Tag Archives: Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con

Hey Hey, It’s The Comic-Con

Wizard World Comic-Con rolled into St. Louis over the weekend. After studying the guest list and panels I decided Sunday would best suit my purposes. So yesterday morning I got up, put on my Hawkeye cosplay (Matt Fraction/David Aja version – easiest cosplay ever), and made my way downtown — waving to The Wife as she began mowing the lawn. (I have back problems. Really.)

I wanted to catch 4 panels which meant I wouldn’t have a lot of time for booth browsing, so I wanted to get there at the opening bell. All was going well until I got downtown and suddenly traffic stopped. I looked down the road and noticed one of the streets had flashing red lights. Ah, well, that will slow things down for a bit but not much. But I quickly noticed that traffic wasn’t moving at all. What’s going on. I look again, and I notice people in lime green T-shirts running down the road.

Oh no. There’s some f-ing 10K run or something going on, isn’t there? God I hate runners. Well, mostly I hate running, but now I also hate runners. How long is this going to go on? And it’s not like I can go around it because I don’t know where the run begins or ends and I really need to get on the other side of that street. As the minutes ticked away my already high blood pressure was working to see just how high it could get.

Never before have I wanted to shoot people in the kneecaps like I did those runners. Why are you doing this on a city street? I don’t care if it’s Sunday morning, get the hell off the roads. I’ve been to these charity walks before but they always take place in a park or some other off-the-main-drag location. Stupid St. Louis.

comiccon1Thirty minutes later I get past the blockade. I arrive at the convention center much later than planned. Julie gives me my pass and I take a moment to vent, then I make my way to the main hall. I’m greeted by HULK, which is nice.

I now have about 30 minutes before my first panel. Not a lot of time, but I quickly notice that there aren’t as many booths as in the past. I make my way through most of it before heading to room 141 for The Monkees q-and-a session.

You may be wondering what The Monkees have to do with comic books. I’m not sure, I imagine back in the ’60s at the height of Monkeemania they probably had their own comic book. The truth is, these comic-cons are comic book in name only. They’re basically nerd culture conventions. In fact, it would be more honest to just call them Nerd-Con.

Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork (Mike Nesmith was, as usual, absent) took seats at their table about 10 minutes late (Panels sometimes start late at these things but they always end at the appointed time). It was an entertaining and informative 35-minute session.

(Note to people who ask questions at Comic-Cons: It’s Not About You. Just ask your question and sit down. This is not your moment to have a personal conversation with the celebrity. When Peter is constantly responding to everyone with “that’s not a question,” maybe you should get the hint.)

I had 15 minutes before the Charisma Carpenter panel (and I figured if The Monkees are 10 minutes later, Cordelia will be at least 15) so I went for a quick trek through the booths. I returned at 12:01 to find Charisma was already seated and asking everyone not to record the session. Wow. Props to Cordy for being on time. Turned out Ms. Carpenter is much friendlier, funnier and charming than the character she played on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

It’s 12:45 and my next panel is at 2 so I’ve got time to grab a quick bite and browse. I walk down the street to a sandwich shop, but it’s packed, so I go next door to Crazy Bowls and Wraps where there’s no line but it still takes 20 minutes for them to bring me my buffalo chicken wrap. By the time I return to the hall I’ve got roughly 30 minutes. And then I run into someone.

“John?”

“Ronnie. What are you doing here?”

“We brought Emma. She wanted to come.”

Emma is the daughter of my wife’s best friend Christine. Christine and Laurie are the last people you would ever expect to see at a Comic-Con. So now I have to find Christine so I can prove to myself that this really happened and get photographic evidence to prove it to Laurie.

So much for checking out the merchandise.

comiccon2Surprisingly we found them without too much trouble. Emma was dressed in Harry Potter garb, holding a snake. It wasn’t a comic book snake. It was just a snake. I don’t know what this has to do with Comic-Con either. But then, I noticed Ballpark Village had a booth at Comic-Con so apparently there are no rules.

“Ron!”

“Christine!”

“Is Laurie here?”

“What planet are you on?”

We had a nice chat but soon it was time for my next panel — Kevin Conroy, voice of The Batman in many, many cartoons. He has a hearty laugh and a lovely singing voice. I took it in for about a half-hour but then had to skip across the hall for the Marvel Saga panel. Former Marvel editor/writer Danny Fingeroth ripped through the entire history of Marvel in 45 minutes. There was a slide show so that was an added bonus. He made a valiant attempt at covering things but honestly, if you’re going to put so much emphasis on the movies you should write down beforehand who the actors are. Unless the goal was to turn that into an ongoing audience participation bit.

I walked out at 3:15 as Danny was wrapping up. The show closed at 4 so I wanted to make one last dash through the exhibit hall and see if anything caught my eye. The things I really liked were too expensive and the rest weren’t worth adding to the clutter in my basement. I left with a free Wonder Woman mini movie poster from my buddies at Allied.

I pulled into the garage at the same time as The Wife and Son.

“How was Comic-Con?”

“You’ll never believe who I saw at Comic-Con.”

“Who?”

I pull out my phone and hand it to her.

“It’s Emma! What’s she holding? Is that — EEEKKKK!!!”

And that was the highlight of Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con 2017.

 

 

 

What’s With All The Ugly Funko Dolls?

Or, Ronnie Goes To Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con, 2016

This past weekend was the fourth annual Wizard World St. Louis Comic-Con. I was out of town last year and missed the event so I figured I’d better go this year to reestablish my nerd cred.  Once you’ve lost your nerd accreditation it’s very hard to get it back.

I couldn’t go opening night due to the annual trivia fundraiser for the Center for Autism Education.That was fine because I scored a lot of money at trivia. Not by winning trivia, oh no, that’s never going to happen, but by collecting the entry fees from my cohorts while Laurie is not around to stop me. (She thinks she and I should pay for the tables out of the goodness of our hearts. My cohorts and I like to let her go on believing that.)

So Sunday morning I’m loaded up with 20s and on my way downtown. I’m dressed as casual Hawkeye so as not to attract attention. Mission accomplished. Only one person commented on the outfit.

The cosplay was OK but I’ve seen better. Probably would’ve been better Saturday as that’s the main day and the time they have the costume contest. Sunday is when con fatigue sets in, I believe. There were no Hawkeyes or Black Widows, which is unusual. Lots of Deadpools, as usual. Why is it the people who cosplay on TV or the internet always look better than the people you see in real life? Nerds are generally not an attractive bunch, and no, you don’t need to tell me to look in a mirror.

I wandered the main hall, wondering what to buy. Everywhere I turned, walls and walls of POP! Funko dolls. I hate Funko dolls.  They are like Troll versions of action figures. They’re short and squat with giant heads, big eyes and no mouths. Ugly. Here’s how unattractive Funko dolls are: There’s a Hawkeye one out there, and I don’t own it.

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Look at that. How ugly is that? And yet, they are like today’s Beanie Babies. They are everywhere and there is one of every pop culture figure you can think of. And practically every booth at Comic-Con had stacks and stacks of them. I amuse myself thinking of all those poor vendors who brought in boxes and boxes of these things and as they meticulously started stacking them for display, noticed that everyone else had the same thing.

I walked the hall for an hour-and-a-half and nothing really struck my fancy (Plus, it’s hard to casually shop when the people who want you to buy their stuff are sitting right across from you — staring). It was now 11:30 and I had a choice: Go to the panel on Saturday Morning Cartoons, or go to lunch. I figured they probably wouldn’t dedicate enough time to Penelope Pitstop and left the hall in search of food.

I was going to eat at Snarfs, a sandwich shop, but after waiting and waiting for the guy at the counter to take care of the first customer I gave up and went across the street to Sugar Fire BBQ. I figured even if they were busier they would be quicker. I was right. Enjoyed some pulled pork, fries and baked beans then headed back to the convention center. Thought about stopping in at the new Blues Museum next door but didn’t have time.

Got back in time for the Elizabeth Henstridge: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Q&A session. She was charming. Followed that up with the James Marsters, a.k.a. Spike, Q&A. He was very amusing. They both seemed genuinely happy to be there (and yes, they are actors and yes, it could be acting, but if that’s the case then they fooled me).

100_2718After Spike’s chat I went back to the main hall for one more run through before heading home. There seemed to be as many, if not more, Funko dolls than when I was there earlier. Do they breed? Is that why there are so many? At this point I realized I hadn’t taken any photos. I wasn’t too bothered by it because (a) my camera seems to be on its last legs and (b) I’m not really comfortable taking pictures of strangers. I tried taking a couple but usually someone would walk in front of the shot. Here’s one of an alien in line for nachos. It’s the best I could do.

I left the hall around 3 p.m., exhausted but pleased with how the day had turned out. I didn’t spend any money except for food. Maybe I’ll buy a new camera.

 

 

 

Ronnie (doesn’t) Attend St. Louis Comic Con III

Day 3: And Lo, There Shall Come A Snowstorm

There were a number of Batman villains (and Batmen) at St. Louis Comic Con. I saw three or four Riddlers (a pretty simple costume if you can find a green suit), some Catwomen, a few Jokers and Harley Quinns, even a couple of Banes. I didn’t see a single Mr. Freeze.

Apparently, Victor found out about this slight and was quite upset, because Sunday he dumped a gigantic snowstorm on St. Louis. That’s right, the calendar says spring but we received more snow on Sunday than in all of November-February. Someone needs to do something about this climate change business.

Needless to say, I did not make the drive into downtown St. Louis. In fact, I spent most of the day shoveling my driveway. Even if I wanted to go out, I couldn’t get out of my cul-de-sac, which wasn’t plowed until some time late last night. Saturns were not built for navigating through 13.8 inches of snow.

I have no idea how many people made it to America’s Center on Sunday but I’m guessing not a lot. An anticlimactic ending for my first major Comic Con experience but I certainly enjoyed the two days I spent there. And if I had gone back yesterday I probably would’ve overridden that voice in the back of my head and came home with a lot of stuff I don’t need. So maybe climate change isn’t such a bad thing after all.

Let’s wrap things up with some more cosplay. Sorry they’re not high quality, my camera sucks. I would’ve taken more but I feel awkward taking photographs of strangers, even if they were more than happy to oblige.

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This just in:

We’re pleased to announce that we have set dates for 2014 Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con: April 4-6 at America’s Center. 

Glad to see the Wizard thinks we’re worth a return engagement. Surely it won’t snow in April. Surely?

Ronnie Attends St. Louis Comic Con 2

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.

securedownloadI 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.

100_1694At 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.

100_1702I 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?

100_1700I 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 

Ronnie Attends St. Louis Comic Con, Part The First

Day One: Batman bathrobes and Hawkeye ear rings

The first Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con opened Friday afternoon. It was a three-day affair and I wasn’t sure about going the first day. The event started at 3 p.m. and I wouldn’t be able to get there until 6 p.m. or so.

I think these are steampunk people, but I'm not sure.

I think these are steampunk people, but I’m not sure.

And the schedule for Day 1 wasn’t terribly interesting for me — a panel on Doctor Who (which I don’t watch), one on steampunk (I’m not sure what that is), and something called “Turkish Rip-offs and Foreign Remakes.”

Still, the lure was great and I figured maybe I should scout the joint out before the big day on Saturday. Comic Con was taking place in the America’s Center convention hall downtown. I’m not big on downtown St. Louis. All the streets are one way going the wrong way, streets are often torn up, one wrong turn and you’re somewhere you don’t want to be.

The Wife works downtown and gave me what seemed like simple directions (exit on Cole Street, left on 10th, left on Olive and then into her parking garage where I could use her key card and avoid paying for parking). The garage is about a block from the convention center.

I head down Interstate 70. I see the convention center. I see a sign “Convention Center Exit.” I see no sign for Cole Street. I’m about to leave Missouri. I do not want to leave Missouri. I do not want to end up in East St. Louis, Illinois, at night. I get off on Pine Street, as I vaguely recall that’s near The Wife’s office. I get her on the phone and she guides me to the garage.

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I had never been in America’s Center before. Nice. I go to the desk for media and get my 3-day press pass. The nice thing about the press pass is you don’t have to deal with lines. The bad thing is you don’t get the free swag that paid attendees get. (The big one was a limited-edition Walking Dead comic. I didn’t really want it, but a lot of the vendors were trading stuff to get one, so I wouldn’t have minded having one if I could get something good with it.) Such are the pay-offs of life.

IMG_7071I go into the main hall and drink it all in. T-shirts stacked to the ceiling; long boxes of comics as far as the eye could see. Posters and toys and statues and trading cards — Captain America’s motorcycle! Comic Con is like going to a big craft fair, only instead of quilts and stuffed bears and candles and junk, they sell things you really want to buy.

I hadn’t been there long when I decided to check out the one panel that seemed interesting for the day — “Comic Art 101” by a quartet of comic artists. It was interesting but the lure of the main hall kept calling to me. When they started talking about who likes cats, I left.

Back at the main hall I wandered through the merchandise booths and past the artists alley and over to the celebrity corner where I caught a glimpse of Lou Ferrigno, James Hong and John Shea. Then it was back to the goodies.

100_1688So many T-shirts. How many comic book T-shirts should one man own? I only have three pairs of shoes, so surely I can make up the difference in T-shirts, right? Next to the T-shirt skyscraper was a collection of bathrobes. Polar Fleece bathrobes. Those are the warmest kind you can get, as they are made from the skin of polar bear and sheep hybrids. They had a really nice Batman one. I really wanted it, until that nagging thing in my head reminded me that I don’t wear bathrobes. I have two at home that I never wear. Why do I need a third? Stupid nagging thing in my head.

Then I stopped by a jewelry booth that had a whole section devoted to Hawkeye (He’s quite popular with the ladies these days). Hawkeye charms, pendants, ear rings. I don’t wear ear rings nor do I have a charm bracelet, so I left them there hanging. I found a couple of Hawkeye statues, but I don’t really need any more Hawkeye statues. Stupid nagging thing in my head.

The evening ended with a Drink and Draw event at the Flamingo Bowl. I don’t know what a Drink and Draw is, nor did I want to drive around looking for the Flamingo Bowl, so I headed home, where I once again almost got lost as there was no sign at the Cole Street/11th Street intersection to tell me I was at Cole Street. I had to call The Wife again. She’s better than GPS.

Tomorrow: Nerdmageddon

Stan Lee Is Coming! Stan Lee Is Coming!

It may surprise you to read this, but I have never attended a major comic book convention.

Oh, I’ve been to a few piddly-ass ones. Somebody rents a room at a Ramada Inn and some guys haul in boxes of comics and toys and they find some c-list talent to sit in the corner looking forlorn and maybe someone’s showing manga videos in the next room and they charge you $5 to get in. I never saw the point of paying money for the privilege of walking through a temporary comic book shop, so I didn’t go to very many.

Oh, and there was the time we went to Kansas City for a weekend getaway and it turned out our hotel was hosting a sci-fi/fantasy convention. Not the same thing.

There are a trio of reasons why I’ve never been to a big-time comic-con. First and foremost, being in the presence of that much concentrated nerd doesn’t appeal to me. I’ve been in crowded comic book shops during 25-cent back-issue sales and that’s quite enough of that.

Second, I’m not flying to California, New York or Chicago just to experience a comic convention. My hatred of flying is well on the record. Plus, I would have to fly alone because Lord knows The Wife is not going to a comic book convention with me.

Finally, I live in St. Louis, where there are no major comic cons.

Until now.

wizardworld_2243_16643256The inaugural Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con will take place March 22-24 at America’s Center. For the comic-con impaired, Wizard Magazine was a big player in the comic book industry until it went the way of many magazines in the Internet age. Now they go around the country hosting pop culture convention bringing together celebrities in the world of sci-fi/fantasy TV, movies, comics and, well, wrestling. Not sure how wrestling fits in, but hey a power fantasy is a power fantasy.

They’re bringing in an interesting mix of talent, including: Lou (HULK) Ferrigno, James (Spike) Marsters, Juliet (Druscilla) Landau, Laurie (the yet-to-be-eaten Andrea from “The Walking Dead”) Holden, Billy Dee (Lando) Williams, Morena (the hot chick from “Firefly” that wasn’t Gina Torres) Baccarin, Dean (Superman) Cain, Ernie (Ghostbuster) Hudson and Randy Orton — who I’m told is a WWE Superstar. There will also be a number of comic book writers and artists but you’ve probably never heard of them so I won’t waste time typing their names in.

But forget all that. None of that matters. STAN LEE IS COMING.

Stan “The Man” Lee. Stan “The Legend” Lee. This is the biggest thing to happen to St. Louis since The Pope came a few years back. And did The Pope have a hand in the creation of Spider-Man, The Avengers, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, The Silver Surfer and many others? No, no he didn’t.

I have no idea what to expect from the inaugural Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con but it doesn’t really matter.

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Stan Lee is coming!

 Wizard World St. Louis Comic Con will take place March 22-24 at America’s Center (which is much bigger than a room in the Ramada Inn). For more information and tickets visit http://www.wizardworld.com/home-stlouis.html