The summer convention season has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the fun has stopped.
North Texans can get their geek on at two upcoming comic cons: a medium-sized affair called the Dallas Comic Show, Sept. 16-17 at the Richardson Civic Center, and the massive Dallas Fan Days, to be held Oct. 20-22 at the Irving Convention Center.
Both events will have much to offer pop culture buffs and casual comic book fans alike.
DALLAS COMIC SHOW
Perhaps you’ve never been to a comic book convention, but you’ve seen reports on the news about San Diego Comic-Con, aka the Super Bowl for nerds. You’ve marveled over the cosplayers and been impressed with the star-studded guest lineup, but high ticket prices and crazy crowds, not to mention having to book a trip to California, have kept you away.
Enter Dallas Comic Show, an affordable event that is far more low-key than the bigger cons but in some ways just as much fun.
“I just hope people give us a look and try it out, especially if they’ve never been to one of these before,” says Dallas Comic Show organizer and founder Mark Walters. “Conventions can be daunting for a variety of reasons — either they’re too expensive or the crowds look scary. We’re not like that. We keep the prices down, and the crowd is very manageable.”
As with most comic cons, Dallas Comic Show features costumed characters, gaming and anime content, and a vendors room filled with comic books, graphic novels, T-shirts and toys, all in a family-friendly environment.
When it comes to guests, don’t expect to see any household names like Chris Pratt or Mark Hamill, but there will be some Hollywood types on hand, including Lori Petty (“Tank Girl,” “A League of Their Own”), Dickey Beer (Boba Fett stuntman in “Return of the Jedi”) and Susan Eisenberg (voice of the animated Wonder Woman).
If you’re a “Twin Peaks” fan, you’re in luck as three actors from that show will be there signing autographs and taking pictures with fans: Tom Sizemore, Harry Goaz and Kimmy Robertson.
Walters is equally enthused about the comic book guests scheduled to appear.
“Joe Jusko, who painted the Marvel Masterpieces trading cards, is always a treat, but he’s been cutting back on conventions so this is a bit of a rare appearance,” Walters says. “Spider-Man artist Todd Nauck and I went to art school together here in Dallas, so it’s always fun to bring him ‘home’ for a weekend, and he’s great with fans. Tim Bradstreet, Steve Niles and James O'Barr are a solid goth/horror comics triple threat, and great dudes. I’m excited about Daniel Way, who has been killing it with his writing on ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Wolverine: Origins.’ This is his first DFW show.”
DALLAS FAN DAYS
Dallas Fan Days lacks the national appeal and sheer scope of such spectacles as San Diego Comic-Con and New York Comic Con, but it does manage to pull in a steady string of A-list celebrities.
At this year’s event, you can rub elbows with Michael Cudlitz, who plays Abraham on “The Walking Dead,” Madelaine Petsch, who plays Cheryl Blossom on “Riverdale,” and Matt Smith, the 11th incarnation of Doctor Who. If you’re into the Netflix sensation “Stranger Things,” you’ll be happy to know that two of its principal players, Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin) and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas), will be attending the con in anticipation of season two, which drops Oct. 27.
“The kids from ‘Stranger Things’ will be a big hit with how hot that show is right now,” says Ron Killingsworth, co-owner of the Fort Worth-based Collected Comics retail chain and a frequent vendor at Dallas Fan Days. “I’ve met Michael Cudlitz, and he’s always great with his fans.”
Like Mark Walters, Killingsworth is a veteran of the industry. He remembers when comic book conventions were underground events catering to hardcore fans.
“With superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy and all being such a part of mainstream culture today, attendees tend to be from every walk of life,” he says. “We sell as much pop culture merchandise as we do comics at these shows now.”
Killingsworth, who calls Fan Days “one of his favorite shows,” offers advice for those who have never been to such an event.
“Expect a lot of fun,” he says. “It can be sensory overload at first, but take your time. Be sure to take in everything from the panels to the celebrities to the cosplayers, and most especially the dealer’s room.”
DALLAS COMIC SHOW
- Sept. 16-17
- 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
- Richardson Civic Center
- 411 W Arapaho Road, Richardson
- Tickets: Weekend pass, $20; Sunday only, $10; child 6-12, $5 (children under 6 are free). Extra fees for celebrity autographs and photo ops
DALLAS FAN DAYS
- Oct. 20-22
- 4-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
- Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas
- 500 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving
- Tickets: Weekend pass, $60 in advance, $65 at the door; Oct. 20, $20 in advance, $25 at the door; Oct. 21, $40 in advance, $45 at the door; Oct. 22, $30 in advance, $35 at the door; child 6-12, $5 (children under 6 are free) Extra fees for celebrity autographs and photo ops