Good night, dear Generalissimo

I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a comic superfan all my life. I didn’t grow up getting new comic books every week. I didn’t spend hours in comic book stores – there weren’t any near me in the suburb of Houston that I grew up in. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Avengers or pretend that I knew who the hell the Guardians of the Galaxy were before the movies came out. But I did grow up watching the X-Men on Saturday mornings. I glanced through the Spider-Man strips in the newspaper every morning when I had my breakfast before catching the bus to school. Even though I’d never read a single Captain America comic in my life, I could recognize his iconic red white and blue uniform with the shield and ask “ok, so he has a goofy ‘yay America’ uniform, but what does he do??”. Before I knew Iron Man’s real name was Tony Stark, I was able to point out the classic red and gold flying suit. I grew up with the common knowledge of what it meant if someone “hulked out.” You didn’t need to be a superfan to see Stan Lee’s influence everywhere.

Stan Lee’s story isn’t about a man who achieved his dreams. When I saw his panel at Alamo City Comic Con I remember a teenage boy excitedly asking Stan for advice on how to get started in comics because he wanted to become a comic writer himself. Stan’s answer was a telling one in terms of a generational divide in choosing career paths. Stan didn’t write comics because he wanted to, he did it because he had to. He was an aspiring novelist, but because he needed to put food on the table for his family, he took on the job as a comic book writer as a teenager and the gig stuck. He never became that best-selling novelist that he wanted to be, but he became something so much more than that.

He made comics relatable. DC had their own successes with Batman and all the lore surrounding Gotham City, but at the end of the day Gotham City was a fictional setting. In 2003 I skipped out on studying for an organic chemistry exam in college to see Stan Lee speak at the University of Texas, and one of the things he mentioned in his talk was that he made it a point to make his stories take place in real life cities, so that readers could imagine all of these adventures happening in their own backyards. New York City had been his lifelong home, and he couldn’t imagine his characters being anywhere else. He wanted his characters to be flawed so that they could be more human. He wasn’t writing superheroes for the sake of creating a good guy and calling it a day. He wanted to make it seem like we could all be heroes, and that heroes could be all of us.

In 2014 I wasn’t able to see Stan Lee’s panel at Comicpalooza, but I got a photo with him because I knew it’d be one of the few opportunities for me to get a picture with a living legend without having to wait in line for hours at a larger convention. I also made a last minute decision to stay up late the night before and crochet a Spider-Man to give to Stan Lee. Here’s the excerpt from my previous blog post about giving Stan his little Spider-Man critter:

The next morning I sleepily waited in line for the photo op. Once the line started moving, the photo op went BLAZINGLY fast. Stand in, smile, and you’re gone. Not even a chance to say anything more than a quick hello. So when my turn came around, I kind of became that asshole who held up the photo op line, even if it was just for a few seconds. I told Stan I had something for him and handed him little Spidey, and after exchanging thank yous (no, thank YOU, sir, for influencing so many generations!) it was all shouts of “ma’am, look at the camera” before I had to scurry off. My tiny little victory was when I saw his handler try to take the little Spider-Man away from him and he snatched it away and put it in his pocket as if to say “NO, MINE.” Stan Lee now has one of my critters in his possession. VICTORY!

It was that split second of watching him tuck little Spidey into his pocket instead of handing it over to his handler that touched me the most in that brief interaction I had with him. He appreciated the work of his fans. He didn’t just say thanks and let his assistant toss it into a pile of other pieces that he would undoubtedly get throughout his time while sitting for photographs. He kept little Spidey with him, and that meant more to me than any thanks that he could’ve said to me.

stan

Thank you, Stan, for creating such a vast universe of heroes that were still human at heart. For reminding us that while we may just be people, we can be so much more. And that at the same time while you could be the strongest, fastest, and smartest person on earth, it’s still okay to have flaws. We can all be heroes, but heroes aren’t invincible. You may not have ever published that “great American novel” that you dreamed of writing, but you created a pathway of dreams for so many generations of kids and adults alike. Thank you for giving us so many heroes for us to look up to, learn from, and remember for years to come, including yourself. While you may no longer be here on this earth, you’ve given us all a gift that we could never repay. Good night, dear Generalissimo. May you take your place with the greatest names in history. You’ve earned it. Excelsior!

Advertisements

My love letter to Comicpalooza

Oh Comicpalooza. I know it’s been over for two weeks now, but I kind of feel like my recap in the last post didn’t do it justice. It was lazily written and it only served to recap what I did, but not WHY I had such a blast, and why I hope to continue having a blast each year. I really didn’t give it the love that it deserves. So here’s a better recap of Comicpalooza, with FEELINGS. OH THE FEELS.

So for anyone who’s kept up with this blog, you’ll know that I’ve been to my share of geek-cons. I won’t claim to have been to TOO many, but I’d like to think I’ve been to enough that I have an idea of what’s a good geek-con and what’s not. San Diego Comic-Con is of course the biggest and best convention, hands down. It’s not every day that you can say “oh, no big deal, that’s just HUGH JACKMAN WALKING DOWN THE STREET.” It’s not to say that it doesn’t come with its own frustrations, but it’s seriously an incredibly stressful, overwhelming, and ridiculously AWESOME experience. Definitely a bucket list item for any geek out there.

That being said, I honestly feel like Comicpalooza is one of the best conventions I’ve been to. But where are all the big movie stars? Where are all the fancy sneak previews of big upcoming movies and video games? SCREW ALL THAT. The thing that sets Comicpalooza apart is that it has that perfect small-scale convention feel where it’s genuinely about the love of all things geeky and not as much about the big movie and comic book studios trying to pimp out their next product. Because if we had to be honest about San Diego Comic-Con, yes, it’s absolutely celebrating all things geeky, but it’s most DEFINITELY a giant promotional event. “Hey you, look, there’s a new movie coming out with Captain What’s-His-Face, come get a freebie and tell ERRRBODY about it!!” “Oh look, a free video game demo! Make sure you brag to all your friends that you got to play it first and buy the real thing later.” I’m not saying this is a bad thing by any means, but it’s unfair to compare Comicpalooza to something as rich with star power as SDCC.

Comicpalooza is about reinforcing a geek love or introducing a new interest. I’d never painted a figure before, but I had so much fun at the figurine painting table that I missed the first 20 minutes of John Barrowman’s panel. I’ve never seen the movie Gravity but I was absolutely fascinated by the Gravity panel where an astronaut and a NASA space debris scientist picked apart scenes of the movie and explained what REALLY would have happened in space. There were dalek races and they had booths showing off 3D printing workshops and robot building classes. Apparently one of our public libraries has a 3D printer that you can use FOR FREE. There’s a genuine kind of fun that you just don’t get at the big-name geek-cons, and Comicpalooza is absolutely brimming with it. I’m so incredibly proud to have a flourishing geek convention right here in my own backyard, and it can only get better from here on out.

Comicpalooza 2014: The recap!

COMICPALOOZA! This was my second time going to Comicpalooza and I still stand by my belief that it’s easily one of the most fun geek-cons out there. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about geek-cons, it’s that bigger does NOT mean better (see my recap of New York Comic Con for evidence). Right now Comicpalooza is at that perfect size where it’s big enough to bring in some big names, but still small enough that it’s not overwhelming. Late for a panel? No problem, it just means you’ll have to sit a little farther in the back. If it were San Diego Comic-Con it’d be like “LOL you mean you didn’t get in line 6 hours ahead of time?? N00B.” Comicpalooza has only been around for a handful of years so far and I’m already excited that it’s only going to get better from here on out.

But first, the critter roundups! I had three critters to drop at Comicpalooza. Let’s see how they fared:

Spider-Man:

Spider-Man

Status: FOUND!

Spidey’s sticking around right here in Houston! Woohoo!

Iron Man:

Iron man post adoption

Status: FOUND!

Iron Man had a successful adoption too! He’ll be hanging around in the suburbs of Houston.

Wolverine:

BogBpsmCAAEHTLW (1)

Status: Unconfirmed 😦

Unfortunately I haven’t heard back on Wolverine. If you or someone you know has Wolverine, please check in with me! Keep in mind that if you have a protected twitter account I won’t see your tweets, so please e-mail me at geekyhooker [at] gmail [dot] com if you’ve got a protected account!

Otherwise, ON TO THE CONVENTION!

SPECIAL GUESTS:

stan

STAN THE MAN. OMFGWEIOFJALSDKFAKLSD.

Oh, is that Stan “the man” Lee, holding a little Spider-Man that I made for him? Yes. YES IT IS. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see his panel on Friday, but I showed up Saturday morning to get a picture with him. I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to get a photo with Stan Lee because I’ve never been willing to pay for a photo op. Once I realized that this man’s appeal would probably never die, and that I wouldn’t have many other opportunities where I could easily get a photo with him (compared to bigger geek-cons where I’d have to be in line for HOURS), I decided to go for it. And dammit, if I’m going to get a photo with Stan Lee, it’d be wrong of me not to gift him a critter. So in a last minute decision, I stayed up late and crocheted another Spider-Man to give to Stan Lee, and the next morning I sleepily waited in line for the photo op. Once the line started moving, the photo op went BLAZINGLY fast. Stand in, smile, and you’re gone. Not even a chance to say anything more than a quick hello. So when my turn came around, I kind of became that asshole who held up the photo op line, even if it was just for a few seconds. I told Stan I had something for him and handed him little Spidey, and after exchanging thank yous (no, thank YOU, sir, for influencing so many generations!) it was all shouts of “ma’am, look at the camera” before I had to scurry off. My tiny little victory was when I saw his handler try to take the little Spider-Man away from him and he snatched it away and put it in his pocket as if to say “NO, MINE.” Stan Lee now has one of my critters in his possession. VICTORY!

THE PANELS:

Sure, Comicpalooza doesn’t have nearly as much pull as San Diego Comic-Con and it’s not going to have the likes of Tom Hiddleston or Hugh Jackman there. But they still had some heavy hitters show up and it was AWESOME. The quality of the panel guests is pretty much what will determine what the experience is like, so you know you’re in a good panel if you can still enjoy it without knowing anything about whatever show/movie that person might be famous for. I’ve sat through some star-studded panels at San Diego Comic-Con that were AWFUL because the guests were terrible speakers. Thankfully Comicpalooza’s guests were all fun people and it was a great time for everyone.

DSC04903

  • Gravity Panel: Nope, not a panel with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney! Since this is Houston, OF COURSE we’d bring our nerd on with some folks from NASA. This was a panel with astronaut Stan Love and space debris scientist (how cool is that?) Sue Lederer. They explored the movie Gravity, picked apart various scenes, and explained how things REALLY would have happened in real life. It was like a giant geeky show-and-tell for adults, complete with pieces of space debris up for display. Super fun and absolutely fascinating. And if you thought the movie was pretty terrifying, the reality behind the events are much, MUCH worse. Like “heads exploding in helmets”-worse.

1-DSC04935

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. panel: I actually don’t watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I watched the first few episodes and quickly lost interest. But it was still a fun time at this panel just seeing the cast joke around with each other, and the best part….
    1-DSC04948
    Stan Lee and Lou Ferrigno crashed the panel! I love that Ming-Na Wen was geeking out and trying to get a selfie with him. 🙂

1-DSC04980

  • Billy Dee Williams panel: I walked in late and walked out early. Sound quality in the room was awful and I couldn’t hear anything but muffled babbling from where I was sitting. I eventually walked out because I had no clue what was being said. On the other hand I SO wish I was there to see the guy who mistook him for Carl Weathers because that sounded GLORIOUSLY hilarious. Anyone got a video to share?

1-DSC04983

  • Power Rangers panel: IT’S MORPHIN’ TIME! I showed up to this panel on a “why the hell not?” impulse, and it ended up being a lot of fun. Walter Jones (the original black ranger) hasn’t aged a SINGLE FREAKING DAY since my days of watching him on TV. What the hell are you eating, dude?? The first question asked was “Can you morph for us?” They all groaned, but they were good sports and did it at the end of the panel anyway…but not without calling the guy out for asking the worst question of the panel, haha.

1-DSC05017

 They’re so unamused. I love it.

  • 1-DSC05030John and Carole Barrowman panel: Admittedly I’m more of a fair-weather Doctor Who fan. I like it enough to appreciate the fun of the show (it’s been on for 50 years for a reason!), but not enough to go nuts over seeing Captain Jack Harkness in person. I also haven’t watched Torchwood or Arrow, so any questions about those shows were lost on me. That being said, remember how I said a good speaker will still make for a fun time even if you don’t know anything about the shows/movies that made the person famous? John and Carole were HILARIOUS. Some of the questions were lost on me, but that didn’t matter because these two would go off on insane tangents to the point where the question didn’t even matter anymore. They were good about bringing it back to the question at hand, but not before going off on something absolutely ridiculous. Unfortunately I walked into the panel late, but I heard there was a same-sex proposal that happened during the panel too! Wow. Such geek. Much love.

1-DSC05063

  • Cary Elwes panel: AS YOU WISH. Of COURSE he had to utter that line at least once during his panel. Cary is by far the nicest celeb I’ve seen in a panel, for three big reasons:
    1) He went out of his way to ask each person their name first and would greet them before they asked their questions. He probably won’t remember any of these people, but I’ve NEVER seen anyone go out of their way to greet each fan by name before.
    2) When a few nervous fans started rambling on about how much The Princess Bride meant to them or how much his other movies influenced them he would hop off the stage and go give them a hug out of appreciation. I mean, this guy VOLUNTARILY gave his fans hugs! How awesome is that??
    3) The panel actually ran 15-20 minutes OVER the allotted time. Sure, he had the last panel of the day in the room so there was no rush to get out, but at almost every panel I’ve been to the guests are usually itching to get the hell out of there, even if they’re having a good time.Super sweet guy, indulged us in LOTS of stories involving everything from his days filming The Princess Bride to Robin Hood: Men in Tights, down to humoring us all by doing his awkward “claw” from Liar Liar when he was asked to do so. And he’s got a book coming soon about his time filming The Princess Bride! MOAR STORIES!

THE LITTLE THINGS:

It’s the little things that REALLY set Comicpalooza apart from other geek cons. And it’s the little things that make me want to see Comicpalooza grow, but not grow TOO much. Arcade consoles were set up for anyone to stroll by and play a game, you could sign up for sword fighting lessons from Miltos Yeromelou aka SYRIO FREAKING FOREL from Game of Thrones, there were workshops on how to build your own dalek, and my favorite: a figure painting table where the first figure is free, and any additional figures you paint are $1 each. That would NEVER happen at a bigger convention. There’d be utter chaos with people waiting for a painting spot, or people losing/spilling paints and damaging painting supplies, etc. I was able to walk away with a fun little souvenir because of awesome little events like this going on at Comicpalooza.

1-DSC05018

1-DSC05019

My blank slate!

painted figure

And the finished product! Couldn’t resist taking the badass with a chainsaw amongst the elves, orcs, zombies, and other fun little figures.

Thanks for another awesome weekend, Comicpalooza. I can’t wait to see what will come in the future, and I’m proud to have one of the best geek conventions in Texas right here in my own backyard. 🙂

Yet another critter for Comicpalooza!

You know what? Because I’m a glutton for punishment and I like you guys so much, I made another critter to drop at Comicpalooza!

spiderman

Sorry Spidey. Houston’s skyscrapers aren’t quite as climb-able, but I’m sure they’ll do.

That’ll make a total of 3 critters that I’ll be dropping on Saturday and Sunday!

comicpalooza 2014 critters

All together now!

As per usual, if you want to try your hand at snagging one of these little dudes, follow me on either twitter or facebook to track my drops! I just ask for two things if you find a critter: 1) Send me a photo of your new friend! 2) Let me know where the little buddy’s new home will be! Good luck, and happy hunting!

The Geeky Hooker

Going to Comicpalooza? Keep your eyes peeled!

Are you going to Comicpalooza? Cool, so am I! And I’ll be dropping these two dudes while I’m at it:

Iron Man Wolverine

One little genius billionaire drunkard and a little moody mutant.

I’ll only be going on Saturday and Sunday, so keep on a lookout on those days! I had an absolute blast last year, so I’m pretty excited to see what this year will bring. As per usual, if you want to try your hand at snagging one of these little dudes, follow me on either twitter or facebook to track my drops! I just ask for two things if you find a critter: 1) Send me a photo of your new friend! 2) Let me know where the little buddy’s new home will be! Good luck, and happy hunting!

The Geeky Hooker

Comicpalooza: the recap!

Last week I made a long overdue visit to Comicpalooza for the first time. I’ve been meaning to go (it’s in my own backyard! It’s relatively inexpensive!), but something always came up before I got a chance. This year I finally got to go, and in short, it was pretty freakin’ awesome. To recap:

  • Saw Star Warz: Unscripted by Comedysportz. It’s Star Wars: A New Hope redone by an improv troupe. Children under 17 were told from the beginning to get out, so you knew this was going to be inappropriately fun. C-3PO became a hooker bot. Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru owned a smokeshop. Hilarity ensued.
comedysportz

That fuzzy pole with the nasty mop of hair on it? That’s Chewbacca.

  • Saw Sir Patrick Stewart’s panel. I could go on and on about what an amazing panel this was (he’s Captain Picard! he’s Professor X!), but I think I’d rather let everyone see for themselves why this panel ended up being so much more than I thought it would be:

Truly remarkable. My respect for this man has increased exponentially.

  • An extra bit of icing on the cake after that awesome panel: THERE WAS A MUSICAL TESLA COIL. PLAYING THE STAR TREK: TNG THEME. WHAT.

Performed by Arc Attack. My inner science geek kinda freaked out.

  • Saw “Bard Fiction” performed by the Classical Theatre Company, a Shakespearean version of the first 15 minutes of Pulp Fiction. I learned that “Does he look like a bitch?” translates to “Hath he the semblance of a harlot??”
  • CUTEST COSPLAY EVAR. BEHOLD: Little Joker and Little Hellboy!
IMG_2270

Your parents are doing this right.

  • There was also a Khaleesi sighting:

Khaleesi

This dude wasn’t “pretty white dress” Khaleesi. He wasn’t “dirty Dothraki” Khaleesi. He wasn’t even “just ate a raw horse heart” Khaleesi. He had to go with “scorched and naked with newborn dragons” Khaleesi. And it is AWESOME.

  • I didn’t go, but one of the events was “Mighty Morphin’ Salsa Dancing.” It was salsa lessons. Taught by none other than Walter E. Jones, the original Black Ranger. How random/awesome is that? Looking back, I should’ve gone, because how often do you get to say that you learned to dance from a freaking Power Ranger??
  • And of course I dropped a critter! I left behind a little Spock near where Sir Patrick Stewart’s panel was to be given (because Star Trek, duh).

IMG_2248Minutes later I got a message letting me know that he’d been found! SUCCESS! What’s even more awesome is that Spock’s new adopted parent chronicled the whole thing here. Check it out! ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL ADOPTION IN THE BOOKS! WOOHOO!

Needless to say, Comicpalooza was pretty freakin’ awesome. Don’t get me wrong, San Diego Comic-Con is a crazy geekfest of epic proportions, but you can’t deny that it’s overwhelmingly crowded, and you end up spending a huge chunk of your time waiting in line for stuff. You wait in line for hours (or overnight sometimes) for panels. You wait in line for over an hour just to buy something. You wait in line for the bathrooms. For Starbucks. And when you wait in line at Comic-Con, sometimes you don’t even get into whatever it was you were waiting for. But you wait in line at Comic-Con because you know it’s worth it, because you know that just about ANYWHERE you go at San Diego Comic-Con, there’s something ridiculously awesome going on. When it comes to smaller conventions, there’s virtually no lines (hooray!), but content will obviously be a little less star-studded than what you’d find at the larger ones. Comicpalooza had the perfect balance between great content and a good crowd. Lots of fun and quirky events (a POWER RANGER teaching dance lessons?), with just enough of a crowd to fuel the excitement, but not enough to be congested. The most impressive part to me is that this is only Comicpalooza’s 5th year in existence! If this is what they bring out for year 5, I can’t even imagine what will come in the future. Comicpalooza, you’ve won my geeky heart. I’ll definitely be back.

Going to Comicpalooza? Hunt for Spock!

Just a quick note here, if anyone’s going to Comicpalooza this weekend, I’ll be dropping off a little Spock!

IMG_2450 edit

With so many Star Trek-related events scheduled at Comicpalooza this weekend (Sir Patrick Stewart being a guest, the recreation of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, etc.), Spock seemed to be an appropriate little dude to leave at the convention grounds. Follow me either on Facebook or Twitter to find out when he gets dropped off for adoption! Otherwise, if you’re fortunate enough to be going (it’s not too late, you can still get badges!), what are you looking forward to the most at Comicpalooza this weekend?