A Comicon Virgin’s First Time…

2 06 2010

My first Comicon was a rousing success! I wasn’t able to attend the Thursday night preview or Friday, but I definitely made up for lost time on Saturday and Sunday.

[Click the various links for more photos or view the whole slideshow here and the videos on YouTube here.]

Saturday

Got to the Convention Center around 9 o’clock on Saturday, picked up my weekend passes and stood in line (which, by the time 10 o’clock hit, was wrapped around the building) for the Exhibition Hall. There were three main areas: the smaller breakout rooms (for panels and such), the South Hall (for big events like Stan Lee, etc.) and the Exhibition Hall, where all the vendors and autograph signing tables were set up.

Bombarded with crazy costumed fans, boxes overflowing with comics, massive art prints on easels, racks of action figures…it was a bit overwhelming. I headed over to the autograph signing tables to catch a glimpse of John Schneider (The Dukes of Hazzard, Smallville), James Marsters (Buffy, Smallville), Daniel Logan (Boba Fett, Attack of the Clones) and Ray Park (Darth Maul, The Phantom Menace, G.I. Joe, X-Men). I decided to purchase a photograph with Daniel and Ray, which I think turned out awesome, and was a way better deal than getting their individual autographs. They were both super friendly and seemed genuinely excited to be meeting with fans.

Me with Daniel Logan (Young Boba Fett) & Ray Park (Darth Maul)

There was a designated Star Wars area toward the back of the Hall; so, naturally, that’s where I headed. A large tent bore the banners of five fan groups: the ISO Girls, the Mandalorian Mercs, the 501st Legion, the Rebel Legion and the R2-D2 Builders. It’s always great to see these truly devoted fans out in force for events – and as ever, their costumes and armor rocked! The R2-D2 Builders really outdid themselves with two fully functional R2-D2s, complete with sounds, lights, movement, even a working periscope!

As a Star Wars action figure collector, I found some great deals on some figures I’d been looking for and even went on the hunt for the 6 part comic miniseries Superman: Man of Steel (after all, don’t you need to get a comic at Comicon?). Over the course of the two days, we found 5 of the 6…still looking for part 5!

John Schneider

I caught the John Schneider panel later that afternoon. He talked a bit about The Dukes of Hazzard, how he turned down a cameo in the 2005 reboot film and how the “awful” movie killed any chance of a successful remake, but most people were there to hear about his time as Jonathan Kent on Smallville. He expressed fond memories of working on the show and working with Tom Welling. For the most part, the audience asked great questions and John shared some nice behind-the-scenes tidbits. He even shared his ideal ending for Smallville:

“Clark would be looking into a mirror, contemplating some hard decision…then you’d see my hands fasten the [Superman] cape around his shoulders…and the camera would pan back and you’d see my reflection in the mirror and I’d say, ‘It’s ok, son.’ And that would be it. But that will never happen.”

The audience applauded, and frankly, I think the idea’s not half bad!

Sunday

While Saturday was spent mostly in the Exhibition Hall, Sunday was full of exciting panels and talkback sessions in the smaller rooms. Since I already had my passes, there was no waiting in line, so I didn’t show up until around 10:45, catching the tail end of the “Sci-Fi and Social Media” panel (seemed fitting, as I’m a sci-fi fan and work with social media for a living!).

Michael A. Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole, of Star Wars: X-Wing fame, was sitting on the “Sci-Fi and Social Media” panel. While there was little said that wasn’t already known to me, it was interesting to hear it all from a writer’s perspective: when to respond to comments, when not to, how to handle personal matters online, etc. If nothing else, it encouraged me to get back to writing and continue my blogging efforts!

Later, I sat in on Michael’s “Star Wars Expanded Universe” panel. I really enjoyed getting some more insight into the X-Wing novels and I, Jedi, especially the behind-the-scenes politics with editors and Lucasfilm. I hadn’t thought about it, but it’s been a decade since his last Star Wars title, after his supposed Dark Tide trilogy was cut short due to conflicts with the editor. It’s a shame, because Stackpole’s books are some of my favorites!

He talked about his close collaboration with Timothy Zahn, both with the short stories Side Trip and Interlude at Darkknell and also Zahn’s Hand of Thrawn duology.

I asked him if/when they decide to kill off Wedge Antilles or Corran Horn (two characters that feature prominently in the X-Wing series, the latter of which was created by Stackpole), would he want the job. He said he would kill off Corran if invited to do so, but he wouldn’t want to kill off Wedge. He chuckled at this, probably aniticpating the negative fan reaction that comes with killing off major characters. Some asked if he’d be ok if someone else killed Corran (similar to when Karen Traviss killed Zahn’s creation and fan favorite, Mara Jade). Stackpole said he’d be sad, but he’d given Corran the arc he wanted and would be ok if that was it. Side Note: Stackpole said Zahn was not consulted at all about Mara’s death and found out only days prior to Sacrifice’s release…ouch!

Michael also discussed his wish that they would have kept Anakin Solo alive (thus his prominence in the Dark Tide duology). Alas, they killed him anyway, a waste in Stackpole’s eyes.

I was able to get a picture with Michael and had him sign my oft-read copy of I, Jedi.

Me and Michael A. Stackpole

Ray Park & Daniel Logan

The “Darth Maul vs. Boba Fett” panel was a lot of fun. Both Ray Park and Daniel Logan were enthusiastic and were more than happy to answer fans’ questions.

Daniel talked about his early acting career, doing commercials in his home country of New Zealand. He later told a humorous story about his U.S. citizenship process. His agent had told him it might take months to complete all the paperwork. Included in his application was a handwritten “recommendation” letter from George Lucas himself. A day after the paperwork was submitted, Daniel got a call from his agent, informing him that he had already been approved! Daniel said he is convinced there was a Star Wars fan working in the immigration office. While a funny story, I found it even more hilarious due to all the immigration controversy happening in Arizona – I wonder if Daniel was aware of any of it!

Ray talked a lot about his martial arts background and how he doesn’t mind taking on the heavily made-up or masked roles (Darth Maul, Toad, Snake Eyes) as long as he can show off his martial arts skills. He admitted that he still makes his own sound effects on set, saying, “When I stop enjoying it and stop being Peter Pan, then I’ll stop acting.”

A bit later he made a little kid’s dream come true by calling him up on stage, toy lightsaber and all, and staged a lightsaber fight! Getting to fight Darth Maul at Comicon? A memory that kid will never forget.

Coming to an End…

I knew I wanted some art, so when I found Tom Hodges (artist for The Clone Wars online webcomics) doing $10 commissioned sketches, I was psyched! In under a minute, he turned out a kick-ass Slave Leia and an awesome Superman! Definitely going in a frame!

I didn’t pay to go and meet Stan Lee, but was able to snap a few photos from afar!

As the Exhibition Hall cleared out, Phoenix Comicon 2010 was drawing to an end. I’m glad I went, glad I got to meet some awesome people, see some crazy things and walk away with some unforgettable souvenirs and memories. Will definitely be going next year!

Congrats to the men and women who put on this great event – I’m sure it was a beast. And thanks to all the artists, writers, actors and celebs who took time out of their busy schedules to share some love with the fans – it wouldn’t have been the same without you!

Did you go to this year’s Phoenix Comicon? Share your favorite Comicon story in the comments!

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5 responses

2 06 2010
Tina

Though we only ended up in one panel together, it was awesome to know someone else who was there for their very first comicon. I was totally psyched about meetnig James Martsers and getting his signature on my Spike doll as well as a picture and all the Start Trek TNG signatures were awesome. The panels were great (some better than others) and overall, i’m totally hooked on comicon! Defintiley spending more time in my neighborhood comic book store and boning up for an even more exciting time next year!

2 06 2010
Cal

I had a lot of fun even though I’m not into most of the stuff that was there. It was very cool how everyone was able to interact with the writers and stars so much. My first Comicon was a success!

26 07 2010
dtrasler

That all sounds amazing – especially the behind-the-scenes stuff with Mr Stackpole. I have a lot of the Star Wars books on Audio, and find it hard to keep the chronology straight, but I do notice a lot of character “re-orienting” as different writers take up the tale. The best example is during the early days as they search for a suitable partner for Luke. Women are trotted on, whisked away, deprived of force powers etc etc

26 07 2010
Dustin

Yeah, the chronology definitely gets a bit confusing, especially when you start taking the video games, TV shows and comics into account! And it’s funny you mention Luke’s partner – as I’m re-reading the novels, in chronological order, I’m in the midst of the “Callista” phase right now (just started Darksaber) – *sigh* – seems so unnecessary when you know he just ends up with Mara 🙂

28 07 2010
dtrasler

It made me laugh when Mara contracted her deadly illness somewhere in the middle of the Yuzhong Vong business – it really just felt like a writer’s sour grapes moment “Oh, so you’ve married him off to her and given kids, eh? Well, I’ll give her bloody bird flu then….”

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