Here we were: I was clad in a Wonder Woman T-shirt and cape; husband sporting a Batman T-shirt; seven-year-old son wearing his Superman gear and coiffed hair; 10-year-old son in his Batman mask, belt and shirt. We were in the Batmobile (okay, it’s a black Ford Flex) in hot pursuit of the seven-year-old Texas International Comic Con, Comicpalooza.
Upon arrival, we surveyed the masked masses and followed them to the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston (the convention took up 1.1 million square-feet) to enjoy a day spent among the freaks and geeks, unafraid to parade their love for all things supernatural.
Within minutes, Dick Tracy, a Monty Python knight, Hunter S. Thompson and a few scantily clad nuns paraded past us, as we acclimated to the festive atmosphere. Poison Ivy flaunted herself around, while my seven-year-old asked why she was wearing her underwear in public. I tried to convince him that it was the same thing as a swimsuit, but I don’t think he bought my argument.
We entered the vast hall, filled with artists, writers and their wares with comics from every genre represented, including Joe Rubenstein of the mini-“Wolverine” series, Atom Todd, Katie Cooke of the webcomic “Gronk, A Monster’s Story” and Kevin Eastman, co-creator of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
Masks, costumes, T-shirts, posters, plastic swords and trinkets galore hung from the lines of booths offering infinite opportunities for the kids to beg for the next best item that they couldn’t live without. We discovered the celebrity zone, where my camera wasn’t invited to shoot the actors, wrestlers and musicians. It cost between $30-$80 to capture the likenesses of George Takei, Stan Lee, Linda Blair, Henry Winkler or even John Schneider also known as Bo Duke from the “Dukes of Hazard.” Additionally, the band members of GWAR, Marky Ramone of the Ramones and the actor who played Chewbacca, Peter Mahem, were gathered to fulfill their fans’ autograph dreams. And speaking of “Star Wars,” there was an R2D2 replica, a Landspeeder, Imperial Stormtroopers and Obi Wan Kenobi.
We ventured into the learning zone, where kids could learn about robotics, perform science projects and register for summer camps. There were interactive models of lungs, hearts, as well as a Geiger counter to check out radioactive rocks. There were also LEGO workshops, cosplay for children tutorials and superhero creation sessions. While casually passing a Pro Hairstylist booth, a perky woman pulled me into her booth and proceeded to straighten my hair. Because a superhero never knows when a hair straightener will save a life!
Whether you’re a full-fledged geek or a growing one, Comicpalooza is a massive playroom where any superhero has room to test out that cape.
By Autumn Rhea Carpenter
Photo Credits: Autumn Rhea Carpenter