Con-Gregate Con Report! (And Interview with the Carolina Ghostbusters)

This was the inaugural year for Con-Gregate, a general sci-fi convention held in Winston-Salem, NC on July 11-13. The guest of honor was New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia, known for his Monster Hunter series, though he does have other writing credits, including “The Christmas (Noun)” and “The Christmas (Noun) 2: The Nounening.” (What’s next? “How the Gerund Stole Christmas”?) Other guests included writers A.J. Hartley and Faith Hunter; Magic: The Gathering artist Mark Poole; and movie make-up professional Jennifer McCollom.

The con was led by a team of veterans, including folks from RavenCon, Stellar Con, and DragonCon. Yet, as with any first-time event, there were hiccups. Larry Correia’s first book signing was held on Saturday morning, when a lot of convention goers weren’t yet up and at ‘em. The lighting was poor in the vendor room, and though much was made in the convention program about name badges (even vendor badges bore individuals’ names), I never saw a staffer checking them.

Still, it was a fun weekend, with a costume contest, a book launch party (D.B. Jackson’s A Plunder of Souls), a charity auction (I won a signed photo of Avery Brooks as Capt. Benjamin Sisko), and some fascinating panels. Plus one of my favorite groups, the Carolina Ghostbusters (www.carolinaghostbusters.com), made an appearance. On Friday, I got a chance to talk to three team members–”Doc” Geressy, Chuck Carte, and Mikki Smith.

Me: How did the Carolina Ghostbusters get started?

Doc: About 5 years ago, I got divorced and laid off from work in the same week. I got a great severance package and didn’t have anyone to spend it on, so I was like, I’m gonna build a Ghostbusters car. That was five years ago. It took about 2½ years to get everything together. Once the car was built, we started getting requests for conventions, charity events, car shows, baseball games, birthday parties, weddings . . . we do a lot of weddings, oddly enough. We spend about 70-80 days a year on the road now, with the vehicle, and I never would have imagined, but it has been the most awesome thing ever. We got to meet Dan Aykroyd. He signed the car. We met Ernie Hudson from the film. So it’s been a lot of fun.

Me: How did you meet Dan Aykroyd?

Chuck: He was on his Crystal Head Vodka tour, doing signings of the bottles when the liquor had first come out. And we got treated really well by the Aykroyd camp as soon as they saw us in our car. He ushered us to the front of the line, took photos with us, signed the car, and he was just a real . . . I look at it as my favorite moment of getting to do this, getting to meet him, and just how cool he was to us.

Me: Why Ghostbusters?

Doc: I am a big fan of movie cars, always have been, and when I was originally going to build a movie car, I had thought about doing a classic Batmobile. I had some people looking for a late model Lincoln to use as the base for it, and we ended up finding this hearse first, and one of the guys called me and was like, hey, would you be interested in doing a Ghostbusters car? I was like, sure, love to, and so we ended up doing a Ghostbusters car instead. And it is actually, interestingly enough, the most recognizable movie car with the least amount of screen time. It is only in the film for 5 minutes and 28 seconds. But everyone knows it. We have had people drive 20-30 miles out of their way to take pictures with us.

Me: And you also have the Men in Black car, right?

Doc: That is our new one. We’re about a year into that build, and it was another one where the car kind of found me. We ended up getting it at a really good deal. It had low miles and was in excellent condition. So we started the build on that. We should have it done in the next year. It is actually roadworthy now, but there are a lot of things we want to do to it, and a lot of props we need to build. It’s probably about 80% done.

Me [to Mikki]: Tell me about your involvement with the group.

Mikki: Honestly, I asked. That sounds kind of like a boring way. Basically, I originally hired the Carolina Ghostbusters for a very small, one-off convention that I ran called Jax Con that happened in my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida—

Doc: It was an awesome convention.

Mikki: Thank you so, so much. That’s what people say now. That’s not what people said right after it happened.

Chuck: That’s what I said right afterward.

Mickey: Me booking [the Ghosbusters] was literally the best thing I ever did for that convention. After that, I was still really into cons, and I started going to them more and more, especially local cons. I became really good friends with the team, became pretty good friends with Doc and Chuck and Cher [Cheralyn Lambeth, another group member]. That was kind of how I got involved. I think at XCon 2013 was my first official event, and I worked that one. I was an intern for about 6 months, and now I have been moved up to Acting Ensign of the Deck Department, and I serve under Chuck Carte, who is a fantastic immediate boss.

Chuck: Thank you. I don’t get that often.

Me: I was reading on your web site that you also do paranormal investigations. Tell me a little about that.

Doc: About 30% of what we do is paranormal investigations. We are the only Ghostbusters group in the country that actually does paranormal investigations as well. Sometimes we joke that the Ghostbusters car is our dog and pony show, but we have a lot of fun going out and actually not just dressing up as Ghostbusters but actually being Ghostbusters to an extent.

Me: How do you measure your success as paranormal investigators?

Chuck: Whether or not the check clears.

Doc: Yeah, that’s a good answer! [Laughs] We approach things from a very scientific viewpoint, very much like the Ghostbusters did in the film. We don’t employ or work with any mediums or psychics because we can’t quantify that information. We try to be as empirical as possible, and we have captured some amazing photographs, we’ve got some awesome EVPs [electronic voice phenomenon], and just the experiences of being able to travel around. One of the things that being Ghostbusters has provided us is a lot of access to places that other paranormal groups can’t get into. People see the car or they see us, and they’re like, oh, you guys are like legit! There are so many other paranormal groups out there that are just as legitimate as we are, but just that knowledge of Ghostbusters affords us the ability for people to just wave us in and be like, yeah, come investigate this place.

Me: What are you working on next? What are your goals?

Doc: Oh god. Replenishing my bank account is what I’m working on right now.

Chuck: The speedboat from Thunder in Paradise.

Doc: Yeah, I gotta buy a boat trailer first.

Mikki: You’ve been talking about the Blues Brothers car lately.

Doc: I would love to find a Blues Brothers car. That would be the next thing on the list. I also really like the ambulance from Cannonball Run. That would be another one.

Me: I guess it’s time to wrap up. Can you say a few words about your podcast?

Doc: Our podcast is called Sci-Fried Eggs, and we get to travel to all these conventions and meet all these cool guests, and we bring that to the rest of the people. So if you miss the convention, or even if you’re at the convention and you didn’t get to meet that person you wanted to meet, we may have interviewed them [on the podcast], so you can check them out.

And while you’re at it, check out the photos below.

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Carolina Ghostbusters: they’re ready to believe you.

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No, this isn’t a promo poster for Avengers 2. It’s the winners of the Con-Gregate costume contest.

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Must . . . not . . . make . . . bird-brain joke.

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“Good evening, Clarice.”

CA – End of the Star Wars Expanded Universe Signing

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Gabe Hardman, Corrina Bechko, Christian Gossett, Barbara Kesel, Brian Wood, and Garry Brown sign at The Comic Bug to give the Star Wars Expanded Universe a final farewell on Saturday, August 23rd from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm! They’ll be joined by members of the REBEL LEGION to bring life to the characters from a galaxy far, far away and provide some amazing photo opportunities.

RSVP on Facebook!

The Comic Bug
1807 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-6704

Boston Comic Con 2014 is Next Week

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Press Release:

Celebrity appearances, artist meet-and-greets, a film festival, a Cosplay costume contest, the first official after party and Cosplay Harbor Cruise are among many activities lined up for this year’s Boston Comic Con. Boston Comic Con will bring its first three-day convention to the Seaport World Trade Center Friday August 8 through Sunday August 10, 2014. In the seven years since its founding, Boston Comic Con has grown from a one-day show that attracted an estimated 900 comic book enthusiasts to last year’s record turnout of more than 23,000, which organizers expect to top this year.

“The community in Greater Boston that loves comic books and related television and film is tremendous and growing,” said Nick Kanieff, a founder of Boston Comic Con. “We are home to some of the industry’s most talented artists and devoted fans, all of which will join us in great numbers this August. Boston Comic Con has just enough of a celebrity touch to bring in ardent fans while still honoring the artists and writers who are the backbone of the industry.”

The 2014 Boston Comic Con will feature celebrity appearances by Jason Momoa of “Game of Thrones”; John Barrowman of “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Arrow”; Sean Astin of “The Goonies” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy; James Marsters of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”; Katie Cassidy of “Arrow”; Eve Myles of “Torchwood”; Jewel Staite of “Firefly”; Sam Witwer of “Being Human”; and Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC, of Run-DMC, one of the founding fathers of the hip hop and rap movement, who is producing his own comic about a rap superhero. Celebrities will also participate in panel discussions, Q&As, photo ops, and signing autographs throughout the three-day convention.

Among the 200+ comic book creators taking part in the convention are well known artists such as artist Greg Capullo and writer Scott Snyder, who together produced legendary Batman story arcs as The Court of Owls, Death of the Family and Zero Year for DC Comics. Indie sensation Jeff Smith, creator of the fantasy epic Bone, makes rare appearance at this year’s convention. Also featured is artist Adam Kubert, best known for his work with Marvel Comics on Wolverine, Incredible Hulk, Ultimate Fantastic Four, and X-Men. He is both a graduate of and an instructor at the famed Kubert School, founded by his father, legendary artist Joe Kubert. Other creators include Skottie Young, whose current project, Rocket Raccoon ties in with Marvel’s summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy, fan-favorite Gail Simone, writer of Batgirl, Birds of Prey, and Wonder Woman, and Mark Waid who is the most prolific writer of popular characters such as Superman, Spider-Man, and Daredevil.

Participating Boston-area artists include husband and wife team Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb, Joe Quinones, Maris Wicks, Ming Doyle, Norman Lee, Sara Richard, and several others.

Boston Comic Con is especially proud of its showcase of 14 top women creators including: Christy Blanch, Danica Brine, Katie Cook, Danielle Corsetto, Ming Doyle, Dawn Griffin, Rebekah Isaacs, Shelli Paroline, Sara Richard, Gail Simone, Cat Staggs, Babs Tarr, Maris Wicks, and Chrissie Zullo.

“Boston Comic Con is at the forefront of supporting local artists, especially women creators. It is truly an organic, home-grown event that has gained popularity over the past few years,” said Kanieff, a Framingham resident who is also an avid collector. “We welcome everyone, from families with young children, to college students, to older comic book fans. There is something for everyone at Boston Comic Con.”

New This Year
The first Boston Comic Con Cosplay Harbor Cruise will take place on Saturday, August 9 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. The cruise will be hosted by Ivy Doomkitty, international costume designer and cosplayer, and features noted cosplayers including Nicole Marie Jean, Destiny Nickelsen, and Bethany Maddock. After the harbor cruise, Boston Comic Con will host the official “after party” at Laugh Boston, at the Westin Waterfront Hotel. Also new this year, a limited number of tickets will be sold to allow early entry on the first day of Boston Comic Con, Friday, August 8 at 1 p.m., one hour before the general admission at 2 p.m.

Additionally, Marvel editor C.B. Cebulski will be on hand to provide portfolio reviews for aspiring comic artists. And this year’s exclusive t-shirt features Rocket Raccoon drawn by Guardians of the Galaxy artist Nick Bradshaw with colors by Rich Woodall.

“Not only is Boston Comic Con drawing interest from the area’s extensive comic book community, but it’s becoming a destination event that brings tourists to Boston,” said Kanieff. “The growing excitement around this convention demonstrates the strength and vibrancy of the creative community we have here in Boston and in the surrounding region.”

More information about events, artists and celebrity guests can be found on www.bostoncomiccon.com. General admission and VIP tickets are on sale now, as are tickets for celebrity photo ops. Boston Comic Con is also accepting entries for this year’s film festival.

For information on ticket sales please visit: www.bostoncomiccon.com.

RSVP on Facebook!

 

 

After-Hours Events at Boston Comic Con 2014

iprovnateBoston Comic Con 2014 offers several after hours for attendees to enjoy after the convention floor closes! Check out some funny comedians at Laugh Boston or hit the high seas of Boston Harbor with your favorite cosplayers!

 

1. Brian Posehn at Laugh Boston (Thursday August 7th through Saturday August 9th)

Join comedian, actor, and Deadpool writer Brian Posehn for three nights of stand up comedy at Laugh Boston. Brian will be appearing three nights: Thursday August 7th  through Saturday August 9th.

For tickets click here…

RSVP on Facebook!

 

2. Crisis On Improv-inate Earths (Friday August 8th) – 10:00 PM

Some of Improv Asylum’s funniest actors take the stage for a wildly paced comic con-themed improv show with scenes inspired by audience suggestions. Content not approved by the Comics Code Authority. Face it, Tiger, you’re gonna love this show. Friday night 10:15 PM after the Brian Posehn show.

For tickets click here…

RSVP on Facebook!

 

3. Boston Comic Con CosPlay Harbor Cruise (Saturday August 9th) – 10:15 PM

Saturday night August 9th (10:15 PM to 11:30 PM) – Join hostess Ivy Doomkitty for the first ever Boston Comic Con COSPLAY harbor cruise! This event is for Boston Comic Con attendees and cosplayers 21 years of age and older. There will be a DJ, cash bar, and a whole bunch of fun on board as we cruise around Boston Harbor Saturday night partying like superheroes. The boat docks right outside our front door at The Seaport World Trade Center. So, spill on out of the show at the end of the day and cruise on into the night with Boston Comic Con and cosplay special guests Ivy DoomkittyNicole Marie Jean, Bethany Maddock, and Destiny NickelsenPlease remember you must be at least 21 years of age to go on the cruise.

For tickets click here…

RSVP on Facebook!

 

4. Official Boston Comic Con After Party at Laugh Boston (Saturday August 9th) – midnight

Come be a part of Boston Comic Con’s official after party! Keep the party going after the Harbor Cruise with Doom Kitty or come back for more action backed superhero and villainous late night fun. Hosted by Laugh Boston the party starts at 12:00 AM (after Deadpool writer Brian Posehn’s show) and goes until 2:00 AM. Costumes are encouraged, but not required. Entry is FREE with your Boston Comic Con wrist band for any of the convention dates, or $10 cover charge without wristband. DJ, cash bar, and specialty cocktails provided by Deep Eddy Vodka.

Purchase tickets at the link!

RSVP on Facebook!

 

About Boston Comic Con
The 8th Annual Boston Comic Con will host a three-day convention at the Seaport World Trade Center Friday August 8 through Sunday August 10, 2014. A-list celebrities from the genres of science fiction fantasy, horror and beyond will participate in panel discussions, Q&As, photo ops and autograph signings throughout the convention, alongside 200+ comic book creators from the local region and beyond. In addition, a Comic Book film festival will be held throughout the weekend and a Comic Book art auction will be held on Sunday, August 10. New this year, a third day was added on Friday, August 8, first Cosplay Harbor and the official “after party” at Laugh Boston on Saturday, August 9, and a limited number of VIP entry tickets on the convention’s first day at 1 p.m. August 8, one hour before general admission. Celebrity appearances by Jason Momoa of “Game of Thrones,” John Barrowman of “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and Arrow,” Sean Astin of “The Goonies” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, James Marsters of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” Katie Cassidy of “Arrow,” Eve Myles of “Torchwood,” Jewel Staite of “Firefly,”Sam Witwer of “Being Human” and Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC, of Run-DMC.

Activision Awarding More Than $5,000 in Prizes for the Best Skylanders Costumes at SDCC 2014

Skylanders Trap Team

Press Release:

Skylanders® is Heading to San Diego Comic-Con!

Fans Attending San Diego Comic-Con Invited to Participate in Costume Contest at Official Skylanders Panel, with More Than $5,000 in Prizes

Activision Publishing, Inc.:

WHAT: Skylanders, the video game that pioneered the Toys-to-Life™ genre, will descend upon San Diego Comic-Con for the first time in the franchise’s history starting on July 24. Fans will be among the first in the world to get hands-on experience with Skylanders Trap Team™, the newest installment to the Skylanders franchise. To celebrate, Activision Publishing, Inc. will award more than $5,000 in prizes to the best Skylanders costumes of the show. Fans now have a chance to bring their creativity to life by dressing up as one of their favorites, such as Spyro, Stealth Elf, Eruptor, Kaos or any of the characters from the Skylanders universe.
The costume contest will take place at the San Diego Comic-Con panel, “Skylanders: The Creative Process of Bringing Toys to Life,” where members of the Skylanders team will offer insights into the development process of one of the world’s most beloved and successful Toys-to-Life video game franchises. Panel speakers include comic book writer Ron Marz (Green Lantern, DC vs. Marvel), famed voice of Kaos Richard Horvitz (Invader Zim, Billy and Mandy), Activision’s Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing, John Coyne, and Toys for Bob’s Director of Toy and Character Development, I-Wei Huang.
Prizing for the costume contest is as follows:
  • Grand Prize: $4,000
  • Runner Up: $1,000
  • 2nd Runner Up: Collection of rare Skylanders toys
WHEN: Thursday, July 24, 2014
Media Call Time: 5:45 p.m.
Event Begins: 6:00 p.m.
WHERE: San Diego Convention Center, Room 7AB
111 W. Harbor Dr. San Diego, CA 92101

CA – Cosplay Signing

shc

Cosplayer Nicole Marie Jean and Comic Booked Studios appear at Sky High Comics on July 22nd from 5-9 pm! Nicole will be signing, selling prints, and taking pictures.

Comic Booked Studios will be playing episodes from Young Justice: Abduction, The Apartment Web Series, and The Quest Web Series!

Come by and meet Nicole and the team!

RSVP on Facebook!

Sky High Comics
625 S Rancho Santa Fe Rd, San Marcos, California 92078
(760) 471-0649

Boston Comic Con 2014 Kicks Off with Cosplay Parade

Boston Comic Con Costume Parade  2013

Press Release:

Boston Comic Con, Dick’s Last Resort, Newbury Comics, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace are teaming up for the second annual pre-convention Boston Comic Con Costume Contest on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 from 11:45 am – 1:00 pm. The contest is open to the public and will feature a costume parade around Faneuil Hall Marketplace and prizes for the top three winners. Boston Comic Con will be held August 8-10, 2014 at the Seaport World Trade Center.

Contestants of all ages are encouraged to dress up as their favorite superhero, comic book character, and beyond (all costumes should be family friendly). The contest will kick off with a “Costume Parade” around Quincy Market, beginning and ending at Dick’s Last Resort (Boston Comic Con will also host its annual Costume Contest “Cosplay” during the Convention on Sunday, August 10th at 4:00 pm at the Seaport World Trade Center)

Prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners will be awarded. 1st place winner will receive two VIP passes to the three day Boston Comic Con ($240 value that includes a limited-edition T-shirt). The 2nd place winner will walk away with a $100 gift certificate to Dick’s Last Resort. The 3rd place winner will be awarded a $50 gift certificate to Newbury Comics.

Costume contestants should arrive at Dick’s Last Resort at 11:45 am to check in and register. The parade will begin at 12:15 pm and the final winners will be announced at 12:45 pm. Judges will include representatives from Newbury Comics at Faneuil Hall, Faneuil Hall Marketplace  and Boston Comic Con.

akubert-boston-lg-2014The event is free and open to the public. However, space is limited and contestants will be accommodated on a first come, first served basis. Adults and children of all ages are welcome to compete!

RSVP on Facebook!

About Newbury Comics
Newbury Comics, a longtime exhibitor at Boston Comic Con, will be located at the Boston Comic Con Exhibition area in the Seaport World Trade Center. Newbury Comics will be giving out free promotional items at Boston Comic Con so stop by and visit their booth! Newbury Comics Faneuil Hall Marketplace store is located in the North Market building and is one of 28 stores all based in New England. Newbury Comics is independently owned and operated by its original founder for more than 30 years and specializes in music, movies and pop culture goods.

About Dick’s Last Resort at Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Dick’s is located in the Historic Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston. It’s just a napkin’s throw away from the Harbor and the Boston Aquarium. Stop by and let yer hair down, enjoy some grub or toss back a few cold ones on our rockin’ patio. It’s all in fun at Dick’s in Boston, so come see why Dick has been infamous since the rowdy times began in 1993.

About Boston Comic Con
The 8th Annual Boston Comic Con will host a three-day convention at the Seaport World Trade Center Friday August 8 through Sunday August 10, 2014. A-list celebrities from the genres of science fiction fantasy, horror and beyond will participate in panel discussions, Q&As, photo ops and autograph signings throughout the convention, alongside 200+ comic book creators from the local region and beyond. In addition, a Comic Book film festival will be held throughout the weekend and a Comic Book art auction will be held on Sunday, August 10. New this year, a third day was added on Friday, August 8, first Cosplay Harbor and the official “after party” at Laugh Boston on Saturday, August 9, and a limited number of VIP entry tickets on the convention’s first day at 1 p.m. August 8, one hour before general admission. Celebrity appearances by Jason Momoa of “Game of Thrones,” John Barrowman of “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and Arrow,” Sean Astin of “The Goonies” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, James Marsters of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” Katie Cassidy of “Arrow,” Eve Myles of “Torchwood,” Jewel Staite of “Firefly,”Sam Witwer of “Being Human” and Darryl McDaniels, aka DMC, of Run-DMC.

ConCarolinas Con Report!

ConCarolinas is a general sci-fi and fantasy convention held annually in Charlotte, NC. Attendance was 300 in the inaugural year, 2002, and the guests were small potatoes, but those days are done. Well over 2,000 people (my estimate) showed up this year, and the guest of honor was a bona fide celeb: George R. R. Martin, creator of Game of Thrones. Other guests included Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek: Enterprise and Laura Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott from the original Dark Shadows.

Sounds accomplished, right? GRRM was announced over a year ago—not even Comic Con International is that foregoing—so I expected the con to run like a thoroughly Penzoiled Sprint Cup chassis. In some areas, it did. Events started and stopped on time, and they were easy to find, for the most part. One exception was the ballroom divided into three smaller rooms that the schedule called, noninformatively, “Main,” “Programming 2,” and “Programming 3.” I missed the start of one panel because it was scheduled for Programming 3 but took place in Main, and each time I passed these rooms, the only sign I saw bore the Hilton’s name for the room: Lakeshore.

This plaint is piddling, however. The real mess came with Saturday’s GRRM autograph session. It was scheduled for 3:00, and by 12:15, a line was evident. “You should get in line now,” my wife said, to which I replied, “But the sign says the line will start forming at 2:00.” A woman of few words when she’s right, thank God, she pointed to the dozen or so people standing there. Just then, another two or three walked up. I assumed the position.

A few minutes later, a con staffer—I’ll call her “Bee”—came over to wrecking-ball the line. “We’ll start the line at 2:00,” she announced. Until then, we should “go enjoy the rest of the con.” Instead, the now-twenty of us moved six feet away to flank the concrete steps that led from the hotel entrance to a duck pond. Unsatisfied, Bee told us to move on, saying she had to “keep the steps clear.” They were currently so clear that piano movers could have carried a Steinway up them.

A guy who looked like Robert Downey, Jr. tried to tell Bee she was being unreasonable. We had paid for admission, he argued, and it was our prerogative to waste three hours in line—a line that had formed against the fence surrounding the patio, well out of the way. Someone else offered that there was “nothing else to do,” which hurt Downey, Jr.’s case. He wanted to negotiate, not inflame.

Bee was having none of it. She walked away and returned with con security, one of whom asked us nicely, in contrast to his Ghiscari Legion cosplay, to disperse. Downey, Jr. stood up defeatedly. “It’s a little unnecessary,” he said, more soliloquy than direct address, “but whatever.” And we moved away.

Things were tense after that. People arrived by the minute, and because we couldn’t form a line, we had to hang around pretending that we weren’t forming one. Annoyance passed from one person to the next, growing with each utterance as in the telephone game. “This is literally why we bought tickets,” one person said. “I don’t think they were ready for this kind of crowd,” said another. I took a philosophical tack. The con staff had taken an orderly line that had arisen spontaneously and, through human agency, made it into a mob. Maybe they were anarchists.

At 1:16, Bee pulled out a megaphone and announced, “If you are gathered here in order to rush the line, your badge will be taken, and you will be escorted off.” All 100 of us? 200? Versus her little honor guard? We didn’t move. When a Canada goose wandered off the pond, Bee walked up to it and blared through her megaphone, “This is a goose-free zone.” She said it to be funny, but nobody laughed. Too much had passed between her and us.

By 1:45, at least 400 people had gathered. The original group was still camped on the concrete steps, with newcomers forming parallel lines that stretched alongside the duck pond toward the hotel parking lot. About every thirty minutes, a con employee walked between the lines, urging us to keep the sidewalk clear because “the fire marshal is here,” though I never saw anyone official-looking. One person dubbed our station “the line to get into the line,” and we laughed—finally.

At 2:00, Bee started assembling the line. She did it fairly, calling ten people at a time from different spots, starting with the ur-group on the steps. I got in with the seventh summoning. My reward was to wait another hour before the 3:00 start, though this was better: Revolution had been averted, and I was now guaranteed an autograph. GRRM was scheduled to sign for only an hour, and those who didn’t reach him during that time might be turned away. (When someone griped about this, Bee said simply, “He is not a machine.”)

In all, I waited from 12:15 to nearly 4:00 to meet George R. R. Martin, and it was over with a few strokes of his pen. But it was worth it. The writer was gracious, even charming, and he signed two books for me. Autographs are my favorite part of conventions, and Downey, Jr. was right: You can have fun just sitting and waiting. Looking at cosplays. Writing a story (I got most of this done during the downtime). My wife and I rounded out the day with a couple of panels and that evening’s charity auction, hosted by podcaster and voice actor Rich Sigfrit, who also moderated a sci-fi-centric Whose Line Is It Anyway? starring the improv comedy group Pineapple-Shaped Lamps.

So that was it from Charlotte and the 13th ConCarolinas. Next year is already shaping up to be a good one with writer John Scalzi as the guest of honor. My next stop: Charlotte again for Heroes Convention on June 19. Maybe I’ll see you there!

 

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Indication #1 you are at a sci-fi convention.

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Indication # you are at a sci-fi convention.

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Guys, no need to fight. There are enough tickets for everyone.

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I would have seen GRRM sooner if it weren’t for those meddling kids!

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Inside the dealer room.

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People came from all over for this convention. Even Golgotha.

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No, Johnny Depp was not there. Would have been awesome, though.

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GRRM signing line: the Haves . . .

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. . . and the Have-Nots

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I’m not sure why I bought so much stuff at the auction. Any ideas?

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GRRM addresses fans during one of his readings.

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Lara Parker and Kathryn Leigh Scott pose for a picture.

 

NorthEast Comic Con and Collectibles Extravaganza (December 2014)

NorthEast Comic Con

Convention Name
NorthEast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza
Convention Website Address
http://www.NorthEastComicCon.net
This convention will take place:
  • over multiple days.
Start Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
12/06/2014
End Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
12/07/2014
About This Convention
NorthEast Comic Con & Collectibles Extravaganza is produced by the team that produces Pop Culture Expo, led by Gary Sohmers. The event features collectibles including Comics, Toys and Pop Culture memorabilia and will include Celebrity Guests signing autographs, Cosplay, Video Games, and Panels. IMAGE Meet and Greet Video Ops will be available to capture a fans special moment with a Celebrity on video. With Free Parking and low price admissions, it is designed for fans and families to have a full weekend of entertainment.
Venue Name and Address
Shriners Auditorium
99 Fordham Rd
Framingham, MA Wilmington
United States
Map It
Number of Dealer/Exhibitor Tables
150
Projected Attendance
10000
Please select the Category that best describes the convention
Collectibles
Additional Categories
  • Anime
  • Comic Books
  • Gaming
  • Horror
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
Guests
Marky Ramone, Butch Patrick, More TBA

NorthEast Comic Con

Minneapolis Wizard World Con Report!

My feet were hurting. Throbbing, in fact. With blisters on each ball and heel, even short walks delivered a four square of pain. Ever had a pebble trapped in your shoe? How about a shuriken? Watching me walk, people must have thought, “The poor man. Must have forgotten his crutches. How can he get around on two broken legs?”

I was in this predicament thanks to walking twenty-seven miles in one weekend, mostly around the latest Wizard World Comic Con, which was held May 2-4 in Minneapolis. It was that city’s first-ever Wizard World con, and everything from guests to vendors to venue—the 87-room, 475,000-square-foot downtown convention center—was spectacular.

Headlining the event were Matt Smith and Karen Gillan from Doctor Who. Gillan, a former model, played traveling companion to Smith’s Doctor in series 5-7. I saw her on Saturday, smiling and chatting, her hair in a bun, amid a sea of fans. Smith showed up the next day, and the two had a joint photo op—the third time in North America that this had happened (the first two were the Louisville Comic Con and the St. Louis Comic Con). Other stars were William Shatner, Robert Englund, Ernie Hudson, Ralph Macchio, Neal Adams, Mike Grell, and Lou Ferrigno (my interview with Ferrigno will appear on ConventionScene in a few days). Other events included celebrity one-on-ones, panel discussions, a film festival, RPG tournaments, speed dating, at least 75 exhibitors, and a cosplay contest.

I caught most of Ralph Macchio’s one-on-one session on Saturday afternoon. Now 52 years old, Macchio delights in the Karate Kid franchise, though it used to bother him. In the early 90s, he said, he struggled to find acting work, and there were days he stayed hidden at home because he couldn’t face another “wax on, wax off” encounter. But film quotes were not all that fans said to him. Some told him how the movie had helped them deal with bullying, or it had changed their lives in other ways. When he thought about those people, he realized he would be “foolish” to reject his legacy. Ralph Macchio is a funny, humble guy who likes the Karate Kid re-make (though he doesn’t see it as “iconic”) and who is hoping his future includes more voice acting (he has done several episodes of Robot Chicken). And do his two kids understand their dad’s place in cinematic history? Macchio told the story of his son Daniel (hmm . . . coincidence?) coming across a trove of magazines and other memorabilia from the 80s. The boy raced into his sister’s bedroom and said, “Julia! Dad was huge and we missed it!”

Minneapolis was cold this May—unseasonably so, according to one native, which is just my luck—but the city was grand, the people welcoming, and the comic con a smash hit. If you weren’t there, browse the photos below to see what you missed. Next I am off to ConCarolinas (May 30-June 1) in the Queen City, Charlotte. Maybe I’ll see you!

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Day 1 of Minneapolis’s first-ever Wizard World

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Can’t wait to get in!

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I had trouble finding a parking spot, so . . .

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Robert Englund plans his next nightmare.

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Fabulous costumes!

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Deadpool! Get out of the picture!

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A couple of convention security officers.

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Minnesota isn’t quite the Caribbean, but this pirate didn’t mind.

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Look just under the poster of Karen Gillan to see the real Karen Gillan.

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My cell phone wasn’t working, so I asked this guy to call my wife. With his mind.

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Yes, it’s bigger on the inside, but how many licks does it take to get the Tootsie Roll center?

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I thought about asking this guy for directions but decided against it.

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Who scheduled a dance competition on the same weekend as Wizard World?!

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