A Visit to Wizard World 2014 Comic Con St. Louis Part One

A Visit to Wizard World 2014 Comic Con St. Louis
Part One
                In April St. Louis held its second Wizard World Comic Con. For a refresher – here is the site to my blog describing last year’s experience. http://michaelgcurry.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-pros-and-cons-inapril-st.html
                This year I went with my sister, brother-in-law and their ten-year-old son. I ran into them last year and this year we decided to go together. They are regular attendees of CONtamination each year also in St. Louis, but it was cancelled for 2014. So they decided to take their money to the Wizards this year. They weren’t disappointed.
                I have concluded that Wizard World Comic Con is the world’s most expensive flea market. They had a lot of great stuff there, don’t get me wrong. But most of it was eeeeeeex-pensive! I found a few great posters and some fairly-priced comics. I also found a bin of the original Kenner Star Wars action figures from the 1970s and 1980s. The figures from the “Return of the Jedi” used to be rare and worth a bit. But here they were for $5.00 – about what they sold for 30 years ago. Maybe next year I’ll buy up the ones I didn’t get then. By the third movie I was 20-years-old and not too interested in buying them. Thirty years later it is a different story. I was more interested in buying the small display cases for the figures.
                My sister, bro and nephew were very excited about the guest list. Most of them were available not only for autographs but photo ops. There was an additional fee for those. Last year the list of stars didn’t thrill me; probably because it was Wizard World Comic Con’s first year in a new town and no one knew how successful it would be. They needn’t have worried.
                It was an equal smash this year, so the roster was a little better. Lou Ferrigno, according to my sister, is a frequent guest of these things. Bruce Campbell was a huge draw. Half the cast of Firefly was there: Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillion, Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk. Wrestler Chris Jericho, Ralph Macchio, Sean Patrick Flanery and Sean Astin were all there for autographs, panels and photos. 
                And this time there were guests that excited me! William Shatner, Adam West and Burt Ward. Woot!
                There was also a Doctor – Matt Smith (the 11th? I’ve lost track) and Karen Gillan (who played his companion Amy) were there for panels, autographs and photo ops. They were the most popular guests with the longest lines. When their autograph times were announced, the noise level of the crowded auditorium rose as people raced to the autograph booths.
                I decided not to ask for Smith’s and Gillan’s autographs – my money was budgeted for Shatner, Ward and West.
                When my family and I first arrived we did some comic book shopping. I helped my nephew find some old cheap comics that were age appropriate. Most comics from my era – the 1970s – were age appropriate of course, but finding stories that was done in one issue was harder. My nephew is a Batman fan, though, so finding cheap Batman comics from the 1970s or before can be tricky. You gotta know where to look. Brave & Bold and World’s Finest are fine choices. I also found him some Justice League of America and I decided to get him hooked on Legion of Super-Heroes. I found plenty of those in the cheaper bins.
                During the long day I also found some reasonably priced silver-age Green Lanternand Legion comics. I found a good golden age World’s Finest and an unbelievably cheap Feature Comics in nice shape. At the Graham Cracker comics kiosk I pointed out the first X-Men comic to my nephew, the first Spider-Man (Amazing Fantasy as well as Spider-Man #1), the first Thor (Journey into Mystery) and my sister was thrilled when I showed her the first appearance of Swamp Thing (in House of Secrets) all on display along with many others.
                While comic hunting, I groused many times at seeing comics I paid full price on in the dollar bins. Later I said I was equally pleased to see comics I paid full price on selling for $70.00 or more!
                We were there about fifteen minutes still digging through bins when I heard a familiar voice. It was by very dear friend Clyde and his wife and adult daughter – also doing some shopping. His daughter mentioned on Facebook that they bought many a fun item and her photos showed many a cosplayer and panels they enjoyed that day. Clyde has yet to write about Wizard World Comic Con, but he has a wonderful series of blogs on comics and related topics here:  http://playmst3kforme.blogspot.com/2013/06/weve-got-you-covered-10-great-comic.html
                Because of our work schedules I have not been able to chat with Clyde for some months. It was nice to catch up!
                After a bit more shopping we decided to get the autographs we wanted done.
                We were near the booths for Adam West and Burt Ward and began there. My sister told me she was bringing her DVD of their Batman movie from 1966. I thought that was a great idea and brought mine too.
                Burt Ward was a friendly and chatty gentleman. He showed us pictures of his dogs and explained how he cared for them and fed them the proper food so that some of them, at 25, play as actively as dogs half their age. His web site is here: http://www.gentlegiantsrescue.com/
                He autographed and personalized our DVDs. My nephew was so nervous he hardly said a word. I told Burt how much I enjoyed his work as Robin (other than some voice work he has done little other acting).
                Adam West was also just as kind and, although they made us rush along, we had enough time to shake his hand. I told him how much I enjoyed his pilot Lookwelland he appreciated that. When he shook my nephew’s hand I said to my nephew, “You realize you are shaking the hand of a man who acted with the Three Stooges.” Whether Adam West was playing me or not when I said they he leaned back in his chair and offered me his hand again. “The Outlaws is Coming, that’s right!” he said, sounding amazed. Hey, I’m a fan of both him and the Stooges, what can I say? It was the Traveling Wilburys of film!
                William Shatner was another matter. He, Nathan Fillion, Bruce Campbell and Matt Smith required queuing in feeder lines long before the autograph schedule. You had to buy the tickets ahead of time. I didn’t know that and luckily Shatner was not sold out. I waited much longer in line that I usually have the patience for. “How long were you in line?” My sister asked later. “I got in line in 2014; I got out in Stardate 3097.4.” Once the autograph session started it went pretty quickly – not a lot of time to gush. I shook his hand and told him I loved his work. He thanked me while autographing a photo I selected from those offered. Surprisingly I didn’t have a lot of Shatner books or pictures. I had a commemorative magazine from Star Trek II with a nice pin-up of him, but decided not to hunt for it. I mentioned I was an attorney and his Danny Crain was a very realistic portrayal and he thanked me. By this time he was signing the lady behind me (her name was Tracy – we got to talk a lot during our months in line) and I was being herded out.
                That finished the autograph-hunting of Wizard World Comic Con for me. My family wanted to get into a few other lines so I said I would meet them back “here” and went to the artists’ alley.
                I found artist/writer Neal Adams’ kiosk earlier to sign two Power Records for which he did the cover – one of Batman and one of Superman. “Do you still have the records?” “Yes, home safe and sound,” I said. My nephew is a budding artist (another nephew Dirk is a professional comic book artist) and we stood and watched Neal draw. I told my nephew I thought Neal was one of the greatest comic artists ever – he drew a head-shot of Batman (a commission for that day, no doubt) while we watched. I told my nephew to watch how he draws lines and circles. My nephew was just as thrilled to look at all the posters and other artwork surrounding Adams. My sister had a cell phone photo of a sketch my nephew did and proudly showed it to Neal (there was no one in line at the time). I asked Neal when he started drawing. “Four,” he said. I told my nephew he had six years to catch up. Thank you, Neal, for allowing a ten-year-old to watch you make your art!
                But Neal Adams had his own kiosk away from the artist alley. There I met Mike Grell – an artist whose style very much compares with Neal Adams. In fact, Grell took over the art chores of Green Lantern after they brought back that title after its run with … Neal Adams. Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil produced a now-legendary story arc, but not enough to revive slagging sales. The title was cancelled and brought back a few years later with O’Neil writing, but now with Grell drawing.
                No one was in line at Grell’s booth so I introduced myself and shook his hand. “When I started reading comics, I read your Green Lantern and your Legion and Warlord. When I moved to Batman, you moved too. You drew every comic I loved as a kid. Thank you.” He thanked me and held his hand out again. I gave him my Green Lantern #90 (his first) and First Issue Special #8 (first appearance of his Warlord) to sign. He only charged me a dollar. Considering what I paid before that for signatures (including $40.00 for Neal Adams), I almost kissed the guy.
                Both Mike Grell and Neal Adams were very friendly and happy to talk to me. They were both very courteous and appreciative of this fan-boy. Meeting them was the highlight of the Con for me.
                I was torn as to what to bring from Grell to sign. I wanted to bring a Legion comic; then a Sable. I wanted to bring his first professional work (an Aquaman back-up in Adventure) – it would have been cool to ask him what he remembered of it. But I am glad I took what I did.
                Next was the kiosk of Ethan Van Sciver, who (among other works) drew Green Lantern Rebirth (don’t ask). He signed it graciously.
                I walked along the other artists displaying their work. I took a few cards – I am always on the lookout for artists to do covers for my novels. There weren’t a lot of science fiction-y art unfortunately. There were darn few fantasy artists, either. I did enjoy the fantasy art of h-eri (like her Facebook page at IvoryDragonStudios) and I think she could design a great cover should I flesh out the fantasy novel I have outlined. 
               Most of the other artists were comic-book oriented. Good stuff throughout!
                So I accomplished all my goals for the Con! I met who I wanted to meet and got some nice swag!
                In the meantime, my sister’s family was having the times of their lives…
                To be continued …
Copyright 2014 Michael G Curry



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One thought on “A Visit to Wizard World 2014 Comic Con St. Louis Part One

  1. Pingback: Wizard World Con 2015 | Currytakeaways

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