Transmissions from Lexington Comic & Toy Convention 2018

Another year, another trip to Lexington Comic & Toy Convention. Every year I get excited and look at the list of guests far in advance, getting more and more excited. “Lou Diamond Phillips?! Pauly Shore?!?! Kevin Sorbo?!?!?! DOUG JONES!!!!!!!!!”

I do this for every convention I go to. I get excited about the media guests, yet I rarely meet them. I know that celebrities are a big draw for some people, but I just can’t get into it unless it’s someone I love and the line is short. That’s my criteria. At our first convention we met Kristine Sutherland and got her to wear Wolverine claws, and a couple years ago I met Caroline Williams. I think that’s it. I think it’s amazing that these people travel to these conventions to meet and talk to their fans for hours/days/weeks/months/lifetimes, and I think it’s great that fans are so excited to meet their heroes. But it’s something I’ve never been super into.

I really wanted to meet Doug Jones this year because he’s incredible and I love him deeply, but one look at the line to meet him tossed that idea from my head. I did lurk around his table for a while and he seemed genuinely happy to meet every single person that came up to him. They all left with smiles on their faces. Not Gentlemen smiles, either: real, honest-to-God smiles.

But you didn’t come hear to read about my thoughts on celebrities, did you?
Did you?
Because if you did, I’ve got some thoughts.
No? Okay then. Let’s get to it.

I’ve been doing the convention thing for a while now. I am by no means a seasoned vet, but I’ve picked up certain tricks over the years. One of those tricks is this: if you want to walk the floor, check out the booths and buy some stuff, Friday is the day. The floor is absolutely packed on Saturday, and by Sunday some vendors may be sold out of certain items. But Friday? Oh man, Friday you live like royalty. There are still a lot of people present, but it’s not nearly as packed as Saturday.

This year, my best sister and favorite brother-in-law joined me on Friday. I promised them room to walk and they jumped at the opportunity. We had a blast. You can see me and my sister here, posing in front of piles of garbage and lost limbs from last year’s comic con.

The Jawas stared at us, wondering if our heads would be the next ones to join the display. I stared back at them and made myself as big as I could, as if facing off against a jaguar. They didn’t flinch. I didn’t flinch. We stood like that for a solid 5 minutes before my sister grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and dragged me towards the convention floor.

It’s possible those were not real Jawas but I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure.

If the Jawas did steal from the wrong man, they were a very short walk from the Weasley’s flying car. I doubt they could activate the Invisibility Booster so they wouldn’t be making the most conspicuous getaway, but I don’t know that they particularly care about that.

As always, the smiling visage of the Stay Puft Marshmallow man welcomed us, arms open as if preparing for a welcoming embrace. “All are welcome here,” he seemed to say, “as long as you don’t have an unlicensed nuclear accelerator strapped to your back.”

We were greeted by an extremely sassy Jabba the Hutt, hands on his hips as he judged us from atop the pile of heads of his former enemies. Doctor Manhattan, Joker, Frankenstein, Ronan the Accuser, The Incredible Hulk and an entire host of others were destroyed at the hands of the giant, slobbering slug. He was a dominant, murderous force, and now he spends his day judging the fashion choices of all who walk by. He said particularly nasty things about the shoes I was wearing, but I knew he didn’t really mean it. My shoes were baller and he knew that.

Jabba’s sass promptly came to an end once he spotted Chewbacca on the floor. He wasn’t carrying a visible crossbow, but I know it was hidden somewhere in that fur. Not only is he a good boy, he’s also a really good shot and Jabba knew better than to risk it.

I’m trying to figure out what I find quite so off-putting about this interpretation of Van Gogh. My sister nailed it. It’s almost as if someone took a body, twisted his head completely around and dressed him up as if that was the way he was supposed to be. It was a twisted interpretation of the human body and it has haunted my dreams since I first saw him.

I wish I could have taken him home with me. Maybe because I secretly loved him, but mainly because I think keeping him close may help to keep the nightmares at bay. Something like a scarecrow for his dream self. I have zero idea if that actually works or not, but I feel it would be worth a shot. And, if it turns out it does work, I have a pretty good idea of how to make a little extra money the next time Freddy Krueger shows up.

I didn’t have to walk far to get a laugh that would make me forget the nightmarish form of a twisted Vincent van Gogh. The award for Costume That Made Me Laugh the Hardest goes to this woman for her depiction of the recently deceased Carl Grimes. It’s perfect. I mean, the hat, patch and angel accessories are obvious, but don’t overlook her shirt that reads “I’m Pudding This World Behind Me.” Words can’t properly express how much I love that shirt.

I looked up at the poster that hung over the convention floor and caught a glimpse of Greedo. As a solitary tear rolled down my cheek I said, “Greedo got the last shot.”

After having just seen Greedo, I felt zero remorse for this Scout Trooper. I hope one day you’re happy again for a few minutes and then you find out where that blue milk really came from.

And on that day I will be there and I will be laughing RIGHT IN YOUR FACE.

(Solid photobomb from the super happy girl over his shoulder. I strive to be that happy one day.)

This guy’s confident take on Shirtless Kylo Ren made me laugh entirely too hard. Kudos to you, sir.

You know I love Spider-Gwen. You also know I love a costume I’ve never seen before. BAM. Gwenom. It’s a cool twist on a costume I’ve seen dozens of times.

When stars collide / Like youuuuuuuuuuuuuu and I / No shadows block the suuuuuuuun

You’re all I ever needed / Oooooo baby you’re the one

Listen man. When you walk into a building in a mask and swords strapped to your back, you’re going to have your Hello Kitty backpack searched. That’s just the way it goes. I don’t make the rules.

When I saw Gwenom, I was convinced I had seen my favorite costume of the weekend. Ladies and Gentlemen, I was mistaken. Here is your costume of the weekend. This makes the second straight convention where my favorite costume was Beauty and the Beast inspired (check out my favorite costume at last year’s ScareFest here). It’s simple, but it’s a costume I’ve never seen before and it’s wonderfully done.

Some women want to find the sensitive creature inside the beast. Others just want to escape their captors and will do whatever it takes to be free.

Let’s talk about Sweet Tooth. Created by Jeff Lemire, Sweet Tooth follows a world that lost a large percentage of adults due to a mysterious virus. The children who were unscathed by the virus were all animal/human hybrids. It’s a unique comic to be sure, one that’s equal parts hopeful and heartbreaking. I want to revisit it at some point, but I’m not sure my heart is ready.

Anyway, I don’t know how popular or well-known it is, but I love it completely and I freaked out when I saw this gentleman dressed as the titular Sweet Tooth. I yelled “Sweet Tooth?!” louder than I had any reason to, seeing as how it was a relatively empty area. He looked nervously around for Jeppard. Once he realized help wasn’t coming, he resigned himself to have his picture taken.

Those deer hybrids are a jittery bunch.

I asked if I could take this guy’s picture and he responded with, “Sure man.” He may have actually been The Dude.

I was going to ask him what was in the bag but I already knew the answer. I’m a golfer.

My favorite costumes at conventions are the ones with a little thought put into them. Something that takes a character and looks at it from another angle, or mashes a couple characters together in a way that makes some kind of sense. Anyone could go to the store and buy a costume; what I’m looking for are the ones put together with love and care.

So it should come as no surprise to you that I absolutely adore this Captain America/Rosie the Riveter costume. It’s amazing and she was so happy every time I saw her.

I love these two kids and sincerely hope they make it in this crazy, mixed-up world. We’re all rooting for you.

I had a notion to walk celebrity row on Saturday, but it was packed. Unlike in past years, the celebrities weren’t on the main floor. They were set up on the floor of Rupp Arena. It was a really great idea and freed up the main floor, but getting in during a crowded time was a bit of a nightmare. Totally worth it if you wanted to meet one of the celebrities, but for someone just wanting to look around, it wasn’t worth it.

In a really cool move, they opened up some seating in Rupp Arena. From there, I was able to sit down, take a break and take in the chaos and beauty of celebrity row. It made it feel like everyone on the floor was on display. Like some grand experiment unfolding beneath me as I sat above it all. I was their puppet master. PULL THE STRINGS. PULL THE STRINGS.

Also, there were wookies walking around down there and I was really excited about that. It’s the simple things in life.

Last but certainly not least, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out some of the amazing purchases I made there.

I recently  moved to a new house and was looking for some art to put on my office walls. They just seemed so bare. Thankfully, the great Matt Peppler was set up with his tremendous artwork. These four are now hanging in my office, but there were a dozen more I could have easily bought. Everything he does is amazing. Check out his website and pick something up. Super nice guy and extremely talented. You can pick up an 8″ X 12″ poster for $10.

I was also looking for something for my daughter’s room. She’s not quite three years old and she loves Groot. When I came across this in a booth, I could help but buy it for her room. It was made by Pat Kenrick at Amourable Art. He had a ton of different themes to choose from, but Groot and Rocket was an easy choice. Check out his website and get lost in all the amazing.

I’ll close this out with a brief story of my brush with a celebrity.
On Friday, we hit celebrity row. As we were working out a plan, a man walked right in the middle of our group and stopped, looking around as if deciding where to go next.
That man? Kevin Sorbo. Hercules himself was briefly a part of our group. Before I was able to take a picture or ask him to Sorbonate something, he was off again, most likely in the direction of his table.
Anyway, he seemed cool and I think we’re best friends now.

So long everyone! See you at the next convention!

Transmissions from Wizard World Comic Con

On March 29th, my wife, my younger brother and I hopped in my car and headed up to Louisville to attend Wizard World, our first ever comic convention.  We had no idea what to expect, but we knew James Marsters and Kristine Sutherland (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) would be there, and that was enough for us.
What follows is what happened once we reached the hallowed grounds of the Kentucky International Convention Center.  Most of these words are true.

We got there and immediately hard a hard time figuring out where we should go.  “It’s in this convention center, right?  Why are these doors locked?  I see people in there.  That girl is dressed like Huntress, so I know we’re in the right place.  Those doors locked, too?  How do we get in this place?  HUNTRESS!  HUNTRESS!  I know she can hear me.  She looked over this way.  Why isn’t she letting us in?”

Eventually we found an unlocked door, and wound our way through a set of dark corridors.  After walking through what appeared to be an airplane hangar, we got our wristbands and made our way to the floor.

The first thing we saw was a grown man dressed up as Robin, complete with tight green panties.  We all nodded and agreed that it seemed like a decent indicator of what we would find there.  He would not be the last Robin we would see that day.

Before heading into the fray, my wife took a look at the map.  “It looks like the celebrities are set up in the back.  Let’s swing by there and see what it looks like.”  We decided to head up a side alley, so as to miss the mass of people in the middle.  It was crowded, but not nearly as crowded as I thought it would be.  We weren’t packed in shoulder-to-shoulder.  We could move relatively freely for most of the day.  That was a pleasant surprise.  It was hot, but that was to be expected.  Just as well.  I love sweating in large groups of people.

Pictured: Sweat
Pictured: Sweat

We made our way back to the signing booths.  Most of The Walking Dead people weren’t there yet, but pretty much everyone else was.  Jason Momoa’s line was long.  Marsters’ line was fairly long, but not too bad.  Kristine Sutherland had a few people in her line.  (We loved that Marsters and Sutherland were right next to each other.  During their downtime, I assume they talked about various slayer-related difficulties they encountered.  “I hated when she came back and had a zombie party at the house.”  “I hated when she beat me up.”)

Voorhees is always lurking.
Voorhees is always lurking.

We saw a man walking out of Marsters’ line looking at his camera, and we immediately accosted him.  “How was he?  Was he cool?  Did you get a picture with him?  Can we see it?  How much extra for the picture?  Did you have to get his autograph to get a picture with him?  Oh man, that’s a cool picture.  He’s doing his Spike face and everything.  Thanks!  Off with you.”

A few Deadpools walked by.  At least, I thought they were all Deadpools.  As it turns out, it was two Deadpools and a Spider Man in a hoodie.  I jumped up and down and asked for a picture with them.

We major
We major

We walked past Robert Hays’ (Airplane) booth, and found him sitting with his assistant.  No one was in his line.  They were talking and laughing with each other, but I could tell he was dead inside.  I’ve seen This is Spinal Tap.  I know how sad it is for no one to be in your autograph line.  I looked around for Artie Fufkin, Polymer Records, but saw no sign of him.
“Should we go up and say hi?”
“It’s $20 for his autograph, and probably that much for his picture.  I think you have to pay just to go in his line.  Besides, what would you say to him?”
“Dunno.  ‘I like that scene in Airplane 2 when you’re painting a picture of flowers, but then the camera pulls back and you see a naked woman sitting there.’ Something like that.”
“That’s not bad.  Is that worth $20?”
“Nah.  Let him rot.”

We saw a Silent Hill nurse and Elektra walk by, talking about God-knows-what.  I desperately wanted to get my picture taken with Silent Hill nurse, but I didn’t want to hurt Elektra’s feelings by telling her to bug-off, so I let them walk on by.

I’d say roughly 40% of the people there were dressed like Dr. Who or a TARDIS.  Whovians, as far as the eye could see.  And pretty much all the men looked alike.  As far as I knew, each of them had been an incarnation of the Doctor at some point.  (There have been a thousand Doctors, right?  I’m not making that up?)
I looked at a woman with a TARDIS dress and said, “Cindy-Lou Whovian?”  I cackled loudly, because I’m the worst.
She looked at me blankly, so I cleared my throat and said, “I said, Cindy-Lou WHOvian.”
Here’s something I learned: Whovians are not to be trifled with.  They suffer no fools.  And, apparently, all the women pack their purses full of bricks.
When I came to, the woman was gone, but I would always have a broken nose to remember her by.

The entrance to Whoville?
The entrance to Whoville?

I saw something that said Back to the Future, and immediately started shoving Whovians out of my way to get there, screaming, “Out of my way, nerds!”  (I don’t learn lessons easily.)
It was the DeLorean (or, rather, it was a DeLorean).  “I put together a model of you,” I whispered as I reached out to trace its aerodynamic lines.  “NO TOUCHING,” came a yell.  I scampered away like one of Sweet’s minions and never looked back.  Comic conventions are scary.

As fate would have it, that’s where I was supposed to be.  I found myself at a table full of weapons.  Glorious weapons.  I turned to my brother; his mouth was wide open.  “Are those Batman throwing knives?” I asked.  All he could do was nod.  I looked further up the table.  Wolverine claws.  Honest-to-God Wolverine claws.
When I was a child, I dressed up as Wolverine for Halloween.  I took black gardening gloves and used electrical tape to attach white plastic knives.  I assume every male has done the same thing at some point in their lives.  Needless to say (though I will say it anyway), the prospect of buying Wolverine claws was too good to pass up.
Sure, I hemmed and hawed for a while.  “I don’t know.  They’re $35 a piece.  That’s a lot of halibut.”  We tried them out and they looked awesome.
“We’ll knock off $5 if you buy the set,” the man behind the table said, sensing our excitement.
“$65 to realize a lifelong dream?  Seems a bit high.”
I originally thought we should wait.  “I don’t want to lug around two metal claws all day.  They could get heavy.  Let’s wait until we’re ready to leave.”
My brother immediately countered with, “What if they’re sold out by then?”
I panicked.  I couldn’t live with myself if I left the convention without Wolverine claws.  So I bought the set.  I couldn’t give the man my money fast enough.  I’m pretty sure I was giggling as I handed it over.
Best decision I’ve ever made.

We turned from the table and spotted The Avengers, all walking in the door at the same time.  It was glorious.  My favorite part was seeing some of the individuals later in the day.  They were never all together as The Avengers again.  It’s like they didn’t like each other at all, but they just had to make a grand entrance together.  I respect that.

After that, we took off for the James Marsters panel.  It was delightful.  He sat up there for an hour, answering every insane question asked of him with a smile and a funny story.  “How did it feel to kiss that Torchwood guy?  What did you think about the ending of Angel?  How come your hair didn’t fall out from bleaching it all the time?  No, really, how did it feel to kiss that Torchwood guy?”  He cheered when a grown man told him that he had, “warm fuzzy dreams about Spike,” after watching Buffy episodes.  He sang a song that he wrote for a Western.  “Was that from High Plains Invaders?  I feel like that was from High Plains Invaders.”  I could not stop talking about High Plains Invaders.
In a particularly sweet moment, a girl holding a video camera stepped up to the microphone and talked about how her and her mother were never particularly close, but they used to bond over their love of Spike.  Now her mother was really sick, and it was her birthday, and would he mind singing “Happy Birthday” to her?  Without skipping a beat, he looked directly into the camera, slipped into Spike voice, wished her a happy birthday, sang the entire song, then blew her a kiss.  I’ve never seen a girl so happy in my entire life.  It nearly melted my cold, cold heart.

We left the room on a Marsters high.  “That guy was awesome, wasn’t he?  Super awesome.  I love him dearly.  Let’s kidnap him and bring him home with us.  He should be our friend.  He’d love it.  I have chloroform in the trunk.  He won’t mind.”  Ultimately, we decided against it, because we’re not monsters, there were a ton of witnesses, and the chloroform was a two-block walk back to the car in the rain.

So it was back to the floor with us.  We only took one pass before hitting the Marsters panel, so we decided to take a walk among all the booths.  There were tons of great artists selling their work.  Others drawing pictures on demand.  T-shirts.  Key chains.  Bumper stickers.  Bikinis.  Bathrobes.  Statues.  Backpacks.  Recognizable movie characters made from nuts and bolts.  A life-size E.T.  If you can think of it, they probably had it.

Silently judging. Always judging.
Silently judging. Always judging.

We looked at a lot of stuff, and even considered buying some of it.  A lot of it was expensive, but that’s to be expected.  I assume you could buy a lot of the stuff we saw online, but buying it there just seemed more fun.  Also, there was no guarantee that the product we found online would be exactly like the one in front of us.  I’ll be damned if I’m going to buy a set of knockoff Wolverine claws, or a scratchy terrycloth Batman bathrobe instead of the awesomely plush one we felt up at the booth.  There was a constant struggle between Frugal Adult Dusty and Giddy Elementary School Dusty.  Somehow, Frugal Adult Dusty won out more often than not.  That guy is a total buzzkill.

After walking through the booths, we thought we’d head back to the autograph tables and catch a glimpse of some celebrities.  I creeped on The Walking Dead’s Scott Wilson for a while, who ended up giving me a sidelong glance and slowly reached down for his boot knife.  I moved on before he could plant it directly between my eyes from 100 paces.  Scott Wilson is ruthless.

Had I tarried any longer, I'd be dead.
Had I tarried any longer, I’d be dead.

We craned our necks to see James Marsters, but his table was packed and his line was long.  Ditto Jason Momoa (although we did catch Momoa on a small stage for a short interview and got pretty close, which was great.  He’s a handsome man).  The Whovians were lined up against the wall, waiting for their chance to point their Sonic Screwdrivers at Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.  I saw a group of 5 Whovians, all wearing the exact same outfit and actually sharing the same scarf.  It was wrapped around all of them at the same time, and they moved in unison.  It was like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Was there a Dr. Who episode that covered that?  If not, they probably wouldn’t have understood what I was trying to say.  “What’s a body snatcher?  Is that like a Dalek?”

We moved on to Kristine Sutherland.  There were a few people in her line, but not many.
“She looks so sweet.  Doesn’t she look sweet?  I just want to go up and give her a hug.  How much are autographs for her?”
“$25, I believe.”
“What about pictures?”
“About the same amount, but I think you can only take a picture with one person at a time.  And the sign says, ‘Autographs’ for this timeframe, so I think you have to pay for an autograph to get a picture.”
We all agreed that it seemed high, but we still wanted to lurk and stare for a while.  So we stood outside of her booth, talking to each other and sneaking glances at her.  Since her line was sparse, and the aisle we were in wasn’t highly populated, I’m sure she noticed the three of us standing there for 15 minutes.
Then, an idea.
“What if we get her to wear the Wolverine claws?  Do you think she would do that?”
“I don’t know.  That’s a great idea, though.  I’d pay good money for that.  That picture would be awesome.  Let’s ask her.”
So we walk up, my younger brother taking the lead.
“We all love Buffy.”  We nod vigorously.  She’s smiling.  This is going well.  Or perhaps she’s scared of what the three people who have been staring at her for a solid 15 minutes would do once they approached her, and thought a smile would disarm us.  “Can we get a picture of you with the three of us?”
She was still smiling.  “Of course!”
“Really?  That’s great.  How much?”
“Ten dollars.”
“Ten dollars?!  A BARGAIN!  An extra question: would you be willing to wear Wolverine claws?”  My brother removed the claws from the bag and showed them to her.
Her smile never faded.  What a pro.  “Wolverine claws?  Sure.”
And so we watched Ms. Summers grip Wolverine claws, smile sweetly, and pose with us for the best picture in the history of time.

Happiest moment of our lives.
Happiest moment of our lives.

We walked away giddy, and we couldn’t stop staring at the picture.  “Let me see it!”  We couldn’t stop talking about it.  “Can you believe it?  Look at how sweet she’s smiling!  This picture is amazing.  I’VE NEVER FELT MORE ALIVE!”

I felt so good that I threw a recently purchased Tribble into the teeming mass of Whovians.
“What is this?”
“A Tribble.  You know.  From Dr. Who.”
“That’s from Star Trek.”
“Same difference.”
Those Whovians can glare.  I could hear them murmuring among each other and looking in my direction.  I could’ve sworn I heard one of them utter the phrase “a reckoning,” but it was probably just my imagination.

We were getting tired, but we weren’t ready to leave.  We decided to take one more pass through the throng of people in the middle of the floor, then find a chair and do some people watching.

Of all the fun we had, I think the people watching was one of the major highlights of the day.  Here’s a short list of people we saw/interacted with:

Captain Jack Sparrow.  Only one of them, surprisingly, and he was always in character.  Or maybe he was always drunk.  Hard to tell, really.

A shirtless dude in spandex.  I have no idea who he was supposed to be, but I admired his confidence.

A gaggle of Harley Quinns.  It seemed like every time I saw one, she was posing for a picture.  People love Harley Quinn.

Pyramid Head from Silent Hill.  Apparently he couldn’t see through the mask, and needed a friend to guide him around the floor.  That killed me.

Leatherface, complete with extra-length chainsaw.

Photographer was running for her life.
Photographer was running for her life.

Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers walking around together.  “What’s your favorite stalking tactic?  Did you see that time I stuck a knife in a guy so hard he stuck to the door behind him?”

A family consisting of Bender, Lara Croft and Nathan Drake.

A group of Browncoats.

A Lego Man whose arms were so heavy his hands were literally shaking as he stood in one spot, having pictures taken of him.  “Why did he make his arms so heavy?  That looks like hell.  That poor guy.”

And, finally, my favorites: The Glamorsteins, dressed as rockabilly Frankenstein’s monster and his lovely bride.
“Hey, can I get a picture with you guys?”
“Sure.  You want us to attack you?”
“Um…what?”
Immediately they fell upon me, sensing my weakness.  They took me by my feet and shook all the loose change out of my pockets.  I’m certain they would have given me a swirly, but they had a lot more photo ops to get to.  So they unceremoniously dumped me on my head, shouted “Poindexter,” over their shoulders, and were off.  I loved them dearly.  It may have just been in my concussed head, but I could have sworn I heard Link Wray’s “Rumble” playing as they strolled away.

Moments later, I was bloodied and bashed.
Moments later, I was bloodied and bashed.

We decided to call it a day.  We walked out of the convention center and hit up BBC Brewery down the street.  Great food.  Great beer.  Terrific atmosphere.  If you’re ever in Louisville, I highly recommend it.
We talked about our favorite moments of the day, and went through all of our pictures.  We thought about pulling out our Wolverine claws, but figured that would be frowned upon.
I looked to my left and saw Silk Spectre II.  There’s something weird about seeing someone dressed as a comic book character just sitting down among regular people, munching on fries.

As we left the brewery, we heard an angry shout.  “There they are!”  I looked to see a group of Whovians, pointing their Sonic Screwdrivers at us, bowties glistening in the rain.  The one in the front had the flaming Tribble on a spike.  They inched forward.  We turned and ran to the car, peeling out before they could finish us off.
Before long, my brother was asleep in the back seat wearing his Batman robe, clutching his Wolverine claws.

We all figured we would have a good time, but we didn’t expect to have as much fun as we did.
Our first convention was a good one, and we were already looking forward to the next one.