Pop Culture

H-town Native Brent Spiner to Make First Houston Comic Convention Appearance

Lieutenant Commander Data may be devoid of emotion, but Houston-born and -raised actor Brent Spiner, who played the android on television's Star Trek: The Next Generation, is very human and capable of experiencing hurt and wonder. Having never been invited to appear at a local comic convention, Spiner finally telephoned Space City Comic Con promoter George Comits to find out why.

“It was very touching to me when we got the call from Brent Spiner, 'Hey, is there something wrong with me? Nobody's ever invited me to a comic con in my hometown,'” recounts Comits. “So we said, 'We're gonna fix that right now.'” Comits is a man of his word and, as it turns out, Spiner was just the first of many Star Trek and its related spin-offs guests that the organizers have booked for the Memorial Day weekend event. Now, almost 50 years after the original series launched in 1966, the sci-fi franchise has branched out to include several television series, movies, video games and now even a web series: Star Trek Continues, created by another native Houstonian, Vic Mignogna.

Comits says that Mignogna, who plays commanding officer Captain James T. Kirk on the web series, is contracted to Orlando's MegaCon, and so therefore can't appear here, but Comits has done a pretty good job securing the rest of the cast. “I have Michele Specht, I have Gigi Edgley,” says Comits. “I have Chris Doohan, the son of the famous Jimmy Doohan; he actually plays the character of Scotty.”

Those familiar with the web series know that it pays tribute to the original as much as possible. “Vic's series is down to the last detail a copy of the original Star Trek series: same fabric, same set designs, same lighting, same music,” says Comits. “They are purists as fans.” They've filmed six episodes so far, helped along through crowdfunding, and Mignogna wanted to find a way to make up for not being here.

“So because MegaCon had the contract for Vic, and they had the world premiere of his first episode, Vic wanted to do us a favor because we're all friends here,” says Comits. “ Vic granted us, let's call it, an opening-day screening. So the day the video for Star Trek Continues No. 6 is released to the backers from crowdfunding, we're going to have the cast on panel watch the episode, and then we'll discuss it afterwards."

Another crowdfunded series at Space City is Nexus – having its world premiere – described as a high-end short film in the style of The Matrix. Gigi Edgley plays the lead, a brilliant physicist who finds a way to connect different universes. Edgley's other credits, in addition to Star Trek Continues, include Syfy's Farscape, USA Network's The Starter Wife and serving as host of Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge.

No Star Trek conversation would be complete without the original James T. Kirk, William Shatner himself, whom we previously announced when we reported that Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam was also booked. Shatner is contracted with MegaCon, but found a way to appear at both events within the same weekend (he'll be in Houston on Sunday, May 29). Maybe it was the Demeris Barbecue that Comits fed him last year (“he really enjoyed it”), or maybe it was the H-Town love that we gave him after his 22-year-hiatus (excluding solo shows), but when Comits ran into Shatner in New Orleans for WizardWorld, it was a fait accompli. “[Shatner] said, 'George, come here. I want you to know, I'm coming to your show; I'm definitely there,'” says Comits. “We're pleased that he's an incredibly busy man and he still made time for us.”

Other actors scheduled to appear at Space City include Colin Baker (most know him as the sixth Doctor Who from television's Doctor Who: Real Time, but he also plays the character Amphidamas in The White Iris episode of Star Trek Continues).

Adrienne Wilkinson, who has numerous video game credits and appeared on television's Star Trek: Renegades, also is booked. “A lot of people know Adrienne from the [Xena: Warrior Princess] series. In Star Trek Continues, she reprised the role of the woman Edith Keeler, one of Star Trek's most emotional episodes, based on The City on the Edge of Forever, written by Harlan Ellison. She was very well-received, attractive, kind of a tough-as-nails female captain of this crew of misfits,” says Comits. “So we have true alums who get to sit in, who have their own chops on sci-fi.”

The pop-culture expo includes comics, sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, literature, art, costume contests, fan groups, LARP and a dealer room; additional fees apply for autographs and photo opportunities.

Noon to 8 p.m. May 27, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 29. Space City Comic Con, NRG Center, 8309 Fannin, 832-667-1400, spacecitycomiccon.com. $20 to $799.
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Susie Tommaney is a contributing writer who enjoys covering the lively arts and culture scene in Houston and surrounding areas, connecting creative makers with the Houston Press readers to make every week a great one.
Contact: Susie Tommaney