Ever since I was a wee lad and saw the original Superman movie on television (back when they did that sort of thing & split the show up over two nights), I’ve always wanted to fly.

More than that, really, I’ve always wanted to be like Superman: Strong, smart, able to fly, able to do all sorts of amazing things, and — of course — be a good person. Even to this very day, 30-odd years later, I still try to emulate Superman in my daily life.

Superman: The Movie (It changed my life. No…REALLY!)

On Saturday I will take one step closer to becoming my idol. On Saturday, I am going to take to the skies and go flying.

Sort of.

A couple years ago, my wife (Nicole, for those who haven’t been paying attention) bought me a voucher to go skydiving for my birthday. That voucher expires at the end of the month and I’m only NOW finally getting around to using it.

I’m not scared. In fact I’m quite excited to take the ride tomorrow to the small airport in Perkasie, PA, sign some papers, strap on a harness, attach myself to a tandem instructor (and a parachute) and jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

I will document this and report back to you tomorrow after the jump occurs.

But I just wanted to let everyone know what I’m about to do and let you know that I am doing this of sound mind and body. And I’m doing it so that everyone can believe that a Geek can fly.

And you can be damn sure I’ll be wearing a Superman t-shirt in the process.


Me? A Professional?

It’s finally starting to sink in a little bit. After all of these years, I can actually consider myself a comic professional. Sort of.

Shadowline Comics, my first comic book home

Sure, I’ve been involved in comics for a few years now, not just as a fan but also as a small cog in the larger Shadowline Comics machine – churning out content for their website and doing basic promotional stuff like run the social media stuff. But it’s an opportunity that the legendary Jim Valentino has given me and it’s one that I am eternally grateful to have. Heck, I even get my name in the front of various Shadowline issues as in the capacity of Communications or Promotion. Pretty cool.

Yet it wasn’t until last year that my name actually appeared in a comic preceded by the words “Written by” and that has added a whole new dynamic to being able to call this a career. Gone is the word “Aspiring” and now I can actually call myself a “Comic Writer.”

GrayHaven Comics

GrayHaven Comics, which was started by Publisher and Editor in Chief Andrew Goletz, formed when a whole bunch of folks from the Brian Michael Bendis Jinxworld forums got together and did what comic geeks always talk about doing but never seem to do. Andrew approached a bunch of messageboard regulars and said “Hey, who wants to create a comic?” And a few hard earned months later the very first issue of THE GATHERING was born.

The Gathering is an anthology comic and each issue has a different theme. The first one was Hope, appropriate for a group of first-time comic writers. The second was Despair, which was probably borne from the realization that no one can make money on writing comics right out of the gate. That was followed by Heroes, then Horror, then Romance.

The Romance issue was the one where my very first written comic appeared. It was a 2-page autobiographical comic about how I first met my wife, Nicole, in the Greyhound bus terminal in Philly. There was something magical in the feeling of holding a comic in your hands that contains a story that you’ve written (or drawn I would imagine).

I submitted pitches for a number of different themed issues after that, and was rewarded with stories in the Adventure issue and the third Horror volume (which have already been published), as well as future tales in the Mystery special, the Crime issue, the War issue, the True Ghost Stories issue, the 2nd Sci-Fi issue, the all-ages Superheroes issue and in the 3rd volume of their upcoming Horror Anthology.

It was around the time that all of those pitches were accepted that Andrew approached me and offered me a position on the GrayHaven staff as an editor and to assist the art director in finding talent. I was thrilled for the opportunity and jumped at the chance, realizing that I would still be able to do all of that while remaining with Shadowline in my current role.

Which brings me to why I’ve only now realized that I’ve just about become what I always wanted to be; a Comics Professional.

The Comic Book Shop! in Wilmington, DE

On Sunday, August 19th, I will be participating in my very first signing as a comic creator. The fine folks at The Comic Book Shop in Wilmington, DE will have a few of the GrayHaven creators in the store for their big weekend sale doing a signing and allowing us to promote our books. Additionally, since it’s open submissions season, we will be doing portfolio reviews and going over the pitch process.

I also received an email Friday evening from the folks at the New York Comic Con, letting me know that I had been approved for my Professional badge for attending the con. I will also be attending the Baltimore Comic Con in September courtesy of a Professional badge.

I’m still not a full-fledged pro in my own eyes. I have yet to write an entire issue on my own. I have yet to earn a single cent from writing comics. But the joy from seeing my name in print is still there. The happiness from knowing that someone out there is reading a comic story I’ve written and – quite possibly – enjoying it is pretty magnificent.

And that’s a thought that makes this fanboy very, very proud.

I know I’m a long way off, but it’s nice to think about someone out there someday reading something I’ve written and saying “Whoa! I want to do that!”

The funny thing about making dreams come true is that you often have to take that first step with the assistance of others. But every single step after that is up to you. Who wants to stop after that first step? Not me! I’m planning on taking my career to new heights.

But first I have to start with my very first autograph on a book in which my name appears as a writer. And that all begins on Sunday.

The first Saturday & Sunday of August brings Philadelphia and New York area comic book fan a chance to attend an intimate comic book convention that is book on books and small on big-name celebrities.

This is actually going to be the third time I’ll be attending this small convention which is housed in a small- to mid-sized convention hall in the Merchant’s Square Mall in Allentown. The last few times I attended turned out to be great days not just for my comic shopping but also for meeting comic book creators and fans.

Some of the more well-known comic book guests appearing at this summer’s Mega show are:
Neal Adams
Scott Hanna
Rob Hunter
Tom Smith
Jim Steranko
Neil Vokes
JK Woodward
and others

Other attendees include Jeremy Bulloch (the man underneath the Boba Fett costume), Jackass’ Brandon DiCamillo, Enter the Dragon co-star Jim Kelly, David Yost (Billy the Blue Power Ranger) and Tron’s Cindy Morgan.

General Information for the convention is as follows:

Merchants Square Mall
1901 S. 12th Street, Allentown, PA 18103

August 4th & 5th, 2012
Saturday 10am – 6pm
Sunday 10am – 4pm

Admission Cost:
ONE DAY PASS: $10 per adult
WEEKEND PASS: $15 per adult
FREE for children 12 years-old and under accompanied with an adult

…such as a cure for Cancer.

You see, scientists recently completed a study that used various algorithms and research and doodads and whatnots to come up with some advanced findings in the all-important field of Housewife Porn.

Yes, ladies, you can finally unclench your kegel muscles — the geeks at the University of Central Lancashire in Britain, led by Dr. Faye Skelton, have used actual SCIENCE to determine what fictional S&M gazillionaire and underage torture connoisseur Christian Grey looks like. I kid you not!

You have to admit… he has a sexy asschin.

We can finally rest tonight, Earth. Science has finally broken through the barrier in the hard-fought battle against imagination! Now no woman will go to bed having to worry about whether or not her version of Christian Grey, the one she thinks about when she’s having sex with her husband/boyfriend/vibrator, is scientifically accurate or not. Dr. Skelton apparently quizzed twelve women who read the book on what they thought the fictional lead looked like. A whole dozen women and one expensive version of police sketch artist software later, the world was given the very first glimpse of what science has determined to be the world’s steamiest fake person. That sounds more more like a dozen shades of sad than fifty shades of anything if you ask me.

It is alternately infuriating and depressing that time, and what was certainly University money, was used to fund such a ridiculous study. I thought we had it bad in the States, but its great to know that the chaps in the UK are just as wasteful with not only money but time and resources in studying such pointless things as….(deep breath)….FIGURING OUT WHAT A FICTIONAL F&$^@KING CHARACTER LOOKS LIKE!!!!

The results of the study were shocking! The descriptions of Grey from the twelve-woman focus group ranged from “Patrick Dempsey’s eyes” to “Brad Pitt’s jaw” to a virtual smorgasbord of body parts from other actors and celebrities the like of Johnny Depp, Channing Tatum, and David Beckham. Oddly, not one woman picked Patton Oswalt’s nose or Henry Winkler’s thumb.

It’s like James Dean had sex with Miss Piggy

You want to know a cheap, easy way of figuring out what he would have looked like if Christian Grey was real? How about asking the goddamn author!?! You know, the one who originally wrote the book as Twilight fan fiction porn and then just changed Edward and Bella’s names to Christian and Ana. And yes, I’m being 100% serious! E.L James originally wrote “Master of the Universe” under the brilliant pen name of Snowqueens Icedragon, and it was about everyone’s favorite sparkly vampire and his love affair with the world’s most famous Mary-Sue character. But when it got too sexy for Twi-hards, E.L. James went and masterfully used the find/replace function and — voila! — created Fifty Shades of Grey! (For more on the history of how Master of the Universe became “Fitty Shades” check out Jason Boog’s excellent article on Galleycat )

So here’s a thought. We could have saved a crap ton of money and time and science and just slapped up a picture of that muppet-turned-heartthrob, Robert Pattinson and called it a day. After all, isn’t that who Snowqu– whoops…sorry — who E.L. James had in mind all along?

But instead we had to go and waste precious Science. We had to put aside time and interview a dozen women and ask them important questions such as “What shape are his eyes?” and “Whose pecs does he have?”

And isn’t that what science is really about? Finding out what imaginary characters look like? I mean, who needs a cure for leukemia. Let’s turn our attention instead to finding out the probability that Carmen Sandiego is in Guadalajara instead of Tokyo. Who needs advancements in space travel when we are better off using valuable resources to help determine how many midichlorians it takes to infuse a Padawan with The Force.

Now if you’re excuse me I’m about to go start up a Kickstarter campaign to fund a research project on determining whether Mary Jane Watson or Gwen Stacy is better in bed. For Science!

Unless you were lucky enough to miss it on any of the major media outlets over the last few days (television, print and online), tech-savvy news watchers were warned at the top of every newscast about how Monday, July 9th was going to be “Internet Doomsday” or “Malware Monday” or some other horrifying sounding event that was going to cripple society as we know it.

Or something like that.

Is your computer sick? If so, consider yourself a 0.0017%er!

Let’s look at the facts: Back in November the FBI found out that a number of hackers created something called Operation Ghost Click, which was basically a scam that uses something called a DNSChanger to reroute the Internet browsing of infecting computers to the wrong websites. So if your computer was infected and you went to type in the web address for ESPN.com, for example, you’d end up going to another site instead that downloads additional malware onto your computer or steals your information and generates money for these hackers.

When the FBI found out about this and shut down the hackers’ operation, they also realized that any infected users who didn’t know about it would no longer have access to the Internet, so what they did was continue to run backup servers on which infected computers could still function and surf the Web.

On Monday, the FBI was turning off those servers, which was going to leave upwards of 42,000 infected computers in the United States without the ability to get onto the Internet, which translates – of course – into INTERNET DOOMSDAY!!!1!1ONE1!!!

Wait. Let’s crunch some numbers here.

Doomsday! Enemy to Superman AND Internet Porn.

Four million computers were originally infected worldwide and since November only a mere 95% of them have been cleaned up. Out of an estimated 245 Million Internet users in the United States, 42,000 of them were going to be without the opportunity to look up porn this morning when they turned on their computers. That means there were going to be approximately 0.0017% of people were going to be left with a severe case of blue balls thanks to Internet Doomsday.

Curse you, international hackers!!!

But wait a minute — let’s not fall so quickly for the media’s Chicken Little approach and put some of this into perspective before we run out for duct tape and bottled water.

Here is a list of some things that are affecting more than 42,000 Americans when they woke up this morning.

26.3 Million American people woke up living below the poverty line.
62.5 Million Americans woke up today with cavities
16 Million American children woke up hungry today without any promise of food
12.7 Million Americans woke up today without a job
11 Million Americans woke up today battling some form of Cancer
6.5 Million Americans are going to be subjected to Chris Berman broadcasting the MLB Home Run Derby
2.5 Million Americans woke up today with a gambling addiction
1.73 Million Americans will get on a plane today
70,000 people just in New Jersey lost power on 4th of July weekend due to severe weather
42,500 American girls between the ages of 15-19 are giving birth today

Now that we have some numbers to compare against, do you really think it’s a good idea to pay so much attention to something that affects only 0.0017% of Americans and can be fixed with a simple installation of anti-virus software?

Good. Glad you agree.

Now the media can return to more pressing matters, such as which celebrity athlete the new Kardashian baby is going to be dating in 19 years.

Saturday, June 30th is my father’s birthday. He would have been 81 years old if he was still alive.

Back on February 6th, 2003, I was working at one of my old jobs in the city when around 4:30 I received a frantic phone call from my mother while I was at the office. She was saying that my father was being rushed to the hospital and that she thought he was having a stroke. I heard him on the background saying “I’m fine, Hon,” but something sounded odd in his voice.

I left work, jumped on the first bus I could catch and made it to Methodist Hospital in South Philly. My mother, sister and some immediate family members and family friends were in the Emergency Room waiting area and they weren’t letting anyone back to see him. At one point I remember the nursing staff directing us to a family room. My mother had spent enough time in hospitals to know what that usually meant, so she instantly started to freak out, knowing for certain that it meant my father had died.

* * * * *

My father Frank was a sports fanatic. That’s where I’m certain that I got it from. He used to play schoolyard basketball in the early 40’s with his friends (among whom was future NBA Hall of Famer Paul Arazin). He had a hook shot that could make you drool and could shoot a basket from the free throw line with his eyes closed. His athleticism stayed with him late into his life as he was an avid bowler and golfer. Bowling was something that we shared. We came in 2nd place in a father-son tournament when I was 14 years old. I later bowled in the same adult league as him, both on a different team and then towards the final years together on the same team.

He loved watching any sport on television and I fondly remember the days of sitting near him on the sofa watching whatever was on. Football (he cursed the Eagles whenever they lost). Baseball (he cursed the Phillies whenever they lost). Basketball (he took particular enjoyment watching both the Sixers and NCAA basketball). Hockey (which was rarely televised at the time). Golf (Oh, how he would spend all day Saturday and Sunday watching golf!). Tennis (even the boring, rather unimportant matches). You name it, he watched it.

And that rubbed off on me for the most part, for which I’ll always be grateful.

* * * * *

The Lombardi Family…circa 2001

At Methodist Hospital my father was still alive. The staff assured us that they were moving us to that room to have some privacy as well as to help prevent the ER waiting room from becoming Lombardi Central. Shortly thereafter they let me, my mother and my sister go see him. He, indeed, had a stroke. A fairly severe one as his mobility was limited and he was not able to speak clearly or coherently.

As the night wore on they transferred him to the brain trauma center at Wills Eye Hospital in center city, where the doctors there could better serve someone in his fragile condition. I had made a few calls, one of which was to Nicole (who I had only been dating for a few months at the time), to let people know what was going on.

At this point my father was having severe difficulty talking. His brain function was a fraction of what it normally would have been. He couldn’t move his entire right side of his body. We would ask him questions and you could see In his face the frustration that he knew he was trying to answer them but something was wrong. He looked tired. He looked bitter, and angry and ready to give up.

* * * * *

“Don’t bring home any whores!”

That’s what I used to say to my father when I’d kiss him goodbye when he was leaving for work at night. My father was a bartender since the day I was born (before then actually). He had managed the La Casa club in Center City and worked at the Penns Port Pub (the side that was a Go Go joint) when I was very young. Later on he worked at the airport, serving drinks to both celebrities and average travelers from the Libations Lounge in D terminal.

But in those years when I was very young and he’d work the night shift at the bar, my mother and I would kiss him and send him off on his way, smelling of cologne and Tic Tacs. And I’d always say that line. I’d like to think it worked because not once did my father ever bring home a whore.

He was a stylish guy. Reminiscent of a mobster, in later years friends used to call him Gotti. He wore fancy suits, had salt and pepper hair and drove a Cadillac. He’d wear casual track suits during the week but when he was going out somewhere with my mother he was dressed to the nines.

He was a fantastic dancer (something I did NOT inherit from him) and he had a raunchy sense of humor. My father was a fun guy to be around. He lived a more lively life than I did, partying harder than in his 60s than I did in my teens and 20s.

* * * * *

The doctors informed my family that my father’s prognosis was not very good. He had had cancer twice (skin cancer and cancer in his lymph nodes) that he had beaten through radiation treatment and chemotherapy. He had a triple bypass years prior. He smoked and drank most of his life, and the toll on his body with the stroke was going to be too much. They proposed to us the option of a rather experimental treatment where they use high doses of blood thinners to help alleviate the problems of the stroke and offer the possibility of a near full recovery.

But the chances of survival were under 30 percent. We had a choice to make. We could leave it be and my father would have a 100% chance of surviving in what was essentially a vegetative state, or take a 30% chance that he could live a life like the one he was used to living.

* * * * *

My mother and father were the best of friends. Their love for one another was like none I’ve ever seen and is something that to this very day I try to emulate in my relationship with Nicole. My mother and father have had their share of fights, many of which were loud and filled with words that I usually reserve only for the TV when the Phillies are blowing another lead or when the Eagles are signing players like Michael Vick.

But they had a loving, caring and romantic relationship. And he played very well off of my mother when it came to parenting. She was the pushover and he, while not particularly stern, was the one you had to convince with logic that what you wanted to do was acceptable. He helped with Math & Science. My mother helped with English and Art. He drove me anywhere I wanted to go. He took my friends anywhere we wanted to go. He taught me how to make mixed drinks and also the importance of not abusing alcohol.

He was my mother’s soulmate and the best father that my sister and I could have ever asked for.

* * * * *

My father was a gambling man so we decided to take our chances. A 30% chance of being normal was better than a 100% chance of living a life that would have left him in a wheelchair, unable to do anything on his own.

The doctors proceeded to administer the treatment and my mother sent my sister and I to my sister’s apartment near 12th and Arch so we could get some sleep. It was nearing midnight and it had been a long day. She assured us that she had people there with her (our family friend Carol among them) and if anything happened she would call and we could make it back in no time.

That call came around 3:30am. My mother said that my father was starting to experience severe bleeding in the brain (one of the known possible complications) and swelling. Things were not looking good.

We made it back to the hospital in time. We each spent time with him in the recovery center and I remember talking to my father, holding his hand and telling him how much I love him and how proud I was to be his son.

I remember looking at the monitors as his heart rate was dropping to below 30 and knowing that time was running out. I held my father’s hand and kissed his forehead moments before he died. And in that early morning on what was February 7th 2003, my father took a little bit of my soul with him when he left this Earth.

* * * * *

It’s difficult not to think of all of the things my father didn’t get a chance to see. He didn’t get to see me get married (he had actually only met Nicole three times but said to my mother that he knew she was the woman I’d marry). He never saw my sister buy her first home. He didn’t get to walk my sister down the aisle at her wedding. He didn’t get to see Nicole and I move to the suburbs and buy our first house. He didn’t see the Phillies win the World Series in 2005 (he would have loved it). He still never saw me get my driver’s license. He never saw me get any of my tattoos (OK — maybe he wouldn’t have been so crazy about that last part.)

But I’m sure he’s there somewhere…seeing what has become of our lives. Seeing the man that I have become, trying to be more and more like him every day. Seeing how my sister has become a successful entrepreneur. Seeing how my mother continues to keep her chin up in the face of adversity. Seeing how much we all still miss him dearly and how much we still love him.

Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of my father. In over nine years he still plays a part in my life…in the decisions I make and in the person that I try to be.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you. I miss you. I hope I’ve made you proud.

Continuing my account and experiences of the most recent version of Comic Con Philadelphia (aka Wizard World Philly), here is a day-by-day breakdown of the major events that transpired and moments that stood out for me.

I spent a vast majority of Friday, while it was relatively easy to get around, networking in Artists Alley. I found quite a few artists who caught my eye, and hopefully soon they will have their art gracing the interiors and covers of new comics from GrayHaven Comics. One of those artists was Joshua Stulman, creator of MAGEN, a character who is basically the Jewish version of Captain America. Stulman’s classic style and motivations for getting into comics instantly had me wanting to pair him up with a writer I know.

Speaking of writers, I also introduced myself to Dan Melnick of NOD COMICS. He had two issues of Nod for sale (at an astoundingly cheap $1.00 apiece) but he also had some other artwork on display for two projects he’s currently working on putting together with two different artists; CRYPTIDS (which instantly piqued my interest) and STITCHES (which currently has a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to help complete the book. Donate HERE). Dan, his wife and I all talked shop for a bit and I think he’s also going to send in some pitches to GrayHaven the next time the call for submissions open up to writers.

I also was able to run into a friend of mine and talented artist, Griffin Shawn, who I met at the Baltimore Comic Con in 2011 when I commissioned three different pieces from him and picked up his fantastically entertaining comic, HEALED. I had offered to help him out in watching his table since he was supposed to be stuck at the con alone all weekend but he managed to find some help at the last minute. Instead I just did what any friend would do for a pal working a con and got beer for him from time to time, or grabbed him some lunch. There’s a reason they call them starving artists, you know!

Yup…that’s a dude riding a Taun Taun!

I spent the last few hours of the day working the Hero Initiative booth, which is where I got to meet the remarkably talented Scott Hanna for the first time and watch in awe as he penciled and inked his way from one masterpiece to the next. Scott is known for being an inker but, as he and I discussed, many people fail to realize that ANY inker must first be an incredibly talented artist. Sometimes inkers must be MORE talented than their penciller counterparts — but fans often fail to realize this fact.

Nicole joined me at the convention for the day, and she looked amazing. Not only was she sporting her new shorter hair (cut to look like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow in the Avengers) but her top was quite revealing. It caught many the eye of male convention-goers (we actually counted one guy looking at her boobs five times in a two-minute period). She made for a wonderful companion to walk what was quickly becoming a heavily crowded convention floor.

My favorite cosplayers at the con: ARCHER & PAM!!!

I introduced myself to Philly native Pete Stathis, whose new comic (a D&D inspired comical gem called KULOK AND DUNLOP) debuted just in time for WWPhilly. Pete is a former classmate of one of my high school classmates, so we already “knew” one another from Facebook. I picked up Kulok and Dunlop as well as both volumes of his earlier fantasy comics, EVENFALL. I also recommended that he check out the brilliant SKULLKICKERS comic from Image as it was something right up his alley.
Nicole and I met up with my co-worker Dave and his step-daughter, Lynn, both of whom are big comic fans. She even moreso than he…and Lynn introduced me to Chris Williams, a guy set up in Artists Alley only two seats over from my friend Amanda Rachels (the person who was essentially responsible for my pass all weekend long). His art was gorgeous and reminded me of a cross between J. Scott Campbell and early Jim Lee – who he just so happened to mention were his two biggest inspirations. I ordered a commission from him and took down his information for the GrayHaven “Artists to Pester” file.

After a brief chat with Chris, Nicole and I went to Reading Terminal Market to meet up with my mother and go out to lunch together. We took the walk to Maggiano’s and, as usual, the food was delicious. What made the meal even more memorable, however, was who walked in and sat down at the table next to us. Two young women (late teens, early 20s perhaps) in full Anime-style baby-doll dress (I think the kids call it “Gothic Lolita”) were accompanied by a much, MUCH older gentleman. I guessed maybe he was their grandfather, or an older father, or – maybe—no… that was too creepy to think about. About 15 minutes they sat down at the booth besides ours, and shortly before I stuffed the last piece of a meatball sandwich into my mouth, something dawned on me. The creepy old guy looked oddly familiar. And it wasn’t until I leaned over to Nicole and whispered to her that I realized why he looked so familiar.

“Hey, isn’t that creepy old guy blankly shoveling spaghetti into his mouth like an Alzheimer’s patient Dean Stockwell?”

Yes. It was him.

After lunch, Nicole was kind enough to distract my mother by taking her to Chinatown while I went back to the convention to work the Hero Initiative booth once more. I was able to meet Jamal Igle, who was sketching for charity alongside another artist who I had the pleasure of meeting before, Khoi Pham. Khoi was there all weekend appearing ONLY at the Hero Initiative booth, which is pretty remarkable since he basically drew all weekend long and didn’t earn a penny — instead donating it all to charity.

Hey pal! No one pokes my wife but me!

At that point the convention floor had turned into three zones. The artist alley section (which was fairly busy), the dealer table section (not nearly as busy) and a massive sea of people seeking celebrity autographs separating the two comic book centric parts from being easy to get to from the other side. Nicole had returned from her trip through the city and we went over to meet (Diamond) Dallas Page, not because we’re fans of wrestling – we’re not – but because of his yoga DVDs which Nicole had heard great things about. So $100 later we bought them and at some point next year I should be able to show you a six-pack where my keg used to be. We paused for a moment to photograph Nicole with a guy cosplaying as Loki (he looked great, and apparently won the costume contest), and just before the show ended for the day we headed home – tired and quickly running out of money.

After she had such a great time the day before, Nicole decided to join me once again at the convention.

Sunday is normally the day you want to buy things because dealers don’t want to lug all of their crap home with them. The one thing I noticed about this convention however was that there really were no great deals on comics or toys or t-shirts to be had. So Sunday was spent just walking around once more, taking in all of Artists Alley one last time and ordering new commissions or picking up artwork that I had commissioned earlier in the weekend. The “Cassie Hack” portion of my sketchbook is filling up rather well.

Glorious, glorious SHAWARMA! Thanks to the AVENGERS!

The real highlight of the day was when Nicole and I broke for lunch. After watching The Avengers three times in the theaters we knew that we had to have shawarma, and before the weekend began I found a place at 8th and Sansom called HAMIFGASH and I heard that – while maybe not up to Tony Stark’s standards – they had some AMAZING shawarma. And amazing it was. We dined like battered superheroes and gorged our faces with the spiced chicken and fresh made pita that made the shawarma so memorable and chowed down on wonderful, flavorful falafel as an appetizer. We picked up some cookies from Famous 4th Street Deli in the Reading Terminal and went back into the convention for one final taste of the show.

While Wizard World Philadelphia is clearly no longer a Comic Con (I’d love to see Wizard drop that from their marketing campaign), it’s definitely an entertaining pop culture convention. And even though I didn’t really spend any time seeking autographs from Stan Lee or Chris Hemsworth or C.M Punk or any of the Star Trek captains – nor did I do much sight-seeing in what I often called “Sad Celebrity Row” – it was great to see that a crossover crowd could show up for something that began as a comic book convention.

As long as Wizard World keeps showing up in Philadelphia, I will be there. And that’s good enough for me.