Adventures in Comicon land
I am a Comicon newbie. I have been wanting to check it out for a few years. I’ve been somewhat fascinated with the subculture since I saw Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997). Since I have recently seen Watchmen (twice) and I am currently reading the graphic novel, I thought this would be a great opportunity to experience something new and write about it.
Kansas City’s Comicon is called Planet Comicon. I attended Saturday and Sunday. Saturday I had my whole family there. Kansas City had a big nasty hail/sleet/snow storm Saturday and I was sure the event would be poorly attended. Quite the opposite, it was extremely crowded. Uncomfortably so, especially with kids in tow. I did sense the excitement and can see why people are passionate about this event. There is something absurdly satisfying about seeing all the people dressed up (people dress up as their favorite comic and sci-fi characters.) Costumes on a whole were incredibly ornate, some looking like they cost thousands of dollars. There were what I assume to be professionals dressed in replicas of Star Wars characters, aliens from several movies, Iron Man and Iron Monger, Pirates of the Caribbean, and many others. The costumes seemed to be a highlight of the convention, as throngs of people gathered around the most popular characters for photo ops.
Obviously there were tons of comic books available, but there are also booths with dvds, action figures, movie posters, and lots of other comic paraphernalia. Artists, authors, gamers, costumers, and locally produced upcoming movies were all represented. There were also a few actors from movies and television (Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca on Star Wars; Erin Gray, from Buck Rogers), and the obligatory has- been playboy bunny there signing autographs.
I went back on Sunday right when Comicon opened, and I’m glad I did. It was not crowded yet, and I got to actually speak to some exhibitors. I learned from a volunteer that this is the largest event of its kind in the region, and that it seems to be getting some national respect. Nintendo had their second promo in the United States for the Fire Emblem game. They had a huge booth were people could go in and play the game with tutorials. Greeters were dressed as characters from the game. It was very elaborate and was a popular destination for visitors, as evidenced by lines on Saturday.
I spoke briefly with Erin Gray, who has aged quite gracefully and was very classy. I asked her if she did these shows very often and she indicated that she has started “Heroes for Hire” www.heroesforhire.info a company that arranges personal appearances at these types of events for charity.
I also spoke to Charlotte Kemp (Frankenhooker, Playboy Miss December 1982) and was extremely excited to find that she is organizing Crypticon Houston www.CrypticonHouston.com a Horror Convention she hopes will travel to many cities. Bring on the horror Charlotte, bring it on!!
Finally I attended an artist’s panel consisting of Nathan Fox Pigeons from Hell; Jeremy Haun Civil War: Iron Man/Captain America; Ray Dillon Rogue Angel and Renae De Liz Sonic the Hedgehog. The panel was an intimate setting where a moderator asked questions and audience members were encouraged to participate. They discussed digital vs. old school ink art production (which is apparently a heated debate in the comic community), personal preference for creative environment, sexism (or lack thereof, according to Renae) and various other topics.
I must say I enjoyed myself immensely, and plan on becoming a regular attendee. I cannot stress how nice everyone I talked to was. They were informative, polite and enthusiastic. I got a good vibe from the crowd, and people writing this off as a “nerd fest” might be missing out on something special. I love to see people being passionate about their interests, and I am pretty sure that this is one of the best examples of that in the kansas city area.