Last week (on a whim) I responded to an ad on Craig’s List looking for contributors to an up and coming local website here in Atlanta. I figured “Eh, what can it hurt?’ I’ve stalled out with my screenplay and was really looking for something to spark up my writing again. Doubtful I would even hear back, I just filed it away so you can imagine my surprise when the owner of TheBackstageBeat.com (Ange) contacted me with interest. She liked my blog and felt that I might be quite nifty in the movie/t.v./music/burger review area.
I was in serious disbelief but super stoked and promised to have something soon. Little did I realize that she would be asking me to help cover Atlanta’s first Comic Con! When she told me I’d have a press pass and everything, I thought it was a joke. Goof ball me with a press pass? Is she insane? Nevertheless, I humbly accepted my task and spent this last Friday night searching my closet for the perfect t-shirt (Kenny Powers) and the rest tossing and turning with anticipation and excitement.
Disclaimer: This was the least fortuitous time to discover that my camera is singing it’s swan song so that’s why many of my pics either didn’t come out or appear grainy. Please forgive and Santa….please bring me a new camera this year!
As I stood in the lobby of the Cobb Galleria trying to keep warm and awaiting Ange’s arrival (and much needed instruction), I noticed an elderly black gentleman just beyond the glass, smoking a cigar. He was quite dapper wearing a brown slider, tweed blazer and crisply pressed jeans. “Is that Richard Roundtree?” I mused to myself. It didn’t totally look like him but I knew he was supposed to be there. Should I say something? What if it’s not him? Turns out I was right. It was him and I should have. Bollocks! Either way, I still got to watch “Shaft” toke down on a stogie right in front of me and it was cool as hell.
Ange arrived moments later and was just as nice as I thought she’d be. We made our way to the press line and low and behold right in front of us was Tim Andrews. Tim has been a popular, local celebrity now for many years as a member of the The Regular Guys morning show here in Atlanta as well as it’s executive producer. I’ve been a huge fan of the show for 10 years or so and it was really cool to be in the same press line with someone I admire so much. His impersonations are out of this world and he’s just as cool and funny in person as he is on the show. I should’ve taken a pic but I was still freaking out at this point that I was even there!
We made it inside and Ange cut me loose with the directive to interview as many folks as I could and just try to capture the vibe of the whole thing. Admittedly, I was pretty overwhelmed looking around at all the booths of comic book creators, vendors and of course…… celebrities! The fan in me had to drink those in first. Especially when I saw Fred Williamson momentarily unoccupied at his booth.
Fred is the epitome of Ol’skool cool and if it were still the seventies and I was single…..well let’s just say “Black Caesar” would have been in trouble! Forewarning here, I was absolutely still a bundle of “what the freak do I say?” so our interaction wasn’t as awesome as I would have liked but here’s the gist.
Me: Oh my God, I loved in you “From Dusk Till Dawn”. You were such a badass.
Fred: Well thank you my dear. I appreciate that.
Me: Yeah this is such a trip, I just saw “Shaft” outside smoking a cigar and now you! Only….. I wasn’t sure if it was him till it was too late.
Fred: Ummm…don’t feel too bad about that. Richard’s had a lot of umm….surgical procedures so he’s not quite as recognizable as he once was.
Me: Oh wow, I didn’t know that. Well you still look the same! Just as handsome as you always were.
(He smiled coyly before responding.)
Fred: I know. That’s because I only eat BLACK jelly beans. You gotta stay away from the WHITE one’s ya know?
Me: That’s cuz the white one’s try to hold you down right?
He must have liked that as he laughed pretty hard so I figured I should end on a high note and I skipped away.
The still strikingly beautiful Pam Grier was in the booth right beside of him but she was completely covered up, so I moved down to Vivica A. Fox.
I was a bit surprised to see her at something like this but it does make sense with her turn in “Kill Bill” and all. What an incredibly nice lady. I just assumed she’d be stuck up or something because she’s so gorgeous but not in the least. I gushed about how her fight scene with Uma Thurman in “Volume One” was unarguably one of the best “on screen” chick battles in cinema history. She was so gracious and thankful for the compliment and explained how when it was completed, she counted over 40 bruises on her body. I had not realized that she and Uma really mixed it up but she claimed the majority came from the brutal choreography with how she landed and fell as they thrashed through the kitchen/living room.
I was dying to talk to Henry Winkler who was close by but totally swamped so I stepped over and chatted with the The Suicide Girls for a moment.The pic I took sucks so much balls but I think you can still make out how pretty they are.
They were all very sweet and I told them how much I enjoyed their site. I also asked if they had considered “what it will be like someday to have a big saggy tit covered in a giant, green panther when they are 80?” A collective giggle ensued but the overwhelming response was…”Hey, it’s gonna be a big, saggy tit anyways. At least ours will be colorful!” Can’t argue with that.
Still no Winkler availability but how awesome was it that two of the main zombies from the The Walking Dead series were there? Truly. I freaking LOVE that show and have been a zombie junkie ever since I saw “Return of the Living Dead” when I was 10. There were actually several zombies from the series present but Sonya and Larry were the only ones I really spoke to.
Both were quite lovely individuals and very grateful for their fans. Sonya is the first “professional” zombie I have ever met.
I had no clue she was in another of my favorite flicks (Zombieland) but unfortunately, her scene was cut. However, if you buy the BluRay/DVD, you will find her chowin’ down on some brains like nobody’s bidness. Damn she’s scary as all get out in her makeup. When I asked her “how does one become a professional zombie?” she declared with great mirth that she owes it to her flexibility AND the ability to make strange faces. I received a demonstration of both and was quite impressed. She explained that it takes about two hours to get into the makeup including all the crud and stuff that goes on her teeth but she loves doing it so it’s no big deal. I gushed about how excited I was to watch the impending Season finale of the “Walking Dead” this Sunday night and was delighted to find out that it has been picked up for 13 more episodes and will begin shooting again in the Spring. Yay! The 6 episodes this season just weren’t enough. Such a kick ass show.
Finally alone, finally approachable…..Henry Winkler.
I was speechless as we stood staring at each other as he held my wrists in his hands. Ultimately the only thing I could muster was “This is so surreal” to which he responded “It’s surreal for me too. You’re beautiful” and gave me the warmest embrace. OMG, I completely Happy Glazed in my pants. I’ve had this weird skin thing on my upper lip that was still healing and I felt like Joaquin Phoenix right up until that very moment. He was so sweet and I was unable to say anything else except that he looks just like my boss. Afterwards, I kicked myself repeatedly for not telling him how great he is on Children’s Hospital or how I heard him on the “Regular Guys” that week and how funny he was. Lesson learned for the novice- Don’t get star struck or you may blow golden opportunities.
There were many more celebs there like Adam West, Mimi Rogers, Burt Ward and Ernie Hudson but it was time to forge into the fans. First up was Chris from Stockbridge, Ga.
Chris was…..interesting. I loved his vest and you can’t really see all of the patches he had applied to it but one his fav’s and the main reason he came to Comic Con was “The Fonz”. He said that he had met him and when asked if his expectations were met, his reply was “not really”. Of course I was shocked since my meeting with him was so great but Chris confessed that he thought Winkler was kinda weirded out by his appearance. Ayyyyyy…not too cool Fonz. Overall, he was still having a blast though. I’d say Chris has a thick skin going by his outfit.
Nathaniel had popped over from Marietta with his parents to check out the “Batmobile”. Sadly, it wasn’t at the Con but his mom said he was still having a good time anyways. I never realized how Batman might actually be even more kick ass with a light saber till I saw this kid.
The Georgia chapter of the “Ghostbusters”. Totally new to me! I had no idea that many folks were still into them but being a Magnum owner, I died upon seeing their new ride.
I met Duanne in the hall and was completely blown away by her costume.
She designed this bubble head nurse from the “Silent Hill” franchise all on her own and attends these types of conventions regularly. She debuted this outfit at Dragon*Con this year and got such an incredible response that she decided to show it off again. Duanne’s feelings on Comic Con in comparison were flattering overall. She felt that even though it was a much smaller con, it was very well organized and had a great crowd. She would definitely come again next year. And let me also elaborate that I talked to Duanne for about 20 minutes and she may be one and nicest folks I’ve ever met.
“Danger Woman” is not only a fan but also a local crime fighter and reoccurring guest on “The Regular Guys” show. She had but one mission at this event- to deliver Christmas presents to her favorite super heroes “The Flash” and “The Diffuser”. Thankfully and to her extreme delight, both cherished her heartfelt gifts of Axe body spray and happy Yuletide greetings. She was beside herself but still remembered to wish ME the most wonderful Holiday season ever. What a doll.
Mark Hofmeyer was one of the main handlers when it came to shooing the public from simply just walking up and bothering Adam West and Burt Ward who were center stage. This handsome chap is an actor/writer who just recently moved here from Tampa to be with his girlfriend and capitalize on Atlanta’s boom in the film industry. He just wrapped a small indie flick filmed here called “The Ivy League” and just so happened to pop into the Galleria a few days ago to ask if they needed help with the convention. They did!
I spoke with a few others as well but didn’t get pics of everybody including Jeff from Atlanta. Jeff is a very seasoned Con goer and seemed quite pleased with how easy Comic Con was to maneuver vs. the behemoth that is Dragon*Con. He especially liked the moderate size and the short waits to meet celebs.
“I mean, I walked right into that Adam West Q and A/ “Family Guy” screening with no issues. At Dragon*Con you may have had to wait two hours for something like that”.
True dat Jeff. I walked right into it also and to quote Peter Griffin, the 12 minute preview for their “Return of the Jedi” spoof was “freakin’ hilarious.” Too slow on the draw, I missed the Q and A though. Doh! But very luckily, I didn’t miss the scene where Peter is unthawed ala Han Solo and it made me laugh so hard that I coughed up some of my soft pretzel.
There were a couple of technical difficulties wherein the sound F’d up and they had to play with it for a few minutes. However, the laughs still kept coming during our forced intermission when someone shouted out “Whose putting this on? Comcast?” Ha!
After that I decided to delve into the whole reason there is a Comic Con- The comic book creators/artists and vendors. There were a ton of huge names in the comic book world there such as Bill Sienkiewicz, Greg Horn and Humberto Ramos just to name a few but I gravitated towards some of the NOT as well known since those other dudes were gettin’ mega coverage. Plus I still kinda suck at this and hoped these guys would be more forgiving.
Chris with Urban Pop was such a sweetie. I posted his photo a bit larger just so you can see what he does more clearly. Along with his original stuff, he also likes to take completed paintings and put his own creative spin on them by adding his super cute creatures. I adored his style and when asked why he started doing it he replied that it was in response to those folks out there who love art but have a hard time affording it. Thanks Chris!
Jay Potts was just incredible. We could’ve talked all day about Blaxploitation films and their corresponding soundtracks. He was especially intrigued by my knowledge of Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes and revealed that the composer of the soundtrack for “Black Dynamite” offered to do one for “World Of Hurt”. His comic is offered only online at this time and is not a parody of the genre in anyway. Jay was kind of tired of how people seemed to poke so much fun at the old stuff like “Shaft” and “Cleopatra Jones” and decided to take a more “no nonsense” approach when it came to his story. I can dig it.
Kevin Leen does the most AMAZING water colors which is significant in the realms of the comic world as there aren’t many others doing it. As you can see behind him, his work speaks for itself and he and his writer/partner Brett Pinson (also a dear!) are the creators of FantasticStoryTimes. Ok, it was the end of a long day and the story he was describing was so complex I won’t even attempt to do it justice here, but he gave me an exclusive shot that will be used in an upcoming story called “Kid Chaos vs. The Space Zombies”. I thought it was wicked.
And then there was the illustrious Mr. Marcus….
Although his comic hasn’t completely come to fruition yet (still in development) he says he was inspired by the ever evolving socio-political state that we as Americans are finding ourselves in. Just going by the artwork, I think he’ll get his point across. It’s phenomenal.
I met several vendors also but by far my favorite was Chad from Apocalypse Comics.
An incredibly charming dude that hails from Myrtle Beach, S.C. who is totally passionate about the industry. Chad does several of these types of shows a year and usually fairs well. He had an extensive collection of “The Walking Dead” series for sell and explained that if you are into them, buy the hardcovers. While they are more expensive, Chad says you’ll be much more pleased if you just cough up the bucks as you won’t have to buy so many of the paperbacks. Plus, they’re just totally sweet. He told me some people say he reminds them of Kid Rock. I told him that he shouldn’t sell himself short like that. Unlike Kid Rock, he doesn’t suck!
Well that wraps up this newbies coverage and my hope is that you are still awake and more informed about Atlanta’s Comic Con than you were before. I would love to thank Ange and all the folks over at The Backstage Beat for the opportunity and the encouragement. It was my first event of this nature and I was LOVIN’ it. Can’t wait to go back next year! Which, incidentally, has already been scheduled for December 3rd and 4th of 2011. I guess they just knew it was gonna kill and in my humble opinion, they were right.