This pack weekend in an unusually cold Dallas, Texas, thousands of fans gathered at the Irving Convention Center to attend Dallas SciFi Expo, a two-day event featuring some of the biggest stars in current and past SciFi television and movies. Among the celebrities attending were Stephen Amell (TV’s Arrow), Karen Gillen (Doctor Who), Karl Urban (Star Trek and Almost Human), Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws), and more!
Amongst those thousands? IoM’s very own Aron and Paulie! That’s right – Funnybooks was in effect at the SciFi Expo! We went with goals in mind – find some awesome deals in the dealer room, and meet Lee Majors, Lindsay Wagner, and Stephen Amell! Did we achieve our goals? Find out, along with a ton of pics, after the jump!
We started day one pretty early. With doors opening to the public at 11, we would be allowed to enter the dealer room at 10, and to pick up our badges at 9. After checking in, all guests were led to the fourth floor of the Irving Convention Center, a giant building that looked like a modern day sandcrawler from a distance.
There, all registered guests were allowed to watch a short cosplay showcase of the folks who had arrived already while waiting to be let into the dealer room. It was a fun start to the con, with cosplay of varying degrees of success on display and a good energy to the room.
At 10am, we were allowed to enter the dealer room. One thing you may have heard me discuss on the podcast is my intimidation when it comes to events of this size. I have a concern about the crowds, more from a standpoint of not being able to really enjoy myself or do the things I want to do than anything else. So the little bit of time we got to spend before the floodgates opened was nice, and the dealer room was massive. The layout, which I didn’t expect but really appreciated, mixed the artists in with the dealers, rather than segregate them. As a result, I probably came across some great artists (including Reignsborough’s own Jake Ekiss) that I might have missed had there been a definitive Artist’s Alley. Along one wall of the con, however, were the more celebrity comic guests, including such amazing artists as Brian Stelfreeze, Cully Hamner, Kevin Maguire, and more.
I’m a huge Cully Hamner fan, so got to chatting with him and decided to go ahead and ask him for a Superman piece, which you can see here. And, as you can see, he did a freakin’ fantastic job with it! I REALLY wanted to go back on day two to get a Flash piece from him, but ran out of time … oh well … maybe next time I see him!
Once the con opened to the general public, it filled up FAST. On top of that, someone set off a fire alarm that went off for a good half hour. Though we probably should have evacuated the building, no one really seemed to be in a rush to do it and eventually the alarm turned off.
We did a thorough walk through of the convention floor for a good portion of the morning, before heading to our pre-booked photo session with Stephen Amell, star of TV’s Arrow. Unfortunately, this is where the common issue of crowd control began to surface. The line for folks who hadn’t pre-purchased photo sessions was so long and that it wrapped through the majority of the third floor of the Convention Center, and without any kind of dividers or barriers (other than workers trying to speak over the crowd), trying to navigate through the mass of people proved tricky. The Stephen Amell queue was set up in a rather small room, again without dividers, where we were packed in like sardines (forgive the cliche), to the point of being uncomfortable. Then, when they started taking people from the room, because there was no organization in the room, folks got disgruntled quickly when the “lines” that formed ended up with them being shuffled much further behind people who had been there later than them.
In the main room where the photos were taken, we were warned multiple times not to get too chummy with Amell, because he had a newborn and didn’t want to get sick. Which was fine and understandable, really, but the actual photo session went so fast (go in, stand in a spot, look at a camera, flash!, go!) that I looked at Aron after and said, “Aron, I don’t think I even looked at him!” So I was bummed a little bit about the experience. I had thought we’d spend a little bit with the celebrities, at least more than the 3 seconds we got, but it was probably just my inexperience with purchased photo ops.
We decided to get some lunch at this point, opting for a cafe on the 2nd floor (I think) of the Convention Center. The only food available was hot dogs and nachos, and the line was a good half hour long. Still, we managed to get a seat outside, where the cooler weather was a nice little break from the massive crowds inside.
If it sounds like I was feeling a little negative at this point…I kinda was. The experience with Amell had bummed me out for a little bit. We decided to drop off the goodies we had purchased at the car in the parking garage, but on the way were questioned by a security guard as to why we were heading in that direction. We had to explain to him THREE TIMES over the course of the day that the hallway we were heading down led to the parking garage elevators.
When we got back, we headed to the Lee Majors/Lindsay Wagner Bionic Double photo op, which went significantly smoother. Aron, the big fan between the two of us, was giddy with excitement. I could tell he was nervous at meeting two of his childhood heroes.
Me: Aron, if you want to do this alone, you can. You can be in a Bionic Sandwich.
Aron: No, I want you in the picture.
Me: Okay…well, who do you want me to stand next to?
Aron: (after much thought)…Lindsay Wagner.
I had assumed that I would stand next to Wagner, he’d stand next to Majors. However, the two pulled him in and made a Bionic Sandwich out of him, and I just kinda shuffled up behind Lee Majors into what looks like the best family photo ever.
The photo session having gone a little bit better the second time, Aron and I decided to head up to the celebrity floor (the 4th floor), where I got in line to meet Stephen Amell and Aron went an reserved seats for the Richard Dreyfuss Q&A.
Now…one surprising fact about the con. While I anticipated the photo sessions would be pricey, I didn’t anticipate that most autographs would range between $40-$50, per item. So a good number of the autographs I’d planned to get (Karl Urban, Peter Weller, Richard Dreyfuss) I decided against in an effort to save a little dough for the goodies in the dealer room, and some original art. I’d expected $20-$25, but I do think the autograph prices, especially since they were PER ITEM (reiterated for effect), were a bit much.
Still, I’d wanted to talk to Amell in person, invite him to be on the podcast, and get an autograph for my brother, a huge fan of Arrow. After waiting a half hour just to get into the line in the hallway that led into the room (where another line awaited), I was allowed to use my line skip pass and jump the rest of the line. Amell was extremely nice in person, taking a business card for the site, where I told him I’d love to have him on 3 Beers and a Scotch to talk about his Nocking Point Wines.
After, I joined Aron for the…
Richard Dreyfuss Q&A
I missed the first couple of minutes, but when I walked in, Dreyfuss was talking about Close Encounters of the Third Kind, pretty much exclusively. Some fans would ask questions about Jaws, which brought about some pretty funny stories, and then one fan asked about his work in civics. What I didn’t know what that Dreyfuss spends the majority of his time nowadays working on The Dreyfuss Initiative, which is attempting to ensure that the children of America understand civics and government. He spoke passionately about the project for the latter half of his presentation which, while it may have spoken to some of the folks interested in it, left me hoping he’d return back to the subject of movies. I know it may be shallow, and I understand his passion for it, but I’d hoped for more good stories about his films. Not a disappointment by any means – after all, it was RICHARD FREAKIN’ DREYFUSS – but I was hoping for something a little different.
Stephen Amell Q&A
Stephen Amell followed Richard Dreyfuss, and ended the day on a very positive note. Amell came out to his adoring fans and, in the time he’s been playing Oliver Queen, has really picked up on what fans want to hear. He took pictures with a young fan who said the line had been capped off 10 people before it was his turn, and revealed some interesting tidbits in regards to Arrow.
- He mentioned that we would see a new superhero costume before the end of the season. Could be a new costume for an existing character (Roy?), or perhaps a new hero – he didn’t quite clarify.
- He did say we’d see people from Central City before the end of the season. We’ve heard rumors of this – the story of the Flash playing out on TV screens in the background, so he could just be referring to that.
- When asked what villain he’d love to see in the show, he said Ra’s Ah Ghul, especially since “we’ve name dropped him enough.” This comment kind of leads me to believe that, despite the name drops, nothing is solid on an actual Ra’s appearance yet.
In addition to those goodies, he spoke extensively about his archery training, photoshopping his chest hair out of promo photos, and more. It was a fun Q&A session, and Amell really does seem to genuinely appreciate the fan base, even one particularly nitpicky fan, who complained about the show’s incorrect continuity in relation to the comic, which Amell took in stride.
Pics from Day One
Though day one went till 7pm, Aron and I decided to call it a day at this point. Despite some little hiccups in the middle of the day, the overall experience was a great one. With some better crowd control, I really do feel like SciFi Expo would be something special. As it is, in its current state, it’s still a ton of fun, and there’s more story to tell! Check back tomorrow for my report on DAY TWO of the Expo!