Sunday, June 19, 2011

Comicpalooza 2011

I'm a poor full time student, so going to Comicpalooza 2011 was a bad idea for my wallet. Still, there was an artist at the show that had owed me a piece for over a year who had agreed to finally deliver, and I was kind of OCD about getting some new commissions this year. I was still wavering on attending up to the last week, and had to juggle several social obligations and anemic finances, but finally got there on the last day of the con. It was way up on the third floor, and then past all the plush halls from last year to a large auditorium where several sporting mini-arenas had been laid out.

I pressed on through to a second auditorium, which had been laid out as an intentional maze of tables and draped backdrops to force attendees to go through the entirety of artists' alley before being offered multiple avenues to dealers and special events. There were some sort of flight simulators, an area for laser tag involving inflated obstacles, an awful lot of steampunk paraphernalia, and other assorted oddities. Here's a breakdown of my non-commission related observations, activities, and purchases...

Sports: There was MMA training, and practice with padded escrima sticks. It took less than ten minutes to be completely over roller derby. I managed to miss Doomsday Wrestling, and Muggle Quiddich looked lame. Would a radio-controlled Golden Snitch be that difficult to put together?

Authors: I had no intention of getting tied down talking to writers, but after spending eight hours on the floor, I would have been happy for any distraction. However, these guys must have all been wearing tarps of invisibility or been at panels, because I never saw/recognized a single one. I'm not saying I could pick Fred Van Lente out of a line-up though, so there's that. There was a Chris Sims there, but not the blogger, and how sad is it that the latter trumps some cat from Wizards of the Coast in my book?

Cosplay: There was a guy in zombie make-up running around telling puns while carrying a fake heart. I think he was promoting a booth that applied zombie make-up to con-goers. One couple went as mummies wielding axes while swathed head to toe in black with no visible eye holes. The floor must have been at least eighty degrees, so that was heroic. I hit a solid costume contest while I was waiting for a commission. A totally in character Captain America won best male cosplay, Black Widow took best femme, some whacked-out version of the Joker had best villain, and Noir Spider-Man & Kingpin took best group. Personally, I really liked the Dalek, who received some sort of bonus prize. Fella even had some kind of voice box and automated wheels. I tried to get pictures of a Supergirl for Anj, but they all had horrendous red eye, and I missed a Donna Troy. I asked a Green Lantern John Stewart to pose, and that turned out better. I ran into Wonder Woman and Superman later on the con floor, and asked them for a shot under better lighting.

There was a lot of group cosplay. I tend to like the steampunk stuff, but Star Wars is a total snooze, and why are people still hung up on the Ghostbusters? Is it just that you can be authentically overweight in those coveralls? There were also a bunch of cos-vehicles, including an ECHO-1 and the jeep from Jurassic Park.

Comics: I picked up a nice fat stack of 21 random Bronze Age Wonder Woman comics, including all three parts of the "Judgement in Infinity" arc I've wanted to read since it was first advertized in 1982. Scored the first 18 issues of Comico's "Justice Machine." I re-completed my set of "Wild Dog" after a few decades apart, plus 3 out of 4 "Power Comics" issues (reprints from an African publisher of work by Bolland & Gibbons.) Filled in some "Blue Devil" gaps, caught the '80s Goodwin/Simonson "Manhunter" reprint and "Countdown Special: The Atom." Bought the only three copies of "Amazing Heroes" I could find, a set of the "Roots of the Swamp Thing" mini-series and a few odds and ends. I paid no more than a quarter for each, and most were 5 for $1.00.

Artists: Arthur Suydam had an expansive booth full of poster sized prints. There were a good deal of zombies. I'm glad that's working out for him. Larry Elmore worked off a modest table with his own prints across the way. Dirk Strangely had a ridiculously tall booth that I avoided as best I could. I don't get the appeal, especially after twenty years of Tim Burton crap.

Publishers: In the eight years I ran my shops, I never had much luck selling stuff like Hate or A Distant Soil, despite some effort. I'm sure Bedrock City Comics Company manages to move some units, but I've never found Houston to me very responsive to books published outside Diamond's Premier section. There were a lot of bored people manning indie booths, and I passed them often collecting commissions, so I really had to keep my "homeless people" eye aversions rapid to avoid getting sucked in. Twee and Goth seemed to be a very popular theme. A guy named Jason Poland rocked the former, vaguely reminding me of the Matt Smith Doctor. He managed to wrangle me, so I had to look at his mini-comic and straight up own my lack of interest. In case you're less mean than I am, you can try Robbie and Bobby here. It's a comic strip about a boy and his robot, which is not a selling point to a grinch. I never spotted him at the con, but one small press publisher was an irregular at one of my shops. He used to work as a bouncer, and once shattered a '90s plastic glow-in-the-dark Green Lantern ring on some unruly guy's face.

Celebrities: I could care less about autographs, and I find the prospect of forced small talk with minor celebrities extremely off-putting. Still, it's kind of neat to breath the same air as famous people, so whenever I passed that way, I'd cast a glance toward the signing booths way in the back of the show floor. I don't know who Dan Braverman is, but I saw him wandering around the grounds once or twice. James Hampton is a con regular, so for the second year in a row, I gazed at him for a few seconds from 100+ feet away as he signed some dude's glossy photo. I think Peter Mayhew was the only Star Wars guy that showed, but I didn't actually lay eyes on him. I've seen him once or twice at other cons, and a guy that big is tough to miss. I heard someone say he had some kind of debilitating fall or something. I also never saw Sean Maher, but I got a good look at Sam Trammell. He's a smallish guy, but just as handsome in real life as on TV. A big deal was made over Edward James Olmos, but I missed him entirely. Some girls were giggling over their Devon Murray pictures, but my girlfriend's being a Harry Potter fanatic (damn you ABC Family weekend marathons) just made me want to run the other way. Marina Sirtis is holding up well, and seemed very affectionate with her fans, standing up and shaking hands. I overheard folks saying nice things about Tony Todd as well, but there was only so close I wanted to get to Candyman.

Film: There were a lot of no-budget horror filmmakers hocking their wares, with one in particular creating a micro haunted house on the con floor that provided enough shade to allow for a decent screening. They had a number of cosplayers around, including a blond girl in the Halle Berry Catwoman costume. For some reason I was constantly crossing that chick's path. I'm sorry, but I'm Team Pfeiffer, so that get-up bugged me.

By mid-my-day I was tired enough to eavesdrop on a group conversation involving an angry organizer in the blessedly air-conditioned lounge area. She was dealing with one director who kept stealing her personal audio equipment, which was preventing bands from playing, because the idiot filmmaker insisted it was better for screening his flick to twelve guys in attendance... Yes, even though there was better equipment available, optimized for clarity over projection, perfect for a film in a small room. Plus, he'd sent her a bunch of threatening text messages, so she was trying to track him down for a confrontation, but he kept hiding from her. Con drama is so much more fun when you're not remotely involved. Plus, no loading longboxes of unsold comics into a van. There were some anime people, but if it doesn't involve schoolgirl outfits and untoward tentacles, I really don't care.

Music: Passed on all of them, including Adam WarRock and some American J-Pop, which given the last sentence of the previous paragraph, was probably best for everyone. Plus, I heard they were having sound problems...


Anonymous said...

Did you dress up as anyone?

Diabolu Frank said...

Yeah, my father. I'm too fat to fit in my old clothes from before school, so he bought me three new shirts of a style very much his and not mine. Still, I didn't look like a regular comic geek, which is what I always shoot for at these things. I'll save my comic shirts for being around normal people, so as not to belabor the obvious while amongst my tribesmen.

LissBirds said...

Crowded and 80-degrees doesn't sound like too much fun. The more I think about it, the less fun cons sound.

Are zombies still popular? I thought that had kinda died down. (Wow, I just realized that's a pun. A really, really bad one.)

I have no idea who any of those celebrities are except Peter Mayhew and Marina Sirtis. Is she not well or something? I just saw she's going to be the voice of Queen Bee in Young Justice. I love it when disparate nerd universe connect in random ways.

Diabolu Frank said...

Sorry Liss, but that was just a case of rude dude evaluation. "Holding up" just means Sirtis is still attractive at 56. James Hampton was the dad in the first "Teen Wolf" movie. Sean Maher was the doctor on "Firefly/Serenity." Sam Trammell plays Sam the were-hound on "True Blood." Edward James Olmos is a major Latino star of the last thirty years, but may be best knows as Adama from the "Battlestar: Galactica" reboot.

Cons are an experience. It really helps if a) you love haggling over back issues/toys/etc; b) you dig low grade celebrities enough to pay $20-40 for an autograph, c) you enjoy panel discussions, or d) you can appreciate the surreality on a sociological level. As a native Texan, eighty degrees isn't that big a deal, especially when you can leave the showroom to cooler areas like the lounge and panel rooms. I pity the guys trapped at booths to sweat quietly though, or relying on lunches involving $8 slices of pizza and $6 hotdogs. I must say I preferred the hallway artist's alley from last year, as it was more temperate and easily navigable. The halls are something like 50+ feet across, so there was plenty of room.

LissBirds said...

LOL. I see. After I read your post I Googled her to see if something happened to her, and I saw a picture of her and my first reaction was, "Wow, she got old." Irony!

Well, I guess it would be fun on some level to see all those people dressed up, though it always strikes me as kind of awkward.

Did you get any sketches while you were there, or do you have to wait for them to be mailed? I remember you mentioning sketches a little while back.

Diabolu Frank said...

I've got about seven weeks of school to get covered with blog material before the schedule drowns me completely, and six weeks of posts covering my commissions about ready roll. Tuesday should be post #1.