Comicpalooza is Houston, TX’s yearly comic convention. As a young convention it has had its fair share of growing pains. This year was different; Comicpalooza was horrendous.
Firstly, the organization was terrible. No one knew which line the patrons were supposed to be in. Panels where changed, or simply dropped all together. The schedule was only updated Sunday (the last day). Secondly, and worst of all, was the venue for the panels. It was unforgivable. All the panels where set up shanty-town style, one big sound-reflecting room, with curtained off “rooms” for the panels. Some had mics and speakers, some did not. Panelists where fighting with one another to be heard. It was a nightmare.
Despite their best efforts in the Art of Suck, Comicpalooza was fun. The following three features were the saving grace for this specific con, but will also be the same for any other con you attend that turns out to be a big downer.
While there are some who are “above” their fans, for the most part, those celebrities and artists at the conventions are genuinely interested in meeting and talking with their fans. While it is fun to see them at their panels, I also managed to run into a couple while wandering the con.
First encounter happened while I was walking the half mile hike to the Starbucks—the George R Brown convention center is 1.8 million square feet and Comicpalooza was at one end; Starbucks the other. I was approached by Richard Hatch, Ton Zarek of Battlestar Gallactica and the original Apollo. He was looking quite lost, and rightfully so. He approached because of my Comicpalooza press pass. I told him where it was, at the opposite end of the building, and when he sighed, “Really?” I decided to walk with him. Keep in mind he’s almost 70, though he looks early 50s, tops. On the long walk we made small talk, the surprising thing was that it was mostly him asking me questions. When we made it and parted ways he thanked me by name.
Second encounter happened as I was walking the floor taking in the sights. Some ne’er-do-well ploughed into me, almost sending me to the floor. Just as I was about to give him a good thrashing, I saw it was Kevin Sorbo, i.e. Captain Dylan Hunt of Andromeda. He apologized profusely. Not wanting to get my ass handed to me by Hercules himself, I decided to let it go. Later, when I visited his booth, he remembered me and did me a solid, free autograph, a $30 value.
Hint: If you’re looking to meet a celebrity up close, you never know where it’s likely to happen. Your best bet is to swing by the autograph area often. That’s where they are stationed, after all.