Dispatches from Denver Comic Con Day 3: Saying “Cheese” with Bruce Campbell and hearing the voice of Batman (and Tigger too)
Sunday is the shortest and final day of Denver Comic Con. It’s the day that the last of the big panels wrap before 3pm and the exhibit hall shuts down 2-3 hours earlier than the other days. Still reeling from yesterday’s awesome hurricane of events, I was glad that today was largely a “relax day” for us. Last year we had to show up a good hour ½-2 hours to score wristbands to get into some of the bigger panels like George Takei or William Shatner. This year, we didn’t have that to worry about, but just like the year before, Sunday we enter the con extremely exhausted after 2 days of celebrating pop culture. Despite the exhaustion, I still very strongly advocate buying a weekend pass rather than the single day tickets as it’s the better value. I also like having the option to decide if a certain day is a “panel day” or a “explore the floor” day.
Today was going to start as a tour de force with doing our photo op with Bruce Campbell as soon as we arrive. I stated before that I probably wouldn’t pay on a meet and greet to meet a celebrity unless it was Bruce Campbell. I backed that claim up this year and I got a pretty awesome experience out of it. The line moved extraordinarily quickly so I knew I would have seconds at best to meet Bruce but it was the shortest and most fun encounter that I’ve ever had. Once we turned the corner to the photo area, I was greeted face to face with one of my biggest icons in the flesh. Today, he was wearing a white blazer and wore an awesome smile as he greeted us by saying “Well, come on in boys and girls!”. He shook my hand and asked how we were doing and then said hello to Stacey and got us ready for our pose. He told Stacey “Darling we’re going to be like this” as he put his arm around her waist and pulled her in close to him and then said “and for you we’re going to do this” as he put an arm in front of me and told Stacey “I’m going to just sort of block him out.” as he posed as if he was on the cover of a romance novel. It was worth every second of that small interaction to get an awesome moment in with Bruce Campbell. As stated yesterday, I first met my wife by inviting her and some friends over to watch Army of Darkness, so it was fitting that just days before our anniversary that we met the guy who inadvertently put us together. As we were leaving we passed Adam West on his way to the photo area for his session with fans which was pretty cool.
Having really no panels planned today, we used most of the day as a sort of “get things signed and do what we want day”. We first decided to eat lunch and then make our way to the Avatar Press booth to meet Max Brooks. He’s probably best known as the son of comedy legend Mel Brooks and author of “The Zombie Survival Handbook” and “World War Z”. Today, his line was decidedly shorter, so I was able to get my copy of World War Z signed by him. I told him how I enjoyed his book over the movie adaptation so he personalized my signature as “To Brad Pitt: Your movie was Fine. I loved the title” – Max Brooks.
We tried to scope out a few more artists and authors but most of the main ones I was familiar with the work of were either here last year and I was able to meet them and get things signed (Fiona Staples, J. Scott Campbell), I got them to sign on previous days (like Humberto Ramos whom I sent Stacey to get a comic signed for me and he called her “babe”…ooohhh that Ramos!) or I just kept hitting their tables when they were on a commission only time slot (when you can pay them to draw a sketch for just for you) or while they were away on a panel. Christopher Jones (Artist for Young Justice) did have some cool freebies and candy so it didn’t make missing him seem to terrible…plus I got a cool disco Nightwing card last year for liking his Facebook page (he’s pretty fun to follow by the way). We also scanned the floor for some cool costumes. Saturday has been and I suspect will always be the best day for catching cool costumes, but today had some good offerings. I wanted to get a photo of a dad and son dressed as King Author and his page with coconut shells from Monty Python, but I only saw them while in line for our Bruce Campbell photo op and never saw them the rest of the time, but I did see a good Oberyn Martell and a Godzilla costume that one of the contestants from Face-Off created.
After exploring the floor for a while and basically seeing all the coolest things on Friday and Saturday, we began to feel a little burned out and headed to the panel rooms. We were going to go into the Kevin Conroy Batman panel, but that was at capacity so we went to the queuing area in the next ballroom to watch the closed circuit live stream. It seemed to be a great panel and while most voice actors don’t sound too incredibly different from their most famous characters, Kevin Conroy sounds exactly like his Batman voice without having to channel it. He talked about working with Mark Hamil in both the cartoon series and Arkham Asylum video games. He also talked about how he was at a convention and a metalsmith made him a batarang with sharp edges and how he was scolded at by TSA when he tried to fly out with it in his baggage only to have the agent lady tell him “Even if you are Batman, you can’t bring this with you”. He also said that he’s really looking forward to the next Batman video game Arkham Knight. The panel ended with him singing a song in a really awesome voice.
Having seen Sylvester McCoy yesterday, we decided to skip his panel today and once again hit the floor. My plans to attend a panel with Doctor Scott from Dinosaur Train were cancelled due to a personal emergency causing him to no-show. I was 110% aware that this panel was aimed solely for kids, but being a paleontologist and having missed out on a panel yesterday by one of the most famous of the field, Dr. Robert Bakker, I thought that outside of Dinosaur Train stuff, Doctor Scott would talk about some cool dinosaur things. I used our newfound free time to get one more signing in and met Mark Brooks and had him sign my program guide to Denver Comic Con since he was the cover artist. I did get to tell him how I appreciated that “Blucifer” was front and center of the cover. Blucifer, otherwise known as the demonic hellspawn stallion statue (not a far fetched claim) that greets visitors to Denver outside of Denver International Airport took over the coveted spot from the giant blue bear as the sort of “mascot” to Denver Comic Con….with an Adam West era Batman riding on him! In other words, it’s probably my favorite one to date for the convention.
When it came time for our last planned event of the day, we were stuck between attending a Weta Workshop Swordsmith panel or a Cartoon Voices panel. It was a hard choice with Stacey being a huge Lord of the Rings fan but having nothing but cool experiences with Cartoon voice panels in the past, we ultimately decided to get in line for the Cartoon Voices panel. After being let in we were able to see who would be the panelists and the only ones I was familiar with was Robert Axelrod (whom we saw in a Power Rangers panel Friday) and April Stewart (voices basically every female in South Park). Having been told that Jim Cummings (Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh) would not be on this panel and would be doing an event in the Kids Corral, we decided to attend that instead. It turned out to be a really great decision! Jim Cummings definitely played it up by channeling Darkwing Duck, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Tasmanian Devil, and Pete from A Goofy Movie. A really cool part of the event was when kids were able to draw original characters and have Jim Cummings create a voice for them immediately. It was a short 30 minute or so presentation but hearing the awesome voices made me happy with our call.
This was the first convention that we did *not* end with the artist draw-off, which is a fun interactive improv panel in which artists have to draw absurd suggestions from the audience. We didn’t attend this year due to the necessity to get back home and secure a parking space before Jazz in the Park started this evening. It’s a nice fun free outdoor jazz/blues concert every Sunday night in City Park all summer long. Living near the park makes parking anywhere near my home after a certain hour next to impossible on Sundays. So to ward off the potential annoying situation, we left the con a good hour or two before it officially closed.
Overall, I think the convention was great this year. I can tell a lot of focus went into some of the biggest complaints and problems last year. Nothing could have been more infuriating than last year’s long line fiasco as some people spent up to 3 hours after the doors open just to get in. This year it was a non-issue. I believe this is largely due to allowing for early badge pick-ups a few days prior to the event and having a better hold of the situation. As was the case last year, I felt that the con only gets bigger and better every year. Some popular exhibit areas were notably smaller this year to make room for more things. It was fantastic to see new exhibitors such as Weta Workshop to come this year. I really loved the guests this year. Bruce Campbell is one I’ve wanted for 3 years and even longer to meet and I got to see that happen this year. The Doctor Who guests and Walking Dead guests were fantastic and it was cool to see members of Star Trek the Next Generation in different panels without having to shell out extra to attend the ticketed big reunion panel Saturday night. I liked how Friday had some cool stuff to offer in the way of panels. It could have been easy to say that today was a bit on the “meh” side with panels compared to the other two days due to seeing other versions of the panels Saturday or Friday, however for a single day ticket holder for today it had some cool stuff to offer. So really I don’t have anything to complain about. Looking forward to next year, now that my number one guest pick has happened, I think it would be cool to see some Firefly guests but also I think actors from LOST would be fantastic as well (I already have the Dharma suit, I’d like to see some people jump on that bandwagon if it happens). It was a great weekend, can’t wait til next year’s event. Until then I’ve got plenty to look forward to that can settle my geek hunger such as Star Wars night at the Rockies game, some cool summer movies, Great American Beer Festival in October (beer geek is another hat that I wear) and of course the big Comic Con San Diego Comic Con is coming up soon and that’s where all the biggest bombshells are dropped, so that’s a lot to be excited for until the geeks reunite to descend upon Denver Comic Con again in 2015.