First some disclaimers…
1. I love science fiction. I am a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, the Marvel Universe Movies, Doctor Who, X-Files, and many others. I am NOT a fan of comic books. For some reason I could never get into them. I had a roommate in college that collected them and would frequently quote from them at random times. “What are mice to men? What is man to Galactas?!” “Let the cosmos tremble for I have emerged from my power pod!” I have a passing knowledge of the comic book universe, and can appreciate references in shows like The Big Bang Theory. However, I prefer my comic universe distilled into movies and TV shows.
2. I have never been to a convention. Even though many would consider me a Trekker, I’ve never been to a Star Trek Convention. (Although I did once meet James Doohan.) I’ve never been to the big Comicons or Dragoncon. It took me the longest time to figure out what the word “cosplay” meant, and that word still seems a bit…odd to me. For some reason it sounds dirty.
Not that THAT’s out of the way…
This past weekend was SC Comicon, sponsored by Borderlands Comics in Greenville. It was a two-day event held at the T. D. Convention Center. Since I’d never been to one of these, so I decided to check it out.
The event was supposed to start at 10:00 am, which was about the time I arrived. Others apparently had gotten there much earlier. I paid the $5 parking fee and found my spot. As I pulled in there were people standing around their cars in various states of disrobement – adding and adjusting costumes they planned to wear into the venue. I grabbed my fake press pass. I figured if anyone called me on it, I would just point to all the others who were pretending to be someone they weren’t.
Actually, I had arrived a bit before 10:00, and the doors hadn’t quite opened. There was a disconcerting line down the side of the building. I was told that they were waiting to get inside.
The line for tickets wasn’t as bad, but things were a bit confusing. Fortunately there were lots of folks to make sure we went to the correct place.
With official arm band in hand (or on wrist) I joined the longer line to get in. It moved quickly.
Inside the actual convention hall, the event was much larger than I had imagined. There were lots of vendors with comic book related merchants, as well as comic books themselves.
There were also comic book artists signing examples of their were, as well as making sketches. Since I’m unfamiliar with comic books, I had no idea whether I was standing in the presence of greatness or just another vendor.
Speaking the famous, there were several celebrities. There was an autograph signing area, and to be honest, it was kind of sad. There were three celebrities on display – Aaron Douglas, who played Chief Tyrol on Battlestar Galactica, Helen Slater of Supergirl fame, and Sean Maher, who played Simon Tam on Firefly. Douglas, in particular seemed kind of sad. No one seemed to want his autograph. In all the time I was there I didn’t see him sign a single autograph.
Perhaps it had something to do with the price – $30 for Douglas and Slater, but $40 for Maher.
There was a huge line waiting for one autograph stall. I asked, and missed the name at first, but apparently it was for Greg Capullo, the current artist for Batman. The line increased the whole time I was there, but he never showed up while I was there.
I actually missed one celebrity. Michael Forest played the role of Apollo in the original Star Trek’s “Who Mourns Adonis?” episode. He reprized the role in the inaugural episode of Star Trek Continues. I hadn’t realized it, but actually got a photo of him. I was actually trying to get a photo of the dude in the Star Trek uniform, not realizing who the REAL person of interest was.
There were the South Carolina Ghostbusters. I didn’t even know that the state had a chapter. They had their own Ecto 1, a bit updated from the movies, and they had all the props. I spoke with them, and they said that the plans for all of their props are on their website.
They were joined by a group of the Mandalorian Mercs….
…and a Batmobile, in which for $5 you could sit and have your photo made.
On the other side of the convention hall there was a space for gaming. Both Broadway and Borderlands had wares on display, and there were tables set up for games. The miniatures were some of the most intricate, elaborate pieces I’d ever seen. One gamer told me he had spent over $1000 on pieces just in the past year. I can believe it.
Of course, the real reason anyone comes to a comics convention is for the cosplay. The outfits were amazing, and much more elaborate than just a fake press pass. There were known characters, variations on known characters, and unknown characters from known comic universes. It was Halloween, pure and simple.
If you go through all the trouble to put together a costume, then you’re going to be flattered if someone askes to take your photo. Most were more than willing to strike a pose. I asked one superhero if he got tired of the posing, and he said that it comes with the territory.
By this time I was getting worn out. As I headed out the door, even more people were lined up to get in. Again, the line was moving quickly and efficiently, but it was still daunting.
I actually had a lot of fun at my first comic book convention. I think part of it is that everyone else was there to have fun, too, and that makes all the difference. Borderlands did a great job organizing and running a smooth show, and they should be commended. I’m looking forward to the next SC Comicon, and I may even work up the nerve to attend one of the larger conventions. I’ll just have to start thinking about my costume.