Day Two: March Madness? It’s Nerd Madness!
My neighbor Dave is an old pro at comic conventions. He’s been to the big one in San Diego a few times, and Dragon Con, and the one in Chicago, whatever its name is, and probably many others. So I figured he would be going to St. Louis Comic Con.
And I figured, hey, maybe I’ll hitch a ride. So I ask him what time he’s going downtown. He says around 7:30 a.m. The thing starts at 10 a.m. I figure I’ll drive down on my own. After last night I’ve got the route down anyway.
I arrive back at the convention center around 10:30 and quickly understand why Dave wanted to come down early. The line. My God, the line. The line went on all morning, I’m not sure when it actually stopped. It ran the length of the building and filled a large, empty exhibition hall room. To the organizers’ credit, it seemed to move at a decent pace. I might have felt different if I had been in it. As I walked past the line into the main hall, I decided I really didn’t mind that I didn’t get that free Walking Dead comic.
There can’t be this many nerds in St. Louis. There aren’t this many nerds in Missouri. This thing must have brought out every nerd in the Midwest. I’m guessing this will not be the last Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con.
My goals for the day were the Neal Adams creator spotlight at 2 p.m. followed by the Stan Lee Q&A at 3 p.m. Maybe the Henry Winkler Q&A at 4 p.m. I thought about going to the Michael Golden panel since I like his art but I didn’t get around to it.
At noon there was supposed to be a panel on cosplay that I thought might be interesting, or at least fun to look at, so I made my way to room 130 which was a large room full of many people, few of which were dressed up. Neighbor Dave was there with wife Gina (some wives go to comic conventions with their husbands. Some wives). I asked what the panel was, they said Laurie Holden from The Walking Dead. Hmmm, looks like my emailed schedule is out of date.
I eventually found the cosplay panel but the two main ladies at the table weren’t dressed up and they were later joined by a guy in a home-made superhero costume with a St. Louis theme, a Wonder Woman and a guy dressed as Stan Musial. I didn’t stay long.
(For the uninitiated, cosplay is what regular people call dressing up in costumes. Regular people do it once a year on Halloween if they get invited to a party. Cosplayers do it all the time. Some look great. Some, well, you have to admire their willingness to play dress up in public.)
By this time it was lunchtime so I decided not to try the concession stand fare and went out into the fresh air and walked down the street to Snarfs, a sandwich shop. Had an Italian sub, chips and a drink. It was the most money I would spend all day.
When I returned I caught the last half of a panel with Dean Cain and John Shea, the Superman and Lex Luthor of ’90s television. They were pretty entertaining. In fact, so I don’t have to keep repeating myself — all the celebrities that I caught panels for put on a good show and seemed to genuinely enjoy telling stories and taking questions from the fans.
I then caught the Neal Adams show, and I would like to commend him for being the only talent (that I caught from the beginning) who showed up on time — nay, early — and didn’t waste time. He was ready to start right up, even though his handlers weren’t. I had to leave Neal’s panel early to make sure to get a seat to the Stan Lee Q&A. This meant sitting through the last part of a panel on Voltron. I never got into Voltron (he’s a giant robot, I think) but he has roots in St. Louis and is a hometown favorite for many.
Finally, Stan Lee. It was worth the wait. He was charming and funny and he’d probably answered these questions a million times but he appeared to be enjoying himself. The 45 minutes went by all too quickly. If I had a bucket list, seeing Stan would’ve been on it.
From there I made it to the Henry Winkler panel where I hooked up with Dave and Gina. It was here that I learned an important rule of Comic Con: Don’t sit on the aisle seat behind where people stand in line to ask questions. I could only see Henry when short people and children were at the microphone.
By this time it was almost 5 p.m. Julie was running the press booth at this point so I had a nice chat with her. I had two hours until the Adult Costume Contest, and I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I rambled back into the main hall and decided it was time to buy a souvenir. A lot of places had books for sale. There were a lot of nice T-shirts. I thought about getting some nice art prints — Neal Adams had a nice Hawkeye print that I could’ve had him sign. That probably would’ve been worth something because I doubt many people would’ve bought the Hawkeye print for autographing.
And then that nagging thing in the back of my head kicked in. Don’t buy any more books unless it’s something you really want. You have enough T-shirts. If you buy a print you’ll have to frame it and then where will you put it?
Damn this thing in the back of my head. Where did it come from? It wasn’t there when I was 20. Did my wife have it implanted during my kidney stone surgery?
I finally settled on a Women of Marvel trading card set for $5. Five dollars. That’s about the same price as a single package of cards. And it makes up for the Women of Marvel calendar I didn’t get this year. There were 81 cards in the set. So why do the calendar people keep using the same 12 people over and over?
By 7 p.m. I was exhausted and really didn’t want to sit through two hours of an adult costume contest. I had seen most of the contestants walking the halls throughout the day anyway. The contestants were all lined up outside the contest room so I just walked down the hall and saw them all that way. There was a really cute couple dressed as Ant Man and the Wasp that I hope won.
Tomorrow: The anticlimactic finale