Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dallas Comic-Con: Fan Days

This weekend I got to attend Dallas Comic-Con's Fan Days at Irving Convention Center in Irving, Texas! 'Fan Days' is a special event sponsored by The Dallas Comic-Con which has been running since 1994. The Dallas Comic-Con usually occurs in May along with the Sci-Fi Expo in February. Fan Days is a huge pop-culture event presenting celebrity guess from movies and TV along with comic book artists and writers and of course a huge dealers room with tons of comics and collectibles! Some of this year's special celebrity guests included: Bruce Campbell, Felicia Day, Robert Englund, Ray Park, Sean Astin, Lance Henrikson, Ralph Bakshi, Ian McDiarmid, David Prowse and Stan Lee! The 501st also made an appearance along with the U.S. Marivne Corps. Reserve to support Toys For Tots. I have always been a regular attendee of some of the major conventions that occur around the Dallas-Ft.Wroth Metroplex (i.e. All-Con, A-Kon, AnimeFest, Comic-Con, Texas Frightmare) even when I was younger I would attend Star trek conventions with my parents.
Stan Lee
As conventions get bigger and more popular (and more crowded!) prices go up as well as the quality of celebrity guests get better. I have enjoyed going to these for years but it seems like every year it just gets crazier and even more expensive! I am a devoted con-goer and celebrity autograph collector. While back in the day for the price of admission you could get autographs from whatever celebrity you wanted (on your item) with an occasional fee if you wanted to purchase any photos or merchandise they might have. But in recent years, celebrities have been charging more and more for their autographs, anywhere from an average of $20 to $30. Now the average price at Comic-Con is $40 with some celebrities charging more. The most expensive guests this years included Stan Lee who charged $50 for an autograph and Ian McDiarmid for $100! And that's not including the offered "Photo-Op" or even personalization. With the thousands of people attending and even more thousands who only come for the autographs this makes it increasingly hard for the average fan to acquire autographs from your favorite guests. Some events like Dallas Comic-Con are even offering V.I.P. tickets for amounts up to $100 which gives those lucky few who pay for it many advantages such as early admission, preferred seating and even autograph or photo op 'jumps’ which allow you to "move forward in front of any general admission badge customers in any autograph line or photo op line".
Bruce Campbell
When I pre-ordered my ticket for the convention I had one goal in mind: to meet Bruce Campbell! Star of such cult/horror movies as The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness along with a number of TV (Hercules/Xena, Brisco County, Jr., Burn Notice), movie cameo appearances (Spider-man Trilogy) and voice work. I was excited to meet Stan Lee as well, but I had met him at a very special event when I was younger. I was also hoping to meet Star Wars actors like David Prowse, Ian McDiarmid and Ray Park. I had purchased my autograph ticket for Bruce Campbell so that I would be guaranteed to get an autograph but I didn't spend on the 'photo-op' ticket. While the convention started on Friday, the biggest and busiest day is always Saturday. There were so many people at the con (which was possibly over-sold) that most of the parking was in the adjacent field that surrounded the convention center. When I arrived around 11am, I happened to pass by Steve Niles' booth who was nice enough to sign my trade paperback of 30 Days of Night with no charge! Then I headed to the 4th floor to the main stage for the Bruce Campbell Q&A at 12pm. The panel was fairly crowded with fans as Bruce appeared dressed in a bright, white-suit. The first thing he talked about was the remake of Evil Dead and even treated us to an exclusive view of the trailer! Bruce and director of the original Sam Raimi, serve as producers of the film directed by Fede Alvarez. Bruce apparently fully endorses the film and says it is really different than the original. Bruce also talked about his experiences as 'Ash' on the The Evil Dead trilogy as well as Man with the Screaming Brain, Bubba Ho-Tep, and My Name Is Bruce. He also talked about his views on Evil Dead: The Musical. After the Q&A ended at 1pm, I headed back down to the 3rd floor to see what time the autograph session would be. It wasn't until 3pm so I figured I had some time. Right across the hall was the line for Ray Park, famous for his martial-arts work as The Headless Horseman's stunt-double in Sleepy Hollow, Snake-Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and of course Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. Unfortunately, after I had waited in line for almost two hours for Ray, they cut off the line with me
Ray Park
While I now had to get in line for Bruce Campbell, I was impressed with the helpfulness of the con-staff and volunteers who assured me that I would be able to get into the next autograph session for Ray Park. I got in line for Bruce which had formed outside in a shaded walkway. I was waiting patiently with Group 2 with my ticket in hand and my Special Necronomicon Edition DVD of The Evil Dead! For anyone who follows my Twitter or Facebook feed knows, I was growing increasingly impatient in-line. While the weather was pleasant, the wind was very strong being under the outdoor, covered-walkway. Two hours later...I finally got in to see him around 5pm, he was very nice, signed my DVD/book with his flourished signature of Bruce along with 'Ash' and even added "P.S. Burn This!". Afterwards I was able to 'cut' in-line to see Ray Park, who was very approachable and easy to talk to, where I bought a nice glossy 8x10 of Darth Maul and later got to meet David 'Dave' Prowse who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars Trilogy. As he did sign a glossy picture of Darth Vader I bought, he seemed somewhat enfeebled and was rather curt with me as he was also preoccupied, talking to a young lady (in a Star Trek uniform no less!?). Despite my one disappointment, I was very happy to have met Steve Niles, Bruce Campbell and Ray Park. Although I spent most of my Saturday waiting in lines (for almost 5 hours!) and very little time enjoying the rest of the convention, I was however, able to pick up a few affordable items from the dealers room, along with a few pictures and some great memories of one of the largest conventions I have ever been too...unfortunately I probably won't be coming back to for a long, long time!