Throngs of people descended on the Austin Convention Center from October 26-28th to partake in the annual geek festival known as Wizard World Comic Con. Whether you are costumed or not, a hardcore fan boy, or even the most casual connoisseur of sci-fi, fantasy and comics, Austin Comic Con has something for everyone.
Start with the Basics
For those who don’t know, Comic Con is short for Comic Convention. But comics are just the beginning. Comic Con encompasses all aspects of geek-dom, from comic book artists, to sci-fi, fantasy and to a lesser extent, professional wrestling.
Small time artists mix together with nationally known artists and writers to sell their wares in the form of single art prints ranging from $5.00 to over $200.00. Comic vendors descended on the Austin Convention Center from across the state and the nation to buy, sell and trade comic books, collectable toys and ninja swords – yeah, ninja swords.
One vendor, who had a nice spot near the front of the venue, hailed from Chicago and participates in over thirty conventions a year.
Comic Con Survival Tip #1: On Sunday, vendors and artists are more likely to cut a deal so they can move their inventory.
Costumed Characters Amass
The fans are dedicated. Well-known superheroes like the Green Lantern and the Avengers share the convention center floor with Trekkies, Jedi, Storm Troopers, Steampunk aficionados, and lesser known anime and cartoon characters. All types of costumes are welcome – including zombies. Comic Con does ask for all prop weapons to be checked and tagged at a security desk. No one wants a lightsaber mishap.
Trekkies (Star Trek fans) were in full force – more so than last year because Austin was home to the 25th anniversary reunion for cast members of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton and the gang showed up to meet with fans, sign autographs and participate in photo-ops (the lines, four wide, for this opportunity were about 100 fans deep).
Other celebrities included WWE’s CM Punk, Eliza Dushku, Ray Park (Snake Eyes in the G.I. Joe movie and Darth Maul in Star Wars), the stars of Boondock Saints: Sean Patrick Flannery, Norman Reedus, and David Della Rocco, and other sci-fi/fantasy celebrities like comic convention staple, Lou Ferrigno.
As a city, Austin was well represented in the form of a fairly good sized comic book company called CCP Comics. Comprised of lifelong comic book fans, CCP Comics travels the country to various comic book conventions and promotes the variety of titles they publish. In fact, the collective, headed up by McClain McGuire, took up an entire side of aisle 2200.
Anarchy Championship Wrestling had their annual booth manned by their wrestlers. This promotion is an independent professional wrestling league which puts on monthly shows at the Mohawk Club on 10th St. and Red River.
Make Your Way Upstairs
While convention goers flooded the main floor in hopes of meeting their heroes, getting custom, autographed artwork from comic artists, or buying that rare comic they’ve been looking for, others made the exodus to the upstairs ballrooms. There, at different times, a variety of Q &A sessions and seminars were hosted.
Having never attended one, I decided to sit in on the Walking Dead panel. It was laid back and less pretentious than I assumed. Fans asked a variety of questions, but didn’t dissect certain episodes like I’ve seen done in parodies. The actors, Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker, were open and friendly and the experience was fun for me.
There were other seminars about getting into video game development and how to publish web comics. Other Q&A’s were centered on the Star Trek: The Next Generation reunion, and so on and so forth throughout the three days that Comic Con was in town. All sessions were first come/first served opportunities, so seeing lines outside the doors to the more popular panel discussions was not surprising.
Comic Con Survival Tip #2: Get to the seminars and Q&A’s early.
Plan for Next Year
Time flew buy, and with so much to see and do, sensory overload may be an issue for new people attending Comic Con. Of course, everyone goes for their own reasons, so make your own plan and map out the weekend.
Tickets are available online at a discount, or on-site. Weekend passes end up being cheaper in the long run. It’s worth getting them, since it can be difficult to get to everything in one day.
David Thomas is a freelance writer living, writing and experiencing life in Austin, Texas. He lives with his girlfriend in their mid-80′s duplex in the Wells Branch neighborhood. Find him on Twitter.