There are dozens—if not hundreds—of sci-fi/comic/cos-play conventions held across the country each year, but there’s only one Kansas City Planet Comicon. Now celebrating their 20th year, this amalgamation of all things superhero and science fiction has really found its footing. I visited once about a decade ago. Back then it hadn’t really ramped up to the frenetic, kinetic stampede of visitors it is today. Here’s what I learned when I stormed Bartle Hall yesterday:
10) There are over 700 (!!!) exhibitors on the floor. That’s a lot of people selling their wares—everything from fan-faction authors to t-shirt vendors to vintage comic book sellers. (“Wait, you want how much for that Wonder Woman comic?!?”) Heck, there’s even a place where you can get a 3-D image of yourself gussied up in your Shazam costume. Turns out the folks at DOOB brought a contraption to the convention floor that can create a hand-held, mini-action figure of yourself.
9) I eavesdropped on a lot of conversations while I was there. I understood virtually none of the words coming out of people’s mouths. Same planet, different worlds.
8) I was there less than three minutes before I announced (to one in particular) that I was having stimulus overload. Clearly, I was out of my element. There were so many sights and sounds that were foreign to me, that I was a tad overwhelmed. It didn’t help that a Rocky Horror Zombie Clown kept following me around while I was traipsing around. (Not really, but I did run in to that creepy bastard, like, a dozen times.)
7) People like what they like. I could go on for hours about all the niche vendors I spotted. Smurfs—check. Sleestaks—check. Slutty Supergirl paintings—check. Anything you could possibly want, Planet Comicon offers it—in spades.
6) Save your pennies. You’re going to need ‘em. While most artists and authors have priced their wares to sell, there are a few holy grails that will cost you thousands upon thousands of dollars. (Read that: anything from the ‘60’s or cast autographed paraphernalia, e.g. Guardians of the Galaxy.)
5) How do I put this politely? If you walk down celeb row, you see a slew of sci-fi stars and superhero actors kibitzing with their fans. The women are dressed to kill—full make-up and hair. Most of the male celebs, meanwhile, were scruffy—throwing on a baseball cap and jeans. When I commented on that to the gal heading up the photo op brigade, she mentioned that there are several aging actresses who could make a ton of money doing this, but they don’t because—à la Joan Crawford—they refused to be photographed in their later years. Who knew? (PS. Linda Blair, you’ve never looked better!)
4) Everyone was unspeakably nice. There must be an unspoken rule of politeness in the Comicon convention community. Everyone was chatty, engaging and borderline giddy. People would take pictures of people taking pictures of cos-players. Pleasantries were exchanged all around. It was like walking into the Twilight Zone. (Pun intended.)
3) Local voiceover artist Tom Kane is royalty here in the metro. Never heard of the guy? I’m guessing you have and didn’t know it. He’s voiced Yoda (yes, THAT Yoda) in the later Star Wars films. His IMDB page is 47-pages long, I swear. Oh, and he’s been the announcer for four different Academy awards. Literally, billions of people have heard his voice. (PS. Love you, buddy!)
2) Speaking of, scoring an original Star Wars star to appear at your convention takes an act of god—and a Brinks trunk filled with money. A quick check of the interwebs revealed Mark Hamill, for instance, can command upwards of $800,000-$1,000,000 for a two-day appearance at one of these conventions. 1) Nice work if you can get it and 2) nice to see him getting the work, I guess.
1) It’s oh-so family friendly. I spied fathers who dressed up as Beast with several of their toddler daughters in tow dressed up as Belle. There were mother-son Ghostbusters. Heck, I even saw an entire family of Power Rangers—including an infant. You know what they say, the family that Comicons together, stays together.