A Tale of Two Comic Cons – Part I – Garden State Comic Con
During the course of two weekends in October 2011, I got to met THREE of my childhood heroes, and have a lot of other cool things happen. This is in addition to the weekend earlier where it was Superhero Nirvana down in Flemington, NJ – October is a great month to be a costumer!
This was originally going to be one blog entry, but there were too many pictures to split out between the two events, so I figured I’d make two so it would be easier for my readers to digest.
During the 2nd weekend of October, 2011, a small convention down in Cherry Hill, NJ happened. It was called the Garden State Comic Con and it was run by a company named ZoloWorld. Its not the biggest con I’ve been to, and it certainly is going thru some growing pains, but you know what? I had a great experience there, so I’ll cut them slack on the problems faced…
For a small con,they had some big con names appearing – Barbara Eden from I Dream of Jeannie, Hayden Panettiere – the cheerleader from Heroes, Davy Jones of the Monkees, Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Rusty Goffe and Bonnie Piesse from the Star Wars franchise.
One particular attendee – Jackson Bostwick, most people probably wouldn’t recognize, but he was the reason I drove an hour and a half to Cherry Hill to see. Mr Bostwick played the original Captain Marvel from the 1973 live action Saturday morning show “SHAZAM!” which was my favorite show from when I was 6 years old. I dare say that this show may have been the early inspiration for the costuming bug I developed years later. I remember yelling “SHAZAM!” and tying a towel around my neck and pretending to be Captain Marvel (or as I call him Shazam).
A funny aside, even tho he was my favorite character, I never got his name right. Because of the TV show name, I used to call him Shazam and not the proper Captain Marvel – I still find it funny calling him anything but Shazam. After talking to Mr. Bostwick, it seems I wasn’t the only one confused – He tries to correct the now grown kids, but its a losing battle
Anyhow, so the 501st Legion was invited to troop this event, so it was a double bonus. Get to meet your childhood hero, and do the Star Wars geek thing as well… Jackie & I couldn’t make the Saturday show, so we hit the Sunday one… And that switchup actually made things cooler since Sunday was the less-busier day…
I decided to go with my TIE Fighter Pilot costume for the day since its a cool armored costume that is pretty recognizable, and its pretty easy to pop the helmet off and become an off-duty pilot. No helmet also means I can talk to and hear people better – which is important since I’ve become such a social butterfly (who would’ve guessed LOL)
We got there, changed into costume and settled in. Once the initial batch of photographs were over, Jackie & I made a beeline over to Jackson Bostwick’s table. Being Sunday, there was no line, and we had a great conversation that wasn’t rushed at all. I got my original SHAZAM! comic from when I was a kid signed, and got a picture with him. It really was a great moment. My Star Wars friends who saw the exchange tease me that they saw me instantly revert back to being 7-years old…
After this historic meeting, I trooped some more and checked out the vendors at the con – They had some really cool stuff and I spent more than I had wanted, but I was in a good mood…
After a while, I looked in and saw Barbara Eden‘s line was empty. This was a major bonus because when i went to Chiller Theatre a few years back, her line was at least 2 hours long (no exaggeration) – My friends couldn’t stay that long, and I remember I had a bunch of other people to meet that day, so I skipped it… But I regretted it to the point of stealing someone else’s pic and photoshopping myself into it (and giving everybody full disclosure that it was a fake). So to see her line empty was a dream come true…
Just like everybody else I grew up with, I had a huge crush on Jeannie – I still consider her one of the most beautiful celebrities ever. And I’m not just saying that because she was awesome to me that day.
So I went over to her table and started talking. It seems that the con wasn’t advertised as well as she had hoped, and there was some moments of quiet time during her appearance. Of which I was lucky enough to have found one. We talked about the con, we talked about her career, we talked about my costume and the 501st, we talked about a lot and it was great interacting with one of the most famous actresses of all time at a very human level. I picked up an autographed pic and got a picture with her and I was off trooping again.
Later on that day, I was with my Star Wars costuming friends and I saw Ms Eden and her assistant walking thru the halls back to her table. She looked over and smiled, and I waved… She came over and wanted a picture for HER collection with the group which we all jumped at.
Once that pic was taken, she shooed everybody out of the shot, saying she wanted a picture with JUST ME… I obliged of course, and while taking the picture I felt her hugging me. I have to say, I was glad to have the helmet on because I had the goofiest smile on my face and was probably blushing! I mean its one thing to get a picture with her for my files…But its a completely different thing when she wants it for herself (and is willing to kick people out the shot for it!) Afterwards, I was naturally walking on air.
With the new book I am writing, I ask my fellow costumers what their favorite costumed and celebrity experiences were. Well you just heard mine.
During the rest of the day, I met the Star Wars celebrities… First was Rusty Goffe who played a Jawa in the original Star Wars, but was more recognizable as an Oompa Loompa in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Rusty was a very nice man. The day before my fellow Star Wars geeks inducted him as an honorary member of the 501st Legion, and he was very appreciative of the honor, and of our group.
While walking around taking (helmet on) pictures with the attendees, all of a sudden, I felt a hand on my back and someone had jumped into the picture. It turned out to be Kevin Liell who is very talented and an official Star Wars Galaxy Sketch Card Artist. He is also an honorary member of the 501st Legion from a few years back.
When I got back from shmozoing with the Star Wars fans, I stopped by his desk, and had a nice conversation with him and got some pics. He seemed like a really cool guy – which was confirmed a week later at NY Comic Con where we ran into him again.
Afterwards, I met, and got a picture with Bonnie Piesse who played the young Aunt Beru in the new batch of Star Wars movies. She was really nice to talk to, but I didn’t really know her work as I’m more of an original trilogy Star Wars fan… The new stuff is ok, but the old stuff is what I grew up on.
We hit a few panels with the Star Wars folk, Davy Jones and Barbara Eden, and then we decided to call it a day.. I spent way more money on stuff than I had expected, but had a much better time than I had thought — Overall, a great day…
Now for the shameless plugs… I let you read the blog without bugging you, so indulge me on this please?
First off, I wrote a Book last year, called Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang. It is about the real-life exploits of the Ducky Boys gang that was so terrifying in the 1979 movie The Wanderers. They also happened to roam the Bronx neighborhood that I grew up in in the early 1960s.
Please check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or get a signed copy directly from me (Its actually cheaper thru me and you get some free bonus stuff, but I understand you like the warm & fuzzy feeling of dealing with the big stores)
Secondly, I am currently writing a new book about the really cool people I have met doing this costuming thing. There are a lot of interesting stories about how and why people got into this hobby. Many people get into it for the nerdy and fun aspect of the hobby, but there is so much more to it – For example, The 501st and Rebel Legion devotes a LOT of time and energy into helping people (especially kids) who need it – Any given weekend, there are members of our group visiting hospitals, participating in charity walks and raising money and awareness for a variety of organizations (Make A Wish, FAAN, Autism Speaks, amongst many others) – So we’re not just geeks – we’re geeks that really try to make the world a better place…
Anyway, in this new book, I am looking for interesting stories of people who costume. It could be Star Wars or Star Trek related; It could be Superhero costuming; It could be Renaissance Faire, SCA or even LARPing; it could be Historical Re-Enacting; If you put a costume on outside of Halloween, I’d love to hear your story – so please drop me a line at JamesHannon@Lantern-Media.com – you could end up immortalized in a book. But please hurry – before I finish writing it.
And the third and final advertisement… I’ve been writing this blog for a while now, and there’s a lot of variation in my topics… There’s quite a few more costuming stories, some Bronx and Ducky Boys stories, reviews of movies, and concerts that I’ve been to, and tips for writers and/or procrastinators… Take a look thru the rest of them at the main page of http://jameshannon.com/wp – I’m sure you’ll find something that interests you.
See, that wasn’t so bad was it? Thanks for reading and see you next time!