So I’m a nerd. What of it?
So anyone that knows me can say I’m a huge nerd. I mean, I hear it said to my face at least once a day. Honestly it used to bother me when I was growing up. Now my early childhood was pretty much dominated by four things… Star Wars, Power Rangers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Batman. Being the only kid in my class (of about 20-25) who was in love with Star Wars kind of forced me into hiding t
he fanboy Steve. Not until late high school and college did I feel comfortable displaying my affection for all things Star Wars.
Hell, now I have a total of eight lightsabers… EIGHT! When I was buying them, I was always thinking of using them to make fan films. Because come on, who needs eight lightsabers? Apparently I do. And I’m probably going to buy more in the future. And a Jedi costume… and some Boba Fett armor.
But I digress… Comic Con (any Comic Con) has always been something I’ve wanted to experience. I can’t really remember when I first heard of it, but since that moment I have thought of going to either San Diego’s or New York’s every year. For someone like me who loves to observe and document (whether through photos or videos), a massive gathering of people who have great passion for art and creativity is pretty much the promised land.
Needless to say, I charged up my camera and got out there. I snapped over 400 pictures in two days, met and talked to a lot of cool people, picked up some pretty sweet art prints, and got to see some of the celebrities I grew up watching on TV… all with a lightsaber hanging from my belt.
My First Con Experience
Some awesome cosplayers from Twilight Comics
Being a fan of movies, television, art, and comics make it easy for someone like me to thrive in an environment like Comic Con. Some people go there only to see the celebrities or only to check a couple things out, but I ate it all up. The pictures I took can certainly vouch for that.
I charged in with a full head of steam. When I looked up tickets, I immediately bought the weekend pass because I figured why the Hell not? Three days of nerding it up is better than one! Definitely didn’t think that Sunday would be a freaking blizzard. I couldn’t even get my car out of the parking lot behind my townhouse. Maybe it’s time to invest in a snow shovel…
But still, two of the three days was a lot better than none of the days! I had a blast. On Friday, my friend James and I spent most of the day dipping my toes into the different booths. We’d stop by, take a look around… maybe take a picture of the booth babe if there was one, then move on. We ended up spending the most time checking out the art booths, since they usually had two or more books full of prints for sale. James bought prints from several different places, but I waited to scan my options first.
Billy Dee Williams!
Then we hit the celebrity booths. The Wizards World employees were circling them like sharks… Sharks who yell at people trying to take photos of the celebrities. That didn’t stop most people, and didn’t even hinder me. Unfortunately, most of the celebrities were surrounded by so many people that I couldn’t get a good shot, but I did manage to get a decent picture of Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars), James Hong (Big Trouble in Little China), Henry Winkler (The Fonz himself!), and Jason David Frank (Power Rangers). I got quite a few pictures of Jason David Frank because he was one of the judges for the costume contest Saturday evening. I really wanted to get a picture of Laurie Holden (The Walking Dead) and Morena Baccarin (Firefly), but they were pretty obscured. Laurie’s booth was packed the whole time and the picture I got of Morena is pretty obscured.
After exploring the convention floor Friday afternoon, we decided to take a break from the crowd and check out the gaming room. There were several tables of people huddled over cards and game boards. One large table held a massive pile of torn wrappers from Magic: The Gathering booster packs. Since magic is a game that my high school friends and I still play, we figured we should get in on that the next day when our friends Sam and Richard were also there with us. We stopped over in a corner to try out a game we’ve never played. Android: Netrunner is a card game set in the universe of a cyberpunk noir Clue-styled board game called Android. I had heard of Android before, which was listed pretty high in a list of the best of science fiction board games, but had never played it. Being a pretty big fan of the movie Blade Runner, these games really stuck out.
Netrunner was pretty fun, being made by one of the guys that helped create Magic: The Gathering, but was just as complicated and had a whole slew of terms to learn. The game is also made for one on one play, which would probably be a little problematic for recreational play with an odd number of players. One player has control over a corporation, which has the goals of building its empire through the combination of setting up and protecting computer servers and enacting agendas. The other player is the “Runner”, which is a representation of a hacker (described to us as one of the good guys in The Matrix) or cyber-terrorist attempting to bring down the corporation. The Runner’s objective is essentially to hack into the corporation’s servers and use their own agendas and assets against them… And to keep the corporation broke. As I found out in my game with James, a broke corporation dies pretty quickly. Whichever player gets to seven agenda points first wins the game. I believe James bought the starter pack for it, so I’ll probably be playing more in the future.
This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had packed into one day. I think it may have even beat the trip to New York with my old National Broadcasting Society group. I probably won’t be able to top it until I go to a San Diego or New York Comic Con.
The day started off pretty early. We had originally planned to get breakfast at 8 a.m. and show up around 9:30 to park and start the day. That went out the window when 8 a.m. rolled around and I was the only one that was even awake… We managed to make it to the convention center a little before 10 and dove right in again. Since all the same booths were still up, I decided it was a good time to start buying some stuff.
I’m pretty sure all of us bought prints from this vendor called Musetap Art Studio, since they were selling some pretty amazing 11″ x 17″ prints 4 for $20. I ended up getting seven prints, six for myself and one for my brother. I got a two-piece sketch of the heroes from Arkham City (Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman, and Gordon), a couple of awesome Star Wars crossovers (Boba Fett standing over a bleeding Predator and Vader slicing up a bunch of Xenomorphs from Alien), and the last copies of a Ninja Turtles print and a “Women of Mass Effect” print.
After buying up a bunch of prints, I decided to look for someone to do a commission sketch. Bryce Oquaye of Mad 100s Studios was offering sketches for $8, so I asked him to do a quick sketch of Lilith and Maya, characters from the Borderlands video games. It came out looking pretty awesome, with the two Sirens fist bumping in the center of the page and energy bursting out from it. I was planning on asking him to do another commission sketch of Bender from Futurama, but was unable to go back to the con on Sunday.
The 50-foot smoker used to cook up a world record.
After asking for the commissioned sketch, we walked over to Kiener Plaza for BACON FEST! Bacon fest was centered around an attempt to break the world record for the biggest bacon explosion ever made. Vatterott College built a 50-foot long smoker to cook the 500lb log of sausage wrapped in bacon, and it was raging pretty hard when we stopped by. The food booths were each serving a few bacon-themed items and each booth had a line nearly 50 people long. We managed to try a few things, but definitely enough to fill us up for the walk back to the convention.
When we got back to the convention, we decided to go to the Jason David Frank Q&A session. I managed to snap a couple pictures of him, then asked the question “If you, as the Green Ranger, could fight any fictional character, who would it be and why?” I was sort of expecting him to pick some obscure comic book martial artist character or something from an old Kung Fu movie, but Jason said he’d like to fight Wolverine because he sees that fight as the ultimate test of the Green Ranger’s skill… beating an invincible opponent. The question and answer got a pretty good response from the audience, so I was kind of happy to bring everyone that nerd thought.
The Costume Contest Judges
After the Q&A session, we wandered for a little longer taking more pictures and whatnot until the costume contest was about to start. The contest was hosted by Jarrett “The Defuser” Crippen, winner of Stan Lee’s Who Wants to Be a Super Hero? reality show and featured special guest judges Jason David Frank and Jesse Snider. I have to hand it to these people… some of these costumes are amazing. The whole time I was thinking about making fan films because the quality of the work just blew my mind. Even the ones that weren’t so great… the sheer fact that those people gathered up the courage to get into it and walk up on stage in front of 200+ people was commendable to say the least.
Now I was a little embarrassed when it came to taking pictures in the costume contest. All of my friends decided to sit in back of the room, but I just had to get up close. I went over to an area on side of the stage where there were a few press guys set up and just blended in… The embarrassment came about 3/4 of the way through when my camera died. Shooting all day drained the battery and I didn’t have a spare, so I kept turning the camera off and on… The camera would turn on for long enough to snap one picture, then die again. There were quite a few times when I acted like I was snapping pictures just so I didn’t look like a dick… But I did manage to get pictures of a lot of the people I was unable to photograph in the contest.
Best In Show, Captain Jack Sparrow
I’m sure you want to hear the winners of the contest, but I’m not going to post all of the pictures here. Those will all be in my photo album from the con. I put them up top so you guys can see them.
Best Group Costume: The Predators
Best Female Villain: Mary Poppins, Vampire
Best Male Villain: Jack Nicholson’s Joker
Best Female Hero: Rapunzel
Best Male Hero: Link with Mirror Shield
Best In Show: Jack Sparrow
Honorable Mentions: Mord-Sith, Voltron, Nibbler, Kato, Ant-Man and the Wasp
There were also a few really cool ones that I have to bring up as well…
Spartans… one was dressed as Master Chief and the other was a generic Spartan, but she had built her arm guard to hold her iPhone as a datapad-type feature which I thought was really cool.
Jurassic Park Ranger… Very simple costume, but I really just wanted this dude’s hat and vest because it was pretty awesome.
Borderlands Characters! Didn’t get to see a Lilith or Maya, but this crew that got together was pretty sweet… Mordecai, Gaige, Mad Moxxi, and a Psycho… there was also another group that did Dr. Tannis, Gaige, Axton, Scooter, and Handsome Jack
Colonial Marine… This guy did a great job of converting a steadicam mount into a machine gun mount. Other than the lack of customization to the armor, he looked like he was ready to jump into a movie and blast some aliens.
Assassin’s Creed… There were quite a few of these, but they were all really well done and just about all of them had working arm blades. My personal favorite was the Ezio gray with fur outfit.
After the costume contest was the after party… which was pretty epic. Kato pretty much led the whole party, starting dance circles up when people started to get bored. Now, I’m no dancer. I can move to a beat and that’s about it. When Kato started pulling people into the circle to dance or show off, I figured I should get my lightsaber. I knew it was my only way to wow the audience.
Kato did a lot of this at the after party.
The party was starting to die down and I figured this was my last shot so I walked out into the circle, lit up, and started mesmerizing everyone with my spins and throws. When I noticed the Best In Show winner, Jack Sparrow, was taking an interest, I quickly made a move that ended with me pointing my saber at his chest as a challenge. The circle roared with excitement when Jack whipped his plastic sword from its sheath to join me in the circle.
I really wish I could have been on the sidelines taking pictures of this because Kato brought us both in to start the spin off (swordplay version of a dance off I guess). After our first round, Jack and I swapped weapons to continue. Kato had the crowd cheer for each of us and then had us go again at the same time. After a few seconds, Kato took the weapons and had the crowd cheer again before declaring a draw. The guy playing Jack Sparrow, gotta hand it to him, had not dropped character all damn day. Even after the fight, he shook my hand and said “Good show, mate.” into my ear in the Jack Sparrow voice. It was definitely an awesome experience, and it also ended the after party.
Now if you managed to make it all the way through this post, I just gotta say thanks. Comic Con was an amazing experience for me and I am very happy to share it with you. Oh, and to those of you I met at the con… Thanks for checking out my blog and keep in touch!
Link to Photo Gallery
Link to Photoshop Project Gallery