Austin Comic Con
By Jacqui Devaney
We started in the tradeshow. It was a maze of comic books, novelty T-shirts, collectible action figures, games and exhibitions. All the while, hoards of people, some dressed normally and many not, flocked through the aisles in order to catch a glimpse at an ultra-rare first edition Spiderman comic, admire the craftsmanship of handmade replicas of Thor’s hammer or get in line for an autograph from Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead. One of the most incredible things about the tradeshow was the enormous amount of talented artists and writers taking part in exhibition booths. This group of creatives was headed by none other than Stan Lee himself.
Local talent was also stationed throughout, including Dexter Wood, a comic-book artist based in Austin. He weighed in on what it’s like to be a part of Comic Con.
“Selling my work for the first time at Comic Con felt like a big step towards an even bigger dream,” Wood says. “I’ve been drawing all my life and it felt great to finally see my plans come to fruition. I didn’t care if I sold a lot of prints or none at all; just being around all of that creative energy was enough.”
On Saturday, waves of Star Trek uniforms and costumes hurdled to the fourth floor in order to catch a whiff of Scott Bakula (Star Trek: Enterprise, Quantum Leap) and the original Captain James T. Kirk himself, William Shatner. Fans lined up behind microphones positioned in the aisles in hopes that their turn would come to ask these legendary science fiction actors a question or two. One favorite question to these final frontier television explorers was: If given the chance, would you actually go into space? Shatner gave the crowd a thoughtful look and then answered with a stern “No!” as the crowd roared with laughter.
One thoughtful questioner asked the pair how they felt playing “mirror universe” characters. Bakula reminisced that it “was the closest I could get to my childhood dream. When I saw these guys, this guy, on television, I wanted so much to be on that ship with them. I wanted so much to be a part of the relationship that they had going. So, when we got the script and we knew that they were going to rebuild the bridge and break out the old costumes, I knew it was the closest I was ever going to get. And I was so enamored. … I adored [Shatner] and his work and that crew, so for me, it was like a little bit of a mirrored universe in reality. And nobody can do that like him. Let’s just be clear.”
In case you need any relationship advice from the universe’s No. 1 ladies’ man, Shatner left us with this: “A man-and-woman relationship is unique in every case. In its uniqueness, you have to make your own decisions and your own explorations. Do it with courage, my friend.”
Next up was a panel with noteworthy film director and Austinite Robert Rodriguez. The focus of his chat was Frank Frazetta, widely considered to be one of the greatest science fiction and fantasy artists to date. Rodriguez featured a pop-up museum of 10 of Frazetta’s original paintings, including Deathdealer and Egyptian Queen at Comic Con. He is also working on a film based on Frazetta’s work Fire and Ice.
A short documentary was shown of Frank Miller, whose Sin City comic illustrations were used as the inspiration for Rodriguez’s films. The documentary depicts Miller’s feelings of being overwhelmed by Frazetta’s paintings.
“Frazetta knew what dreams were,” Miller said.
In addition to Fire and Ice, Miller and Rodriguez are anticipating Sin City 2, premiering next August in 3D. Rodriguez also reported on his partnering with new television network El Rey Networks, which will showcase an original series this winter that expands his film From Dusk Till Dawn in to 10 episodes.
And, of course, how could we even talk about Comic Con without mentioning the cosplayers? A few award-winning costumes came in the form of the TARDIS, Voltron, Batgirl, an entire group based on Assassin’s Creed and Catwoman (armored edition). The art of cosplay is serious and well-crafted. Almost all of the costumes are handmade during the course of many hours, or in some cases, days or even months, with great attention to detail and accuracy. Many costumes are so accurate, they almost rival the movie-quality costumes that they were originally modeled after.