On May 17-19, 2013, the Irving Convention Center was home to Dallas Comic Con. Your friendly neighborhood editor was able to attend, and I have plenty of things to tell you and pictures to share. First, I’d like to apologize for the delay in this write up. My husband and I are about to close on a house, so things have been really crazy around here. Second, I’d like to say that I had a blast this year with my friend and fellow photographer Heather Amaral (who was kind enough to provide me with some extra photos), but the con had plenty of problems that hampered the joy of the event.
Like last year, this year’s Dallas Comic Con was held at the Irving Convention Center in Las Colinas, in Irving, Texas. And also like last year, the con has outgrown this venue. The company that runs DCC, Dallas Fan Days, and the Dallas Sci-Fi convention has hosted all three events there, and while they do listen to fan complaints, it’s just not enough. This year it was obvious they tried to take certain things into consideration. For example, to try and cut down on the crowds they added an extra day (Friday) to the convention. To deal with the long lines, they turned the bottom floor of the building’s connected parking garage into, well, a really long line. It didn’t seem to speed anything along at all, though it did keep people out of the sun. And put them into the humid and stuffy parking garage instead. As far as I could tell, there was a single line in the garage, and then once they let people into the building it split into people who had already bought their badges, and people who had not (though I want to say I saw some people with “bar codes” cutting in at the door, but I’m not sure if that was VIP or just anyone who had already purchased a pass online). There’s no reason why there couldn’t have been separate lines outside for that, feeding people into separate doors. As for me, I wasn’t even allowed into the building until someone came to escort me inside, as the person guarding the door (the one door they were letting people into) apparently didn’t know what to do with me. Did I have media credentials? No, because I had to pick them up – inside (and my business card wasn’t convincing I guess). That was really the only problem I had with the staff all weekend, though.
So let’s start with Friday. Friday was great. There were hardly any lines to speak of (once you got inside). There was plenty of room to walk around and breathe. Even upstairs with the media guests, Friday was your best chance to not only get an autograph, but say a few words with your guest of choice (or choices). There was nary a line to be found. Attendees could walk right up and get their autograph.
There were media guests everywhere, really, and very few lines on Friday. The Star Trek guests were downstairs in the dealer room, but I wasn’t allowed to take photographs. These guests have a contract with the official convention photographers (the people you pay to have your photo taken with the stars), and they’re fairly strict about not allowing guests or media to take photos. John Romita Jr. was down there too, and he kindly allowed me to photograph him sketching for a fan.
Also upstairs, outside the ballroom and media guest autograph room, there were even more guests, including the original green/white Power Ranger Jason David Frank, Ghostbusters‘ Ernie Hudson, and The Voice of The Batman Kevin Conroy.
The dealer’s room, located on the bottom floor of the center, on Friday was blissfully free of crowds. It was very easy to move around, take photographs, and talk with people. Though the items on display were a little disappointing this year. Most of the same old same old. Plenty of artists were scattered throughout the booths, like Jeff Balke, Amanda Connor, writer Jimmy Palmiotti (whom I noticed having a very pleasant conversation with John Romita Jr. during the con), …………………….. Neither Heather nor I did much shopping. She won a print off an artist for performing a magic card trick for him, which she then had colored by Jeff Balke. She performed a card trick for him, as well, and for some of the many children attending the con (Heather cosplayed as Zatanna from DC Comics all weekend, and is an actual magician in a travelling circus).
I also sat in on Kevin Conroy’s Friday night Q&A, the audio for which will come in another post this week. Jason David Frank also spoke Friday night, and I have a few photos I will share along with Conroy’s audio. Friday was definitely the most pleasant and productive day. Had a small problem with the staff before one of the Q&As, when a staff member told me that media could sit in the VIP section (which as usual was about 75% empty), but security later came in and made me move…so that about 7 VIP people could move in and claim their seats. I understand the whole VIP thing. They’re selling a set number of tickets and reserving a set number of seats, but these people don’t all attend, and it looks bad to have all these empty seats up front and center. Plus everyone just moves to fill the spaces anyway once the panels start. Surely there’s a better way to do this.
Saturday was a disaster, at least early on. When Heather and I arrived about an hour after the convention opened, it was nearly impossible to maneuver the con floor. We tried navigating the dealer room, but it was wall to wall packed with people. We tried to go upstairs for the panels, but the lines for the escalators were long (the single escalator in the building, along with two elevators they were reserving for the handicapped, and a large stairway outside they apparently weren’t letting people use), and nearly unmoving. Staff was there, clearly trying to organize and keep things moving, and help keep the escalators from breaking down. Which they did anyway. In any case, it was quite clear we weren’t going to get anywhere or get anything done, and the massively packed crowd was pushing my anxiety off the charts. I ended up leaving and going home, only to return a few hours later when the crowds had died down to manageable levels.
I returned specifically to catch the costume contest, which unfortunately had been moved to a much smaller room than the previous year (from a room that could accommodate about 2000 people to one that only held around 200). The main ballroom was reserved for a special Q&A with Nathan Fillion. Now, given that Fillion canceled his appearance, one would think they might have moved the costume contest to the larger area. Instead they gave the spot over to another Kevin Conroy Q&A (in fact, Mr. Conroy was kind enough to take over Fillion’s Sunday slot as well), which is all well and fine, except this was the costume contest room:
Packed to the brim. The people crammed up front are all the people entering the contest. There were even more of them out in the hallway. Needless to say, we ditched the contest. There was really no getting in there comfortably and still be able to take any worthwhile photos.
Sunday was back to the low crowd size. In fact, I think it was even smaller than Friday. Heather and I chose this day to cosplay (together; she’d been walking around as Zatanna all weekend). It was a ton of fun experiencing that side of the convention, getting stopped for photos from fans and parents who wanted a picture of the magician and her rabbit with their kids.
Sunday was smooth sailing, and overall the con was a lot of fun. There was just that massive cluster fuck Saturday morning. And another nightmare year of parking (seriously, are they ever going to pave that field, or build a parking garage?). There were some nice things this year. A couple of food trucks were parked out front the center, one selling cupcakes, and the cuisine of the other escapes me right now. The convention once again chartered shuttles to take people from the parking garage down the street to the convention center, and they ran regularly (except when they got stuck in traffic on Saturday). According to C2 Ventures (the company that runs all three cons), over 25,000 people attended DCC over the three days (compared to about 20,000 over two days last year).
There were other things going on at the con besides spending money and more money, and attending guest Q&A panels. Heather Henry from SyFy’s Face/Off special effects makeup reality series provided makeup classes and cosplay tips, the 501st was back for some Star Wars fun, and Bigfanboy.com was there giving away movie posters and the like (the line for that was pretty insane). There was also a unique little exhibit called “One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages,” which has been touring with a collection of newspaper comics new and old, which were all published in papers together on a single Sunday.
Keep coming back this week for the audio to Kevin Conroy’s Friday Q&A panel, as well as plenty of cosplay photos of great costumes throughout the convention.