Local comic book writer Chris Yambar had a vision some four years ago. That vision was to give his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio the experience of the popular Comic Con comic book showcases that other major cities have annually. He took it upon himself to organize a free showcase held on his own front lawn.
Now, in its fourth year, Yambar’s Lawn Con boasts an eclectic lineup of mainstream and independent artists and writers, as well as all the specialties you’ll find at any other Comic Con. Also, even some surprises that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.
Yambar, who is well-known in the comic industry for his Mr. Beat series, keeps his annual showcase free for the public and for featured artists alike. He does this because independent artists often get shafted at larger events.
“The independent guys, self-publishers and small press guys, are always having their prices jacked up to compete with the other high-priced tables and it’s not fair,” said Yambar. “Some of these people are driving from all over the country, they deserve to be able to sell their stuff at a reasonable price and walk away with something.”
Yambar also indicated that the money it takes for an independent artist to set up a table at a major event is equal to what they could use to publish themselves on a mass scale.
“It costs them $500 to $800 to do a show. As a small press guy, that’s a lot of money. That’s a ton of printing for a lot of things,” said Yambar.
He stressed the importance of smaller publishers and why their work is important.
“These guys are what it’s all about. The small publishers have a lot of passion and love for what they do. There’s some really interesting people coming this year, a little something for everybody,” said Yambar.
Lawn Con 4 will also feature a good selection of mainstream artists too. Some of the people behind The Simpsons and the actor who portrays Spawn will be attending, along with some pop-artists including an artist behind Popeye the Sailor.
“We’ve got Spawn coming this year,” said Ymabar. “We’re all really excited to get to hang out with him.”
The showcase will also be unique in many ways to that of run-of-the-mill comic book shows. Aside from the arrays of exclusive independent talent, there will be a side-show featuring unique talents, stand-up comedians and live performances from local acts Baroque Monody and Phoenix Rising.
Recently, Yambar discovered that DC Comics and Warner Bros. in particular, held an event called “Lawn Con” in San Diego. He indicated that he was displeased with their lack of research before naming and holding the event.
“Would it have killed to do as much as to Google the name before using it? I’m not against what they’re doing, but I just wish they would have done their homework first. I did this for three years prior. I’m not after their money. I just want credit for the idea. I’d love to see Lawn Con Albuquerque someday. It would just have to be done right,” said Yambar.
Lawn Con 4 will be held on Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Yambar’s front yard, located on 23 South Hartford Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. The event is free, but all donations will go toward children’s literacy via First Book Mahoning Valley.
“This year we are again proud to partner with Amy Neral and First Book Mahoning Valley by providing an environment to not only encourage literacy, but to make sure that every child has the opportunity to read and own their first ever book. Over the past 3 years, Lawn Con and First Book have put hundreds of free children’s books into the hands of young readers without charging them or their parents a dime. We’re excited to continue this tradition,” said Yambar in a mission statement.