Before the doors of the Irving Convention Center even opened on Saturday, it was very evident that Dallas Comic-Con is no longer just a local Texas event. Just by reading the convention's Facebook page, you could see people sharing their stories of how far they had traveled to meet their favorite celebrities. Many were from out of state or distant corners of the Lone Star State.
Let's just get the negative out of the way so we can get to the good points. Yes, there were a few cancellations. One was felt more than the others. The first day of the event, Nathan Fillion's representatives contacted Comic-Con management and told them the actor wouldn't be attending because of health reasons.
Since the Comic-Con personnel can't just say it out of tact and professional reason, let me do the talking for them. Anyone who drives or flies thousands of miles just to meet one celebrity is asking for disappointment. These people are actors and artists.
They're at the beckoned call of someone much larger than a pack of disgruntled fans. These entertainers are at the mercy of giant machines called Hollywood and publishers. Episodes of "Castle" don't just make themselves, folks. If the studio needs Nathan Fillion an extra day on set or he gets suddenly sick, he has to cancel everything else to be ready to perform.
Dallas Comic-Con continues to outdo themselves year after year. This year's high profile guests included newcomers Brandon Routh (the Man of Steel in "Superman Returns"), Ioann Gruffold (Mr. Fantastic in the "Fantastic Four" films), Natasha Henstridge (the lovely-yet-deadly creature in "Species"), LeVar Burton (Geordi in "Star Trek: The Next Generation") and 1980s heartthrob Andrew McCarthy ("Pretty in Pink").
Returning guests included William Shatner, Kevin Conroy (the voice of the Dark Knight in everything from "Batman: The Animated Series" to "Batman: Arkham City"), Brent Spiner (Data in "Star Trek: The Next Generation"), Ernie Hudson ("Ghostbusters"), and many more. Each of these celebrities greeted fans, signed autographs, and took what is the equivalent of family portraits with anyone willing to pay the price.
Dallas Comic-Con was a blast for everyone who could look past having to stand in long lines or shake off the inconvenience of bumping into people. Where else can geeks from all walks of life come together in unison to celebrate their individual loves for TV shows, comic books, and toys? For three days, the Irving Convention Center was a safe place for the thousands of people referred to as nerds by society. I'm proud to say I was there with my six-year-old son in tow.
The highlight of the con for me was catching up with "All-Star Western" and "Jonah Hex" writer / artist Jimmy Palmiotti and meeting "Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre" artist Amanda Connor. I had Palmiotti autograph both of my New 52 "All-Star Western" trade paperbacks. Connor signed all four of my issues of "Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre" and took the time to pose for a photo with them. Palmiotti posed like he was pointing a gun at the camera in front of his Jonah Hex banner for me as well.
Just like many people there, I had my moment of disappointment. I was too late for artist John Romita Jr. to sign a print of Punisher and Batman trading blows while the Joker looked on laughing. My buddy wanted Kevin Conroy's autograph and we arrived at his booth just in time to be notified he had left for the day. Although we were bummed, we didn't let these things ruin our good time.
There were plenty of other things to do. The vendor area was filled with all sorts of interesting items you could purchase or just gawk at. There were vintage dolls and action figures, reproductions of weapons, and hard-to-find comic books and movies to dig through.
I took my son to play Blast-A-Stormtrooper, which was a charity benefit put on by the 501st. When we got there, it had turned into Blast-A-Darth Vader. It was funny seeing little kids pelting the Dark Lord of the Sith with Nerf missiles as he tried to deflect them with his lightsaber.
Dallas Comic-Con was a lot of fun again this year. Just like any event that continues to get larger, it can't help but suffer some growing pains. Understanding all of this, comic-con promoters can count on my support and attendance next year and for Fan Days in October.
Click here for pictures of the 2013 Dallas Comic-Con.