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

A Visit to Wizard World 2014 Comic Con St.Louis
Part Two
                I, my sister, her husband and their son went to Wizard Con on April 5, 2014 in St. Louis. By early afternoon I got all the autographs I wanted and had some comics and album covers signed by two of my favorite artists: Neal Adams and Mike Grell. I could not think of any other comic book artists still alive that I would like to meet. Maybe Joe Staton.
                Well, Steve Ditko of course. And Murphy Anderson. And Jim Steranko. And George Perez. And Jose Luis-Garcia Lopez. Okay, there are LOTS of artists I would still like to meet. 
                Were I able to go back in time the list of artists I would love to meet is quite long: Jim Aparo, Gene Colon, Curt Swan, Dick Giordano, Dick Dillon – all gone now.
                And I’m not talking writers – just artists here.
                But anyway, back to Wizard Con. When we last left our adventurers…
                My brother-in-law met, bought a print from, and got the autograph of The Crow creator James O’Barr.
                My sister got the autographs of various guests of the con:  John Bernthal (Shane from Walking Dead), Summer Glau and Alan Tudyk. Sean Astin said she looked like Juliette Lewis.
                My nephew is the only boy in a Tae Kwon Do class of adult men. They call him “Daniel-san”. Ralph Macchio was tickled to hear this and posed for a photo.
                Most thrilling of all for him was meeting Jason David Frank (a Power Ranger). My nephew did some moves for him and Jason put it on his Facebook page as one of the highlights of the Con.
                Adam Baldwin made my sister cry – in a nice way. She was (and is still) a big fan of “My Bodyguard” and Adam was so touched by her story he autographed a headshot from the movie for her at no cost.
                All of them were very kind and courteous to my sister and her son. Good for them.
                Some sad news though – the autograph tickets for Nathan Fillion and Bruce Campbell were already sold out. If they wanted to wait at the end of the line and there was still time they could ask for autographs. My family decided it was easier to wait and come back the next day. Maybe they should put this photo on some nice cardstock and have Nathan and Bruce sign it together.
                (This is a Wizard World photo taken during of of their photo ops.)
                While I waited for my family to get Sean Astin’s autograph a familiar face approached – it was my cousin from Peoria and his brother. Let me explain: my cousin is actually his father-in-law. My cousin’s daughter married JP. So he is my first-cousin-once-removed-in-law. But he’s still my cousin. And his son and my daughter are nearly the same age and like to play at family reunions. Yes, my cousin’s grandson and my daughter are only six months apart. The age-span between my oldest and youngest cousin is 33 years. My oldest cousin had two children before I was born. A long-lived family are we.
                His brother is no blood relation to me whatsoever, but I remember him from the wedding. It was fun to talk to them for a few hours.
                They got some photos taken with Sean Astin and William Shatner. I was very disappointed in the photos – Shatner’s especially. You can tell it was done in a rush and it could have been a cardboard cut-out as un-animated as it looked.
                Now granted Shatner is in his 80s and sat on a stool for an hour as a parade of fans stood next to him for a photo. I’d be a little weary, too. But if it were my picture I would hope for a smile or something…
                But then again, when are you ever going to get your picture taken with Bill Shatner? I really am torn between saying this is quite cool and being aggravated at his lethargy!
                My family and I walked through the artists’ alley. This was when my brother-in-law got his print from James O’Day. We found ourselves at Mike Grell’s booth (my second visit with him). He was drawing a commission and my nephew and I discussed his technique as we did with Neal Adams.
                Mike said, “The most important tool you have is the eraser!” He held up a well-used piece of rubber. “Not just for mistakes! Look…” Mike opened up his portfolio and showed my nephew eraser marks made to look like speed lines and clouds and leaves.
                “He uses the side of his pencil and the eraser to create the illusion of texture,” I said. I used to draw a comic strip … so I know of these things, you see…  Thanks again Mike Grell, for your time and patience encouraging a young child to practice the art!
                We met more friends before we left: the local comic store (Fantasy Books – their wepage is (http://fantasybooksinc.com/) had a booth and one of the workers recognized me. I’m either very recognizable or I buy too many comics there.
                As with last year, the Best in Show for Cosplay went to my friend who does a pitch-perfect Captain Jack Sparrow. He NEVER breaks character, but his smile when he saw me was heartening. My nephew (who had never met him and didn’t know I knew “Jack”) wanted a picture and Jack grabbed my sleeve and pulled me into the picture. Great fella – he deserved to win.
                My nephew turned 10 this past autumn and I wanted to hire Jack (I hesitate to use his real name without his permission) to entertain at the birthday party. He agreed, but we cancelled when my brother-in-law hired his co-worker Chadto entertain.
                Chadis a member of the 501st Legion Midwest Garrison www.501stsithlords.comand does cosplay all around the mid-west. He does a great Darth Maul and let my nephew pose with him in battle-ready stance! When we left there were other youngsters waiting for their pic with the evil Sith Lord!
                Here is a photo I found on “Jack’s” Facebook page of him and Chris together. I would have loved to have been there. I wonder if they know each other?
                Cosplayers abounded at the Con – of course that night was the contest, so everyone was parading around the booths. Were there that many players on Friday and Sunday?
                Lots of Doctor Whos in fezzes and lots of Star Trek, Star Wars and comic book characters. There were also lots of people dressed in costumes from video games. Even my sister had to ask what some of them were dressed as.
                One delight was watching two little girls taking their picture with Batman. “Thank you Batman,” one of them said and hugged the solemn dark knight. Both of the girls had “Hello Kitty” backpacks. Were my daughter there she would have been more interested in the backpacks.
                My wife asked if she would have found anything interesting there. Probably not, unfortunately. There was not much in the way of musicians performing and the panels probably weren’t to her liking. She doesn’t shop nor cares much for autograph-hunting.
                I would love to take my daughter to “meet” Batman and others. But not now. There were other children at the con – four years old and younger – but my daughter doesn’t like scary costumes. Hopefully by the time she is old enough to enjoy watching the cosplayers the zombie fad will have passed and there won’t be too many people drenched in blood with axes sticking out of their faces.
                One of my complaints from last year was my having no knowledge of even the existenceof panels during the con! I assume that is because it was the Con’s first year in St. Louis and it was not well organized. Not so this year. Although their website still did not mention panels, they were included in the program booklets. And another change this year was that we attendees were provided program booklets with which we may peruse the various panels. See how such little details like that can escape a Con organizer?
                Clydeattended some panels and so did JP; and they enjoyed them. I did not attend any panels. Most of the guests had Q&A sessions, there were movie previews and panels celebrating the anniversary of the Voltron franchise. None of this was my cup of tea. Not that I have anything against panels – I spent the first two days of Gen Con doing nothing BUT panels. See my blogs on Gen Con for details: http://michaelgcurry.blogspot.com/2013/08/prose-and-cons-agencon-2013-report-day.html
                But the panels at Wizard Con … meh. If the panels were subjects you enjoyed – I hope you enjoyed them! One I did not attend that piqued my interest was one featuring Bill Finger’s granddaughter. It would have been nice to meet her.
                St. Louis Wizard Con 2014 was more of a success than in 2013 – which in itself was very successful! Will there be one next year? I’d bet so.
                Will I go? Probably. It’s a good place to find old and rare comics. Expensive, but I can’t find them anywhere else – even online. If Neal Adams and other comic artists are there I will get their signatures on my favorite comics. I might even pay to commission some original artwork.
                If there are no big stars that make me ooo and aah; that’s okay.
                This year was much more fun than last year – probably because I met more friends there and knew more people as guests, artists, cosplayers and even exhibitors. Here’s hoping for many more successful years for Wizard Con!
                I’ll see you next year!
Copyright 2014 Michael G Curry

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