This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of being a presenter and performer at Wizard World Comic Con, New Orleans. It was awesome.
Wizard World is an outfit that hosts comic book/sci-fi/fantasy conventions throughout the U.S. and throughout the year. When I learned they were hosting an event in NOLA, I contacted them. They were very receptive to my proposal to do a lecture and a concert, especially considering the sci-fi mega-stars they'd already booked. They invited me to do a panel on Grimms Fairy Tales, and they gave my band a slot in which to perform.
The line up of stars at this con was unbelievable. The entire cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation was slated to be there. ( Patrick Stewart (Picard) cancelled at the last minute, but the rest of the cast was there). I really enjoyed watching off moments when Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis were just hanging out behind their autograph area. Having been involved in a production together for so long (Next Generation ran as a TV series for seven years, and made one major motion picture), I imagine they must miss the camaraderie that develops amongst a cast. But the stellar-ness of the presenters continues: Eliza Dushku (Buffy, The Doll House, and my favorite of her roles, Tru Calling), Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Krull), Stan Lee (comic book icon), and the entire cast of Boondock Saints, were all in attendance. (And I'm probably overlooking someone's favorite star who was there).
Of course I am way too cheap and too broke to plop down the twenty bucks (each) required to take pictures of each mega star, so you'll have to settle for my coverage of the fans and the events of the con.
If you've never been to a con (and if not, why not?), they are an experience that has very little parallel in the real world. Geeks and nerds of all ages and genders descend into a world where, unlike "out there," they fit in. People let their geek flags fly, dressing in costume, wearing outlandish gear, and being themselves. Attendees call themselves Fans: fans of sci-fi, of anime, of graphic novels, and of RPGs (Role Playing Games).
Of course this is New Orleans---our real clothes are like everyone else's costumes. In fact, the first event lauren and I saw as we walked into the dealers hall was something both quintessentially geek and quintessentially New Orleans at the same time: the Krewe of Chewbacchus!
Krewes are the social clubs that run parades at Mardi Gras, and our newest krewe, Chewbacchus, is a sci-fi/fantasy krewe. To publicize the club, the krewe staged a parade from their booth in the hall, featuring a Star Wars theme:
With a nod to December, 2012, the parade kicked off with a Mayan temple, complete with a green dead baby...
Followed by a Mardi Gras bicycle version of Luke Skywalker's X-wing fighter, complete with R2D2 (above) and with Jabba the Hut's slave girl (below)....
...Being pursued by Imperial TIE fighters!
I have to say, for a con with a Star Trek theme, there seemed to be a lot of Star Wars costumes. Here is a Princess Laia...
And a different look at Jabba's slave girl with her consort, which included a bee and a Star Wars style pilot.
Another well represented show was Doctor Who, a British sci-fi series featuring a time traveler known throughout the galaxy as "The Doctor." The show is a current favorite of U. S. fans. What I found interesting were the number of people dressed as Doctor Who's time machine, the Tardis, which when he travels to Earth, appears in the form of a police phone box.
Above, Lauren entering a model of the actual Tardis; Below, various human Tradises, or whatever the plural of Tardis is...
Star Trek, however, was well represented. Here are some Trek fans:
And here is an awesome project: a non-profit outfit from California who are raising funds to fully restore the bridge of the Enterprise, on its original sound stage, as a visitor center:
When Star Trek fans are not rebuilding the Enterprise bridge, they love disco dancing and long walks in the Alpha Quadrant.
Of course the focus of Wizard World Comic Con is comic books. Several dozen small presses had booths there. Lauren and I stocked up on new comics, including a series about Crusties (traveler kids) in New Orleans fighting off zombies. There could not be a better combination of elements in a comic. I also checked out promo for online Surreality Comics which features artist Carla Wyzgala, whose work captivated me: I bought the limited run hard copy of her work that does not appear online. Some other artists that were there with their work, and who caught my eye, were: Mandi Hidalgo; Erin Bennett; and Michael Banks;
Any con that appeals to comic fans is going to bring in major doses of super heroes and anime fans (Anime is a catch term for various Japanese graphic arts, including comics, television and film).
Above and below, my new friends Piper and Samantha, who were walking around the dealer room with a Tae Yang. I cannot resist the charms of a Jun Planning doll....
Fans come in all shapes, sizes, ages and genders. The geek world is extremely accepting; once a bastion of men with low social skills, anime, movies and RPGs have brought huge numbers of girls, women, teens and children into the geek ranks. Below are just a few adorable fan children....
These kids were at the Steampunk activities booth: they were made to take the Steampunk Pledge, which was mostly about listening to their parents.
And some other fans I encountered throughout the con:
Girl Robin: Robin actually was a girl, named Stephanie Brown, at one point in the Batman graphic novel series after Dick Grayson died and his replacement retired.
Above, Rainbow Bright; Below, Harley Qinn(s).
The constant stimulus of a con can be exhausting. Rest and refreshments are vital!
This fan's awesome dress is made entirely of role-playing game cards!!
Above, my lecture on Grimm's Fairy Tales; Below, my band Darwin's Monkey Wrench performs at the con (both are fan pics taken using cell phones).
For more information on cons, check these sites to get started:
From Wizard World Comic Con in New Orleans, this is Kenny Klein explaining it all.