Thursday, May 31, 2012

CD Review: Akron Annihilation

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Jonathan McGory, who so graciously offered to write our first ever album review! Jonathan, a Cleveland resident, has played in a number of bands with horrible names.

Akron Annihilation
by Jonathan McGory

I have to admit that I'm writing this while listening to Bonnie Tyler's melodramatic opus, "Total Eclipse of the Heart." I hope that gives the reader a sense of my background in metal. As a musician though, I understand that any piece of work-- whether it be Marilyn Manson or Hanson-- there needs to be a balance of technical ability and an interesting idea. A piece can be impossibly difficult to perform, but boring to listen to if it's just some musician playing scales faster than anyone else. On the other hand, a musician can have a million great ideas in her head, but if she doesn't know a C chord from a harpsichord, she won't be able to get those melodies out of her head and into reality.

Album cover. Layout by David Maynard

Akron Annihilation, a compilation of 11 metal acts our of the titular city, offers a wide range of bands that fall all over the spectrum. At its best, the album offers bands comprised of excellent musicians writing music that offers something new to the genre. "Letter of Intent" by Co_Conspirator mixes Sailing the Seas of Cheese-era Primus with more traditional metal elements and caps it off with some Queen-style a cappella.

Co_Conspirator has been playing out in and around Akron since 2001.

Apocalyptic Fist of the Black Death gets special notice for sounding like they were having the most fun playing their track, "The Whole In Things." A lot of bands fall in the trap of taking themselves too seriously, which usually leads to music no one enjoys listening to, and this can be especially true with metal. Also, their guitarist is pretty sick.

At its worst, the album features songs which sound played out. And to someone who does not listen to a lot of metal, that's saying something. The only thing interesting about "Piles of Dead Sluts" by Madness on the Mountaintop was the fact that the drummer was either playing a conga drum or his snare was turned off.

In the middle you've got bands that consist of one extremely talented musician surrounded by a few mediocre ones trying to keep up. National Collapse's guitarist is impressive, but "I Demand Sacrifice" doesn't really do much with that talent. Sworn to the Grave's drummer has the most ridiculous chops I've ever heard, but the rest of the band doesn't add much to "Ligature Marks." However, I won't put the entire blame on these other band members. The best musicians know when to hold back and keep from showing off for the sake of a song.

All of the bands on the album were able to communicate a message-- a message that separates metal from Mariah Carey. These bands were as mad as hell about something. Whether they're able to communicate that aggression in a way that the audience can understand and relate to is another story. But I can say that from listening to this album that Akron has some freakishly talented musicians and bands worth checking out-- even if you're not a metal fan.

Fully Consumed, from Akron, describes their music as "Crushing Death Metal." They perform at the Outpost Saturday night.

You can see several of the bands who contributed to Akron Annihilation at The Outpost in Kent this Saturday June 2nd as part of the local metal fest Align the Nine Part 2. Doors open at 5pm and ten bands will be performing all together, including RUE and NDE who will unfortunately both be performing for their last time. Also on the bill are Burn Blue Sky, Fully Consumed, The Unclean, Ravenna Arsenal, Red Water Tragedy, Ichabod Crane, First Cop and Foul Spirits. Advance tickets are only $10!

Align the Nine will be Rue's last performance.

What are your favorite people, places and events in and around Akron? Let us know! E-mail us: AkronEmpire at gmail [dot] com

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crafty Mart: June 2nd

Camp Crafty Mart
by Joanna Wilson

Happy Memorial Day!   I hope everyone has had an enjoyable, relaxing weekend. Memorial Day is often considered the unofficial start of summer.  And the summer season often brings memories of summer camp.  But don't worry about revisiting past nightmares of sticky bug spray, annoying canoeing lessons and moldy pup tents:  Camp Crafty Mart is all about handmade arts and crafts featuring local artists.

Photo from past Crafty Mart.

You may already be familiar with Crafty Mart as a bi-annual craft show in Akron.  It has a strong reputation for hosting artists working in a wide variety of media, from jewelry to photography, from paper crafts to textiles, and ceramics to soaps.  There's a little something for everyone on your shopping list.  This will be a great opportunity if you're looking for a unique Father's Day gift, a present for that special recent grad or even a one-of-a-kind birthday gift for a friend or family member.

Come check out the Northeast Ohio artists and their goods.

While you're there, not only can you support local artists but you can enjoy food and drink from Urban Eats and local DJs will provide musical entertainment.  If you follow Akron Empire closely, you'll know that I often sell my greeting cards at local arts and crafts shows.  Crafty Mart is one of my favorite shows--and I'll be there on Saturday.  Feel free to look for me and say 'hello.'

Artists working in a wide variety of media can be found at Crafty Mart.

Camp Crafty Mart is this Saturday, June 2nd from 10am to 5pm at Musica (51 E Market St, Akron, OH 44308) in downtown Akron.  Parking is free on the street and at the Library Parking Deck on the SW Corner of High & Market Streets (the Main Library parking deck across from the Akron Art Museum).

check out:
the FB event:
or, email your questions:

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Ash Adams, a freelance writer and good friend with Ohio roots currently based in Anchorage, Alaska. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationally. To follow Adams' work, visit her blog, Brian & Ash, which she manages with her husband, Brian Adams.

This Band Could Be Your Life: Bethesda

Photo courtesy of Brian Adams

It's really rare for one of your friends' bands to be one that you actually listen to when they're not around. And it's not because you don't love your friends—you do—it's just that you'd rather listen to good music.

This is why it took me almost 2 years to listen to Bethesda's first EP. Because I'm friends with Eric Ling and Shanna Delaney and, quite frankly, a little jaded after listening to a lot of bad music created by good people that I love. So when I finally listened to the band's first full-length album, Love in the Time of Tra La La, I was humbled, I was ashamed, and at the same time, I was squealing with delight.

YES. This was what I'd been waiting for at all of those other shows, listening to all of the failed bands of my friends.

Powerhouse lady vocals, poignant lyrics, melodic guitars, dancy percussion, tambourine, chimes, violin, and Midwestern swagger all intelligently stitched together into joyful, full sound. It was better than good—it was something I wanted to listen to and share with people.

My lack of faith then is embarrassing still. It's not that I didn't know that they were talented—the first time I heard Shanna's voice was in her car on one summer day in Kent, and I was blown away. So, consider this piece my personal apology for not believing in you guys from the get-go, Shanna and Eric. Please understand that I'd just been burned too many times before.

This disclosure is also for you, the reader. I may be friends with Bethesda, but I am still severely unbiased. I had no idea that Bethesda's songs would make it onto nearly every mix I've made during the past 2 years, including the one I made for my first child's birth. In fact, if asked beforehand, I may have bet against them. But I was wrong, so wrong.

And even still, Eric was willing to answer a few questions for me this week so that I could tell their story on this blog.

Bethesda's story starts in the way of many good stories. He meets she and then good things happen. Eric and Shanna, now married, were both attending Kent State, where they met one night through a mutual friend at a local pizza shop, Pete's Arena. “We had one of those moments,” Eric says, “where we knew something significant had just happened. A few “chance” encounters later, Shanna scrawled her number down my arm and the rest is history. I was hers without debate from that time forward.”

Eric was writing lo-fi guitar songs before they met, and Shanna was just coming out of the Kent State musical theatre program, so it was natural that music was a part of their relationship from the very beginning. “It was actually really difficult to begin with,” Eric says. “Shanna was vocally trained, and I was not trained in anything – ever. So there was a natural tension as we stumbled towards coming up with something that we were both excited about. After quite a bit of blood, sweat and tears, we had a handful of lo-fi acoustic-folk songs that we started to perform for our friends and family.”

They started playing these songs together as the Silver Diamond Doves. A couple of years later, Eric says, after attending an Anathallo, Sufjan Stevens show at Calvin College, the duo decided that they wanted to collaborate with other musicians, “to bring even more life to the songs that we had been creating.”

The couple spread the word at Vineyard Community Church, a local arts-focused church that they attended, and soon the couple had found a bassist (Dan Corby), a drummer (Justin Rife), and the band's original guitarist (Jesse Sloan).

“Soon, we had a full band, and we were intoxicated by the creative high of collaborating to create something truly original, full, and a whole level above what we were capable of by ourselves,” Eric says. “In our first practice, we had our ahhhhhhh! moment where everything fit so perfectly and naturally that we knew we wanted to take it as far as we possibly could.”

The band booked their first show at a coffee shop in Stow soon after, but as the day quickly approached, the group was still without a name. In the end, the name came from Sloan's father who suggested “Bethesda,” which in Jewish and Christian tradition is a pool of healing.

“We love the imagery of this place where the broken gathered in hopes that the water will bring some healing and give new life to them,” Eric says. “We write honest songs about the suffering and difficulties of life, but also about the life-giving hope that we believe in, so we thought it was fitting.”

The name stuck. It has just been a few years since Bethesda played that first show in the coffee shop, but since then, the Akron/Kent-based sextet has toured all over the country, playing at SXSW this year and booked for Bonnaroo 2012. The band has been slated for over thirty shows on big-name networks, and was interviewed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Photo courtesy of Brian Adams

And, in addition to working day jobs, they've found time to do some serious recording. After releasing its self-titled EP in 2008, the band released its first full-length album (Love in the Time of Tra La La) in 2010, its second EP (Dreamtiger & Other Tails) in 2011, and they are currently working on their second full-length album, which is scheduled to be released in 2013.

“We are really excited about this one,” Eric says of the album currently in production, tentatively called The Reunion. “I think people will be surprised by the dynamics of the album.”

But even though they've been gaining national acclaim, Bethesda hasn't lost their Cleveland pride.

“Cleveland is a city whose musical history is full of some of rock’s greatest acts,” Eric says. “With the burden and delight of this history, Cleveland is in the middle of an artistic resurgence as the city continues to be filled with appreciative folks that care about culture and invest in their communities. We are thrilled to be a small part of it each time we take the stage in Cleveland. It is truly an electric and unique experience. Really, I think it is a legacy thing. When kids grow up in a creative culture, they are more likely to be supported in their own creative efforts and believe in the importance of creating and sharing their art form. We are privileged to be a part of such a community.”

If you haven't heard Bethesda yet, chances are you will soon. To see them live, visit their website to keep up with their tour schedule or head up to the BeachlandTavern next Wednesday, May 30th where they'll be opening for Plants & Animals.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Best Thrift Shop in Akron

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dina from the fashion blog Dina's Days.  Dina is a a lifestyle blogger with a love for others' donated treasures. She follows the latest fashion, beauty, and home decorating trends and makes note of the way fashion tends to repeat itself in all aspects.  Please check out her awesome blog:

Akron Empire asked Dina, an expert in the field, to write about the best thrift shop in the Akron area and below is her response.  Where is your favorite place to find vintage items and gently used fashion items?  I can't wait to check this place out.  Thanks Dina!

Akron American Cancer Society Discovery Shop
Since they moved into their new location at Wallhaven in Westgate Plaza in Akron a few years ago, I always thought the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop was a little kid's gadget store. I guess the 'discovery' part threw me off.  One day, I was jogging around the building as part of our CrossFit Akron warmup (which is also located in the same plaza) and the display of beautiful spring clothes and colors in the window stopped me in my tracks. Despite the fact that my coach was waiting for me to return to class,  I went inside to check the store out - I just had to.

{store front display with spring corals and oranges } 

Following one visit to this secondhand store, it easily became one of my top two favorite places to bargain shop in the city. 

{I'm an idiot for not buying that coral dress!}

One of many Discovery shops nationwide, these stores house some of the most beautiful donated treasures ranging from gently used clothing to the most charming antiques. It's like someone visited all of the local thrift shops, garage sales, and antique stores, filtered through all of the junk, and handpicked the best items and took them to this gem of a store. 

{large collection of records and books}

The Akron Discovery Shop accepts gently donated items and work very hard to display them beautifully throughout the store. The store manager arranges the front display with the latest donated items using a color theme which instantly draws the customer in. (It worked for me!)   As you continue to walk through the store, it begins to feel more like an estate sale rather than a store. Everything is arranged in a way that makes it convenient  for the shopper to browse and make decisions.  Plus, they have a fitting room - something avid thrift shoppers like myself look for in secondhand shops.


If you're going to compare this to your favorite thrift shop, you will find that the prices are a little higher.  With that being said, the prices are still extremely cheap,  and keep in mind that the proceeds from the sales are used to support cancer research. Additionally, the staff consists of almost all volunteers with  a friendly demeanor who all seem to love what they do.

{dinning room tables displayed as they would at home} 

The pricing is system  is simple and easy to remember. Just glance over at the price list to memorize how much individual pieces cost. This list applies to all clothing with the exception of some of the brand name and designer items.

One of my favorite things about this store besides the vintage furniture and home decorating sections is the color sale system. Basically, everything in the store is priced based on the time it was donated and taken out to the floor. Every month as new items begin to arrive, the staff reduce the price of the item using a color system. Everything that was new in March is now discounted by 25%, February items by 50% and so on and so forth.

The store also has seasonal sales like the stuff your bag sale and more recently I shopped a $2 sale where I found these pants for an awesome deal.

{i need this in my apartment!}

{mens clothing too}

{I'm going back for this...if it's still there} 

{sheet music}

If you love a good deal and a great cause, visit the Akron American Cancer Discovery Shop, it truly is a "unique, quality resale experience!"

National Discovery Shops on Facebook:

List of Ohio Discovery Shop locations:

Dina's Days on Facebook:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Celebrate National Bike Week at Kent Cycle

Kent Cycle: More Than Just a Bike Shop
by Brit Charek 

Kent Cycle opened their doors in March, just in time for cycling season to start. Co-owners Stefan Meyer and Mario Morelos opened the store to accommodate the needs of the ever-growing population of commuter cyclists in Kent. They are both avid cyclists and proud community members, and just all around great guys.

The store is in a charming space that used as a church at one time, and most recently as the main offices of a local concrete supplier. Evidence of the venue’s former lives remains scattered throughout the shop, making it unique. The space is used not only to display and sell bicycles, but to show off the work of local artists and host fun events with live music.
The city of Kent's limit on the amount of signs a business can have inspired this mural to be painted on the side of the building.
Owner Stefan poses for a photo with his morning coffee from Bent Tree Coffee Roasters down the street. The "Builders" sign above his head was left from when Horning Builders Supply moved out.
Kent Cycle sells bicycles and cycling accessories and they're excited to be the new home of the Crooked River Cycling School, which offers classes about safety and technique for riders of all ability levels. They also have a full service repair shop, but if you're more of a DIY person, the staff is more than happy to help you locate reasonably priced parts and guide you in the right direction.

This room in the store is sometimes used as a gallery space for local artists to display their work.
 Just in time for summer approaching, this week is National Bike Week. The Akron Metropolitan AreaTransportation Study (AMATS) has several events scheduled in the Greater Akron area, including The Benefits of Bicycling”on Tuesday, May 22, Kent Free Library from 6:30-8pm. The event is hosted by TransPORTAGE, and Kent Cycle will be there too. They will present information about the health, economic and ecological benefits of embracing a bicycling lifestyle.

Also, the Kent Bike Club meets every Tuesday night at 5pm at the corner of Main and Water Streets downtown Kent. They're open to all ages and ability levels. To get more information, find them on Facebook, or just ask the nice guys at Kent Cycle.

Kent Cycle is located at 115 Lake Street in Kent. You can visit their website, “like” them on Facebook or just drop in to learn more about what they have to offer. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Rail: Burgers, Beer and Shakes

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Stacey Lim.  Stacey is a friend from a local needlecraft group, Stitch & Bitch (SnB).  Stacey also grew up in  a small business in the Akron/Kent area--Vale Edge Hallmark and Florist.  Click here to check out their Facebook page.  Thanks to Stacey for sharing this post about one of her favorite Akron Empire places.  It's one of my favorites too!

The Rail Burger Bar
by Stacey Lim

The Rail Burger Bar at Summit Mall

I used to long for a good burger in the Akron area, and not the kind that you can get at a fast-food chain. Last year, my wish was granted with the arrival of The Rail Burger Bar, which is located in Fairlawn. It is in the Summit Mall near Dillard’s.  I decided to go to The Rail for a late lunch after a long day at work. Immediately after I arrived, I was greeted by the manager and was seated quickly at one of the tables, even though it was very busy. In addition to the individual tables, the restaurant has a communal table, booths, and bar seating. If it’s a sunny and warm day (and as you can see in the picture—it was not), you can sit on the patio.

Inside The Rail, meat hooks hang above the bar.

The décor is minimalistic, with concrete flooring and a butcher’s rail above the bar. The lighting fixtures are unique, with bare bulbs that evoke an almost industrial feel.  Signs with upside down cows tell you what this restaurant’s philosophy is: Locally sourced products from Ohio.  If you enjoy beer, you’ll also like the fact that The Rail embraces beer that is made in Ohio. The meat for the burgers is sourced from Wayne County, where the owner has two successful restaurants (The Wooster Inn and South Market Bistro).

The Local Yokel: a burger topped with a fried egg and bacon grown in Ohio.

There are plenty of options for burgers, from the original Rail Burger, which is a classic burger that can be dressed up (or down) to your order. Various toppings and condiments are available for this. Specialty burgers on the menu include various creative combinations (and names, such as The Crouching Burger, Hidden Bacon or The Twinsburger)  I wasn’t in the mood for a classic burger, so I decided to order the Local Yokel, which is a burger topped with a fried egg and Ohio bacon. I also ordered a side of fries (one of my weaknesses) with this.  The Rail also has these amazing French fries that are drizzled with white truffle oil.

The Rail includes chalkboard menus with food descriptions on the wall above the booths.

The burger and fries arrived in a plate that reminds me of a pie tin.  Let me just say that this burger is an experience. It didn’t need any condiments (I’ll be honest: I’m the kind of person who drenches burgers in ketchup and mustard). But the burger itself was juicy and flavorful, and biting into a combination of bacon, egg, and burger—well, it’s just fantastic, and I found myself mopping up the yolk with my burger.

After all those fries and the burger, I had no room for one of my favorite things at the restaurant: The milkshake, which comes in various offerings beyond chocolate and vanilla (on the menu: Nutella Crunch; it is also worth checking out the monthly or daily milkshake specials—which are also made with dairy products from local dairy producers.)

The large communal table that runs the middle of the restaurant.

Here, it’s all about the meat and experiencing Ohio at its best, even on a rainy/snowy day at the end of April. Check out The Rail Burger Bar and try the different burgers that are available. You’ll need to make several trips to try them all.

The Rail Burger Bar is located at 3265 W. Market Street Akron, OH 44333
330-864-RAIL (7245).

Do you want to write about one of your favorite places for Akron Empire? email us: AkronEmpire at gmail [dot] com and we'll discuss the particulars.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Anniversary Giveaway!

Akron Empire's Anniversary Giveaway
by Joanna Wilson

It's the two month anniversary of Akron Empire and we're celebrating!  Since our first blog post was March 12 about the Harry London/Fannie May chocolate factory and retail store, I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate on May 12th with a giveaway of Fannie May chocolates.  Who wants some free chocolate?

Help us celebrate our anniversary by entering the giveaway.  There are two chances to win.  Each winner will receive a half pound of assorted chocolates from the Fannie May retail store located in Hudson, Ohio.  Here's how you can enter to win:

1)  The first winner will be randomly selected from qualified entries here on the blog.  Make sure you follow the blog through GFC (Google Friend Connect)--along the right hand side -------->
Then post one comment below telling us which of the past two months worth of posts was your favorite.

2) The second winner will be randomly selected from qualified entries on Twitter.  Make sure you follow us on Twitter (@AkronEmpire).  Then enter the giveaway by tweeting @AkronEmpire once about which of the blog posts in the last two months was your favorite.

You may enter the contest both on the blog and on Twitter.   Open to North American residents only.

Contest ends Tuesday, May 15th at noon (ET).  Good luck!  We'll have more giveaways coming soon.  And, Happy Anniversary to Akron Empire!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bent Tree Coffee Roasters Participate in Kent Chocolate Walk

Bent Tree Coffee Roasters
by Brit Charek

“Knowledgeable, friendly and handsome.” This is how the staff at Bent Tree Coffee Roasters describe themselves on their website. Needless to say I was a bit skeptical.

Fortunately, owners Mike Mistur and Ryan Brannon are, in fact, friendly, easy on the eyes and very serious about their coffee. They opened Bent Tree Coffee Roasters on North Water Street in Kent in last summer.
Unlike some chain coffee shops that tend to over roast their beans in an effort to keep the taste of their coffee consistent, Bent Tree tends specialize in medium roast coffees so as not to mask the flavor of the beans with the roast.

The historical building has sold Model T Fords, pizza, and now coffee.

Bent Tree sells single cups of fresh French pressed coffee as well as beans roasted in house by the pound. If the blend you want to try isn't on the menu that day, don't be afraid to ask-- the staff is happy to make you a single cup of coffee of your choice. My personal favorite is the Black Squirrel blend, a South American dark roast named after the city of Kent's unofficial furry mascot.

Bent Tree keeps their coffee beans fresh by ordering in relatively small batches from all over the world.

Instead of buying all their beans from the same supplier (which would make life easy, naturally), Bent Tree goes to special efforts to buy their beans from suppliers who work with coffee farmers to improve their techniques. This gives them a variety of high quality beans to work with to make their blends. They carry a number of organic and Fair Trade coffees, but their number one priority is quality and taste.

Bent Tree will be participating in the first ever Kent Chocolate Walk this Saturday May 12th, from 1 to 5 pm. Participants stroll through downtown Kent collecting chocolate gift items from each of the twenty participating businesses-- sort of like a scavenger hunt or a grown up trick-or-treat. Tickets are $10 and proceeds benefit Main Street Kent, a non-profit organization dedicated to the revitalization of downtown Kent. Tickets are available at Off the Wagon and McKay Bricker Framing & Gallery or you can call Main Street Kent directly at (330) 677-8000

Bent Tree Coffee Roasters is located at 313 N. Water Street in Kent. You can buy their coffee and learn more about their philosophy by visiting their website at or by simply stopping in and talking to the staff. You can also purchase their coffee to brew at home at West Point Market in Akron or at Kent Natural Foods Co-Op.

Monday, May 7, 2012

May Craft Shows: Shop Local, Buy Handmade!

I wear my passion on my bumper.

Oddmall, Portage Trail Barn Sale, and WeirdFest
by Joanna Wilson

May is already a busy month and there are so many wonderful things to do.  For me, I'll be spending my weekends selling my handmade greeting cards at local indie craft shows.  But it's at these venues that I enjoy shopping as well.  I prefer to support local people who make interesting and unique items rather than buy the same mass-produced stuff that fills box stores in every strip mall across the country.  If you are looking for a new shopping experience or perhaps searching for a special gift item, consider visiting any of the following venues this month. If you've never been to one of these events, you'll be inspired by the creativity of the local artists and craftspeople in Northeast Ohio.

Saturday, May 12--10am-6pm
Clarion Hotel: 240 East Hines Hill Rd.
Hudson, OH 44236
click this link for website

Oddmall is a twice-a-year event (each May and November) that features not only a hundred vendors but there is usually entertainment as well, including live music, jugglers, belly dancers, balloon twisters, and a variety of other surprises.  Though Oddmall places an emphasis on the weird, this very large show offers less-than-weird items as well.  You can expect to find one-of-kind: jewelry items, photography prints, stuffed toys, gourmet cupcakes, illustrated prints/artwork, and ceramics.  But you'll never know what you find there--that's the fun of showing up!  Look for me--I'll be selling my embroidered greeting cards, sharing a table with the Robot Consortium's Pat Gerber.

Look for the sign!

Portage Trail Barn Spring Sale
Thursday May 17, 5pm-8pm
Friday and Saturday, May 18-19, 10am-3pm
151 Portage Trail Ext W,
Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223
click this link for website

Portage Trail Barn is run by Mary Beth Filon in a rustic wooden barn on her property just above the intersection of State Rd. and Portage Trail in Cuyahoga Falls.  This Spring sale offers more traditional items for the home, children and seasonal décor all made by local artists.

C' mon in!  The Portage Trail Barn Spring Sale highlights local artists.

Most everything is made from recycled, repurposed and reused materials.  On opening night, Thursday May 17th, there will be refreshments, a make and take activity, and a campfire.  It sounds like fun for the whole family!

Saturday May 26, 11am-7pm
923 Bank Street
Akron, OH
click here for the website

WeirdFest is going to be an all-day outdoor event being held at Devilstrip Dolly's, the Anti-Gallery located next to the Bomb Shelter.  In addition to vendors offering the most weird and outrageous handmade items, there will be music, food, and more.  This is the first time this event is being held, so I'm very excited to see what unfolds.  Yes, I'll be there selling the weirdest of my embroidered greeting cards--so come look for me to say 'hi.'  Come and join the movement to Keep Akron Weird!

Admission is FREE for all three venues so come check out what local artists are doing.  I guarantee that you will find something that you love. Mark your calendars: the next big indie craft show in the Akron Empire is coming June 2nd: Camp CraftyMart.  I'll see you there!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free Comic Book Day at JC Comics & Cards

Cuyahoga Falls Comic Shop Gives Out Free Comic Books!
by Brit Charek

This weekend is a big deal for comic book fans everywhere-- The Avengers is being released in theaters and Free Comic Book Day is on Saturday. That's right. Local comic book shops all over the country give out comic books. For free.

Free Comic Book Day started in Concord, California where Flying Colors Comics owner Joe Field observed a large line of people in front of his store in expectation of "Free Scoop Night" at the local Baskin Robbins next door. The comic book community took Field's idea and ran with it, and JC Comics & Cards in Cuyahoga Falls has been on board since Day One, back in 2002.

JC Comics & Cards has been servicing the Akron community with comics for almost 22 years. This year, they will offer somewhere between 35 and 40 free titles this Saturday on a first-come-first-serve basis, including titles from Marvel, DC and other big name comic publishers. Ironically, one of the most anticipated features comes from a small independent publisher called Archaia Entertainment. It's a hardcover anthology featuring Mouse Guard, which might be the cutest graphic novel series the world has ever seen: imagine knights on a journey in the Middle Ages. Now picture them as mice:

Besides Mouse Guard, the anthology also features five other stories from different artists. It's also the first hardcover book that has ever been offered on FCBD. If you want one, you'd better get there early. This release is limited.

"There's more out there than there ever has been before when it comes to comics," says JC Comics & Cards owner John. The comic book scene used to be tied to the old Batman television show with Adam West, says John, and limited to "Bif! Bang! Pow!" But now, with the popularity of  The Walking Dead as a hugely successful television series (especially for being on a cable channel) as well as the most recent superhero movies like Spiderman and the latest Batman films directed by Christopher Nolan, there's no denying that comic books and graphic novels are being held to new standards, and being recognized for that. 

As someone who has written graduate level papers on graphic novels, I'd have to agree wholeheartedly that the market for comic books has expanded far past just pre-teen boys.
JC Comics offers a variety of individual issue comic books, some dating back half a century.
They also carry a huge selection of graphic novels, for those who prefer to get the whole story up front and not be bothered with the maintenance involved in buying single comic books.

JC Comics has quite a few special activities lined up for FCDB. First off, they're holding a big sale, so customers can go home with cheap comics, collectables and graphic novels in addition to the free ones they pick up. The folks from The Akron Comicon will be there, educating the public about other awesome upcoming comic book events. Oh, and Batman and the Joker will be present as well.

JC Comics & Cards is located at 2609 State Road in Cuyahoga Falls. They are open from 11-7 on Saturday for Free Comic Book Day, but you might want to show up early to get in line to get exactly what you want.