Comicpalooza Returns to the George R Brown Convention Center

A family gets together and dresses like Ghostbusters.
A family gets together and dresses like Ghostbusters. Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
Throngs of fans dressed as characters from anime, manga’s, comic books, hit shows and movies lined up early Saturday morning in front of the George R Brown Convention Center. As fans dressed as different characters filed through security, Bill H. lined up alongside them.

“I’ve been coming here for five years,” exclaimed Bill H. while he jokingly explained the “H” in his name was for Houston. “I come here every year to people watch. The people. The cosplay stuff. The celebrities. I don’t do the autograph thing, but I do like to see who’s there.”

The event with the celebrities, cosplayers, and people is the return of Comicpalooza, the three-day celebration of all things comic related and more that has been running since 2008 — with the exception of 2020 during the height of the pandemic. It began as a small gathering in the lobby of Alamo Drafthouse but over the last decade and a half it has grown into a convention that encompasses much more than just cosplay, celebrities, and autographs. The convention is a multi-format collection celebrating comics, sci-fi, anime, cosplay, literature, fantasy, horror, films, games, wrestling, cars, renaissance, robotics, podcasting, and more spread out over 1.1 million square feet in the downtown complex.

Some of this year’s guest were actor William Shatner of Star Trek, Christopher Judge from God of War, Tenoch Huerta of Black panther fame, Jaime Hector from The Wire, WWE wrestlers Mick Foley and Lita, comic creator Frank Cho, writer Kij Johnson, and astronaut Stanley Love. Chad Coleman of The Walking Dead, The Wire, The Orville, and Superman & Lois took a break from signing autographs to speak about the impact of conventions like Comicpalooza.
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Elton Fite poses in front of his booth alongside his brother.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
“It’s a love fest here. We all want validation and acceptance and that’s what the fans bring,” said The Wire alum as he glanced over headshots being set up for him to sign for fans. “Conventions like this give us the opportunity to give that love back to them.”

The convention not only gives established actors like Coleman the opportunity to meet and greet with fans but also give up and coming indie creators a chance to showcase their works to new audiences. Elton Fite is one such creator who joined the many indie creators at Comicpalooza.

“I’m the creator of Kid Shogun,” he said proudly as he stood in front of his booth alongside his brother. “Events like this are important because it allows people like me to get our creative juices out. It gives us an avenue to share what we have made with the world while also helping us to make a living from our art.”

Comicpalloza is all things to all fans, and, at times, it can just look like a hodgepodge of all things fantasy alongside reality. One side of the convention center is dedicated to a series of cars that are painted to represent various intellectual properties like Friday the 13th, Ghostbusters, the Joker, and Super Mario all sitting below a rotating moon set up by NASA. The NASA booths gave another aspect to the gathering, connecting convention goers to the reality of the organization responsible for space exploration.
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Young fans dress like everything, from Disney princesses to Marvel superheroes.
Photo by DeVaughn Douglas
“These people are our people,” said Michael Flores as fans stopped to take pictures alongside an astronaut figure. “We love being here because we’re able to show the sci-fi aspect and practical application of a lot of the fantasy ideas that are happening in these various worlds. We have fans that are reading fictional sci-fi next to us and we’re showing them how we’re going back to the moon. It gets them excited to ask deep, probing questions. They want to know why, and we bring them the experts to show them the answers.”

For fans that missed Friday’s opening and Saturday’s festivities there is still more time as the convention’s last day is Sunday. Get there early so you can explore everything the three floors of activities that the George R Brown has to offer.
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Houston Press contributor DeVaughn Douglas is a freelance writer, blogger, and podcaster. He is 1/2 of the In My Humble Opinion Podcast and 1/1 of the Sleep and Procrastination Society. (That last one isn't a podcast; he just procrastinates and sleeps a lot.)