Celebrity Corner: Comicpalooza Houston 2012

27 05 2012

By Hilda Clark Bowen

Compicpalooza2012

Expecting 15,000 people this weekend, Comicpalooza’s mission “is to provide the best and biggest annual multi-format pop culture convention in the southwest region of the United States, serving not only the fans of comics, science fiction, fantasy, video and table top gaming, anime, music and film, but also as a trade show and showcase for the studios, publishers, and manufacturers in those industries.” Now in its fourth year, it is still showing some growing pains. People were complaining about the length of the line just to buy tickets to get in. Some were complaining of the disorganization of lines for people with prepaid tickets versus those waiting to get in versus those with VIP passes. While some truth may be in those statements, coming this far in 4 short years is phenomenal. The community needs to continue to support this group by attending and by providing them with some constructive feedback.

Last year I found out quite unexpectedly that Houston had its own convention. Here I was spending money to go out of town when I could support a wonderful event in my own backyard. On my Twitter feed, some in the Houston, Texas area did not know it was going on this weekend. It’s not too late. There is one more day. Let’s spread the word for next year. Memorial Day weekend seems to be the date, much like Dragon*Con is over the Labor Day weekend.

This was my second convention. Last year I attended Women of Sci-Fi in Plano, Texas. When I saw how empty the convention center was (because I lucked out and got in the right line at the right time), I immediately went to work on my new collection of pictures. I got the most important things done first. I wanted to tell the people who affected my life in some way over the years how much I appreciated them. Why the urgency? I did this because my 16-year-old son, Patrick, who is severely affected with autism and other disabilities, was having an enormous amount of difficulty lately. Being nonverbal, he is really unable to share with us what is wrong–like if he has a headache, stomachache, etc. The last 3 days have been rough. His communication comes out in the form of behavior and not the good kind. I was unsure if our respite care worker was going to be calling for us to come home, or worse yet, that he had a seizure, which might also account for his behavior of late.

And you wonder how a cute kid like that can go from Gizmo to Stripe in a matter of 30 minutes? The pretty lady on the left was his teacher this past year (she actually stayed an extra year to work with him–isn’t that sweet?)

First stop was to Christopher Judge. Stargate has had a profound impact on my life. I was a bitter Farscape fan, pissed off that the SciFi Channel (now Syfy) cancelled Farscape to take Stargate from Showtime. Thinking that my boycotting the channel would make any difference whatsoever, my narcissism prevented me from discovering a terrific show for years. Yes, years. When my 500+ satellite channel offering one evening revealed NOTHING ELSE to be on, I started turning it to this show for “background noise” while I was working. I don’t remember which story it was, but I remember one show caught my attention, and slowly melted the bitterness in my heart. I caught up on all the episodes pretty quickly.  On March 25, 2009, I joined Twitter because Stargate Universe was in production and Joe Mallozzi said on his blog that David Blue was there. I wanted to be able to hear all the details about the new show, so I joined. The rest is history. I have made more than 165 Stargate-fan connections, have met some of these people, and some of them have become a tremendous support system for my personal life.

Christopher Judge

Turning the corner, Rachel Luttrell from Stargate Atlantis was not there yet, but Richard Hatch was. I became a fan of his at the tender age of 7 or 8. We were living in Hillside, New Jersey at the time and my sisters and I would come home from elementary school for lunch (you know, back in the OLD days). “All My Children” happened to be on. There were no DVRs let alone VCRs so if you weren’t live-viewing, you missed it. My sisters needed to use my body as an antenna to get better reception because the rabbit ears with the rotary dial weren’t working all too well. They were cruel to me like that. Yes, I cried when they said Philip Brent died in Vietnam, making the war as real as it possibly could to a child that age.  I grieved with Tara Martin grieving for Philip.  Flash forward to 1979 when the original Battlestar Galactica became one of the most ambitious shows of that time with these amazing visual effects that rivaled Star Wars (Episode IV). I had split crushes on both Apollo and Starbuck, Apollo the hero figure, Starbuck the beginning of my attraction to bad boys. My foster father would often threaten me that I would not be allowed to watch it unless I did XYZ. That’s behavior modification at its finest–immediate compliance. However, he thought that was quite funny, so the list of XYZ things I had to accomplish in order to watch the show bordered on the absurd. The editor in me noticed that Comicpalooza misspelled “Galactica” as “Galatica” on his sign and he made me laugh as he tried to climb the chair to fix the mistake. No one was more thrilled when he signed on to the reimagined Battlestar Galactica as Tom Zarek, a character with so many dimensions. It was thrilling to see the evolution of his career from Philip Brent to Tom Zarek.

Hilda Bowen (a.k.a. PBMom) and Richard Hatch

Another iconic figure for me has been Claudia Christian, whose portrayal of Commander Susan Ivanova on Babylon 5 secured a place in annals of role models for women in science fiction. My sister turned me onto the show. Seasons 2-4 were my favorites. I sobbed during the Shiva scene; I felt my heart break when Marcus died (Oops! Spoiler alert.)  Chills went up my spine when she said, “Who am I? I am Susan Ivanova, Commander. Daughter of Andre and Sophie Ivanova. I am the right hand of vengeance and the boot that is going to kick your sorry ass all the way back to Earth, sweetheart! I am death incarnate, and the last living thing that you will ever see. God sent me.” I thought of this dialogue every time I battled the school district to get my son the services he needed. As we chatted, I learned new things about her, totally oblivious to the line that was forming behind me. She has a CD out “Once Upon A Time” which I bought. Her new book, Babylon Confidential is expected out November 6, 2012, a biography of her life which I am eager to read. Click on that link to preorder your copy now. There are free excerpts available and more will be emailed to you per the instructions on that page. I find it ironic that she discovered “The Sinclair Method” that helped her overcome her addictions (and maybe I’m watching Touch on Fox a bit too much looking for connections).

ClaudiaChristian

Claudia Christian of Babylon 5 with her new book coming out November 6, 2012 called “Babylon Confidential.” About a journey in her own life. Links are in the body of the report.

I backtracked to Rachel Luttrell who was looking lovely and was pregnant (which I did not even notice until the panel later in the day). Here was yet another woman who was able to be a powerful female lead without becoming too Ripley-like. We talked about her trip to Berlin and discussed why she is not on Twitter more!  Ivon Bartok’s Captain Starship was discussed.  It was such a pleasure to meet her, and obvious what I said above about Stargate applies to her as well and all the connections I have made. Conscious of the line forming behind me, I took her picture and then left.

Rachell Lutrell

Another picture of Rachel in the Raw

Last stop was to Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc-Biehn who are here to promote The Victim, a new psychological thriller coming this fall. Read more about it at the link and follow their links on Twitter.  

Finally we were off to meet my Twitter friend @etee and his family.  We are known to each other from having pithy Tweet-Ups about American Idol and other shows.  He is as funny face-to-face as he is on Twitter.  Although social media is the norm these days, face-to-face interaction is still required to make those connections complete.  His face will remain mysterious since he did not one taken of him (at least he thinks there wasn’t).  Snicker, snicker.  I would not do that to him.  I always get permission.  He will be blogging for Tubular TV soon.

Throughout the day, people passed by that had some wonderful outfits. Here are some of my favorites:

The best way to look “In cognito” would be to look like Johnny Deep in a costume. Maybe Johnny does that all the time. He is a dead ringer for him. Dead Ringer? Will that be the name of the Pirates 5 movie? Pirates of the Caribbean:  Dead Ringer.  I call Trademark.

Only in a Fringe Alt Star Wars universe where the world has gone mad and Elmo giggled too much.

The first panel was Babylon 5 with Claudia Christian and Julie Caitlin Brown (Na’Toth). Without any introductions from Comicpalooza staff, they jumped into things. When they discovered that the audience would have difficulty asking questions, Claudia handed her microphone over to the volunteer for people to come up and ask. (Note to Comicpalooza: Have microphone stands with a microphone in the middle of the row for people coming up to ask questions next year). Their panel was supremely entertaining. Having only been to two conventions in my lifetime, I had not heard the story of the psychofan who actually shot Claudia during one convention (and she didn’t press charges!). I have their panel on video and will put it up on YouTube soon, as soon as I chop it down into smaller segments. Caitlin Brown shared how she got the role of Na’Toth.

Claudia Christian and Julie Caitlin Brown of Babylon 5

My husband and I decided to head over to Hilton Americas to have lunch at The Cafe. At mid-meal we looked up and Claudia and Caitlin were coming to eat. I waved as they passed our table. After hearing that story, I was thinking in the back of my head–okay, not stalking–we were here first. We finished our meal and departed, stopping at the bathrooms on the way. I guess when I came out of the bathroom Claudia had already come in, but I was outside the men’s room waiting for Jeff. When she came out, still having the stalker story fresh in my head, and made sure to comment that husbands complain about their wives that take so long in the bathroom. The story about the psychofan was terrifying. I admire her bravery because if I had been in her shoes, I likely would never attend a convention again. People do not understand the concept of boundaries.

We saw some more great outfits. I took more pictures, but I think my camera had a malfunction.

Lizzie and Jennifer

James and Magi

Maicie Rawlings. Love her hair color, costume, ink and smile.

The Stargate panel with Rachel Luttrell and Christopher Judge was at 3 p.m. but a line had already formed long before to get in. While sitting in the 2nd row, I noticed a young lady with a uniform on in the front row and asked her if that was an authentic Stargate uniform. Nope. It was the real deal. Her name was Nathalie (last name withheld for her safety) and she was recently commissioned into the Air Force. I hope she felt like a rock star at that moment because I was deeply humbled by her. With Memorial Day weekend upon us, and although I know it is a day we are supposed to remember the service men and women who died to protect us and serve us, I think we should never forget those who are putting themselves in harm’s way now and in the future. The awe I felt and the gratitude–I don’t even remember the fumbling babble that came out of my mouth. I wanted to put my arms around her and give her a hug (because I’m a hugger), but I did not want to freak her out. Claudia’s psychofan story reminded me of boundaries. God Bless You, Nathalie (if you are reading this).

The real deal. Newly commissioned Air Force. Thank you Nathalie for serving. I will keep you in my heart and prayers, always.

The line had become long for questions. There is a great love for Stargate here in Houston.

Once again there was an issue with the microphone in the audience. This time the staff came up with a third microphone and people were able to line up to ask questions. My question was, “I’m a regular on Joe Mallozzi’s blog, and he talks a LOT about all of you. This is your chance. Do you have any secrets you want to out about HIM?” And boy did they let off some steam (just joking). If you follow his blog, and you should, then everything they said about him you already know. Rachel treated us to some of talented vocals.

Lighting here not good; Chris & Rachel’s panel

It was ice cream time. While standing in line, a man and his son walked up behind us and while it seemed 99% apparent to me that his son had autism, I mouthed the words to him so as not to embarrass his son if that were not the case. We started talking about autism and Patrick and our experience and his family’s experience. An hour flew by quickly. As if he left, I told him that some things in life were not coincidence and I think we were meant to meet. I gave him my email address and I hope I’ll hear from him. I really need to stop watching Touch on Fox (doubtful).

It was about 5:15 and time for us to head home after a long day. Comicpalooza is still here tomorrow, Sunday, May 27 including Lasertag with the stars for charity and sword training with Nick Gillard of Star Wars (extra fee).

Thanks for doing all this, Comicpalooza.  See you next year.  Written transcripts will be posted soon as well partial video of the panels.  I thank you for stopping by and enjoying the details.  Before next year, I WILL have size 6 or 6-1/2 combat boots to wear with my Stargate Universe uniform.

Cover Art of program: 

The back cover of the program book.

The creative page of the program booklet. I was impressed with this.


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One response

3 06 2012
Robin Derence-Fuller

Looks Luke so much fun.Richard Hatch and Claudia haven’t aged at all

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