Saturday, March 18, 2017

Margot Kidder, Harley Quinn and Chewie - Oh my!: Memories of attending my first comic book convention

This week marked the four-year anniversary of attending my first comic book convention, the 2013 Lexington Comic & Toy Con in Kentucky. Four years -- already?!


True story: Boba Fett felt vaguely threatened by me. I was casually talking to this Boba Fett cosplayer's girlfriend
and I assume he's the jealous type, not appreciating the friendly smile and attention she was giving me.
So he says -- and imagine this in a Boba Fett voice modulator: "She's with me."
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo
During the three-day event (from March 15 through 17), I met and interacted with two comic-industry legends (writer Roger Stern and writer/artist Mike Grell) and several science fiction/genre icons from my childhood. The greatest part of this convention is it has all the great elements of the best cons: A mix of comic books for sale, toys/vendors, big-name writers and artists and celebrities.

For this CCC flashback, I pulled out the most memorable anecdotes for my old "Cape and Cowl Crowd" blog, which I wrote exclusively for a few months for The Pop! Shop in Sandusky, Ohio. Enjoy this flashback and my stroll down fanboy memory lane...!

Lando Calrissian!
There's more than one way to have your picture take -- free! --
with a celebrity who charges too much for autographs.
I had a nearby father snap this photo of me with actor
Billy Dee Williams in the background as I stood in an unobstructed
area near his booth. Thanks dude!
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo
I’ve been collecting comic books for more than 30 years, but I had a rookie experience on the weekend of March 15-17 at the Lexington Comic & Toy Con.

It was my first “con” — the first time I had a attended a comic book convention. What a hoot!

Being at a comic con is sensory overload. There’s just so much cool stuff and people to see it’s like having ADHD. “Yeah, I enjoy reading comics drawn by — Hey! Cool Stormtrooper costume!” 

Writing about every experience I had in Lexington, Ky. would take up too much space. In that spirit, here are some of my most memorable moments and anecdotes:

A German-speaking Imperial cosplayer: A young woman dressed in a sharp looking gray Imperial officer’s uniform spoke in German to a member of the Kentucky Star Wars Collectors Club as she passed by his booth. This was the booth right across from "Big Ron" Cooper's and Jamie Stewart's Phat Daddy's comics booths, where I was working that weekend.

Just before I requested to take her picture with an older friend, who was dressed in a black Imperial officer’s outfit, the first woman said: “I probably shouldn’t speak German when I’m wearing this uniform.”

Aunt looking for Ant-Man: Since I’m fascinated with what people collect and why, I struck up a short conversation with a middle-aged woman who was looking specifically for comics featuring Ant-Man, at the booth I was manning. She said her nieces and nephews had “assigned” her the character.

Aunt=ant. Get it? Anyway, I think it’s a cool family connection …!

In the "I can't make this up category": Before things got rolling Saturday morning (March 16), I went by the booth of “Shazam!” television star Jackson Bostwick to inquire about a possible interview.

What a Joker! You can't see is that cosplayer Ellis Howell is giving me bunny ears.
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo 
First, I told him how much I enjoyed the TV show when I was a boy. Bostwick said doing an interview would be fine later — but told me he’d do it only if I bought an autographed promo photo of him for $25. (Isn’t that kinda like blackmail? What happened to free publicity and freedom of the press?)

Needless to say I didn’t go back, but here’s an interesting-yet-odd moment just after this conversation happened. …

A fan was standing behind me as I talked with Bostwick. The guy reached into his backpack and asked, “Will you sign something?”

“Sure, depending on what it is,” Bostwick said. “As long as it’s not porn. Now, if it’s porn I’m in, I’ll sign it.”

I’m still not sure if Bostwick was kidding or not. My gut instinct tells me he was serious.

The best $25 I ever spent -- getting a few solid moments with Margot Kidder at the 2013 Lexington Comic & Toy Con.
I'm grateful for this great photo taken by the fan in line behind me.
"Good one," was what Kidder told me when I showed her.
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo
On the other end of the celebrity spectrum: Margot Kidder (best known as Lois Lane in the Richard Donner and Richard Lester “Superman” films), is a real sweetheart.

Kidder gave me a big smile and a gracious “thank you” when we shook hands and I thanked her for the hours of enjoyment those movies have given me over the years.

Comic book writer Roger Stern (left) willingly spent time with me at his booth
while I interviewed. Sadly, the original version of Cary's Comics Craze simply
has gone defunct, so his interesting stories are lost in Internet purgatory.
But I will never forget how chatty and down to earth Stern is. An awesome experience!
CARY'S COMICS CRAZE file photo 
Anyway, earlier I told Jamie (the classic comics vendor known as Phat Daddy I worked for that weekend) I was going to pull the trigger and not only see about interviewing Kidder, I was going to get her autograph for $25 and have my picture taken with her.

Jamie, who has an odd sense of humor, told me to ask Kidder if “she’s had any houses talk to her” — a reference to “Amityville Horror.”

A little while later, Kidder gave me a puzzled, blank look when I asked her the question.

“Huh?,” she said.

I told her it was an “Amityville Horror” reference and I didn’t “get it” either since I haven’t seen the horror movie. With that, Kidder realized at least part of what Jamie was talking about and said, “I guess it did.”

“That film made me laugh,” she said. “That film wasn’t scary at all.”
"Nothing comes between me and my puddin'."
That's what Harley Quinn cosplayer Adrienne Zibart said as I had my picture taken with her and Joker cosplayer
Daniel Kalin. This was taken by another Joker cosplayer, Ellis Howell, whom I flagged down.
ELLIS HOWELL/Special to CARY'S COMICS CRAZE
Hey Puddin'!: I had a blast interviewing Louisville, Ky. resident Adrienne Zibart, who was a dead-ringer for Harley Quinn — right down to the bright blue contact lenses she wore.

We talked about costuming, interacting with people at conventions and our mutual dislike — to put it nicely — of the New 52 version of Harley. (“She looks like a whore,” Zibart said.)

Zibart generously let me have her picture taken with her and Daniel Kalin, who was cosplaying as The Joker.

I asked if I could stand between them, saying, “Or can anybody really stand between Harley Quinn and Mr. J?” Without missing a beat, Zibart quipped: “Nothing comes between me and my Puddin’.” And she sounded just like Harley Quinn from “Batman: The Animated Series”!
Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew waits at his booth for fans at the 2013 Lexington
Comic & Toy Con. This was the rare moment I captured him by himself; his
line was consistently very long.
CARY ASHBY/CARY'S COMIICS CRAZE

And finally: I had one last, albeit brief, celebrity interaction as I broke down the booths for Jamie and his best friend, fellow vintage comic book seller, "Big Ron" Cooper, of Bellevue, Ohio on Sunday.

I looked up from moving long boxes onto a cart and it was none other than Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, who had been in a booth caddy-corner about 40 feet from Kidder’s. He was being pushed in his wheelchair by an attractive blond woman.

“Good-bye, Mr. Mayhew,” I said as he was rolled right in front of me.

“Bye-bye,” he said pleasantly.

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