Ever notice how short football season is? It’s because football players take time to heal up from their injuries. Comic convention season lasts nearly all year because, when you’re a geek, you just put a Band-Aid on your blisters and play through the pain.
Saturday, while waiting in line to meet Anthony Daniels, the gold standard in droids, I looked at my watch and noted to Duane, “Well, it’s 11 o’clock, Comic Con tickets are officially on sale. I bet they’ll be gone in an hour!” Duane had no reaction, having already declared his feet and knees couldn’t take another West Coast convention.
It didn’t incite panic as in previous years. We had declared this would not be the year to resume our travel to the prettiest city in the United States, San Diego. Though it is unrivaled in both size, exclusive merchandise and celebrities attending, the San Diego con is just too darn big. It’s really a venture that requires a vacation to recover from your vacation.
Instead, this year we’ve already attended two smaller conventions that are easier on our wallets, feet and noses (other attendees often forgo hygiene during convention time.)
Our first trip in the middle of February brought us to the city otherwise home to the world’s most famous mouse — Orlando. We went to Mega-Con for the first time last year and enjoyed both the scale and pace. There was enough to see and do for a couple of days, but we didn’t look like we could be extras on the Walking Dead when the convention ended.
This year, the show featured Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter series), David Prowse (the “body” most often occupying Darth Vader’s suit, and Tia Carrere (Wayne’s rock goddess from “Wayne’s World.”) They were all professional and friendly, which is always a relief.
The highlights of this year’s show, however, were the two panels we added. The first was a retrospective on DC’s Teen Titans with former artists and creators. They stressed the importance of not becoming too attached to certain story lines or specific versions of characters since the comics must evolve to remain relevant to ever-changing world of comic readers. The Titans of the 1970s and 1980s will not appeal in the same way to new comic fans. More than once, the panelists had to remind some of the attendees that the Teen Titans are just characters in a book. This concept didn’t make sense to some of the smellier among us.
The second panel involved experienced cosplayers who shared information on how to cut costs without sacrificing the look and authenticity of your costume. We learned better techniques to making metallic surfaces on a budget as well as plenty of ideas for future projects. The panelists regularly attend conventions and other events and never break the bank doing so. This was a panel we could have enjoyed for hours because of the amount of information and ideas. It was over far too soon.
A side trip to Orlando and Google research took us to Rock n’ Roll Heaven, a great record shop in downtown Orlando. The condition of the albums were so pristine that I was convinced they were reissues. They had almost everything a collector could hope for in virtually every genre. We picked up Nilsson Schmilson, a Big Brother and the Holding Company album, Van Morrison Live and Queen II.
One of the owners looked as though Jim Morrison had resurfaced and decided to inhabit a record shop. It was really uncanny. We discussed our collection and music and he gave us some suggestions for music documentaries. He told us Davy Jones frequented the shop since he lived close by. He said Davy always put on a great show for the Flower Power events at Epcot. We were especially sad to hear of Davy’s passing just a short time after our return from Orlando.
Once we came home, we headed to our second convention of the year — Steel-City Con in Monroeville, Pa. We’ve gone to this show five times now and each time keeps getting better. They’ve started adding bigger media guests and more vendors are seeing potential on the modest retail floor, especially when they see Duane coming with wads of cash and no filter for what he’s willing to buy.
The deciding factor for the show was the announcement of the Sid and Marty Krofft reunion tour featuring Kathleen Colemen and Wesley Eure (Holly and Will from “Land of the Lost”) Johnny Whitaker (“Sigmund and the Sea Monster” and “Family Affair”) and Butch Patrick (“The Munsters” and “Lidsville.”) The previously mentioned C-3PO, Billy Dee Williams and his son, one of the cast members from Beverly Hills 90210, a wrestler from IMPACT Wrestling, and Susan Olsen and Christopher Knight (Cindy and Bobby Brady) rounded out the lineup.
We had a lengthy conversation with Ms. Coleman who told us how her and Wesley’s scene for “Land of the Lost” movie ended up on the cutting room floor. She also wanted our advice on other conventions to attend, which we were all too willing to give. She may be the sweetest celebrity we’ve ever met. I mean, come on! She’s Holly from Land of the Lost! She rocks!
I also couldn’t resist asking Mr. Daniels what it was like wearing the C-3PO suit. He recounted cutting his foot during the first take and said the entire costume was dreadful although he did add that it got better with each film. Seeing some of the people in line behind us, I believe his nightmare was only beginning. Smells were already wafting forward from what appeared to be an unwashed Pokemon costume two sizes too small.
Convention season is in full swing now. It’s exciting to see events across the country taking shape and knowing friends that we’ve met from standing in line are representing geek-dom well by reporting back on their encounters. Live long and prosper, fellow fanboys and fangirls.