By C.J. Bunce
One of the Midwest’s best pop culture and comic book conventions was this past weekend, Planet Comicon, which has been Kansas City’s largest fan convention for more than a dozen years. The show seemed to be bursting from its seams this year with thousands of guests, and appears to be outgrowing its venue at the Overland Park International Trade Center.
The film and TV headliners for this year’s show included Edward James Olmos, best known to sci-fi fans for his role in Blade Runner and as Adama in the Battlestar Galactica reboot series. He signed autographs and took photos with fans both days of the show. Here he is with Erin Gray, who appeared with other actors from the 1979-1981 TV series Buck Rogers and the 25th Century:
Gray also appeared on an episode of the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure last year.
The other featured major guest from film and TV was Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but also as Harvey Dent alongside Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman film. His current work includes a stint on USA’s White Collar.
Billy Dee also appeared at the show both days. (I offered a woman in line $5 to say “Billy Dee, Billy Dee, Billy Dee!” when she finally met him but didn’t take me up on it. And it’s OK if you don’t get that reference).
Early Saturday morning legendary comic book artist Michael Golden is getting fueled up before embarking on a sketch of Green Arrow:
Michael is known for his work on such titles like Marvel Comics series The ‘Nam, GI Joe Yearbook, Star Wars, and Micronauts. He is also the co-creator of the X-Men character Rogue.
I’ve been a fan of the different styles Mike Norton uses in his art for quite a while. Here he is signing one of his comic pages for the Green Arrow/Black Canary series, where he did the pencil work and comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz provided the ink work:
Mike is working on a creator-owned project currently and has previously worked on Runaways, Gravity, the Young Justice animated series comic book. He was actively sketching pages for fans at the show and produced probably a dozen at least over the weekend, including this great image for me:
Unfortunately Bernie Wrightson wasn’t sketching at this year’s convention, but he was signing plenty of shirts and books for his Frankenstein book. Wrightson’s horror artwork goes back several decades, with his first published comic work with House of Mystery in 1969. He co-created Swamp Thing in 1971. His work has appeared in Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, and Batman: The Cult. Here Wrightson is at a signing table with Freddie Williams II and his wife Kiki:
Freddie is well known for his work on his Robin series, and is currently one of the DC Comics top artists. We reviewed his and JT Krul’s Captain Atom series here at borg.com a few weeks ago. Freddie was busy creating sketches for fans and speaking on panels at the show.
Currently working on projects for Dynamite Comics, Bionic Man writer Phil Hester and Lone Ranger writer Ande Parks had pages of original artwork as well as copies of their books new and old that they were signing for fans, including a lot of low-priced original art from their run on the DC Comics Green Arrow series:
It’s great that these guys have tackled both the writing and illustration sides of comic book creation.
I got to catch up again with a couple well known Kansas City authors. Here, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, two of the best known authors of Star Trek novels, talk with fans at the show.
The NBC TV series Heroes co-creator Tim Sale was signing books and art at his booth:
Sales’ past work includes art in Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: The Long Halloween, Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Grey, Spider-Man: Blue and Superman For All Seasons. (What’s with these color titles, anyway?). His unique stylized paintings on Heroes featured into the plot of the series.
I spent time chatting with Rob B. Davis, currently providing illustrations for a Sherlock Holmes series and past artist for Malibu’s Deep Space Nine comic book series, writer Jai Nitz, who was juggling signing copies of his Kato and Tron: Betrayal series while moderating different comic book panels at the show, borg.com writer Art Schmidt, local writer Justin Cline manning the front of the convention, and Todd Aaron Smith, who sketched this great Black Canary image for me:
Smith had provided storyboards for Family Guy and other animation art for shows like South Park and various DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV series. Current Marvel Comics lead writer Jason Aaron could be found with some good lines of fans waiting to get copies of his various Hulk, Wolverine and X-men series signed:
The facility was packed wall to wall with plenty of booths selling everything from graphic novels to collectible action figures, original comic book art, and comic book back issues. Here, Elite Comics comic book store owner William Binderup appears to be raking in some cash from sales of comics at his booth:
Show producer Chris Jackson seemed pleased with the success of this year’s convention.
And of course there were plenty of cosplayers. Here a few Batman characters huddled for a photo:
But I think the best was this “Hello Kitty meets Stormtrooper” mash-up:
No doubt it would have been a far different Star Wars had Luke showed up to rescue the princess with this outfit.