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  • Wizard World Comic Con Raleigh 2015 Report! (Including an Interview with Kevin Sorbo)

    Back in the fall of 2014, when I saw that Wizard World, that latter-day arbiter of pop culture sensibilities, was having its first-ever convention in Raleigh, North Carolina on March 13-15, I thought, Cool. I had been to the Minneapolis and Chicago shows, traveling hundreds of miles to write about each (see here and here, respectively). Raleigh is only 45 minutes from my house.

    When I later saw that William Shatner would be at Raleigh Wizard World, I thought, Sweet. Who better than the Captain to explore this strange, new world? I watched as more excellent guests were announced—Sean Astin, John Schneider, Kevin Sorbo. And when I saw Rob Liefeld, the creator of Deadpool, added to the list, I thought, Awesome! Liefeld is one of the hottest comic artists of the last twenty years. I need some more stuff signed by him.

    And when I received an email on February 24 from Wizard World’s PR person telling me that Doctor Who’s David Tennant would be in Raleigh, I thought, Oh. My. God.

    David Tennant! No offense to other guests, but this was huge. Poll after poll shows him as the most popular Doctor among Whovians (see here, here, and here). Tennant’s Doctor is charming, funny, and passionate. Christopher Eccleston, the Ninth Doctor, did the hard work of rebooting the twenty-year-dead series in 2005; Tennant presided over its expansion both in the UK and across the pond. Plus he is a rarity on the convention circuit. Raleigh would be, in fact, his Wizard World debut (his second appearance will be in Philadelphia this May).

    I am a middling Doctor Who fan. My wife and daughter? Rabid. And their favorite, of course, is David Tennant. My wife makes and sells fandom-related jewelry, and she had another convention that weekend in Winston-Salem, about two hours away. Urban Dictionary defines fandom as “a cult that will destroy your life”; I prefer to think of it as the impetus for restructuring your life on the fly. Thus, after much wrangling and a pair of David Tennant VIP tickets ($399 each!), we settled on the following schedule:

    Friday: My wife and me at Wizard World, our daughter at the Winston-Salem convention

    Saturday: All of us at the Winston convention

    Sunday: My wife and my daughter at Wizard World to see David Tennant, me at the Winston convention

    Actually, my weekend started on Thursday, at the Wizard World launch party. It was held at the Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.

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    Advertisements for the party indicated that celebrities (plural) would be in attendance, though the only one I saw was Kevin Sorbo, star of the 90s hit series Hercules. Still, we had a nice chat:

    Me: You have been in several faith-based movies [What If . . . and God’s Not Dead]. What is it about these movies that speaks to people?

    Kevin: There are a lot of people who have faith. All the polls show like 80% of people believe in God. We tend to skim over that, and Hollywood doesn’t put out movies that deal with that. And when they do, they sort of bastardize it. Look what they did with Exodus. Look what they did with Noah, for crying out loud. Why would you hire atheist directors to do something out of the Old Testament? It’s weird to me.

    Me: The emphasis there seems to be more on special effects.

    Kevin: Yeah. We went to a private screening of Noah, and my wife said, “This is like Transformers meets Water World.” Visually, it’s beautiful, but you’re like, does the Bible talk about Noah being schizophrenic, alcoholic, and hell-bent on killing his own family at the end?

    Me: You’ve had a varied career, but of course you’re most known for Hercules . . .

    Kevin: Yeah, that and Andromeda.

    Me: Right. How did your role in Hercules come about?

    Kevin: It was a typical audition through Hollywood. My agent called me up and said, “They’re casting five Hercules movies, and they want to see you.” I said, “I’m a big guy, but don’t they want some steroid dude with no neck or some bodybuilder who weighs 280 pounds?” He said, “No, they’re looking for an athletic-looking, sort-of decathlon, Joe Namath-type quarterback.” So I went and read. They called me back and called me back. Seven times they called me back. I was up in Vancouver, Canada filming an episode of The Commish, and they called me and said, “You’re Hercules.” I thought it was going to be five two-hour movies. Then, boom! It became a series, and it passed Baywatch to become the most-watched show in the world.

    Me: Before filming, how did you get into the role? How did you prepare yourself to play a mythical hero?

    Kevin: It was all in the writing. They made the character very 90s. It was a very Malibu sort of Hercules. He was very hip and accessible and approachable, very self-effacing. There was a lot of humor. The fight scenes were never very violent. Our spin-off show, Xena, was a much more violent show, killing guys. We never killed a guy.

    Me: Speaking of writing, you did a book a couple of years ago. What was that like?

    Kevin: It’s been great because of the number of speaking appearances I get. I did a dozen last year, and I’ve already got about eleven more lined up this year. It’s been amazing to get out there and do all the talking I’ve been doing about the book, which is about a health scare I suffered. I was the healthiest-looking guy in the world in the 90s, and I had three strokes and almost died. It took me out of the show [Hercules] for four months. We had to re-write everything.

    Me: Which is harder, writing or acting?

    Kevin [laughs]: I think writing is much harder. Writers take much of the blame for everything in Hollywood, so God bless them. It’s the toughest job around.

    Me: How did you get started doing conventions?

    Kevin: You know, conventions really didn’t kick off until about fifteen years ago. The growth has been astronomical. In the 90s, comic cons weren’t that big. They were around, but there wasn’t the publicity and the push and the hype. I got invited during the 90s, but I could do only one or two a year because I was in New Zealand ten months out of the year [filming Hercules]. Now, I go to a lot around the world. I’m doing two in April in Australia. I have one coming up in Belgium. I get invited to about five a month, and I go to six or seven a year.

    Me: Are there things you won’t do for fans? Are there lines fans try to get you to cross that you push back against?

    Kevin: Not really. Women have not exposed their breasts to me, but they have wanted me to sign the top of their chests. Some people get very nervous because they know you from TV, and now they’re seeing you in the flesh. It’s a surreal moment for them, and I get that because when I first moved to L.A., I started meeting some of the celebrities I used to watch on TV, and I was like, “Wow. That’s really him standing there.” For me, it was Anthony Quinn [who played Zeus in Hercules]. Meeting him blew me away.

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    The next night, Friday, was my night at Wizard World. It is often said that Wizard World, with its deep pockets and runaway costs, delights in squeezing out local conventions. See, for example, this article decrying “William Shatner at $199 an autograph,” which is ludicrously inflated. Shatner charges less than half that amount, and he has charged it for years.

    What has changed, and not for the better, is the number of comic book artists who now charge for an autograph. Michael Golden charged $10. Dean Haspiel (who?) charged $10. Tom DeFalco gave one or two free signatures, but he charged after that due to, as the sign on his table exhorted, the miserable capitalists who sell his stuff on eBay.

    And Rob Liefeld. When I saw him in 2012, he charged $20 to sign copies of New Mutants #87 (first appearance of Cable) or #98 (first appearance of Deadpool). Everything else was free. Now he charges $30 for any Deadpool item, $20 for any New Mutants or X-Force issue, and $20 for any book being witnessed by CGC. He’s still a cool guy, though, and he did not charge me for this picture.

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    I get that writers and artists are trying to make a living. A market exists for their autographs that they did not create and are merely tapping into. But their judgment—or is jealousy?—of collectors feels wrong-headed. eBay does not lower payments to creators (a buyer’s market does that) nor deprive them of ownership of their work (publishers retain this). Besides, CGC’s fees are rich enough. To pay an extra $20 for the signature hurts.

    Perhaps it was this increase in signing fees that was responsible for the small crowd.

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    Or the fact that few celebrities showed up for opening night (aside from Tony Stark).

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    The dealer’s room was livelier, but what struck me most there was the dearth of comic book dealers. I counted two. The rest had toys, decals, T-shirts, etc. Curiously, there were also the Lasik Vision Institute and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, giving the dealer’s room a festival-in-the-park feel. I left without buying anything (or scheduling eye surgery).

    I tried to buy a third David Tennant autograph ticket for Sunday, the day my wife and daughter would be there, for my daughter’s friend. But they were not selling any more tickets until Sunday morning—possibly (as it turned out, they didn’t have more then, either). “It’s the first time we’ve worked with him,” said the apologetic young woman, “and we’re not sure what to expect.” Translation: they had under-prepared. Wizard World has remedied this (sort of) for Philadelphia, making David Tennant photos and autographs available only to VIP ticket buyers. It’s an imperfect solution: a limited quantity of tickets at a cost that prices a lot of people out of contention. But at least they won’t run out by the first day of the con.

    So my daughter’s friend lost out. My wife and daughter, however, racked up, each of them receiving (1) any item autographed, (2) a professional photo-op, (3) a David Tennant collector’s card, (4) other Doctor Who stuff, and (5) a limited edition Walking Dead comic book with a black-and-white sketch cover by Dean Haspiel (so that’s who he is!). And they got into the Tennant Q&A, which, we found out, was open only to VIPs because the room was so small. (My question: why didn’t they rearrange the rooms? It’s David Tennant. You can bump the Harry Potter fan fiction panel to a snack bar table.)

    If the crowd was meager on Friday, it had Hulked up by Sunday. There were 500 VIP ticket holders that day (600 on Saturday), plus who knows how many who managed to get a one-day autograph or photo ticket before they were sold out. My wife took over 100 pictures during the Q&A, enough to allow us to play a game called The Many Faces of David Tennant.

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    David ponders why the TARDIS isn’t cleaner on the inside.

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    David does his Gilbert Gottfried impression.

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    David whistles “Dixie,” because he’s in the South.

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    David tries to hypnotize the crowd but puts himself to sleep.

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    This is David Tennant, not David Bowie.

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    “Blimey, Rose! I told you to close the TARDIS door before take-off!”

    Tennant is surprised at how popular Doctor Who has become in the United States—surprised but pleased. Asked about his acting career, he said he likes the variety of roles (in his new drama, Broadchurch, he plays a character as far from the Doctor as you can imagine). Whom would he cosplay as at a convention? “Someone with a mask, so I could enjoy the convention.” One questioner recommended that he try the barbecue before leaving North Carolina. This apparently led to a discussion of food in which he dissed American bacon (too dry and crunchy).  Another asked him who he fanboys over. Answer: Marvel Comics, which he had recently toured.

    After the Q&A came photos, and about an hour after that, the signing line started. When my daughter reached the table, she asked Tennant if she could record him saying hello to her friend (the one who got gypped on the autograph). Most celebs won’t do this, but in the absence of an advertised prohibition, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Astonishingly, he agreed! Then a Wizard World staffer stepped in and put a stop to it. Normally, I would rail against this, but the staffer had a point. If Tennant did that for my daughter, he would have to do it for everyone, which would slow the line to a crawl. The lesson for convention goers is this: guests aren’t being rude or aloof when they refuse some of your requests. The refusal may simply be a matter of convention policy.

    So the inaugural Wizard World Raleigh was a success. Great city, great guests, friendly service—and the Doctor. One woman my wife talked to had driven eight hours from Alabama with her two kids to see him. On top of the arm-and-leg-ness of VIP tickets, this struck me as insanely devoted. “Would you do that?” I asked my wife on Monday as she stared out the kitchen window, a melancholy smile on her face. “Yes,” she said without hesitation. “Yes I would.”

    Well-played, Wizard World. Well-played.

     

    Wondercon 2015 Con Report!

    After taking a brief hiatus from cons, I attended the 2015 Wondercon in Anaheim! With the lack of a big entertainment presence, as well as only a few big name artists and writers, I didn’t expect this show to be a successful one. But I was wrong.
    Driving up to the con, I saw a long line of cars just waiting for parking! Walking on to the show floor, the con was packed for Friday at noon, and the crowds were packed all weekend long. Con season was in full swing, and Wondercon was a great warmup to Comic Con in a few months! Adding to the excitement was the news that Wondercon will be moving to Los Angeles next year. Hopefully, LA can accommodate and handle the eager fans I saw in Anaheim, and Comikaze provides an excellent indicator that LA can handle a great comic show. I guess we’ll see next year if the move was the correct one. And now, onto some of cool things I saw last weekend:

     

    Welcome to Wondercon!

     

    The line to get in!

     

    Let’s check out Artist Alley!

     

    Crowded show floor!

     

    Steve Epting making a fan extremely happy.

     

    Rob Liefeld signing a Deadpool mask!

     

    Babs Tarr greeting one of the many fans at Wondercon.

     

    Dan Jurgens drawing an amazing Superman commission!

     

    Ron Lim signing a Silver Surfer comic.

     

    Mike Choi sketching away!

     

    Phil Noto selling one of his beautiful prints, which were all gone in one day!

     

    Neal Adams talking to his fans at his awesome booth!

     

    Ken Lashley giving a thumbs up for Wondercon!

     

     

    Artist Craig Drake signing his awesome Boba Fett prints being sold at Hero Complex Gallery booth on Saturday!

     

    Awesome Boba Fett prints that were sold out!

     

    Dennis Haysbert drops in on Jesse Metcalfe and Tim Carter for Dead Rising: Watchtower!

     

    Shane West and Janet Montgomery share a joke at Wondercon!

     

    And now, onto some awesome cosplay!

    Belle and Chip walk through the halls of Wondercon!

     

    A fierce looking Daenerys selling tshirts at a booth!

     

    An amazing Apocalypse terrorizing Wondercon!

     

    A great Malificent showing off her robes!

     

    A fierce warrior with real light up armor!

     

    Lady Loki: such a trickster!

     

    We are Groot!

     

    A lovely Jean Grey with puppet Cyclops!

     

    Cool Petyr and Margaery costumes!

     

    Double trouble!

     

    Can you tell me where the bathroom is?

     

    Got zombies?

     

    No you may not play with my lightsaber!

     

    Margot Kidder gets a kick out of a funny WW costume!

     

    Sad Batfleck at Wondercon.

     

    Do you want to build a snowman?

     

    More Elsas chilling out!

     

    A cute Baymax waddling around the floor!

     

    An epic journey awaits!

     

    Our princess is in LA! Join us next year at Wondercon 2016!

    Scene and Heard: Dead Rising: Watchtower at Wondercon 2015!

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    The star of Dead Rising: Watchtower, Jesse Metcalfe, spoke to the media at Wondercon 2015, and Convention Scene’s own Richard Oh was there.

     

     

     

     

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    Scene and Heard: Salem Cast at Wondercon 2015!

    Salem's Shane West and Janet Montgomery share smiles at Wondercon 2015!

    Salem’s Shane West and Janet Montgomery share smiles at Wondercon 2015!

     

     

    The stars of WGN America’s Salem, Shane West and Janet Montgomery, spoke to the media at Wondercon 2015, and Convention Scene’s own Richard Oh was there.

     

     

     

    Spooky Empire Con Report!

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    “Why do you think horror movies are so popular?” asked my friend John. It was Friday evening, October 24, and we were standing in Tobin Bell’s autograph line at Spooky Empire, the semiannual fright fest held in sunny Orlando. I have known John since 1990, when he, a transfer student from Massachusetts, walked into my high school Spanish class and took the only available seat–the one next to me. After high school, we worked together at McDonald’s, and when he moved to Tennessee for college, and then Florida to work in the nursing home industry, we remained friends. He was with me at the Minneapolis Wizard World, as a matter of fact.

    And this is what our friendship is like: deep thoughts. Why are horror movies popular? “Fear is primal,” I answered. “We like being scared because it is a release, especially when the object scaring us is revealed to be harmless, like a man in a mask.” (The Atlantic magazine ran a great article on exactly this topic; I’ll recommend it here.) We talked about it more, stepping forward every so often as the incredibly slow-moving line moved forward (with incredible slowness). This is not because the line was mismanaged; there were simply a lot of people in it.

    I have seen all the Saw movies, and Tobin Bell was the one person I wanted to see at my inaugural Spooky Empire, which calls itself “one of the largest horror cons in the US.” Horror cons tend to be peopled by B- and C-list celebs, but this one had some moneymakers: Tara Reid, David Guintoli and Bitsie Tulloch (from TV’s Grimm), Derek Mears, Chris Sarandon, some of The Walking Dead cast, most of Rob Zombie’s Halloween cast, and, of course, Tobin Bell. He was very gracious with his time, talking and laughing with attendees. The person in front of me had a Tobin Bell mask for him to sign, and I wanted to ask Tobin how it felt to hold his own face in his hands, but I was afraid it’d be weird. Instead, I handed him my still-in-the-box figure of Billy, Jigsaw’s creepy puppet (which I had already had Cary Elwes sign at DragonCon). Below is the result.

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    Want a close-up of Billy? Here it is.

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    Sadly, the household-name-ness did not extend to the authors. I am a writer, an English professor, and a sometime bookseller. In other words, I know literature. As a 25-year fan of horror fiction, I know horror literature. But I did not know a single writer in attendance. (Full disclosure: Carrie Harris was there. She seems pretty big in YA circles, and she got the big-author-convention treatment, meaning she got a panel of her own and her picture was the biggest in the program.) I seem to remember Clive Barker attending a couple of years ago, so I know Spooky Empire can attract true literary stars. I was disappointed that they hadn’t done so this year.

    The good thing is that the writers who were there stayed paneled-up. They led not just author talks but actual seminars on writing and publishing, some of which were tailored to specific interests, such as Friday night’s “Writing for Screen and Other Mediums.” Though the name should have been “media” (sorry, writerly tic), it was a good seminar.

    Halloween is a cold weather holiday, so it seemed strange to attend a horror convention in a T-shirt and no jacket. Yet I enjoyed the experience. The dealer room seemed small for “one of the largest horror cons in the US,” but some cool merchandise was available. I talked to one dealer who had a collection of vintage costumes, most still in the boxes. Had he had those costumes for 40 years, or did he buy them like that? “I assemble them,” he said, buying a mask here, pants there, the box from some other source. How long does it take him to put together a costume? Over 10 years, for some. He also had an assortment of stuff like we used to order from the ad pages in 70s-era comics and magazines–stuff like X-ray glasses, monster teeth, fake blood, all still in packages, most in mint condition.

    These are the dealers I like. Others had mostly new stuff, some of which I see over and over at conventions. This, however, I had never seen.

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    One suggestion I have for Spooky Empire: better signage. John and I went through the hotel main entrance (Doubletree at Universal), followed the crowd of ghouls and zombies and normal-looking people (who could be homicidal maniacs because, as Wednesday Addams reminds us, “they look like everyone else”), and got all the way to what turned out to be a side entrance to the convention, where a guard pointed back the way we had come and said, “The convention entrance is that way.” A sign to that effect would have kept us from going in the wrong way. Also, a hotel employee was standing out front, directing drivers to the convention parking lot, up the street from the hotel parking lot. I think a sign could have done that job as well.

    These complaints are trifles, though. Spooky Empire is as well-run as it is well-known, and I look forward to going again. I won’t get another weekend pass–there isn’t enough for multiple days–but the one-day pass is worth the money. John, who isn’t a horror guy, concurs, saying he enjoyed seeing the celebs and cosplayers. Where will we go next? Dunno. But when we figure it out, you–or, since I’m from North Carolina, y’all–will be the first to know.

    See below for a few more Spooky Empire pics.

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    Look at that disgusting blob! And Slimer, too.

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    With guests like this, who needs security?

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    “There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

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    Word to the wise: don’t photo bomb guys who have actual bombs.

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    Abraham Lincoln, convention goer

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    Chris Sarandon (Jack Skellington) signs a Nightmare Before Christmas picture for my daughter.

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    Ken Page (Oogie Boogie) signs the same picture.

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    Fans chat up Tara Reid.

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    I’m guessing this is a teacher from the Black Lagoon.

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    I wonder what Tobin Bell thought of HER.

     

    Baltimore Comic-Con Report!

    Who watches the Watchmen? A few hundred people at least, all of whom were in line ahead of me at last month’s Baltimore Comic-Con (Sept. 5-7) for Dave Gibbons’s autograph.

    Gibbons is, of course, the artist behind Watchmen, the 12-issue miniseries published by DC in the mid-80s. The accolades heaped on Watchmen are as legendary as the series itself. It was the only graphic novel to appear on Time‘s 2005 “100 Greatest Novels” list, and it appeared again in 2009 on the magazine’s “Top 10 Graphic Novels” list. In 2008, Entertainment Weekly ranked Watchmen thirteenth on its list of the best 50 novels printed in the last 25 years, calling it “the greatest superhero story ever told and proof that comics are capable of smart, emotionally resonant narratives.”

    I have loved Watchmen since it came out, and when I saw that Gibbons, who lives in the UK, would be in Baltimore, I booked my flight immediately. By “flight,” I mean I got up at 5:00am and drove the six hours from Raleigh, NC, passing through Washington just miles from the White House and getting stuck in horrendous construction-related traffic that even President Obama is, apparently, powerless to prevent. Other great artists and writers were there, including Steve Leialoha, Walter and Louise Simonson, Greg Capullo, David Finch, and Al Milgrom, who does few conventions these days. Denny O’Neil left early due to a family emergency, and the wait for George Perez was four hours (!), according to one woman who endured it.

    But Gibbons was, for me, the star of the show. I waited about an hour in his line, and when I got to the table, I found him to be gracious, funny, and down-to-earth. He was impressed by my Graphitti edition Watchmen hardcover (the first graphic novel version of the series) and my Marvel Comics Doctor Who #1 (for the wife, a consecrated Whovian). But he oohed and ahhed—actually, we all did—over something another guy had: the 1994 computer game Beneath a Steel Sky, still in the box. Gibbons did the background art for this game, and he said he had never signed a copy before. Get it on eBay, young man!

    The Baltimore Comic-Con has long been a two-day affair. This was its first year spanning a third day, and everyone I talked to thought it a success. Vendors especially were pumped-up because their rate stayed roughly the same despite the extra day. They also praised the convention staff for being responsive and professional. Sales were good, too: one dealer sold an Action Comics #252 (first appearance of Supergirl) for $900.

    Dr. Chilton, the captor/tormentor of Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, says that Baltimore “can be quite a fun town, if you have the right guide.” The only guide I needed was the folks at this year’s Comic-Con. As you are planning your convention schedule for next year, mark down September 25-27 in Baltimore. It won’t be a baaa-d decision.

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    They don’t look like minions, but I’ll take their word for it.

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    Deadpool doing what Deadpool does.

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    Hello, Walter Simonson!

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    Hello, Louise Simonson!

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    Don’t blink. Or wink. Or think about blinking or winking. Especially when drinking.

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    The line to see Dave Gibbons.

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    And, finally, Dave Gibbons, holding my newly-signed Watchmen hardcover (which, if it were shirt, I would never wash again).

    PalmCon 2014 Photos from WPTV News

    PalmCon 2014

    Here are some photos as posted by West Palm Beach’s Channel 5 News WPTV.

    For more about PalmCon check out their website HERE!

    Wizard World Chicago Comic Con 2014 Report! (Including an Interview with Lou Ferrigno)

    It is a truth universally acknowledged . . . No. Let me rephrase. Waiting sucks.

    I was in line at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, IL. Shoulders smarting, back stiff as a statute, legs wobbly like a wooden easel, I was waiting for Josh Peck, a guest at this year’s (August 21-24) Chicago Wizard World Con. Josh is best known for starring opposite Drake Bell in the Nicklodeon show Drake & Josh. My daughter loved that show, and I was standing in line for her.

    Josh finally arrived, and a great cheer went up–until he realized neither he nor his handler had any photos for him to sign. So we waited another 20 minutes. Chatted him up (his take on appearing in the remake of Red Dawn: “Awesome.”). Someone asked if he would yell “Megan!”, his signature line from Drake & Josh; he politely declined. Oh, and I got a selfie.

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    (OK, it wasn’t a selfie; I asked someone to take the pic. Shows you how superannuated I am.)

    Josh was friendly but ill-at-ease. You could tell he was a convention novice, as opposed to, say, Lou Ferrigno. A regular at Wizard World cons, Lou is best known for his role as the Hulk in the 1978 CBS television series. I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes.

    Me: How did you get started doing conventions?

    Lou: I was out with a friend of mine one time, and I went to a place in Hollywood where they had a convention. I walked around, and they kept telling me I ought to do a convention because the fans really want my autograph. I’m so used to giving autographs, and I thought, why not have a table? That’s how it started. It’s a good living.

    Me: How long have you been doing conventions?

    Lou: About 15 years.

    Me: What are some crazy fan stories you can share?

    Lou: I had a woman one time who came to me about a year ago, and she had a Hulk tattoo on her leg, and she had my signature tattooed on her leg. She had both legs done, and she wanted to take a picture, and her husband is standing there looking like, every morning I have to get up and look at my wife’s legs with your signature and the Hulk’s picture.

    Me: I guess we saw where her loyalties lie. How did you get into character to play the Hulk?

    Lou: It came naturally to me. I use pantomiming, acting without speaking, and they just loved it. I used the sensitive part of me to become the character.

    Me: You have talked a lot about an actual actor playing the Hulk versus CGI. You’ve said people have told you they preferred your version.

    Lou: Over 90% of the people have said that.

    Me: Why do you think that is?

    Lou: CGI cannot compete with a human Hulk. There is no sensitivity. The Hulk, the character I created, with his vulnerability and sensitivity—it can never be replaced.

    Me: When I was growing up, my mother didn’t let me watch the Hulk because she said he was “vulgar.” Did you ever get negative comments from people who didn’t like the character?

    Lou: The only negative was a lot of mothers hated me because their sons ripped their shirts and walked around the house that way.

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    Another headliner was Stan Lee, whose first autograph session was scheduled for 5:00pm on Friday. I had paid online for an autograph ($80!), and though the ticket was good all weekend, I thought going the first day would help me eschew half-day lines. At 4:00, I strolled to his booth, saw about 20 people standing there, and got in line. Wonderful! I thought. Then: this doesn’t seem right. Next, I noticed three things in the span of 10 seconds:

    1. The Stan Lee VIP badges around the necks of the people in front of me;
    2. To my left, a separate line of proletariat-looking people, where I clearly belonged; and
    3. A con staffer walking toward me.

    Once I was moved to the correct line, I waited about an hour, which isn’t bad. At one point, someone said Stan Lee was somewhere in the exhibit hall posing for pictures FREE. I found him, took this picture, and noticed something strange. Do you see it too?

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    Five points to Gryffindor if you recognize that this person isn’t Stan Lee. I don’t know whether he was a cosplayer, a doppleganger, or something else, but I later got a candid (read: surreptitious) pic of the real deal.

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    Stan was terrific, charming and humble, and his line managers took a bend-but-don’t-break approach that I appreciated. In fact, all the crowds were well managed. One helpful feature was a signing schedule at every celebrity’s booth, like this one at Josh Peck’s.

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    Despite being the biggest event in the Wizard World portfolio, Chicago was a delight. I did a lot of waiting, but that is unavoidable, and I passed the time gawking at some world-class cosplayers. The rooms were laid out well, prices were clearly advertised, most things happened on time, and I saw little tension among staff or attendees. CGC was doing comic book grading on site, and that also went well, probably because Stan Lee had his own booth.

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    If you go to only one Wizard World con ever, make it Chicago. You’ll have a ball. Here are a few more pics to show you why.

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    No, this isn’t security removing an unruly attendee; it’s just a cadre of cosplayers.

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    The long and short of it.

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    Doin’ the Cybertron shuffle.

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    Looking forward to the Ant Man movie in 2015.

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    Even the queen had a good time hanging with a few (dis)loyal subjects.

    SDCC 2014 Digest: 4

    This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series SDCC Digest 2014

    Barrowman Amell Bloom SDCC

    We will continue to add more videos and links here for SDCC 2014 as we come across them but for now here is our final compilation.

    San Diego Comic Con 2014 Con Report!

    On July 23-27th, San Diego was host to the 2014 San Diego Comic Con! After 10 years of attending this show, I was definitely looking forward to seeing what sort of amazing spectacles Comic Con had in store for me this year. After a week of recovery from the show, I had to admit, compared to all the other Comic Cons, this one was a bit more low key. There weren’t many major announcements on the movie front, and while there were some exciting TV shows on hand, I definitely didn’t feel the major buzz I typically do at SDCC.

    However, like all previous Comic Cons, it’s a great time to mingle with artists, writers, and friends you never get to mingle with anywhere else outside of SDCC. It was fun watching the stars come on the show floor, watching artists draw some amazing commissions, and seeing the amazing exhibits some of the booths displayed, including all of the Batman cowls celebrating the Caped Crusader’s 75th birthday, as well as some very cool props from the latest movies. While it lacked that extra spark that San Diego usually brings to the table, it still was, is and always will be THE place to be. And now, on to some of the sights I saw during the weekend.

    The line on preview night to get inside the show floor!

     

    The con was generous enough to provide free wifi for those waiting upstairs!

     

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    Hall H line is thrilled to go inside!

     

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    The awesome Constantine display out by the Gaslamp District!

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    The awesome Batman statue in the middle of the DC booth.

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    The Christian Bale and George Clooney Batman costumes.

     

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    The Batfleck cowl.

     

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    The Batcycle at the Lego booth!

     

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    Groot and Rocket staring me down from the Lego booth.

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    An amazing Rocket Raccoon statue!

    More GotG props at the Marvel booth!

    What a bunch of A-holes…

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    Don’t touch Lola!

     

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    Alex Ross’ booth had this beautiful painting available for sale.

     

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    Heritage Auctions brought this historic page to display. Jaw dropping!

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    Star Wars toy set up in amazing fashion!

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    Adam West greeting the crowds of SDCC!

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    Kelley Jones doing a live Batman drawing demo!

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    Arthur Adams doing what he does best: drawing masterpieces!

    Amazing Hulk cover for sale!

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    Geoff Johns, John Romita Jr., and Klaus Janson, the Superman team signing at the DC booth!

    Jock and Guillermo Del Toro signing Jock’s Pan Labyrinth print at Mondo booth!

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    Mondo displayed their latest foray into pop culture: toys!

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    Speaking of toys, here’s Todd McFarlane with his new Walking Dead line!

    Lee Bermejo talking to a customer about his Joker pages!

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    Bruce Timm drawing some amazing head sketches!

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    Loki’s scepter makes an appearance at the Marvel booth!

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    The amazing reveal for Avengers 2!

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    The Avengers cast signing at the Marvel booth was insane!

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    The biggest news of the weekend: WW’s costume! (photo credit to WB studios)

    I didn’t take a lot of cosplay pics this year, but here’s a few that stood out!

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    In all my years of Comic Con, I’ve never seen this: Live action karaoke!

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    Gwen Stacy lugging around a Spidey backpack!

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    An elaborate Vanellope costume complete with car!

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    Batman better look out for Superman…

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    Great Shrek costumes!

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    There’s Waldo!

    By far the coolest: Raven with glowing eyes!

    By far the coolest: Raven with glowing eyes!

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    My happiest moment at SDCC!

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    A beautiful sunset caps another year of SDCC! See you all next year!

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