Pop Culture

Bayou City Comic Con Looks to Start Small

Hawkeye explains why small groups sometimes work best.
Hawkeye explains why small groups sometimes work best. Panel from West Coast Avengers #1
Longtime Houston event organizer Ginger Simon is looking to enter the comic con game this fall, and her first attempt looks like it just might be small and notable enough to work.

The Houston fan convention scene is in a tumultuous state, and it’s not just because COVID in general crippled the entire industry.  Some vendors complained that there wasn't enough traffic at Anime Matsuri — reportedly
there were widespread no-shows. A reduced Comicpalooza was trying to recharge with their opening this past weekend.

Consequently, it’s the modest con attempts that seem to be cautiously thriving. The Houston Horror Film Fest was a resounding success according to all the local film scenesters who attended, for instance. In that vein comes Simon with Bayou City Comic Con.

The name tripped off a lot of alarms for con insiders. Space City Comic Con in 2016 tried to bill itself as an alternative to Comicpalooza, but it spun out of control under the leadership of George Comits. Luckily, Simon has a fairly impressive pedigree when it comes to organization.

She worked under John Simons (no relations) at Comicpalooza for seven years. In addition, she’s helped organize both the Houston St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Houston Irish Stew Cook-Off. She’s spent a lot of time getting her hands dirty, which bodes well for the coming event.

“I’ve poured beer at the Italian Fest and schlepped bands around for I-Fest,” she says. “I’ve been doing this sort of thing for 15 years.”

The scope of the con looks very manageable. Simon plans to have about ten celebrity guests and another ten big names in comics, but little else in the way of programming. The comic guests are the only ones that have been announced so far. These include Bob Hall (West Coast Avengers), Chad Hardin (Harley Quinn, Wonder Woman), Charles Moisant (Silver Phoenix Publishing) and animator Philo Barhart (Little Mermaid, Secret of NIMH).

The celebrity guests haven’t been announced yet, but Simon says she’s in talks with Warner Bros. She hopes to have people attend who are not as often seen on the convention circuit. In addition, diversity is top of her list. She wants to attract Bollywood personalities, Asian film stars and lots more women to the convention.

“I want a guest list that reflects the diversity of Houston,” she says.

Three days at the comparatively small Westin Galleria space is a lot less than the manic and enormous events that usually take place at the George R. Brown Convention Center, but that’s exactly what Simon wants out of the experience. Though there will likely be some panels and contests, the goal of Bayou City Comic Con is to offer a more sedate and affordable experience, both in terms of ticket price and time. For instance, the Friday hours will be 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., hoping to draw in retail workers who can’t get out of work on the weekend.

“I want this to be a place you can stroll,” says Simon. “It’s not going to be packed with programming.”

Simon also plans to have strict COVID safety protocols in place. Masks will be available and there will be Triad Aer air filters sanitizing the air. With attendees not packing themselves into tiny panels rooms so much, this will hopefully reduce the spread of any virus at the event.

It’s unclear what the future of the Houston convention scene will look like post-COVID. It’s very possible that the whole thing will need a soft reboot. A small start like Bayou City Comic Con could be a very hopeful sign.

Bayou City Comic Con is scheduled for November 19 -21 at the West Galleria, 5060 West Alabama. For more information, visit BayouCityComicCon.com.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner