Comicpalooza is a comics and science fiction convention held usually during the summer in Houston, TX. Unlike a lot of conventions who usually pick a specific weekend in a specific month to be held, Comicpalooza has bounced around the months of May and July since its inception in 2008. It appears, however, that the convention has finally settled on the last weekend of May to be its official weekend.
I attended Comicpalooza 2011 on Saturday, May 28. It's a three day event, but I decided to attend it on the spur of the moment when a friend said that he was going as well. I didn't know what to expect to be honest. All I knew was that Jeremy Bulloch (the original Boba Fett), Marina Sirtis (Counselor Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation) and a number of other fairly popular actors were going to be at the event. I really wanted to meet Bulloch, so he was one of the first celebs I hoped to meet.
We arrived at the George R. Brown Convention Center and headed straight to registration. My friend had registered online weeks before the event, so he was already wearing a badge. I had to settle for a wristband, which was just fine with me. I grabbed a program and some free Soy Joy bars (they were sponsors of the event) and headed into the artists alley at the front of the main hall for the convention. There were a number of comic artists, authors, and craftworkers there. I saw a few convention friends, purchased Kurt Amacker's Dead Souls comics (which he happily signed for me), and generally browsed around the area.
From there, the artists alley lead to an area that included the 501st Star Wars Costuming Group, Ghostbusters fan groups, and a few pop culture inspired vehicles that gave nods to Darth Vader, Ghostbusters, and even Jurassic Park.
Next came the dealers' area, which was quite large and included things such as pop culture and comic t-shirts (official and not-so official), a couple of costuming groups, horror production companies, McDonald's (who was giving away free food coupons and Star Wars Happy Meal toys), anime DVDs and Blu-rays, comic books, action figures, and all sorts of other goodies.
This area also included the celebrities, who ranged from Edward James Olmos to Sam Trammell and even Devon Murray, who portrayed Seamus Finnigan in the Harry Potter films. I was impressed by the number of celebrities at the event, including those mentioned already, there were also a number of other actors from anime, science fiction, and horror.
I made a beeline for Jeremy Bulloch's table. I was quite surprised by the fact that his line was second only to Sam Trammell's in length. Who knew that the galaxy's most feared bounty hunter was so popular? I opted to go Marina Sirtis' table instead, in the hopes that Bulloch's line would eventually thin out. I walked right up to Marina's table and talked with her briefly. Talking with her proved to be a bit awkward at first, but eventually I settled down and she even managed to call me "Sweetie" and "Love" in that wonderfully strong natural accent of hers.
After receiving an autographed photo from Ms. Sirtis, I glanced over at Mr. Bulloch's line. It was still long. I decided to walk around a bit and hopefully it would die down. Needless to say, it didn't. I eventually gave in and stood in line for twenty or so minutes and finally got to meet one of my childhood heroes. Bulloch was amazing. He was friendly and met with everyone in front of (and not behind) his table. I shared a brief moment with him over Doctor Who, which he actually appeared in twice. I got an autographed photo and took a picture with him and went on my way.
The convention had a number of panel rooms to go along with the main hall. These were spread out and depending on the topic, were attended by groups that ranged from the miniscule to the massive. I only sat in on one panel, which was an interview with Sean Maher of the short-lived (but much-loved) series, Firefly. Maher was pretty entertaining as he answered random questions from the audience.
As is the case with most conventions, there were a ton of costumes. There were your standard Star Wars characters as well as a healthy dose of anime and comic book characters as well. My favorite costume had to be that of a young man dressed as Superman. He looked a lot like Christopher Reeve, and went all out with the costume.
There was also a Quidditch tournament, martial arts displays, and pro wrestling among other things.
Comicpalooza was a pretty good convention in my opinion. It featured a number of fairly big celebrities to complement the decent offering of comic book artists that were in attendance. I only have a few complaints about the convention. One was the spacing of the panel rooms. You literally had to walk from one end of the convention center to another in order to check out panels, which is the primary reason I only attended one panel. Also, signage pointing you to different events was a bit hit-and-miss. Lastly, there were no other convention groups in attendance. From what I've been told, Comicpalooza charges these particular groups to attend, which isn't a commonplace practice in my brief experience as vice president of a convention myself.
As of right now, I'm waiting to see how many celebs will be in attendance for 2012 before deciding whether or not I will attend next year.