Behind the Curtain: Comic Related Ignites

In 2008, I met a bunch of people and hit the convention circuit for the first time. I mentioned last time that my first ever convention was Wizard World Chicago of that year. The very second was Mid-Ohio-Con later that year, which is now also a Wizard show. At the 2008 show, Scott DM Simmons and I got tables for Wannabez, my comic. It was at that show I first met both John Wilson and Bill Gladman if I’m not mistaken.
Mid-Ohio-Con took place in October that year, the first year it had ever not been on Thanksgiving weekend since its inception. It had new owners, and so it was a new experience all around. For a first showing, we did pretty well. We actually sat beside Alan Davis for a bit (before they moved him – and good thing, because he took ALL our traffic!) and Sean McKeever (who was cool to talk to but totally forgot who I was come 2009! lol).

I also got to meet the legendary Joe Kubert, and thanked him for his contributions to the medium. He was one of the most down to Earth creators I have ever met, so humble, and for all his accomplishments, that’s saying something. I am so glad I was able to meet him and shake his hand before his passing four years later.
I also got to meet David Mack (another surprisingly humble and kind guy, who gave us free books when we gave him a copy of Wannabez!), Paul Storrie, Dan Mishkin, Tony Isabella and others. You can check out some photos and stuff here. If anyone ever wonders where that picture of me in the Batmobile came from, it was at this con. 
The Wannabez table was back-to-back with the Comic Related table. There was only a curtain between us, so we were able to converse a bit throughout the show. Bill Gladman, a regular CR contributor at the time, and a man I would eventually call a dear friend and is to this day, was the first to come up and buy a copy of Wannabez. He humbled me with his kind words.
The reason I’m going into all this and reliving this experience with you here in this column is to illustrate a point. In 2008, I managed to meet a lot of the contributors and friends of Comic Related. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were fast becoming a community, a family. And for me, this was truly the beginning of that journey.
By this time, I was a regular contributor on Comic Related. And I don’t recall if it was before or after Mid-Ohio-Con, but somewhere near there, we got the word that CR was getting a design change. Up until that point, it was a neat site, but it was hard-coded HTML that Chuck updated himself every day, moving stories around manually. No backend even like a WordPress or Blogger, just code, text and images. And the site was pretty dated – it had been around for four years after all, and was dated a bit even when it began.
Our good friends Darren Mueller and Eric Adams were designing the new look. At the time, Eric co-owned a web design company, and Chuck hired him to do the design. Darren was handling the coding itself. In November of 2008, the CR you see now was born, and it took us to a completely different level.
Case in point, New York Comic Con was going into its third show in 2008. They had grown and grown exponentially. Chuck had approached them about getting tables, while still using the old design. They basically wouldn’t give him the time of day – and I say that knowing that the people behind Reed Pop are generally great to work with, they just had their reservations. CR then looked a bit like a fan site, and Chuck knew this, hence the redesign. Once we had a design to show, before it launched, Chuck sent them that. They almost immediately got back to him, and CR has had three tables at NYCC every year since. And at C2E2 since its inception.
We knew we were onto something at that point. Between our thriving content and our brand new look, and now that we were starting to get our foot into the larger conventions, it was only a matter of time. Comic Related was going places. It would be a lot of work to get it there, but it was already primed and ready.
Next time: How 2009 skyrocketed us to the next level… for a while.

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