TQP Day-Trip: Comic-Con!
Welcome to the first-ever Threat Quality Day Trip, to the Wizard World Philadelphia comic convention, hosted by the sadly faltering Wizard Entertainment. How faltering was it? It took me a while to feel out why the place felt so…low-rent, until it dawned on me: there was no presence by either Marvel or DC Comics at the event. Turns out, the Heroes World convention in Charlotte was the place to be this weekend, and you can read all about the Big Two’s major announcements (okay, mostly just Mark Waid writing a Dr. Strange miniseries) at Newsarama.
Without the relative respectability major publisher presence gives to a convention, WWP brought me back to the rinky-dink Holiday Inn conventions of my youth. This isn’t a complaint, really – I have fond memories of my first forays into comics fandom (which is mostly populated by sickly and/or overweight die-hards – if you ever want a confidence boost, go to a convention; I’m not overstating it to say Chris, Friend of TQP Matt Burns, and I were among the handsomest people there).
Anyway, allow me my disjointed impressions of the show:
- Kinda light on costumes Friday afternoon, since the contests were held on Saturday. But I got what I needed, in the form of a short fella in a Venom costume, rocking a pot-belly, a backpack AND a fanny-pack. Thank you, chunky Venom. You made my day.
- There were, in fact, two competing amateur-Jedi organizations. And they would like us to join. In case we found Ren-Faire too upscale, I guess.
- Without Marvel or DC in attendance, the biggest publisher there was easily Avatar, which publishes the bulk of Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis’s output these days. Manning that booth – Mike Wolfer, artist and co-writer of Ellis’s combat-magician series, “Gravel.” After shaking his hand, I can tell you this: Mike Wolfer has very boney hands.
- I’ve never seen a guy so happy as Chris when an operator at one of the (many!) edged-weapons booths let him hold a ginormous sword. Like a kid on Christmas morning. A scary kid, on a very dangerous Christmas morning.
- Walking down Artists’ Alley is an especially uncomfortable experience. Everyone looks ready to have some attention paid to them, and the moment you lock eyes with them, you feel like a bit of a shit if you don’t go over and say hello. But many of these people are totally unfamiliar, and even those I did recognize – like Jim Califiore, who did Aquaman like 15 years ago – what are you gonna say? “Hey, you’re that guy! Well…moving on.”
- Artists’ Alley is nowhere near as saddening as The Walk of Celebrity Career Wreckage, where people you vaguely remember from days gone by (hi there, “Buck Rogers” actress Erin Grey, who looks like my mom now) and more recent genre shows (“Witchblade” star Yancy Butler, who, uhm…either has an eating disorder or a serious coke habit, and I don’t know which one I hope made her that alarmingly thin) sit at a table and put up with too-invested fans for $30 an autograph.
- But at least now nobody can say I haven’t seen Lou Ferrigno and the Knight Rider car up close.
- Not in attendance Friday: Edward James Olmos (who apparently is not too good for this nonsense). The lack of Olmos made us all realize that had he actually been there, we probably would’ve just bugged him about all of his non-“Galactica” roles (“So, when you were playing that supreme court candidate on ‘West Wing,’ what kind of research did you do? Did you follow Scalia around or anything?”).
- We also learned just how much fun it is to do gravel-voiced impressions of an exhausted Olmos sitting in his hotel the night before the convention (“Hello, room service? …hhhh…Edward James Olmos requires more hookers. And whiskey. And hookers.” – yes, our Olmos speaks of himself in the third person…and demands hookers). Give it a try.
- I could not decide which was the sadder sight, so I’ll present them to you and let you decide:
- Sadness #1: Former wrestler The Honky-Tonk Man, 20 pummeling years older than you remember him, still wearing his Elvis jumpsuit; at some point, the suit must’ve gotten itchy or something, because the next time I saw him, he was walking back to his table in flip-flops, gym shorts, a tank-top and unbuttoned short-sleeve, the better to show off his expansive gut.
- Sadness #2: A woman none of us could place, because unlike other booths, there wasn’t even a sign to let us know where we might have known her from. There were only a series of tasteful nude pinups on the table. When we asked the guy coordinating the “Get your picture taken with a celebrity who’s an awfully good sport” tent, he struggled to recall, then finally answered, “Oh, she flashed her boobs in American Pie.” When Chris pointed out that it was Shannon Elizabeth who did that, he replied, “No, she flashed her boobs earlier in the movie. That’s her claim to fame, apparently.”
- Needless to say, we liked this guy, and I kinda wish we’d gotten to talk to more of the event staff – they’re the ones with the really interesting stories, and are far easier to relate to.
- Thing I managed to do right: catch the last half of a Q&A with Garth Ennis, writer of Preacher, Hellblazer, War Stories, Hitman, Punisher, and a lot of books between and since that have mostly been puerile gross-out humor and ultra-violence (even though I do agree with Chris that Ennis is kind of a one-trick pony, I’m more forgiving, since he sometimes does this trick very well). Pleasant enough experience, until I realized that I haven’t read anything he’s done since the start of his mature-readers Punisher book. Worth it to hear his opinions on the three Punisher movies (“Yeah, I know, it’s Dolph Lundgren, but one thing they did right – when he pulled out a gun, he didn’t put it back until like 20 people were dead.”). And yeah, I’ll listen to anyone with an Irish accent.
- And we were DEFINITELY the best-looking people at that Q&A.
There you have it: Philly Comic Con ’09. What’s that? More photos? Okay, fine. (Others can be seen here.)
Amateur Jedi recruiting station #1.
Chris has a weapons-gasm.
I just pooped an energon-cube, I’m so excited by this bout!
Reason #424 to have an Asian lady-friend: You’ll always have a Jubilee to compliment your…uhh…Riddler and Robin costumes (I blame DC for not having more Asian characters!).
Comic-Con ’09: THE place to get bargain-basement McCain merch. (And yes, “McCain Blowout” sounds hilarious for so many reasons I can’t even start.)
Your obligatory Storm Trooper/Slave Leia shot.
Nightmare before comic-con.
At some point it seemed like good business sense to get the cast of The Shadow to sign a poster. But y’know what? We like The Shadow. AND The Rocketeer, dammit, since you asked!
Poison Ivy and the Penguin browse the discount bins.
And finally, Chris expresses his displeasure at the possibility that we’ll end up on the Wizard website. (It’s okay, Chris – nobody, not even Wizard staffers, check the Wizard website.)