Oklahoma comic book creator Rachael Luke Privett provides a guest post looking at last weekend’s Planet Comicon.
Sci-fi and comic fans poured into Bartle Hall in Kansas City last weekend for the annual pop culture convention, Planet Comicon. Rapidly growing attendance from one year to the next forced the move from Overland Park as the up-and-coming convention built a reputation as one of the region’s most ambitious.
Guest lists are how major cons are judged and Planet Comicon tapped some of Geekdom’s favorite personalities including Will Wheaton and George Takei of Star Trek and meme fame, Peter Mayhew and Ray Parks from the Star Wars universe and Firefly’s Adam Baldwin. Lou Ferrigno provided the muscle of the herd, impressing Hulk fans.
In the trenches, artists of all styles were selling prints and sketches. One group, Alzado Co, took a unique approach by selling custom canvas shoes with various fan favorite designs. The creator, Kyle Stanley, says this is their first convention, but they have been operating for six months. The shoes are machine washable up to two times, and have a protective scotch guard added. Alzado Co also sells T-shirts and original Artwork. For more information readers can visit www.alzadoco.com.
While walking the floor of busy artists I discovered Ben Bender. Bender had a cartoon style with hints of graffiti, and featured a wide variety of superheroes, cartoon heroes, and even Disney characters for guests. Planet Comicon was his 5th convention. His art can be found at www.bendercomics.com.
The Oklahoma Comic Creator Group arrived in force, taking up an entire aisle. Equinox Comics, Mike Kennedy, Scott Sackett, and Literati Press were doing commissions, sketches, and selling books and comics to eager attendees.
Of course there were a gaggle of cos-play Jokers and other superheroes and villains throughout the event, but 501st legion’s booth was a standout featuring R2D2 builders. Attendees could see the guts of the beloved droid and see how the hobbyists lovingly crafted functioning replicas of the Star Wars icon. To enrich the experience, con goers could be whisked away by Vader’s troops and placed in a makeshift jail cell for two minutes.
There were dozens of panels from how to break into the comic industry to cos-play discussions. I managed to squeeze my way into a Takei panel. Sadness glimmered in his eyes as he spoke about his time in a World War II U.S. internment camp during his childhood. Then he shocked the crowd into laughter when he told a fan that he does so many voice acting jobs that when he watches television, he finds himself in shows that he doesn’t even remember acting in.
My moment of glory at the con was meeting the ageless Walter Jones, the Black Power Ranger in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
“Do you know what time it is?” he casually asked a fan, who then blundered for their cell phone. Before the fan could answer the question, Jones grinned and answered, “It’s morphin’ time.”
Kansas City was a great backdrop for the convention with its interesting architecture, and Bartle Hall is no exception. It has a modern vibe and plenty of space for Planet Comicon to grow into to. It was my first major convention, and set the bar very high for others I will attend. With a layout simple to navigate, and a mixture of celebrities and artists for all ages, the vibrant atmosphere mixed with Midwestern charm made it an easy -going event for everyone.