Comic book shows are different from horror shows. At horror and SF shows, fans wander around, shake hands with their favorite celebrities and peruse the memorabilia. Even the worst organized genre show feels laid back. At comic book conventions, the paying customers are on a mission – find that book, get those books signed by the artists. They stomp through the dealers rooms, singled-minded, their minds laser-fixed on the miscellaneous long boxes, looking to fill holes in their collections. While there are elements of the horror show at work – celebrities lining the walls, holding meet’n’greets with the fans, inevitable packed Q&As, folks doing more perusing than bartering – the comic show is ruled by the comic fan – the comic “geek” if you will – and nothing will stand in their way.
The MidOhioCon is a genre con at heart. Every year, coordinator Roger Price kills himself to put on a terrific convention, filling the roster with fan favorites from science fiction and horror. This year, he was able to boast such folks as Brad Dourif (The Two Towers), Andy Hallett and Mark Lutz (“Angel”), James C. Leary (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), David Carradine (“Kung Fu”, Kill Bill), Walter Koenig (“Star Trek”), Dean Haglund (“The X-Files”), Robyn Griggs (“Severe Injuries”), June Lockhart (“Lost in Space”) – the list kept growing the closer it got to show time. In terms of comic book artists and writers, the list was even longer – ranging from pin-up artist Dave Nestler to author Christopher Golden (“Straight on ‘til Morning”) to the big guns: Alan Davis (“Excalibur”) and P. Craig Russell (“Sandman”). As a result of this heavy line-up, the hallways were crammed, the Q&A sessions packed to bursting.
Roger and his wife, Jane, are old hands at this. They possess the wisdom of folks who have been putting on conventions for years. So things tend to work as close to clockwork as they can get. One of the joys of the con is the friendly staff. Some cons employ the geek equivalent of Hell’s Angels, cheerfully helping folks along with a happy tolchock to the head. MidOhioCon staff members are understanding, but firm. Keep your wristband visible, don’t jump the line, and don’t steal, spit, or run in the halls. And everyone will have a good time.
Then there are the Stormtroopers. There’s an organization out there – one I consistently forget the name of – that supplies folks in official Lucasfilm-sanctioned costumes for events such as these to serve as escorts, security, and gawking opportunities. Each guest was provided with an escort of a battalion of Stormtroopers, Imperial Guards, and the occasional Boba Fett. The costumes are fantastic, and never fail to send a tremor of nostalgia through the ardent Gen-X “Star Wars” fan, making him long for the simpler days of good stories and characters and fewer Gungans.
The high point of this year’s con, for us, anyway, was the official “Buffy/Angel” Q&A. Just like last year, the panel consisted of Golden, Lutz, Leary and Hallett, and it was less a question/answer event as it was a tag-team comedy routine. Sadly, Hallett was feeling a bit under the weather, exhausted from the near-continuous shooting now that he has joined the “Angel” cast as a regular (he was only attending the event on Saturday, returning to L.A. – and more shooting – early on Sunday). So Andy was a bit subdued. Lutz and Leary more than picked up the pace, with Leary egging on every Lutz-delivered impression of Paul Lynde and Charlotte Rae. (No, I’m not kidding.)
In spite of Hallett’s exhaustion, he was still on-hand to head up the charity karaoke session later that night, to raise money for kids with diabetes. (Fans of “Angel” realize how appropriate this is, seeing as how Hallett plays “Lorne”, green-skinned singing demon on the show.) Attendees of this event were treated to Hallett’s terrific voice, Lutz and Hallett clowning around, and Robyn Griggs and Amy Lynn Best singing a truly dreadful rendition of a Spice Girls song (with dancing accompaniment by yours truly).
In all, except for an unfortunate incident in the parking lot involving a drunken schmuck driving a student van and our car’s passenger-side mirror, there wasn’t a single unhappy moment. As a comic book geek myself, I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t get within ten feet of Alan Davis – I stood in line for fifteen minutes before I realized that I hadn’t moved. Comic book fans, it should be reiterated, are completists. And there was a whole line of people who desired their entire runs of “Excalibur” signed by the writer. And to Davis’s credit (or as an example of his insanity), he was doing it. “Excalibur” ran at least a hundred issues before I stopped collecting. Keep that in mind, multiply by the same number of fans per hour, and you have one mighty cramped hand, I would think.
Davis’s line just gave me the excuse to hang out with Walter Koenig, Lutz and Dean Haglund at the lounge. These are my favorite perks.
Check out www.midohiocon.com for updates and news of next year’s show.
Mike Watt attempts to explore all the things that make Geek culture great, as well as pointing out all the things that make Geeks genetically superior to all other humans. During the course of this exploration, he may undoubtedly have to reveal horrid truths about Hollywood and Mainstream Cinema, as they compare to the riches of independent filmmaking. Ultimately, he hopes to bring higher awareness of and respect to Geek Culture, as well as secure a hefty book deal and the accolades of his (richer) peers. Feel free to lavish him with affection (or bitch at him) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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