For two times only this year, Comic-Con Revolution is being held at the Palm Beach Convention Center, not far from Palm Beach Atlantic University. The other convention will be held in Ontario, Calif., in May. Like many conventions of its kind, it’s not only about comic books, but a wide menagerie of popular culture expression and merchandising, with rows upon rows of geek wares to browse and hundreds of attendees dressing up (cosplaying) as their fictional character of choice. My Godfather, Dr. Thomas Parham and myself dressed up as Star-Lord from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. My mother cosplayed as Rey from “Star Wars” and my father, Dr. Alex Wainer of PBA, wore a shirt based on his scholarly novel for Batman: “Soul of the Dark Knight.”
It wasn’t just representing your nerdy side or buying products of that kind, there were also panels, meetings held throughout the day where one could sit, listen and discuss a certain topic that was being addressed in the popular culture. One of the panels I attended was about the Marvel and DC cinematic universes and how the latter paled greatly against the former. The panelists who lead the discussion included Dr. Parham, Dr. Wainer and Gene Hoyle, who is part of the Nerd Nation podcast and Sal Ciano, who manages the Past, Present, Future comic book shop.
Both the panelists and audience members were largely in agreement about the state of affairs involving Marvel and DC on film. The failure of last year’s “Justice League” film, it leading to a considerable restructuring of Warner Bros.’ vision of their universe going forward and how much brighter a future Marvel Studios’ lineup had in comparison, were among the meat of the discussion. At the end, two of the audience members, Dave and Nicole, gave their thoughts.
Benjamin Wainer: Did anything in this panel surprise you or did you learn anything that you didn’t before?
Dave: I think we mostly had mostly already heard about what was talked about. I mean yeah, we had just finished re-watching last night all the Marvel movies and she (Nicole) had never seen any of them before.
Nicole: We had spent a like, I don’t know a lot of time on them.
Dave: There was like a lot of things she was still having to pick up on, but I feel like I pretty much understood pretty much of all of what was discussed. I’m like, super into this stuff.
BW: Where they’re any parts you disagreed with?
Dave: I think they gave “Justice League” too much (negative) credit.
Nicole: I can’t think of anything.
Over the course of my time at the convention, I browsed the aisles on the floor for things that caught my eye, possibly to purchase myself. One such vendor was in a portion of the floor called “artist’s alley.” Here, artists, either licensed by publishers like Marvel or independent would show off their work, and even sign a copy of that work for you to buy. One independent artist named Javier Lugo specialized in fan works.
Benjamin Wainer: Is this your first Comic-Con?
Javier Lugo: This is my first one of the year, yes.
BW: I mean overall.
JL: Oh, I see well, I’ve been doing conventions for about eight years, ten years.
BW: What was the first one, in Florida?
JL: It was Orlando Comic-Con, it doesn’t exist anymore. I met quite a few people there who are in the business.
BW: Do you do just fan work?
JL: I do pencil work, I do inks, I do pin-ups, I did comic book covers, I did work of people, their pets.
JL: Pets, not here, but I ‘ve drawn pets for people and also birth announcements.
BW: What is your favorite character to draw, whether its professional or just for fun?
JL: My favorite character is Conan the Barbarian, I love drawing him.
BW: I didn’t see any on your table.
JL: There’s only one, I don’t tend to keep the copies.
BW: Is it Schwarzenegger style?
JL: Nah, it’s John Buscema style.
One particularly fun thing to peruse at the con are recreations, albeit safe and plastic versions of weapons and masks from a wide range of sources from video games to anime to film and the like. A stall which specialized in this safe assortment was Armory Quest, run by a husband and wife team of craft makers. I spoke with Heidi Stevens, one half of the armaments duo.
BW: What exact materials do you use for the job?
HS: Foam injected molds, we use a lot of safe peats and airbrush paints to keep users, like with masks, safe.
BW: Now, when you get to the convention, do you make sure to get authorization that your stuff isn’t dangerous or actual weapons?
HS: No, there’s nothing dangerous about ours, because it’s all soft and foamy. We do sell hard and large swords, but they’re not here today. Those are all full combat swords.
She goes on to say that their props, ranging from recreations of guns, to tiny little daggers vary in complexity and time to produce. A large gun based off the armament of a character from the game “Overwatch,” had a five or six-part process, hours to complete, while small daggers took up to five to six minutes. The cow cattle mask, like that of a goat skull, is considered their favorite seller and prop to produce.
There are conventions held across the world that are not unlike Comic-Con Revolution. If you are interested in what was discussed and explored in this article, fear not, for you are spoiled for choice in upcoming conventions, with hundreds down the road nationwide. Upcoming Cons.com would be a good place to start thinking up your plans for a future event in case you missed this one. I will, for all you true believers, set a link to the website at the end for you. Enough said.