DragonCon 2017 Report!

Each year, I start checking the guest list on the DragonCon web site in December. Call it my Christmas tradition. I check it once a month until, say, May, then once a week until summer’s midpoint. After that, I’m checking it pretty much daily until that pre-Labor Day Thursday, when the convention opens.

The web site has a full guest list and a featured list. The featured list is where the major authors  and actors appear. It is the only list I check because, unless you are self-published or have ten or fewer Twitter followers, that is the list you are usually on.

Except this year. This year, Wallace Shawn was too obscure to make the featured list, which is . . . wait for it . . . inconceivable. And Jerry Pournelle. Jerry wrote or edited 43 books. He won the Heinlein Society Award, the Prometheus Award, and the John W. Campbell Award. He was the president of SWFA and one of sci-fi’s leading lights. How was Jerry effing Pournelle left off the featured list?

(Don’t tell me they were added too late to make both lists. Arthur Darvill was on both despite being added the day before the con opened).

I had never met Jerry Pournelle at any convention, despite being a bibliophile and science fiction fan. Thus, there was a hole in my collection where his autograph belonged. Fortunately, I saw him on the web site before leaving home, so I grabbed my first edition of New Voices in Science Fiction: Stories by Campbell Award Nominees (1977). The book contains Jerry’s story “Silent Leges,” a masterpiece of military sci-fi. My copy was signed by George R.R. Martin. I wanted Jerry to sign it, too.

He was scheduled to be on a panel Friday afternoon. I got there early. Snagged a front row seat. The other panelists were milling, talking to fans, signing a book here or there. Then I heard someone say, “There’s Jerry.” Turning around, I expected to see the tuxedoed impresario on his Wikipedia page. Shuffling toward me instead was a gaunt man of many years being helped toward the stage. He used a walker. Settling into his chair, he sighed, the weight of a world (not this one, surely; one of his creation) on his shoulders.

I hate being the first to ask for an autograph, and as the panel was starting in ten minutes, I needed someone else to step up. And someone did. I was at the table next, passing Jerry my book and asking if I could have “a quick signature.” He turned the book in his hands like a rare gem.

“Am I in this?” he asked weakly.

“Yes sir,” I said, opening to the title page and handing him my pen.

“Am I a co-editor of this?” I was about to demur, but he answered himself: “No, that was George.” The pen I had given him was a felt tip Expresso, the only pen I can use without smearing the ink. He tried to sign his looping J and poked a hole in the page. I winced. He got it right the second time, though the signature was eroded-looking, like Sumerian clay tablets.

There. Target acquired. I needed to get my book back lest it suffer more damage, like a cracked spine. (Burt Ward did this at DragonCon 2012, opening my book so wide I heard the binding let go like a gunshot.) Inexplicably, I turned to the table of contents. “See? There’s your story,” I said. He smiled. “Oh yes,” he said. “That story.” Then he signed again, forgetting, I suppose, that he had already obliged me.

I don’t mean to ridicule. In fact, I admire Jerry for coming out to DragonCon. He was clearly unwell. Things got worse the following week, and he passed away on September 8. According to the New York Times, he “contracted a cold and flu on the trip.” I was getting over some sickness the day I met him. Did he contract my cold? Did I kill Jerry Pournelle?

I hope not. The memory of a once-vibrant writer hobbling down an aisle is haunting enough. It is hard seeing your heroes reduced by time. When I saw Adam West in 2013, he walked with a cane. William Shatner has put on a few cheb’a’. For some people, going to conventions is like going to a class reunion: they want to see who is still a geek or jock, who succeeded and who flopped, and who got old. I go to pay my respects. Knowing I was among the last people to see Jerry Pournelle alive is a sobering thought, one that has made me realize my responsibility as a fan: to treat celebrities with dignity. They show up for our entertainment; we show up for their actualization. Puts things in perspective, don’t you think?

Attendance at this year’s DragonCon was a record-setting 80,000-plus, which most people attributed to two factors: (1) Stan Lee, who had not been to DragonCon since 2012; and (2) a Doctor Who contingent of Billie Piper, Karen Gillan (who cancelled last year), Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston–and Matt Smith. I heard that Matt was the first post-2005 Doctor to attend DragonCon, and he was terrific, humble and funny, though he wouldn’t shake my hand, offering the fist bump instead. Karen limited herself to the fist bump too. Alex and Billie shook hands and hugged people. Different strokes, I guess.

All the Brits were in one room, sitting at a row of tables. It would have made sense to have a single line, and if you had autograph tickets for, say, only two of the five, you would simply skip the ones you didn’t have tickets for. Instead, once you got, say, Matt’s autograph, you were directed into a separate line for someone else, and if you wanted a third autograph, you had to trudge to a third line, and so on. Bit of a nutter way to do things, if you ask me. Also daft was the fact that Billie Piper was there only one day, but when I bought autograph tickets on Friday, I was told she was there all weekend. I didn’t learn she was Sunday only until I showed up on Saturday. DragonCon is staffed by volunteers, and it is bedlam from start to finish, but I don’t think I’m out of bounds to ask the autograph ticket sellers to know when the autographers will be available.

Lines are a fact of convention life, and with more attendees than all but four NFL stadiums hold, I expected some lines to be interminable. What I didn’t expect, though maybe I should have, was a line to get into a building. Vendors and artists occupy three floors of Americas Mart 2, and last year, the fire marshall shut down the building one day because it was at capacity. To prevent that this year, DragonCon staffers were funneling people into a line outside, letting them in a few at a time. It was a workable but maddening solution. One vendor told me that, next year, the artists will be moved to the fourth floor of Americas Mart, which is an excellent idea. Spreading out attendees over more of the building should curb the overcrowding problem.

After being unable to interview guests last year, I was scheduled for two this year: Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes. Remembering that only one of my two interviews in 2015 took place, I was cautiously optimistic. Turns out the caution was warranted, as was naked fury, because both Marina and Jonathan cancelled. Another reporter told me she had an interview with Gates McFadden, who simply didn’t show up.

To all DragonCon celebs: I know conventions aren’t your vacations. You are working while you’re there. I am working too, and I can’t do my work if you blow off a media session. Remember when you were young actors, struggling to make your way? People helped you, right? So pay that forward–help us. We’re not Nightline anchors. We need the exposure your interviews give us. I can’t speak for all reporters, but I make my interviews short and anodyne, possibly enjoyable. So if you agree to an interview, please keep it. That’s all we–I–ask.

This year was my seventh DragonCon, and despite my cavils, I love it. The show gets better every year. If you have the chance to attend, do it. Don’t say you’ll think about it. Don’t say you want to read more of my reviews first. Just go. But keep reading my reviews. And take a look at the pictures below. Talk to you soon.

Me with my colleague, Michaela McPherson. Check out her interview with Jai Nitz, creator of Suicide Squad’s El Diablo, on Convention Scene.

 

Cool board, bro.

 

Where’s Harley Quinn when you need her?

 

Never seen Marry Poppins and Bert cosplayers before. Excellent!

 

Excuse me, sir. Why is your suitcase wiggling?

 

Believe it or not, this is the first year I’ve seen a dragon at DragonCon.

 

When Michaela wanted to enter the armory, I told her she was axing for trouble.

 

When the rum is gone, you can buy more in the hotel bars . . . or from this guy.

 

Me Grimlock say, “Rawr.”

 

This guy is most definitely not a member of Hair Club for Men.

 

Before and after

 

DragonCon hoststhe Robert A. Heinlein “Pay It Forward” blood drive, which reached a milestone this year: 25,000 donors since 2002.

Stan Lee Returns to Silicon Valley Comic Con 2018

The man, the myth, the legend. Making his grand return to Silicon Valley Comic Con we are very excited to announce our first guest… STAN LEE!

Stan Lee is an American comic-book writer, editor, and publisher, who was formerly executive vice president and publisher of Marvel Comics.

Lee co-created Spider-Man, the Avengers, Black Panther,  the Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Thor, the X-Men, and many other fictional characters, introducing a thoroughly shared universe into superhero comic books. In addition, he challenged the comics’ industry’s censorship organization, the Comics Code Authority, indirectly leading to it updating its policies. Lee subsequently led the expansion of Marvel Comics from a small division of a publishing house to a large multimedia corporation.

He has had cameo appearances in many Marvel film and television projects. A few of these appearances are self-aware and sometimes reference Lee’s involvement in the creation of certain characters.

On 16 July 2017, Lee was named a Disney Legend, a hall of fame program that recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary and integral contribution to The Walt Disney Company.

Other guests for the 2018 convention include: Sean Astin, Jewel Staite, Matthew Lewis, Jim Shooter, Simon Bisley, Coop, Glenn Fabry, Andy Weir

For tickets and information go to SVComicCon.com

RSVP on Facebook!

CA – Ron Lim Signing

Artist Ron Lim (Silver Surfer, Infinity Gauntlet, Sonic the Hedgehog) signs at A-1 Comics on Saturday, December 2, 2017 from noon till 4:00 PM.

RSVP on Facebook!

A-1 Comics, Inc
5361 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95841
(916) 331-9203

CA – Excelsior! Art Show

Marvel legend STAN LEE appears at the Hero Complex Gallery on Monday, November 27, 2017 at 2:00 PM for the EXCELSIOR! art show celebrating over 75 years in the comics industry.

Hero Complex Gallery
2020 South Robertson Blvd., Studio D, Los Angeles, CA 90034
323-334-0035

UK – Amazing Spider-Man #31 Signing

Writer Dan Slott signs Amazing Spider-Man Worldwide Vol. 6 and Amazing Spider-Man #31  at the Forbidden Planet London Megastore on Wednesday 6th September from 6:00 – 7:00 PM.

Amazing Spider-Man Worldwide Vol. 6 brings us – PARKER VS. OSBORN! In the end of Superior Spider-Man, Peter Parker cured Norman Osborn of the Goblin serum and insanity. But Peter didn’t realize that a sane Norman Osborn is more dangerous than ever. Can Spider-Man wield the full power of Parker Industries to take on Osborn’s military might?! The end of Parker Industries begins here!

And in Amazing Spider-Man #31, we have a Secret Empire tie in! On orders from Captain America, the Superior Octopus is taking the fight to Parker Industries. Peter must use the full force of his company to stop Ock and Hydra, but WILL IT BE ENOUGH?!

Dan Slott is an American comic-book writer best known for Avengers: Initiative, Mighty Avengers, She-Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man. He’s renowned for injecting humour into typically serious superhero books.

Forbidden Planet London Megastore
179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR
0207 420 3666

NYC – Spider-Man Celebration

Writer Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man) and artist Adam Kubert (Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man) appear at Midtown Comics Downtown on Saturday, July 29th at 1:00 PM to celebrate all things Spider-Man! Plus, there will be fantastic freebies and sensational prizes (while supplies last)! Be sure to get in line early and prepare yourselves for an absolutely amazing day!

Co-Sponsored by New York Comic Con!

*Please note you may bring up to three items IN TOTAL to be signed. NOT THREE ITEMS PER CREATOR.

RSVP on Facebook!

Midtown Comics Downtown
64 Fulton Street, New York, New York 10038
(212) 302-8192

NYC – Amazing Spider-Man #25 Signing

Writer DAN SLOTT (Silver Surfer, Superior Spider-Man) signs on Wednesday March 15th at 6:00 PM! Come celebrate the release of Amazing Spider-Man #25 at Forbidden Planet NYC.

RSVP on Facebook!

Forbidden Planet
832 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
212-473-1576

Stan Lee Headlines Big Apple Con March 11-12

Press Release:

MIKE CARBONARO’s BIG APPLE CON, New York City’s longest-running Comic Book Convention, returns to PENN PLAZA PAVILION (401 7th Ave @ 33rd Street -opposite Madison Square Garden) on SATURDAY, MARCH 11th, from 10am to 7pm and SUNDAY MARCH 12th 10am~5pm, 2017. This amazing explosion of Comic Books, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, & Cosplay will bring together top comic book creators, media celebrities, retailers, panel discussions, multiple costume contests & more in two incredible days! There will be hundreds of tables of comics, toys, posters, videos, original art, t-shirts & other collectibles, with everything from the world’s rarest comics as well as the newest and coolest books for sale!

BIG APPLE CON is thrilled to announce the triumphant return to NYC of Comic Book Legend STAN LEE! Stan is the most famous comic book creator in the known universe; a title well earned for his many contributions to pop culture. Along with his top artists including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck, Stan “The Man” co-created many modern myths as Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Comics such as: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Hulk, the X-Men, Black Panther, the Inhumans, Thor, Iron Man, the Avengers, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Black Widow, Hawkeye, S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Silver Surfer!

Stan is joined in our star-studded ARTIST ALLEY by many top creators of comic books and related cool media including: JIM STERANKO (Captain America), ROY THOMAS (Star Wars; Saturday only), HOWARD CHAYKIN (Star Wars), RAMONA FRADON (Aquaman), BILLY TUCCI (Shi), AARON LOPRESTI (Ms. Marvel), NANCY SILBERKLEIT (Co-CEO of Archie Comics), REILLY BROWN (Deadpool), ARTHUR SUYDAM (Walking Dead), MICHAEL GOLDEN (Dr. Strange), RENEE WITTERSTAETTER (Guardians of the Galaxy), RICH BUCKLER (Deathlok), MIKE McKONE (Avengers), SOO LEE (Strange Attractors), JIM SIMON (ShieldMaster), J.C. VAUGHN (Gemstone Publishing), GUY DORIAN (New Warriors), J. DAVID SPURLOCK (Vanguard), KRISTEN GUDSNUK (Henchgirl), and BRIAN KONG (Cryptozoic Entertainment). BIG APPLE CON and HIPPY COMIX present UNDERGROUND ALLEY, featuring cutting edge creators of Indy/Alternative Comix: FRANK “Foolbert Sturgeon” STACK (Adventures of Jesus), MARK BODE (Cobalt 60), MIKE DIANA (Boiled Angel), FLY-O (Punk Magazine), JOHN ORLANDO (Humans), CHELLE MAYER (Peacefulshades), and DAN FOGEL (Underground Price & Grading Guide).

Our Media Guest list this year is our finest ever, bringing you a star-studded­ experience unique to BIG APPLE CON! Meet: the PUNISHER himself JON BERNTHAL (Sunday only) from The Walking Dead and the upcoming Defenders, alongside his Daredevil co-stars ELDEN HENSON, PETER SHINKODA, and GEOFFREY CANTOR. We have SPENCER WILDING, Darth Vader from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, BARBARA EDEN (I Dream of Jeannie), KRISTANNA LOKEN (T3), JACKSON BOSTWICK (Captain Marvel on Shazam!), KATHY GARVER (Family Affair, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends), THE AMAZING KRESKIN, NEIL KAPLAN (Transformers, Voltron), JOHNNY BRENNAN (Jerky Boys, Family Guy), ROBB DEMAREST (Ghost Hunters International), Special Effects and Prop Master ROY WOOLEY (Zombieland, Hunger Games), TAIMAK (The Last Dragon), and from The Warriors DAVID HARRIS and TERRY MICHOS.

Join us for a special screening on Sunday of Michael Valentine’s COMIX: BEYOND THE COMIC BOOK PAGES, an exciting new feature film documentary about the world of comic books told through the thoughts and images of the creators, artists, writers, collectors, store owners, independent publishers, and especially the passionate fans who have made it the phenomenon that it is today!

BIG APPLE CON will once again bring the most amazing Cosplayers and costumers together for a fast-paced, exciting weekend of creative excellence! This year will be our largest ever, with multiple contests across different genres, professional judges, and over $15,000 in incredible prizes awarded! Our Super Sponsors include: Mood Designer Fabrics, Squishable, Five and Diamond SF, Bernina, Cosplay by McCall’s, Rickey’s NYC, and Prop Store. Come as any character in Comic Books, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, Cartoons, Anime/Manga, Video Games, or make up your own! You can also participate in special themed group Cosplay photoshoots! On Sunday there will be a 12 and under Kids Costume Showcase where everyone gets a prize, as well as other fun activities for your younglings!

DATE: Saturday, March 11th ~ 10am -7pm & Sunday, March 12th ~ 10am -5pm 2017

PLACE: Penn Plaza Pavilion ~ 401 7th Ave. @ 33rd St. NYC

TICKETS: Adults: $30 Saturday, $25 Sunday, both days $50. Children: $10 per day (ages 6-12, 5 and under free!). Please check our website frequently for the latest information on our special VIP and Early Admission Packages!

TICKET PURCHASE & INFORMATION: www.bigapplecc.com

CA – A-1 Comics Grand Opening

Artist Ron Lim (Silver Surfer, Sonic the Hedgehog) signs at the grand opening of A-1 Comics’ Folsom store on Saturday, February 11th from 10:00AM – 1:00 PM.

A-1 Comics
900 E Bidwell St. #600 Folsom, CA 95630

CA – Amazing Spider-Man Signing

000 djuc slott

Writer Dan Slott (Amazing Spider-Man, Silver Surfer) signs at DJ’s Universal Comics on Saturday, January 21st at 4:00 PM!

DJ’s Universal Comics
11390 Ventura Blvd, Ste 9, Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 761-3465

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