NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay to Debut at New York Comic Con 2014

NYCC cosplay

Press Release:

NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay to Debut at New York Comic Con 2014

First Stop in “Quest for the Crown” Cosplay Competition Circuit to Play Out at NYCC and Lay Foundation for Search to Find Best Cosplayer on the Planet.

New York – August 25, 2014 – Today, ReedPOP, the world’s leading producer of pop culture events, announces the debut of a new Cosplay championship at this year’s New York Comic Con (NYCC). The inaugural NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay will be the biggest and most prestigious costume contest on the East Coast and will serve as the first stop in the “Quest for the Crown,” a new Cosplay competition circuit that celebrates the very best in Cosplay design from all over the world.

Cosplay veterans, former champions and amateurs alike will battle it out for a shot at the NYCC Eastern Championship Crown and over $10,000 in cash and prizes. The Eastern Champion of Cosplay will represent the East Coast in the C2E2 Crown Championships of Cosplay in Chicago in April 2015, the final round in the Quest for the Crown competition. Thousands of NYCC fans will watch in person and millions of people around the world will tune in via the New York Comic Con live stream to witness the spectacle and pageantry of this fun-filled competition celebrating the best Cosplayers the East Coast has to offer — entries spanning the worlds of comics, movies, television, video games, anime, manga, science fiction and fantasy!

“The Crown Championships of Cosplay began in Chicago last year, and we’re excited to now introduce this new leg of our Cosplay tournament here,” said Lance Fensterman, Global Senior Vice President of ReedPOP.  “We love the evolution and growth of our contests — we’ve seen the best Chicago has to offer, and we look forward to expanding this now to reward the passion, dedication and craftsmanship of Cosplayers around America… and ultimately the planet.”

The Crown Championships of Cosplay debuted at ReedPOP’s Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo earlier this year, and New York Comic Con represents the kick-off of a larger Quest for the Crown competition that will span multiple events, all leading up to a final again set in ReedPOP’s C2E2.  ReedPOP, with over 15 events around the globe, looks forward to setting up additional stops in the Quest for the Crown from the US to Australia, creating a new, worldwide platform to showcase the Cosplay community.

NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay Prizes will include:

First Place/Best in Show

  • Two VIP Tickets for C2E2 2015
  • $1,500 Cash
  • Airfare – within the continental US to C2E2 2015
  • Hotel for two nights in Chicago for C2E2 2015
  • Automatic Entry into the final round of the Crown Championships of Cosplay at C2E2
  • $100 Gift Card to ReedPOP Supply Co.

Second Place

  • Two VIP Tickets for NYCC 2015
  • $1,000 Cash
  • $50 Gift Card for ReedPOP Supply Co.

Third Place

  • Two 4-Day Tickets for NYCC 2015
  • $500 Cash
  • $25 Gift Card to ReedPOP Supply Co.

Fans can register here for the NYCC Eastern Championships of Cosplay, starting today. All submissions must be in by 11:59 PM EDT on Friday, September 19.

About ReedPOP
ReedPOP is a boutique group within Reed Exhibitions, which is exclusively devoted to organizing events, launching and acquiring new shows and partnering with premium brands in the pop culture arena. ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans. The ReedPOP portfolio includes: New York Comic Con (NYCC), Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Prime, East and South, Star Wars Celebration, and the UFC Fan Expo. In 2013, ReedPOP added Star Wars Celebration Europe and PAX Australia to its rapidly expanding portfolio of international events. The staff at ReedPOP is a fan based group of professionals producing shows for other fans, thus making them uniquely qualified to service those with whom they share a common passion.  ReedPOP is focused on bringing its expertise and knowledge to world communities in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Australia and the Asia/Pacific. (www.reedpop.com)

ESL ONE Dota 2 Tournament Part of ReedPop’s New York Super Week in October 2014

ESL One

Press Release:

ESL One to make competitive gaming history during New York Super Week this October at Madison Square Garden

(New York) August 13, 2014 – ESL, the world’s largest, independent eSports brand, is proud to announce their next groundbreaking Dota 2 tournament will be held in The Theater at Madison Square Garden October 9-10, serving as the crown jewel of interactive entertainment for ReedPOP‘s inaugural New York Super Week. As the largest in-person competitive gaming event ever held on the East Coast, thousands of video game enthusiasts will watch the top eSports teams in the world compete in the finals of a global Dota 2 tournament. In partnership with Twitch, the world’s leading online video platform and community for gamers, the event will be live broadcast on ESL’s Twitch channel. In addition, joinDOTA will once again join the team as ESL’s coverage partner, providing on-air talent for the show.

Combining the world’s most passionate fans with the innovators of the eSports industry, ESL, Twitch and ReedPOP will present the largest eSports event ever in New York City – and a cornerstone of New York Super Week, a 10 day long festival with over 60 nerdy, geeky, cool pop culture events across all five boroughs of NYC in the lead up to this year’s New York Comic Con!  This prestigious event will feature eight of the top Dota 2 teams in a battle for $100,000. Details about the roster and information about invitees and qualification will be released in the coming weeks.

“By staging this event at the iconic Madison Square Garden, we’re going to see history in the making,” said James Lampkin, Product Manager for ESL One. “ReedPOP, Twitch and ESL are coming together to create something special that New York City has never seen before.”

Lance Fensterman, Global Senior Vice President of ReedPOP added, “ESL and Twitch are helping to make the first ever New York Super Week the ultimate celebration of pop culture in New York City and bring the fan experience to the next level. This is a keystone event in a week filled with amazing programming and will set the bar for future events.”

The event comes off the back of ESL One Frankfurt, which took place on June 28th-29th this year. Competition saw eight teams take to the stage in a World Cup Football stadium (Commerzbank-Arena, Germany) for an event that broke viewership and attendance numbers worldwide. Over 12,500 visitors attended the stadium each day to watch the action unfold live on a 412m2 screen, with an additional peak of over 500,000 concurrent viewers watching the show online.

Twitch has worked with ESL since 2011. Since that time, enthusiasts from over 180 countries have tuned in to watch ESL’s content on Twitch. Twitch recorded a peak of over 280,000 concurrent viewers on a single stream during IEM Cologne in 2013. This was broken only a few months later during the IEM Katowice 2014, when the concurrent viewership in the Western world peaked at 643,000 across all games at the event.

“eSports are not only rivaling traditional sporting events, they’re eclipsing them, especially when it comes to the live online viewership numbers on Twitch,” said Kevin Lin, COO, Twitch. “In partnership with ReedPOP and ESL, we’re bringing to the US more of what the audience wants – big events at historical venues. This ESL One milestone-setting Madison Square Garden event is testament to the future of the eSports industry.”

To find out more about the tournament, visit http://www.esl-one.com. You can also learn more about the qualifiers by following @ESL on Twitter.

About ESL - The world’s largest, independent eSports brand, leading the industry across various games with numerous online and offline competitions. This includes high profile international and national leagues and tournaments such as the Intel® Extreme Masters, ESL One, ESL Pro Series, Starcraft® II World Championship Series, as well as grassroots amateur cups, leagues and matchmaking systems. ESL covers a broad field of services in gaming technology, event management, advertising and TV production, fully catering to the needs of the eSport’s ecosystem. With offices in Germany, Russia, France, Poland, Spain, China and North America, it has a true global footprint. www.eslgaming.com

About ESL One - In ESL One, teams and players from all over the world compete in an eSports tournament unlike any other. Featuring the games Dota 2, Counter-Strike Global Offensive and Battlefield 4, ESL One gives out hundreds of thousands in prize money every year. With events taking place in sports stadiums all over the world, it puts the players in front of enthusiastic audiences, cheering them on in their attempt to secure the one trophy and the glory that comes with it. www.esl-one.com

About TwitchTwitch is the world’s leading video platform and community for gamers where more than 55 million gather every month to broadcast, watch and talk about video games. Twitch’s video platform is the backbone of both live and on-demand distribution for the entire video game ecosystem. This includes game developers, publishers, media outlets, events, user generated content, and the entire eSports scene. In February 2014, Wall Street Journal ranked Twitch as the 4th largest website in terms of peak internet traffic in the U.S., fortifying the brand as an entertainment industry leader and the epicenter of social video for gamers. For more information visit: www.twitch.tv.

About Dota 2® - Dota 2®, released in 2013, is an Action RTS (Real Time Strategy) game from developer, Valve Software. Acting as a stand-alone sequel to Defense of the Ancients, the computer game combines action and strategy in an exciting fantasy world. Players pick from a pool of over a hundred heroes, forming two teams of five players. Actively played by millions of individuals, the game continues to grow and excite the gaming community.

About ReedPOPReedPOP is a boutique group within Reed Exhibitions, which is exclusively devoted to organizing events, launching and acquiring new shows, and partnering with premium brands in the pop culture arena. ReedPOP is dedicated to producing celebrations of popular culture throughout the world that transcend ordinary events by providing unique access and dynamic personal experiences for consumers and fans. The ReedPOP portfolio includes: New York Comic Con (NYCC), Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2), Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) Prime, East, South and Australia, Star Wars Celebration, Special Edition: NYC, Oz Comic-Con, BookCon and the UFC Fan Expo. In 2013, ReedPOP (has) added Star Wars Celebration Europe and PAX Australia to its rapidly expanding portfolio of international events. The staff at ReedPOP is a fan based group of professionals producing shows for other fans, thus making them uniquely qualified to service those with whom they share a common passion. ReedPOP is focused on bringing its expertise and knowledge to world communities in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia/Pacific (including Australia). (www.reedpop.com)

Scene and Reviewed: Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series

Transformers Cybertron

Transformers Cybertron: The Complete Series! Relive the Adventures of This Classic Animated TV Series in One Complete Set! Own This Collectible 7-DVD Set on August 5 2014 from Shout! Factory.

I have to admit, I was eagerly awaiting this series release from Shout! Factory. After reviewing the Armada and Energon series, the completionist in me was actually excited to see the arrival of this Transformers collection. Here is the scoop on Cybertron:

“This summer, relive some of the most astonishing classic action battles of ROBOTS IN DISGUISE and complete your home entertainment collection of the rare UNICRON Trilogy. In 2005, TRANSFORMERS fans were introduced to the animated series TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON, the third installment of the rare UNICRON Trilogy–consisting of ARMADA, ENERGON and CYBERTRON. UNICRON has been defeated, but his destruction has created a black hole, which is threatening the AUTOBOTS’ home world of CYBERTRON. It’s up to OPTIMUS PRIME, his team of AUTOBOTS and their new human friends–Coby, Lori and Bud–to secure the four mystical Cyber Planet Keys, in order to destroy the black hole. Unfortunately, MEGATRON and the DECEPTICONS are always lurking. And if the Cyber Planet Keys fall into their hands, it could mean the end of life as we know it. The race is on!”

As I said of the Energon series, “None of the Transformers series have ever been perfect. It’s all in what you choose to take away from the experience.” That same philosophy applies when watching the Cybertron series. The CGI was on par with, if not slightly better than, its predecessor. I wish that they had developed the animation a little more, rather than reusing some of the same footage over and over for many of the transformation and fight sequences. But that is easily forgivable. Remember, He-Man was practically the same shots in every episode. If they can get away with it, so can the Transformers. But I digress. The English dubbing was greatly improved over previous efforts. I guess after the harsh criticisms that were received for the shortcomings of Armada and Energon, a little extra care was taken this go round. The noticeable efforts paid off.

As for the plot….meh. I mean, it’s the Transformers. I wasn’t wholly enthralled by the story lines of the previous two series, so why should this one be any different? It takes a few episodes for the story to really pick up. Then mid-series, Cybertron becomes somewhat repetitive with the racing (fans of the show will know what I’m talking about). Eventually, they get back on board with the original plot and the pace of the series really gains momentum. It’s always fun to see fan favorites like Starscream, Galvatron and Wing Saber in action. And, who doesn’t love it when Optimus Prime yells “Roll Out” to the Autobots?

All in all, Transformers Cybertron was exactly what you’d expect from a Transformers series. The show improved with each installment of the trilogy. Cybertron was a fun way to close out the Unicron epoch. Shout! Factory did a wonderful job putting these series together in a DVD collection any fan will enjoy. The Unicron series is a great way to introduce younger children to the wonderment that is the Transformers. All three installments have been reasonably priced and are an affordable way to expand your Transformers collection. Reviewing all three series has indeed been entertaining. Honestly, I would rather watch the Transformers Cybertron series over any of the Michael Bay films.

“On August 5, 2014, Shout! Factory, in collaboration with Hasbro Studios, will release TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON: THE COMPLETE SERIES, featuring all action-packed episodes collected in one deluxe 7-DVD box set. Whether reliving the childhood memory or discovering this series for the first time, this is an essential home collection for every fan, collectors and entire family to complete their TRANSFORMERS home entertainment library. This complete series 7-DVD set is priced to own at $44.99 SRP.”

About Hasbro Studios:

Hasbro Studios is the Los Angeles-based entertainment division of Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS). The studio is responsible for entertainment brand-driven storytelling for the company across television, film, commercial productions and short-form. It develops, produces and distributes TV shows based on Hasbro’s world class brands, including TRANSFORMERS, MY LITTLE PONY, LITTLEST PET SHOP, and FAMILY GAME NIGHT. Many of these shows air on the Hub Network, a U.S. television network for kids and their families, that is a joint venture between Hasbro and Discovery Communications (NASDAQ: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK). Hasbro Studios shows can also be seen on networks in more than 180 territories globally. Since its formation in 2009, the studio has received seven Daytime Emmy wins and 16 nominations. On the film side, the studio is developing and producing a number of features based on Hasbro’s brands, including TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION (Paramount), G.I. Joe 3 (Paramount) and CANDY LAND (Sony). The studio team also oversees the production of commercials that feature Hasbro’s brands as well as production of short-form content that can be seen on all of the major digital and social media platforms globally.

About Shout! Factory:

Shout! Factory, LLC is a diversified multi-platform entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering, preserving and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their entire careers sharing their music, television and film favorites with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD and Blue-Ray offerings serve up feature films, classic and contemporary TV series, animation, live music, and comedy specials in lavish packages crammed with extras. Shout’s audio division boasts GRAMMY nominated “best of” compilations. In addition, Shout! Factory maintains a vast digital distribution network which delivers video and audio content to all the leading digital service providers in North America. Shout! Factory also owns and operates Timeless Media Group, Biograph Records, Majordomo Records, HighTone Records and Video Time Machine. These riches are the result of a creative acquisition mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California.

Salute to Supernatural DC 2014 Con Report!

SPN_DCcon_WBP_013

A special look inside Creation Entertainment’s Salute to Supernatural DC May 2-4, 2014 Convention.

Creation Entertainment was founded in 1971 by Gary Berman and Adam Malin, two youths with a shared vision of “traveling” fan conventions. Producing “live, interactive” shows, Creation Entertainment soon cornered the market on Star Trek conventions. Being fans of Sci-Fi, Berman and Malin began producing scores of genre-specific events that showcased individual movies and television series. Their policies are “not to oversell its venues” and “guarantees a seat in the main theatre for all ticket holders to see all guest appearances and attractions.” Having only ever attended conventions that sell until the Fire Marshall arrives and institutes the one-out-one-in policy, I couldn’t wrap my head around how this could work. I’m used to large convention centers, massive halls and ballrooms lined with tables of celebrities signing autograph after autograph. Even if you purchased your tickets in advance, you could spend an entire weekend standing in line and risk missing celebrity panels and photo-ops. Surely, an entire convention devoted to the CW series Supernatural, which is coming into its 10th season, couldn’t be confined to seats in a singular theatre, could it?

When I interviewed Barry Bostwick in March of 2014, he had this to say about Supernatural, “That show [Supernatural] has such a fan base! We were at a convention once where there was a whole panel of just people from Supernatural; people who maybe only did it twice. And the audience was rabid. I mean RABID. It was amazing!(Bostwick appeared in a single episode of Supernatural). I have to be honest; I half-expected this weekend to be a hot mess. I was never more excited to be proven wrong!

The convention was held at the Double Tree by Hilton hotel in Crystal City, Arlington, VA, which is basically Washington DC. I should mention that an announcement was made that this was to be their first and only show in the DC area. Climate control was a major issue, with some areas too hot to breathe and other areas too cold. This, however, is a venue issue and not a convention issue. But since it was the only complaint I heard from attendees, I felt the need to mention it. We visited the vendor room downstairs first. I’d come to expect a sea of small store fronts. Surprisingly, there were less than a dozen vendors to shop with. Save for a handful of tables with handmade jewelry and vinyl stickers, the majority of the items for sale were top quality, officially licensed Supernatural products. What are we supposed to do during “down time” if we don’t have 100 booths of fan junk to sift through each day? The big laugh here is that I actually thought there would be “down time” at this show.

We returned to the lobby where the main stage theatre was located. The lines at the registration and photo-op ticketing tables were moving along in a timely manner. Volunteers at the theatre door were checking wristbands and credentials, guiding fans to their designated seats. With your ticket purchase, you are assigned a specific seat for the entire weekend. This meant you didn’t have to worry about lines, since you already knew where your seat would be. We took our place alongside the videographer, one of the many friendly volunteers at the show. Her name was Rachael Augsburger and she’s been volunteering exclusively with Creation Entertainment for 4 years. “It’s always so much fun,” she said. “No other show is put together like this. And I love meeting all the guests who visit us from so far away. We’ve had people from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom.” As we chatted, I watched throngs of fans file into the room. No one was rushing around. No one was pushing to get closer to the stage. In a virtual sea of plaid-flannel and tan-Trenchcoats, fans were courteous and pleasant. I’d never seen anything like it. Adam Malin took the stage to make a few quick announcements. And then, the stars of the show literally took over the convention.

Dressed in patriotic garb, the house band entered the theatre in a military style march. They called themselves the Elastic Waste Band, but are professionally known as Louden Swain. The band is fronted by Supernatural cast member, Rob Benedict (Chuck), who adopted the stage name “Tango“. The band rocked from open until close each day of the convention, alternating between classic rock songs and original material. They were quickly joined by cast member, Richard Speight, Jr. (Gabriel/Trickster) who was our emcee for the weekend, and who described the long theatre room as being, “Like Jared [Padalecki] laying down; it keeps going and going and ends up in a pile of hair.” Speight and Benedict controlled the rhythm and pacing of the panels, both literally and figuratively, keeping the events as close to the program schedule as possible. For two cast members that had never worked together on the show, their friendship and quick-witted rapport was contagious. I am of the opinion that they should have their own late night talk show. That, or they should host every convention, every where. Forever.

Beyond being called out for photograph and autograph sessions, and perhaps the occasional visit to the lavatory, there was no need to leave the theatre. The momentum never ceased to build. Stars would come in and share in a mutually entertaining hour with the fans. There was a microphone set up at both stage left and right where fans could line the walls and wait their turn to talk to the stars. As each celebrity appearance ended, that guest would journey to another room in the hotel for private meet and greets, autograph sessions and photo-ops. But as I said, there was no “down time”. The time between guest appearances was filled with activities within the theatre such as trivia contests, a costume contest, a no-minimum-bid auction, music videos (made by fans), and a tribute to the “Angels, Demons and Other Creatures of Supernatural”. The entire weekend was one of perpetual motion. By the time I went to bed Friday night, I was physically exhausted! Kudos to Rob Benedict, by the way, for his energy, commitment and devotion to the fans and the show. Benedict suffered a stroke at last year’s Toronto Con. But he was back and in top form, outlasting the Energizer Bunny. Truly inspirational!

Benedict wasn’t the only heart-warming aspect of the show. Rachel Miner (Meg) made a late evening appearance on Sunday. Miner, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, was an example of strength in the face of adversity; a definite highlight for Supernatural fans. Over the weekend, various items were auctioned off with the proceeds going to an MS charity in her honor. Two things I love: shopping and philanthropy. I donated $70 and came away with quite a haul. Creation Entertainment also donates a table at every show to Random Acts, a non-profit organization started by cast member, Misha Collins (Castiel). Random Acts collects monetary and tangible donations at every event and donates them to a local charity in that particular city. This show’s donations went to support a local food bank in the DC area. On Saturday, Collins did a live, one-hour event through Stageit, broadcasting from the convention over the internet. Collins screened two the short films from his TSA America: Level Orange series, while fans in the audience and worldwide logged in to Stageit and made donations to help fund Random Acts. “Small sacrifices in your life can help other people’s lives in a big way,” said Collins. The selfless generosity displayed that day was overwhelming.

As Bostwick teased, Supernatural fans are rabid. As with any fandom, there will always be a contingency of people who take such possessive ownership over their beloved characters, that they tend to ruin it for everyone else. Those people are the reason the stars must find a working balance between connecting with the fans and maintaining a healthy distance. Thankfully, the majority of fans bond over their shared love, some returning time and again, following Creation Entertainment shows like rock concerts. For Alex Harbet, 20, this was her fourth time at one of their shows. “I prefer these conventions to other ones, especially the way they run the photo-ops. You actually get quality time with the stars. This is just awesome.” Cassandra Martin, a first time attendee, had a lot to say about her experience. “All of the volunteers are very kind. The photographer, Chris, is amazing and never takes a bad picture. This whole weekend has been very personalized. The lines move quickly, but when you are up there getting autographs or pictures, you never feel like you are being rushed. You definitely get your money’s worth.” Martin and her friend lost over a $1,000 in photo and autograph tickets and lost all hope for the weekend. The staff of volunteers quickly rallied, making announcements and getting other guests involved. Their tickets were recovered. “They were so helpful in resolving that. I haven’t had a bad experience yet.”

It helps that so many of the volunteers have been with Creation Entertainment for years. Johanna Burris first attended one of their Twilight conventions 4 years ago. “It stuck,” she told us. “I knew I had to volunteer with them. Everyone here is like family. I have met friends I wouldn’t have otherwise, who will be with me forever.” We spoke with volunteers and staff who had been with the company from 3 to 23 years, completely dedicated to their business model and willing to travel around the c0untry to assist with productions. For this show, volunteers suggested the idea of utilizing a designated hashtag for fans to use, then broadcasting their Twitter and Instagram posts on the screens in the theatre all weekend long. The interactive nature of the convention pleased a lot of fans.

Personal highlights for me included:

Osric Chau (Kevin) appeared dressed in fellow character Dean Winchester’s Ren Faire inspired costume, reciting the famous speech from the film, Braveheart. “When I said I would cosplay at every single con, I just…I forgot how many there were!”

Gil McKinney (Henry Winchester) making his first Supernatural convention appearance, seemed slightly overwhelmed, but with his sense of humor and charm, he quickly adapted. “Years ago, I actually auditioned for the role of Sam Winchester. So, when they called me about the role of Henry, I was surprised. I mean, I didn’t even know the show was still on the air,” he laughed with the crowd.

Sebastian Roche (Balthazar) commanded the theatre like a bona fide rock star. Though he answered only 3 fan questions in an hour, they didn’t seem to mind. For Roche spent the majority of that time singing, dancing, running through the audience, and being his naughty, flirtatious self.

Mark Sheppard (Crowley) came down from the stage to console a young woman who had broken down in tears at the microphone. He also proceeded to erupt Misha Collins in a fit of laughter over a story about the Wind in the Willows, leaving Collins unable to speak.

Chad Lindberg (Ash) spent the majority of his time on stage regaling the crowd with tales from his own ghost-hunting experiences, even using a “ghost box” on stage to try and summon spirits to communicate within the theatre.

Cast members pranked Matt Cohen (John Winchester), Benedict, and Speight during their panel. Unbeknownst to them, a message was displayed across the  screens that faced the audience that read “Jacques E. Normus Please remove your package from the registration table.” That’s how it was for most of the weekend. This family of actors laughed, talked, sang and played with one another just as you’d expect a real family would.

The costume contest on Saturday had, from my best guess, around 200 contestants. They paid tribute to the obvious and the more subtle only-a-true-fan-would-know-this aspects of the series. A separate judging was held of approximately 30 dressed as Castiel. Those fans were judged by the angel himself, Misha Collins. On Friday night, guests were treated to an 80s themed Karaoke party, where fans had the opportunity to sing on stage with their favorite stars. On Saturday night, the cast held a special Cabaret, or as Collins put it, “…a bad talent show.” The cast members sang a variety of songs, some solo, others duet and in groups, showcasing their talents beyond hunting demons. McKinney, who was a voice major, stole the show (and ruined a lot of women) when he sang John Legend’s hit, All of Me.

Of course, a Supernatural weekend wouldn’t be complete without the Winchester brothers, themselves, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The pair attended an exclusive breakfast with fans, then for one sweet hour, they took to the theatre stage, thrilling fans and answering questions. I would imagine seeing them years ago at a convention was a wholly different experience. But, as a parent, I found their honesty refreshing. Ackles and Padalecki admitted to being tired and sleep deprived, and they seemed most genuine when telling stories about their children. Both men were taken aback when a fan thanked Ackles for “saving my life“. She had heard him tell a story about losing a friend, some years back, and it moved her. She has since been sober for 8 years and through streams of tears, wanted to present Ackles with her sobriety chip. Ackles was hesitant, reminding her of the significance of the chip, but she assured him it was what she wanted. Ackles reluctantly and emotionally accepted it with a hug. From there, they humbly told the audience of how they feel about the impact of what they do, on their fans. Said Ackles, “We may not be curing cancer. But we sure may be helping someone who has it.”

Over all, the entire weekend was nothing at all like I’d expected it to be. The pacing was smooth enough that hours could go by and I’d completely forget that I’d been in the same theatre all day. There was constantly something more to see and do. Of course, there were a number of technical difficulties with regards to multi-media and lighting, but you’ll have that any show from time to time. There was some time lost due to seating confusion during the Cabaret, but that was mostly because once the fans had taken their seats, the stars encouraged them to all move forward, closer to the stage. Officials quickly had them retract and send everyone back to their designated seats. Aside from that, I honestly did not hear a single complaint from any of the fans (and you’d best believe I do my share of eavesdropping in order to hear what people really think). The volunteers were knowledgeable, committed and friendly. Again, the element of the house band and emcee was absolutely wonderful and, in my opinion, a necessity that should be considered by all conventions. The idea of having an emcee, yet no moderator during the panels was somewhat risky, as stars can become “trapped” by a fan’s question and momentum can be lost, denying opportunities to other fans who are patiently waiting their turn. Conversely, the absence of a moderator allowed each star to speak freely and plainly with the fans and “shoot from the hip” rather than dole out stock answers to the same tired questions posed interview after interview at other conventions. This show was completely unstructured in a structured way; controlled chaos, if you will. And that environment suits Supernatural very well.

Creation Entertainment truly and pleasantly surprised me with the level of intimacy and element of fun with regards to the atmosphere of their Supernatural convention. According to Speight, “All four leads [Ackles, Padalecki, Sheppard, Collins] have signed on to do one year of conventions worldwide, so that all of the fans would know when and where they’d be and could plan to meet them. That’s rare for a TV show cast.” Indeed. Rarer still, is the ability of a cast nearly 10 years later, to have this much fun spending time together. I only wish we’d had as much time with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as we did Misha Collins throughout the weekend.

Thank you, Creation Entertainment, for allowing us the opportunity to be a part of your Salute to Supernatural DC. It was an exciting weekend filled with laughter, good deeds and quality “entertainment”. I would highly recommend your conventions to any fan eager for a unique experience!

To see a full schedule of Creation Entertainment’s upcoming fan conventions, visit creationent.com

Supernatural airs on the CW Network. Check your local listings.

Misha Collins judges the 'Castiel' cosplayers at DCcon.

Misha Collins judges the ‘Castiel’ cosplayers at DCcon.

 

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles share a laugh at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles share a laugh at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles speak to fans at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles speak to fans at DCcon.

One lucky fan donated enough funds to Random Acts to literally win the shirt off Matt Cohen's back at DCcon.

One lucky fan donated enough funds to Random Acts to literally win the shirt off Matt Cohen’s back at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles at DCcon.

Misha Collins addresses crowd during live Stageit fundraiser at DCcon.

Misha Collins addresses crowd during live Stageit fundraiser at DCcon.

Sebastian Roche working the crowd at DCcon.

Sebastian Roche working the crowd at DCcon.

Osric Chau dressed as Jensen Ackles at DCcon.

Osric Chau dressed as Jensen Ackles at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki, Richard Speight Jr. and Jensen Ackles sing 'The Boys Are Back in Town' with Louden Swain at DCcon.

Jared Padalecki, Richard Speight Jr. and Jensen Ackles sing ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’ with Louden Swain at DCcon.

Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins at DCcon.

Mark Sheppard and Misha Collins at DCcon.

Gil McKinney and Sebastian Roche sing with Louden Swain at DCcon.

Gil McKinney and Sebastian Roche sing with Louden Swain at DCcon.

Misha Collins answers my question during DCcon.

Misha Collins answers my question during DCcon.

Rob Benedict and Louden Swain at DCcon.

Rob Benedict and Louden Swain at DCcon.

Misha Collins speaks to fans at DCcon.

Misha Collins speaks to fans at DCcon.

Charlotte Comicon Spring 2014 Con Report!

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For 12 years, Rick Fortenberry and Dave Hinson (of Dave’s Comics in Fort Mill, SC) have been delighting Charlotte area comic book collectors with their Charlotte Comicon. The show is held three times a year–in April, August and December–and never fails to entertain. I suppose this would be a good time to mention that I have been involved with this show in both a volunteer and working capacity for a couple of years now. But, I promise not to let personal feelings get in the way of an honest convention report.

The Charlotte Comicon averages between 1,100-2,000 visitors per show, with ages ranging from toddler to senior citizen. Most of them are die hard comic collectors, as this show is predominantly a ‘trade show’. With 35 vendors and 24 special guests (artists, authors, and so forth) at their April 13, 2014 show, there were plenty of treasures to be found. I have seen this show grow exponentially in recent years, even causing them to change venues to their current home at the Crown Plaza Executive Park Hotel.

One aspect of the show that has continued to expand is the Cosplay participation. Years ago, the number of attendees in costume was less than 100. Now, hundreds show up at Charlotte Comicon dressed not only as their favorite comic book characters, but recognizable characters from movies, television, novels, anime, manga, and more. This year’s spring show had 164 contestants just  for their costume contest! I do not envy the job of the judges, whatsoever. There were multiple age divisions for competition and Honorable Mention awards given out as well. Winners from each division were given cash prizes that they could spend in the dealer room. The costume contest is one of the bigger draws for the younger crowd that attends each show.

Seeking to connect with their cosplay fan base, Fortenberry and Hinson arranged for a special Secrets of Cosplay panel. The hour-long panel featured professional cosplayers DJ Spider, Amberle Linnea, Todd Lacey, Eve Madison and ‘The Clown Prince of Charlotte’ Victor Goldberg. Each panelist addressed specific topics such as the politics of cosplay, construction tips, and staying in character. It was standing room only in the ballroom that housed the panel, as the audience hung on their every word. Some went so far as to take notes during the panel and many hands went up when it was time for the Q & A segment. I know a lot of the familiar faces who attend the Charlotte Comicon regularly came away from that session eager to put their knowledge to use. The level of costumes at the summer show should be extraordinary.

Another new addition to the spring show was the Tribute to Charlton Comics panel, featuring Michael Eury (Editor-in-Chief Back Issue Magazine), Dan Johnson (Comics Historian) and Fester Faceplant (Artist, Writer). This hour-long panel with Q & A gave a unique history of Charlton Comics, 1946-1985, and the original characters that ended up being acquired and re-imagined by the likes of DC Comics. I admit, I knew nothing going into this panel, but by the end was fascinated with the industry and the backstory of the likes of The Watchmen. The Charlton Arrow #1 was being sold in limited quantities after the panel. Charlton Arrow is a limited edition collection of stories by Charlton veterans as well as contributors from DC Comics, Marvel and  Archie. This historical look at the world of comics was enough to make me hungry for more. I hope that Charlotte Comicon will continue to include such panels.

All in all, Charlotte Comicon is exactly what they claim to be: a family-friendly show. For six hours and $5.00 (free if you are in costume or under the age of 12) you can enjoy a day meeting authors, watching artists paint and draw bringing characters to life before your eyes, and take in one of the wackiest costume parades I have ever seen. Here’s where my honesty  kicks in…if you have trouble with tight spaces, you might want to consider that when attending one of their shows. They get more and more crowded each time and maneuverability in the dealer room can be daunting at times, especially if you are wearing a costume. Beyond the tight quarters, I have never had a bad experience at a Charlotte Comicon.

There was a big announcement made at the spring show, however, that should alleviate some of the traffic. Fortenberry and Hinson will be adding a third ballroom for the remainder of the 2014 shows. This additional room will house a Toy Show, with vendors and collectibles as far as the eye can see. With comics in one room, toys and collectibles in another, and cosplay/panels in yet another room, even if their attendance doubles as a result, it shouldn’t feel crowded and will remain a fun and affordable outing for families. I’m looking forward to watching this little show grow and grow. Who knows? Perhaps in the near future it could end up being a full weekend? Until then, I don’t think Charlotte Comicon or its fans have anything to worry about.

The next show will be held from 10am to 4pm on August 3, 2014. Information can be found at charlottecomicon.com

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Michael Eury, Dan Johnson and Fester Faceplant lead the Tribute to Charlton Comics Panel.

Michael Eury, Dan Johnson and Fester Faceplant lead the Tribute to Charlton Comics Panel.

DJ Spider, Amberle Linnea, Todd Lacey, Eve Madison and Victor Goldberg lead the Secrets of Cosplay Panel.

DJ Spider, Amberle Linnea, Todd Lacey, Eve Madison and Victor Goldberg lead the Secrets of Cosplay Panel.

Valiant Announces VALIANT FIRST Exclusives and Programming for C2E2 2014

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Press Release:

VALIANT Announces VALIANT FIRST Exclusives and Programming for C2E2 2014 – With RAI, ARMOR HUNTERS, and More!

From April 25th-27th, Valiant will be unleashing a calvacade of VALIANT FIRST news and exclusives direct from C2E2 2014 – Chicago’s premier comics and pop culture convention!Join Valiant at Booth #317 for a weekend packed with signings from Valiant creators, including artist Clayton Henry (Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong), writer Justin Jordan (Shadowman, X-O Manowar #25), colorist Brian Reber (Unity, X-O Manowar), and more surprise guests! Plus, look for a ton of free giveaways and con-exclusive products, including the RAI #1 Graham Crackers Shared Exclusive Variant by fan favorite artist Kalman Andrasofszky (X-23)!

Limited to 750 copies, get the jump on the hotly anticipated debut title of the VALIANT FIRST publishing initiative with this exclusive, limited edition run of RAI #1 – the FIRST ISSUE of Valiant’s next ongoing series from superstar creators Matt Kindt (Unity, Mind MGMT) and Clayton Crain (Carnage, X-Force)! Arriving in comic shops everywhere on April 30th, discover the astonishing world of the 41st century with the all-new series unlike anything else in comics today! In the far future of 4001 A.D., Japan is a single endless city-state, governed by a benevolent artificial intelligence and policed by one lone enforcer – the mysterious Rai, spirit guardian of the rising sun. But, soon, a single bullet will shatter the peace it has taken 2,000 years to secure…Then, join us on Sunday, April 27th at 2:30 PM in Room #S403 for the VALIANT FIRST: RAI, ARMOR HUNTERS, AND BEYOND panel presentation! The coming of VALIANT FIRST begins at C2E2 with an all-new round of news, announcements, artwork and Q&A about the most in-demand publishing company in comics today. What do you read FIRST? All summer long, Valiant will be rocketing to the top of your read pile with VALIANT FIRST – an all-new initiative unleashing a major #1 issue by some of the most talented creators in comics each month from May onward. With the earth-shaking events of ARMOR HUNTERS – Valiant’s colossal summer crossover event – just weeks away, get the inside track on what happens next for X-O MANOWAR, UNITY, BLOODSHOT, HARBINGER, and more from an all-star panel of Valiant creators and staff, including writer Joe Harris (Armor Hunters: Bloodshot), artist Clayton Henry (Harbinger, Archer & Armstrong), colorist Brian Reber (Unity, X-O Manowar), Executive Editor Warren Simons, and Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani.

For more information, visit Valiant on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr, and at ValiantUniverse.com.

For Valiant merchandise and more, visit ValiantStore.com.

For more information on C2E2, visit C2E2.com.

Anime Midwest 2014 Announces Akinori Isobe and Masumi Kano

April 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Anime, Convention News, Illinois

Press Release:

ANIME MIDWEST ANNOUNCES AKINORI ISOBE AND MASUMI KANO

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Rosemont, Illinois – April 2, 2014 – President of Baby The Stars Shine Bright Akinori Isobe and designer Masumi Kano will be coming to Chicago in July for Anime Midwest. Anime Midwest is a Chicago anime and Japanese culture convention happening July 4-6, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

Established in 1988, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright is a lolita fashion clothing brand founded by Akinori and Fumiyo Isobe in Tokyo, Japan. The sister brand, Alice and the Pirates, was created in 2004. Currently, BABY, the Stars Shine Bright boasts 28 shops across Japan, with flagship stores in both Paris and San Francisco. Akinori Isobe is current President of Baby The Stars Shine Bright.

Masumi Kano graduated from Bunka Women’s University and after graduation she started working for Baby The Stars Shine Bright as a designer.

Anime Midwest and BABY are hosting a Lolita Tea Party, with tickets scheduled to go on sale on April 5th.

The convention will also feature a BABY The Stars Shine Bright fashion show. Model applications, etc, will be available online soon at http://animemidwest.com/baby

More about the anime convention’s guests at http://animemidwest.com/guests

Almost 10,000 anime fans will come to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare from July 4-6, 2014 to take part in cosplay, concerts, gaming tournaments, formal dances, and more. Anime fans can make new friends, meet voice actors, and have a lot of fun. The convention also provides a ConSweet full of free soda and ramen. Pre-registration is encouraged, and can be found at animemidwest.com

Walker Stalker Con Brings Major Celebrities to Boston in June 2014

Walker Stalker Boston

Press Release:

WALKER STALKER CON BRINGS MAJOR CELEBRITIES FROM ZOMBIE, HORROR AND SCI‐FI FILMS AND TV SHOWS TO BOSTON THIS JUNE!

BOSTON, MA – Walker Stalker Con, a zombie and horror themed fan‐centric convention, will be held at The Westin Boston Waterfront in Boston, MA on June 13, 14 & 15, 2014. Fan access to celebrity guests will be the primary focus of this event.

In Atlanta, GA on November 1‐3, 2013, Walker Stalker Con made its debut where it assembled more “The Walking Dead” cast members than any other convention ever before, along with other actors from zombie and horror films. The inaugural event had over 10,500 attendees. In Chicago, IL on March 14‐16, 2014, Walker Stalker Con made its second appearance as a convention and the first Walker Stalker Con of 2014. Now, Walker Stalker Con has set its sights on Boston!

With cast members from “The Walking Dead” returning to the upcoming Boston convention, along with stars from other zombie and horror films, Walker Stalker Con continues to position itself to be particularly unique.

Walker Stalker Con is the fruit of The Walker Stalkers Podcast with James & Eric (www.thewalkerstalkers.com). The podcast began with an amazing trip to Senoia, GA where James & Eric were able to view the set of The Walking Dead and meet the incredible actors from the show. As a result of this experience, a podcast began and then the idea of a convention focused around recreating that same experience with the cast and crew of the show, along with talented actors and artists from other zombie shows, movies and art.

In April 2013, James and Eric decided a podcast wasn’t enough, so they launched a Zombie, Horror and Sci‐Fi themed fan‐centric convention called Walker Stalker Con (www.WalkerStalkerCon.com). “We hope to continue this same kind of access and involvement as we did with our successful convention in Atlanta,” say James Frazier and Eric Nordhoff, hosts of the podcast. “We want fans of TV shows, films and comics in this genre to have a chance to have real interaction with their favorite celebrities – not just a 10 second hand shake and photo opp.”

Walker Stalker Con is not just a convention. It is a fan meet‐up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and became part of a greater community of zombie lovers! Walker Stalker Con is three days of events, panels, and experiences that zombie fans won’t find anywhere else!

Confirmed guests for the convention include (with more to be announced):

Norman Reedus (Daryl, The Walking Dead, Murphy, The Boondock Saints)

Sean Patrick Flanery (Connor, The Boondock Saints)

David Della Rocco (Rocco, The Boondock Saints)

Steven Yeun (Glenn, The Walking Dead)

Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob, The Walking Dead)

Clifton Collins, Jr. (Romeo, The Boondock Saints II)

Alanna Masterson (Tara, The Walking Dead)

Nick Gomez (Tomas, The Walking Dead)

Emma Bell (Amy, The Walking Dead)

Madison Lintz (Sophia, The Walking Dead)

Vincent Ward (Oscar, The Walking Dead)

Travis Love (Shumpert, The Walking Dead)

Addy Miller (Zombie girl, The Walking Dead)

Meyrick Murphy (Meghan, The Walking Dead)

Judith O’Dea (Barbra, Night of the Living Dead)

Russ Streiner (Johnny, Night of the Living Dead)

The full list of guests can be found at http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/boston/guests/
and will be updated daily as guests are announced.

Walker Stalker Con kicks off on Friday, June 13th at noon. The exhibit floor will be open all three days featuring games, toys, comic and other memorabilia for true fans of zombie and horror.

This year, Walker Stalker Con will feature The Boondock Saints 15th Anniversary with a Q&A Panel from the cast and a viewing of the film.

The full event schedule can be found at http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/boston/schedule/.

Tickets for the event start as low as $35 for general admission and can be purchased at http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/boston/tickets/.
For more information, guest announcements and regular updates about Walker Stalker
Con please visit the website http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/boston/.

Follow on Twitter @WalkrStalkrCon, @WSCon_Boston, @Walker_Stalkers
On Facebook at Walker Stalker Convention

William Shatner, Sean Astin, Robert Englund, Etc. Headline Inaugural Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con in May 2014

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Press Release:

William Shatner, Sean Astin, Robert Englund, Manu Bennett, Ralph Macchio Headline Celebrity Guests At Inaugural Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con, May 2-4

Gilbert Gottfried, Dean Cain, James Marsters, Laurie Holden, Michael Rooker, Top Comics Creators At Pop Culture Festival At Minneapolis Convention Center

MINNEAPOLIS, March 11, 2014 – William Shatner (“Star Trek,” “T.J. Hooker”), Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, Rudy), Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Manu Bennett (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Arrow), Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid, My Cousin Vinny), Gilbert Gottfried (Problem Child, Beverly Hills Cop II) and Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “Stars Earn Stripes”) are among the celebrities scheduled to attend the inaugural Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con, May 2-4 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.It is the 6th of 16 events scheduled in the 2014 series produced by Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and will also feature a top-drawer collection of well-known comics artists and writers and a variety of activities, exhibitors and special attractions.

Shatner will appear on Friday and Saturday, May 2-3; Astin will attend on Saturday and Sunday; the others are scheduled for all three days.

Other notables scheduled at press time include Laurie Holden, Jon Bernthal and Michael Rookerof “The Walking Dead,”James Marsters (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “Torchwood”), Jason David Frank (“Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers”), James Hong (Blade Runner, Mulan), Lou Ferrigno (“The Incredible Hulk,” “The King of Queens”), Ian Ziering (“Beverly Hills 90210,” Sharknado) and the Boondock Saints duo of Sean Patrick Flanery and David Della Rocco.

Among the superstar comics creators scheduled to attend are Eisner Award Hall of Famer Neal Adams (“Batman,” “X-Men”), Ethan Van Sciver (“Green Lantern,” “Flash”), Mike Grell (“Green Arrow,” “Warlord”), Bob Layton (“Iron Man,” “Uncanny X-Men”), Barry Kitson (“Thor,” “Spider-Man”) and Kevin Maguire (“Justice League,” “Batman Confidential”), with more talented writers and artists to be announced.

Wizard World Comic Con events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop-fi, pop culture, movies, graphic novels, cosplay, comics, toys, video gaming, television, sci-fi, gaming, original art, collectibles, contests and more. Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con show hours are Friday, May 2, 3-8 p.m.; Saturday, May 3, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

A first-class lineup of topical programming takes place all three days at the event, with celebrity Q&A’s, the Wizard World Film Festival, comics-themed sessions, costume contest, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Sunday, May 4, is also Kids Day, with an array of activities and programming specially designed for the younger Wizard World fans.

Minneapolis Comic Con is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor, often stopping by the Show Stage, the ideal place to see and be seen.

For more on the 2014 Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con, visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-minneapolis.html.

About Wizard World:

Wizard World (OTCBB: WIZD) produces Comic Cons and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate graphic novels, comic books, movies, TV shows, gaming, technology, toys and social networking. The events often feature celebrities from movies and TV, artists and writers, and events such as premieres, gaming tournaments, panels, and costume contests.

The full event schedule can be found at www.wizardworld.com.

Wizard World 2014-15 Schedule
March 28-30 – Wizard World Louisville Comic Con
April 4-6 – Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con
May 2-4 – Wizard World Minneapolis Comic Con
May 30-June 1 – Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con
June 19-22 – Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con
August 1-3 – Wizard World San Antonio Comic Con
August 21-24 – Wizard World Chicago Comic Con
September 12-14 – Wizard World Richmond Comic Con
September 26-28 – Wizard World Nashville Comic Con
October 2-4 – Wizard World Austin Comic Con
October 31-November 2 – Wizard World Ohio Comic Con
November 7-9 – Wizard World Tulsa Comic Con
November 21-23 – Wizard World Reno Comic Con
January 9-11, 2015 – Wizard World New Orleans Comic Con
January 23-25, 2015 – Wizard World Portland Comic Con
June 19-21, 2015 – Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con

 

Mad Monster Party Charlotte 2014 Con Report!

Tom Savini & Katie Bearden. Photo courtesy of Long Walk Productions.

Tom Savini & Katie Bearden. Photo courtesy of Long Walk Productions.

 

The Mad Monster Party returned to Charlotte this weekend, March 21-23, 2014, by far their biggest effort yet. This was the third year for the convention that celebrates everything from old school Twilight Zone to A House of 1,000 Corpses, and everything in between. In fact, where else could you find Leatherface himself, RA Mihailoff reciting the Bard with Shakespeare Carolina, while music legends The Misfits looked on? It was truly a bizarre weekend.

I had the great fortune to be invited by local independent film makers, Long Walk Productions, to hang with them at their vendor booth for the convention. This meant that my time was split between working the Con and also enjoying it from a visitor’s perspective. It’s interesting to see things from both sides of the house, especially if you want a clear impression of what is really going on around you. It’s always a good thing, unless of course you are reviewing a restaurant. In that case, I assure you…stay out of the kitchen.

The Mad Monster Party (MMP) was set up between two large ballrooms at the University Place Hilton in Charlotte. The hotel is situated by a small lake, amongst many shops and restaurants all connected by small footbridge. Parking was a little tricky, but almost always is at events such as these. MMP utilized every bit of space that they could, lining the hallways of the hotel with various vendor booths and installing a gala tent in the parking lot. Everywhere you turned, strange collectibles and stars of the macabre awaited. Upon set up Friday, it seemed as though everything was planned to perfection. Little did I know how busy things were in the lobby with people trying to get through Will Call with their pre-paid ticket receipts.

And then, of course, came Saturday. Saturdays are notorious for being the busiest convention day because that’s when most people are able to attend. It became evident quickly that the volunteer staff was not prepared to handle the situation. Social media began to explode with posts citing excessively long lines and ticketing issues among other things. Television and film star John Schneider, who was there to do a special screening of his new film Smothered, remained positive as he told me, “We had a good turnout [for the screening] but I wouldn’t do it on a Friday night again, because I’ve had a bunch of people say that they couldn’t get in last night because in order to see Smothered, they had to get in here first. And the line was too long, so by the time they got their ticket, Smothered was either already started or over.” Aside from that snafu, Schneider seemed rather pleased with the rest of MMP.

That seemed to be the consensus all around. Nightmare on Elm Street’s Heather Langenkamp, commenting on the amount of people waiting in line to meet her,  “It’s something like I have never experienced.” For the most part, vendors and celebrities were easily accessible, with no more than a 10 minute wait at any given time. But as Saturday progressed, maneuverability waned. Table lines grew wildly, specifically for William Shatner, Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson, and Corey Feldman. Traffic flow to the tables was not designated prior, so fans were coming at them from all sides. It was a complete cluster. Finally, someone had the sense to put some silver duct tape on the floor in front of Elvira’s table to split the flow of traffic in either direction. Feldman told me, “I think it’s [MMP] great, you know. It’s probably the biggest one I’ve seen outside of [San Diego] Comic Con, that would be my guess.

Joe Moe, one of the three event organizers, was on hand throughout the weekend, talking to vendors, guests, and overseeing things first hand. I witnessed him assess a pedestrian traffic jam and quickly remedy the situation by addressing volunteer staff and guests. Having been on the working side of conventions before, I know how overwhelming things can become. Moe, always with a smile on his face, took it all in stride. “We’re having some growing pains, yes. Ballpark, it looks like we’re on track with 4-5,ooo in attendance, which is what we had hoped for.” Moe also made sure to respond to comments on social media outlets throughout the weekend, which were not always positive, and address concerns in the best way that he could. “We’re really responsive to fans.”

Many of those fans had some downright horrible things to say in their posts. This is the first time that I have seen that level of response to a convention. Sure, I had issues with the event. For starters, the power went off twice in the ballroom leaving everyone in the dark for a few moments. The A/C was all but non-existent. There wasn’t enough signage or a proper map laid out in their pamphlets to let guests know which celebs were in which ballroom, or to provide the location of any special panels (the tent in the parking lot, in case you were wondering). One of the actors, I won’t name names, bumped into me at a water cooler. “I ain’t seen a staff member in hours.” He’d had to abandon his autograph table in order to get a drink of water because volunteers all but disappeared the more chaotic the crowd became. There were so many things that I witnessed–again, as both vendor and guest–that I would have done differently.

Certainly, there were cases where the venting was called for. If I’d pre-purchased tickets and still been subjected to a 3.5hr line to hand in the receipt, I would have been pissed! If my car had been lost by the valet (yes, that happened) the whole world would have known about it. But, the majority of the complaints were, in my opinion, blown out of proportion. I don’t know anything about this Joe Moe or his colleagues. But what I do know, is that someone who is a fanboy at heart, got the idea to start a convention. A party by the fans for the fans. For everything that was wrong, so much of the weekend was right. Even Disney World gave me a headache (fast-pass my behind). But it was still one of the greatest vacations of my life.

That being said, let’s consider the rest of MMP, shall we? One minute I’m discussing special effects make-up with the great Tom Savini, and the next, I’m cracking jokes with the likes of Richard Kiel and Dick Miller. There was a panel between WWF (yeah…I said it) legends Rowdy Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan. Henry “the Fonz” Winkler was showing off children’s books. Cherie Currie was chatting me up on the history of rock legends the Runaways. Corey Feldman used my cell phone. Megan Grant, a licensed cosmetologist and entrepreneur, was set up with her Get Dead Crew, providing air-brush and prosthetics to people, literally turning them into monsters on site. There was karaoke in the hotel bar Saturday night. I laid down the boogie and played that funky music til they died. Or at least until the Misfits’ Dr. Chud cracked up laughing at me. The highlight of my weekend at MMP was Saturday night at midnight, when an estimated 1,000 guests piled into the gala tent to watch a screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, featuring a spectacular shadow-cast troupe called That Type from Charlotte’s Cinebarre, and featuring the film’s stars Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn and “Little” Nell Campbell. RHPS historian, Larry Vizel was on hand to film and conduct interviews for the upcoming 40th anniversary documentary Rocky Horror Saved My Life. It was an historical evening. In her second year attending with her family, Roseana Matthews found a “Golden Ticket” in the “Monsta Bar” she had purchased. The chocolates were a monster mock up of the famous Wonka Bar, with 6 lucky winners being upgraded to RIP status.

I guess the point that I’m trying to make, is that people need to lighten up. Unless something truly horrible happened to you or someone you care about as a direct result of something at a convention, you’re problem isn’t as big as you’re making it out to be. MMP is, as Moe said, experiencing growing pains. In 3 short years, the event has grown exponentially. Given their celebrity guest list, perhaps they should have considered a different venue. This is an event that is convention center worthy, crammed into a hotel. In order to make up for the overcrowding (which, according to local news, had the attention of the Fire Marshall), organizers will need to carefully consider where they set up next year. Or at least, reconsider the amount of vendors in the halls (many in wheelchairs had difficulties navigating) or alter the layout. Volunteer staff could be better trained. But this is how it is done, honestly, trial and error. As an event organizer, you try to prepare for every possible scenario you can imagine and you train your staff based on that. Without fail, something unexpected will always crop up; being short handed, celebs that cancel, ticketing issues, photo-op issues, and so forth. Conventions should be looked at as viable organisms, growing and changing and evolving. They will never be able to please all fans all the time. But they will certainly try. Year to year, they’ll try.

And it’s important for MMP to learn from their mistakes and move forward a little more prepared next year. For every celebrity guest I interviewed raved about how much fun they were having and how they couldn’t wait to come back. Celebrating all that scares us excites our film heroes, too. “Your first scare is the most important one you have,” said Langenkamp, admitting that the Flying Monkeys from the Wizard of Oz is what started it all for her. Dick Miller laughed, “I’ve very rarely been scared by movies…except for something Shirley Temple did.” Barry Bostwick had other ideas, “You wanna know why I do this? I do this to talk to lovely people like you and to oogle the girls. I just sit here and watch the girls go by.” Thanks, Barry.

All in all, in spite of a few hiccups–some preventable, some not–I think Mad Monster Party was a huge success. It is a relaxed environment where you get to hang out with the celebrities, rather than being separated from them like at some other conventions. Between the few panels that they had, the movie screenings, and the Rocky Horror reunion, it was definitely worth the ticket price for anyone who attended. Even though I did my fair share of mumbling and complaining throughout the weekend, I will admit, as a fan I am grateful an event such as this has been put together. I hope that, in time, other fans will learn to appreciate what all goes into putting on an event of this size and what they got to experience over all. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings for the Mad Monster Party!

Photos courtesy of Garrett Marks and Walker Bait Productions, unless otherwise noted.

Cassandra "Elvira" Peterson.

Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson.

RA Mihailoff (Leatherface) reciting with Shakespeare Carolina and Long Walk Productions.

RA Mihailoff (Leatherface) reciting with Shakespeare Carolina and Long Walk Productions.

Patricia Quinn chatting with the Carolina Ghostbusters.

Patricia Quinn chatting with the Carolina Ghostbusters.

Barry Bostwick.

Barry Bostwick.

Joking around with Richard Kiel.

Joking around with Richard Kiel.

Setting up in one of the MMP ballrooms.

Setting up in one of the MMP ballrooms.

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