2012 saw the 10th Anniversary of Dallas Comic-Con. What better way for its organizers to celebrate than to have a record attendance of 20,000 people roaming the four floors of the Irving Convention Center seeking out autographs from major comic book, TV, and movie celebrities? Imagine one central location where you could meet Marvel Comics main man Stan Lee, “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Captain Patrick Stewart, two legendary Batmen (Kevin Conroy, Adam West) and “Smallville’s” Supergirl, Laura Vandervoort? If this sounds like geek heaven to you, then hang your head in shame if you weren’t there.
What was once an intimate event of 3,000 to 4,000 hardcore comic book and movie / TV enthusiasts in Plano, TX has become the hottest yearly event in the Dallas / Fort Worth Metroplex area for fans. This year’s attendance might only be roughly 15% of what San Diego International Comic-Con gets, but it’s rather impressive for a regional event that continues to grow year after year. It was enough to keep comic book legend Stan Lee coming back for a third time to the promoter’s upcoming October 2012 Fan Days event.
Many fans lined up for anywhere between two to three hours to get autographs and pictures taken with Stan Lee and actor Patrick Stewart. Many wore “Star Trek” uniforms or their favorite Marvel t-shirt featuring the Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, and Thor to name a few. These two legends were the main draws of the weekend.
The two celebrities with the longest lines waiting for autographs and pictures after Lee and Stewart might surprise some people. Many would think it would be Adam West, Burt Ward, or Laura Vandervoort. They would be wrong.
Comic book artist George Perez and voice actor Kevin Conroy both had lines that wrapped around the outside wall of the venue’s Exhibitor Hall. Conroy is best known for voicing Batman in practically every animated TV series, movie, and video game the character has appeared in for the past 20 years. This year he was awarded the “Voice of a Generation” Award by GameStop at the event.
Perez is enjoying a renaissance in popularity thanks to his recent stints on DC Comics’ New 52 reboot of their characters and titles. He co-illustrated and wrote the first few monthly Superman issues and now co-illustrates the World’s Finest title featuring the Huntress and Power Girl. He took time for each person in line to sign as many books or items they had and even did sketches.
Other talent in attendance weren’t hurting for attention. Every actor or artist in the convention center was sure to have writer’s cramp by the end of the two day event. The question and answer panels showed most people were there to see everyone equally. The ballroom was filled practically every time a celebrity took the stage to answer inquiries from the crowd.
Vendors were said to be very happy with the turnout. Expensive collectibles, original drawings from artists, t-shirts, prop replicas, comics, and anything else with a price tag (including life-sized Jason Voorhees and Leatherface statues) were being grabbed off the shelves as quick as a treasure seeker found what they were looking for.
Were there people upset by the amount of attendees and the long lines they had to stand in for autographs and pictures? Of course there were. These issues come with the territory for any event growing as rapidly as the Dallas Comic-Con. From looking at the comments made on the event’s Facebook page and website forums, the majority of attendees still had a great time and the event was obviously a success for its organizers.