Guess what? Gum that was manufactured in 1988 doesn't taste good. Heck, I don't think it tasted good in 1988. I learned this after I bought a vintage pack of Growing Pains trading cards at a booth on Saturday afternoon at Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
The annual comic book and sci-fi convention brought out every shape, age and creed of fan, from beautiful girls in cleavage and thigh-baring outfits to a tiny Hulk and a little person painted as Papa Smurf. Though some younger attendees weren't sure who he was. Just a blue dwarf?
"One kid asked me if I was an Oompa-Loompa. I mean, who doesn't know who Papa Smurf is?" said the naturally white-haired gentleman with a shudder. He was painted head to toe in a rich blue hue from the cartoon series. As I spoke with him, fans appeared and took turns grabbing cellphone pics of him.
"Maybe they think you are a dead Oompa-Loompa, maybe?" I asked him, which made him chuckle until he coughed. I think next year he may just make a few changes to his outfit and become the first Zombie Oompa character.
Walking down the aisles of Comicpalooza, I could feel my wallet shrinking. So many action figures, crate upon crate of comics, masks, swords and weaponry, Steam Punk gear; even retailer Half Price Books had a booth. I came upon a booth selling trading cards from various films and television shows from the '70s up until now.
Oodles of trading cards from shows like Alf, The Simpsons and even Beverly Hills 90210. There were even Ghost Whisperer cards, which I can only hope come with a special limited-edition holographic card of star Jennifer Love Hewitt's chest. It only seems fair. I bought way too many Last Action Hero cards.
This is where I bought that gum I mentioned. I ate half of a stick of it, on a dare with myself mainly, and the metallic taste hurt my soul. How did I do this back in the '90s? Oh, that was because the gum wasn't 24 years old back then.
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Stars like Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, and Sean Patrick Flanery from Boondock Saints and the locally shot Powder were set up in booths waiting to sign autographs and take pics with fans. Kevin Sorbo is still as handsome as he was in his Hercules: The Legendary Journeys days. Somehow he is my father's age.
You could even meet and greet Richard LeParmentier, the man who played Conan Antonio Motti, the Imperial officer nearly choked to death by Darth Vader in A New Hope.
I wasn't going to spend $45 to meet and get a pic with Star Trek alum George Takei. As my friend and I were saying as we walked by his cordoned-off area, it would be cooler to run into him in public than to have it be forced at a convention. Here's hoping he randomly shows up at Target this weekend.
Comicpalooza is great family fun, too, all the fanboy-baiting cleavage aside. I saw plenty of families dressed up together as their favorite characters. Part of the fun is picking out who people are supposed to be. You feel dumb asking them.