Thursday, September 5, 2019

Interview with Don Price of Son of Houston-Con: Part 2

Yesterday, Don Price talked about his early life as a comic book reader and collector and those first conventions here in Houston. Can you believe the story about Batman #1?

Today, we're focused on the four Son of Houston-Cons Mr. Price has sponsored, the challenges faced and overcome, and the guests of this year's convention. If the weather forecast is accurate, at least it won't rain this year.

Note: Son of Houston-Con IV (2019) will be held this Saturday and Sunday, 7-8 September, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Wyndham West located at 14703 Park Row. Tickets are only $5.00.

In the beginning, did you have a plan to turn Son of Houston-con into an annual event? 

I had no idea whether I would ever do another one. This year is my fourth show, and believe me, a fifth is still up in the air.

The first show in 2012 was basically a ten-table swap meet at a La Quinta and I didn’t even charge admission, but I charged the dealers just enough to cover the rent. And it rained! The room was so small that if ten “civilians” were inside the room, it seemed packed.

So in 2013 I got ambitious and moved it to the Hilton on the Southwest freeway, which was near where the long since torn down Royal Coach Inn was. And it rained! I almost made money on that show until the Hilton came up with certain post-show room fees that made it basically me throwing a comic book party.

Then I became Wing Leader of a Commemorative Air Force unit that was restoring a B-17 bomber to flight and “funny books” had to be put away for some real life adventures. Then I had back problems that resulted in two surgeries, but all the while friends and cohorts were asking me, “When are you going to do another one?” Finally in 2017 I did the Return of Son of Houston-con III and, lo and behold, Hurricane Harvey came to town the week before.

When I attended the Son of Houstoncon show in 2017, one of the things I noticed was your program from the 1971 Houstoncon with original big screen Superman Kirk Alyn the featured guest. How did that booking come about? 

You’ll have to see Clayton Thorp’s article [in the program for Son of Houston-Con IV for the cost of $5.00 for both days]. I was too young to know ANY of the backstory on that.

This year's convention is officially Son of Houstoncon IV. What made you resurrect and create Son of Houstoncon? What were some of the challenges?

Why resurrect the name is easy. The Houstoncon association has so many great memories for those of us that are still around. And the vacuum that there is in Houston for what would be a “medium”-sized show that concentrates on older books, for the most part, was waiting to be filled.

The psychological hurdle of calling something starting so small Houston-Con (hyphenated) when Houstoncon (un-hyphenated) was so large is one thing. Another thing is the old-timers lurking in the weeds. I know somebody else owns the un-hyphenated name, but no one is doing anything with it.

Now that we're gearing up for Son of Houstoncon 2019, was the process easier? Did you have more response based on the success of the 2017 con? 

Son of Houston-Con 2017 was a bear! It was one week after Hurricane Harvey and I had at least three dealers bow out because they had lost their homes. I asked some for the larger dealers like Bedrock City and Richard Evans was of the opinion that whoever COULD make it needed the distraction. By that point, everybody knew someone who had gone through the worst experience of his or her lives. I lost a little money as the producer of that Con, but it was more than worth it to see people jazzed.

As for 2019 getting easier? No!!! That was why there wasn’t a 2018 conventino. All the hotels seemed to have raised their rates and it was touch and go for putting on the 2019 Number IV. I did have a steady stream of vendors after me to put on another show. If the stars had not aligned and the rent been right for the space at the Wyndham, it might have slipped another year. I cannot say enough about the help I have had this year from Clayton Thorp and Angelo Juarez. It makes a real difference to have people in your camp actually doing leg work and providing encouragement.

How do you feel about fandom in Houston today?  It's certainly larger, but does it feel closer than it did in the 60 and 70s?  Is there anything you would like to see change about it in the future?

What Son of Houston-Con is ALL about is connecting the younger fans with the classic material that was before MY time. I love Golden Age books, and am glad I got them when they were “affordable.” I say that in quotes on purpose. But the thing is—I got into those books because of the reprints that Marvel and DC did of their own books AND shops like Roy’s Memory Shop and Roy Bonario extolling the coolness of certain books and movies and serials. I even put out an email to my dealers in 2017 asking them to ask the younger fans what they thought was cool and to show them what us older geeks thought was the best. If that doesn’t happen it is going to be BAD for comic collecting in general.

Who are the guests for Son of Houstoncon 2019?

Doug Hazlewood—Longtime artist for Marvel and DC comics at various times.

Anthony Tollin—Colorist for DC (on some Major books) and publisher of several books on The Shadow and other Pulp heroes.

Jim Newsome—artist who provided a lot of fan art for HCCA and went on to have work published in the seminal Rocket’s Blast/Comic Collector as well as Marvel.

J. David Spurlock—Author and publisher of several books on comic book greats and representative of the Wallace (Wally) Wood estate.

Paul Pearson—Fanzine and blog writer

Writers—Greg Kelso and Shane Lassetter

Upcoming Artists—Shawn Machie and Perry Edwards.

Remember: Don Newton was showing up as barely established when he took Houstoncon by storm. Doug Hazlewood won a tryout for amateur artists with Marvel. Everyone starts SOMEWHERE and for some of them Houstoncon played a big part!

There wouldn't be a Son of Houston-Con without people like Richard Evans of Bedrock City Comics and Roy Bonario of Roy's Memory Shop supporting and encouraging me.

Continue on to Part 3.

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