BookCon & BookExpo 2019 Review from a self-published author’s POV

James Hannon – a self-published Cosplay Author tries to promote himself and his book at these two very different events at the same place, and learns a lot about the publishing and book reader worlds in the process.

#TheBookCon #BookCon #BookCon2019 #BookCon19 #BookExpoAmerica #BookExpo #BookExpo2019 #BookExpo19 #Unbound


During the last week of May and the first couple of days of June 2019, I made the trip into New York City to hit BookExpo and BookCon 2019 at the Javits Center. I was there to promote my book Anatomy of A Cosplayer: Tales From Behind the Mask and try to increase my footprint in brick and mortar bookstores and libraries.

BookExpo was on May 29th – 31st and BookCon was June 1st and 2nd, and they existed in the same space of the convention hall. On the surface they look the same with many of the same vendors and exhibitors, but they are totally different events for totally different target audiences.

BookExpo (also known as BookExpo America or simply “BEA”) is the largest annual book trade fair in the United States. According to Wikipedia:

Nearly all significant book publishers in the United States, and many from abroad, have booths and exhibits at BEA, and use the fair as an opportunity to showcase upcoming titles, sell current books, socialize with colleagues from other publishing houses, and sell and buy subsidiary rights and international rights. Authors, librarians, and buyers for book retailers also attend the event.

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, May 30). BookExpo America. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19:42, June 14, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=BookExpo_America&oldid=899506457

BookCon, on the other hand, is a fan-based convention very much like New York or San Diego Comic Con, but with a focus on books. Most of the exhibitors kept their same booth locations throughout both events, and just switch from being in “industry networking” mode to “promoting their product to fans” mode.

I figured that as an author trying to promote my book and increase my distribution network, it would be a good idea to attend both of these events as they seemed to have all the people I needed to reach in the same place. So I applied for an author pass at BookExpo (only industry people allowed) and was approved, and bought my BookCon weekend passes for my wife Jackie and myself.

A few days later, I signed up with the Combined Book Exhibit to display Anatomy of a Cosplayer throughout both events at their 2019 New Title Showcase exhibit. They also offered an opportunity for me to have a book signing during the show, but the price was a little above my budget. As I kept visiting their exhibit area over my time at both BookExpo and BookCon, there were actually lines for the authors who were signing, and I felt a little jealous that I didn’t have that signing moment at a big con. That being said, I still would have made the same decision to not do the signing.

At this point, I’m going to split this review into two sections since I had a very different experience at each event.

BOOKEXPO 2019

Walking into BookExpo, I was very optimistic about being productive over the three days based on the “Welcome to BookExpo” message where they proclaimed in their program guide:

“BookExpo Loves Indie Publishers – Independent publishers have always been a vital segment of our exhibiting customer base. Being small and nimble allows these publishers the ability to put some of the most unique and powerful books into the market and we are excited to deliver a new way to give them a spotlight”

As I read that paragraph walking into BookExpo on the first day, I was confident this was the perfect place to help me get my book out to the right people – all in one place! Looking back a week after the show, I realized I was rather naive and uninformed as to what BookExpo actually was about. Independent publishers are NOT the same as self-published authors. Even though I have a large publisher behind my book (AuthorHouse), they did not attend BookExpo, nor did I expect them to…

A little behind the scenes here:


Anatomy of a Cosplayer and my previous book Lost Boys of the Bronx were both published by AuthorHouse Publishing. And they did their job turning my manuscript, photos and artwork into a beautifully formatted hardcover, softcover and eBook that is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a bunch of other online retail sites. However, unless you spend a few thousand dollars more, they are not going to help you market your book or get it into the hands of libraries and brick and mortar stores. They are pretty upfront about that, so there are no unreasonable expectations, and I probably will use them again for my next book.

So, I am pretty much on my own marketing the books. And that is a exciting and great place to be – where I am responsible for my own destiny… But at BookExpo, it wasn’t a very good place for self-published authors. Nobody tried to kick me out or was rude in any way, but I was told quite a few times that the distribution channel people would only talk to publishers and not authors. After a few occurrences of this, and seeing their face drop while reading the “Author” on my name badge, I just gave up any hope that any of my business goals were going to be achieved at BookExpo.

So, I decided to just enjoy BookExpo as a spectator with access to stuff most general readers do not have. And that made the event so much less of a total waste of time for me.

I went to the Combined Book Exhibit to take some pictures of Anatomy of A Cosplayer being displayed on the shelves of a big con, and while I was there, I heard the Downtown Stage (which was right next to the CBE) starting a new panel introducing Deborah Harry and Chris Stein of one of my favorite bands – Blondie. I have no idea how I missed this when planning out my BookExpo trip, but Debbie has a new book out called Face It and was promoting it. Well, Fate had me in the right place at the right time, so I went and watched the panel – which was great, and even tho she wasn’t autographing, I got some great pictures of her and Chris Stein from pretty close up.

I also ran into George Takei who was signing his new book They Called Us Enemy at one of the vendor tables. His lines were long and I wasn’t sure if I had to get a ticket to get an autograph, but I was able to wave at him and grab a photo.

I explored the BookExpo some more and found myself in the Unbound section of the event. This was a section set aside from BookExpo/BookCon that had non-book items for sale. There were vendors that sold greeting cards, tea, fancy writing pens, and items like that. I walked by a vendor with artwork on his walls that cause me to dead-stop seeing the vibrant colors on the prints. It was Nakatomi Inc and I struck up a conversation with the artist Tim Doyle about his work. It seems he is an artist that produces concert posters for acts such as Metallica and Weird Al Yankovic. His artwork on the walls were not those items, but they were amazing. We talked about my book cover artist Angela McKendrick (@cuddleswithcatsart) and how wonderful her art is. Hopefully the two of them see the potential of a team-up down the road.

As the day got later and I wanted to get out of New York City before Wednesday rush hour traffic kicked in, I decided to hop on the ferry back to my car in New Jersey. But I will say my mood had changed for the better with the artistic interactions I had – even if my plans for getting help with distribution had fizzled early on.

I didn’t go back Thursday or Friday, and I probably would not go to BookExpo 2020 after this experience, but I will keep an open mind about it. If you are reading this, and have any suggestions that would have made my trip more fruitful, please email me or post in the comments!

Full album of my experience at BookExpo on my Facebook Photo Album:
https://www.facebook.com/lanternmedia/media_set?set=a.10161741195450133&type=3

Now lets talk about a much more fun and productive couple of days!

BOOKCON 2019

Going into BookCon, I had a much different strategy than I did for BookExpo. As a cosplayer, I have been to New York Comic Con and other fan conventions for the last 10+ years. Its a large part of my Anatomy of a Cosplayer book, so I knew exactly what to expect. Kinda…

I had heard there was some cosplay going on at BookCon in recent years, but nowhere near the amount at NYCC. So I figured I’d ask around to see if costuming was ok. Being that I have a lot of DC Comics based costumes, I figured I’d ask the fine folks at DC Comics if they’d be interested in having me and a couple of my friends there to help promote the brand in an official capacity. (And my book… cough cough)…. They saw right thru my ruse, and told me that they wanted to highlight their authors who were appearing, and didn’t want to take away from their thunder. A perfectly legitimate concern, and they were nice about it, so I didn’t press it. I did ask a moderator of the official Facebook page of BookCon if cosplay was ok, and she excitedly told me that they would LOVE to have cosplayers there (in an unofficial capacity). So I decided to enlist a couple of friends and do some cosplay promoting – I mean I am the Cosplay Author right? LOL

On Saturday, I appeared as Jay Garrick – the Golden Age Flash from the CW show The Flash. I recruited Karen Gaebel as SuperGirl to carry my book around for photos, and my wife Jackie Hannon to wear a colorful shirt with the image of my book’s cover. We walked the con floor for quite a while and got a LOT of positive feedback and requests for pictures – Even got a few requests to purchase the book right there and then – but I read that was against the rules of BookCon for non-official vendors, so I just passed my information to them (and believe it or not they emailed me later that they bought it!). I took a lot of pictures, and met a lot of people. Saw the Adam Savage panel, and had just a great fun time…. Then BookCon closed for the day, and we went home in a much better mood than BookExpo.

On Sunday, I didn’t cosplay due to a blister from the day before. But I had no regrets because I had a secret weapon – my talented cosplayer friend Renata Gatti wore her Handmaidens costume from The Handmaid’s Tale, and it was accurate. If I thought we got a great reaction on Saturday cosplaying, we got an even bigger one on Sunday being The Handmaid’s Tale was a book before it was a TV series, and the new season was starting later that week. We (well, Renata) took well over 200 pictures with fans of the show and the book, and we got a lot of interest in Anatomy of a Cosplayer. Again, a few requests to buy my book right there and then. And again, I couldn’t sell without breaking the BookCon rules, but gave info to the requestors.

As a weird side note, on Sunday an older woman came up to Renata and myself, and started a conversation with us about her Handmaid’s costume. She didn’t ask the usual fan questions or request to take a photo, but she was more grilling us about WHY Renata chose to wear that particular costume. (There is a political movement regarding that costume, but Renata is just purely a fan of the show.)

It was an interesting convo, and when it ended, we both went our separate ways not thinking much about it. However, today, while searching for photos Renata’s Handmaid costume at BookCon, I ran across a picture of Margaret Atwood – the author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and Renata and I swear it was the same woman who talked to us. Now, I looked for a while, and there was absolutely no record that Ms Atwood did appear at BookCon on Sunday, and I assume that if she actually did appear, there would have been a bigger deal made about it. But that woman who approached us looked exactly like her – and it makes for an interesting story…

BookCon was a big success for me… I had a really great fun time and was very productive. I met a lot of people, got some excellent tips for marketing the book from other successful self-published authors, and took a lot of great photos. I will absolutely go back again!

One thing I will mention is that there were a LOT of women at BookCon. I would guess the crowd was 90% women. I expected there to be large number but not THAT big…. I saw a photo posted for a male with a shirt that said I’m just here to stand in line and hold books for my wife. Everyone was really nice to me, and I only mention it as a curiosity and a mental note about a potential marketing opportunity.

Full album of BookCon available on my Facebook album:
https://www.facebook.com/lanternmedia/media_set?set=a.10161753328435133&type=3

Thanks so much for reading! Any questions or feedback, please drop em in the comments, or email me.

-=James

Gotta Run
Gotta Run

The Richard and the Young Lions album was finally released!

It’s finally here! The FIRST Richard and the Young Lions album ever – 51 years after the band began (and 14 years after “Richard” passed away)!

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it for sale on https://wickedcoolrecords.bandcamp.com/ – the long (and I mean LONG) awaited album of Richard and the Young Lions! I still can’t believe that I have the LP, CD and MP3 files in my possession now

A short history:

Back in Summer 2001, when I was learning to be a filmmaker and web designer, my co-worker and friend Shelly Riff joined this 60’s band called Richard and the Young Lions that was getting back together as a replacement keyboardist. As luck would have it, they needed somebody to create their website from the ground up, so Shelly recommended me. I met the band, and got the job and became fast friends with the guys.

As I was working on the site, one of the key pages was the Legend of the band. As I started writing this page, I learned a LOT about the band’s history. And as a budding filmmaker, I couldn’t have found a better first project. So I approached the guys and they thought it was a great idea.

I spent the next three years of my life working with Leon Leybs on this documentary – in addition to holding down full-time jobs. We learned so much about the band, film-making, and ourselves during that time.

The band’s musical comeback was going great in Summer 2001 and they were regularly playing clubs in downtown New York City. And then September 11th happened and everything changed and the NYC music scene was changed forever.

RYL continued on, but they decided to focus on putting out an album under Little Steven’s guidance. Every Sunday they were there working on this album – and I was there every Sunday shooting footage.

Eventually we met legendary NYC disc jockey Pat St. John, and he graciously offered to narrate our film. And to say I was blown away was an understatement. But with great opportunities comes great stress not to blow it. And we went into overdrive to finish this project.

Sadly, Richard Tepp, the lead singer became seriously ill during the filming and slowed down the album work. But that put even more stress to finish the documentary.

Which Leon and I did in late May, 2014. And I am so glad we did. On June 17th, 2014 – two weeks after we showed our final product to Richard and the band, he passed away. He was really sick, so I wasn’t in the room with him when he watched it with a couple of his RYL bandmates, but they told me that he loved it and said “We really had a great run, didn’t we?” Knowing that I was able to give Richard that moment is one of the greatest rewards I’ve ever gotten.

We had our video release on July 8th, 2014 which turned into a huge tribute to Richard. We really felt Richard was in the room smiling down at us.

After the premiere in 2004, the documentary had a good run and made it to the Hope and Dreams (NJ) and Anchorage Film Festivals. The album on the other hand really lost steam without a lead singer. There were a few replacement singers (Richard’s son Casey and the very talented Mike Fornatale), but without Richard (who had recorded all his vocals before getting sick), everything kinda floundered.

I never expected this CD to see the light of day. And then I got the call from RYL drummer Mark Greenberg aka “World Famous Twig”. I was shocked..

James Hannon with his copies of the Richard and the Young Lions albums in front of the poster for his documentary Out of Our Dens The Richard and the Young Lions Story

I got the LP and the CD in the mail !!!!  And they were great!   Richard would have been so proud!

Important Links

Richard and the Young Lions website
Purchase the $18 RYL Documentary DVD from me
(FYI Amazon never has it in stock and resellers charge $80)
Purchase the RYL CD from Wicked Cool Records

The premiere of James Hannon and Leon Leybs documentary Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story
The trailer for Out of Our Dens: The Richard and he Young Lions story by James Hannon and Leon Leybs – narrated by Pat St. John

TURNAROUND: Why the Hannon’s changed their minds and got a new kitten

Months back when Cosmo wasn’t doing so hot health-wise, Jackie & I swore we would not get another cat after he passed.  We never wanted to go thru the pain of losing a beloved pet ever again. Two days before Cosmo passed away, two kittens just showed up in our backyard and reminded us that all the years of having a healthy Cosmo was worth having to go thru a few months of pain in the end.   A month later when we needed a cat around, those same kittens reappeared out of the blue and a chain of events occurred that brought a new kitten into our lives… But not what you might expect… Read on to see why…

FYI:  This is a followup to the blog titled Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012 – If you haven’t read it yet, go check it out – this blog may make more sense knowing the history, but this blog can stand alone if you don’t have time.. This particular blog isn’t going to get advertised much since its pretty personal, so if you found it, then you’re just awesome.

Back around Thanksgiving 2011, our 15 year old cat Cosmo began having some ear infections and neurological issues that began a decline in health that ended with his passing on July 2nd, 2012.   It was a rough time period for Jackie & myself, and we saw our beloved Cosmo slowly deteriorate.  It was a painful time for us…So painful in fact that Jackie & I vowed to never get another pet afterwards…  We never wanted to go thru that again…

And we maintained that attitude up until June 30th – Two days before Cosmo passed away on July 2nd…

What changed our mind?   Read on… Read more

Eulogy for a loved pet – Cosmo – RIP 7/2/2012

Some blogs are written for other people. Some are just written purely for myself (and Jackie). This is one from that latter category.  You are more than welcome to read it, and if it makes you smile, or helps you get over a similar experience, all the better.   If you are one of those people that go “It’s just a cat, get over it.”, you may want to skip this blog, it’s gonna get a bit sappy.  You’ve been warned…

Last Monday, July 2nd, Jackie & I lost our little buddy – Cosmo D. Cat Hannon.  Old age, ear tumors and the first real heat wave of Summer 2012 proved to be too much for him, and we had to take him to the vet to be euthanized. He was in pretty bad shape, and it was the right decision – even though it was one of the most horrible days in our lives.

I don’t really want to dwell on the sadder aspects of Cosmo’s final days in this blog.  If I forget the sadder parts of this story later in life, I’m kinda fine with it.   But I just want this to make me remember the good times with as much clarity as I have now.

Shortly after his passing, I went to post a picture of him on Facebook in honor of him.  But when I went to look for the “right” picture, I found a whole lotta other pictures of him that I loved.   I’m not going to lie, I went a little (ok, a lot) overboard. I eventually found and posted 34 or so pictures of Cosmo that Jackie & I loved. (See the bottom of this blog and my Facebook link).

While looking thru the pictures, I found Read more

Weird Coincidences: The Ducky Boys and Costuming.

Author James Hannon finds out that his Bronx/Ducky Boys World and his Costuming World are starting to blend together in very strange & coincidental ways.  This looks like a job for SuperGirl – who was instrumental in uncovering this string of coincidences.  Sound interesting?  Read on……

Well, so far every big project I’ve worked on has had at least one huge coincidence that made me realize I might be onto something really cool.

For my 2004 documentary, Out of Our Dens: The Richard & the Young Lions Story, while looking for Detroit names who remembered the band RYL, I came across legendary NYC radio DJ Pat St John – who unbeknownst to me was a legendary Detroit radio DJ before coming to NY and not only did he remember the band, he LOVED them. And while thats cool, thats not the coincidence  part.   The coincidence part is that when I spoke to him and invited him out to the bands rehearsal studio to see them play, we found out that Read more

So I helped ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock market….

On Dec 20th, 2011, author James Hannon helped ring the opening bell of the NASDAQ Stock Market along with his Star Wars loving geek brothers in the 501st Legion‘s Empire City Garrison, NorthEast Remnant Garrison, and the  Rebel Legion.   It was an event to signify the release of the EA/BioWare videogame “The Old Republic” and that Electronic Arts was changing its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange.   This is the story of that day.

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Well, I just woke up after taking a well-deserved nap today.   You see, I had to get up at 5am this morning to be in the heart of Times Square in New York City by 7:30am – And I was shooting to be there at 7am since I didn’t want to be late, so I gave myself a half-hour putz factor.  (Remind me at some future date to talk about the “putz factor” dynamic LOL)

Now, for those of you that don’t know me very well, getting up at 5am is usually reserved for something special.  And today was definitely a day that it was worth getting up at 5am…

Today, I got to help ring the opening bell at the NASDAQ stock exchange in Times Square!

Here’s what happened:

Electronic Arts was scheduled to ring the bell today to signify its changing of its ticker to EA on the NASDAQ stock exchange Also, along with it’s subsidiary company BioWare, it was having a HUGE release event for their videogame “The Old Republic” that came out at Midnight last night.

And EA/BioWare asked the Empire City Garrison (the NYC branch of the 501st Legion – which is the Star Wars costuming group that I belong to) to provide some Read more

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part II – NY Comic Con

Part 2 of a segment about two consecutive weekends where I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen at a pair of conventions.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ– October is a great month to be a costumer!

Well, this one is about the big boy of conventions in the New York City area – NY Comic Con!  Last year there were 96,000 or so attendees – this year 105,000.  According to Wikipedia, its been going up steadily since its inception…It sold out both weekend days this year, so I dont know how much higher those numbers can get…

Year Attendees
NYCC 2006  33,000
NYCC 2007  49,000
NYCC 2008  60,000
NYCC 2009  77,000
NYCC 2010  96,000
NYCC 2011 105,000

Last year, Johnny Rox and I went to NYCC for a first time on the Saturday, and it was MOBBED (I’m not talking supermarket mobbed – I’m talking last train out of the apocalypse-mobbed!)…   We went in normal civilian clothes (as opposed to being costumed) and we had a great time.  Check out our experience last year here  (Lots of pix there too)

Anyhoo, so lets get on with the events of the individual 2011 days!

Friday Oct 14th, 2011 – Day #1 (for me)

Someone mentioned to me that since I was vacation on Friday, I should go to NYCC that day because it would be a LOT less crowded…  Nobody else was on vacation, so I had nobody else to go with, but I knew enough people there – so I headed into the city on Friday sans costume…

I got a call in the morning saying that the lines around the Javitz Center were insane but happily found out that these were people who had to pickup tickets.  Luckily I ordered my tix a few months ago and had them in hand, and didn’t need to wait in any lines..  But I got there after 2pm anyway to avoid the initial confusion that usually happen at these things.

I went in without any maps, or any idea what I wanted to do…  I said I wouldn’t do that again, and I actually created an agenda on the NYCC website, but I never printed it, nor did I remember anything on the list…   There’s a LOT to see, and there’s no way in hell I was gonna see 5% of what there was to see, so I just decided to let Fate be my guide…

So I walked… And walked…  And walked…  I zigged and zagged down aisles dodging human traffic looking for Read more

A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part I – Garden State Comic Con

During the course of two weekends in October 2011, I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen.  This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ – October is a great month to be a costumer!

This was originally going to be one blog entry, but there were too many pictures to split out between the two events, so I figured I’d make two so it would be easier for my readers to digest.

During the 2nd weekend of October, 2011, a small convention down in Cherry Hill, NJ happened. It was called the Garden State Comic Con and it was run by a company named ZoloWorld.   Its not the biggest con I’ve been to, and it certainly is going thru some growing pains, but you know what? I had a great experience there, so I’ll cut them slack on the problems faced…

For a small con,they had some big con names appearing – Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, Hayden Panettiere – the cheerleader from Heroes, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Rusty Goffe and Bonnie Piesse from the Star Wars franchise.

One particular attendee – Jackson Bostwick, most people probably wouldn’t recognize, but he was the reason I drove an hour and a half to Cherry Hill to see.  Mr Bostwick played the original Captain Marvel from the 1973 live action Saturday morning show “SHAZAM!” which was my favorite show from when I was 6 years old.  I  dare say that this show may have been the early inspiration for the costuming bug I developed years later.  I remember yelling “SHAZAM!” and tying a towel around my neck and pretending to be Captain Marvel (or as I call him Shazam).

Read more

SuperHeroes for Hayley event – 10/1/2011

Hey it’s almost time for another round of WIDOMW (What I Did On My Vacation) posts.  Last year was a flurry of events including events promoting my new book (at the time) – Lost Boys of the Bronx– The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang.  ( c’mon you knew I had to  advertise it at least once LOL),  NY Comic Con, an Irish-American Writers party with some big names, a Halloween Parade, and a few charity events – where one sparked one of the greatest nicknames ever – the Peeping Princess…  Click the WIDOMV category over there on the right to read some of those adventures…

Starting Friday (10/7), I’m starting another 2-week October vacation.   Now if you’re from my regular day-job, I will be in Cuba without phone or email and please stop reading right now however.

Ok, good it’s just my friends now, so I can be honest – I’ve got a few events lined up – NY Comic Con,  the annual Irish-American Writers & Artists Awards party, my best friend Jeff’s show down at the Brighton Bar, and God knows what else…  Check my Facebook or Twitter page to see where I’ll be, and check back here after the fact and I’m sure I’ll have a report of what happened…

But my biggest plans for the next two weeks may not sound thrilling to some, but to me it’s heaven.  For the next two weeks, I’ll be splitting my time between my home-office and the local Scotch Plains library working on taking a big chunk out of my new book.

“What new book?” Well, you may want to check out this link for a little better background on me and my project.  But, the short version is that for the last few months I have been interviewing some really cool & interesting people who get dressed up in costumes for various reasons and finding out what makes them tick.   The reasons people put on a costume are a lot deeper than you would think.

Well anyway, speaking of really cool costumers, I attended a really cool costuming event yesterday (10/1/2011) down in Flemington, NJ called SuperHeroes for Hayley.  It was a charity event set up by HomeTown Club in Somerset, NJ to benefit the family of a 12 year old girl with brain cancer.   The Star Wars costuming group I belong to called the 501st Legion – NorthEast Remnant Garrison was requested by the fabulous Amber Love and we showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Saturday morning.

Read more

Star Wars at the Cradle of Aviation Museum 6/18/2011

The 501st Legion visits a really cool museum in Garden City, Long Island called the Cradle of Aviation.

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

If you’ve been following me at all, you probably know that I’m a Star Wars geek, and that I go to local events dressed in a Star Wars costume.  Just check my photo albums here or on Facebook to see visual proof.  You could also read any of my numerous blogs by clicking “501st” or “Star Wars”  over there on the right under Categories=====>

The short version (for me anyway) to get you up to speed, is that I am a member of a group called the 501st Legion.  The 501st is a group of geeks like myself who like Star Wars to the point of spending the time and money of creating professional quality costumes of the “bad guy” characters in the movie.  (I also belong to the Rebel Legion which covers the costumes of the “good guys”.  This particular event, I was a TIE Pilot “bad guy”, so I’ll focus on the 501st angle).

I realize there is a tendency to think of people who costume as loner freaks, but most of the people I’ve met doing this are sane and  productive members of society – We have moms, dads, cops, firemen, lawyers, teachers, programmers, musicians, writers, artists, etc within our ranks.  If we weren’t wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, you probably wouldn’t be able to pick us out of a crowd.  LOL

One of my favorite quotes lately is “Just because my hobby is different than yours, doesn’t mean my hobby is any dumber than your hobby.”  Plus our hobby has an outlet that helps make the world a better place.  A large portion of the events we attend are charity events, and our costumed groups have helped raise well into the millions of dollars for various charities.   And we bring LOTS of smiles to the kids who come out to our events and see characters magically come off the screen into their world.  It’s a really cool feeling being part of this.

One thing that I should mention here is that it isn’t just Star Wars costuming groups that enjoy these benefits, but most costumers, be it Star Trek, Superheroes, Disney princesses, etc.  (People who know my “wannabe marketing genius” mind are laughing right now because they know what’s coming next)

I am currently working on a new book that will hopefully be finished in early 2012.  It will be all about the various costumers out there –  How they got into it, Why they do it How they got their cool costumes,What their families and friends think, Cool stories while costumed, and everything in between. So basically I am looking to hear from any costumers who are willing to tell their story for inclusion in the book.   So if you are a costumer, and have a cool story, email me at jameshannon@lantern-media.com and let me know. You can be any type of costumer (including anime, re-enactors, mascots, gorilla-grams, etc) – the only exclusion is that the book will be relatively family-friendly, so I probably won’t be using any adult-themed stories.  Nothing against it personally, but as wise costumer Amber Love wrote in her Amber Unmasked blog, “there’s a time and place for everything.”   :)

Ok, sorry for that tangent, back on target about the Cradle of Aviation event.

The Cradle of Aviation is a really cool museum on Museum Row in Garden City, Long Island.  They’ve got a whole lotta exhibits on the history of flight – with a slant towards Long Island’s involvement in it.  Grumman Corporation was a HUGE contributor of exhibits to the museum and there is some really cool stuff there like flight simulators, lunar landers, space suits, planes of all types, etc.  It even has a Fire Dept museum and historic carousel on the property – See the pics below for a taste of it..   HIGHLY recommended by your pal James…

Read more

Green Lantern movie – A lifetime waiting to review!

Don’t worry, I’ll let you know in big bold letters when to stop reading if you don’t want any spoilers

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Well, after waiting my entire life for this, FINALLY a Green Lantern movie came out. In case you didn’t know, your old pal James (whose company is called LANTERN-media.com by the way) has been a HUGE Green Lantern fan since he was a kid.

Sure Superman and Spiderman were cool, but there was just something about having a ring that can construct kick-ass weapons based on the wearers imagination really appealed to this Irish kid from the Bronx – And the fact that he was “green” didn’t hurt LOL And every summer, I’ve watched as a bunch of less-deserving superheroes get their moment on the big screen.

Well not this Summer… Finally Green Lantern hit the theaters today!

I’ll be honest, I was pretty worried about this movie… Waiting an entire lifetime for something only to have it suck was a real concern. I really tried to keep my emotions in check about it – and by its release, I was fully expecting it to be more disappointing than the Green Hornet movie with Seth Rogan last year.

Which was a really good strategy on my part. Having low expectations meant that as long as Jack Black didn’t star as Hal Jordan (an actual possibility from a past script that still frightens me), it was probably NOT going to be a disappointing movie.

So we found a local theater and went to the matinee. Jackie wouldn’t have stayed awake for the car ride to the theater, let alone the whole movie, if we had went to the midnight showing, so we went to the first showing of the next day. We also decided to watch the Non-3D version since it was earlier
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Richard and the Young Lions – 7 years later

Today is June 17th, 2011 – which is the 7 year anniversary of the passing of Howard “Richard” Tepp – The lead singer of Richard and the Young Lions (also known as RYL).  I wasn’t thinking about that milestone intentionally today, but it kinda jumped out at me accidentally, so it seems like the universe really wanted me to make a note out of it.  and what better way than a blog?  :)

Other than today being the release of the new Green Lantern movie (just remember, my company name is LANTERN Media Productions), it wasn’t supposed to be an extra-ordinary day.   I was just working from home, trying to decide which showing of the movie I will see.

I was Twittering back and forth with my friend Jedi-J (aka Jason Antonelli) about my Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang book and my Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story documentary I did back in 2004.  I had recently sent both to him, and he had just finished them and was giving me his review on both.

Side Note:  Jedi-J (his preferred name, don’t ask LOL) is one of my interview subjects for my new book about costumers, and we’ve become friends over the last few months.  He does a killer Obi-Wan Kenobi (the Ewan McGregor one), and has a really interesting story that will come out partially in my new book, but really deserves his own book – If nobody else grabs him by the time I’m done with this book, I’m seriously going to consider writing it myself)

So, I was talking with Jedi-J about my RYL documentary and he asked how the band was doing nowadays, and I told him that Richard Tepp had died back in June 2004 – I forgot the date, but it was 4 days after I had completely finished my documentary on him and the band.    And Jedi-J was really shocked that he had died, and started asking questions about the days leading up to his passing, and how he felt the documentary became a lot more poignant knowing that.

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Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – 6/10/2011

Its been a crazy two weeks, so I’m trying to keep up with the individual blogs before I forget to…   They’ll be shorter than my longer-winded ones :)

Casualty at the Saint, Asbury Park, NJ – Friday, June 10th, 2011

I drove down to Asbury Park to see one of my best friends Jeff Hornlien play his first show with his new band “Casualty”.

If you haven’t heard by now, Jeff’s old band “The RiffSurfers” (that I managed – against my will LOL), are no more.  <insert huge sad face here>   No dramatic fight between the 5 J’s (Jeff Hornlien, Jimmy Diamonde, Jenna D’Onofrio, John Kraemer & James Hannon (umm, that’s me),  but things weren’t happening, and we all eventually went different directions.  I went on to promote my book “Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang“;  John became Johnny Rox and joined the band “Tasting Grace” (see my review of their shows here and here);  Jenna joined the successful cover band Decades Invasion and is probably playing somewhere near you this weekend (and next weekend, and the weekend after that);  Jimmy became James Giunta, Certified Hypno-Therapist and currently has a thriving practice in Red Bank, NJ.   And Jeff started up this new band called “Casualty” with old RiffSurfer drummer Sean O’Connor and bass player Nicky Vitucci.   So now that you’re all caught up with the history of the band, lets move on to their first show.

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Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

Band Review: Black 47 at the Stone Pony, Memorial Day 2011

As biased as my previous review was, this one will be also.  But, unlike the previous review, I became biased towards Black 47, not because of friendships (which came later), but because I was just a super fan going back to their early days (1989-1991) when they were playing in the Norwood/Bainbridge section of the Bronx – which just happened to be my old neighborhood.

I’m kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I never did see the band live when they were playing back in my old neighborhood.  They had played in the local Irish bars, and by this time I had already given up drinking at the ripe old age of 16 (more common in my Irish-American neighborhood than you would expect)

I don’t remember who exactly, but “someone” recommended Black 47, and I picked up their CD – probably at Crazy Eddie’s on Fordham Road. I was really surprised that I liked their music.   I DID NOT like Irish music at all at that time tho – too many parentally-forced listenings of “Wild Colonial Boy” and “The Unicorn” on WFUV’s Sunday radio program will do that to you.

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You’re only as relevant as your next project…

Ok, so its been a few months since Lost Boys of the Bronx – The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang was published, and the marketing blitz has died down a little bit.   There’s still a few outstanding things there that might catch fire again, but the craziness of a book release is over and I can think straight again…  Or as much as I could do before the craziness anyway… :)

Instead of sitting back and enjoying the free time that I’ve been looking forward to, what does your friendly neighborhood author decide to do?   Get started on another project of course!!!

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