Comicpalooza X Recap
Weak Guest Roster, Strong Interactions
Comicpalooza X took place at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, TX from May 25-27, 2018. The press badge applications were a mess this year. The rep from last year left and the new one didn’t get back to those that applied until the week of the event with some hearing a mere two days beforehand. At least there was some time to organize a trip to the convention, but a week or two in advance could have resulted in attending the con all three days rather than only a day or two. There was also some concern over the lackluster guest announcements, especially with Joe Manganiello and Patrick Warburton canceling. If Charlie Cox is any indication, then Manganiello and Warburton could potentially show up next year.
There was the possibility of interviewing some of the guests that came (pretty much anyone who wasn’t from movies or television), but being out of the loop on comics made it seem like an interview with a comic book writer or artist seem limp and uneducated on this end. There didn’t seem to be any less people at the convention, but tables and booths in the vendor’s area and artist’s alley seemed to have a ton of empty and unused space. This is also based on Friday’s attendance, which could factor into it. Saturday is usually the busiest day of a convention. People show up in the best costumes, the majority of the vendors are going be there that day, and most people have weekends off from work.
Charlie Cox had a fun Q&A on Friday even if some people asked him the same question more than once (pretty sure some form of, “Which comic character would you want to play other than Daredevil?” was asked at least three times). Cox comes off as a huge dork and that is meant to be taken in the nicest of ways. He seems genuinely humbled to be part of the MCU and he firmly believes in being in the right place at the right time and owing a lot to luck when it comes to securing the role. He speaks honestly and from the heart while ending each statement with this ridiculous yet infectious chuckle as if it’s a type of punctuation. Even though he was reluctant to reveal anything, he did inform us that he just finished filming season three of Daredevil but has no idea when Netflix will release it. Due to the filming of the season, he has yet to see Avengers: Infinity War but he added that a fight scene in season three is the action sequence he’s most proud of. He told several humorous stories including one where he auctioned off the red glasses he wore in season one yet ended up bidding on and winning them himself.
There was also the opportunity to sit in on the George Lowe (the voice of Space Ghost) Q&A, which wasn’t difficult since there were only about 40 people in attendance. All of the Q&A sessions took place in smaller ballrooms this year, which was a huge change since they usually take place in the biggest ballroom in previous years. Charlie Cox was in Ballroom C while George Lowe was in the small room 330A, which is right next to the ballrooms. This gave the Q&A sessions a more intimate feel, which everyone seemed to enjoy.
Lowe is overflowing with energy. He’s a lot like Mel Blanc; he has a story, a comedy bit, or different voice for everything that comes out of his mouth. He told stories regarding how he had a blast annoying people at E3 one year, went off on a tangent about hard P sounds in the microphone, jokingly called us all, “Sycophantic buttkissers,” loves discussing jazz music and has a passion for art, and he beatboxes/mouth orchestrates as often as he can. Every time someone would get up to leave before the panel was over, Lowe would announce closely into the mic, “We have a runner in sector one, door R!” He is an entertaining lunatic with a Rolodex of stories that could go on for days. Here are few more amazing out-of-context George Lowe quotes from the panel:
- “There are no bad questions; only the boring and the pedantic.”
- “Get him to the hospital! He’s having a throat baby!”
- “I just had a lightning bolt go up my anus!”
There weren’t plans to attend on Saturday, but the convention center was incredibly packed at 4pm. Parking was horrid as well as some lots were totally full and everything else ran $20-$25, which seems steep especially when you're used to staying at a hotel and taking advantage of valet parking every year. Several costumes were quite impressive including two versions of the Batman villain The Scarecrow (one from the Bruce Timm animated series and the other one being more in the vein of how Kelley Jones drew him with a ton of straw in the costume) and a life-size Rocket Raccoon complete with a baby Groot sitting on his shoulder while Rocket walked around carrying Winter Soldier’s Wakanda arm from Infinity War.
One of the highlights from Comicpalooza every year is the art auction. Even if you don’t go home with new artwork, watching these artists create on the spot is fascinating for anyone who enjoys the medium. This year’s art auction seemed to be announced between the first and second days of the con since it wasn’t originally on the schedule. Returning on Saturday was mostly because of the art auction’s late addition, but there wasn’t an opportunity to stay until it ended since it ran from 7pm-11pm. Feeling the six hours of walking around the convention the day prior, having to work early the next day, and being old in general only allowed the opportunity to stay for the first 40 minutes of the auction which wasn’t really enough to capture what these fantastic artists were working on.
Other than picking up a handful of prints from artists Wizyakuza and TGComics in artist’s alley, Saturday was mostly devoted to attending the Ray Park Q&A. Many “questions” for Park were fans just pouring out how much they loved Park’s performance and Darth Maul in general; one kid revealed that The Phantom Menace was his favorite Star Wars film, which had Park stating that the kid obviously had taste. Park talks with a light Scottish accent, is constantly moving even when he’s sitting down, and habitually scratches his facial scruff when he speaks. He revealed that he never would have had the chance to play Darth Maul if it wasn’t for his work on Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, he didn’t take anything from The Phantom Menace set since security was so tight but wanted the contacts he wore as Darth Maul solely to put in whenever he had a road rage interaction, and making “pew pew” noises with Dwayne Johnson on the set of G.I. Joe: Retaliation was a highlight for him and he’s always making vocal sound effects whether he’s training or is in character on the set of a film. For his lightsaber fight with Ewan McGregor in The Phantom Menace, Park said that a caged tiger was his inspiration for that scene.
He loves that the Darth Maul character has lived on in the Rebels and Clone Wars television shows. Park always ends up training harder whenever he gets word of Maul’s return in hopes of getting the call to portray the character again. He always believed television and movies were real growing up. He thought Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street was real and still hasn’t said, “Candyman,” three times despite being 43-years-old. Park hates to be idle on movie sets and typically trains or runs whenever he can during downtime in between shooting. He seemed genuinely interested in the fans, encouraged guys with any sort of muscular definition to continue working out, and wanted to stay and answer any fan still standing with a question despite being near the end of the panel and the moderator’s several attempts at wrapping it up. A young boy said Darth Maul was his favorite character and gave Park a picture he drew. Park was genuinely impressed, got off stage, took a picture with the boy, and offered him and the boy whose favorite Star Wars film was The Phantom Menace free signed photos if they were able to attend on Sunday. Overall, it was a great panel and Ray Park seems like a fantastic individual who deeply cares about his fans.
Comicpalooza X wasn’t without its hiccups, but it was a convention that seemed to make the most out of what it was able to offer. Despite its lackluster guest roster, the celebrities who did attend went out of their way to make sure their fans had a good time. Everyone seemed to be talking about how nice and funny Tom Holland is. The thing about a convention is if you’ve been to one before then you’re probably going to have fun no matter what because of the atmosphere. Trying to decide what panel to go to while glancing at a packed schedule, the hustle and bustle between floors, the interactions with fellow fans, having the opportunity to meet famous people who make the entertainment you love, and discovering new artists and memorabilia you can’t find anywhere else are all things that make conventions fun.
Whether you’re a comic book, Funko Pop, video game, vinyl record, movie poster, or art print collector, half the fun is the hunt for your next favorite piece that you don’t even know you need yet. These are the people who made your childhood special and continue to make your life as an adult pleasant despite being faced with a gelatinous forever-growing mountain of bills, responsibility, and the inescapable clutches of impending death. Comicpalooza is Houston’s biggest convention and it’s totally worth supporting because you want it to come back bigger and better the following year.
© 2018 Chris Sawin