Denver Comic-Con 2013 in Review Part 1: Chewbacca Speaks, Meeting Artists and Disco Nightwing!
Today the doors of the Colorado Convention Center opened to the 2nd ever Denver Comic-con. It’s been a year since the masses assembled to share their mutual love for all things pop-culture and a lot has changed in a year. Last year, Friday was arguably the most dead day of the Con (maybe with the exception of Sunday morning) but this year it seemed that the Con grew..fast! The line wrapped around the entire convention center as opposed to just outside the registration tables as was the case last year. If the 2 hour wait to get in wasn’t enough of a “Head’s Up!” of the con’s growth, you’ll definitely notice a difference once you go inside. I’ve never been to an event that uses the entire convention center, even the Great American Beer Festival (aka Beer heaven) only uses half the exhibit hall, but now the floor is MASSIVE! In addition to the massive exhibit hall, the panels have graduated to using a ball room for main event panels, a much appreciated change for those of us who missed out on the Costume shindig when the room filled up too fast last year. Needless to say, Denver Comic-con hit a pretty big growth spurt this year!
Our first panel today was for Peter Mayhew, best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars films. We missed the first few minutes and came in while he was talking about his children’s book “Growing Up Giant”. Before opening up to fan questions, the moderator asked the one question I would have asked “What’s up with Chewy not getting a medal?!?” Peter Mayhew said that “There are two schools of thought on that: One, Carrie [Princess Leia] couldn’t reach me. Reason two is that they just ran out of money!” He did say that when he won a lifetime achievement award, that it was worth more than any medal and Carrie Fisher was able to present it to him and he described it as “a big cookie-sized medal”. He was inevitably asked about the upcoming Star Wars Episode VII and has said that he has not been contacted yet but spoke very highly of J.J. Abrams and Disney being in charge of Star Wars. Other highlights included:
– Empire Strikes Back was his favorite Star Wars film to work on. “I like the cold” he said when giving a reason.
– Harrison was his favorite actor to work with next to Carrie Fisher, he also said some very heartfelt things about the professionalism of Sir Alec Guinness and his utmost respect for him as an actor.
– Best part about working on Star Wars: “When a door opens and there’s a Stormtrooper and you have a rifle to take his head off with”
– Said that the new Star Trek was “very good…for a Star Trek film” to a large applause by Star Wars fans.
– His worst part of Star Wars was the trash compactor scene, but he said he found a wedge that he was able to stand on and stay more dry than the others in the scene.
– He thinks “Chewy is a perfectly good name for a dog” and described most “Chewy” dogs as mutts cross-bred with big mongrels.
– He walks around with a really cool lightsabre cane.
After the Peter Mayhew panel, we ventured over to the Superman 75th anniversary panel with Steven Seagle, Joe Kelly, Paul Ryan, Dexter Vines and Joe Rubenstien, whom all worked on Superman over the years. This panel was held in the Main Event room, which looks like a proper panel that you see in the pictures of San Diego. Oddly and somewhat awkward was that the only thing missing was a moderator! Thankfully, Steven Seagle (not the doughy action star with the ponytail) took the impromptu role of moderator and discussed a few topics with his fellow comic book artists and writers to discuss Superman. He did bring up his book “It’s a Bird!”, in which he talked about absolutely hating having to write the character of Superman and then through his frustration found a way to enjoy Superman. Some other fun moments was Joe Kelly talking about being sternly warned due to writing Deadpool to “NOT mess around with Superman”, Dexter Vines discussing his partialness to Batman, Paul Ryan telling the audience about owning an official Superman suit from the George Reeves show and being the only kid on the block with one and getting beat up for it, and then basically hearing the origin of Powergirl being basically down to having a character with giant boobs. Despite the lack of a moderator the panel was fun, but kind of a big slip-up as this was one of the main points of interest on the convention’s webpage.
Since I loaded my scheduler with panels and didn’t squeeze room in for dinner or exploring the floor, we blew off the informational panels about Colorado film and getting a job in the entertainment industry. They sounded like really cool panels, but it turned out that we made a good call as I was able to meet some creators and artists. We first met Fiona Staples, who was much younger than I expected. She’s currently known as being 1-half of the creative team behind Saga with Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man). It was pretty cool to stand in line and watch her do some sketches of Lying Cat, which is possibly my favorite character from Saga.
Next, we stopped by the table of Phil Jimenez, who was in the middle of sketching someone’s blank comic cover with a drawing of Wonder Woman, I had him sign my copy of The Amazing Spider-man # 583 (The Obama Cover that got a lot of media attention back in 2008). Next, we paid a visit to J. Scott Campbell, who has made several Spider-man comic covers over the years and drew the cover to this year’s Denver Comic-Con program guide. I did have a funny moment with an artist named Chris Moreno, whom was credited for additional art in a Jurassic Park graphic novel that I owned. It turned out his contribution to the Jurassic Park mythos was one single panel.
We had a laugh with him as he showed the artist next to him and declared that being the highlight of the night. Next up was artist Clayton Craine. Being a fan of the characters of Venom and Carnage, I have to say this guy is pretty amazing with how he draws the characters and is one of my favorite artists when it comes to Venom or Carnage. However, I had him sign a copy of Spider-man in which he drew with the black-suited Spider-man nested above the grave of Eddie Brock. It’s one of my absolute favorite Spider-man covers, so it was awesome to meet the artist. We did stop by artist Christopher Jones’ (Young Justice) table to pick up a Denver Comic-Con exclusive print of disco-action Nightwing.
Last year I was admittedly more interested in TV/Film guests, but this year I made a goal to meet with some of the artists and writers, research their work, and to bring a few comics to sign. With my interactions with Ethan Nicole (Axe Cop) last year at Denver Comic-Con as well as meeting Chris Claremont (He wrote pretty much every X-men story that I like) at a Free Comic Book Day signing earlier this month, I shifted a lot more focus on seeing who writes and draws the comics that I enjoy. With a quick cross reference to a comic book database, I was able to see that some of the people that wrote and drew the comics that I like are here this weekend. Before, I just read them without really paying attention to the talent, but I’ve quickly learned that many of these people are really nice and cool and are more than happy to sign something that they worked on. Almost a rarity when you see that most celebrity guest photos and signatures run upwards starting around $30 each on the low-end. For some geek like me, it’s cool to add some substance to my comic collections.
We ended tonight with Mile High Sci-Fi’s screening of “Swamp Thing”. For non-Denverites, Mile High Sci-fi is a monthly comedy show in which a pair of comedians screens usually horrible movies and make jokes and funny comments as the movie is playing. It’s like a live-version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Tomorrow should be even better as they screen “Masters of the Universe”.
That’s it for tonight, tomorrow is going to be the biggest day of the con and we’re going to have to wake up early to get “suited up” in our costumes (Saturday is where most of the costumes will be). In addition, we’re going to stand in line early to try to get in on scoring a wristband for George Takei’s panel. Ohhh Myyyy!!