IRVING -- Jacob Lockyer, who founded a Ghostbusters fan group called DFW Ghostbusters around 2005, was sitting with other members of his group in a corner of the Irving Convention Center’s Exhibits Hall, where there was room for the group’s Ghostbusters van and other props, including a life-size replica of a proton pack. From his area of the large hall, you could see a never ending parade of Dallas Comic Com attendees, many of them in costume: Star Wars and Star Trek characters, as well as numerous Batmen, Jokers, Dr. Whos and Tardises, Wonder Women, zombies, and ... well, you get the idea. Or maybe you don’t if you haven’t been there, because it’s not easy to translate into words.
“I remember when I first started doing Dallas Comic Con, it was in a hallway,” said Lockyer, who says he has been attending since about 2007 but has a booth for the first time this year. “It was a hallway with a few comic-book artists, maybe one actor, and then there was a room the size of -- I guess my living room -- that you could go in and buy action figures and stuff. Now I’d say it’s one of the better conventions in North Texas.”
That was on Friday afternoon, when attendees were greeted by signs that one of this year’s stars -- Nathan Fillion of ABC’s Castle, but also of Joss Whedon’s too-short-lived cult TV show Firefly and its feature-film spinoff, Serenity -- had canceled at the last minut because of illness (Comic Con organizers did their best to get the news out in advance via Facebook). Not that it had any visible effect on the crowd, which got to visit with comic-book artists including John Romita Jr., Jimmy Palmioti, Arthur Suydam and many others; queued up for autographs with William Shatner and Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Brent Spiner and Levar Burton; and milled about or dropped money at dozens of booths selling comic books, movie memorabilia, sci-fi and pop-culture collectibles, T-shirts, vinyl LPs, buttons, books, and way too much other stuff to mention.
And that was just one large room on one floor. The Comic Con took up four floors of the convention center, with Q&A sessions with actors and artists in two separate ballrooms, special-effects makeup classes, a Blast-a-Stormtrooper for Charity Room, and more actor/artist autograph tables. On Saturday, the convention drew such crowds that around noon, there was an hour-long traffic jam just to get into the parking lot, and the ground floor was a mass of difficult-to-navigate lines to the Exhibits Hall and to the escalators to upper floors.
That caused some grumbling, but overall, the mood in the convention center was one of cheerful, geeky goodwill, with strangers stopping the costumed people for photos and good-time geeky chat.
“I like to come to Cons dress up,” said Anissa Camp of Arlington, a Walking Dead fan who was in zombie regalita, complete with a screwdriver “through” the right side of her forehead and an arrow through her side. “I got the inspiration [for the screwdriver] from one of the episodes when one of the zombies had a knife in their neck. ... I used to have a back to the arrow, but it’s too dangerous to wear at a convention like this, so it’s just a leather belt with an arrow and I put a screw on it and put some glue on it.”
Camp says she has been to Dallas Comic Con’s sister conventions, Fan Days and Sci-Fi Expo, but she just started going last year, and this is her first Comic Con. She said she wasn’t too interested in this batch of TV and movie guests, which also included Stargate SG-1’s Richard Dean Anderson, Fringe’s John Noble and Jaskika Nicole, Natasha Henstridge of the Species movies and Brandon Routh of Superman Returns and Chuck (and a lot more). Although she’s a bigger fan of the Walking Dead TV show than the graphic novels that inspired it, she was at this convention for the comics.
On Saturday afternoon, Shatner held court at an entertaining Q&A session, responding to fan questions with long answers that seemed rambling at first but always managed to come back on point. Best (partial) answer, given to an 8-year-old boy who asked Shatner whether he preferred working on TV series or movies: “[Making a big movie] is boring. But there's a lot money involved. So it gets to be less boring." The Fringe actors, Routh, Romita, and Jason David Frank and Catherine Sutherland of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers also did Q&As.
The convention continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with scheduled appearances by Anderson and his SG-1 co-star Tony Amendola, the Next Generation actors, Firefly and Chuck’s Adam Baldwin, and Eureka’s Colin Ferguson and others. For information, go to the Dallas Comic Con website or Facebook page.