Lines for Friday guests started early on the opening day of Planet Comicon Kansas City 2019. Today is expected to be the biggest day of this year’s show, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. The event is open today and tomorrow at the Kansas City Convention Center. A big plus for the tens of thousands of parkers today: no NCAA Final Four game is scheduled today, so parking east of the convention center should be freed up for the convention’s annual biggest attended day.
In part because of the 20th anniversary, and because of the great slate of celebrity and creator guests this year, Comicon Friday by all counts seemed to be better attended than a typical Friday at a pop culture convention. That didn’t stop us from tracking down some actors from TV and film.
Like Henry Winkler, visiting Kansas City this weekend with his lovely wife of 41 years, Stacey. Winkler, who became a household name in the 1970s and 1980s as Fonzie on Happy Days and as co-star of Night Shift (followed by more than a hundred starring and guest-starring roles in TV and film since), never sat down, graciously greeting everyone who stood in line to meet him, he chatted with adoring fans, signing autographs, and posing with fans for photographs.
John Wesley Shipp became a familiar face in the 1980s on Guiding Light, and then became the star of the first modern superhero TV series in 1990, portraying Barry Allen on The Flash. He went on to star and co-star on several series over the past 30 years and has a legion of fans on social media. Most recently fans of the superhero genre saw him portray not only the father of Barry Allen on the CW’s The Flash, Shipp also returned as the Flash that he portrayed in 1990 in the new series last season–fulfilling the dream of those who loved the original show.
We enjoyed talking about his favorite character as a kid (he wanted to be Luke), the weight of a crossbow, and what it felt like to be one of the most beloved characters in the history of film with Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo, who played Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Solo: A Star Wars Story, and the upcoming Star Wars: Episode IX. No matter how tall you think Chewbacca is, in person, he’s much, much taller.
This weekend visitors also can meet, from film and TV, William Shatner, Lori Petty, Cary Elwes, Dean Cain, Linda Blair, Jennifer Morrison, Daniella Panabaker, Mark Pellegrino, Chris Sarandon, Wallace Shawn, Bonnie Wright, and James and Oliver Phelps. Check out the entire line-up of celebrity guests and great creator guests like Chris Claremont, Jim Steranko, Jim Starlin, Denys Cowan, Kevin Eastman, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Keith Giffen, Bob McLeod, at the PCKC website here.
There’s plenty to see, and purchase, at the show.
Of course, because it wasn’t Saturday, that also meant more time to chat with the celebrity guests. I’m longtime fans of Winkler and Shipp, and last year Suotamo did the unthinkable, re-creating Chewbacca just as we met him for the first time in 1977–both Shipp and Suotamo made our Best of 2018 here and here at borg.
I’m personally grateful for the time they shared with me, and for making the trip in a rainy March to Kansas City.
Check back as we share more from the 20th anniversary of Planet Comicon Kansas City.