JESSE PARRINO 25-MAY-2014 Hello again! Before I start I want to say these opinions are my own and not necessarily anyone else’s. This Saturday I found out about a local comic “festival” in my town via this website: http://www.comicbookfestival.com/
Seems like it would be a very impressive event right? It was impressive alright. I’ve been doing cons and events for right around the ten-year mark and this show was impressive in that it was by far the worst show I’ve ever attended. I got there right around 12:30 or so. Pull into the parking lot that could hold “2000 cars” which was more along the lines of 30 cars. Get out of the car and see three food vendors and think that it looked promising. Like a street fair meeting a comic con. Then I walk past a Gene Simmons cosplayer and step into the park itself. I thought I was in the wrong place. There were 4 or 5 vendors scattered in this park. Two of them were artists (including the event’s one guest, Larry Hama). One of them was a person working for a candle company, another for the school robotics team, and finally the person setting up the event had a booth for sign ups for the costume contest and a few DVDs he was selling.
I walked around and found a few cosplayers here and there. Found a friend of mine and started to chat with her a bit about the show and what was going on. Then the “Superhero Stage Show” started. I knew going in this was going to be an advertisement for “Characters for Hire” the group that sponsored the event. It was hard not to heckle this thing. I could not believe the “quality” of the costumes these people were using in an attempt to get people to pay them to show up at events. Spider-Man had sneakers on. Thor’s wig was like a mop. And don’t get me started on “Loki”. The stage show was corny I admit it was meant for the children. But it felt like it was less for children and more for maybe toddlers? Loki appears. Mind controls some Avengers. they fight. Then Thor and Cap get the audience to sing “Star Spangled Banner” to bring the other heroes back and they capture Loki. The costumes were pretty obviously from the costume shop. The combat here was laughable. Punches that didn’t event remotely look like they connected. Thor using lightning that nobody could see and people reacted to at different times. Ironman showed NO emotion in his voice. At all. And monologued way too long for Tony Stark. We were tempted to heckle but there were a handful of children that the event that were into it so we let it be.
Then was the costume contest. The reason I had come at all since, as you can see on the website, cash prizes were promised. So the context boils down to “Do a 30 second thing in character. The audience applause is what judges the winners. There were some impressive costumes that appeared after the photo was taken including a full mascot costume of Sonic the Hedgehog that was really impressive. There was a also a Star Wars bounty hunter type that I found out was affiliated with the event as well. A couple of characters from Kingdom Hearts, a decently impressive Lizard from the most recent Spider-Man movie and myself as the 11th Doctor. It was one of those contests where everyone placed and picked prizes from “The Suitcase of Cap. Zorikh” which was a $25 gift card for Midtown comics, a few figures, novels, and 90’s Malibu comics. At this point I’m question the “cash prize” the site promised but decided it wasn’t worth it.
The costume people BS’ed a little more and then it was time for the Star Wars show. This was the highlight but mostly for having bits where my jaw dropped and I had to say, “Did that happen?” It opened with “Master Luke” appearing on stage and telling all the children that they were going to be trained as Padawans, giving them a run down on Star Wars and teaching them “Force pushes” standard and cute stuff. Yoda also came in at one point, played by a little person in a Halloween store mask. Then in came Darth Vader and his two Sith students. Vader tells the students to give the Padawans a demonstation of his power and has the two Sith duel. This was pretty good as these were both people trained by the different Jedi based organizations so the lightsaber duel here was actually entertaining. The one girl beats the other, Vader “Force pushes” her off stage and the other one goes off to fight Luke. There’s a duel here and Yoda ends up stepping in and….the shark is so jumped over we’re on the moon now as Yoda grabs the Sith and puts her on his shoulders and does a spinning wrestling move to subdue her. I sadly didn’t know this was coming so my camera wasn’t out. Vader gets involved in Force choking. The kids/Padawans use what they learned earlier in the show to push Vader away from Luke three times and then it somehow makes Vader turn back to the light and in another shark jumping moment Luke and Vader actually hug it out.
There was another photo-op here and I stayed for a little while after it as a friend showed up to the event later. But I left soon after. I will say the bands that played between the stage shows were competent. Though I question the wisdom of using an Ozzy cover band for a kid-friendly show. When I headed home, I decided that the cash prize thing was worth confronting along with the lack of the promised Batmobile and lack of comic vendors; it made the show seem like false advertising based on that site. So I posting on the event’s Facebook about my concerns. Turned out the cash prize was for a second event that was only mentioned on the Facebook wall (I checked the date and it was mentioned before the event itself) but this event wasn’t mentioned at the con itself. I was also told due to possible rain vendors didn’t want to show up and the Batmobile had car issues. I don’t know if all of this was true or not. But it left a very bad taste in my mouth and I know if I ever have a need for costumed characters at an event I will not be using “Characters for Hire LLC” based on the performance shown at this event.