Aliens, an Astronaut and a surprise Charlie Hunnam bring the action to Comicpalooza 2016

Aliens, an Astronaut and Sons of Anarchy star headline Comicpalooza

Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Aliens
The Aliens cast reunites at Comicpalooza.  Courtesy photo
Comicpalooza 2016 Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam returns to Houston for a surprise appearance.  Comicpalooza Courtesy Photo
Comicpalooza 2016 Dominic Cooper
See Preacher man Dominic "Howard Stark" Cooper at his Q&A on Sunday.  Comicpalooza Courtesy Photo
Comicpalooza 2016 Twinzik
Come to cosplay or just enjoy the creative costuming of experts like Twinzik.  Comicpalooza Courtesy Photo
Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley in Aliens
Comicpalooza 2016 Charlie Hunnam
Comicpalooza 2016 Dominic Cooper
Comicpalooza 2016 Twinzik

The date may have changed this year for Houston’s foremost celebration of the geek-dom and nerd-rule, but one thing about Comicpalooza stays the same: The comic and pop culture convention is still ginormous. With 2000 hours of programming compressed into three days, every year Comicpalooza’s event schedule seems to grow exponentially.

To help organize the fun and interactive chaos, the con designates programming by genre tracks. From anime, comics, films, literature, art, gaming, sports and science, convention-goers could probably focus on just one interest and still have enough to do the entire weekend, but I think it’s better to play the convention field, maybe literally if you feel like a game of quidditch.

So whether you’re an autograph collector, budding author, or cosplay artist here are just a few highlights from the weekend you might want to fit into your schedule, with special emphasis on both big stars and Houston’s own creative talent.

Get Face Hugged by Aliens
Game over, man, because the ultimate event of this year’s Comicpalooza will be the 30th anniversary Aliens cast reunion (yes, we’re all that old) with Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn, Michael Biehn, Jenette Goldstein, William Hope, Ricco Ross, Mark Rolston, Daniel Kash, and Cynthia Scott all attending. Besides autographs and photo opportunities, the cast will participate in an Aliens Q&A session Saturday at 2 pm. You might need to lineup early for this one.

First person to request the whole cast do their best variations on “Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure,” wins my undying nerd respect.

Meet A Real Space Woman
Since H-town is also Space town, the Comicpalooza programmers perhaps feel it’s their duty to present many real science discussions and panels under their science faction and education tracks. Before meeting the Weaver, the woman who has probably been in Hollywood outer space more than any other actor, why not meet real astronaut, Dr. Shannon Walker, who’s logged 163 days in space, 161 of those days on the International Space Station. She’s be a part of a panel discussion on Friday.

Take a Page from the Literary Track
The stars aren’t just from the movie and television realms, so don’t miss meeting some great writers, who might even offer advise on your own creative endeavors. There’s plenty of authors and graphic novelists of all genres to choose, from but be sure to check out hometown favorite Mat Johnson, whose Loving Day will soon be a Showtime series. He will be hosting a panel with bestselling author Sherrilyn Kenyon titled “Working on Novels vs. Comics” on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Hugo and Nebula award-winner Ken Liu will be contributing to several panel discussions and giving the solo presentation “Chinese SF in Translation: Conformance, Estrangement, and Translation as Practice and Metaphor.” I believe you’ll automatically receive some grad school credit for attending that one.

Have Some Weird Fun
Weirdness in all its lovely permeations will bloom throughout the weekend, but I always enjoy the quirky little presentations and performances sometimes hidden in the schedule. For example, every year I try not to miss what local thespians Classical Theatre Company are doing. For the Bard’s 400th birthday, they’ll be performing two dramatic readings of one of his lesser known works, William Shakespeare's Star Wars, (parts one and two) by Ian Doescher.

See a Flick or Learn How to Make Your Own
Besides showing 1,200 short films and several features during the Film Festival, Comicpalooza will also host film education programs presented from the likes of SWAMP, the Houston Film Commission, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival and NASA. If you didn’t get to see the finalists from the first annual CineSpace 2015 back in November, don’t miss the screening on Friday. On Saturday, local artists and first place winners, Mary Magsamen and Stephen Hillerbrand will answer questions about their film Higher Ground after a screening.

One Very Surprising Guest
Anyone paying attention to Houston con news or Sons of Anarchy and Pacific Rim star, Charlie Hunnam, news might be aware that the actor was recently in Houston on Memorial Day weekend for the Space City Comic Con. And while what happened here wasn’t quite as action-packed as giant robots fighting equally giant space monsters at sea, there was a bit of a kerfuffle. But the story doesn’t end there, because late Tuesday Comicpalooza announced that Hunnam, wanting to make it up to his disappointed fans, is coming back to Houston to try again.

Hunnam will offer free autographs to the Sons of Anarchy VIP ticket holders from Space City Comic Con and Wolf Studios will honor unredeemed VIP photo op vouchers from Space City Comic Con. Though Comicpalooza and Space City Comic Con are mightily unaffiliated, Comicpalooza officials stated they will issue one free adult 3-day pass to each of those Sons of Anarchy VIP ticket holders.

Will there now be peace in pop culture convention land? Head on down to George R. Brown Friday through Sunday (June 17-19) to see.