Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dallas Sci Fi Expo after action report

I've been to a few conventions in my time. I've always enjoyed being around people who share the same interests as me, which is the reason I attend conventions in the first place. I'd been to a few Sci Fi Expos as a kid, but it was mostly to shop for action figures. Now that I'm an adult with somewhat of an income, I pay attention to the guest lists. The first Dallas Comic-Con I ever went to as an adult had the most notable guest of all: Stan Lee. The next one I went to had one of my biggest childhood crushes: the lovely Ms. Kelly Hu. That one also had Ioan Gruffudd from "Fantastic Four." However, Sci Fi Expo 2014 has had the most notable guest list of all for me with the appearances from Stephen Amell (Arrow), Karl Urban (Dredd, Almost Human) and Peter Weller (Robocop, The Dark Knight Returns). "Arrow" is my favorite show on TV, and "Almost Human" is a close runner-up. Plus Karl Urban's been one of those actors who's consistently been in movies I've watched starting with "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. And Peter Weller is a sci fi legend because of "Robocop." I just had to meet them.

The morning started with me actually not wanting to get up because of how sore I was from a hard workout the previous night and because of how cold it was. However, once my convention buddy arrived, I knew I had to just bite the bullet and leave my comfort zone (no pun intended). We started the morning by going to the ATM to get more cash, which I knew I would probably need, and then to McDonald's because I knew I was not going to leave the convention center until I'd accomplished all my objectives, no matter how loud my stomach nagged.

Predicatably, there were already people lining up to get in by 9:30, even though they wouldn't let regular guests in until 11. My buddy was lucky enough to have a VIP pass, so he got in early while I had to stand in line for an hour and thirty. It wasn't so bad because most of the line was in a parking garage, and a father and daughter next to me were kind enough to let me watch some anime with them.

That first line went fairly quickly when 11:00 rolled around. As soon as I got in, I made a beeline for the fourth floor where the celebrity guests were. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Stephen Amell's line wasn't a nightmarish mass of humanity, largely because most of the guests were still lining up. You could say that meeting Oliver Queen himself would have been like any one of my female teenage cousins meeting One Direction. It was just unreal. It was also surprisingly pleasant. A lot of celebrities have this diva attitude (like William Shatner from what I've heard), but Stephen has a reputation for being very gracious to and regularly interacting with his fans. When I met him, he looked me in the eye and simply said "Hey, John" as if we were two guys who could have went to college with each other. I then proceeded to tell him things that I'm sure he's heard a million times: "Arrow is my favorite show," "I'm rooting for you to be in the 'Justice League' movie," and "I wish 'Arrow' would run and run and run," to which Stephen simply replied "Let's get to season 3 first." I didn't really plan what to do, but I ended that meet and greet by getting him to say his trademark catchphrase "You have failed this city" while I recorded. He obliged, and I could tell he was slightly amused. About an hour later, I got a picture taken with the man during the photo op. Stephen Amell has officially become one of the most pleasant human beings I've ever met.

Next up was Karl Urban. I don't have as much to say here because I didn't speak to him as long because the line of fans for Karl was a coiling mass of humanity by the time I got to him. I didn't even get a picture with him because they sold out of photo op tickets by the time I got to him (Karl ended up doing a second photo op after we left, and I think that says a lot about his character). When it was my time to meet him, Karl, like Stephen, addressed me by my first name before I told him how big of a fan I was of his work, especially "Almost Human." He said that he had a lot of fun filming that series. I didn't get to talk as long to him, and I could also tell by that time he was quite worn out physically. Then again, I heard rumors that he flew in from New Zealand specifically for the convention. He also wrote a personalized message on the photo of Judge Dredd that I had him autograph. It read "John, I AM THE LAW." Wow.

Finally, I went to meet Peter Weller after debating whether or not I still had the intestinal fortitude to stand in another line. I decided to go the full 10 yards given that I might not get the chance to meet any of these people ever again. Peter's line surprisingly moved the slowest out of all three. Luckily, I started talking to two fellow nerds about various geek topics, mostly the recent and upcoming superhero movies, to pass the time. When I finally got to Peter, I shook his hand and told him it was an honor to meet Robocop and Batman at the same time (he voiced Batman in "The Dark Knight Returns" animated movie). Peter definitely had this grandfatherly quality to him, although he was more along the lines of the kind of old man who probably served in the army and less like my late grandfather who was a jolly old fellow.

All in all, I would sum it up like this: a good 85 percent of the time was spent standing in line. When I go to these things, I am usually more interested in meeting the guests than buying merchandise, simply because I've been buying merchandise my whole life. So yeah, by the end of the day, my feet were worn out. As in, I think that easily could have been the most tired my feet ever were. But by the time the dust settled, I'd met Oliver Queen, Judge Dredd and Robocop. Easily one of the best days I've ever had as a fan of science fiction.

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