You would think that I had been to a comic book convention by now but today was the first time I'd ever attended one. Sure, it wasn't San Diego but it was still an interesting experience.
Today was a day of firsts. My first time going to a comic book convention, my first trip to the Rock Financial Showcase in Novi, MI, and the first time I've paid for an autograph. Some could say that the "con" in "convention" is that the celebs there make at least $20 a pop for their signature. I knew this going in but had conveniently forgotten that folks on the "convention circuit" make a living by selling their images--8X10 glossy photos, autographs, and photos--no matter how big (Don Pedro Colley) or how small (Felix Silla) the star.
I wasn't expecting Shatner, Campbell, or Romero but I was still a little surprised by the level of celebrity at the convention. The one that cracked me up was the guy who was famous for saying, "These aren't the droids you're looking for" in Star Wars. But, seriously, the majority of the folks were at my "sweet spot." "What, you don't know Dan Hicks? He was Jake in Evil Dead II!"
The three people I wanted to meet the most at the convention were, in no particular order, Eric Roberts, Don Pedro Colley, and Jim Kelly. Luckily, all three of these gentlemen seemed pretty darned nice. No horror stories of "and when I got up to him, he was a complete dick." Nope. Don Pedro Colley had a long conversation with the couple that was before me in his short line back in Dukes of Hazzard corner. Eric Roberts nearly gave a guy a heart attack when he snapped a photo of him, "Why don't you get in line and pay for that?" (I think he was kidding), and Jim Kelly--who had the longest line--made sure everyone left happy.
I thought about stopping by to say hello to Vernon Wells, Josh Becker, or Fred "The Hammer" Williamson but spent some time hanging out with my old pal Mitch and his friend Wade as Mitch filled the gaps in his comic collection. Sticking to my anti-clutter regiment, I was determined to not buy much of anything. I hadn't intended on spending $40 for a photo and autograph of Jim Kelly (my priciest purchase of the day) and $20 on autographed pictures of Colley and Roberts. I was happy to pick up some comic books from my old pal Deal Stahl and swore I wouldn't buy anything else until I hit upon some choice magazines that were selling for a buck. Two classic Mads and Starlogs were mine!
If there was one thing I learned at MCCC, it's that there's a real market for hefty genre characters. I saw a few tubby Jedis and the requisite chubby Klingons but there were some people who desperately wanted to dress up but didn't have the full costume including one portly gal who could manage just a Mandalorian helmet. A couple of costumes completely perplexed me; not because I didn't recognize the characters but because they seemed like some kind of half-assed hybrids such as the Stormtroopers wearing Lucha Libre masks. We called them "Santotroopers." Later I spied a Predator with Darth Maul coloring on his face (with the little horns).
My favorite geek encounter of the day came when Mitch and I were looking through some graphic novels and I commented about an X-Men volume retelling the death of Jean Grey yet again. "Oh, geeze, I wonder if she comes back?" I asked sarcastically. Suddenly, the guy next to us began a tirade; "I don't know why so many people complain about Jean Grey coming back when she's only done so once. They've brought back Professor X and Magneto far more times." He was genuinely miffed about this long-standing mutant injustice. What made this even more funny is that he spoke in a voice reminiscent of Jimmy from South Park.
I'm not sure how quickly I'll line up for another convention. When trying to not spend money it's a pretty bad place to visit. I'm hoping that the business cards and old issues of Cashiers du Cinemart net me a couple of interviews but only time will tell on that.