Comicpalooza 2019 Recap: Now Spider-Man Approved!
Comicpalooza 2019 had a lot of ups and downs, but it was still a ton of fun overall. The biggest issue the convention has each year is that its celebrity guest lineup gets weaker every year. They tend to blow everything on one or two big guests and then the rest seems like filler; compared to a few years ago where major comic artists and big celebrity guests were there the same year. I did not get any celebrity autographs or partake in any photo ops. I also spent the majority of my time in the dealer’s room/exhibitor area/artist’s alley, which is basically my signature move at every convention I attend.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Friday was the day I went by myself and the day I attended the most panels. Parking was $30 the first day and $20 the following two days. Maybe the cost was associated with each lot’s location to the George R. Brown Convention Center (GRB), but it seemed to cost a bit more than previous years. During a break on Saturday while resting at the car, we saw several individuals get the boot put on their car for having expired parking receipts or not having a receipt on their dash. Homeless people are crazy brave around the area around dusk; they just approach you and ask for spare cash or half a sandwich. There was an area on the second floor of the GRB that was devoted to cultural arts. There was a collection of impressive comic book related quilts, individuals creating art in person for the hearing impaired, the Iron Throne from Game of Thrones made out of balloons, and glass cases containing winning and runner-up costumes from the cosplay contest last year.
I tried to attend the My Hero Academia Cast Panel, but left early because it was boring. It was just a Q&A session for an hour with how everyone there was associated with Texas in some capacity. The Funko Customizing Workshop was a bit of a bust, as well. You had time to pick your random vinyl pop head and body and you spent the entirety of the workshop painting. My wife has been customizing Monster High dolls for a while now and wanted me to take notes since she couldn’t be there, but the process was similar to what she was already doing with the Monster High dolls; like boiling the pops to remove body parts (it softens the joints). Everything was fine in the workshop until this guy showed up late and decided to share table space and our paints. First of all, the guy had a convention’s worth of con funk stored in his putrid armpits and foul smelling mouth-hole. But even that could have been forgiven if he didn’t treat our paint palette like chicken mcnugget roulette. This dude just jabbed his paint brush in the color he desired and mixed every color since he never rinsed his brush. I only stayed for an hour of the two hour class since Stinky McSlopface ruined a good time.
Godzilla artist Matt Frank had a panel hosted by Robert Saucedo – the programming director at Alamo Drafthouse Houston where he just talked about all things Godzilla for an hour. It was a lot of fun and was easily the most fun I had at a panel all weekend. Here are some highlights from what was discussed:
- The animated Godzilla films on Netflix are basically The Last Jedi of the Godzilla franchise.
- In Japan, Godzilla is known as Hakashi or the God of Destruction.
- Godzilla is known as the King of the Monsters in America and is basically just a big monster that fights other big monsters as mindless entertainment. The nuclear radiation aspect is mostly lost on Americans.
- Godzilla: The Series, the animated series that ran from 1998-2000 and is considered a sequel to Roland Emmerich’s loathed 1998 film, is actually a good series and a solid interpretation of Godzilla.
- Matt said he had high hopes for the new Godzilla film, Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
- Somebody in the audience asked what’s next since King of the Monsters will include Ghidorah, Rodan, and Mothra. Matt said he believed that Warner Bros. probably didn’t expect the 2014 reboot and this sequel to be as big as they are. They included all these villains because they didn’t expect any future installments. He also said he’d like to see Hedorah, The Smog Monster, be the next opponent for Godzilla.
- Matt is a big fan of practical effects over CGI. Toho likes to put their CGI out on display when it generally isn’t great. Matt pushed for a new film from Toho with practical effects and a return to the rubber suits.
- Matt talked about some crazy Godzilla films that either never finished production or didn’t get past the conception phase; Godzilla vs Batman, The Bride of Godzilla, and Godzilla vs Satan. A Godzilla vs Mars Attacks comic idea was pitched, but was rejected.
- Matt loves the first Pacific Rim film, but says the sequel killed the franchise. Robert brought up that Netflix supposedly picked it up for a series, but Matt said it would never happen. He also said he’d happily eat his words if it came to fruition, but didn’t think it would.
- Someone in the audience asked what it would take for Godzilla to finally fight Gamera. Matt said it was probably a lot more unlikely years ago, but could be a possibility these days. He went on to say why mix franchises? Both Godzilla and Gamera are better off doing their own thing.
- Ever since the 1998 Godzilla film, Toho has been very picky regarding how Godzilla is depicted on-screen and drawn in comics. Some examples are he can’t be mocked and he can’t be killed or controlled by humans.
- Robert asked Matt what his definition of kaiju would be. He said that all kaiju are monsters, but not all monsters are kaiju. Tremors isn’t considered kaiju. The new Kong is while the classic Kong isn’t. Kaiju typically has either no explanation regarding their monstrous status or has a supernatural element to their origin.
- Matt declared his love for Ultraman and intends to make an Ultraman comic with his wife.
- Matt said the new Ultraman on Netflix is decent, told us to watch some Thai Ultraman video on Youtube, and declared that Ultraman X is fantastic.
- Robert asked Matt what his weirdest commission was to end the panel and Matt said he had a friend who had him drawing Godzilla with awkward and random American propaganda.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
Saturday started terribly for me. My wife is a teacher and runs an anime club at her school. She organized a field trip to Comicpalooza for some of the students. The bus transportation ended up backing out because of all the rain we had gotten that week, which continued through Comicpalooza weekend. A handful of the kids who were going to go couldn't because they no longer had a ride. We ended up running incredibly late because I overslept. Getting our new costumes situated was a bust since nobody ended up getting who I was supposed to be throughout the day and a pair of horns my wife spent a ton of time on were too heavy for the hat she intended to wear them on. We also had a friend who was supposed to come with us, but she had to cancel because of car troubles. The panels I intended to go to on this day were basically thrown out the window since we didn’t get to the convention until almost noon. I kept running into impromptu photo shoots of a bunch of people dressed as different Spider-Men and this happened on both Friday and Saturday. They ended up being some of the best pictures I took all weekend, so I was grateful for that.
Once the day got past its horrendous beginning, it was actually a really enjoyable day. The cosplay contest had a ton of issues this year. It was hosted by Ernie David and Scott Speiser (The Tick) who both made it very clear that they had no idea how to properly pronounce the majority of these character’s names and didn’t know a thing about who the costumed contests were supposed to be. They were laugh out loud funny the majority of the time while pausing every now and then to say they didn’t mean any disrespect or have any intention of taking away from all the hard work each contestant put into their costumes. They went on to say that the judges had been working since 4pm that day (the contest started 30 minutes late as it was nearly 8pm when it started) to dwindle the contestants down to the best of the best. This was difficult to believe since the number of contestants seemed to be close to the 100-entrants range. In previous years, the costume contest was separated by beginner, intermediate, and expert levels of costumes. This was all mixed as some of these costumes really didn’t belong in this kind of contest since they weren’t all on the same level.
There was also an ongoing issue with the music as no contestant seemed to have the right music for their moment in the spotlight. Most contestants would walk on stage, do a few poses, and walk back off-stage, but for some reason it seems like some are chosen to do skits which is basically lip-synching a scene from the movie/video game/anime that their character is from or lip-synching or dancing to the provided music. Some of these contestants were on stage for five minutes or more, which didn’t seem fair to the others. A guy dressed as Link from The Legend of Zelda sang off-key for entirely too long while Mario danced for an extended amount of time and Captain Marvel lip-synched an entire Brittney Spears song. The contest as a whole was a borderline disaster and we couldn’t stomach its entirety because of its slapdash presentation. If anyone knows who ended up winning, please let me know in the comments below.
The last stop of the day was the LiveArt Auction, which is something I check out every year. All proceeds go to charity while artists who have booths/tables at Comicpalooza draw on the spot as people walk by and bid on their favorites. The downside is this endeavor gets expensive quick, so if you have your eye on something you’re likely to spend close to $100 or more. You also have to be there when the auction ends if you bid on something and want to take it home. Since the auction runs from 7:30pm to 11pm, it’s kind of a commitment especially if you showed up when the convention opened at 10am. Being able to take pictures and witness the artists as they work is a lot of fun though. This is one of the instances where browsing is more fun than purchasing.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Sunday is usually the slowest day of a convention. Vendors drop prices and are more open to bargaining with customers since another sale means that much less they have to pack up and take home or to their next potential selling establishment. My wife dressed as Lumpy Space Princess/LSP from Adventure Time and we had a lot of people taking pictures of her. This is the day to buy the most merchandise and that’s what we did. I went home with Kevin T. Chin’s 27”x40” print of the Saiyan Saga from Dragon Ball Z and a giant Broly figure. We picked up a few mystery boxes that started at $25 on Friday and were only $20 on Sunday. The boxes were themed; either Dragon Ball or My Hero Academia and we got one of each. I walked away with an exclusive Majin Vegeta vinyl pop and a Majin Buu squishy stress reliever that is amazing. The other box included a glow in the dark Todoroki vinyl pop.
As a general rule of thumb, if you can afford it and you dress up in costume, getting a hotel is such a convenient option. We usually get a room at The Hilton, which along with The Marriot, is attached to the GRB via skybridge. The hotel room allows you to go back to your room and change or take a much needed break whenever you need it. Some view it as a major luxury, especially if you live in Houston, but it’s worth the money. With the hotel, splurge and get valet parking as well. It makes carrying luggage, props, and costumes so much easier. Comicpalooza has become a tradition for me since I think I have attended every year since I’ve met my wife (six years total). It’s always fun and you’re going to enjoy yourself whether you’re disappointed with the guests or not. If you attend Comicpalooza for more than a day, be sure to hit up Pecos Pete’s (there’s at least four of them in the dealer’s room and another one on the third floor) and pick up either the plastic jar with a lid and a straw or the collectible metal cup. It’s going to run you $15-$30 and is an additional $7 a day, but you get free refills and you can bring that year’s cup/jar to the following year’s Comicpalooza. It’s a good deal that will likely save you some money in the long run.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Chris Sawin