Day 2 #ECCC2014 Emerald City Comic Con #Godzilla & Cosplay Lots of Pics

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Mark from Gatchaman Action Figure

Today I gave myself permission to just wander the vender booths and see what there was to see. Oh, sure, I could have stood in lines for a variety of autographs. I did that at the Rose City Comic Con and had a blast but there is something to be said for just soaking in the experience.

Today I found the Godzilla merchandise—oh did I ever find the Godzilla merchandise. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. There were “destroy the city” play sets with Godzilla 2014 and the new Kaiju Muto. There were Godzilla piggy banks (I so want one) and Godzilla patches.

Godzilla merchandise including Hedorah and Megaguirus figures

Godzilla merchandise including Hedorah and Megaguirus figures

Then I hit the jackpot. At a booth that I’ve seen before that specializes in Japanese monster movie and anime merchandise. This time the proprietors had way more Godzilla stuff than I remember. They were very helpful and talked about their wares knowledgably. I went a little crazy but I got some fantastic stuff including an action figure of Mark from Gatchaman as well as a Megaguirus and Hedorah figure. Yes I was bad—no I’m not even remotely sorry.

Aside from the squee worthy Godzilla merch the cosplay today was just delightful. I saw so many firsts today in cosplay that it was just fun to see who all I could find that I hadn’t seen at a con before. Now granted I haven’t been to a lot of cons yet but today I saw a rocking Ms. Marvel, a Firestar, a phenomenal Spawn with henchmen carrying his cape for him and the far and away winners were an older couple dressed as Popeye and Olive Oyl. I kid you not.

Dalek Wheelchair FTW

Dalek Wheelchair FTW

There was a woman who had decked out her wheel chair so that she could be a Dalek—total win. I saw my first Doctor Strange and a simply stunning Scarlett Witch in her classic costume, which I must confess is one of my all time favorites. Some of the best Lokis were cosplayed by women and I saw a really buff cross-dressed Wonder Woman that was well done. He was rocking the bathing suit.

Black Widow was well represented and there were a couple of gorgeous Black Cats as well as Catwoman. Poison Ivy and the Joker were perennial favorites. I even saw a woman dressed up as The Eye of Sauron. It was pretty amazing.

We made our way to the Lego room to see Rivendale recreated in Legos. It was gorgeous and a bit mind-boggling. I can’t even imagine how much time it must have taken to put that thing together. There was a Lego R2D2 that had LED lights and motors in it so that it moved and made R2D2 sounds.

Space Battleship Yamato Model

Space Battleship Yamato Model

Then there were the models. Oh, the models. They were simply amazing. There were several Space Battleship Yamatos, a Guyver and an entire fleet of Starfleet Enterprises and other ships. There was even a Homer Simpson as Thor model.

Everyone was friendly and happy to talk about his or her craft, from cosplayers to venders to the people working on the models. There wasn’t a single person I couldn’t walk up to and ask a question without getting a warm greeting and lengthy explanation. One gentleman, working on turning a USS Missouri into a Space Battleship Yamato was very happy to explain all of the custom things he was doing to the ship, including how he was going to have the LED lights set up so that the engine and deck lights dimmed when the wave motion cannon was activated.

It’s so rewarding to listen to people talk about their hobbies and passions. There is a joy that is contagious and it makes me happy to witness it. I love the cosplayers; I love the artists and crafters. To me they are the heart and soul of the con. KZ

Starfleet Fleet of Models ECCC2014

Starfleet Fleet of Models ECCC2014

Loki, Black Widow and friends

Loki, Black Widow and friends

Popeye and Olive Oyl cosplay

Popeye and Olive Oyl cosplay

Lego Rivendale

Lego Rivendale

Doctor Strange & Scarlett Witch & friend

Doctor Strange & Scarlett Witch & friend

Day 1 of the Emerald City Comic Con #ECCC #NichelleNichols #PacificRim

T. Walpole's Drizzt
T. Walpole's Drizzt

T. Walpole’s Drizzt Do’Urden cover

Friday, March 28, 2014 and the #ECCC opens at 10 am.  At 9:30 the Starbucks, which had a line out the door on day 3 last year, was full but not out the door.  Some 10 minutes later, coffee in hand, we made our way to the convention center.

Last year we were directed through the convention center, out the back side, around the block and through a park to the end of the line.  This year they mailed the badges out early, which is good because all three days sold out long ago.  So we went in, up the escalators, showed our badges to the friendly and helpful volunteers and were inside to the next line.  That line was mercifully brief too.

Shortly we were ushered into the massive vender room where rows upon rows of tables awaited us offering everything from leather corsair hats to My Little Pony plushies.  The mass of humanity waiting to go in flowed like a tsunami of people looking for that perfect item to take home or that final piece to complete a costume.

I saw some spectacular Scharazade corsets side by side with Lego box sets of the 12 Doctors.  There were swords and daggers next to booths offering T-shirts with just about every anime, manga or super hero on them you could imagine.

The artist’s tables were equally varied and plentiful.  Brian Snoddy was there and very friendly.  He told me that other Magic: The Gathering artists were also around, like Phil and Kaya Foglio and Franz Vohwinkel.  We met Magic: The Gathering artist Brom and he was extremely nice.  He asked if anyone in our group was an artist and showed a real interest in them.

Let me say that I’ve always loved Phil and Kaya Foglio’s art.  I’ve met them once or twice at Magic: The Gathering conventions and they are gracious.  What really impressed me about them though was here recently when they boycotted Dragoncon because the co-owner was an accused child molester.  They actually gave up on income for the sake of real principles.  We need more people willing to make a stand like that in this world.

I really enjoy browsing the artist’s tables.  I love art and I like supporting artists.  Without exception artists I’ve stopped and chatted with have been friendly, passionate about their art and happy to talk about it and even give tips to others about how to improve their art.

At one table a series of gorgeous prints of Drizzt Do’urden holding Twinkle and Icingdeath drew me in.  I named them and said I was seriously tempted to purchase one.  Artist Tyler Walpole was sitting right there, it being his table and his art on those prints and he smiled and said, “I think you should go with that feeling.”

I laughed.  He laughed too and added, “Of course I might be a little biased.”

He was very charming and I did indeed go with that suggestion and got a beautiful print.  He kindly signed it for me and though I was tempted to chat for a while I didn’t linger because there were other paying customers right behind me.

The only thing I didn’t see a lot of, much to my dismay, was Godzilla merchandise or art.  Oh there were a couple of old action figures in one booth but with a major motion picture about to be released I had hoped to see much more representation of the king of the Kaiju.  I did find one booth that had some pretty choice Pacific Rim merchandise that made me happy.  Still, I had hoped Godzilla would have a larger presence

Nichelle Nichols at ECCC

Nichelle Nichols at ECCC

I must confess that the highlight of the day was meeting Nichelle Nichols.   There’s a funny story about that too because I expected her autograph line to not only be super long but also to be starting an hour later than when I got up to the room where stars were signing autographs.

You see, I went to get Richard Dean Anderson’s autograph as a gift for my sister.  When I got there the autographs were $85.00 each!  I’m afraid that’s a little rich for my blood.  Shoot that’s more than I paid for Sir Patrick Stewart’s autograph, and I got a great story to tell out of that brief encounter.  Plus the line for Richard Dean Anderson was huge.

So I browsed around the room to see who else might be there and almost right next door was Nichelle Nichols.  Not only was her line shockingly short but also her autographs were a very modest $40.00.

Let me just say that she is as warm and gracious and absolutely beautiful in person as she is on the big screen.  She found something to say to each person who got an autograph and even spoke briefly with fans who just wanted to say, “Hi.”  She is a generous and truly lovely person inside and out.

We went from there to sit in on her discussion panel.  Of course she was asked to tell the story about how she met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Most Star Trek fans have heard the story but not the way she tells it.  When she tells that story she really makes it come alive.

Nichelle Nichols said she was nervous to meet such an icon as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and he was nervous to meet such an icon as Lt. Uhura from Star Trek.  Apparently they were quite good friends before he told her she could not leave Star Trek.  She said one of the things she loves about having worked on Star Trek was that she could go anywhere and she could always tell who the Star Trek fans were within a few moments of meeting someone and because of that connection she always felt she had something she could talk about with people.

She went on from there to tell the story about when she met Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.  The way she spoke, her facial expressions and her candor were so engaging and she was so generous with herself that it was a joy to just listen to her speak.   She said she was told this Doctor wanted to meet her and she thought she’d set up a time to meet, give herself a chance to prepare but no; he wanted to meet her right now.  So she was nervous.  “Then,” she said, “This gorgeous man walks in, and I’m thinking–alright!”  She was so funny, just absolutely charming.

Steampunk Hat

Steampunk Hat

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring but the Emerald City Comic Con is off to an excellent start if you ask me.  Oh! The Cosplay has been fantastic.  I’ll get into that more in a later article.  KZ

William Shatner & Stan Lee at the Portland Comic Con

Stan Lee Portland Comic Con 2014

Stan Lee Portland Comic Con 2014

The Portland Comic Con boasted an incredible line up of stars. Stan Lee, William Shatner, Ron Perlman, Bruce Campbell, Adam West, Burt Ward, Nicholas Brendon, Cassandra Peterson and so many others I don’t even remember. Of course with a line up like that and less than infinite funds some tough choices had to be made. For example, I could get Adam West’s autograph OR have my picture taken with Stan Lee. I could get Nicholas Brendon’s autograph OR have my picture taken with William Shatner. Sorry Batman and Xander, truly I am sorry.

I did get my photograph taken with Stan “The Man” Lee. There were so many people who wanted, and paid for, photographs that there was no time to say more than a quick, “hello,” to Stan Lee. He smiled brightly, straightening and seemed genuinely delighted to see us. He looked ready to chat, to share some story or something and I’m sure, had the people tasked with getting hundreds of people processed given him time he would have been happy to. As it was he kind of deflated just slightly when the camera person called, “Next!” It seemed to me that Stan Lee truly enjoys his fans. I should have gotten his photograph.

William Shatner Portland Comic Con 2014

William Shatner Portland Comic Con 2014

Next I had a photo op with William Shatner. He also truly enjoys his fans. He’s a warm and welcoming personality. Once again there wasn’t time to utter more than a hurried, “Thank you,” after the photo was snapped (and pray my eyes were open and I wasn’t making some stupid face since there were no retakes).

I had to get my photograph taken with William Shatner though. Even though I would have loved to have Adam West’s autograph, or Elvira’s. You see, many years ago William Shatner went to a Star Trek convention in a gorilla suit. I was at that convention. I walked right past the guy in the gorilla suit with the attendants and I clearly remember thinking to myself, “why would someone wear a gorilla suit to a Star Trek convention?” And I never knew until I read his book about it. You see there were some very particular and unique happenings at that convention and I knew some of the people involved.

I’m also one of this people for whom Star Trek made a huge difference. It was almost a life line to me as a nerdy bookish child. So you can imagine my angst when I read that chapter in his book and realized that I had walked right past him and not even realized it.

I would have shared that funny little story with him had there been any kind of time. I’m sure he would have enjoyed it. He struck me as genuine and caring.

I have yet to meet a star who wasn’t just a delight to meet. So far they have all been very thoughtful and pleased to meet their fans. I was not able to get Nicholas Brendon’s autograph but I did see him give autographs to two girls who were fans. It was very sweet. He gave them each a hug and played a guessing game with one of them. It’s really touching when a star who has a whole line of people waiting to get an autograph takes that extra two minutes to make a special memory for his fans.

A Retrospective on E. E. Doc Smith With Social Commentary

Books 2, 3 & 4 of The Skylark of Space series

Books 2, 3 & 4 of The Skylark of Space series

Books 2, 3 & 4 of The Skylark of Space series

Best known for the Lensmen series, E. E. “Doc” Smith is considered by many to be the father of Space Opera. The Lensmen series is a brilliant story that betrays itself as a product of its time in many ways. Sadly the most glaring is the sexism that takes as a matter of course that women not only have incompatible brains with men, but that this incompatibility is of necessity indicative of a lesser being.

Personally I liked The Skylark of Space series much better. While this was eventually slotted into the over arcing narrative of the Lensmen universe I found the Skylark books more engaging for reasons that can only be put down to personal taste.

One of the things I love about pre-golden age science fiction is that it truly is a glimpse into another world. A world the reader can find still familiar enough to be relatable yet culturally different. History books are so dry. They tell names and dates, they read like grocery lists but the fiction of an era gives the reader real insight into how the people lived, what their social mores were and what they expected of their society. In science fiction it also gives the reader insight into how the author viewed the future, what he, or she, hoped we would become, where we might go.

I also find it at once astounding and a bit sad that the same brilliant minds that could cast their thoughts across the stars and imagine alien intelligence were incapable of recognizing the intelligence standing right next to them. How is it possible that they could imagine intelligence equal to or greater than their own in every conceivable shape but not in women? I don’t want this to be about the regressive attitudes of the past but they must be mentioned.

Our technology doubles at an exponential rate and yet women are still locked out of political task forces that discuss women’s health care. We landed a rover on Mars using a sky crane but still blame women for being victims of crimes committed against them by men. We don’t appear to have come all that far as a civilization in 100 years.

The stories from before the golden age of science fiction are vast and these writers dared create universes in their remarkable imaginations. There is a freedom to the ideas that E. E. “Doc” Smith was able to play with that sometimes I think we rarely see any more. Our dreamers seem more constrained by what science says they cannot do than those of days past.

When E. E. “Doc” Smith wrote The Skylark of Space he postulated a process by which he could convert matter to energy, cleanly and with 100% efficiency. Of course we know that is impossible according to the laws of physics and that knowledge hobbles writers today. Science Fiction is about making the impossible plausible but critics and “know-it-alls” are quick to point out any error or impossibility and so they shackle the creative spirit. You see it every time a Star Trek movie gets released. Invariably there follows a series of articles and reviews that pick apart the “science.” These things are not being presented as scientific treatises; they are clearly stated science fiction. And yet there is a legion of supposed fans that treat every detail as if it were presented as a scientific fact. This cannot help but make authors cautious about what they will publish and that crushes imagination.

The other thing I think hobbles creative license is that the publishing industry only wants a sure thing. Even back in 1920, many publishers routinely rejected what are now classics. The Skylark of Space was considered too “far out” for readers. Eventually Doc Smith spent more on postage than he ever made from the first Skylark book just submitting it to publishers.

With the advent of self-publishing, now authors can publish their own work. Sure that means there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam to sift through but I suspect, in the end it will be a boon to the imaginative and skilled wordsmiths out there. I think we can find new ideas in books that will become classics and I hope that their visions of the future are just as daring, and more inclusive than they classics of old, however beloved. K.