Welcome one and all. Tis I, Frankie Rodriguez. New site. New day. And boy, much has happened since we last talked. To my Clashers, be not afraid. Read all our usual quality stuff and enjoy the ENTIRE J1 site. ALL OF IT. But after you read this.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of covering the 4-Day event. Yep. This year, it was 4 days. Normally,it’s 3 but some new management and some pretty awesome guests changed all that. Who were the guests you ask? Let see:
We had Chris Hemsworth . ..Thor himself in the flesh (but only on Saturday).
We had legendary wrestlers: Ted Dibiase, Amy Dumas (aka Lita), Jimmy Hart, Diamond Dallas Page & Paul Bearer. Not to mention current WWE Champion himself (and known comic book enthusiast) CM PUNK!
We had Dean Cain, Melissa Joan Hart, James Marsters & all 5 .. count ’em 5, STAR TREK CAPTAINS.
WE EVEN HAD STAN LEE. (How I almost killed him later.)
Arriving early, I had picked up my press pass and was able to walk in during the end of set up for the con Thursday Afternoon. The new set up was amazing. Instead of the normal two halls, they opened up 3 full halls just for the con while the forth was used for registration, lines and tickets. (Excellent move there Wizard) Watching the set up made me feel the positive energy. I looked at the line of VIP who were ready to get in as I walked up to a female volunteer when I asked her, “So, what do you think of the set up and this year’s con going to look?”
The volunteer replied, “I been here for several years and this year just seems so much better. It looks bigger, it feels bigger … just feels like its gonna be a great con.”
After walk around taking some pictures, the VIP entered as they passed by the Zenescope and Avatar tables on the red carpet. The vast convention space was well utilized as there were areas for stars that split the normal commerce areas while the vast majority of the stars were nestled in the center of the con;which I personally dubbed Red Carpet Row since red carpet went up nearly to all the areas where each of the celebs were stationed.
Past Red Carpet Row, there were more merchants and Artist Alley, which was HUGE this year. So many artists. From local and indy artists like Shawn Alleyne, Inkbot.net & Interrobang Studios to known comic professionals such as Miguel Sepulveda (of Stormwatch fame), Jamal Igle (who I interviewed a few months back), Greg Horn and legendary artist Neal Adams.
While talking to several independent artists, I was able to get their business cards and close the day with meeting up with my friend and fellow J1 writer, Hector Ramirez. My friend and Hector were both in extremely jovial moods.
Then Day Two happened. And Dear Lord. For the first time in years, if ever, Friday had a turn out that was almost as good as a Saturday turn out. Many of the celebrities had arrived (such as Anthony Michael Hall, James Hong and the aforementioned Legendary wrestlers). The fans were jovial. Artists were working hard on commissions or keep attention to customers. Parents were walking their children around the many merchants with clothing, comics and swords. (Yes. SWORDS) There was even LIQUOR up in this con. Liquor!
As I saw my friend, we noticed George Perez and decide to take the time to get him to sign a book, just to take a break. And after an hour and a half (and an personal apology from Perez himself), I got to talk to George Perez. As a journalist and a fan, I was estatic. He signed my New Teen Titans (Vol. 1) # 6 and I asked him how he was enjoying the con.
“Oh. I am having a great time,” replied Perez.
In my mind, I was squealing like a 12 year old girl in joy. In person, I had a big smile as my friend took a picture of George Perez and I. (I have idolized this man for 20 years. He is why I am doing this now.)
After living that moment, I was able to observe the Jedi Master Class then went on my way to lunch with same friend as earlier. As we walked out the door, Dean Cain was just coming back from his panel … stopped my friend (who was ex-military and wore his dogtags) and introduced himself. My mouth dropped (Superman stopped us to talk to my friend) then I shook his hand. He was not able to take time at the moment to really talk but he thanked my friend for his service and wished us well. After a picture with my friend that I took. (Lucky punk.)
After lunch and looking at I checked out the Stan Lee photo op, just to hear fan reactions. Stan Lee, 89 years old, was a HUGE draw as the line started about an hour before his photo op. Fans were going on about … between some complaining about the wait … to others who were just happy to be there and get this chance with him.
One fan stated, “I never thought I would get this chance but here I am. I am gonna meet Stan Lee!”
The line for Stan Lee moved quickly and I moved on to talk with a few more artists and cover some panels. (more on those later)
I actually ran into a lovely Wonder Woman cosplayer. She smiled as I asked her for a picture. She had told me that some people had complained about her costume while I said that I thought she did a great job. What do you think?
Saturday rolled by as the con was jammed. People were everywhere. I tried several times to talk with Greg Capullo but the line was far too long and was not able to get to speak to him. The Chris Hemsworth panel was fun with a lot of people going on how they enjoyed his Thor while he answered questions. At one point, I ran into my friend again and we were gonna head to lunch. As I talked to him about what were gonna eat … I was pulled away in a 45 degree angle. Mere seconds later . . . MERE SECONDS … I see Stan Lee say excuse me. If that bodyguard or whoever pulled me back didn’t stop me, I would have crashed into Stan Lee.
STAN LEE IS 89 years old. I ALMOST KILLED STAN LEE. If I had crashed into him, I would have become American’s most hated man. Comic Fanboys would have wanted blood. I almost walked into Stan Lee. Me hitting him could have killed him …
THANK GOD I DIDN’T WALK INTO STAN LEE. (Mr. Lee, if you are reading this … I am so sorry)
After that and a late lunch, I calmed down, I had gone to Artist Alley and talked with Shawn Alleyne, local Philadelphia artist, to ask him about the con.
“This is good. Been keepin’ busy. I been doing well, selling prints,” said the artist.
“This year seems so much better than last year,” he stated after I asked him what he thought of the convention.
After talking with some cosplayers and retailers and getting Miguel Sepulveda’s autograph, it was time to call it a night.
Final day had arrived. I had overslept so I missed Stan Lee Q & A (FRELL) but I was able to look around at some deals and attend another panel (Writing & Editing in Comics – that will come up in another post) and pretty much talk with creators, enjoying the rest of the con. The con ending with a high note as many con goers left with smiles and a great sense of satisfaction. And while the Big Two (although DC artists Greg Capullo, Miguel Sepulveda and more were there) and Dynamite Entertainment were noticeably absent this year, there was much fun from many of the fans, creators and even staff.
With that, It is time for me to get on the TARDIS and see if I can catch Stan Lee’s Q&A. Till then, Keep Clashing everyone!
– Frankie Rodriguez (Comics Editor for J1 Studios)