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Alternative Sports Event a Success Story for Road Gang

The road warriors from were in Providence, R.I., July 19-23 for the second year of the Gravity Games, sponsored by NBC Sports and emap usa. This is one of the premiere extreme sporting events in the country, featuring street, vert and dirt BMX biking; street, downhill and vert skateboarding, freestyle motocross; street luge; wakeboarding; and aggressive and vert inline skating.

    The folks set up their wares in the vendor area and displayed several two-ups and hand-paints of upcoming action figures, including NHLPA hockey and Janis Joplin, and some popular previous figures including Austin Powers and The Beatles.

    Crowd volume was incredible, with some 40,000 visitors on hand each day. And it was a successful event as many of the folks were only vaguely familiar with our products. Now there are a legion of possible new Spawn and action figure fans.

    "Gravity Games drew a demographic of people who were really excited about our products," said special events director Kellie Perica. "The display really drew people in and we had something for everyone, from hockey players to Austin Powers."

    "Plus it was nice to get back out to the East Coast, because we don't have an opportunity to go there very often."

    Ten hours of Gravity Games TV coverage will be broadcast on NBC Oct. 8, 15, 22, 29 and Nov. 5.

    As many people know, in order to attend the Gravity Games, we had to scale back our plans to attend Comicon International in San Diego, which unfortunately took place at the same time.

    Despite not having the van or upcoming toy displays at San Diego, we did have a full roster of Todd McFarlane Productions' artists signing in the Image Comics area, including Ashley Wood, Brian Michael Bendis, Danny Miki, Angel Medina, Steve Niles, Nat Jones, Alberto Ponticelli, Jonathan Glapion and Clayton Crain. And Diamond Comics Distributors prominently displayed several of our upcoming action figures lines like Spawn Classic: Series 17 and Movie Maniacs 3.

    The art department designed custom signing plates for the event and the artists signed comics for fans. Bendis drew a large crowd and there was a lot of positive response on the upcoming Hellspawn book.

    TMP executives Larry Marder and Beau Smith were quick to point out that McFarlane is not abandoning comicons.

    "No, we're not abandoning cons," said Smith pointblank. "Comic book fans are the backbone of our audience and we're definitely not ignoring them."

    "Our future at cons is based on what we have to promote," continued Marder. "Next year will be a whole new year."

    "Plus, at Gravity Games, we got to bring the Spawn message to an entirely new group of people that hadn't heard it," Marder said. "We believe that's a good endeavour and it's extremely important to get outsiders involved in the comic book and action figure hobbies."

LEFT: Clayton Crain signing while his adoring wife looks on. Nat Jones and Jonathan Glapion relax behind him.
MIDDLE: Our booth, staffed by Nat Jones, Steve Niles and Ashley Wood.
RIGHT: Ashley Wood and Erik Larsen.

All stories are Copyright © and TMP International, Inc., and may not be reprinted without permission.

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