Everything nerdy and a splash of horror invades San Diego Comic Con 2018

Some might wonder about the experiences San Diego Comic Con has to offer given that all the information and trailers released at panels drop onto the Internet a short time later, and in some instances before the panel is even set to begin. Some could simply live it through other’s photos or through their favorite Youtube personality. But I urge those with a tingling sense for adventure, or even a nerdy bone in their body, to attend.

As I stated in my article last year, when I was a newbie, that no matter how much research beforehand is done, you’re going to miss out on something. In my second year of attendance, that still holds true. As I heard from several veterans, it’s finding what you want to do and prioritizing it by day. This year I went with an offsite and inside approach. I’d start out my days checking out the sights and sounds before heading in and joining the indoor spectacle.

For a handful of hours Wednesday night, the massive vendor and exhibit hall was opened for thousands. It’s known as Preview Night. Most in attendance were ready to snag some merchandise while others, like me, simply took in all the sights and sounds. Folks with multiple bags of merchandise scurried about while others waited in lines for several booths and exhibits. The hottest spots were at Funimation, Funko, Hasbro, “The Walking Dead” area and a few usual suspects.

For those without a chance to step inside the hallowed grounds of the convention center, the outdoor areas provided some much needed fun, rest and goodies. “The Purge” offsite was literally handing out shirts, as people got to take some play money and purchase exclusive merch with that play money. It was one of the best offsites in terms of simplicity and swag. “Jack Ryan” offered a training ground, gear and (from what I read on Twitter) free money to those ballsy enough. Adult Swim, in the evening hours, opened up a mock camp site as the sun began to set. But when the sun set, “Adult Swim” staples entertained the masses until the midnight hours. The crown jewel of everything outside though was the “DC Universe” offsite where they offered food, drink, previews of games and shows, a Harley Quinn room and an escape room.

Meanwhile, others kept pace by offering simple things. FXHibition is where folks got to take pictures with some items representing their favorite show. The Experience near PetCo Park also offered a lot in terms of a place to stop for a quick bite to eat, or one of their interactive displays, including an escape room. Escape rooms seemed to be the hot thing this year as several other offsite events had an escape room, something I encourage as escape rooms slowly become even more popular. Even offsites like the Nerdist House scored huge points in my book just by offering free food and drink to those who were smart enough to search it out.

Inside, I managed to once again avoid Hall H. That didn’t stop me from getting curious when I read about some experiences on the Hall H line being easier than in years past. The reason, or the truth, behind those tweets are up in the air. Maybe next year I’ll camp out and see what all the fuss is about in the Hall where folks got a preview of “Halloween,” DC movies and an evening with Director/Writer Kevin Smith.

Don’t be discouraged though. Other rooms offer their own treats, whether it be exclusive footage or on-stage appearances by other celebrities. I found myself inside Ballroom 20 for Marvel’s “Cloak and Dagger” only to be treated to the breaking news announcement that a second season had been confirmed by the creator during the panel. Once inside and away from the Exhibit Hall, you’ll find something fun to sit in on or a group of people with the same interests that you can chat it up with.

The takeaway from fans inside was one of pure joy. Sure the long waits, sweat, frustration, and sometimes ineffectiveness of how things work can bear down on you. But when you unpack the gear you snagged and look through the pictures, you know it’s an event you’re happy to have been apart of. And part of you, just like me, will want to go back and do it all over again. If you’ve been on the fence in the past, it’s time to get off that fence and grab a plane ticket. SDCC 2019 is next July 17th-21st, so mark your calendars and start digging through the couch for some loose change.

Guess who had a good time at the Kansas City Crypticon??

PHOTOS BY DAN LYBARGER

A few years ago I wrote a very scathing review of the Kansas City Crypticon Convention.  I felt my review was honest and it was based on not only my own observations but those of people I spoke with, both convention guests and attendees.  While I continued to attend each year, I didn’t write anything about the show because I didn’t want it to look like I was uncaring or that I was just looking to continually kick the organization.

 

 

 

 

Last year the show left the nasty hotel (recently torn down by the city) it called home and headed an hour north up Interstate 29 to the birthplace of Jesse James:  St. Joseph, Missouri.  I wasn’t able to attend last year because of a previous commitment that weekend but this year I decided to check it out.  And what I discovered was a pretty cool con.

The show was held at the St. Joseph Civic Center, and I thought the layout was perfect.  The bottom, open middle section was set up for the dealers.  Whereas in Kansas City the dealers rooms were always cramped and hard to navigate, here they were a breeze to explore.  Plenty of room, and a nice selection of goods.  The upper level was devoted to a few dealers and ALL of the celebrity guests.  The area was bright and clean and every celebrity had a very nice banner, as opposed to the construction paper and magic marker creations from the past.

And the celeb lineup was first class.  As this is mostly a horror-themed convention, the guest list was perfect.  Linda Blair from The Exorcist.  Nick Castle and P.J. Soles from Halloween.  William Kaat from Carrie.  And, for fans of more recent horror, you couldn’t do any better than “American Horror Story’s” Dennis O’Hare.  These guests, and about a dozen more, greeted fans and many of them (especially the Halloween gang) seemed to have a steady line at their tables.  Autograph/photo op prices were pretty reasonable as well, which is always a good thing at one of these events.

One of my “bucket list” celebs – William Kaat. He shared some great stories with me.

Congratulations to the people behind the Crypticon conventions.  You’ve done an amazing job in transforming your show from one of the worse in the Midwest to a destination event.  I look forward to next year.

No hard feelings?  🙂

MEGACON™, Southeast’s Largest Fan Convention, Wraps Another Year of Fun and Fandom at the Orange County Convention Center – May 24-27, 2018

Action-Packed Weekend Delivered Ultimate Fan Experience with Jason Momoa, Jeff Goldblum, Elijah Wood, John Cena and more

Orlando, FL – June 4, 2018 – MEGACON™, the Southeast’s largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime and gaming event, wrapped up the Orlando convention throughout Memorial Day Weekend at the Orange County Convention Center. The four-day multi-genre convention welcomed more than 100,000 fans and included programming for all ages, a star-studded celebrity lineup and more.

This year’s featured celebrity guests included Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings); Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park); Jason Momoa (DC Justice League); John Cena, Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman (WWE Superstars); Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman); Billy Dee Williams and Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars); Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor (Xena: Warrior Princess); Jodi Benson and Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid); Rob Liefeld (Deadpool and X-Force) among others.

All Photo Credit: Rachel Parker, MEGACON Orlando

 

MADAME TUSSAUDS PARTNERSHIP

MEGACON Orlando partnered with Madame Tussauds Orlando for an exclusive first-look of the museum’s newest exhibit, Justice League: A Call for Heroes. On Thursday, May 24, fans united at MEGACON Orlando for a sneak peek of the new Wonder Woman™ wax figure. Following this, guests were invited for an after-hours official opening of the exhibit and admission to the ICON 360 Orlando.

MASTER OF COSPLAY SOUTHEAST QUALIFIER

New to the MEGACON Orlando lineup this year was Master of Cosplay Grand Prix, a new cosplay competition created by FAN EXPO HQ in 2018. Guests competed in the Southeast Qualifier at MEGACON Orlando on Saturday, May 26 for a chance to win prizes and advance to compete for the title of FAN EXPO’s very first Master of Cosplay Champion in an international finale to be held in Toronto as part of FAN EXPO Canada on Labor Day weekend.

Winners included:

-Novice Division – Anthony Acosta and Anne Rosato (Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen)

-Journeyman Division – Lindsay Premo (World of Warcraft)

-Masters Division – Bryan Doell (Ronan the Accuser, Marvel Comics)

-Runner-Up – Josh Morris (The Gate, Hex Mortis)

-Best In-Show – Dovah Design (Snow White Knight)

 

STAR WARS GALACTIC NIGHTS

MEGACON Orlando extended the fun after-hours with a special fandom experience, Star Wars: Galactic Nights on Sunday, May 27 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The event brought together the Star Wars saga, a panel discussion with the creators of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (a new land coming to the theme park in 2019), special photo opportunities, event-exclusive merchandise and more.

 

BOOTH HIGHLIGHTS 

Exciting new booths were packed on the show floor this year, including Jurassic Park, which allowed guests to go back 25 years and relive one of the greatest movies of all time through a tour of the iconic fictional theme park. The booth included a virtual reality headset to let guests get up close and personal with dinosaurs in their natural habitat. Additionally, other classic booths, including the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman Film, Star Wars by the 501st Legion and Ghostbusters, were back for another year.

 

PANELS, PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES, SIGNINGS AND MORE 

Many panels and photo opportunities took place this weekend, with highlights including  a signing by Marvel Comics creator Jim Lee, with a sold out presentation from Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum, more than 200 cosplayers in a special Marvel Cosplay Meetup, Geek Speed Dating, Steven Universe Live Shadowcast Performance and Sing-A-Long, Phantasmagoria Performance and more.

MEGACON Orlando 2019 will take place May 16 to May 19, 2019, which is the weekend before Memorial Day Weekend. For more information and tickets, please visit www.megaconorlando.com. Can’t wait until 2019? MEGACON Tampa Bay will take place September 21 to September 23, 2018. Guest announcements are being finalized right now and tickets will be on sale in mid-June at www.megacontampabay.com.

ABOUT FAN EXPO HQ

MEGACON Orlando is owned by FAN EXPO HQ, one of the largest entertainment convention groups in North America. Collectively it hosts over 500,000 fans annually at FAN EXPO CANADA™, Boston Comicon, FAN EXPO VANCOUVER™, FAN EXPO REGINA™, FAN EXPO DALLAS™, Toronto ComiCon, Dallas Fan Days and MEGACON Tampa Bay.

 

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Once Again, KC’s Planet Comicon Stands Above All Others

I’ve been going to conventions since the late 1970s. I’ve gone to small, one room gatherings, to the World Science Fiction Convention and every size Con in between. And every year, the one that consistently gets my nod as the Midwest’s best is Kansas City’s Planet Comicon. This year’s event was no different.

What makes Planet Comicon so special, and it was true again this year, was the variety of guests the show attracts. Besides perennial fan favorites from film, television and comics, they always bring out big guns with guests not only making their Kansas City convention debut but, on occasion, their very first convention appearance ever. This year, Planet Comicon treated it’s attendees with the chance to meet film stars John Cusack, Jason Mamoa and musical legend Alice Cooper. Not a bad trifecta of guests, especially when you pair them with other fan favorites in attendance, including Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker and Alan Tudyk. They were among the nearly 40 celebrity guests on hand this year.

Also popular, as has been the case in recent years, was the amazing cosplay participants who once again spared no expense in honoring their favorite characters. For the newly initiated to cosplay, there were several tables in the dealers area that were more then equipped to get you started on your way. The days of poorly made costumes and rubber-band held masks are long gone as cosplay continues to dominate the convention floor.

We at MediaMikes would like to send out a special “thank you” to Chris Jackson, Tracy Jackson and their incredible staff for their constant kindness over the years. I’ve attended every Planet Comicon since it began and it has amazingly not only gotten bigger every year but better. Next year will mark the 20th Anniversary of Planet Comicon and I can only imagine what kind of a celebration they have planned for 2019!

Photos by Dan Lybarger

The Godfather of Shock Rock gets Geeky We found Waldo Clever “Moana” cosplay John Cusack talks about the 1980’s classics he’s starred in The biggest John Carpenter fans at the convention We want to see this crossover Danny Trejo radiates cool Wet on wet Hands down, the best “IT” cosplay at the convention

 

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Another Successful Outing for Kansas City Comic Con

A super reunion and the “Comic Book Men” helped fill the halls of Bartle Hall over the weekend. Kansas City Comic Con, now in it’s third year, saw thousands upon thousands of people pass through the entrance between November 10th-12th.

Fans from all walks of life showed up for the weekend gathering. The “Superman: The Movie” 40th anniversary, which featured a two-hour panel and guests like Margot Kidder, Sarah Douglas, and local Jeff East, was the big draw. The other big draw was a visit by Filmmaker/Podcaster Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, and the men behind the AMC show “Comic Book Men.”

There was plenty to do, including lively panels, events on the main floor, and meeting celebrities, animators, creators, cosplayers and othersw. During the hustle and bustle, the MediaMikes crew met fans of the website and garnished new fans with a booth featuring “Superman” memorabilia and a few free promotional items.

In a city full of cons throughout the year, Kansas City Comic Con has sliced out it’s own piece of the year to entertain and reward those in attendance. MediaMikes looks forward to working with and joining Kansas City Comic Con in 2018.

Photos by Dan Lybarger

“Superman” display at the MediaMikes table Lee Meriwether is all-in for “Justice League” Ron Burgundy setting up for a live shot A couple of Supermen taking in the MediaMikes memorabilia display The “Comic Book Men” enjoying the latest issue of “Good Housekeeping” featuring Deadpool “It” cosplay is in this year A “Ghostbusters” and “TMNT” crossover

NBC’s “Blindspot” Goes Global at NYCC

NBC’s hit show Blindspot returned this week for its third season. The second season finale certainly raised the stakes for this year by launching the story a full two years ahead, scattering the show’s main characters across the globe, and increasing the mysteries of the missing timeline. Not to mention a whole new set of glowing tattoos for main character Jane Doe (Jaimie Alexander) to unlock. In case you missed it, the premiere certainly rose to the challenge set down by that cliffhanger. Friday night’s “Back to the Grind” featured no less than a wedding, a knife fight and a boat chase through Venice while reintroducing Jane’s nemesis brother, Roman (Luke Mitchell).

I spoke to the show’s cast and creator recently at New York Comic Con about what to expect for this new season. If you head on over to the Media Mikes Facebook page you can check out the full video interviews (don’t forget to give us a “Like” while you’re there!)

For Jaimie Alexander, Jane Doe’s new set of tattoos were a complete surprise. “I get to the end of the script,” said Alexander, who hadn’t read ahead, “and I was like ‘What!? More? I have more?!'” As seen on “Back to the Grind” one new tattoo already had Tasha Zapata (Audrey Esparza) on edge, which is right in line with Roman’s schemes. “These tattoos are not only about Roman’s end goal…” said creator and executive producer, Martin Gero “but also exposing truths within the team.” Luke Mitchell was excited to take on the role of The Big Bad saying “it’s nerve-wracking and feels like a lot of responsibility.”

It’s not all about the big bad though, as Gero and crew emphasized the James Bond-like nature this new year is bringing. “The world is kind of a scary place right now and we could all use a little escape,” Gero said, “And the show–the show can be scary and serious at times, but it was really important for us this year to have a lot more fun. To bend towards more of a kind of Bond model. The show is very international this year. We shot a big part of the premiere in Italy and we’re shooting in Australia, in Barcelona, all over Africa. So like the show’s going to have a scope the likes of which you’ve never seen, I think, on a network television show before. But then on top of that it’s also just more fun. the show is a lot of fun this year. And we hope it’ll be kind of addictive and great.”

Adding to the fun is the return of fan favorite character Rich Dotcom (Ennis Esmer), who is now working on the good side, though annoying the team all the while. Esmer, who’d appeared twice last season says his return was “a complete surprise.” He joked “It still feels like someone made a mistake at some point.”

Blindspot airs Friday nights at 8pm on NBC

Full interviews are viewable on our Facebook page:
Jaimie Alexander & Luke Mitchell
Audrey Esparza & Ashley Johnson
Sullivan Stapleton & Rob Brown
Ennis Esmer & Martin Gero

Kansas City Comic Con To Highlight 40th Anniversary of “Superman the Movie” with VIP Ticket Package

2018 marks the 40th Anniversary for one of the most popular and influential films of all time, “Superman the Movie.”

To help celebrate the event this year’s Kansas City Comic Con is bringing six of the film’s stars to Kansas City to help commemorate the milestone. While all of the guests will be available during the convention to meet fans and sign autographs, KCCC is offering an amazing “You’ll Believe a Man Can Fly” VIP ticket package, which includes the following:

*VIP Reserved Seating for BOTH the film panel at the convention AND at a screening of “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut,” which will be held at the Alamo Drafthouse.

*A set of six special 11″x 14″ 40th Anniversary Prints (unsigned) featuring attending cast members Margot Kidder, Sarah Douglas, Jack O’ Halloran, Aaron Smolinski, Jeff East and Diane Sherry Case.

*A special 11″x 14″ 40th Anniversary Print featuring, and pre-signed by, Valerie Perrine, who will not be attending the convention.

*Priority line where VIP ticket holders can also have one item of their choice signed by any (or all) of the attending cast members.

*A professionally shot Group Photo opportunity with all of the attending cast members on site.

*Cool swag bag filled with free Superman and Superhero-related merchandise! Bag merchandise will vary and will include items from show sponsors, including Hallmark, Mezco Toys, Coolwaters Productions, Gentle Giant, DC Comics and Factory Entertainment.

*40th Anniversary poster featuring original and exclusive artwork from Capedwonder.com

For more information or to purchase your VIP Package ticket, click here.

The Kansas City Comic Con runs from Friday, November 10 through Sunday, November 12 at Bartle Hall in Kansas City, Missouri.

 

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2017 New York Comic Con Review: Day 2

2017 New York Comic Con

Friday, October 6th 2017
Jacob K. Javits Center, New York, NY

Our Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

All things pop culture descended on New York City specifically The Jacob K. Javits Center as the sprawling complex once again played host to the annual New York Comic Con held on October 5th-8th. The event now in its 11th year was once again put on by the Connecticut based company Reed Pop a company who organizes some of the largest pop culture events around the country. 2017 proved to be no exception and despite having to deal with a smaller venue space due to construction the event still boasted an over whelming number of vendors and appearances by some of the biggest names in comics, film and television.

Day two of the four day convention this year seemed a bit lacking in the way of panels and events as compared to previous however that did not thwart our attempt to take in the massive show floors and numerous cos-players as the con is always one we look forward to attending each year. Right off the bat we noticed that the entry to the event was much easier than in previous years as there was now two different entries for single/multiple day pass holders. This dramatically cut down the once endless serpent like line which in previous years engulfed the outside areas of the center. Despite a quicker entry once inside you could instantly see that the construction taking place in several key areas of the center such as the section which normally houses artist alley was causing large bottle necks of immovable lines. For those wanting to meet their favorite artist or creator gone was the spacious, well lit corridor which was always a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the main show floors but instead this year creators and artist were relegated to one of the structures basement levels which caused for a less than pleasurable viewing experience complete with cramped/impassible walk ways and a heightened room temperature that at times almost took your breath away.

After a couple escalator rides we made our way on to the main show floors. This area also seemed to take on the brunt of less floor space in other areas as walk ways and vendor spaces seemed much smaller than in previous years. As always the Funko booth commanded a lot of attention as those fortunate enough to be selected in the lottery process waited in endless lines in hopes to purchase one of the sought after convention exclusives. During our time at the booth we had the chance to grab a quick autograph from WWE Superstar and Funko Enthusiast Zach Ryder who had stopped by to check out his NYCC exclusive Pop! figure. Other notable vendors were the Middle Earth “Shadow of War”  booth which featured a life size dragon which convention goers could have their pictures on and Marvel vs. Capcom’s replica Ultron and throne display both of which garnered long wait times just to get a glimpse of.

Before leaving for the day we made quick stop in the autographing area which as always is a popular stop for most attendees. Some of the big names this year included Michael Rooker, Peter Capaldi and Mark Hamill among a long list of others. With prices ranging from $40 to $300 per signature we did not spend a lot of time in this area but there were plenty of others anxiously awaiting to spend their hard earned cash to meet their favorite actors and actresses.

With more and more events/panels being held off site it makes me question just how much longer the Javits center will remain a viable location for the Con. With early attendance figures coming in at around 200,000 for the four days the event shows no signs slowing down. Hopefully the center will be back to full functionality for next year’s event as the lack of space definitely impacted all aspects of the event. Either way, we can not wait for next year.

The View Askew Universe is Coming to Kansas City Comic Con

Snootchie Bootchies! Kansas City Comic Con made three major announcements, all of them encompassing the popular View Askew Universe. First off, fans of the AMC television program “Comic Book Men” will be joining the convention for panels and more. Second, Jay himself, Jason Mewes, will be joining the Comic Book Men. And, finally, you can’t have Jay without Silent Bob! Kevin Smith, the creator of all things View Askew, and Mark Bernardin will be broadcasting their “Fatman on Batman” podcast LIVE from the Kansas City Convention Center.

The Kansas City Comic Con runs from November 10th through 12th this year. Among the already announced highlights will be a special 40th Anniversary Celebration of “Superman the Movie.”

More details can be found on their website here and their Facebook page here.

Our own MovieMike and friend Ben Ryland with Kevin Smith at JAY AND SILENT BOB’S SECRET STASH in Red Bank, New Jersey.

Amazon Prime ‘Activates’ The Tick and Lore at NYCC

Fans looking to escape the crowded New York Comic Con show floor this past weekend were taken care of by a pair of immersive ‘activations’ presented by Amazon Prime. On site at the Jacob Javits Center, the streaming service introduced two of its newest series, The Tick and Lore, in style. I was fortunate enough to spend time exploring both experiences with some friends over the course of the con weekend and needless to say, they got me hyped to check out the shows.

My first stop was The Tick’s massive Dangerboat installation on the upper level of the con. Dangerboat is not just the headquarters to the Tick’s nemesis, Overkill, but also has a sentient artificial intelligence all its own (on the show he’s played by geek icon Alan Tudyk). In keeping with that, NYCC’s Dangerboat was also talking and fully sentient and began immediately interacting with my crew when we boarded.

Both of Amazon’s experiences were connected to an RFID wrist tag that we registered before entering. In Dangerboat the tag was used to print out our custom Aegis database ID as well as getting our own tin of FO HAM. Thankfully the tin actually contained “NEAT!” Tick pins and not canned meat. Dangerboat concluded with a fun green screen video op that with yet another swipe of wrist tags was emailed or posted wherever we chose. All told, Dangerboat took my group about a half hour to fully interact with due to the level of options on the various screens, not to mention the funny rapport we developed with a sentient boat(!) which was pretty incredible as far as con setups go. Whomever was the mind behind Dangerboat certainly captured the humor and spirit of the show itself and provided some of the best laughs of the weekend.

About The Prime Exclusive Series, The Tick:
“Bursting with scabrous original storylines that turn on a dime, The Tick is a comedy with kinetic action, a wryly inventive visual style and crisply quotable dialogue. Heroes have flown among us for decades but mild-mannered accountant Arthur Everest (GRIFFIN NEWMAN) one day finds out there are also genuine bad guys in this new Amazon Original Series. He believes he has proof that The City, where he was born and raised, is actually controlled by a global super-villain known as the Terror (JACKIE EARLE HALEY). Destiny soon brings Arthur together with an eccentric, tall, blue-suited muscleman with a mysterious past and list of superpowers: The Tick (PETER SERAFINOWICZ). The title character serves as both the conscience and the unchecked id of the story. Citing the call of destiny, the Tick procures for Arthur a moth outfit with retractable wings and insists that he suit up as his sidekick. He and Arthur are the ultimate odd couple, but may just bring out the best in each other. In their quest to take back The City, the unlikely pair of heroes quickly sees just how complex the struggle between good and evil has become.”
The Tick returns to Amazon on February 23rd 2018

Descending down a level into the Museum of Lore was yet another unique RFID experience and definitely welcome this Halloween month. Based on the hit podcast, Lore sets out to retell the true life macabre stories that inspire some of horror’s most notorious tropes. In a series of interactive rooms, my group tromped through haunted dolls, magical mirrors and werewolves as presented by a trio of delightfully over the top actors. Utilizing our RFID bands, we were rewarded with messages from The Other Side and a cool photo souvenir over a pretty twisted werewolf buffet….

About The Prime Exclusive Series, Lore:
“Sometimes the scariest stories are true. Lore is based on the global, award-winning podcast sensation from creator Aaron Mahnke, and executive produced by Ben Silverman (The Office), Howard T. Owens (The Biggest Loser), Gale Anne Hurd (The Walking Dead), Brett-Patrick Jenkins (Face Off), Glen Morgan (X-Files), Jon Halperin and Mark Mannucci (A Year in Space). Lore brings the podcast to life and tells the real life origin stories that have led to our modern day myths and legends, including vampires, changelings, werewolves, séances and possessed dolls.”
Lore is fittingly debuting on Friday October 13th.

 

 

The Americas Cake Fair Returns to Orlando on October 13-15, 2017! Tickets on Sale Now!

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” – 40 Years Later

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

 

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