MediaMikes attends San Diego Comic-Con for the First Time

It’s a difficult experience to summarize, but upon arrival back home in Kansas City, I’ve told people that it felt like a nerdy rite of passage. MediaMikes has had the pleasure of attending New York and Kansas City’s Comic-Con’s, but for the first time, we can now add the honor of attending San Diego Comic-Con to that list.

There are inevitable growing pains for those who have never attended the San Diego Comic-Con, no matter how much research beforehand is done. And if word on social media was correct, there are continuous growing pains for regular attendees. The first hurdle was the agonizing wait time to see if we would be one of the lucky few to get into Comic-Con and then came the mad dash for available hotel and AirBnB space. Following that whirlwind is the announcement of events, panels, and celebrities. Some of them announce a few weeks out while others pop-up announce their intentions the day of.

However, that overwhelming spectacle aspect is put on the backburner for opening night on Wednesday. For a handful of hours, the massive vendor and exhibit hall was opened for the tens of thousands already in scenic San Diego. For those thousands, some had waited outside all day, while others, like me, walked in after the initial stampede. A sensory explosion of lights, sounds and excitement filled the halls as the talk on the floor was of SDCC specific goodies already being sold out. I spotted folks who already had multiple bags of merchandise in tow while others waited in lines for exhibits like “The Walking Dead” and “Star Wars.”

Despite the giddy joy within the SDCC halls, the 79 degrees and sunny skies made it hard not to enjoy the various outdoor exhibits around the convention center. They may as well be more popular than the convention center itself because you don’t need a pass and it’s free. Netflix, “The Walking Dead,” “Westworld,” SyFy, Adult Swim and others were on point with their outside exhibits. Not only did they offer up swag, ranging from shirts and bandanas, but some offered legitimate exclusive items along with fresh food and a refreshing bottle of water.

While talking with others exploring the sprawling nerdified cityscape outside, I began to understand the behemoth known as Hall H. For those who don’t know, Hall H is where Marvel, FOX, DC, and others unveil previews and have panels focused on the hottest shows and movies for nerdy pop-culture. When you crunch the numbers, around 5% of attendees are only able to squeeze into Hall H for a panel. Some were lucky enough to step inside, including our very own Lauren Damon. But for those on the outside looking in, waiting in a line to wait in a future line seems like pure insanity when there are other panels at smaller venues.

Because Comic-Con has grown so big, it’s hosting panels in a nearby library, while also packing over 15,000 people into the home of the San Diego Padres, PetCo Park. Multiple panels were even jammed into the nearby hotel meeting rooms, while the nightly festivities spilled into the nearby Gaslamp Quarter. My and Lauren’s experiences have their merits, going balls out for Hall H or enjoying nearly every display and participating into those off the beaten path panels. If you were to ask me or Lauren about our experiences, they’d both be positive for widely different, but solid reasons.

With hundreds of thousands in town, there’s an argument over whether or not SDCC is worth the “Hunger Games” dash for tickets and lodging, the long waits, and the sore feet after four days of walking and standing. We at MediaMikes say it is. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience that transcends all ages and turns out to be an unforgettable weekend for all in attendance. There may be times of frustration, but the moments of pure nerdy ecstasy, like watching the latest “Thor: Ragnarok” trailer in a crowd of thousands of screaming people or geeking out over Matt Groening revealing that “The Simpsons” writers have been asked to tone down their criticism of Fox News, make SDCC a lifetime memory.

For those who’ve attended before, you’ve made up your mind about where you stand on attending the world’s largest comic-con. Once may be enough, but from what I gathered from talking with complete strangers on the hall floor, on the street and at the bars, it’s a yearly pilgrimage once you’ve had a taste. But for those who have been on the fence for years about whether or not to attend, just do it. Keep in mind that you have to choose your time wisely because those five days (or fewer) go by quickly. Here at MediaMikes, we’ve gotten our feet wet and can’t wait to dive head first next time.

The Hollywood Show is an Amazing Experience

Meeting Richard Dreyfuss. My lanyard reads “Celebrity” but we know the truth.

I’ve been attending fan conventions since I was 16-years-old. In those 40 years I’ve had the chance to meet so many of my favorite celebrities, from the cast of the original “Star Trek” series to such esteemed filmmakers as Martin Scorsese, John Avildsen, Ron Howard and Brian DePalma. This past weekend I had the experience of seeing a convention from “the other side of the table” when I was a celebrity guest of the Hollywood Show in Los Angeles.

Being a guest at a show like the Hollywood Show is a surreal moment. Instead of standing in line and talking to people about who you are going to meet (favorite roles, etc) there are people standing in line to talk to YOU. The show was very “Jaws”-centric, which means had I lived in LA I would have been the first one in line. Among the guests from my favorite film were Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb, Roy Arbogast, Ted Grossman and the show’s headliner, Academy Award winner Richard Dreyfuss. As the co-author of the definitive book on “Jaws 2,” I was placed in the same row as a group of “Amity Kids” from the film: Donna Wilkes, Gigi Vorgan, Tom Dunlop, Ben Marley, Billy Van Zandt and Martha Swatek. Both Ann Dusenberry and Gary Springer were hoping to attend but cancelled, Gary having to work and Ann’s father, Bruce, having sadly passed away recently. Another “Jaws” highlight was the amazing sculpture of Robert Shaw as Quint in the fighting chair, which was created by Nick Marra. Mr. Marra also created the amazing sculpture of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss at the back of the ORCA that was featured at the 2012 JAWSFest.

Nick Marra’s amazing Quint sculpture.

But if you weren’t a “Jaws” fan there was someone there for everyone. Fans of classic television had the opportunity to meet Wally and the Beaver (Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), Barney Miller and Stan Wojciehowicz (Hal Linden and Max Gail) as well as several “Star Trek” stars, including Nichelle Nichols, Fred Williamson and Mariette Hartley. Besides Richard Dreyfuss, film fans got to spend time with such stars as Bruce Dern and Paul Sorvino. Current television was also represented, with many soap opera stars attending on Saturday. I was pleased to find that sitting directly behind me was the cast of “Mike and Molly,” with Billy Gardell’s back often ending up in the photos taken of me.

Not only were the celebrity guests friendly and generous with their time, they weren’t charging an arm and a leg. I’ve been to shows where celebrities charge a minimum of $50 just for an autograph. If you want a photo with them, it’s more. The highest priced signature here was Mr. Dreyfuss’, who was charging $40. But with that signature you could take a photo with him and, of course, chat for a few moments. Most of the guests were signing for $25 or less, meaning you had more celebrity opportunities for your dollar.

Me and the JAWS 2 kids (l-r): Ben Marley, Tom Dunlop, Martha Swatek, yours truly and Billy Van Zandt.

To me, the best part was when a representative of the show came to my table and escorted me to the “Celebrity Lounge,” where Goody Bags were prepared for the guests. I was taken around the room and offered everything from jewelry to bath salts, from wine glasses to hand painted chocolates. I was amused that a few of the gift representatives told me how much they enjoyed my last project and a couple even asked what I had coming up next. “Another book,” I’d reply. They would write down my name and ask to take a photo of me with their product, which I found to be an incredible boost for me ego. And I can’t help but think that somewhere is an advertisement featuring me holding up a bag of snack crackers reading, “Michael Smith LOVES ‘Rice Crisps'” (and I must admit, I did. Especially the pizza flavored ones). The next Hollywood Show in Los Angeles is coming up in October and it’s early guest list looks like it’s filled by the stars of “Hill Street Blues” and the film “The Warriors.” For information please go HERE.

All an all, the entire weekend was an amazing time for me, both as a fan and as a “celebrity.” I’ll be doing the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Baltimore in September. I hope the people with the Pizza Rice Crisps are there!

Planet Comicon remains the best in the Midwest

Rough weather in the Midwest didn’t stop tens of thousands of people from packing into Bartle Hall in Kansas City over the weekend for Planet Comicon. For three days, folks braved monsoon-like rains to meet their favorite stars, socialize and geek out. Nearly every inch of the convention center was brimming with fans, excited to see, meet and hear from celebrities, creators and cosplayers.

Like previous years, the 2017 edition of Planet Comicon featured all-stars across the entertainment spectrum. Everyone from Ron Perlman (“Sons of Anarchy” and “Hellboy) and Felicia Day (“The Guild” and “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”) to Jason Aaron (Writer for “Doctor Strange and “Thor”) and Kevin Eastman (Co-creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”) brightened the otherwise gloomy days. Our very own Mike Smith even hosted an informative panel on “Jaws 2” and Hollywood sequels. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who was disappointed by this year’s line-up and activities.

Saturday, one of the busiest days of the three-day extravaganza, could have been disastrous if it wasn’t for the quick work and social media tools at the disposal of Planet Comicon organizers. A backdrop collapse during John Barrowman, early on in the day, could have thrown a wrench in the organizer’s plans. But a quick reshuffling, along with constant updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Planet Comicon’s new phone app, notified fans about the up-to-the-minute changes. It’s just one of many signs that Planet Comicon is always evolving to become bigger and better. It’s truly a leader of cons in the Midwest and shows the perseverance to become one of the best cons in the U.S.

MediaMikes would be remiss if we didn’t thank Planet Comicon organizers for not only their hard work, but for the opportunity for some of our readers to win three-day passes to the event. We’re already planning to attend and cover next year’s Planet Comicon.

Photo by Dan Lybarger

“Hellboy” himself, Ron Perlman Pikachu on the dance floor at an after party Felicia Day with balloon versions of the “MST3K” robots No-Face from “Spirited Away”

 

Emma Caulfield and Clare Kramer reflect on their roles on “Buffy” Batman’s true weakness Jason Isaacs talks Harry Potter and DC A near-perfect Bob and Linda Belcher The one-man show, John Barrowman No shortage of creativity Tara Reid talks about how she wound up in the “Sharknado” series Ariel delighting children Shannon Elizabeth has been busy since “American Pie” An unlikely duo, the Mad Hatter and Jack Frost

For a Fifth Straight Year, Panic Fest Gets Bigger and Better

The folks behind Panic Fest have a deep passion for horror and it showed all weekend long. Just like the past four years, the event was an absolute blast. While there’s always room for improvements, such as the amount of room there is at the Screenland Armour, it genuinely feels like the movies, the Q&A’s, the vendors, and everything else, were passionately combed over and whittled to near perfection. The efforts behind the creators and sponsors didn’t go unnoticed by those in attendance

The highlight from my first day was the sampling of local horror. Attendees were treated to movies with a local connection. I caught “Tonight She Comes” which was filmed in Missouri, just south of St. Louis, and was not for the faint of heart, squeamish, or those with a working moral compass. The other movie I caught was “Arbor Demon,” which was directed by KU alum, Patrick Rea. Despite his desire to film in his stomping grounds, he filmed his camping trip turned nightmare in South Carolina.

The second day, since I wasn’t hungover, began with an 11 a.m. selection of Saturday morning cartoons. Forever Bogus hosted the screening of late 80’s and early 90’s cartoons. As for the rest of the day, it was an eccentric collection of B-movie horror, nostalgic throwbacks, and psychological horror. The highlight of my night though was “The Last Podcast on the Left.” The trio of hosts, Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski, tickled the funny bone throughout with taboo topics like Charles Manson, and absolutely bizarre topics like Batsquatch.

The final day was a rehash of some movies folks may have missed along with some new movies mixed in for flavoring. I feel like I caught the two best films of the festival that day though. Despite my well belief that the “Walking Dead” has ruined the zombie genre, “Train to Busan” and “The Girl with All the Gifts” is evidence to the contrary. And I’d be crazy not to mention “The Void.” Imagine if the creature effects people behind “The Thing” stumbled into a Clive Barker fever dream. That’s what watching “The Void” was like.

For those who attended, I bet you had a blast like I did. For those who didn’t, I hope to see you next year. You can check out the Screenland Armour here since they will be sprinkling some of the films from Panic Fest throughout the year. You can also go to the Panic Fest website here to keep an eye out for next 2018 and check out the movies I mentioned and didn’t mention.

Book Review “The Art of Moana”

Series: Art of
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Chronicle Books
November 15, 2016

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Let me start with the fact that “Moana” is my favorite film of 2016. It is a beautiful movie with beautiful songs. The colors are just jaw-dropping and the design is a work of art. “The Art of Moana” is the latest title from Chronicle Books that dives into the stunning artwork going behind-the-scenes in “Moana” with some outstanding character designs, storyboards, colorscripts, and much more. If you loved this film then this book will only make you love it more

Official Film Premise: Three thousand years ago, the greatest sailors in the world ventured across the Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, for a millennium, their voyages stopped—and no one today knows why. From Walt Disney Animation Studios, Moana is a CG-animated adventure about a spirited teenager who sails out on a daring mission to prove herself a master wayfinder and fulfill her ancestors’ unfinished quest. During her journey, Moana meets the once-mighty demi-god Maui and together they traverse the open ocean on an action-packed adventure, encountering enormous fiery creatures and impossible odds.

When I see that Chronicle is releasing a new Art of Book, I go wild because they really know how to put together an amazing book. I really enjoyed the exploration of what was or could have been in this book and how certain characters and aspects of the film have developed over the years. Other than just the photos, the text in the book delivers a nice story to complement them and educate you on the process as well. This movie is simply beautiful and the book is a perfect companion to the film.

NYCC 2016: Adult Swim’s DREAM CORP LLC

Have you made your appointment with Dream Corp LLC yet? The mind-bending new series from creator Daniel Stessen is currently admitting new patients every Sunday night at 11:45pm on Adult Swim. Starring Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite), Stephen Merchant (“The Office”, “Hello Ladies”), Nick Rutherford (Balls Out, “Drunk History”) and a host of guest stars, the series follows a strip mall clinic that uses advanced technology to invade its patients dreams in order to solve their real life problems. At New York Comic Con this year, the Adult Swim panel was treated to the first two episodes of Dream Corp which blend live action sci-fi and trippy rotoscope animation.

Accompanying the new series to NYCC was creator Stessen with stars Gries, Rutherford and Merchant (who also serves as an executive producer on the show). I sat down with them to talk about this new addition to the Adult Swim lineup.

How did you develop Dream Corp?

Daniel Stessen: I had the concept, been developing it for a while, and created this world and kind of came over to Steve for a little guidance as to how to make it more palatable to a larger audience. Being that he has some–

Stephen Merchant and Daniel Stessen

Stephen Merchant: I think he’s being immodest–or he’s being too modest, I should say, that’s not right. Too modest. I was there as just a friend of Danny’s…to do a voice for this robot [T.E.R.R.Y] that’s in the show and inevitably whenever there’s anything creative going on, I like to start meddling, and just offering thoughts. And we started talking more and more. And it was just for me, it was something I would have done as a friend anyway…but I just thought, you know, let’s try to screw these guys for some money. (Both laugh)

Stessen: And the robot, we love the robot, he was built by Jim Henson Studios…That was one of the more validating moments of my last ten years on Earth, just getting that call that they were on board to build Terry the robot.

Merchant: There’s a really strong visual sense to the whole thing, again largely down to Danny. He’s just got an incredible visual imagination. And so you see that both in the real world–where you see this kind of twisted, eccentric sort of laboratory– and then also when you enter that dream world. And that’s done with the rotoscope animation. When you go on the set, it’s you know, it’s bits of cardboard and people with fake cardboard wings and cardboard jaws and things. All of which is going to eventually going to be animated but which only [Danny] can really see. So a lot of people I think are just stood there and like ‘you want me to what? I’m drowning in spaghetti now?’ And he’s like ‘Trust me.’ So it’s sort of extraordinary, an extraordinary kind of vibe there. Wouldn’t you say people were confused [on set]?

Stessen: It’s just, when people would walk on when we were shooting the dream world stuff, people would walk into an empty room and I would just be like ‘this is going to feel super weird, just trust me, it going to look real cool.’

Can you speak about your characters?

Nick Rutherford and Jon Gries

Nick Rutherford: I play patient 88–
Jon Gries: Nick!
Rutherford: Yeah, Nick as well, who comes to the office to work on erectile dysfunction and pretty quickly realizes that the office itself is kind of dysfunctional.
Gries: What happens is that he has to work for us because he can’t pay for his procedure
Rutherford: Yeah I can’t pay for the procedure and you think that it’s a confidence issue and I don’t have a job so you say–
Gries: A job?
Rutherford: Why don’t you work here? And I’m like this is a terrible place, but I kind of go along with the flow.
Gries: So he’s really the eyes of the audience. Because obviously he’s come into this place that is so–well from some perspectives, would be ridiculous and crazy. It’s not from my perspective.
Rutherford: It’s your life’s work.
Gries: It’s my life’s work. Dr. Roberts has this vision that this is the most transforming and necessary procedure but he’s lost his funding. So now he’s working out of a strip mall because he believes and he knows that it’s working. He knows that he’s changing people’s lives. There’s a little problem here and there but–
(Both laugh)
Rutherford: There’s a lot of problems.
Gries: There’s a couple of bugs that get worked out of the system. But it could be because the system’s really old and we haven’t had the money to update it.
Rutherford: And I think Nick, Patient 88, comes into it and kind of sees a family forming. Because everybody trusts and loves each other. Like there’s, Stephanie Allen plays Joey, his protégé–
Gries: My intern for nine years. No pay!
Rutherford: (laughs) Yeah, Nine year intern. Who loves him and obviously thinks he’s the most brilliant guy ever and he just does not give her the time of day. And Mark Proksch plays kind of the navigator of sorts, I don’t know if you know his work–
Gries: He’s amazing. And he doesn’t ever leave the building. For fifteen years he doesn’t leave the building.
Rutherford: So he’s incredible. And then [Ahmed Bharoocha] plays kind of the nurse and he’s just this big stoner who doesn’t even really care. So Everybody relies on each other in a nice way. So the meat of the story is us working together and growing together and me being thrown into this world. And it being very dangerous, but also fun. And then bringing in these amazing guest stars and throwing them into that.
Gries: He gets attacked by June Squibb at one point. She stabs him.
Rutherford: Yeah she stabs me in the neck with a a screw driver. I’m kind of like the Kenny, I get hurt a lot. (both laugh)

Have you ever had a weird celebrity dream like with [episode one guest star] Dave Coulier?

Rutherford: Yeah that was really surreal.
Gries: I did, I had a weird celebrity dream. I was very nervous, I was about to do a movie years ago and I dreamt that I was in a barbershop. And I was sitting and the man sitting in the next chair was Fred Astaire.
Rutherford: Really?
Gries: True story. And he looks at me and he goes, “Are you worried about something?” And I said “I’m just a little uncomfortable” And he said “Have fun. Just have fun.” I swear to god! And that was like two days before I started shooting Fright Night Part 2.
Rutherford: Have fun out there.

What was it like working with the rotoscope animation?

Dream Corp LLC/Adult Swim

Rutherford: It’s really fun because everything is so grand. You know it’s like now you’re falling off of a hot air balloon, or now you’re running away from your bullies in high school. So you’re playing these large characters, so you just kind of jump into it. Like, I remember thinking when I was very young and being an actor, how it must be really hard to shoot like Jurassic Park when you’re in front of a green screen and then they’re like “and THAT’S a velociraptor” and you’re like “ahhh!” I didn’t feel that at all during the production that that those scenes were difficult thing to do. Because they’re just so silly and fun and you’re wearing kind of a half costume so they can animate it later. Like I’m dressed up like Legolas–
Gries: And literally it was sometimes it was pieces of cardboard, you have cardboard on you almost like a really bad–
Rutherford: Like a play
Gries: Like a kid’s play. But you know it’s all for reference and they’re gonna draw on top of it. And the thing is, knowing how beautiful the animation is also gives you the impetus that when you’re in it, you understand what it’s going to look like, so it helps, it augments. Whatever decision or choice you’re going to make, you can go further with it because you just have that confidence behind that animation. It’s almost like ‘pay no attention to me, it wont be the real me, it will be a better me.’

Stessen: The inspiration came from working with his name’s Michael Garza [of Artbelly Productions] out of Austin, Texas. He worked on A Scanner Darkly, and then a couple other guys on the crew are Scanner Darkly. And one of the woman who was an animator on Waking Life. Which I’m a huge fan of. I saw Waking Life a while back and watched it over and over and over again. Huge inspiration. And we made a short film together that did well in festivals and kind of, we started developing that style in trying to evolve it and I think we’re pushing it forward a little bit and figuring out that we can build things out of cardboard. And make a dragon face. Because all he has to do is draw what’s there. Not that’s all he has to do–his job is to draw what’s there. So we could draw you [all] here and now you’re on a volcano, you know what I mean? So it gives us a lot of flexibility and the fact that with where we are, with little funds, we could do a ton.

What can viewers expect for the rest of the series?

Gries: Surprise after surprise after surprise. I’m not kidding you, it’s different every time!
Rutherford: Yeah it really is. I mean there’s this kind of thread of these different guest stars coming in and getting their therapy as our relationship progresses and as the interrelationships between Joey and Ahmed and…Randy–Randy’s arm gets cut off (laughs)–
Gries: There are things that happen, there’s a continuity within the core group and yet at the same time it’s absolutely ridiculous what happens–but it still stays, it still answers that continuity. And yet the people that come, the patients that come, their stories individually are so different from week to week that it just gives us a whole other area to run through.
Rutherford: yeah There’s like a couples therapy–a gay couple comes in to get like couples therapy. June squibb comes in to quit smoking but then finds out that really just she just wants to have sex.
Gries: And have a baby–and she’s never had sex in her life.
Rutherford: So Roberts appeases that in the dream world–
Gries: You know he says, it’s been a while!

Dream Corp LLC is on tonight and every Sunday on Adult Swim at 11:45pm, with the premiere episode currently streaming at AdultSwim.com

For photos from Adult Swim and many more NYCC panels, make sure to check out our Facebook page!

 

Paradiso Chapter 1 “NYC’s Most Interactive Escape Room”

In a New York Comic Con weekend filled with virtual reality experiences, nothing entertained my imagination more than Michael Counts’s escape room, PARADISO: CHAPTER 1. Billed as “part immersive theater, part escape room, part existential game,” Paradiso satisfies multiple action movie nerd fantasies in one pulse pounding hour.

The Paradiso experience begins, if you choose to provide your smartphone number, before you reach the venue with some ominous video messages ‘exposing’ the Virgil corporation who you are due to meet at your appointed time. Everyone in my party also received different clues to help us but to keep secret from each other.

In midtown we met up with our contact in a functioning karaoke bar to begin our experience. Ostensibly we are being welcomed into the offices of the Virgil Corporation who are on the lookout for genetically gifted escape artists. A wonderfully spacey secretary doled out forms and waivers in Virgil’s reception before the “normal” procedures were quickly overridden and the ‘real’ escape experience begins. Cue the Saw-ready voice changer demands from the heavens. Suddenly the office was revealed to be full of puzzles and my team sprang into action.

Chapter 1 features four more spaces after that reception office, each offering their own distinct look. For my money, the best room was a vintage library where we encountered a frantic handcuffed woman who upped the tension and hastily armed my teammate with a pistol. Other thrills included an air duct for us to feel extra John McClane-y and a massive bomb to be disarmed complete with digital countdown clock. The actors, handcuff lady included, make for an extra level of intrigue as they can help or hinder your progress and to this day none of my team can decide on if we allied ourselves correctly.

Teams who have diversified their skills roster get rewarded as the in-game puzzles range from visual clues to math and physical puzzles. If you’ve ever fantasized who would be in your Oceans-type heist amongst friends, that’s the crew to bring. And going into this Halloween weekend, Paradiso provides an excellent alternate to conventional horror houses by getting your heart-racing without scaring you silly. Ultimately my escape team was done in by some algebra in the final room–who knew that would come in handy?!–but we eagerly look forward to many more chapters to come.

View the Paradiso trailer below, and find ticketing information at its official website.

2016 New Jersey Kiss Expo Review

2016 New Jersey Kiss Expo
Sunday, October 9th 2016
Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel, Somerset, NY

Our score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

One of the longest running and largest Kiss fan expo’s returned this year to the Somerset/Bridgewater Hotel (formerly the Crowne Plaza) in Somerset, NJ. On Sunday October 9th the newly renovated hotel played host to throngs of Kiss fans anxious to meet various Kiss celebrities included former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick and current drummer Eric Singer. Along with the numerous autograph and photo opportunities the event include several dealer rooms where fans could purchase everything from newly released Kiss items to some of the more rare and hard to find vintage pieces.

Having not attended a Kiss Expo in quite some time it was great to see that the NJ Kiss Expo was finally returning to the area. The event in years past was one of the largest Kiss themed Expos and always bolstered a top notch guest list making it a must go event for Kiss fans of all ages. This year was no exception as former Kiss and current Grand Funk guitarist Bruce Kulick and current Kiss drummer Eric Singer topped the list which also included artist Ken Kelly, Dennis Woloch and many others. Despite the event getting off to a bit of a late start once things got moving the atmosphere in the venue was upbeat and friendly making for a really enjoyable experience. Each celebrity guest was approachable and spent ample time with those looking for signatures and pictures. The vendor’s area of the event was split in to two different rooms which allowed for plenty of space to move around while looking at the various Kiss related items. There was even a space where kids could get their face painted like their favorite Kiss character.

Though there were several lulls in the day’s events due to scheduling and guests’ wanting to make sure every fan was able to get a signature or picture I think those who attended the event got what they had hoped for and, were more than happy to see the event return. With fewer and fewer Expo’s like this taking place taking place my only hope is that the NJ Expo is back for good and that it will continue to rebuild upon its solid foundation so that it can continue to be the go to expo for Kiss fans of all ages.

2016 New York Comic Con Review: Day 2

2016 New York Comic Con

Friday, October 7th 2016
Jacob K. Javits Center, New York, NY

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

The Jacob K. Javits Center in the heart of New York City once again played host to the annual New York Comic Con on October 6th-9th where for four days the sprawling complex became the epicenter for all things comics and pop culture. The event which is now in its 10th year was once again put on by the Connecticut based company Reed Pop a company who puts on some of the largest pop culture events around the country. This year’s Con was no exception boasted appearances by some of the biggest names in comics, film and television.

For our coverage this year we chose to check out the events taking place on day two of the convention. Friday’s schedule included panels with the casts of “Steven Universe”, “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” and “Underworld: Blood Wars”. Autograph signings with “Game of Thrones” star Jack Gleeson, “Stanger Things” Millie Bobby Brown and David Harbour, comic creators Greg Capullo, former My Chemical Romance front man Gerard Way and making his final NY Comic Con appearance Stan Lee. Needless to say we were quite excited for the day’s events. Right off the bat the event seemed a bit different this year. Despite the entrances still being overly crowded causing extended wait times once you were inside the venue however, the normal wall to wall congestion seemed much lighter than in previous years. This could be related to the addition of several off site venues which were now hosting panels and screenings throughout the day and/or the newly introduced digitally monitored cue lines which were now required to attend a panel in hopes of alleviating chaotic line ups right before the start of an event. Though this alleviated some congestion it still created a number of new problems and a fair amount of confusion amongst attendees. The new offsite venues which included the Theater at Madison Square Garden and the Hammerstein Ballroom were welcome additions however they two weren’t without issue as once attendees left the main convention hall upon returning he or she would again need to wait in the entrance lines.

Despite the new changes and the fact that we probably weren’t going to be able to see as much as we had in years past we made our way to the main convention floor. As always it was like a bustling mini city packed to the rafters with everything from limited edition figures and books to unique clothing and tchachke’s. It also was the home to some of the pop industries biggest names including everyone from Marvel and DC to Funko and Lego. Displays ranged in sizes from the minute to the immense as each vendor uniquely showcased their latest and greatest products. The main floor is also a lot of fun because you never know who or what you are going to bump in to. This year we ran smack dab into WWE Hall of Famer Sting as he was shooting some segments for the WWE Network while showcasing some of the new WWE themed “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. An area garnering a good share of attention but tucked back along the wall in an area known as “The Block” was promotion for the recently released “Shin Godzilla” film. The display which featured several posters for the film and lush red carpeting also included a chance to get your picture with the real life Godzilla! Ok maybe it was just a guy in a Godzilla suit standing in front of a backdrop but, it was still cool!

As we continued walking the endless isles and floors of the center we quickly realized that the day was quickly coming to an end and that our comic con adventure for 2016 was about over. Though we weren’t able to take in nearly as many panels as we had in previous years the added space to move around in between events was a welcome addition. The new digital cue system still could use some work however over time I think it will help make for a much more enjoyable con experience and one we will definitely being looking forward to for 2017.

“Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years” Lands at New York’s Paley Center

September 16- “Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years”,  which made its debut at this year’s San Diego Comic Con opens up to New York fans today at the Paley Center for Media in midtown. The exhibition, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek television series, features fifty pieces from ten nations as well as tie-in fan screenings and whimsical photo ops sure to please the Trekkies of Manhattan. Noteworthy amongst the art on display is a piece of the famous Vulcan salute by none other than the late Leonard Nimoy himself.

Work by Leonard Nimoy

To my eyes, Spock looks to be favored character by the show’s artists, including a digital illustration from Stanley Chow whom I spoke with at the exhibition preview:

Where are you from?
Stanley Chow: I’m from Manchester England.

What Inspired you to choose Spock?

SC: I think like when I was growing up in the 70s and 80s and then watching reruns of Star Trek, the first person I kind of looked up to was Spock. He seemed like the more intelligent one and slightly different. I guess with me it was–when I was growing up, I was the only Chinese boy in the village, you always kind of–I felt you needed someone different to look up to and aspire to, you know? And Spock was always the one, with his cool, calm, collected demeanor. And his pointy ears.

Artist Stanley Chow with his work

Do you have a favorite Spock moment?
SC: There’s not been a favorite moment, but I’ve always liked the kind of relationship he had with Uhura. You know? It was never kind of like a fully fledged relationship. It was always kind of like an underlying thing…Which was sort of my life with lots of girls when I was growing up.

Do you enjoy Zachary Quinto’s take on the character?
SC: Oh, I think he’s amazing! When he was picked, obviously he was off of “Heroes”…And then once he puts the ears on and he does his thing [in the] movies, he’s the only actor–it’s sounds kind of cliché to say he’s the only actor who could do Spock but he’s done it so well but that’s why it’s become a cliché isn’t it?

Head of CBS consumer products, Liz Kalodner was also on hand to celebrate the opening.

Do you have a Star Trek favorite character?
Liz Kalodner: Well Captain Kirk is the classic, c’mon! Although I have to say, Captain Janeway [From Star Trek: Voyager], also pretty good.

Do you enjoy the new film franchise?
LK: Oh, absolutely. i think JJ Abrams has done a wonderful job. It’s brought in a new, younger audience, and really has given the franchise great energy.
As you’re from consumer products, I noticed you’ve got a fictional cereal here in the exhibit, is that a favorite item?

LK: Yeah! So that’s by an artist named Juan Ortiz who loved Star Trek from when he was a kid and actually had that idea when he was a child. And he always wanted to do it. And I don’t know if you saw the back but there are cutouts, trading cards, because cereal boxes always had you know, the free in-pack or on-pack, so he created that.

Since Star Trek is coming back to TV are you getting ready with your department for that?
LK: We are getting ready! We’re working with showrunner but it’s all in the development stage. But it’s a wonderful time to be in the Star Trek business.

“Star Trek: 50 Artists. 50 Years'” brief stop in NYC concludes on September 25th. Details on the Paley Center’s screenings to coincide with the exhibit can be found here.

The Paley Center for Media is located at 25 West 52nd Street.

Kansas City’s Planet Comicon Just Gets Better and Better

Written by Mike Smith
Photos by Dan Lybarger

Once again, Kansas City’s Planet Comicon has come to a close. And once again, over 70,000 people took part in celebrating all things fantastic.

The weekend kicked off Friday night with a performance of “An Evening With Kevin Smith.” Flight delays threatened to keep Smith away but he actually ensured his attendance by jumping on a Southwest Airline flight, the same airline that had deemed him “to fat to fly” in 2010. Smith had avoided the airline since but broke down to ensure his fans would not be disappointed.

Among the celebrity guests in attendance: “I Dream of Jeannie” star Barbara Eden, Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton, “American Horror Story” star Denis O’Hare and Edward James Olmos from “Battlestar Galactica.” But the most love was reserved for famed comic book creator Stan Lee, who always seemed to have no less then 200 people lined up at any one time to meet him.

MediaMikes would be remiss if we didn’t think Planet Comicon creator Chris Jackson and his amazing staff for not only their hard work but for the opportunity for some of our winners to win 3-day passes to the event. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

Event Coverage: New York Comic Con 2015

New York Comic Con 2015
Date: Thursday, October 8th – Sunday, October 11th
Venue: Jacob K. Javitz Center, New York, New York

As the leaves begin to fall and Halloween decorations begin to go up it marks the change in season for most but for pop-culture fans it acts as the tell tale sign that New York Comic Con is just around the corner. The ginormous four day event which marked its 10 anniversary this year and once again acted as the culmination of the week long “Hero Week”. Fans of all walks of filed into the vast Jacob K. Javitz center where over the course of the events four days more than 160,000 fans would walk the halls of the center making it easily the largest convention on the East Coast

Thursday of the convention was once reserved for press and special ticket holders however in the last two years the day has been opened up for single ticket holders and pretty much anyone else who wanted to traverse the ever expanding crowd. In comparison to previous year’s attendance was definitely up as several panels we planned to cover couldn’t even accommodate press due to the at times overwhelming numbers. Thursday’s panel highlights included those by HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, Tru TV’s “Impractical Jokers” a special panel appearance by “Walking Dead” creator Robert Kirkman along with appearances by the cast of AMC’s “Comic Book Men” with the panel being moderated by none other than Kevin Smith. Even though the entire cast of the show was present a majority if not all of the questions were directed towards Smith. Over the course of the hour long discussion Smith detailed his ideas behind the creation of the show and his thoughts on the series success which will celebrate the start of its 5th season on Oct. 18th. Prior to the panel’s conclusion Smith announced that he will begin filming the long awaited sequel to his film “Mallrats”. The sequel which will begin shooting this winter in Pennsylvania centers on Brody played by Jason Lee attempting to save his beloved mall from terrorists. Shooting for the film will begin shortly after Christmas and casting for extras for the film will be announced via Facebook. Smith noted that this is the first of two movies he has planned to shoot in 2016 however he did not say what the other film would be. My hopes would be “Clerks 3” which Smith has said in previous panels he does plan to shoot. We are keeping our fingers crossed.

In between attempting to squeeze into the several desirable panels we wanted to cover we ventured to Artist Alley which is always a hot spot for those wanting to meet their favorite comic artists. Atop the rooms upper tier on this day was Seth Myers who had brought his set to the con and was interviewing attendees for a segment of his show “Late Night with Seth Myers”. This certainly added traffic to an already bustling room which showcased booths by some of today’s top artists including “Amazing Spider Man” artist Humberto Ramos, “Deadpool” writer Gerry Duggan, “Wonder Woman” artist David Finch and former Good Charlotte guitarist Billy Martin who is currently drawing for IDW’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

With time beginning to dwindle we made our way to the main convention floors which were packed not only with various vendors but every sort of cos-play character you could think of. We even managed to bump into a shoeless Thomas Jane who was attending the convention with his daughter. All the costumes and media personalities jamming the isles only added to the massive amounts of eye candy which were on display.

Everything from the latest in vinyl figures to endless amount of comic books both new and old was available for purchase or pre-order. Some of the bigger more impressive set ups included the always prevalent Midtown Comic’s and one by Pepsi who was on hand to promote the upcoming release of “Pepsi Perfect” the futuristic soda originally featured in the film “Back to the Future II”. The display was complete with sleek looking tables and counters which displayed the curvy bottles. To top it all off the display included its very own Delorian time machine flanked by none other than Marty and Doc Brown impersonators.

After an exhausting day of searching crowded aisles for numbered display booths, a thwarted attempt at getting a picture of the one and only Grumpy Cat and being shut out of several high profile panels we took account of all the positives we saw throughout the day despite the few negatives and made our way to the 7 train for our journey home. With final attendance be calculated at around 167,000 for the events four days it’s unsure if the Javitz Center will be able to handle the conventions continued growth. However with numbers which are rivaling San Diego Comic Con the future seems bright for the NY show and we couldn’t be happier to see it continue to grow.

The Cast of “Blindspot” Speaks at NYCC

One of the new tv hits of the season is NBC’s “Blindspot”. The mystery show created by Martin Gero focuses on a Jane Doe (Thor’s Jaimie Alexander) recovered from a duffel bag in Times Square. Jane didn’t know who she was or how she got there, but she was found covered head to toe in new tattoos that seem to offer some clues. The most obvious of all is the name ‘Kurt Weller’ on her back, a specific FBI agent. Kurt (played by Sullivan Stapleton) and his team are now working with Jane–whose knack for fighting skills and foreign languages is intact despite her identity crisis–to crack the codes all over her body. In recent episodes it’s becoming clearer that Jane may be more connected to Weller than originally thought. Fortunately for the creators and audiences, the show was just picked up by the network for a full season so there’s hope for solving Jane’s past after all.
Gero, along with series stars Stapleton, Audrey Esparza, Rob Browne, Mariana Jean-Baptiste and Ashley Johnson joined me in the press room of this year’s New York Comic Con. Though they were mum on spilling any spoilers, they were more than enthusiastic to talk about their characters and the making of the show.

Lauren Damon: How much research did you do into actual memory loss when creating Jane’s character?
Series Creator, Martin Gero I’ve been obsessed with this drug that this is kind of based on that’s being designed for you know people that have traumatic experiences which will basically gently erase memory. So if you’re–like let’s say you’re in the army and your car gets blown up, and you see your friends die, it’s literally this thing that you would administer immediately and you would–it would make it difficult for that memory [to be retained]. So you wouldn’t be traumatized by it. And then there’s another version where as you–memory is really interesting in how it gets unpacked and packed, and so there’s a lot of people working to erase trauma. Again, to ease kind of like traumatic memories. It’s to like kind of delude them. It’s hard to talk about in like sound bite sort of way…I’ve talked to a lot of neurologists and I mean, like listen that’s the kind of science fiction-y part about the show is the drug, but it is based on some very real research that is going on.

LD: The character of Patterson often has to deal with a ton of techno-jargon, do you ever look at your script and just go ‘Wow…’?
Ashley  Johnson (plays Forensic Scientist “Patterson”): Every time. [laughs] Every time whenever we you know, we get the scripts maybe a week in advance? I don’t know maybe sometimes a little bit more and every time I sort of read through it–it’s just panic sets in. Every time. And the episode that we’re doing now…just everytime I see the new stuff I just, I panic a little. But then, you know, we don’t have a choice. We have to do it. And it’s fun.

LD: Do you go out and research the same as Patterson does?
Johnson: Yeah. A lot of the time…with a character like this you have to do a lot of research, but it’s fun because I’ve learned so much. Just with all of the stuff I’ve had to talk about…I have to do a lot of research [laughs] it’s like I’m in school.

LD: When you have a major mystery at the center of the show and then you’ve wound up being picked up for additional episodes, are you constantly fighting bringing closure to that mystery too soon?
Gero: No, because I was a little arrogant and I designed the show to go a while…So like if we had only done 13, it would have been really not that exciting for fans to be honest, because there would have been no resolution…No but like I know what all the ‘tent pole’ episodes are for the first couple seasons and so like I know what [episode] twenty-two is already…And episode ten which is the last episode of the first half of the season, so it’s the mid season finale, like is a huge twist on the show that propels kind of like a new energy into the back half of the season.

For the actors, are you the type of people that prefers to know the secrets that are going to be revealed on the show to help with how you act or not? Do you ask Martin about it? 
Marianne Jean-Baptiste (plays FBI assistant director, “Mayfair”): In certain instances, there are certain things that will impact a character that I think you need to know. And you need to be alright with. And there are other things that–it’s like you’re picking up the script and you’re just really excited because you want to know what’s going on…Because you’re not going to play it regardless of whether you know about it or not. You’ve then gotta sort of act as if you don’t know it. So it really depends on what it is. For me anyway. It really depends on what the thing is.
Johnson: Right. I would agree. I think that there’s a lot of things that you need to know for the character’s sake–because your character would know–but I think for me, like I’ve had the option to sort of know sort of what the end goal is. Sort of who she really is, I don’t want to know. I want to sort of find out when everybody else finds out or as the show goes along. And I want to discover along with Paterson and it keeps it fun that way, yeah.
Audrey Esparza (Plays FBI Agent “Zapata”): I have a little ‘Martin chat’ before every episode and ask him dumb questions. So I do. But I actually don’t ask too far ahead unless I feel like it’s a question that needs to be answered for me in that episode. I kind of like working from scene to scene, moment to moment. So if it doesn’t affect that particular episode, I try not to grab to much. I think you can only play with the moment.
Rob Brown (Plays FBI Agent “Reade”): Same. We trust Martin. He gives us what we need to know to execute. As a fan of the show that I’m on though, every now and then I’ll kind of tug at him, ‘hey hey hey…’ and he’ll oblige, usually. And you know, sometimes we can snag a little more out of him…

Were there any training courses for you when you got the part?
Esparza: Oh my god we’ve been doing so–we did, we did, after. It was so much fun. First of all we have some incredible FBI and DEA men on the set helping us. And Sullivan Stapleton is an incredible asset. if I’m holding a gun wrong, he’ll definitely let me know. We went to the shooting range, we learned tactical skills. The boys came in knowing a little bit more than me, I’m getting better every day. It’s really important for me, from my dance background, to understand the physical vocabulary of somebody who’s trained that way and yeah, every episode try and get better.
Brown: Everybody in the cast is a really really good athlete, so we just pick shit up as we go along. Anything physical after this, we’ll probably be fine.
Esparza: And we’ll probably absolutely do it ourselves.

LD: Sullivan, do you have more gun experience?
Sullivan Stapleton (Plays FBI Agent “Kurt Weller”): [Laughs] Yeah. You’re in big trouble, Esparza! Yeah it’s just I think I’ve had years of working with weapons. So it is like funny seeing–sometimes they’ll tell people if you’re firing an M4, some people said to portray some of the kick-back of those weapons…they don’t do that. Unless you’re not holding it! [laughs]

LD: Jaimie and Sullivan get into a whole lot of action, do you guys ever get to do stunts?
Baptiste: Yes, stuff is coming up where you know, people who don’t necessarily go out of the office go out of the office and are involved in field stuff.
Johnson: Yeah we may go out into the field a little bit every once and a while. I know for me, I’ve found that I’m very bad at walking and talking and doing other activities [laughs] So you know, I’ll have the dialogue and then they’re like ‘Ok! So you’re gonna walk over here and then you’re gonna type some stuff on the computer and then you’re gonna point up to the screen!’ and I’m like ‘Okay, woah woah woah, I don’t know if I can do all of this at once!’ Which sounds ridiculous but I think with the dialogue that I have it can be a little rough. So those are my stunts. Basically just walking and talking [laughs] is a stunt for me!
Esparza: Yeah.
Brown: We can do more. I’m happy to run around with a gun, we’ve had plenty of that.
Esparza: Lots of running, lots of guns and helicopters.
Brown: There’s action and blowing stuff up, New York.
Esparza: I’ve got a fun fight thing that happens in [episode] 8.
Brown: You’re really showing off
Esparza: I am. I’m just gonna show off all day…
Brown: It’s been very fun. 

LD: When it comes to shooting, do you find you go in with any different mentality on the days you’re shooting the action sequences versus the dramatic days?
Stapleton: No. No, just going in there to do the action and the stunts, I’ve got to wipe the smile off my face and you know, pretend like that’s what we do every day being agents. Yeah, there’s no challenge, it’s just fun.

LD: Jaimie comes from a lot of action roles and how much of that helped like just with her walking onto set and having to function as this amazing fighter?
Gero: Oh yeah…I mean you couldn’t have done it with somebody that had no fighting experience before and Jaimie has an amazing stunt double, Ky Furneaux, who’s just like literally one of the best in the world–recognize game, internationally. So she brings so much to the show and we just take it really seriously. You know what’s exhausting I think for Jaimie and Sullivan is even though they’re done filming some days, they have to go immediately into fight rehearsal. Because these fights are like incredibly complicated and hard to do on television shows. Which is why most television shows don’t have a giant fight sequence every episode. They’re smart, they figured it out, it’s a lot of work. But it’s important to us…So her being able to do action was incredibly important.

Did you know from the beginning that you wanted Jaimie for the role?
Gero: I didn’t know from the beginning, but the second I met her like there could never be any other Jane. It was her or I was just gonna be terribly disappointed. And she kind of felt the same way. So it was like one of those really exciting meetings when we met. We were like ‘Okay this is gonna be great.’.

Being at Comic Con, do you guys have any favorite superheroes? Ashley are you partial to Captain America? [Johnson plays a waitress Cap rescued in the 2012’s Avengers]
Stapleton:Han Solo.
Johnson: [laughs] Um, oh man.
Baptiste: Oh my gosh, that’s a tough one man! I love Batman.
Johnson: Yeah you love Batman
Baptiste: I love Batman.
LD: Which Batman?
Baptiste: I like the Dark Knight stuff. That’s the stuff I love.
Johnson: Daredevil is awesome, I think
Baptiste: What’s his power?
Johnson: Have you never seen it?
Baptiste: I’m not sure. Red. Red outfit?
Johnson: Oh, Marianne…
Baptiste: Is it good? I’m gonna–you’ve got me watching X-Files again, so…
Johnson: I am also such a Deadpool fan. I wanted to see the Jessica Jones stuff because I love–I mean that is exciting. Oh god there’s just so many. I do love Captain America, he’s a little bit too straight laced for me. But he’s great…There’s just so many.
Baptiste: Batman.

Blindspot airs Monday nights at 10pm on NBC.

Event Coverage: The Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair, Hosted by Satin Ice

“An event to bring together hobbyists, teachers, bakers, cake artists and housewives, alike.”

Welcome to the Americas Cake & Sugarcraft Fair hosted by Satin Ice. The Orange County Convention Center hosted this lavish event and it was a great place for it. The layout was open and welcoming. It was a different type of tradeshow that welcomed all types of people connected to cake. Those of us who love to bake on the weekends with our kids could find some fun cookie cutters and edible glitter to make baking at home exciting. Those who bake wedding cakes for a living and are on the lookout for new ways to ship their wares or find a new stand to put there amazing cakes on, could find them here too. This one event managed to bring the Americas’ love of cake and meld it with some of the most talented cake makers from across the land.

On top of Kevin O’Reilly’s incredibly easy to navigate event, there were some of the most talented celebrity cake makers and chefs on hand to share their knowledge and talent with the crowd. The ‘Cake Maker to the Stars’ Mich Turner was on hand to share her passion for structure, refined opulence and detail. Roland Mesnier was there to share some of his incredible memories of his 25+ years of cooking and baking in the White House under 5 different Presidents of the United States. Food Network’s judge on the new series, “Cake Wars,” Ron Ben-Israel was on hand to share how his dance background helps him create incredible cakes with movement and beauty.

Friday night brought a completely different fashion show than we have ever been to before. CakeCentral presented the Sugar Arts Fashion Show and Cocktail party. The show included almost all edible fashions walking down the runway. There were incredible gowns, skirts, belly dancer costumes and more. The fashions were made from edible ingredients such as isomalt jewels, wafer paper, gum balls, dark and milk chocolate, gum paste and a new gelatin-based material known as Flexique. It was mind-blowing to see some of the edible items that really truly looked as if it was fabric and moved like typical clothing. The show favorite was by far the incredible Neo-Victorian fashion created by Cake-decorator, Joseph Cumm. It was a masterpiece dipped in a variety of chocolates. Sidney Galpern’s flower-inspired creation was a beautiful, glittery work of art. The amount of time that went into each unique piece was communicated throughout the show.

Here’s to having this incredible event come back to Orlando for years to come! Happy Baking!

Mich Turner and Ron Ben-Israel

Roland Mesnier

Kansas City Comic Con Debuts as Strong as Gates BBQ Sauce

Kansas City already has some established fan conventions with Naka-Kon (for anime and manga fans) in March, Planet Comicon in May and Crypticon for horror in August. With all of those events happening every year, it’s fair to ask if Kansas City, which has a population of roughly half a million could accommodate yet another con.

If the crowds and the events at this year’s inaugural Kansas City Comic Con two weeks ago are any indication, the area can indeed host more events like this without saturating the market. With lively panels, highly sought after guests, a good location and a seemingly endless amount of well-crafted, imaginative cosplay, it’s no wonder that organizers say that 10,000 people attended.

Kansas City Comic Con, which ran from August 7-9th at Bartle Hall had a daily admission price that was comparable to the daily rate Dragon Con in Atlanta and featured stars like blaxploitation and Quentin Tarantino leading lady Pam Grier, Highlander alumnus Adrian Paul, former Eddie Munster Butch Patrick and Hodor from Game of Thrones, Kristian Nairn.

The event even attracted gaming legend Billy Mitchell, who was unfairly maligned in last summer’s turkey Pixels. Normally it would be flattering if Peter Dinklage played you. There were even some vintage arcade games on hand should anyone wish to match or beat Mitchell’s records.

Billy Mitchell and Twin Galaxies head honcho Walter Day meet fans. The event also attracted The Walking Dead illustrator Tony Moore, Thor and Wolverine veteran Jason Aaron and James O’Barr, the creator of The Crow.

 

Mitchell and Day were on hand for a screening of The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters at Screenland, and Grier introduced Jackie Brown at the nearby Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet. Grier and Astin each took part in panels and shared candid incidents when filmmaking proved the opposite of glamorous. Astin recalled frequently being in pain from the rigors of making The
Lord of the Rings, while Grier shared some delightfully NSFW moments from the making of Jackie Brown.

The lines for autographs moved with remarkable speed. You could still share a moment with a star, a writer or an artist, and you didn’t have to waste longer than the lifespans of some animalsto get there.

Bartle Hall had plenty of space and adequate lighting and wi-fi. Despite some stray birds who came to take part in the cosplay (even though they wren’t in disguise), it was still a far better venue than the decaying hotel that houses Crypticon in KC. Participants at Kansas City Comic Con didn’t have to scramble to find an adequate room the way they did at Crypticon.

While it was great to have real stars in our midst, the real delight for me was seeing how well people could pass as their favorite movie characters. This woman, for example, was a dead ringer for Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road.

It would be intriguing to see how Kansas City Comic Con might do in the future. The talent seemed happy there, so others are likely to follow in their footsteps. It’s safe to say that Scarlet Overkill won’t be alone at KCCC next year.