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James Halcomb: Superheroes, gubernatorial hopefuls, nerd-chat … ComicCon had it all

The 2015 Lexington Comic and Toy Convention over the weekend was my first as a member of the press. I have been to a couple of conventions as a fan, although I was never a “cosplay” big spender at these events. I was just a fan of comics, particularly DC Comics. This first experience was a good one. Here are a few of my observations.

Day 1


I was running late. As you know, any current member of the online media can tell you, no one is in this for the money. So I have another job that pays the bills. I had a full shift pushing paper at the hospital, when I pulled into the parking lot, in the rain. I had no desire to carry a jacket or umbrella, so I put myself out, running through something just above drizzle, tired from a 12-hour work day. That sweaty, rain-soaked, work shirt wearing, heavy-breathing mess is what approached the press booth. I was pleased to see that I was surrounded by similar thick-glasses-wearing hot messes.

When I got my press pass, I was pleased to see a shiny lanyard with a Pink Power Ranger on it. The ribbing I took from posting this online continues, three days later. So I stopped and took a few breaths, dreading a crazy crowd.

If you are of the antisocial nerd base (I proudly belong to this crowd), Friday is the day to go. Many of the booths are still being set up and many celebrities are not present. But there is a ton of breathing room – especially for shopping. Comic books, toys, movies and cosplay photo-ops abound. The costumes ranged from homemade to Wal-Mart purchased. I found myself there for longer than I intended, mainly because I was able to move around.

I also got to introduce myself to gubernatorial candidate and Fark.com founder Drew Curtis, who had a booth at the convention and was speaking the next day. Wearing a “Greatest American Hero” t-shirt and a blazer, Curtis was a natural fit with the crowd. Getting folks to sign the petition to get him on the ballot seemed to be a breeze. Raising money at the event was probably not as easy. Drew was speaking the next day and was hoping for a diverse crowd to raise some attention about the messed up political system we have in this state. As we will see, this remains to be seen.

My intent was to spend only a few minutes, but my blood pressure dropped, I dried off and spent a good two hours or so there for day one. I also got a couple of shots of the celebrities signing DVDs, autographing photos and talking with fans. Tara Reid seemed the most natural and seemed to always brighten up when approached by the younger Sharknado fans.


Day Two:

For some reason in the midst of all of this, I decided to sign up to run the Shamrock Shuffle that took place downtown Lexington, at 8 a.m. Saturday morning. One of my best friends and I decided that soaking rain and our mid-40s were not conducive to an all-out 2-mile run, so we stuck with what we called a “fancy trot” and made a not-too-painfully bad showing.

Needless to say, day two was a whirlwind. So many people, costumes and events all taking place at once, it was all a little overwhelming and a little bit claustrophobic. I could not imagine what it is like at the bigger conventions.

This day also held one of the more interesting events of the weekend. Drew Curtis held an informal panel to discuss his gubernatorial campaign and speak on some pressing issues (economy, education, et al). This was held in one of the conference rooms and was mainly attended by a small, already passionate contingent. I feel that Drew has a long uphill climb and is going to have a tough time selling himself to certain areas of Eastern and Western Kentucky, but I think he has some great ideas, and I think he would bring some real spark to debates. Just wish that attendance would have been better, but folks are here to escape reality not reflect on it.

My favorite celebrity was Adult Swim voice actor Dana Schneider, who seemed to genuinely be enjoying himself, having some great nerd-chat with fans. He signed a couple of pictures for my friends and made us laugh out loud more than once. He is a great guy to talk to and, in the future, his table will be the first I hit.

I attended the costume contest Saturday evening. A standing-room only event, that dealt with a few audio problems, but the costumes and their workmanship were often at times, staggering. The passion to make some of these costumes was something to be admired and the makeup on many of the contestants was Hollywood level in ingenuity and creativity. The winner was a massive dragon rider costume with a massive wing-span that felt, while not realistic, heart-stopping and gorgeous to behold.

The rest of my night was spent with friends having too much fun for people our age at Bluegrass Tavern, drinking Wild Turkey and singing that 1980s classic, “The Final Countdown.” The less said the better.

james again

Day Three:

Day three was for my son and me. He is a rambunctious 5-year-old who was more about the idea of a place filled with people dressed as superheroes and aliens than in execution. He was more interested in the junk piles of toys and getting increasingly agitated at me for telling him, “Don’t touch that.” But we did have fun. He just loved running up to some of the costumed folks and having a stare-down contest with them. He walked away with a couple of cheap toys and had a lot of fun. That was all that matters to me.

This was a lot of fun for me, even as I was taking things as seriously as I could, I couldn’t help but get a little giddy as being in the same room with Chekov, Counselor Troi, Mini-Me and tons of former Power Rangers actors. The comic books were great to thumb through and to travel a bit down memory lane. I also enjoyed being able to introduce my son to something I think of as fun.

James Halcomb is a self-described “desk jockey” at the University of Kentucky Hospital. The Lexington resident has spent much of his 40 years of life with his nose in a book, his eyes staring at a screen, ears covered by earphones or his mouth stuffed with food. As a result, he is an avid film nerd, TV geek, food snob and book buff. He is a member of the Appalachian Writers Association and contributing writer for The Good Men Project. He somehow lucked into meeting the love of his life, Tammy, and married her. They also have a 5-year-old-son, Quinn.

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