Comicpalooza 2013 Day 2: Let's Get Dangerous
Yesterday was all about trying to learn new and exciting things in the world of geekdom and even a little bit of science here and there. I kept it scholarly. On Saturday, I decided to try a different tactic. It was time to get physical.
This started with a brisk four-block walk to the George R. Brown in an effort not to be surprised with another $21.95 parking voucher. It's not nearly as hot as it was last year at this time, and it helps that I was humming the Rocky theme in my head the whole time.
Because this year, after spending two years mentioning it in print, I was going to enter battle thanks to Dagohir. You've probably seen them in the open fields along Richmond in Montrose where the Mustache Ride is installed. Using foam weapons and elaborate costumes, they stage huge wars that look like the greatest fun ever.
Usually I just watch the fights, and this time I was treated to what my new barbarian friend Agohim called a midget melee as little kids took after each other with bloody abandon. Once they'd tired of fighting, it was finally my turn.
I used to be a pretty in-shape guy, a professional wrestler, even though that was many moons and bad decisions ago. Surely I could hold my own in a play sword fight.
Flashback Comicpalooza 2012 Day 2: Bring Money
Melissa Gillbanks as Black Widow
All photos by Jef With One F
I decided to eschew a shield, opting for less weight for better dodging, and Agohim allowed himself to go shieldless as well in fairness and respect for my status as a novice. He launched the attack like lightning, and it took every bit of reflex I had to parry and dodge him. The first fight went quickly, as he aimed a thrust right through my guard that hit me dead in the heart.
The second went more my way, and I managed to cut him down a limb with some clever feints and by switching hands unexpectedly. A lucky shot drove him to his knees, and I got my revenge with a stab.
The final fray was where it became clear that my pudgy little writer's body wasn't up to the art of combat anymore. He took my right arm out early with enough force to knock me into a kneeling position. I aimed a desperate last hew at him, only to be almost comically blocked and gutted. I was now panting, shaking and ready to throw in the towel I shamed Douglas Adams by forgetting to bring.
I'll say what I've said before...if Dagohir was televised on Monday nights, I would crash my car to get home in time to watch it. If only they didn't insist on doing this outside where the yellow hurty thing is most days, because it is one of the greatest things I've ever experienced and I would love to do it more. Make love, not war? Screw that. Fake war, because war is awesome when everyone gets to go home afterwards.
Chastened, I decided to move on to a less physical form of battle and trudged to the exact opposite end of the convention center to do the exact opposite of exercise, play video games. Flashback Comicpalooza 2012 Day 2: Heinlein, Graverobber, and Mech Warriors
Surprisingly, the third floor was now cordoned off to through traffic with white curtains and some rather power-mad door people. I hate door people as a rule because the position itself automatically inflates the person doing the job with a sense of importance far out of proportion to their status.
"What's going on here?" I asked, secretly pretending I was Patrick Troughton.
"Surprise graduation," the official replied.
"You can graduate by surprise?" I asked. "I admit I can name several people that did so contrary to all logical sense, but generally they know before they get to the cap and gown fitting."
He looked at me. "They didn't tell the convention there was a graduation this weekend."
"And for some reason we're not allowed to walk past the door lest someone dressed as Spider-Man accidentally receive a doctorate or something."
"Go around, sir,"
I made the poor choice of winding through the panel rooms to try and get around the forbidden area, and half an hour later ended up where I wanted to be. I was looking forward to the free pinball tables, but they were already full. Instead, I decided the time had come to try out MechCorps.
The Bowden Family
Confession: I have written bits about MechCorps for two years and never actually climbed into the pods to attempt to play. Why? Well, the first time was because I didn't want to skip the line and get glared at, but really it's because I didn't need to. The ability to control giant missile-shooting robots as you try and kill opponents in real time cannot possibly be anything but amazing. Still, in the name of journalistic integrity I signed up. It's for y'all's benefit I do these things, you understand.
Why doesn't everyone do this all the time? Why do other video games exist? How on Earth did anyone ever look at these pod controls and explosions and say, "Yeah, let's sell those off. There's no interest."
MechCorp is unbelievable. You get around five minutes and infinite re-spawns in the arena, and using very satisfyingly military controls, you pilot your mech around seeking murder, glorious murder. At the end they give you a damn play-by-play account of how you did all printed up, which I assume you can bind in a journal called The Robot Wars Volume MCXII: Where Sgt. Jef With One F Kicks Other Giant Mechs in the Dick While Laughing Like A Person on Medication Shouldn't.
I had the highest number of kills in my game, half of which were the result of suicidal wars of attrition. I should probably talk to a professional about that.
Their new regular home is just a bit over on West Road not far from my house, so if I suddenly stop writing on here, that's why. Flashback Best Comics of April: Free Comic Book Day Edition
Frank and Pete as Roddy Piper and Silent Bob
I headed back to the main floor hoping to get a hot dog. Comicpalooza is so much bigger this year than ever before. Word is next year it will be four days, not three, and the line to pick up badges was literally the longest one I have ever seen for anything in my life. I don't know how many people are here, but it is a lot.
And they all wanted hot dogs, apparently, so I stood in line in front of two young men who tested my ability to not grab the Buster Sword from the Cloud Strife in front of me and go all Climhazzard.
"It's all ninja sluts in here. Pikachu's really let himself go. What's a Tardis? It sounds faggy. All these Jokers suck. What's she supposed to be, Super Whore? That Wolverine is fat. Fucking stupid goggles."
This went on for 20 agonizing minutes and I bit my tongue because the phone calls from the front office I get after I'm thrown out of gigs for causing trouble are incredibly awkward.
Yes, I saw a Psylocke that probably should have gone with flesh-covered tights rather than bare legs. Yes, the decision to give Joker a green mohawk is a little off. Yes, that Tifa has some jiggle around her bare belly. Yes, some people take the steampunk thing way too far.
But you know what, assholes who aren't reading this, fuck you with angry green Hulk wang. Everyone here put serious thought into what they wanted to wear, and for most of them I imagine it's a rare chance in the course of the year to do something fun and festive and not the norm. They're not here for your appreciation, and your negativity is going to assure you die lonely and pissed off. If you find yourself someplace like Comicpalooza, do me a favor. Quit trying to be cool by mocking effort and honest fandom. Stay home and yell at the TV.
My last stop was to visit Vlad Yudin, who asked me to drop by his booth promoting his comic book Head Smash. I'm a sucker for names like that.
Head Smash takes place is a somewhat postapocalyptic city called Ares. A man named Smash serves Maurice and his ruling faction of thugs, The Horde. The Horde has come into possession of a chemical that grants superhuman strength but has unpredictable side effects. Smash is eventually betrayed, his family held hostage, and he leads an uprising against the Horde.
It's pretty standard stuff, but Yudin writes it with a real depth that allows you to immerse yourself in the story immediately. He manages to tap into all the antiauthoritarian undercurrents that flow in even the most timid statist. We'll be seeing it in graphic novel format from Aracana later this year, and it promises a grand bloody epic of survival in a brutal society. You'll hear more about it from me later when the full novel is released.
"This speaks to everyone who has ever suffered oppression," said Yudin. "It shows that you can rise up, stand up and take on those above you."
Check out Jef's adventures from the first day of Comicpalooza this year. Well see you tomorrow for the final day!
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.