Pensacon celebrated its third year in Pensacola this year and we decided to make a weekend of it and attend all three days. The first year, I drove up on Saturday morning with two of my good friends and last year, Kurt and I drove up on Saturday morning. Both years we made the three hour trek back to New Orleans at the end of the day, but this year, we drove up Friday afternoon and came back Sunday evening. Thus, we were able to experience much more than in previous years and enjoy many more aspects of the con that we had missed.
One of my big collections is autographs. I love meeting celebrities that star in shows that I love to watch and having that thirty second connection with them. This year, there were almost twenty people I wanted to meet and besides one, whom I decided to put off until another con, I accomplished my goal and received many new autographs and treasured items in the process.
Friday night, we received our credentials and decided to check out the celebrity area. This year, all of the celebrities were in one long room, which made it easy to find which celebrity you wanted to meet. Right when you entered the room, Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn, and Nell Campball were seated to your left. I had the opportunity recently to acquire an autograph from Tim Curry through one of the few celebrity autograph services I trust, Official Pix (they get everything signed in person and take plenty of pictures, not to mention used to have a contract with Star Wars to be the officially licensed auto/photograph provider). Naturally, I had to get his autograph on something from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and since I knew these three would be at Pensacon, I decided to get a RHPS mini-poster. Stopping at Barry first, he was impressed that I had Tim Curry’s and said this was a newer photo. I told him about Official Pix and said that I couldn’t pass up a chance to add a RHPS piece to our nerd lounge and he said he was glad to have a place on our wall. Next up was Patricia Quinn, who actually uses a hard pair of lips as a purse. She was fantastic, very eclectic, and also excited to add to our piece. Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor from Doctor Who was there, and we added him to our Doctor Who TARDIS poster (Doctors and companions only). He said he would sign in the window of the TARDIS since it was good enough for Sylvester McCoy, the 7th Doctor (who had signed in another window). Sam Witwer was next up and even though we met him at a Star Wars weekend (R.I.P. SWW), I needed him on my Star Wars: The Clone Wars poster since he voiced Darth Maul (among some other random voices). I loved Being Human and told him how much I loved him as Aiden and Kurt said that he would watch me watch it and eventually just had to watch it with me since it was so good and Sam commented that he loved working on it. He was also impressed with my Clone Wars poster and checked out all of the other actors whom I personally had sign the poster through various cons or SWW. I mentioned that Star Wars was my number one obsession and he said it was his too. I didn’t think to bring my Star Wars Rebels poster since he voices Palpatine, but I guess that’s just an excuse to meet him again.
After, we checked out the vendor floor. I bought a handmade, ancient looking map of Middle-earth from Lord of the Rings to add to our nerd lounge, as well a Jessica Rabbit Funko Pop! and a Legend of Zelda scarf. Day one had come to an end and for only two hours of con experience so far, we had accomplished a lot.
The next day, we immediately went to Michael Rooker’s line since I needed him on my Mallrats poster and we knew his line would be long. They had him separated, which was smart, and we were only fifth or sixth in line, so we maybe waited a total of twenty minutes between him arriving and him signing our posters. We’ve met him before to have him sign a Yondu print (from Guardians of the Galaxy) and knew what an awesome and personable guy he was. He did not disappoint again, laughing, telling jokes, whispering in girls’ ears – you get the idea. For us, he signed our poster, talked about how awesome New Orleans was, and once Kurt told him how much he loved him in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, told us he wanted to redo the screenplay and make it a musical. He even started singing a little song (Why do you make me staaaaabbbb yooouuuuu…). All in all, if you ever get the chance to meet him, I highly suggest it.
We then went back in the celebrity room and met Eugene Simon, Keisha Castle-Hughes, and Jessica Henwick, better known as Lancel Lannister, Obara Sand, and Nymeria Sand from Game of Thrones. All three were awesome additions to my Game of Thrones poster and all three commented on how awesome it was to have so many signatures. Eugene seemed genuinely excited to be at the con and commented that he hoped we would be at the Game of Thrones panel later on that day (which we unfortunately did not attend).
Next we moved on to the Mallrats crew. I already had Jeremy London on my poster thanks to a different con, so we went to Brian O’Halloran. He is just pure comedic gold and had us laughing as he signed. Joey Lauren Adams was not sitting down yet, so we started talking to her handler and he asked if we had Stan Lee on our poster with the verified sticker. I had to tell my Stan Lee story about how his handlers asked if I wanted the sticker on my poster and as I am answering yes, the guy just SLAPS it down on the poster without looking. I literally screeched and freaked out. Everyone around me was looking terrified because I told him that if he had slapped it over someone’s face (like Kevin Smith, because that’s where he put it – just randomly on the poster, not even by where Stan Lee signed), I would’ve raised so much hell that Stan Lee himself would’ve got involved. He apologized profusely and I told him that next time, you don’t mess around with someone’s autographs because not only is that personal property, but we pay money to get these signatures and he better not mess up someone’s hard work (pretty sure I used stronger language than this). Anyway, in the meantime, Joey has sat down and is participating in the story. We then start talking with her and mention we’re from New Orleans. She said she used to live here and how much she loves it still and still listens to WWOZ (which is quite the compliment in my opinion!). We tell her we met because of Hurricane Katrina and we talk about the city and revitalization a bit more. She was just a sweet person and so nice to talk with. As we turn the corner, Amber Benson is sitting there, and Kurt adores Buffy the Vampire Slayer so we naturally had to meet her. She was typing on her computer and apologized when we walked up. I told her we are teachers, I completely understand trying to squeeze every spare minute with work, such as grading. We both exclaimed how we like other people driving us distances so we can work in the car. We then talked with her about Hurricane Katrina and how the city is resilient. She was so fantastic, I felt like I was in grad school again, talking with a colleague about the ramifications of a natural disaster on a city. In fact, knowing that we are teachers, she searched on her phone, for quite some time, to share a podcast with us about teaching that moved her. Later in the con, we saw her asking the volunteer aiding her if she wanted something to drink, because she was going get one. Most of the time, it’s the other way around. We skipped Jason Mewes because even though I need him on my poster still, we will have an opportunity to meet him again at another con. His line was justifiably long and we did not want to miss out on the other fun stuff Pensacon had to offer.
We then decided to hitch a ride on the trolley to attend the Mallrats panel at the Saenger Theater. We were fourth row and the theater was very nice and intimate. The cast came out and told fabulous stories of their time on the set and the audience actually asked decent questions. (One time we were at a panel at another con, and the audience asked Billie Piper the same question three different times. It was uncomfortable and we wound up walking out before it was over.) Joey told a great story about how she got the part in Chasing Amy and how she really didn’t like Kevin Smith at first (but then grew to like him and even dated him for awhile). Jeremy talked about how everyone would come into his room for weed, except Kevin, who didn’t smoke or drink at the time. Jason Mewes spoke about how he is now sober, but was really messed up for most of Clerks and Mallrats. He would get so nervous in front of the camera that he would ask everyone except the essential people to leave the set. For Dogma, he was so nervous to be working with Alan Rickman that because Kevin essentially babysat him to keep him sober, he would have long stretches of time in the hotel room alone, and he memorized the entire script and could read anyone’s part. Brian O’Halloran told funny anecdote after funny anecdote. At one point, the cast sang “Never Gonna Give You Up” after an audience member asked if they had ever been rickrolled. In all, the panel was fantastic – funny, light-hearted, full of stories and memories about Mallrats and other Kevin Smith movies, and just a great overall experience.
We walked back to the Bay Center and ate some delicious lunch from a local barbecue place, Hot Spot Barbecue, that had a pop-up outside before heading back into the arena. We went back to the celebrity area and met Rachel Skarsten who plays Queen Elizabeth on Reign (currently obsessed!). We talked with her a bit about Reign and how awesome a show it is and she said she became a hermit when she got the part and binge watched the first two seasons because she could not get enough. I told her how much I loved the Tudors in general and they were sort of my obsession in life and she said they fascinated her as well, especially after watching The Tudors on Showtime (not quite an accurate depiction, but eh). I’ve never seen Lost Girl, but she made me want to watch it based on how wonderfully nice she was. She shook our hands when we left and I am pretty sure she has the firmest handshake grip I have ever experienced. We also met Mark Dodson, who does the voice of Salacious B. Crumb in Return of the Jedi, and he signed my Star Wars poster. It is a long poster that depicts both the original trilogy and the prequels and he stated that he had never seen it before. I told him that I bought it in Scotland precisely because it was so unique. Dan Starkey, who plays Strax on Doctor Who, was also there and we got him to sign a picture that also had Madame Vastra and Jenny on it. They are three of my favorite people in the Whoniverse, with Strax being Kurt’s favorite, so I hope to meet the other two one day and complete the picture. Since we just finished season three of Arrow, we were excited to get Karl Yune’s autograph. He might have the most gorgeous handwriting of any celebrity we have met!
We then decided to hit up some panels (you can check out our full blog on the panels here). The first one was with the Chimichanga Talk hosts about how to market and possibly make money (aka change) off of your website/blog/podcast/etc. We don’t make any money doing this, it is more for the love of it, but that doesn’t mean we’re opposed to it. Plus, any little insider marketing tips can only help our brand. These guys run a podcast and they are seriously funny. They gave great tips on how to market and how to link up with sponsors and were hilarious doing so. I recommend giving them a listen. Pretty soon, we’ll be #flickingnickels with all the extra money we’re sure to make! (insert inside joke here)
As we were waiting for the next panel, I decided to check out one of the local authors, L.A. Kelley and bought two of her books, The Rules for Lying and The Naughty List. I love supporting local artists, authors, and other creative individuals, and these two books look incredibly interesting (as she says on her website, “Books with fantasy, adventure, humor, romance, and a touch of sass”).
Next up was a panel on stereotypes in comic books by Thinking Outside the Longbox. Definitely an interesting panel, especially for two history buffs such as us. We’re not up on silver age comics, really only current, so many of these characters were new to us (e.g., Big Bertha, Black Lightning, The Rawhide Kid). The blatant racism and inappropriate content was astounding and I think this would be a fascinating thesis to write about if I were still in grad school. Comic creator Tony Isabella was the special guest star and it was very thought provoking to hear his opinions on the subject.
I realized I still had a comic I wanted signed, a Marvel’s Star Wars #1 variant by Bob McLeod (I collect all of the variants for the comics), so we went to the artist area (affectionately titled the “Artist’s Halo” by Tony Isabella) and he graciously signed my comic for free. We then passed by Kelly Yates, who does work on Doctor Who comics. I had been eyeing him all weekend so I bought a 9th Doctor (my favorite) and Rose print and an IDW comic variant that he designed with 10, 11, and 12 taking a picture together.
After such an exhausting day, we quickly ate dinner with my two good friends that I had ridden with the first year of Pensacon and who drove up for the day (and help run their own nerdy blog, Nerdy Gras) and called it a night. One day more!
Sunday was a quick day, since we had to drive back three hours to New Orleans. We immediately got in Natalia Tena’s line, since she was only there for the one day and I wanted her to sign my Game of Thrones poster for Osha and a Tonks picture for Harry Potter. While we waited in her line, I got Nell Campbell to sign my RHPS poster. We missed the showing of RHPS with the cast on Saturday night because we were so exhausted (just like we missed the showing of Mallrats on Friday night), but it sounds like it was a blast. The man and his teenage son were in front of me and they recounted how the son went up on stage and Patricia danced with him and she was scared she scarred him. Since Patricia was right next to Nell, I got to hear Patricia talk with them and she even signed the poster he got from the show for free. Nell, of course, was just a fun as Patricia and once again exclaimed how awesome it was that I had Tim Curry’s autograph.
Natalia was so incredibly personable. She talked to all of her fans and looked like she was having a ball. She wanted to know who was on my GoT poster and where did I meet them and how did I like London (I met a few of them at the London Film and Comic Con two summers ago) and gushed about how much she loved Isaac (Bran Stark). She loved that Kurt and I were in love and we told her our Katrina story too and she said she’s been with her partner for eight years and that they play in a band together, so she understands what it’s like to live and work with your partner. Simply a divine human and when we thanked her for coming, she thanked us for taking the time to meet her.
We did one more stroll down to the vendors, where we got a Superman print signed by Neal Adams and Kurt bought a Buffy comic with Joss Whedon’s original script for the movie drawn with Sarah Michelle Geller as Buffy. And thus ended our weekend adventure at one of the best cons we have had the pleasure of attending. Hopefully, they are able to have the show next year! Check out the #savepensacon movement on Facebook and see what you can do to help ensure that one of the Gulf Coast’s best cons stays with us! There’s even a petition on Change.org that you can sign. With everyone’s help, Pensacon with be back and better than ever next year!