Second Summer is upon Spokane, Washington. The ten-day stretch of triple-digit temperatures is a distant memory. Those days have morphed into mornings that are crisp enough to make one regret not having a cup of coffee on hand for a child’s 8:00 AM soccer match. It’s not quite cold enough for frost though. 

It’s all worthwhile when the locals are rewarded with clear sunny days and highs in the low 70’s during the afternoons. In Riverfront Park the leaves on the trees are just starting to change colors, giving a magnificent backdrop for photo ops at the Spokane Convention Center, home of Lilac City Comic-Con: 2021.

In the 15 years since its inception, Lilac City Comic-Con has been growing exponentially. The first one I attended was in 2012. It was taking place in part of the student union building on Spokane Community College’s campus. I had never been to ANY Comic-Con and wanted to see what the buzz was about.

Upon arrival, I received my SWAG bag, which contained a film cel from Star Wars: Episode IV, and another couple of trinkets that I don’t recall at the moment. When I walked through the doorway into the actual convention I was greeted with a cacophony of geek conversations, vendors trying to sell their wares, and old friends getting caught up. Then I saw a very well done Weeping Angel cosplay and thought, “These are my people”.

Fast forward to October 2, 2021. When my fellow geeks Sally, Munchkin, and Minion hit the floor show I can see the venue has changed but the atmosphere certainly hasn’t. The last time we had Lilac City Comic-Con was in June of 2019. Geeks from around the Inland Empire were eager to make up for lost time.

I did a once over of the sales floor on my quest to find the vintage action figure I am hunting for. That quest was fruitless. If it was easy the joy of victory for completing the quest would be greatly diminished.

During this walkthrough, we stopped at a booth that the 501st – Havoc Squad was running. They had a life-sized Tauntaun from The Empire Strikes Back that people could have photo ops with. Minion and Munchkin thought that was awesome, especially with the way the creature made noises just like in the movie.

Once I admitted defeat on my latest search for my 1980’s relic I moved on to the second phase of my expedition: Checking out the back issue comics that the vendors brought in! All of the region’s heavy hitters are on site. Brick and mortar stores like The Comic Book Shop, Monkey Biz, Time Bomb Collectibles all had booths. Monkey Biz was handing out 20% off coupons that could be used in the store.

“Like you really needed another excuse to go in there,” Sally said with a laugh.

There were also some impressive booths being run by Rob, aka The Man Behind the Comics, and Travis Naught, my favorite wheeling, and dealing seller. . These gentlemen have been my go-to local sources for finding the rarer back issues that I periodically find myself in search of. What I respect the most about them is they have no qualms sending people to the person that has what they are looking for if they don’t have it in their inventory. That’s true customer service at its finest.

It was a touch different not hunting for G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero books from the original run. I didn’t expect to find much to go hunting for. Little did I know what surprises awaited me.

Lord Jim says, “There will always be another grail”. He isn’t wrong. At The Man Behind the Comics’ booth, I ended up picking up The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16 as well as a silver age book from that run and a silver age Detective Comics. As great as those blinds were, the biggest score on books from the “Big Two” was volume one Iron Man #32 that was in a buck box. The cover has certainly seen better days, but the story reads just fine!

Treasures in hand I headed to Artist Alley with Munchkin and Minion in tow. There we got books signed by Freddie Williams. Minion asked him how he became such a great artist. Rather than giving a quick answer, he elaborated on some of the finer points in drawing. He then got his picture taken with them. It was Minion’s favorite part of the day.

After that, Sally caught up with us. She and Munchkin went over to where The Jedi Alliance had some pinball machines set up. Minion and continued our journey to find the best indie comics nobody was talking about, YET.

Our first stop was to see a longtime friend of Indie Comix Dispatch, Javan Jordan. He’s an artist that’s been doing some variant covers for a few different indie titles. I had the pleasure of meeting him when I covered Vender-Con this spring. 

Shortly after that, he took the world by storm with “The cover that broke the internet”. I’m referring to his variant cover for Department of Truth that was an incredible homage to the cover of the Nirvana album, Nevermind. I truly believe his artwork was the tipping point in the individual photographed on the cover deciding to sue for his likeness being used. 

The book with this variant cover sold out in a matter of minutes when it was available for purchase this summer. I missed the party on that one. Fortunately, I was able to get a print of the artwork and get it signed with a remark added. It’s going to look great on my wall!

After talking with Javan, Minion and I continued through Artist Alley. I met Bill Coulombe, the creator of Kinetic. The premise of this story intrigued me so much I bought the entire 8 issue run. 

I also got my hot little hands on a four-book run of a title called Lady Frankenstein and the Mummy’s Brain, the first book of a title called Unicorn Vampire Hunter, and a novel called Toy Wars.

All said I would consider Lilac City Comic-Con: 2021 to be a smash hit. It was great to see artists engaging with fans again. Watching Rob hold court with collectors who are in search of their personal grails is a sight to behold. Talking with Travis and seeing his eyes light up when I set him on another quest for a hard-to-find book was priceless.

If the opportunity presents itself, I highly recommend making a trip to the Inland Northwest for Lilac City Comic-Con: 2022!

Notes From the Con

  1. I don’t know what happened; but there was a ridiculous amount of on street parking available in a two block radius of the Spokane Convention Center. It beats paying three times the amount at “event parking” lots that are adjacent to these spots.
  2. If something catches your eye that you don’t want to carry around for the entire con purchase it and make arrangements to pick it up later. Most vendors understand that toting around Castle Grayskull can be a bit cumbersome. If they’ve made the sale they’ll be more inclined to hold it for you.
  3. If you see something that you want to think about before buying, put the vendor’s location number into your phone. It’s much easier to look at a map and find booth #503 than it is trying to remember where on the sales floor the cool statues were.
  4. As always, cosplay does not equal consent. If you want a picture, ask the cosplayer. More often than not they’re happy to strike a pose. If you’re told no, respect that and move on.