@DarthTaxus: Greetings Taxolytes! It’s your Dark Lord of Tax, Darth Taxus, the Lord of the Schtick giving a full report on my visit to the Dallas Comic Con! I’d like to first thank Sarah, Richard and the rest at Skywalking Through Neverland for granting me the opportunity to do this!
The excitement and anticipation had been building in us for months, but finally, DALLAS COMIC CON had come! The Family Taxus was especially excited for the 2014 event because it was the perfect storm of prime choice cuts to feed our nerd hunger! Guests that piqued our interest included Manu Bennet, currently Deathstroke of the TV show ARROW, the entire FIREFLY cast, Jeremy Shada of ADVENTURE TIME and, as discovered with squeals of glee destroying the upper-limits of my hearing range by my girls, Todd Haberkorn of FAIRY TAIL. I was really excited to learn that my saber manufacturer, Ultrasabers, would also be in attendance. We are slowly hunting down the entire FIREFLY cast, so this was an amazing opportunity, if not just a couple. But the end-all was that Stan “The Man” Lee was going to attend. Given how woven he is into our culture, having a photo-op with him was a no-brainer! And so with highlighters a plenty, we planned out our attack for the Saturday session & were ready to go!
Due to overwhelming popularity, this was the first time the event was held at the Dallas Convention Center; and I have to say that it was a much needed move! Last year the only thing that helped us navigate the swell of humanity was a well-placed lightsaber leading the way. Because of this, we hit the road early to make sure we were in good position for the 10:00 AM open! So with our fully-charged sabers, bags to collect our swag and local made breakfast burritos in hand, we hit the road! The parking was more than adequate, and we had a relatively nice position in the line. I didn’t mind waiting as it gave me opportunities to take some pictures of the cosplayers also in line. When we started moving, it took us no time at all to reach the event entrance! Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that I had to trade in my pre-paid tickets for an armband in a room near the back of the line. One mad-dash that felt like an eternity later, we were in!
If you’ve never had the rush of emotions that almost lead to a systemic shutdown, then there isn’t a good way for me to convey to you the overwhelming sensory input that almost placed me into a catatonic state. It’s a cacophony that ebbs & flows until it blends into a rhythmic pulse that beckons you into its hive-mind. Hive-mind of awesomeness! The event entrance opened into the vendor main hall. Rather than revert to an infantile fetal position and just rock back and forth, or fall into shock, I decided action was needed. The kids know how to move with their old man through these things, so with precision and timing that rivals that of special-forces or ninjas, we started our attack.
If you’re like me, you’re a nice combination of tactile and impulse buying tendencies. This is not a quality character trait for restraint at a convention! In a wonderful example of parenthood, I bought a Star Wars shirt just after telling the girls they need to look around at everything first and then decide what they want to buy. The “do as I say and not as I do” law was immediately violated again as the rainbow gates of the Ultrasabers booth came into view. Ultrasabers is a recently new resident of Texas, and I had to welcome owner Emory Harris and his fine staff here by beating them down with fan-boy (saber and business related) questions. Given that my apprentice, Darth Lupus, needed to have a saber to defend herself against her Jedi older sister, Knight Kylaella, I had no choice but to buy another saber knowing I’d suffer the wrath of the Lady Taxus later. It was wonderful to see so many people purchasing sabers! I finally determined where we needed to go to procure our photo-op passes, so with one Bellicose Hilt in Arctic Blue with Flash on Clash Silver made onsite by Ultrasabers, we set off in pursuit of our prey!
The photo-op booth was at the far end of the hall for autographs and we made our way to get the Stan Lee passes. Along the way, we were distracted by the autograph sessions for Jeremy Shada and Todd Haberkorn, since the lines were pretty short at this time (they quickly grew). So the girls split up and both got to meet a couple of heroes of theirs. I ended up in the Jeremy Shada line with my oldest; where I asked him a quick question about new INCREDIBLE CREW episodes. I might be wrong, but I got a bad feeling like there’s nothing coming up any time soon for that show, which is a shame since all the kids on it are extremely talented.
Since my youngest was still in line for Todd, I decided to sneak attack in to buy the pictures. “Oh boy! Stan Lee! A chance in a life… huh? Saturday, SOLD OUT.” To quote Vader: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
After regaining my composure and suppressing the immediate need to Hulk out, I decided Nathan Fillion would be a fine… what? Saturday, SOLD OUT!
OK, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. I scanned the list and found Manu Bennett still available. Yes!
A little note about conventions, you have to play the waiting game. You play it a lot. It is not for those who lack patience. So to pass the time, there are plenty of people there all willing and able to talk about common interests. There are many cosplayers who love to talk about their costumes too! And to pass the time, you can play a live version of Where’s Waldo?
I have to say that of the people we’ve had the opportunity to get photos with; all of them have seemed really appreciative of their fans. Manu was no different! He’s one of our favorite villains. The Lady Taxus and I loved him in Spartacus (Kids, do not, repeat, DO NOT watch Spartacus!). On the way out I did meet a happy couple who just met Stan Lee. It’s not the first time I lived vicariously through others.
Next on our list was a Q&A on cosplay with Leeanna Vamp & Marie Doll. We had a small window to get there after Manu; but due to many more cosplay photos along the way, we arrived 10 minutes late and the doors were locked. You know what they say about the best laid plans. But it was fine, because we were ready to just do some browsing through the vendors.
There were so many vendors with so much great memorabilia, but I tend to focus on Star Wars or nostalgic items. Looking at the prices on some of the 1970’s/80’s Kenner Star Wars play sets had me wracking my brains to figure out where the heck I left Dagobah! I was really overwhelmed with Main Street Mouse’s Disney artifacts that took me back to the mementos my parents had accumulated from their trips even before I was born.
In retrospect, I probably should have picked up a few items, especially a still promo piece of the Fox & Hound, since that was the last movie I saw with my childhood friend before an accident took his life at age ten. He was also a Star Wars freak and we would have a grand time playing with the Kenner “wind pipe” lightsabers. We even figured out how to remove the blades so that we could carry the hilts on our belts. This is probably why I have such a saber fetish today!
Finally we had to take a trip by the area dedicated to the 501st, Mandalorian Mercs and Rebel Legion. The craftsmanship of these groups is simply amazing. They had a wonderful fundraiser that allowed the kids to take shots at Vader while he blocked them. I had the opportunity to talk shop with some of the other saber enthusiasts. I really hope that Disney fosters the home-made fan items as much as Lucas did and doesn’t go into corporate mode with a future CEO.
There were some amazing vehicles represented as well, but the coup de grace was a homemade landspeeder replica! It was the smart vehicle equivalent, but amazing in all its detail. It was close to the end of the day after that, and so we headed home completely tired but satisfied.
It was an overall wonderful experience. I was amazed at how many people attended, and as the day grew long, it seemed like more and more were arriving. Reports were that for all three days over 50,000 people attended. If I had to take some lessons from my experience, I would definitely advocate that you purchase your photo-op passes early and online. Ideally I would have loved to attend all three days with VIP passes, but a Dark Lord of Tax’s work is never done and other duties called on Friday night and Sunday. I’m also going to bring a better camera! It was a shame missing Stan Lee, but I see that he is going to be at Comicpalooza in Houston Memorial Day Weekend. Now how to convince the Lady Taxus…