I am a nerd. Not the type to wear a shirt that says "Han shot first," or the kind that says Klingon prayers before bed, but the kind that finds himself knee deep in a novel on a Friday night rather than ankle high in my own vodka-induced vomit. I'm a book worm, not a comic caper; a mongrel of heady movies, not a surveyor of sci-fi heroes.
But despite my lack of Spock speak or knowledge of Chewbacca trivia, I have never felt more at home in a strange land than I have at Dallas Comic Con: Fan Days. The following is an observation of the best and the weirdest things that happened this weekend at the event.
The Best 1. The fans. Never has there ever been a more unique and passionate stew of people at one venue. There were Trekkies, Star Wars fans, super-hero buffs, zombie apocalypse survival trainers, action figurine customizers and original show animators, and the list could stretch into infinity and beyond. The diversity of the fans was refreshing, and everyone rubbed elbows in peace. Pictures were incredibly easy to come by, and a few of the more creatively costumed even had a range of preset poses ready for the cameras.
2. Bruce Campbell was hilarious, endearing, and captivating. His Q&A session was packed, and met by the loudest yawps of laughter. He discussed life on set of the cult classic "The Evil Dead" franchise, cooked up a mean Joe Pesci impression, and vocalized his distaste for the MPAA rating system. The fans in attendance would playfully dig at him, and he would dig right back with quick wits and rated-R language.
3. The merchandise was overwhelmingly awesome, and equally widespread. Original works of fan art--ranging from pen drawings to watercolor, costumes, weaponry fit for a zombie apocalypse, autographed photos and collectible toys. The stars of the extensive line of products were the comics. There were thousands of comics for sale, and the most popular way to buy non mint condition comics was to build your own box for 100$. The more expensive comic books--ranging in price from 20$- to the low thousands--were meticulously placed in plastic wrap out of reach from the adoring nerds nearby. "Do not touch" signs were prevalent.
4. The accessibility of the stars on hand was fantastic. Simultaneously inhabiting one room were the following nerd-dom rulers: Robert Englund (Freddy Kruger), Sean Astin (Rudy, Sam Samwise), Dina Meyer and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers), Gina Torres and Alan Tudyk (Serenity); in a room nearby were Star Wars cast members Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), and Dave Prowse (Man in the Darth Vader suit). The lines were short, and the actors talkative. What amazed me most was the appreciation the actors showed for the fans. The people we typically put on pedestals were human for a day, and they understood who made them famous: the fans.
Next up: The Weird and the Awesome, including The Joker, Western-style.
The Weird and Awesome 1. The fan fiction ranged from series spinoffs to truly unique creations of craziness. "The Paunk Show" created by Mark Largent is an animated puppet parody of a classic Star Trek episode. Animated puppets=pure awesomeness. Visit Paunk.com for more info. A quick description of a Gloria Oliver novel: "Serve the undead or become one of them. Kidnapped by undead samurai, will Toshi be able to survive?" I grabbed a copy to find out.
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2. The zombification of pop culture icons was everywhere. Would you like an original painting of an undead Samuel L. Jackson? Or of Marilyn Monroe? How about an ink composition of zombie Luke Skywalker? You can have all of these. Zombies and zombie protection gear were everywhere at Dallas Fan Days.
3. Misguided costumes. See western Joker, and Jabba-the-pimp.