"Comics are no longer a niche market," says John Simons, founder and chairman of this weekend's Comicpalooza at the George R. Brown. "Just look at the big movies coming out this summer. Super heroes are mainstream."
Opening Friday, the three-day comic book convention is expected to draw 14,000 fans — more than doubling last year's numbers and tripling the attendance at the official inaugural event in 2010. As the fastest growing pop-culture convention in Texas, Comicpalooza has expanded to cover 380,000 square feet across three full halls of the GRB.
"Comics are no longer a niche market. Just look at the big movies coming out this summer. Super heroes are mainstream."
With a lineup of ridiculous-but-intriguing seminars like "Quidditch 101," "What Exactly Is a Brony?" and "Jedi Training," uninitiated comic-con goers like myself might get a little overwhelmed . . . that's not even mentioning appearances by Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Richard LeParmentier (Star Wars), Kristin Bauer (True Blood) as well as Star Trek and Facebook icon George Takai.
In an interview with CultureMap, Simons offered up some good starting points for those looking to organize their dance cards for the weekend.
ArcAttack (multiple performances each day, see schedule)
"People might remember ArcAttack from season five of America's Got Talent," Simons notes. "They were voted off because the judges felt the group couldn't be fully appreciated on television. It's totally true too."
Basically, the Austin-based group of musicians makes music using massive electrostatic sparks from a series of high-voltage Tesla coils. It's hard to explain, so click here to see the band perform the theme to Doctor Who.
Badass Celebrity Smackdown (Sunday, 2 to 2:45 p.m.)
“The next best thing to being a sci-fi or action hero has to be shooting a sci-fi or action hero with a gun . . . or maybe being shot by one,” Simons says of the Badass Celebrity Smackdown, a laser tag fund raiser in which attendees are pitted again nerd-celebs like Claudia Christian from Babylon 5 and Michael Biehn from The Terminator and The Abyss.
Create Your Own Wrestler Workshop (Friday, 7 to 7:50 p.m.)
Learn how to become a professional wrestler with the help of Houston's own Doomsday Wresting, a organization that describes itself as "like WWE, but intentionally funny." Simons mentioned something about lessons on how to fight with foam weapons.
Nerd Speed Dating (Friday, 8 to 10 p.m.)
"The objective of this event is to mingle in real life," reads the description in the program catalog. "Please don't be shy . . . You may find your true soulgeek!"
Comicpalooza kicks off three days of pop-culture madness this Friday at 11 a.m. inside the George R. Brown Convention Center. Three-day tickets run $45 for adults and $16 for kids. Adult day passes on Friday and Sunday are $25 and $35 for Saturday (child tickets are $12).