Wizard World Texas is my home town convention. It’s the biggest show to hit these parts and while it is the smallest of the Wizard shows, it’s a pretty big deal here in Texas. We have lots of little regional shows throughout the year, but nothing on the scale of Wizard World that brings us the guys like DC’s Bob Wayne and Ethan Van Sciver. Just about every year, we all find ourselves asking if this will be the last WWTX. This year’s no different.
Almost everybody I talked to today wondered aloud if this would be the last time that the show would make its appearance in Dallas-Fort Worth.
We’ll have to wait and see on that score.
I’ve been attending WWTX for years. And every year I am amazed at how poorly lines are managed in the minutes prior to the con’s opening. A mash of people all with different needs try to get where they ought to be without any clear direction from Wizard staff members. This morning folks who’d ordered their tickets online, con-goers wanting to buy tickets, exhibitors needing their booth assignments, press people trying to get their passes – and not a single one of them was provided clear instruction on where they ought to go.
Don’t get me wrong, it all worked out. It’s just that every year the WWTX line management stinks and proves to be an unnecessary source of stress for all involved. I was stressing that I wouldn’t make it to the Lou Ferrigno panel which was scheduled to start at noon, the same time that the con was set to open.
I must say that the lady who helped me out at the press desk was delightful. Once I was pointed in the right direction, the Wizard staff took good care of me. I made it to the Ferrigno panel with two minutes to spare.
Lou Ferrigno is a regular guest at WWTX. He usually has a booth where he sells pictures and autographs while being chatted up by a bevy of fanboys (myself included). Lou’s good peeps. The Wife’s a fan, too. She likes his sitcom work on King of Queens. A few years ago, I had him autograph a picture for her, which is hung with pride amongst our family photos.
I speak often to the wife of my desire to have our picture taken in our Sunday finest with Lou and use that image on our Christmas cards. “Merry Christmas from Aron, Suzanne, and Lou.” No further explanation would be provided. This dream of mine in no way makes me a stalker, by the way.
In all the years I’ve seen Mr. Ferrigno at the con, I’ve not ever seen him on a panel. Today, his panel was called “Incredible Hulk Retrospective.” Given the popularity of the past summer’s Incredible Hulk movie, it seems only natural that we’d be provided with a tour of Lou’s TV show memories.
Ferrigno’s discussion was to be supported by a video presentation of TV show fight scenes, make-up applications, and other behind-the-scenes items. Sadly, the laptop from which the moderator was running the video did not have the needed QuickTime driver. Thus, no video. Lou and the moderator rolled with it. No problem.
Ferrigno spoke at length of his abiding admiration and respect for co-star Bill Bixby. He stated that the two of them developed a close relationship on the set, spending more time with each other during production than with their respective spouses.
He briefly discussed his work on King of Queens, expressing a deep appreciation for comedy. All the Hulk jokes made at him in the show is what he lives with every day, he said.
I mentioned that my favorite of his episodes in King of Queens was season 8′s “Shear Torture” in which Adam West guests as himself. Ferrigno laughed, “I always have fun with Adam. I cannot keep a straight face around him. He’s a funny guy.”
“Who’s in better shape,” Some one asked, “You or Schwarzenegger?”
Flexing a massive bicep, “What do you think?”
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the gun show.
It should come as no surprise that Ferrigno is a huge proponent of physical fitness. He’s been body building for forty-five years, after all. He remarked that our culture is too sedentary, that we don’t take care of ourselves, that America is too fat.
I’m pretty sure he was looking directly at me when he said that.
After the Ferrigno panel, I moved on out to the dealer room. Wizard has been rather remiss in updating the con website with confirmed retailer and exhibitor information. I was pleasantly surprised to find a robust marketplace ready to take my offered up dollars.
Earlier in the week, Wizard submitted a press release declaring that the dealer room was sold out with a record number of exhibitors. I dunno. There was a large strip of the dealer room that had the look of vacancy to me.
Maybe it’ll fill up tomorrow?
The next panel I attended was “Dracula and The Endurance of Horror.” The panel members were Jason Henderson (Sword of Dracula), Tony Salvaggio (Psy-Comm) and Christian Beranek (Dracula vs. King Arthur). The panel devolved quickly into favorite film Draculas. For instance, Henderson grooves to Christopher Lee with Jack Palance a close second while Beranek is strictly a Lugosi man.
Salvaggio wrote songs about Dracula for Henderson’s Sword of Dracula, a fact which Beranek found profoundly cool acknowledging that he used to play in a goth band called Undead Theory. Perhaps they should get together to work on Dracula: The Opera, he suggested.
There was a lot of discussion of the homo-eroticism present in much of the current vampire fiction, but Beranek emphasized that his Dracula “is all about the ladies.”
The panel was all agreed that they prefer Dracula to other movie and literary vampires largely because he’s not the emo character that so many others are these days. In fact, other classic characters are whiners, too, such as the Frankenstein monster. I remarked to my buddy James, “You know who never whines? Godzilla. Godzilla never whines.”
“True,” He nodded. “Cthulhu’s not one to complain, either.”
The last panel I attended today was DC Nation. DC’s Senior Story Editor Ian Sattler led the DC panel comprised of Sales VP Bob Wayne, Editor Elisabeth Gehrlein, Sean McKeever, Ethan Van Sciver, and an extraordinarily tardy Billy Tucci. Sattler led off commenting that there was indeed very little that would be revealed on the panel. In the aftermath of the big summer cons, having told what they can then and it being too early to release the skinny on the next big thing, he stated: “These autumn shows are hard.”
That didn’t stop folks from asking.
Satller did say that Legion of 3 Worlds is a VERY important book in the DCU for the next three years of story-telling.
Sattler refused to entertain questions concerning Minx Comics. He could not comment on any addition Neil Gaiman commitments to Batman, but promised lots of Deathstroke and Lobo in 2009.
Attendees all made mention of the incomprehensibility of Final Crisis. One asked, “What is Grant Morrison smoking?”
“I don’t know,” Sattler answered.
J. Michael Straczynski will be working on Brave and the Bold, and one other yet to be named project.
With the economic down turn, I asked, what impact does that have on your planning for 2009? After much groaning and grumping Sattler responded that “…It motivates us to turn out the best stories we possibly can.”
A bearded guy a few rows behind me asked the follow up question: “Does that mean you haven’t previously been trying?”
“Nice way to twist my words, beard-guy.” Sattler clarified, “It motivates us to try even more…”
When he wasn’t playing with his newly acquired Batman action figure that he designed, Ethan Van Sciver mused over a considered reboot of Aquaman with Geoff Johns. Aquaman: Rebirth, anyone?
A question was asked of Sean McKeever, “Coming from some other comic company, what’s the best thing about working for DC?”
“It’s not some other company,” He answered.
Billy Tucci arrived in the last ten minutes of the panel. He spoke passionately about his current project, Sgt Rock: The Lost Battalion. The story is based on actual WWII events. On Sunday, one of the men who fought in the Lost Battalion will join Tucci at the con for a panel. That’s one that is sure to be interesting!
The rest of the DC Comics folks will be at the con through Saturday, but they will not be in attendance on Sunday.
That was Friday at WWTX. I’ll be back for more on Saturday and Sunday.