SiliConSJ (formerly Silicon Valley Comic Con) is the first convention we’ve attended since Vegas ToyCon in March 2020. Although at its heart SiliConSJ is the same as Silicon Valley Comic Con there is a distinct emphasis on creators and makers. We were very excited and a bit apprehensive of attending a large event, but everyone was very good at wearing their masks appropriately with the exception of the panelists. All in all it was great to attend our first convention in seventeen months.
As Adam Savage is now the “Creative Director” of SiliConSJ, and he was everywhere. He hosted the traditional Opening Keynote panel along on Saturday morning, opened the costume contest Saturday afternoon/evening, and he had his own panel on Sunday morning.
A few of the panels we attended included Bruce Boxleitner, Mark Sheppard, Jim Cummings, and Denise Crosby. The Costume Contest showcased some amazing costumes. Unfortunately it was very difficult to take photos of all of the costumes, because many of the cosplayers zoomed across the stage with hardly a one or two second pause at center stage. I don’t know if it was a lack of instruction to the competitors to stop and pose to show off their costumes or if was due to the nervousness of the competitors participating. After all of the competitors crossed the stage, the judges had to take several minutes to go and talk to the competitors and take a good look at the costumes before they could make their decisions. I had seen a few of these costumes up close around the convention center and these deservedly won prizes in various categories.
You can check out a video slideshow of most of the costume contest participants on my YouTube channel here.
There was a feeling of excitement in the air at SiliConSJ. We were all happy to be back at a convention, and I feel that there was a sense of hope that we are getting back to “normal” after a long hibernation. Adam Savage was certainly contributing to the feeling of happiness around the convention, and he was quite exhilarated to be back at conventions and being able to meet and talk to people in person again. I’m looking forward to attending a few more conventions this year, including San Diego Comic-Con: Special Edition this November and LA Comic Con in December.
I attended Las Vegas ToyCon in 2019 which was being held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino. I had previously attended ToyCon in 2016, but it was called Super ToyCon at that time and was held at the New Orleans Hotel and Casino. You can read my 2016 recaps here. The name changed to Las Vegas ToyCon with the 2018 show, which I didn’t attend.
I had purchased a 3 day ticket from Groupon, but we only attended on Saturday. I hadn’t noticed much in the way of panel programming so I just went to get some autographs on two of my Geeky Jerseys. I added two more signatures to my Darkside jersey. The first signature on this jersey was from David Prowse at Super ToyCon in 2016.
I also have a limited edition Bumblee jersey from Geeky Jerseys which I brought to have the voice of Bumblee in the Michael Bay films, Mark Ryan, autograph for me. He was very kind and spent some time chatting with us and threw in free selfies if we wanted it.
This show is very small and it’s focus is on vending and celebrity autographs/photo-ops. Each show usually has a special ToyCon edition Hot Wheels toy so I made sure to purchase one and a couple of ToyCon t-shirts as well.
Las Vegas ToyCon 2020 is March 13-15, 2020 and will be held at Eastside Cannery Casino-Hotel, which I had never heard of until this convention was announced. Groupon has great deals on tickets for Las Vegas ToyCon (search Las Vegas Toy and Comic Convention) if you’re interested in attending.
The small size of the convention will allow us plenty of time to do other things while we’re in Las Vegas such as seeing the Tim Burton Exhibit at the Neon Museum.
Nerd Expo was held on September 21, 2019 at the Pasadena Convention Center. I only stayed for a few hours, but I really enjoyed the live concert by Ragnarock on the lower level. They played some great songs from the 80s including the theme to The Neverending Story which you can watch here.
My primary intent for attending Nerd Expo this year was to add Ray Park’s autograph to my Darkside hockey jersey. The room he was in for signings was on the lower level where the Nerf shooting was happening, too. Some of the kids were rapid firing and hitting their targets with ease. It was a very popular spot with the kids at the show.
Matty Cardarople was another special guest doing signings and photos, but he also made an appearance on the Main Stage prior to Ragnarock’s performance. You may have seen Matty on Stranger Things as the arcade attendant in season two and as the video store manager in season three. He seemed as shy and awkward, but very nice, on the stage as he does on screen.
Nerd Expo is organized by Nerd Bot, and it’s a small convention which had some good live music, special guests, and fun cosplays.
James and Oliver Phelps at Silicon Valley Comic Con
October 10, 2019
James (Fred Weasley) and Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) from the Harry Potter films appeared at Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, California on August 16-18, 2019. They had a great panel talking about the practical jokes the cast played on each other, and they gave a detailed account of a prank they played on the intern in the hair and makeup department.
The twins did clarify a rumor that they had once switched characters for a day which required reshoots. They said that there are hundreds of cast and crew on set each day, and they would never intentionally do something to cost the production time and money. I remember reading about this joke a few years ago, and I’m glad to hear that it isn’t true.
I think it’s great that they received a copy of the book when filming each film which the cast would sign. The books became school yearbooks in that way. Oliver tells a fan that he has George’s missing ear. James thinks this is a bit weird and tells the audience that Oliver has the ear prosthetic displayed on the plaster mold of his head in his (Oliver) house.
Tom Felton always gets their names wrong even now, but they don’t correct him because they think it’s funny. When they first started the first film and did the table read they still didn’t know who was playing Fred and who was playing George. They had to ask the casting director, but they don’t know if the director/producers even knew who was playing who until that moment.
James and Oliver talked about the wide reach of Harry Potter around the world even if people haven’t read the books or seen the films, they still get recognized for Harry Potter.
Outside San Diego Comic-Con: The Orville Experience
by Veronica Nunez, August 7, 2019
We had planned on spending all of Saturday during SDCC inside the convention center seeing various panels, but there had been an announcement on Twitter from Orville producer Tom Constantino (@TomConstantino) on Friday about some “surprises or special guests” at The Orville Experience after 5pm on Saturday. We guessed that the some cast members would likely be making an appearance due to their panel and signing all ending before 5pm that day.
We had planned on seeing The Orville Experience anyway, but we changed our panel plans for Saturday afternoon/evening to make sure we got to the offsite in time. We left the convention center immediately after The Orville panel, grabbed sandwiches to eat in line, and arrived outside the offsite around 4pm. There was a very small line, and they let in groups of 10 or so people in at a time.
It was lovely to be in a well air-conditioned room, and the space was much larger than I was expecting. There were so many costumes on display as well as storyboards and concept art. There was also a video of the animation process for sequences. The detailing on the costumes are absolutely incredible as is the detailing on the model of The Orville ship. The ship model looked to be about 2 feet long and was beautifully displayed.
As it got closer to 5pm, you could see that no one was leaving the building and they had stopped letting people in. Photographers were let in and set up around the group of costumes set up below “The Orville Experience” signage. I placed myself directly behind the gun prop display, but lost my space when I stepped back to get one of the “The World of The Orville” books. The cast arrived to take some photos, and Seth MacFarlane did an interview or two.
It was very crowded at this time, and I was getting a bit warm in the crowd. I took a few more photos of some of the displays, but I still wasn’t able to get to see everything there. There was also a GIF/photo op by the exit, but I slightly regret not staying to do it.
The Orville Experience was set up by some of the production department with about 2 months’ time to work on it. Not having experience in displays showed in that the font size on information placards was too small to read from behind the ropes. Costumes were displayed along walls along with storyboards and concept art, and they had rope barriers set up to keep visitors from getting too close to the costumed mannequins, which I completely understand, but the small font on the information placards made them very difficult to read. Also, there were a lot of shadows created on some of the art and their placards from the costumes.
Less than a week before San Diego Comic-Con, I decided to make a Stranger Things inspired skirt. It had been on my mind since last October when I attended my “niece’s” Stranger Things themed birthday party. I ordered a vintage floral bedsheet off of Ebay which was brand new in its original packaging. Unfortunately, due to the packaging I didn’t see that the floral pattern was only along the top edge and not throughout the sheet. I quickly found 2 more bedsheets, 1 twin size and 1 full size, on Ebay and placed the orders crossing my fingers at least one would arrive in time.
Bedsheets can be great for making skirts and dresses from, especially in this case since I want a vintage style/color/pattern. I also didn’t have much time before we left for San Diego, and I would be hand-sewing the skirt because I don’t know how to use a sewing machine. The two sheets arrived a day apart, and though the full size would have been easier to work with cutting wise, the twin size had a better pattern and coloring. The twin sheet I used was by Room Concepts in the Michele pattern, and it was a “flannelette” 50/50 cotton-polyester blend. I had four days until we left for San Diego.
I washed both sheets in hot water to remove any sizing and smells they may have from their age, and dried them on high heat as well. I used a skirt I have to make a rough pattern (I have a pattern packed away somewhere from when I made my Star Wars skirt, but I couldn’t find it) on some butcher paper we have. I also traced a rough oval using my hand for sizing reference to add pockets to my skirt. I used this pattern to cut the fabric. After the fabric was cut, I tea-stained the cut pieces to get the colors a bit older looking and a bit darker. The sheet had a cream color background, but I wanted it to be a bit more brownish.
I washed the pieces again after tea-staining, and there was an unfortunate amount of fraying along most of the edges, but I cut larger than normal edges in case this happened. The tea-staining made the fabric more wrinkled than before so I had to iron the pieces prior to painting the alphabet onto the back and front pieces. I used the Soft fabric paint by Tulip in Ebony and a natural bristle ¾” paint brush I had on hand to paint the letters. I started with the back section of the skirt in case I screwed it up. This was done at midnight on the Saturday night before San Diego Comic-Con because we had been at a friend’s birthday party all afternoon/night. I got up early on Sunday morning to paint the front section of the skirt since the back side was now dry. We don’t have a lot of space for me to lay both sides to dry where my cat, Nick Furry, can’t get his hair all over it. I let the paint air dry on its own for about 2 hours, then I used a hair dryer to get the spots which were taking longer to dry due to thicker layers of paint.
While the front side paint was drying I temporarily altered a full-length white petticoat/crinoline I had on hand. I do have a shorter one, but it’s a dark-ish blue, and I felt that it was too dark to wear under the sheet fabric. Tea-staining does help with the transparency issue most sheets have, though the flannelette is thicker than most sheets. I used a lot of safety pins to pull up the outer layer of the petticoat to the waist, then I “hemmed” the underskirt/lining with safety pins from the bottom. Pinning from the bottom helped give some extra poof, too.
Since I had been thinking about making this skirt since October, I had purchased two small battery operated Christmas lights from Michaels during Christmas time. They’re the LED and the perfect classic shape, but I wished they had a blinking option. Sunday, Monday (after work), and Tuesday morning I sewed all of the pieces together, but I hadn’t given enough space to slide the 1” wide elastic for the waist (due to my painting the letters too high), so I had to use some thinner elastic which isn’t as strong. Like I mentioned before, I don’t know how to sew and an elastic waistband is all I can really do. The flannelette fabric is also stretchy, and I have no experience working with stretchy fabric
We were leaving for San Diego at 11am on Tuesday so it was crunch time. I tried on the petticoat and skirt to see if I needed to make further adjustments to the petticoat. It did need another 2 inches shortened on the interior lining, but the skirt was ready to have the lights pinned to it. I wanted to have one battery pack in each pocket, so I put the battery pack inside the pocket and safety-pinned the lights going from the battery to the end of the light strand. I pinned from the under the skirt putting the pin through the two cords which made up the light strand. I need to get a third strand or maybe one much longer strand of lights to make the skirt better.
I received a lot of compliments on my skirt when I wore it on the first day, Thursday, of Comic Con even though I only had the lights one when I was on the exhibition floor or when I was volunteering in the Hall H line later that evening. You couldn’t see the lights in the bright sunlight, but they still had a great effect. Some of the nice comments I didn’t even hear as people would say something to their friends as I passed by them on the Exhibition floor, but my boyfriend was walking behind me and he heard them. So the moral of the story is to not let your inexperience keep you from trying something.
Entertainment Weekly’’s PopFest was held at The Reef and the parking lot is where most of the events were happening. The main stage was located outside as well as various activations and food trucks. There were some panels held inside The Reef building itself. More on EW PopFest here.
The Supernatural Panel was held on Saturday, and though I’ve only watched a few episodes of Supernatural my youngest niece is a huge fan so I went to the panel to take pictures for her and make her jealous. She was away at school at the time so she couldn’t go. I texted her a few photos I took on my phone, and I mailed her all of the photos from my camera on a flash drive.
I’ll probably get around to watching Supernatural after the series completes its run in 2020. I thoroughly enjoyed the Supernatural panel at EW PopFest, because Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are hilarious together. At one point Jared goes to do a mic drop, and Jensen gives him shit because microphones are expensive. Jared had tried to catch the microphone with his foot and it hurt his foot. The whole panel consisted of them teasing each other, and it was great. They clearly have a lot of fun together and we got to laugh along with them.
Entertainment Weekly hosted their own pop culture convention in Downtown Los Angeles the same weekend, and only a few blocks from where Stan Lee’s Comikaze was happening at the Los Angeles Convention Center.
EW’s PopFest was held at The Reef and the parking lot is where most of the events were happening. The main stage was located outside as well as various activations and food trucks. There were some panels held inside The Reef building itself.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Panel
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Panel
On the Friday before PopFest officially began, they held an early screening of Doctor Strange at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for the first 250 or so VIP weekend badge purchasers. There was a Q&A with Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson.
El Capitan Marquee for Doctor Strange screening
Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson
Some of the panels at the main stage included Supernatural, Arrow, The Flash, and Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them. The only panel I saw inside The Reef was for Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, but I also went to the preview screening of the pilot episode of Good Behavior (at which they had t-shirts on the chairs for the attendees.) They also had author signings where I had my 20th Anniversary edition of Outlander signed by Diana Gabaldon.
Some of the outdoor activations included photo ops for M&Ms and for Ash vs. The Evil Dead. The Ash vs. the Evil Dead activation also gave away foam chainsaw “hands” and t-shirts. There was also an activation to compete in Survivor skills. They had trivia, too, where you could win prizes and a Lip Sync Battle stage. There was a beer garden near the main stage, but I’m not much of a drinker and I hate beer so it wasn’t something I was interested in.
Lip Sync Battle Activation
Survivor activity course
It did rain a little bit throughout the weekend, so that was a bit of a downer for the outdoor events, but it was light and sporadic so everyone was able to have fun. The event seemed pretty well run given that it was the first event of this size Entertainment Weekly held. They had a smaller activation called ConX during Comic Con 2016, which I had visited but hadn’t seen any of the panels or live music performances. I think the event would have had more success had it not been held the same weekend as Stan Lee’s Comikaze (now Los Angeles Comic Con).
On Saturday of WonderCon 2019 we were treated to a screening of the full first episode of the new AMC show NOS4A2 which is based on the novel by the same name written by Joe Hill. I hadn’t heard of the book prior to the WonderCon panel, but I had heard of Joe Hill as he’s no stranger to the world of comics and comic cons. Joe Hill also wrote an Eisner winning comic series for IDW Publishing called Locke & Key. Locke & Key is currently being adapted as a series by Netflix.
I watched the episode with only a vague idea about the show’s premise based off of the title, and I’m not going to recap the episode here. Here’s a trailer for you to give you an idea of what the show is about.
I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, and it introduces the story and characters quite well while leaving a lot to be discovered. Zachary Quinto is unrecognizable when we first see him as Charlie Manx. The panel with the cast creators followed the screening. There wasn’t much information given except to say that Ólafur Darri Ólafsson’s character, Bing, plays an important role.
After WonderCon I bought a copy of the NOS4A2 book to read before the show premieres on AMC on June 2. I read the book in about one week, and fans of the novel will immediately notice a huge change in the show. The age of Victoria, our protagonist, was changed from a child in the book to a teenager in the show. Ignoring logistical reasons for the change, I feel the change allows for the show to be more accurate in other ways. Reading about an 8 year old child experiencing these somewhat dark events is easier to stomach for most audiences, but seeing an 8 year old in these situations would keep many people from watching. The book also makes a few time jumps of a few years each, and time jumps in television and film usually feels clunky or just plain lazy.
The book is great, and I hope that the series continues the quality of storytelling seen in the first episode. Will we be seeing you in Christmasland on June 2nd?