So last weekend I headed over to Rose City Comic Con. For those who are unfamiliar with the event, it’s basically Portland’s local version of San Diego Comic Con. As you might expect, it’s a much smaller event with fewer big names and certainly fewer exclusive reveals but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun in it’s own right. I definitely had a good time.
This year was my first year attending RCCC and the first convention I’ve been to in awhile. I’d been to other events like PAX and Norwescon in the past (and I even made it to SDCC once back in the summer of 2010) but it’d been several years since I’ve made the effort to get out to an event. And I decided this time, as a first, I’d be going in style (specifically, I revived my Okabe Rintarou costume from the last two Halloweens, to give it one last hurrah before I try something else).
The first panel I attended (and easily the most high profile of the bunch) was Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Henstridge’s exhibition for Agents of SHIELD. Considering the only similar panel I’d ever attended at SDCC (where my poor planning and the massive lines resulted in me getting locked out of a lot of the really big events) was the 2010 panel about The Guild I was pretty hyped to be able to see both Mr. Dalton and Ms. Henstridge in person and hear them answer the great variety of questions posed to them by the audience.
They didn’t reveal too much about the upcoming season (although there were a few interesting tidbits, like the fact that we’ll apparently learn what happened to Simmons very early on) but there were a lot of amusing anecdotes from the set, like how Iain de Caestecker (aka Fitz) and Dalton both pranked Henstridge during the production and aftermath of “FZZT” in Season 1, utilizing the makeup department to give de Caestecker the appearance of a massive bruise where Henstridge hit him with a fire extinguisher. There was also a pretty cute moment when a little girl dressed as Thor asked a question and then was invited up on stage.
The next couple of panels were more low-key. I see a couple of panels with Dark Horse’s creative staff, featuring such writers and artists as Jonathan Case, Larry Hama, Joëlle Jones, Paul Tobin, Mike Huddleston, Tyler Crook, and Chris Roberson, talking about their experience working for Dark Horse, where they got their inspiration, and (in the second panel, which was specifically about horror comics) what scared them the most. I’m mostly familiar with Dark Horse through their Star Wars and Godzilla comics, but I’ve been checking out some of their Alien work recently and the panels gave me insight into a few other titles I might be interested in checking out. In-between the two panels I also attended Sean Hoade’s “Creating Your Novel Scene by Scene,” which ultimately didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know about writing but which did feature is pretty amusing summary of A New Hope from start to finish.
The last panel I hit on Saturday featured another star guest, this time Walter Koenig, of Star Trek and Babylon 5 fame. The panel was for a locally made movie, Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time, which frankly looked kind of awful but it was a pretty fun experience nonetheless and it helped that the cast and crew seemed pretty self-aware (Koenig actually suggested the ideal double feature pair-up would be with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier). Plus, considering about half of the original Star Trek cast is deceased I was extremely pleased to be able to get into at least one panel with the esteemed Mr. Chekov.
In addition to Koenig, the panel also featured a special (and surprise) guest appearance by the film’s puppet villain, a goblin known as the Lord of the Under Realm whom the crew had custom made for the production. Despite the hit-and-miss nature of the humor in the film clips we were shown, the Lord of the Under Realm was actually pretty surprisingly hilarious in person (as it were). One of my favorite bits was when someone asked him who would win in a fight between him and Jareth, the Goblin King famously played by David Bowie in Labyrinth. His response? Jareth obviously. “Have you seen him? He’s goddamn enormous!”
The following day was definitely lower-key; he convention was open a couple of hours less and it seems most of the celebrity guests had left by the end of Saturday. Still, there were a few highlights and I enjoyed a panel with Image Comics staff like Matt Fraction, Justin Greenwood, Emi Lenox, Jim Valentino, and Jeremy Haun as well as a game show hosted by The Kaijucast, which quizzed participants on answers to a poll of kaiju fans about their favorite (or least favorite) parts of the Godzilla and Gamera franchises (one thing that surprised me is that no one listed Godzilla as a villain but several people nominated Mothra as one!). There was also a pretty excellent panel by fans about the definition of personhood in relation to Battlestar Galactica, which I actually participated in briefly by asking a question about the Cylon religion as an essential part of their self-identity (though I think I kind of fumbled it). The last panel I attended, by Mike Allred (who was filling in for Matt Fraction, who apparently had to leave), was also interesting and an intimate look at one person’s journey from fan to creator.
The only panel I can honestly say I didn’t enjoy hardly at all was unfortunately one I’d put some effort into making sure I attended, which was Dark Horse’s panel on manga early Sunday afternoon. Hosted by Dark Horse’s manga editor Carl Horn (who also was the editor in charge of Viz Media’s localization of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga) the panel did have a few interesting titles on display, such as Satoshi Kon’s Opus and Seraphim or The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otsuka, but for the most part the panel was little more than a transparent catalog for Dark Horse’s upcoming manga titles, with screen after screen of “the newly collected omnibus of title X.” It was kind of boring and more than a little depressing, but to a certain extent it’s hard to blame Dark Horse: given that each title is originally from Japan and none of the creators were present in America, it’s not as if they could have an actual discussion about the creative process. All the same, it was a rather poor showing.
Overall though, it was a pretty great experience. Again, there weren’t that many big reveals but the guests seemed happy to be there, the crowds were generally pretty friendly, and it was a much more laid back, easygoing experience than San Diego, which felt kind of hectic when I attended five years ago. So I think I’ll be heading there again next year and I encourage anyone else in the local area to check it out too.