Super Friend Eric Lingefelter here, welcoming you to a special video/text edition of the All-New Super Friends Super Show! If you’ve never seen our faces before, be sure to wear sunglasses and avoid looking directly at the screen, lest the radiance of our beauty burn out your retinas. I can’t think of a more pleasurable way to destroy your vision, but you’d probably rather not destroy it at all, so take the proper precautions.
So yeah! Check out our video! You’ll see such riveting things as:
• me describing my run in with a rude Dalek
• us digging through longboxes and pulling out some strange stuff
• a Batman who obviously stuffs his tights
• yet another lengthy conversation about wrestling
◦ to be fair, this one was spurred by a cosplayer dressed as Edge
• Sean Brennan getting his copy of New 52 Flash #1 signed by Francis Manapul right after he admits, on camera, that he’s just going to sell it
• Sean Dwyer stressing about his camera work
• …and more!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t capture our entire Niagara Falls Comic Con experience on the GoPro.
Fortunately, my brain is like a steel trap. It’s been declared inhumane by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and it grabs hold of silly ephemera and refuses to let go.
So here are some highlights from our Comic Con adventure, roughly grouped by subject, in no particular order.
One of the biggest attractions of any con is the wild costumes that people put together to put their fandom on display.
Some of the standouts were:
• the aforementioned Batman who stuffed
• a perfect 1966 Batman who didn’t’ need stuffing; he was pure… West
• a Deadpool, who Sean Brennan high-fived while yelling, “DEADPOOL DOESN’T STUFF!”
• a Harley Quinn with a giant mallet that said “FACE GOES HERE” on the smashy part
• a genderbent Harley Quinn with a “giant mallet” that might say something on the “smashy part,” but you won’t find out what unless you show him a good time first (wink wink) (nudge nudge) (get it?) (do you?) (really?) (ok just making sure)
• WWE Hall of Famer Edge, who we serenaded with his theme song each time we saw him
• an entire family dressed up as most of the main characters from Dragon Ball Z
• a game developer dressed in Goku’s classic red costume from the original Dragon Ball series, who I embarrassed myself in front of by asking who he was, because Goku usually dresses in orange and I am an ignorant jackass
The Celebrity Guests!
It just ain’t a con without some cool celebrity guests, and the guests this year were pretty cool. Lots of folks that I was pretty damn fond of growing up, like:
• David Hasselhoff – star of the greatest show of all time, Baywatch Nights
• Linda Blair – who scarred me for life with her work as Reagan in The Exorcist
• Tom Savini – who scarred me for life with his work on the first really scary movie I ever saw, the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, which spooked me so bad that looking at the VHS cover still makes me queasy
• Ken Foree – who scarred me for life with his work as Roger Rockmore on Nickelodeon’s Kenan and Kel (oh, and also Dawn of the Dead)
• David Yost – the original Blue Power Ranger, who showed me that nerds could be… uh… not cool, per se, but… not… uncool?
• Charles Band – who helped cultivate my love for crap cinema with his work as head of Full Moon Features
• Joe Pantoliano – whose body of work I shouldn’t have to describe to you, you philistine
• Kristy Swanson – who will always be the REAL Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar = #NotMyBuffy)
• Cassandra Peterson – a.k.a. Elvira, who was the only celebrity guest that I was starstruck by; I hid behind someone who was in line for an autograph, I peeked out over his shoulder to confirm that yes, I was in the same room as the Mistress of the Dark herself, and I almost swooned; swooned, I tells ya!
One of the best things about Niagara Falls Comic Con is that all of the panels are free. You could easily spend the whole weekend just going to those without setting foot on the showroom floor at all and you’d still have a great time.
We went to four panels:
Indie Gaming 101: We mentioned this one in the video. This was a nuts and bolts, brass tacks, nitty gritty lecture on what it really takes to start your own game company. The panelists were Jamie Roboz, who was repping the game Lost Orbit, and Bret Measor, who was repping Pixel Jones and the Gateway of Souls, which was on display for the public for the first time ever at this con.
I took plenty of notes at this panel, and they all boil down to this: starting a game company is hard as heck, and you shouldn’t do it unless you’re willing to treat it like a real business. That means getting incorporated, getting funding, networking, hiring a cohesive team, getting agreements in writing, yadda yadda yadda, it’s friggin’ hard and you shouldn’t do it unless you’re crazy passionate, emphasis on the crazy.
I got to try out both of their games on the show floor after the panel. Lost Orbit is kind of difficult to describe, even though it’s a fairly simple game in practice. It’s an easy-to-learn, tough-to-master space flight game where you play as a cute little astronaut who’s trying desperately to race his way to the end of the level without slamming into any of the asteroids that litter his path. It’s kind of like a vertically scrolling Jetpack Joyride, but divided into levels. Gameplay was pretty tight once I got used to the controls. The only big criticism I have is of the gore that accompanies your inevitable deaths. The first time I slammed face first into an obstacle, the screen cracked and blood splattered everywhere. I actually jumped and let out a little “Ah!” because it was so jarring to see such a cute character meet such a horrible end. I got used to it after a bit, but it still felt out of place. Still, it wasn’t enough to totally mar my experience. I’d recommend giving it a shot.
As I said before, Pixel Jones and the Gateway of Souls was in the early, early stages of development, and this was the first time they were letting laypeople try it out. Bret Measor was at the stand getting feedback from players so his team at Hard Circle could fine tune the game and maximize the fun factor. I’d never played a game that was so early in development before, so this was a treat. Pixel Jones is an Indiana Jones-inspired 2D platformer that gave me similar vibes to another indie platformer called 1001 Spikes, though Pixel Jones isn’t quite as sadistic, at least in the early levels. I had a bit of trouble with the controls, but that’s mostly because my gaming skills seem to be slipping in my old age and I kept forgetting what buttons did what. All in all, it shows promise. I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.
DC Comics Panel #1: Rafael Albuquerque (American Vampire), Dale Eaglesham (Justice Society of America) – This panel was a great example of why a panel that doesn’t have a central topic of discussion needs a good moderator to push things along.
That’s not to say that we didn’t get some interesting tidbits of info out of the artists. Rafael and Dale both had plenty of great things to say about their working methods, the evolution of their art styles, why they prefer drawing on paper to using digital art tools, piracy – Dale said he’d “like to hang those people,” especially if they pirate work from independent creators, while Rafael said that, though he’d obviously prefer to get paid for his work, he didn’t mind piracy so much because it means that his work is getting in front of more eyeballs who may eventually become paying customers – and other topics related to the business of drawing comics, but there were plenty of dead spots where the artists and the audience stared at each other, unable to figure out exactly what to say.
Those are the spots where a moderator could swoop in with a follow up question to keep the momentum going. Instead, he just stood in the corner silently until the hour was up, then peeped out, “So… thanks for coming.”
I don’t want to crap on him for being socially awkward. I get it. There are times when I’d rather scrub an open wound with steel wool than speak to anyone about anything. But the organizers should seriously consider giving that guy a behind the scenes role next time.
DC Comics Panel #2: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti (Harley Quinn), Darwyn Cooke (Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre, Richard Stark’s Parker) – Now this was a panel. Active moderator + chatty panelists + lively audience = good times.
The whole panel was great, but there were two standout moments.
The first was when Amanda and Jimmy discussed the origins of their hilariously disgusting collaboration with Punisher scribe Garth Ennis, The Pro. The Pro has a simple premise: what if a prostitute got super powers? (Amanda described it as “filthy Watchmen,” which is apt as heck.) It sounds like something that you might come up with after a few drinks. Amanda and Jimmy confirmed that this was exactly how they came up with it. They went out for drinks with Garth, sketched out some ideas on a few bar napkins, and then a few months later, Garth sent them a script.
The second was when Darwyn Cooke, channeling the don’t-give-an-F-bomb-ness of Parker, dropped the mic on the famously cranky. famously famous Alan Moore’s complaints about the contract he signed with DC when he did Watchmen. I’m a bad journalist, so I didn’t write down what he said verbatim, but he basically said that Moore was 32 years old when he signed the contract, and that no one forced him to sign on the line if he didn’t like the terms. He also said that Moore had no right to complain about other people taking other people’s characters and perverting them after what he did to the Invisible Man in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. (If you don’t know, and you may not want to, in that comic, Mr. Hyde rapes the Invisible Man to death. Yeah.)
In an environment where most pros are understandably reluctant to say anything negative about their fellow purveyors of comic bookery, it was a shock.
The Legends of Wrestling Panel: Full disclosure: I almost didn’t go to this one. The panel was originally supposed to feature Nikolai Volkoff, King Kong Bundy, and the infamously unhinged Iron Shiek. Right before start time, I heard that King Kong Bundy had to go home because of diabetes complications and the Iron Shiek never made it to Niagara Falls because of knee problems.
I ran all the way across the Scotiabank Convention Centre – this sounds more heroic than it actually was; in Walden Galleria terms, it’d be like running from the Arby’s to the Cheesecake Factory – to catch the Elvira panel, because Elvira. I then found out that the Elvira panel had been moved back an hour with no announcement, so I ran back to Legends of Wrestling and sat down just before it started.
The All-New Legends of Wrestling Panel featured Nikolai Volkoff and “The Genius” Lanny Poffo, who just so happens to be Randy Savage’s little brother.
I have to say, I’m glad I went back, because the panel turned out to be hecka fun.
It started with Nikolai Volkoff serenading the crowd with his rendition of “Cara Mia,” made famous by 1985’s The Wrestling Album. Then Lanny Poffo graced us with some of his poetry.
Volkoff and Poffo traded off like that for the entirety of the hour. Volkoff would tell a road story, often involving the Iron Shiek and a few illicit substances, and Poffo would either tell a road story of his own or rattle off a poem, whether it be a collection of touching verses about his brother The Macho Man or a half-dozen anti-smoking limericks from his collection Limericks from the Heart (and Lungs!).
I’m definitely biased, but my absolute favorite part of this panel was when our own Sean Dwyer asked Mr. Poffo if he had a hand in writing any of the lyrics from Macho Man’s ill-fated hip-hop album Be a Man. Sean got the scoop: Poffo did indeed collaborate with his brother on the song “Perfect Friend”.
The panel closed out as it started, with Volkoff delivering a stirring rendition of the Russian national anthem, during which I’m sure the U.S. Express got the sudden urge to punch a commie.
The ’80s Retro Arcade Zone, Presented By The Basement!
A minor quibble: some of the arcade games in the ’80s Retro Arcade Zone were from the ’90s. But not too, too far in the ’90s. Like, 1991. And the early ’90s were basically an extended coda to the ’80s anyway, so I retract my quibble.
I ended my day at Comic Con like I ended many a day in the summers of my youth: with a stack of quarters on an arcade cabinet, cursing under my breath so my Dad wouldn’t hear.
The Basement brought in an excellent selection of games, most of which cost a mere 25 cents to play, and some of which were totally free. I played rounds of such classics as Bosconian, Rolling Thunder, and Punch Out!!, but the games that I really flipped my squiz over were:
Terminator 2: The Arcade Game – The only game I have fonder memories of is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, because that was the other game that my father enjoyed just as much as I did. I have so many memories of going to Putt-Putt Golf ‘n’ Games after getting my elementary school report card, showing the nice lady at the token counter my straight “As” to prove that all of my gaming hadn’t rotted my brain, and getting 30 free tokens to use as I saw fit. I usually saw fit to use them on whatever was in the ol’ Neo-Geo cabinet, but my Dad saw fit to use the tokens he bought on the subject of this section.
He’d turn his Zubaz Bills hat backward, hit start, and make those Endoskeletons wish Skynet had never digi-struct them or whatever.
Memory, turn your face to the monitor light…
WWF Wrestlefest – When I wasn’t pumping tokens into the Neo-Geo, I was pumping tokens into this.
When I was a little kid, I was always, always, always Demolition, because I have always, always, always been a metalhead at heart, even when I didn’t know what metal was.
The day I played at Comic Con, however, I played as Mr. Perfect and “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, because who the heck else was I going to pick?
In my first match, I faced off against my old friends Demolition.
I almost got a perfect win, simultaneously getting Smash in the Perfect Plex and Crush in the Million Dollar Dream, but that jerk Smash kicked out at 2 and a half.
Take a gander at some of the images from the Comic Con below!