It’s a good time to be a geek.
Granted, it’s been a good time to be a geek since, oh, I dunno, at least the first Iron Man movie. Probably before that, even. As Hollywood mines more and more geek stuff to fuel the summer blockbuster machine, comics and anime and such are becoming more and more mainstream, which means that conventions are becoming a bigger and bigger deal.
It makes sense then that Houston should have a ‘Big Con,’ of its own. Comicpalooza started small, back in 2008, but each year it’s grown bigger and bigger, and 2014 is no exception. And while it certainly is big, certainly big enough to draw all kinds of big-name guests like Stan Lee, Lou Ferringo, three of the five original Power Rangers, and more.
At the same time, Comicpalooza’s not as ridiculously, nigh-unmanagebly huge like, say, SDCC. For now, at least. As far as I know, Comicpalooza’s not used for major marketing announcements like some of the bigger ‘cons are, and that’s just fine with me.
Unfortunately, I was only able to make it down on Sunday, so I only saw a fraction of what was going on. This is bound to happen at any Big Con, there’s just too much for any one person to take in all at once. Having just one day to take in as much as possible, however, just makes things a little harder. I know I missed out on some really cool stuff: Stan Lee crashed the Agents of SHIELD panel, a friend of mine’s theater company did a reading of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, and I bet there was some crazy-ass room party somewhere that I would’ve loved to attend.
No sense in dwelling on what might have been- let me tell you about what I did do!
I got in nice and early, at which point I went to a panel on writing Fantasy. I always like going to writing panels at cons, as I someday hope to write something more substantial than snarky book reviews or Mass Effect/My Little Pony crossover fanfiction. And then it’ll get published and I’ll be super popular and then I shall be the one behind the panel desk! With all the free convention center bottled water I can have! MWA HA HA HA. Yes, I’m an optimist. Shut up.
Anyway, the writing panel was fairly straightforward, and a bit low key. At 10am on Sunday morning, most congoers were still waking up. Authors Stina Leicht, Robert Ferrell, and Carole Barrowman (more on her later) talked about their writing processes, how they research things, tools they use, etc. Lots of practical advice here, though it was kind of amusing to hear Leicht & Ferrell bicker a little about the proper use of the word ‘said.’ Just goes to show there’s no one proper way to write.
I then took the opportunity to roam around a bit, taking in the sights, browsing the vendors, etc. Comicpalooza has a really big dealer’s room, which is very fun to browse. There was a good selection of stuff- and again, I didn’t quite have the time to dig through every booth super in-depth. I also took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of the various cosplayers- though going through the pics now, I noticed that I really didn’t take any of the sexy lady cosplayers…which I’ll attribute to me not wanting to be a perv, along with the fact that anything really scandalous probably was donned on Saturday night anyway.
After about two hours of browsing, I hit up another writing panel, this one on Military Science Ficiton. I kind ofhad a few reservations about this panel going in (the kind of stuffy room didn’t help), but I found myself pleasantly surprised by author’s Wayne Basta & Breandán Ó Ciarraí. O Ciarrai in particular was the best part of the panel, as he served in the military himself. He’s got a great, first-hand understanding of how things go, and tons of stories to tell- he even alluded to a time in Afghanistan where someone shot at him with a musket. You can’t fake that kind of experience, folks.
Anyway, after that panel, I had a decision to make. On the one hand, John Scalzi was doing a writing panel that was sure to be full of useful information. On the other hand, I learned Carole Barrowman happened to be the sister of John Barrowman, and they were doing a panel together at the same time as Scalzi.
I went for the Barrowmens.
This was a ‘big panel,’ in that it was in the main general assembly hall- people had been lining up at least an hour, 90 minutes beforehand. This proved a bit unnecessary, as I was able to get in on the tail end of things just fine, and there were plenty of open seats. The panel was mostly Carole & John goofing off, telling embarassing stories about each other, and fielding (usually softball) questions. This got them going on from everything between gay rights to fart jokes. Quite an entertaining panel, all told. Also reminds me I should watch Arrow, as I’ve heard good things about it.
After that, I hit up the gaming hall, at which point I got to hang out with an old college friend of mine and some other cool people, and we played Sentinels of the Multiverse- it’s a co-op superhero-themed card game, one I don’t get the chance to play nearly as often as I’d like. We had a great go the first time around, but the second game we played, we got clobbered by an evil space robot. Ah well!
In any case, once we were done there, the vendors had closed for the evening- I thought about sticking around for some of the later events- there was some kind of 8-bit burlesque show, as well as some musical acts afterward…but I also hadn’t had anything to eat since 9am, and I wanted to get this blog post written…so I brought it in early.
At least I didn’t leave empty handed- I picked up a bit of neat swag along the way. Check it out!
I swung by the grocery store to grab some beer on the way home, and I couldn’t help but notice the contrast. At the con, people dressed up however the heck they wanted to: any combination of capes, corsets, camo, kilts, and cosplay. Going so suddenly from con-culture to regular-culture just made ‘normal’ life seem rather…boring, in comparison.
Just reminded me I need to put together a costume for next time. I think I may try going as Captain Cold- I’ll just have to assemble something before the new Flash show comes out.