LAKE GEORGE — It’s less than a month before Infinity Con 2016, and Herb Cloutier finds himself working through a five-day vacation in Florida that a friend forced him into. “I worked while I was on the beach,” he said; sifting through e-mails, working through plan details, posting material onto social media. “There was no way I wasn’t going to work.”
And, the work he speaks of is not the graphic design gig that pays the bills. Much like the superheroes depicted in pen and ink, Cloutier has other responsibilities to society that fall outside the realm between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Cloutier is co-owner for this year’s Infinity Con in Lake George. It’s a show billed as upstate New York’s first pop-culture convention, and takes place at the 30,000-square foot Lake George Form on Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10.
Listed guests include The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ Walter Jone, the Black Power Ranger; Karen Ashley, the Yellow Power Ranger; and David Yost, the Blue Power Ranger. The iconic cars from “Back to the Future” and “Ghostbusters” are also scheduled to be at the show. Celebrity guest panals also include WWE Wrestling legends “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Tugboat. Ming Chen and Michael Zapcic from AMC’s hit TV show, “Comic Book Men” will be there to help place everything into proper perspective.
Cloutier will be on the floor as well. Known also as DW in “The DW and Incredible Jeff Show” podcast on FanBoysInc, he’s the resident expert on all things pop culture and comic book related. So, when Steve Duckett asked him to join the cause and co-partner with him, it seemed something right in his “backyard.”
This year’s show will mark its second consecutive year for InfinityCon. The first installment garnered a modest 400 visitors. Cloutier said such numbers are good for a first run in a field where so many conventions now exist. The challenge in maintaining relevance in the chatter that includes New York Comic Con (which saw more than 150,000 visitors over its four-day event last year) and Albany Comic Con (with 4,000 attendees over one day earlier this month), is content.
“Doing so many cons through Fan Boys Inc. and meeting so many people, and being good friends with John Belskis (Albany Comic Con founder)… I wanted to put on a con that I want to go to. So the things that I saw that weren’t working at other cons, I wanted to fix. Try to do some new things. And, it really is focused on comic books.”
Cloutier said he likes to push the indie market. “We think the indie comic is the new thing. Every year it gets bigger and bigger with independent publishers. Not the smaller publishers like Image or IDW, but those who are self-publishing.”
Among the artists slated to attend the two-day event is Sal Otero, who first broke out in the industry in 2014 with IDW Publishing’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Kevin Conrad, former inker for Image Comics, is offering up a limited edition print to the first 50 people through the door. Artist Dave Ryan, writer Skip Winter and artist/co-owner Joe Martino of Red Anvil Comics will be there.
Another appeal to comic cons, as of late, is the alternate world of cosplay. The phenomenon has taken off over the years. The Internet helps fuel the fire, with YouTube shows and tutorials showcasing costumes and accessories everyday citizens customize to help bring beloved characters to life — sometimes challenging the quality of what people see on movie screens.
For example, Matches Malone, who portrays Batman. The gear this Boston-native often wears closely resembles that of Christian Bale’s version of the Dark Knight. He’s developed the reputation of even adopting Bale’s gruff voice to add to his authenticity. Malone is scheduled to attend in costume, along with Kuno Yura, who often portrays Wonder Woman or Poison Ivy.
Behind the glitz and glamour of the costumes and celebrities, Cloutier said the characteristic of a good convention is one firmly rooted to comic books.
“New York City, which was just touted as the United States’ biggest con based on attendance— it beat out San Diego Con now two years in a row, which is amazing — it’s getting less comic book orientated. Obviously, the celebrities are a draw. And, you get the ticket sales. … But, some of these cons forget their roots.
“Without comic books, none of these cons would be around.”