Houston comics convention to open Memorial Day weekend
by Bradley Donalson
Comicpalooza is the largest pop-culture convention in Houston, and it will be opening its doors May 22–25. The convention began back in 2008 with a group of local artists setting up tables at the Alamo Drafthouse to coincide with the release of The Dark Knight, and it has grown by leaps and bounds since then. In 2010 the convention moved to the downtown George R. Brown Convention Center, and organizer John Simons told the Houston Chronicle that it has become “the largest and most intricate convention in Texas.” Comicpalooza will take over the entire 1.1 million square feet of the convention center for four days. Never let it be said that we don’t know how to grow things big in Texas!
The convention will feature more than 150 presenters covering a plethora of different categories including comics, television, film, literature, artists, wrestlers, gaming, music, and more. (Yes, you read that correctly—there will be professional wrestlers at Comicpalooza.) For just the first hour of day one, the schedule lists sessions on video games, role-playing games, card games, a workshop on vlogging and another one on creating comic layouts, a panel discussion on up-and-coming genres in fiction, film, and television. Suffice it to say that it would be impossible to attend all of these events without the use of a TARDIS—a true embarrassment of riches for the attendees.
At the moment, Marvel has a lock on the convention’s headliners. Fans of strong, beautiful women will be pleased to know that Hayley Atwell (Agent Carter) will appear on Friday, and Cobie Smulders (Avengers, How I Met Your Mother) will be in attendance on Saturday. And the boys can keep a hawkeye out for Jeremy Renner (Avengers, American Hustle) on Saturday. Of course, it would be impossible to mention Marvel without talking about Stan Lee, the “godfather of modern comics.” While Lee may have gotten himself into hot water recently about his non-position on writing openly LGBT characters because he doesn’t know that much about it (but he does know about Russian spy-women, psychic mutants, and tree-men who are limited to saying “I am Groot”…sure, Jan), the world he created has a number of openly queer characters from a number of other artists that make up for him not penning one himself. I guess we’ll have to give him a pass on this one, and hopefully the 92-year-old artist will take it on himself to learn more. Maybe he’ll find some time at the convention to learn from Peter David, who made the decision for mutants Shatterstar and Rictor to be in a gay relationship.
DC fanboys and fangirls won’t be disappointed, though. Comicpalooza will be one of only three conventions in 2015 to feature cast line-ups from Fox’s hit show Gotham. Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle, later Catwoman), Donal Logue (Detective Harvey Bullock), and Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma, later The Riddler) will join Cameron Monaghan (Jerome Valeska, who has been heavily hinted as being the one who becomes the infamous Joker). You may recognize the handsome redhead from his work as gay teen Ian Gallagher on Showtime’s Shameless, and you can see him on Saturday or Sunday with the rest of the Gotham cast.
Comicpalooza will also feature guests from the hit show Lost Girl, a Canadian supernatural drama that focuses on our favorite bisexual succubus. Rick Howland, who plays Trick, the bartender who is so much more, and Emmanuelle Vaugier, who plays the bisexual leader of the Dark Fae called the Morrigan, will both be in attendance. If you haven’t watched this show, go add it to your Netflix queue right now. I’ll wait…
You might also want to break out your copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, because Barry Bostwick (Brad), Nell Campbell (Columbia), and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) will be there to help celebrate the cult classic’s 40th anniversary. Other celebrity guests that will be popping up around the con include Star Trek alum and activist George Takei, Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Marina Sirtis, Akira Takarada of the original Godzilla movies, Henry Winkler (Happy Days), Dan Starkey (Doctor Who), writers Rachael Acks, Rachel Caine, Raymond E. Feist, Mercedes Lackey, and Cassandra Rose Clarke, and the one and only Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew.
Comicpalooza takes over the George R. Brown Convention Center May 22–25. More information and registration can be found at comicpalooza.com.