June 2, 2014

Comicpalooza!

Comicpalooza in Houston is one heck of a convention. The show happened over Memorial Day weekend and stretched for four days. I was there for most of it and was pretty impressed with my first trip to the show. Comicpalooza is definitely a convention that had a little something for everyone. You could watch a quidditch match, play laser tag, see four (four!) different TARDISes, go shopping, play in a bounce house, look at cool costumes, play tabletop games, get your face painted, play pinball and arcade games, get autographs and photo ops, and see plenty of interesting panels without super crazy lines. I  had no problem staying busy for the three days I was there.

On the Friday of the convention, I felt concerned because it didn't feel like the crowds were big. Part of that was undoubtedly the wide aisles (seriously - widest aisles of any convention I've attended, it was glorious), but even though it was sparse, people seemed to be spending money. By the time I got to the convention on Saturday, it was comfortably packed. The George R. Brown Convention Center is roomy, and I never once felt cramped or squished. That makes the convention-going experience so much less stressful.

One big draw for Comicpalooza is a host of media guests from film, television, and even wrestling. While getting autographs and pictures normally isn't my thing - like, I don't think I've ever paid for either before - when I noticed Cary Elwes was in attendance, I couldn't resist. I mean, he's Westley, and The Princess Bride is on my list of most beloved films. So, I got in line and he had his table behind a curtain so the experience was cozy and wonderful and I didn't freak out until after it was over. In short, it was totally worth my $50:


I learned that he's writing a behind the scenes of The Princess Bride book: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride will be out in October.

Besides meeting Cary Elwes, I attended a couple of panels. One featured Paul McGann, and he was incredibly charming. A fan asked him to read Matt Smith's monologue from the end of Day of the Doctor, and he obliged. I caught the entire thing on video and posted some of it on Instagram.

I took photos of cosplayers and interviewed a couple of them, watched a panel featuring the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with a few of the original rangers, got a new drawing for my Daredevil sketchbook, and took a waterdancing class from the actor who played Syrio Forel on Game of Thrones.

I only found a couple of areas lacking: there weren't a ton of comic book writers and artists. If you want to go to shows to get your comics signed and meet creators, this isn't necessarily the place for you. My other nitpick is that there wasn't a paper program book, you had to download an app. I appreciate the effect on the environment and the app was actually helpful and easy to use, but what if my phone had died in the middle of the day? I was prepared with a charger, but not everyone was. I think if you're going to eliminate program books and only use an app, you should blast that out to your attendees in bold letters when they purchase badges. They could have done that, but I didn't see any notifications in my approval for a media badge.


The other negative about the app is that when it wasn't updated, the staff wasn't helpful. On Saturday at 3:50pm, I showed up to the Sports Arena for the 4pm Water Dancing class. A volunteer said it had been moved, but he didn't know where to and couldn't get an answer and suggested looking at the app. It hadn't been updated. Myself and two other ladies were determined to find the class, so we asked for guidance. He said probably somewhere on the third floor. There were a lot of rooms on the third floor. So, we went from the first floor to the third floor and went to the programming room. They said they thought the class was in a ballroom. We walked down to the three ballrooms on the same floor, nothing. We went back to the programming room. They said they weren't sure, but they thought it was still in the Sports Arena. We went back to the Sports Arena on the first floor. We were told again it wasn't there and to try the ballrooms again. Back to the third floor we went, checked the ballrooms, and nothing. Back to programming, they couldn't help. Finally, we found a volunteer who'd heard it was on the first floor in the corner behind the autograph area. We arrived to the class 40 minutes later. They let us in, but man, that was a frustrating experience.

Running around aside, I had a wonderful time at Comicpalooza and recommend it if you're interested in a general pop culture con that isn't heavy on comics. See more photos from the event over at my Flickr page. I also have some video coverage from the convention coming, but that's part of an exciting new project you'll hear about soon.

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