Those who’ve known me for more’n a decade know that I’ve been to dozens and dozens of comic book/science fiction (recently turned media) conventions. I first began going as a fan and not long after, as a “guest.” Most of the shows I’ve been to have been in God’s country down here in the Southland: Dallas Fantasy Festival, Atlanta DragonCon, MegaCon (Orlando), NOSFF (New Orleans), CoastCon (Biloxi), MobiCon (Mobile), ChimneyCon and MissCon (Jackson), MidSouthCon and ShadowCon(Memphis), Chicago ComicCon, WonderCon (Oakland), SPE (Small Press Expo), APE (Alternative Press Expo), and a couple I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Most of those named I’ve been to multiple times, CoastCon probably being my most attended show (and the FIRST to ever invite me as a guest).
I say all that to say that when I recently attended Wizard World Comic Con in New Orleans, I had a pretty good idea what I thought I’d expect. Boy was I surprised! The guys at Wizard World—my dealings in particular were with Stephen Shamus—know how to put on a top notch show. I was surprised at multiple things: how clean it was, how smoothly it ran, how mostly family-friendly it was, how professional it was. I don’t know all the politics of it all, but I do know that Wizard World has purchased or is in the process of purchasing conventions all around the nation (they bought a spot in Nashville and I hope I get to attend that show!)
One of my personal highlights for the show was getting able to visit with and see old pals (picture: left to right: Steven Butler, yours truly, Ken Branch, Dan Nakrosis, Mitch Byrd). Wizard even worked it out so that our tables were positioned immediately next to us. Talk about convenience for our fans! The neat thing was that it’d been 20 years since me, Mitch and Steven had signed copies together and never before had me, Mitch, Steven and Ken ever been in the same place at the same time. Neither here nor there, I guess, still, it was pretty cool. Ken is pushing his hot off the press graphic novel, 35 Years Will You Survive?, a story of global warming repercussions.
I also had the opportunity to visit with Christy Butler, Steven’s wife. I think Christy is a lot like BJ (my wife—for those one or two who didn’t know) in that a little bit of “conventioning” is enough. I tell the story of BJ’s first trip to the San Diego Comic Con, the granddaddy of them all and how she showed up at the Malibu booth and said she was going to look around. Fifteen minutes later she was back and saying goodbye—she’d seen enough of the convention to suit her fancy. And she went shopping in downtown.
Another of my joys was that my daughter Brittany got to come along with me. She also had a good time. She got to meet several actors and ask them for suggestions about becoming an actress. Most of them didn’t really help her much AND she didn’t get to get any autographs (they were selling signatures. Adam West wanted $60 for his autograph!). However, Ray Park (the guy who played Darth Maul in Star Wars) was incredibly nice to her. And it was funny, cause she—not being a big Star Wars fan—came back to the table to tell me about it and called him the “Sith dude.”
I’ll eagerly do another Wizard World Comic show…and you should check out one in your area!