That smell of freshly painted face masks, overpriced nachos and sweat-soaked superhero underoos can mean only one thing. No, I’m not talking about the kickoff to the annual Mexican Wrestling league, but rather the commencement of comic convention season.
Having blanketed Southern California comic-cons with enough Geek Outlaw stickers to cover an the entire surface area of Trump Towers and Kim Kardashian’s read-end combined, I decided 2016 would be the year I venture out to some brave new locals to see if geek culture differed outside the massive overpopulated bubble I call home.
The first stop on my “Geek Outlaw Flys the Coup” Con-Tour tested whether or not I knew the way to San Jose. Luckily, the airline I flew on had that important tidbit covered which gave me plenty of time to contemplate the mysteries of life, such as, why flamingos stand on one leg and who exactly let Madonna wander on stage without taking her meds (or more likely having taken the wrong “meds”).
A mystery you might be formulating in your own mind – and rightfully so – why San Jose of all places? For starters, the cordial organizers of the first ever Silicon Valley Comic-Con provided a complimentary press pass to your truly. For me, turning down anything free is on par with committing a double homicide. My sharp fellow Outlaws will be quick to point out the cost of a plane flight far exceeds the cost of entry into almost any convention outside the virtual money hole that is San Diego Comic-Con. They of course would be 100% correct, however the unsuspecting… err, gracious planners of the event didn’t know I had some well-earned airline miles at my disposal.
All of the above pales in comparison however, to the major announcement made earlier in the year stating Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson would all be in attendance for the inaugural Silicon Valley shindig. With Back to the Future ranking up there as my second most beloved film and favorite franchise of any timeline, finding my way to San Jose was a no-brainer.
SVCC touted the mini-reunion as the first time the three leading actors from the beloved pop culture trilogy have appeared at a comic convention open to the general public. (At least since the recent explosion in popularity of similar gatherings.) With word around the hall being this could also be one of the last instances all the actors came together, I dug down deep into my already barren dust-filled pockets to purchase a photo opportunity with Mr. Fox and Mr. Lloyd. When I found nothing, I decided I’d throw the charge on to my overheated piece of plastic and consign myself to another 20 years of daily blood donations.
Buying the above mentioned photo package on the day of the panel proved to be an adventure all its own after I had been kindly made aware I missed my picture session time slot no thanks to a major miscommunication on the part of the photo company involved. The feeling that swept over every cell of my being may have been the closest I’ve ever come to a near death experience during my existence on the planet up to that very instant. Fortunately, the company handling the photo experiences more than made up for the misfire by punting me to the beginning of the line for the even pricier photo shoot that not only included the two time-traveling companions, but the beautiful Lea Thompson as well. Once my heart started palpitating once more, it then decided to make up for the missed beats by working major overtime as the anticipation of meeting the actors from one of my favorite films built to a fever pitch. Sadly, there was no open bar near by to ease my nerves.
Once in the makeshift photography room, I honestly had less time than the life expectancy of a fruit fly to get into position and snap a photo. Seeing as my window of time with the BTTF actors was extremely limited, I had to be tremendously efficient. You’ll then understand why my first words to the iconic cast were quite literally, “Hey guys, do the watch pose!” As the first person in line for the threesome photo, I can only imagine the precedent I set for the Disneyland-esque line behind me. As I was ushered out of the room by security about seventeen times my side, I was able to tell the trio I loved them before the entire 20 second shoot had commenced. Although our time was short, the moment that stood out most vividly had to be when I first entered the room. After locking eyes (some might argue glances), the still beautiful Lea Thompson stated, and I quote, “How cute are you?!” Unfortunately, I had zero time to bask in the compliment or my now stained undergarments, but I guarantee you I’ll be taking the words to my grave along with Gillian Anderson’s similar admiration a few years back.
Not long after that special moment, I headed over to partake in my photo session with Mr. Lloyd in front of the DeLorean Time Machine. While not an official film-used vehicle, the gorgeous replica was put together with the love, blood, sweat and tears of Oliver (a cancer survivor) and Terri Holler. Their charity organization ToTheFuture.org works very closely with Team Fox’s charity foundation and travel the world with their stainless steel baby, raising funds and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. I was happy to donate a few extra of my already spent dollars to a great cause and get a chance to stand with the man who played Doc and the machine his character created. Luckily, I had a few extra seconds this go-around which gave me the opportunity to tell him what a pleasure it was to meet him in the flesh. The man – who is still quite spry after 30 years since the original film – even extended his hand to me for a handshake. A true class act if there ever was one.
As for the rest of the convention, can you say San Diego Comic-Con? Well, in density anyway. Even though the main floor was about a tenth of the size of San Diego’s gargantuan gathering, at its peak, the Silicon Valley show mimicked the former with aisles so packed with geeks, I literally had to rely on the herd to move me from one part of the building to the other. Even the outer hall made traffic in Los Angeles feel like a NASCAR race. Per the official press release, the 2016 Silicon Valley Comic-Con brought in 60,000 attendees over the course of its three day run making it the biggest comic-con to take place in Northern California. For a first time event, that is heavy!
Not surprisingly, an announcement was made during the show on Sunday confirming the event would return for 2017. Despite not having yet booked a trip for Silicon Valley next year, I can say this year’s trip was well worth the time and debt incurred to meet the actors who helped create some of the most memorable films in movie history. Not everything was roses and mint condition Walking Dead issue #1’s though. For factors I won’t go into detail on now, as I brushed upon earlier, the Woz seemed to bite off more than it could chew with regards to capacity. Busting at the seems in only it’s first showing, there were some definite organizational hiccups in herding attendees into the larger more popular panels and as also noted previous, rescheduling of events was happening in real time. As a result, many geeks and nerds grew frustrated with the “no one that works here knows anything” routine that seems to be par for the course with larger affairs of this massive scope. As of now, a trip to San Jose may not be in the cards for the Outlaw in 2017, but as Dr. Emmett Brown says, “the future hasn’t been written yet.”
…and now to be continued with nothing but photos:
STATUES, PROPS, CARS & OTHER INANIMATE OBJECTS
ARTISTS & THEIR ART
“Spotlight on Back to the Future“
Since my video came out a bit choppy to say the least, here is the entire panel in all it’s glory for those unable to get in or attend.
Overhaulin’ meets Back to the Future in this trailer for the full length film coming soon to a DVD & Blu-Ray player near you.