and went on my way. It only occurred to me as I am writing this now that I completely forgot to ask him about a personal favorite of mine, Marvel’s New Universe imprint.
The rest of the convention included equally friendly people. Vendors, guests, and attendees all seemed to be having a blast. I would most certainly call this convention a success. And can’t wait for the next year’s. While there were a good amount of guests, there wasn’t too much to do outside of vendor browsing. Almost all the of the scheduled events were guest panels, which is entirely fine if all of the guests are people you’re excited to hear from, but that wasn’t the case with me. Hopefully next year we’ll see the addition of some special interest scheduled events to go along with the guest panels.
While there might have been a dearth of Spider-Man cosplay, the vendors sure were showing him some love! I got some great items at some really reasonable prices. While Tennessee Comic Con might not have been the largest convention I’ve ever been too, they made sure they had a wide variety of booths to check out, which was nice since I killed a lot of time wandering through the stalls between scheduled events.From fantasy weapon replicas, to comics, to anime wall scrolls, to t-shirts, to granola (?!), there was a little bit for everyone, no matter your taste (as long as it was something that would have gotten you picked on in high school).
That’s it for now, let’s give a round of applause to Tennessee Comic Con and take a look at some at some Spider-Men!