One day soon Houston may be mentioned in the same breath as San Diego and New York when it comes to go-to convention destinations for comics fans, Trekkies, Whovians, cosplayers and every other demographic that so openly celebrates its passions now that the nerds have won.
The four-day Comicpalooza convention at the George R. Brown this year was massive. More than 30,000 people attended, bringing nearly $10 million to the city of Houston.
According to founder and convention head John Simons, you even hear Comicpalooza being talked about by industry people at the premieres of Hollywood blockbuster superhero movies like Thor: The Dark World.
Lori Brewer, a 25-year-old baker and cake decorator, certainly loves it. She strolled the floor at this year's event dressed as the latest version of Black Canary from the hit television series Arrow. Brewer grew up with two older brothers who fostered a love of comics in her, and she became hooked on the animated X-Men series at a fairly young age. She went to her first convention in 2008, and now makes it a point to attend five or six a year.
"I'd heard of San Diego Comic Con and a lot of the other big ones, but honestly, I'd just never seen anything here at home like that," says Brewer.
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It's not surprising. For three decades, Houston was a ghost town for geeks, with only a few scattered cons occasionally cropping up. The strange death of the once-thriving comics convention scene is addressed in this week's cover story, as well as how Comicpalooza brought the comics convention back to Houston.
"Comicpalooza is my favorite," Brewer says. "It's a mixture of the location and the people that I know who go to it. The hotel and convention combination together makes it easier. They have all the space they need. The layouts can be very confusing, but it's very well set up in comparison to other cons. Plus, they do a fantastic job finding celebrities. Not just as in famous, but as in fun."
Some of those celebrities are also discovering Houston for the first time. Doctor Who stars Paul McGann and Colin Baker particularly enjoyed their time here, sneaking off one day to happily tour mission control at the Johnson Space Center, where they received a warm welcome.
"I love it here," said McGann in a backstage interview. "Texas people, you're like the Irish, you know? You look a fellow right in the eye and say what you think. It's great."