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FANGRRL Goes To The Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention by Lisa Ciurro
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FANGRRL Goes To The Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention Why do I enjoy the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention so much?
On paper, the Con has a lot of cons for me. I'm not really into comics; I'm not familiar with many of the Con guests; I'm not much of a collector; and the Con is half over by the time I usually wake up on a typical Sunday.
But every time I go to the Tampa Comic Con I have an absolutely wonderful time, and this past Sunday was no exception.
When I pulled into the Doubletree Hotel's parking lot a little after 1 p.m. on Sunday, I was surprised to discover that every single parking space was taken. This seemingly positive sign turned out to be a red herring of sorts, given the slightly lower attendance at the Con.
To me, the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention is about fun. For this one day, adults can put aside their usual job/family/economy/health/etc. worries and concentrate instead on having fun: Reading, discussing and arguing about comics. Watching movies. Buying, selling or trading collectible items, both expensive and cheap. Playing dress up. Seeing childhood idols in person and getting their autographs. Meeting new people who share your interests. Spending time with old friends you met at previous Cons.
A quick initial walk-through is always the first item on my agenda. The check-in table was fully staffed, well organized and in a sensible central location. (At the first Tampa Comic Con I attended a couple of years ago, the check-in table was set up alongside other display tables outside the dealers' room and was therefore easily overlooked and/or ignored.) The admission price was still only an astounding five dollars per person.
Con regular and author Glenda Finkelstein was there, with a long line of people waiting to talk to her. I met her husband, who chatted with me about their movie Perfect Copy, the preview of which I watched about a year ago at a previous Con.
The Storm Troopers were there! The Heroes Alliance was there, which means that Superman, Wonder Woman, The Joker, assorted superheroes and villains, and at least three versions of Batman were there. For a short while I didn't see the third and my personal favorite -- group of "costume enthusiasts" anywhere. Then a few minutes later I saw a Ghostbuster pushing a baby stroller, heading towards other members of the Ghostbusters South Coast group. And thus order was restored to the Con universe. (Well, mostly. Somehow I completely missed author Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc, another Con cornerstone.)
The Creature Productions film fest room was quieter than usual, at least at the time I stopped by. No one was sitting at the information table and no written screening schedule was posted. I was a little disappointed by this, since no film fest details were posted on the Tampa Comic Con website either. The film festival is one of my favorite parts of this event, but this time around I wasn't able to catch any part of whatever movies or trailers were screened. I can't complain too much since I have no idea what I missed, but still.
After a quick sweep of the rooms and the dealers' tables, it was time to check in at Crazed Fanboy Headquarters, which at the Tampa Comic Con means the Wynkoops' table. Local B-movie king Joel "I'm just practicing for the part" Wynkoop and his wife Cathy, regulars on the indie film and horror film convention circuits, always seem to have as much if not more fun as the first-time Con attendees.
The closer I came to the Wynkoops' table, the more Joel Wynkoop T-shirts I noticed on the people walking past me. (For a moment there I felt completely overdressed.) Along with Joel and Cathy Wynkoop, most of the usual suspects were hanging out at their table PCR writers Terence Nuzum, Chris Woods and John Miller; long-time-no-see PCR writer Andy "Oddservations" Lalino; and of course, the Crazed Fanboy Commander-in-Chief himself, Nolan. I briefly met John Lewis of Creature Productions but I missed my chance to quiz him about the film fest schedule.
About fifteen minutes into the meet-and-greet, I realized that I was standing directly in front of a video camera (not too observant, this fangrrl). Turns out that I had made my debut on Wynkoop TV, which was streaming live at www.vefilms.com. Joel Wynkoop interviewed various people throughout the day, but I was too busy hiding from the camera to get the details. Plus, by then it was time for lunch.
Mike Christopher, the "Hare Krishna zombie" in Dawn of the Dead, happened to walk by the Crazed Fanboy lunch table and was of course immediately pounced upon by all of us for conversation and photo ops. He graciously agreed to all of it, 'cause he's...well..."old-school chivalrous" is how I described him back in PCR Issue #429 and that description still fits.
After a late lunch it was time to do some shopping. Most of the dealers were packing up to leave by this time, but I managed to find some birthday gifts for my hubby:
*The soft cover book Star Wars:Return of the Jedi Official Collectors Edition
*Star Wars:The Empire Strikes Back Story Book (a kid's book, but my hubby is just an adult-sized kid anyway)
*Volume 1 of the magazine Star Wars ("the official magazine" presented by Starlog) Technical Journal of the Planet Tatooine
*Marvel Comics' Blade Runner comic from October 1, 1982
*A Star Trek:The Next Generation computer accessory called the Portal of the Future Monitor Mirror (a.k.a. a small, plastic, mirrored, Enterprise-D-shaped clip that can be clipped to your computer monitor so you can watch out for anyone sneaking up on you from behind)
November birthday or not, it didn't seem fair for my hubby get all the gifts. So I bought a Joel Wynkoop T-shirt for myself.
As Nolan has explained the Con's upcoming move to Largo in detail, there's nothing much for me to say about that except to note that I hated to learn about the relocation. For personal reasons only, as driving to Largo will add a good 30 minutes to my trip (each way).
Will I wake up a little earlier and drive a little further to attend this local, inexpensive, family-friendly day of fun, silliness, fandom and friendship? You betcha. The Tampa Comic Book & Toy Convention is definitely worth it.
Perhaps for the March event I'll wear a superhero costume. Ok, probably not, but I will wear my Wynkoop T-shirt.
"FANGRRL" is ©2008 by Lisa Ciurro. All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.
Why do I enjoy the Tampa Comic Book and Toy Convention so much?