Over October 16-18, 2015, the Irving Convention Center was once again host to Dallas Comic Con Fan Days. Though the stars were smaller than usual, the event was no less star-studded with celebrities like Xena‘s own Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor headlining the vent. Other guests included Bonnie Wright (Harry Potter), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings), Jason Momoa (Games of Thrones and the upcoming Aquaman film), and Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead). The comic guests were headlined by Chris Claremot, and then a whole bunch of industry men. (How about some women, DCC? There’s plenty of them and they’re creating top titles right now. I have a list if you need one. Women seem to be lacking at all the DCC events.) Some regulars like Steve Erwin were there, but honestly, I’m getting tired of the wall of men when there are a lot of amazing female creators I’d love to meet. Some regular groups also came with booths, or entire rooms in some cases. The 501st Legion was there with photo stations and a toy drive for Toys for Tots. Tulsa Tardis brought their TARDIS. And Visionary Entertainment Inc. brought Halo cosplayers and a Halo 5 drop pod simulation ride. Another room hosted UGC (Ultimate Gaming Championship), where for a small fee con goers could enter tournaments for games like Smash Bros. and Halo. A few popular cosplayers also had booths to promote themselves and a variety of photographed prints.
Vendors included the usual sellers of comics, figures, and costumes, though I noticed a few more craft oriented booths this time around selling weapons, props, costumes, and accessories made by hand. Friendly neighborhood artists like Thomas Branch and Eddie Medina manned booths, along with a plethora of other artists selling fan art and original work in varying styles (Jason Oakes is a particular favorite of mine). One thing I want to mention here – the art displays in artists alley are getting out of control. Massive displays that block views or take up so much space that only a person’s head peeks out to greet you are tacky and rather obnoxious. There’s no need to put every single piece you’re selling out on display. Let your artwork speak for you, not a boastful quantity. Another mention – prices keep rising. It’s most frustrating when shopping for vinyl POP figures, which typically retail for $10. They used to sell for that at these conventions, too, but now they’re going anywhere from $12-15 to start, then up from there for “rare” figures. I can’t justify buying them at conventions anymore. Really, I can’t justify buying much at all at conventions these days as prices tend to be designed to rip customers off (with some exceptions at excellently run booths). I will also say that I’ve noticed an increase in booths that cater to the anime crowd, which is great since there’s plenty of cross over between fandoms.
If shopping wasn’t your thing, the celebrities were also selling autographs and photo ops. I was fortunate enough to manage an amazing photo with both Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor; expensive, but worth it. Unfortunately, because it was so expensive, and because they were only there on Saturday (and I believe the early part of Sunday morning), I couldn’t get them to sign it as well. I imagine I’m far from the only person with such a problem, and that’s definitely a down side to conventions like this. The money adds up, fast, and it can be a struggle (though a privileged one, to be sure) deciding where those precious dollars will go. That’s less about fans having a great experience and more about how much money can be made off them. Plenty of fans do get a great experience, though; I saw some amazing photos with Jason Momoa, and heard about John Rhys-Davies tickling people to get a genuine smile.
There were other things to do, of course, as Fan Days hosted several Q&A celebrity panels, including one with Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor, and another advertised as “The Karate Kid Reunion” featuring Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, and Martin Kove. The 501st presented a panel on cosplaying for charity (although it shared its time slot with a James Marsters Q&A, even though they were the only two panels on Friday), several of the comic industry guests had Q&As (including Claremont), and a group of cosplayer guests talked about creation, modeling, and photography.
Friday was an odd day. There was very little to do. Most of the guests (celebrity and comic industry) weren’t even there. There were two panels, in the same time slot. Some artist alley vendors hadn’t yet arrived. Cosplayers were there, but overall attendance was minimal. Which is just as well since there was so little to do. After I got my work for the day done, I did my best to kill time until the con closed at 8pm. Saturday was much better. Photos, autographs, and panels throughout the day, as well as the Cosplay Red Carpet and the Costume Contest. Dallas brought its best, as usual, and several costumes blew attendees away. Sunday was less busy, but still fun, with a more relaxed atmosphere. And, of course, the Kids’ Costume Contest.
Aside from a very dull Friday, the convention had plenty to offer. The numbers seemed lower than they did in February, however, and I’m not sure what to attribute that to. Were the celebrities not big enough? A minor Weasley, instead of Fred and George? Several celebrity repeats? (That’s certainly not a complaint from me, because hooray more chances, but it might lessen the draw regardless.) Or have people wised up to how small the ICC is and are saving their money and time for June’s big event? February was so bad floors were being cut off from each other in an effort to control the crowd. I never felt too packed in this time. One notable absence was any sort of official after party. The last two or three DCC events have ended Saturday’s fun with a party at a local watering hole (past events have been held at the Gas Monkey and Table and Tavern, the latter of which unfortunately has closed, and that may be part of the issue – finding a suitable location). Some fans created their own events, with a gathering at Main Event on Friday night and a dinner meet up at the local Cheddar’s on Saturday. (Others, including myself, sped out to Richardson for a showing of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Alamo Drafthouse.)
The next DCC event will be Fan Days in February, the 13-14, 2016. Hope to see you there!