Previewing Dallas Comic Con from A to Z

Dallas Comic Con, that annual ode to pop-culture nerdery, arrives at the Irving Convention Center this weekend. If it's anything like last year's, it will be glorious.

But for noobs and vets alike, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. So we've created a simple-to-follow-if-you-know-your-A-B-Cs glossary, to give you the rundown of the good, the bad and the ugly of Dallas Comic Con.

See also: The Costumes of Dallas Comic Con '12

Akira Akira, the greatest animated film ever made, will be on display with memorabilia and animation cels from curator and Akira fanatic Joe Peacock. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the film, which is the perfect time to turn a new generation into loyal legions to boycott that nasty live-action rumor.

Boyhood crushes Natasha Henstridge (Species), Kristanna Loken (Terminator 3) and Kelly Hu (X-Men 2), who all caused my pause button to break on all my VHS players, will be on hand throughout the weekend. These women toed the line between hero and villain with their characters, giving even more existential drama to my teenage crushes.

Costume Contest
Swagging out in your favorite comic character costume is a given. But how about winning a prize for all those hours spent making that Malakili the Rancor Keeper costume? It starts at 5:30 on Sunday, and the first 100 costumed contestants will be allowed to participate, so get there early.

D-List Actors Tony Amendola! Andrew McCarthy! Ernie Hudson! Seventies and '80s babies rejoice! Now you can tell your pre-teen "kind-of" crush, "sort-of" idol and "somewhat" hero how much you miss their face in mainstream media.

Early Arrival It's the key to everything. You can't do everything, so plan for that one thing you can't miss.

Firefly Now that being a nerd is actually cool, there's one series true nerds still have for themselves: Firefly. Before Avengers, the great and powerful Joss Whedon created this masterful sci-fi epic in the early 2000s. Ladies, prepare yourself: Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) and the ultra-sexy Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin) will be in attendance.

Good Causes Austin Browncoats, the Josh Whedon-loving nonprofit, will have a booth to raise awareness of their efforts to work to end violence and discrimination in all sectors of society.

Hero of Hoth "Right now, I feel like I could take on the whole Empire myself" -- Dak Ralter. Manning his T-47 Airspeeder, these were Dak's last words before an AT-AT shot and killed him, then stomped on him, cementing his legendary status to all. The actor who played Dak, John Morton, will be in attendance. Go salute this Star Wars hero.

Irving Convention Center The 50,000-square-foot, three-level building is sure to accommodate the hordes of nerds flooding into it during Comic Con. But for those who need more than what the massive complex can provide, Irving is also home to some of the seediest strip clubs and porno shops in the metroplex. (And other things, we're sure.) Enjoy.

"Jump" Options It pays to be a VIP. Those with the fattest pockets can shell out for VIP wristbands that allow you to pass all other autograph hounds for a premier place in line for the select autograph guests. Choose wisely, though: You only have four opportunities on your VIP punchcard.

Kick-Ass Creator John Romita Jr., who's signing autographs and giving a 2 p.m. talk on Saturday, is best known as the creator of the kick-ass Kick-Ass series. A one-trick pony he ain't, though: Here's a short list of his past collaborations, tenures and creations: 1970s Iron Man, 1980s Amazing Spider-Man (he co-created Hobgoblin), Uncanny X-Men, Daredevil, (he helped co-create Typhoid Mary), Daredevil: The Man Without Fear (written by Frank Miller), Punisher: War Zone, the original Cable mini-series, The Mighty Thor, a return to Iron Man, Wolverine, Black Panther, The Sentry, World War Hulk, The Avengers and The Eternals (for which he collaborated with Neil Gaiman).

Lost & Found Located on the first floor, make sure you check in here for all lost Lightsabers, Batarangs and Power Rings.

Money Bring it. Lots of it. Autographs are pricey and so are photo ops. Save a few bills for La Zona Rosa

Good luck and Godspeed, friends. The ratio is not strong but your will is.

Outlawed Items
No functional weapons allowed. All costume weapons must be inspected by "UNIFORMED IRVING POLICE at the Weapons Check Desk in the main lobby." Also: "Projectile costume weapons must be rendered inoperable. Costume swords must be tied to your costume in such a way that they can't be drawn."

Translation: Don't be a dumbass.

Power Rangers My fucking hero, Jason David Frank, aka The Green Ranger, aka The White Ranger, aka the baddest dude to ever rock a mini ponytail, will be in the house. Katherine Hillard, the half-cat former evil spy and second Pink Ranger will be there too. But seriously: Jason David Frank!

Quiet Time
You'll need some. After each day of getting drained from nerding-out, there's plenty of space in the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and bars to refuel and take a break from all the activity.

Regret The best part about regretting spending your savings on comics and collectibles is that it comes the day after, not during.

Strangers in Paradise I always figured Terry Moore was a woman. The quirky, offbeat love story Moore created between two best friends, Francine and Katchoo, had to be written by a woman. My pre-teen brain couldn't imagine a guy being able to write such intimate, awkward dialogue between two young females. My misconception proved to be fruitful, and gave me the courage to start my career writing soft-core erotic fiction featuring Batman super-villains.

Trekkie All Stars
(SNG's) Levar Burton, Gates McFadden and Brent Spiner will all be on hand, the same weekend the new Star Trek movie opens nationwide.

Undressed Star of the MTV soap opera Undressed Brandon Routh will be on hand, although he may want to talk about that other thing he did.

Voice of Batman Argue all you want about who was the best Batman (Michael Keaton FTW), but no one can argue who did the best Batman growl. From the 1990s animated series to Arkham City, Kevin Conroy is the Batman Comic Con deserves, the one it needs, and, most importantly, the one it gets.

William Shatner The man, the myth, the legend, the credit-card shill. If that isn't enough to get you going, I'll quote the great George Takei: "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on."

X-Men Legacy Cover artist Mark Brooks will be there -- a bad-ass artist and a great example of comics illustration as "fine art."

Younger Generations
People from all ages attend the event, but re-launches, reboots and re-animations of popular classic comic characters are making lifetime fans of every new generation.

Zero The number of fucks that will be given about lines, money or location this weekend. For true comic geeks, this is a once-a-year opportunity to meet their heroes, and nothing can stop that train.

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