Parkinson's Law plays a side game at the 2014 Lexington Comic and Toy Convention. They may have twice the floor space to last year, but when twice the heaving masses turn up to shuffle through the aisles and booths you'd think otherwise.
A thronging crowd bays at the convention gates as the Heritage Hall pre-function area teems with a mix of plain clothes and cosplayers (one brilliant Captain Jack Sparrow will tell you the difference between a costumer and a cosplayer) all before the opening rush of 09:00. It's the VIPs in first and relief is thick in the thinness of an early morning crowd.
The line for general admission at 10:00 wraps a choke hold up and around the adjacent food court. It's a battle of sorts with those still coming from the Shamrock Shuffle 3K waving through in their green decking. They look on in muted shock, either at the line, the costumes or both. Transport is a trek for latecomers as Winter Jam subtracts from the parking slots.
Walking the length of the convention floor takes a while with the extra space. Like that illusion where the back wall keeps falling away as you run toward it and you wake up in a pool of your own sweat, strapped down by rope. Before noon it takes upward of 10 minutes to make a line from the front to the back, where the major celebrity guests are signing. If there was more than one entrance no one was pointing it out.
The bottleneck is no longer the queue for the panels right at the entrance, but moved to the booths and everywhere else as the notch on the costumes is up. The 501st Legion area is still a slow down, with both the Blast a Stormtrooper and dewback displays arresting flow before it has a chance to filter off the carpet and onto the cement floor of the remainder.
Open areas along the aisles exist for people to take photos of one another, or to breathe, but they instead stand in the middle of the traffic, in narrower spots.
Inside there really is one only sign, it's not for directions, that's your own fault for not referencing the map in the program guide. Booth numbers of which are so small they're only suggesting they look like numbers, nothing noted clearly beyond the legend.
Multiple toilets exist inside the convention floor, but out of habit, those next to the entrance leaves those on the side a much quieter scene to listen to someone draining their bladder through a trapdoor and hose system they've built into their costume.
On both days, the level of costume making and cosplay is impressive, elaborate and tough to ignore. The costume contest is intense, the lineup along the window is full of character and takes the judges (Ani-Mia, Drew Curtis, Nicole Marie Jean and Tyler Phillips) a full hour just to run through the preliminary summations. Another hour then to stage all the costumes with the lobby area outside the floor seeing a lot in audience. Two of the biggest, and winners, are Vanellope von Schweetz from Wreck it Ralph and Franken Berry from a cereal box.
There are so many Deadpools. As many Deadpools as there are people dressed as The Doctor. There may be as many of both as there are Power Rangers. Close.
At the rate they manage to bring back cast members from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers they'll soon have Thuy Trang holding a line. (She died in 2001.) This year the big get was Amy Jo Johnson, the original Pink one, making her first ever convention appearance. The Amy Jo Johnson Experience was not part of the regular ticket, but was still in the same building and marketing materials, but it counts. The voices of Lord Zedd (Robert Axelrod), Rita Repulsa (Barbara Goodson) and Goldar (Kerrigan Mahan) also in tow, the latter two cracking jokes in-character on the PA system. Jason David Frank still has no problem pulling in the numbers to his line.
On Saturday, four or five panels run simultaneously every hour from 11:00 to 14:00, leaving a gaping wad of nothing between 14:00 and 18:00, when the doors close. You have to pick and choose which panel sounded better, knowing that if you wanted an afternoon of some respite, it would not be in choosing what else to listen to but of what other part of the convention floor is left to discover. Like that booth in the back corner selling shoddy bootleg DVDs made with a printer running low on ink in front of an Adam West era Batmobile.
Sunday panels are saner, with no more than three running at a time. The Amazing Bulk & Skull Panel is the last on the books right up to the closing of the doors for the year. Their couch of doom never saw a chance to exist in form beyond Saturday though. Poor thing.
The Patterson and Regency Ballrooms, while a minute walk away from the main convention floor, adds relief to the numbers. Instead of lines on lines at the entrance battling against the 501st Legion's huddle, the panel queues are now a problem dealt with in the food court and at the Hyatt hotel above. In one the capacity tops 500, the other at 150, but the latter only sees about 30 for each session.
Maybe it just looks better to host a panel where only seven people turn up knowing the masses went to the big name celebrity's panel instead, than to think they just didn't turn up even if there was nothing else going on.
Q&A with William Shatner is a game of air hands, plucking questions from the crowd and repeating them back because those asking never speak up. Captain James T. Kirk straddles the desk and raps about the meaning and moment of death, looping that "Oh my" line in Star Trek: Generations to Timothy Leary, and looking for recommendations on a BBQ place in Lexington.
George Takei Q&A takes a couple of questions from the belly of the seats until spotting the line behind a microphone, planted off to his right out of sight. Wonderful heart pouring on his thoughts and experiences keeping his homosexuality out of public knowledge for so long. Takei also mentions the upcoming Broadway musical, Allegiance, based on his time in Japanese-American internment camps, and how getting into people's brains is easier through song than a lecture or play.
Jim Steranko holds court during Story time with Steranko! as the other man at the table scribbles somethings on a notepad and refers to it for prompts. It's like an interview type thing. Into the depths of brash time, meeting with Stan Lee, walking up to a locksmith asking how to pick locks and the art of breaking out of a straight-jacket bought from an asylum, not a tricky-dicky. Exudes confidence and an air of grandeur.
At the Mick Foley/Big Van Vader Q&A "The Ear Incident" panel it's all about that untelevised moment 20 years ago when a nurse throws Foley's chewed off ear into a bin, thinking wrestling was entirely fake. Equal time between the two, though Foley gets more questions thrown at him than Vader. No, there will not be another Foley memoir.
Quick lesson in knowing your skeleton, muscles and anatomy in the Figure Drawing Workshop with Bob McLeod. McLeod likes the looks of Joe Kubert and John Buscema for figure drawing and physiques, none of the current crop. For someone with arthritis, McLeod's lines do not show it. Shaky was the setting up of the sketchpad, of the three easels, one finally took with a couple of bulldog clips to keep upright. It's fat marker time, because there is no way a pencil is going to show up to those behind the fifth row.
A light haul:
- The Homeland Directive and The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone from Robert Vendetti.
- Stickers from Jim Mahfood, looking pleasantly surprised at seeing The Further Adventures of One-Page Filler Man coming at him.
- Dracullama volume 1 from Tressina Bowling, autographed with a clean and quick drawing of Dracullama on the inside front cover.
- BUMP issue 1 from Mark Kidwell.
- #cardBOREDsketches cards from Justin Castaneda who had to correct the name sign at the back of his stall from "Casteneda".
Numbers feel up on the comic creators to check out, making it a longer walk to experience some kind of artists alley. Vendors hawking jewellery giving way to poster prints and more poster prints. Endless banks of longboxes another reminder that while backpacks may be handy for you, they're not great for people swatted in the face behind as you turn around.
Third year out and space is barely keeping up with the attendance numbers.
Reviewed on Friday, 28 March 2014