It was a dark and stormy night… in Latveria.
(Sorry, but since my body is still under viral attack and my brain has been heavily taxed by my weekend geeky shenanigans, I really didn’t know where to begin this post-Comic Con wrap-up post, so I just went with an old nerdy standby.)
Like the heroes I worship, I’m just going to take that leap and dive right into the mouth of the beast, as it were.
My lovely wife, whom I spared the horror of attending this year’s nerdgasm event, was more than happy to navigate the convention traffic jam and drop me off Sunday morning. It was obvious from the get-go that my dream of attending a comic book convention in my not-so-secret-identity of Robert Hookey was just that, a dream that would never pierce reality.
“Was that your mom dropping you off, buddy? What are you, twenty-five-years-old?”
That lovely greeting came from a teenage Eleventh Doctor knock-off who was accompanied by two… I don’t know what the hell they were supposed to be and I didn’t care. At that moment, as I was surrounded by the moving crowd making its way to the doors Scotiabank Convention Centre, it was clear I needed to return fire – and fast.
“Actually, I’m forty-three and that was my wife. The one I had sex with last night while you guys were no doubt wearing blindfolds and jerking each other off.”
The crowd, which included two families, a pair of newlyweds in matching original generation Star Trek uniforms and three pretty girls clad in Disney princess dresses, broke up as my would-be hecklers suppressed the urge to pee themselves from embarrassment. From there, the fun kept on coming.
Forward-thinking and experience meant I already had my ticket and so within minutes I was in the building – where an amped-up security officer literally pushed me through the line as my fellow attendees were having their online tickets scanned. I made an honest effort to explain that no one had torn off the necessary portion of my ticket, but my manhandler was too busy examining the weapons of some Lord of the Rings refugees to notice me. My experience with the
stormtroopers security were soon forgotten, however, once I crossed that threshold and my feet were firmly planted on the convention floor.
My eyes were dazzled by the ocean of vendor signage, the stark black curtains separating various convention districts, the intermingling, gaudily-clad bodies of wannabe heroes, villains and creatures of all sort, the 1980s red-and-white goodness of the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1, and the various other color configurations one would only find on a convention floor. My ears were blasted with announcements for various Q and A sessions with celebrities, video game music and the symphony of human interaction that included declarations such as:
- “Oh come on, baby, it’s Comic Con! You know it’s always been my dream to do it at Comic Con!” (I hope it was also his dream to have his girlfriend storm off in an ultra-mega-huff during Comic Con, ’cause that’s exactly how it played out.)
- “I’m not paying 95$ so the kids can get Shatner’s autograph, Tracy! Captain Kirk can shove a tribble up his ass!” (More on autograph prices later, kids. Suffice to say, there was a collective groan from the assembled Niagara Falls Comic Con crowd when they became aware of just how much certain celebrities were demanding for their John Hancocks.)
- “Is that the girl from Growing Pains? I thought she was dead!” (Setting the record straight: Tracey Gold is very much alive and well. Although, judging from the lack of activity at her table – I spent the day circling celebrity Row and I didn’t see a single fan approach her all day – the world may not be aware of that.)
My olfactory senses were overcome by the smell of overpriced food, body odor, perfume, magic markers, faded glory and desperation. All in all, it was a typical Comic Con entrance. I took a deep breath, readied my legs for the marathon laps to come, and began circling the convention floor. I scored some choice graphic novel collections of Marvel Comics’ The Defenders, originally priced at 60$ each, for the bargain basement price of 5$.
I won’t lie to you, folks, my inner geek was sporting wood at this deal.
Yes, I really am that nerdy at times.
The convention was a great place to score the comics I enjoyed as a wee lad, the ones I parted with through one circumstance or another.
After an hour of scouring the back-issue bins of my local faves, Big B Comics and of course, Pulp Comics, I switched tracks and began indulging one of my favorite pastimes… the observation of the human animal in his natural environment.
The sub-group I focused my attention on was one that I’ve always found particularly fascinating. In their most natural state they derive great pleasure from drawing attention to themselves. Many mammals prefer solitude over the glare of the spotlight but this breed thrives on observation. Indeed, without it, they find themselves lost and vulnerable. There were three distinct groupings of this particular breed of human and each was fascinating in its own way.
The Super Nova-Class of celebrities present at the convention included:
- Chandler Riggs of The Walking Dead, the hottest show on television that doesn’t flash boobs, dragons or gratuitous medieval violence every five minutes.
- The one and only William Shatner, a man whose first major TV series – a little TV show “he did as a lark for a few years” – inspired fans to begin gathering for conventions in the first place.
- Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men.
- Giancarlo Esposito of Breaking Bad fame. No actor alive has ever been considered cooler for having half his face blown off.
- The 7th Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy.
Interesting story about Chandler Riggs: One of my daughter’s BFFs, Katie, paid 40$ for his autograph, “and a hug!”, and afterwards she hovered around to soak in his teenage greatness. During this time, several fans of the little guy handed over another $40 to pose with their hero but a few of them, for reasons that escape me, decided to grab his little behind, prompting his mother to refund their money and cancel all further photo ops. Even the press was informed, “No pictures. He’s underage.”
As for photos of Capt. Kirk (120$ a pop), well that’s another story entirely. Shatner was blocked from view by a hulking security guard – a local beast who is actually an ex-colleague and whose local rep is notorious for reasons I won’t go into here; suffice to say, the man has a bad attitude that I soon discovered through conversations with other volunteers made itself known over the weekend. So foul is this man’s attitude that one volunteer, after being shoved in public by his fellow worker, ripped off his Comic Con shirt on the floor and “resigned” with a hearty “Fuck this!”
Every time anyone even attempted to get a long-distance shot of Bill with their own camera they were blocked and scolded by security. I watched this carefully for several minutes until I was inspired into action after a young mom and her daughter were pushed back by the Man Mountain security agent.
I went into full Hook mode and began heckling Shatner’s security duo.
“Seriously, Bill? These mere mortals aren’t worthy of gazing upon The Mighty Shat? They’re forbidden from capturing your godlike visage with their puny devices? You really need the money bad enough to go to this length? I bet Spock would allow a shot or two!”
The crowd went wild. Security moved towards me until they realized they’d be exposing Bill to the crowd. My point made, I moved on. One more thing about Bill: his “people” made reservations for him at a local pizzeria with very specific stipulations: High-end, premium cuts of steak were ordered and a certain type of salmon was fetched for the captain.
He then cancelled. That’s our Billy.
Next up, the celebrities that walk that very thin line between hot and cold:
- Wrestler Ric Flair. He’s probably inspired more childhood injuries that Adam West but people still love the guy.
- Dean Cain. He’s still super. He hunts Bigfoot. He’s still a draw.
- Marina Sirtis of Star Trek: TNG. She was situated beside Shatner and you could literally see the drool running down her face as she studied the size of his line.
- Ernie Hudson of Ghostbusters.
- Hercules Kevin Sorbo.
- Tony Todd of Candyman and a million other films where he became known as “That guy from…”.
Finally, there was the Ghost Town inhabited by those folks you remember but whose star has faded. I circled this are all day and didn’t see a fan in line once.
- The aforementioned Tracey Gold. People kept stopping to see if she appeared healthy but that’s as far as it went.
- Burt Young. “Paulie” of Rocky fame.
- Erika Eleniak of Baywatch jiggle fame.
- David Faustino of Married… With Children.
- Barbie Blank is best known for her time as the WWE Divas Champion Kelly Kelly.
One of Eleniak’s female handlers walked by me at one point and remarked, “She’s pretty disappointed with her turnout today.”, prompting me to pose the following suggestion:
“Why doesn’t she make out with Barbie Blank? That should get them plenty of attention.”
That suggestion did not go over well.
My observations concluded, I moved on. I stopped by Archie Comics’ artist Dan Parent’s booth and scored a signed sketchbook for my daughter. Sarah is a huge fan of Parent’s work but in retrospect, I really should have flipped through the sketchbook before handing over my money.
Sarah has become quite the little feminist and so she was quite perturbed by some of parent’s pieces.
“Hey, Skippy! have you seen some of this guy’s sketches? You can tell a lot about him from some of these!”
(Yes, she calls me “Skippy”. I’m so proud. Come to think of it, I should have scored a copy of that sketchbook for myself.)
Needless to say, I’m still hearing about this and that’s not going to change anytime soon.
After a few more conversations with my fellow nerds, vendors, volunteers and a few minor celebrities, I called it quits and headed home to scan my wares. Of course, I did that after sitting through a well-intentioned lecture on feminism as it relates to the work of Dan Parent. At least my kid believes in something, right?
By the way, click Here for my buddy John Law’s post-con report. He lays out the current state of the con pretty well, if I do say so myself. Comic Con’s Facebook page tells an interesting tale as well. Look for the comments from the former Green Ranger; he’s pretty pissed at the organizers and so he gave them a few virtual Mighty Morphin power kicks to the head.
See you in the lobby, kids… and maybe the convention floor next year?