Ain’t Nothin’ Like Dallas Comic Con 2014
Dallas, TX isn’t known for hosting music festivals year round, but this city has some pretty insane events happening way more often than people realize! At the start of summer, Sensible Reason trekked out to the big bad city for one of the largest and most exciting events it has to offer: Dallas Comic Con 2014! For three days, we experienced a subculture that has exploded: once regarded as a festival marketed to a niche market, the event is now so big they had to move to the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center!
Now, keep in mind, in the past, the biggest location in which they’ve hosted this event was only 275,000 square feet. Well, this convention center is well over 2,000,000 square feet and is known for being the location where all the big names in the world go to perform! This was an impressive feat since there are so many conventions in competition for the best spaces.
My own preparation started as soon as I got approval. I mean, c’mon, I was not about to attend my first Con without a costume! Unfortunately for me, I had no idea how cosplaying worked and no friends who identified as belonging to the subculture. It was going to be unpredictable. I’ve never been to a Comic Con, but it’s been something I’ve had on my bucket list for a long time, and thanks to SR, I was able to cross it off with more flourish than I expected. On Friday, I wasn’t exactly certain how things would work, since I’ve only ever gone to music festivals before as press.
Friday, when I arrived, I was decked out in a gender-bending Iron Man costume complete with helmet that could move up and down just like Tony Stark’s in the movie. I never expected what came next after I passed the ticket booths – it was like instant fame. I guess I picked a good costume, because before I could even make it to the exhibition hall, people left and right were asking to take photos with me! This was a complete first because whoa – I’m the photographer!
It was hilariously awesome. Even though there were tons of other people in costume, apparently if you had full-body, head-to-toe getup, you’d be bound to end up on someone’s social media. Lucky me, I was actually featured on the local NBC news as well! Look at me go!
Upon entering the exhibition hall, it was like I stepped into another dimension, a SF bazaar filled with toys, comic books, geek apparel, and over-the-top accessories. It was like a nerd marketplace – anything and everything you could want was there. Farther back where the vendors ended were the autograph and meet-and-greet booths set up for the star-studded guests and their adoring fans. It was very organized and the set-up made it almost impossible for passerby to randomly harass the celebrities. You actually had to get up the courage to head down the line and say hi…or pay. Either way, the opportunity was there if you wanted to personally meet them.
The layout was, at times, overwhelming. Besides the main panel room right next to the exhibition hall, the other rooms were a little difficult to find because it was such a huge location and the conference rooms encompassed two floors to accommodate all of the events and guests! After the last event on Friday was over and I had explored the convention halls, I thought I had a better idea of what would happen Saturday…boy was I wrong.
Saturday was a completely different entity than I had imagined. The crowd tripled – if not quadrupled – in size from Friday. When I entered the convention center, there were people costumed and carrying gift bags all over the arena. Panels were being held left and right, and mini-events were scattered throughout each floor. It was like being at a music festival, except instead of performers we had Q&As, instead of light shows, cosplayers reenacted scenes while people watched, and rave outfits were completely out-bedazzled by the hundreds of handmade costumes.
This day I costumed as my favorite video game character of all time – Chun Li from Street Fighter!
I thought Friday people took a lot of photos of me…hell no. Not even close to what Saturday was like. I finally understood what it must feel like to be a Hollywood star! Try photographing while being in costume at Comic Con – I dare you fellow photographers, it’s almost near impossible. I got cards from numerous cosplay photographers who encouraged me to walk the famous DCC Red Carpet. Curiosity got me and I headed over to a section of the main hall where I saw a long line of costumed heroes and heroines waiting. There was a massive crowd of people standing and sitting in front of a backdrop with cameras in hand. I wasn’t quite sure what it was, but I stood in line next to a huge Domo-kun with speakers playing “Mr. Roboto.”
As I got closer to the front of the line, I finally realized what this was – a cosplay runway. I laughed and grinned all the way through the line until it was my turn. A lady instructed me to walk, strike a pose in the middle, walk near the end, and pose again. Next, a man asked my character’s name and what series she belonged to; after answering him, he introduced me on the megaphone he was holding. I bounced over to the middle and did my orthodox fighting pose, swinging my hips left and right as the barricade of photographers snapped away. I skipped over to the end and immediately flexed my muscles – this one’s for you, Zyzz!
There were many epic reunions happening that weekend – the best one on Saturday was the original cast of Nightmare On Elm Street. This was going to be my first panel, and was super amped to see Robert Englund – the man behind Freddy Kreuger. During the talk, the actors and actresses recounted their experience on the set and went deep into the industry of acting, along with their tactics for getting cast in starring roles. As I sat in my seat, a lot of things that they said resonated. One was a comment about the unpredictability of the script. Heather Langenkamp told the audience that what she had in mind while reading the script translated differently when it came to acting. She paid homage to Wes Craven when explicating her ability to successfully carry out her scenes. Craven, the mastermind behind the NOE film franchise, was a fantastic storyteller and could help her embody her role through explanation of his vision, no matter how weird it got (and it did get pretty weird; for example, when she had to stand in a pool of eels!). It was very heartwarming to see that the cast of this film could still vividly recount moments and stories from filming and behind-the-scenes after so many decades.
After Comic Con, there was an inaugural 21+ official after party held at Gilley’s near the South Side Ballroom. To be honest, it wasn’t as big of a success as the actual convention. People leaned awkwardly against the walls, not interacting, and only a few people danced, making it difficult to stay the entire time. There was, however, a decent cosplay band whose members dressed up as Darth Vader and the clone troopers. Unfortuntately, the combination of $8 drinks, a lack of enthusiasm from the crowd, and a $30 entrance fee ($20 online) made for a less-than-thrilling evening .
The last day of DCC won me over again after the lukewarm party the night before. I didn’t dress up and instead went civilian to easily get around the convention and take photos of the event. This day was supposed to mark the biggest, most mind-blowing panel in Dallas Comic Con history – the reunion of the cast of Firefly. I got there early and got some pretty fantastic seats up front. The line to get in was already endless two hours before the event and still piling up when I walked through press. Although I’ve never seen Firefly, I’ve heard many great things about it. Despite being cut short in its first season, this cult series has one of the largest followings in pop culture. I could see why once the panel members began talking and interacting with one another. They were some of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing live. Even when the set was falling apart – literally: the backdrop curtains came tumbling down – the cast kept their composure, cracked jokes, and helped the crew get everything fixed. Also, there’s a reason why girls swoon over Nathan Fillion, and I’ve become a helpless victim. The main star of Firefly was so overwhelmingly charming that it was hard not to let out a slight giggle at everything he said, even if it wasn’t intentionally funny.
Dallas Comic Con was an opportunity to see a new side of a foreign culture I was once very in touch with. It brought back the anime-obsessed, comic book-crazed, video-binging fangirl I haven’t been able to let myself be in so long. I’ve interacted with so many like-minded people who I never would’ve met were it not for DCC. The experience of embodying my favorite characters and being recognized by other fans made me realize that I want to return for another Comic Con. This year showed me why people keep going back. This environment was fulfilling in so many ways, and it taught me to check my apprehension, be open-minded, and give things a shot. A weekend at DCC is all you need if you’re looking to get away from the mundane bar scene and step into a colorful world filled with friendly people ready to embark on amazing adventures.