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Has it been a year already? Time flies when you’re busy making plans for the San Diego Comic Convention. This year was going to be bigger and better than ever. At least, it looked good on paper. This year we were going to have Alex Zsolt flown in from Michigan to be Robin on our costume days and even Jolene “juliejr” Twomey as Catwoman. Vickie had worked on a new and improved Wonder Woman suit and I had already tweaked my first bat suit light years away from what it was this time last year. We started making arrangements and accumulating materials well in advance to make this smooth sailing.
Nevertheless, here we were getting out the door five hours later than we planned on Wednesday afternoon to make it to the hotel in time to register at the convention, hook up with our friends, Wally, Christine, and Alex for “Preview Night.” The digital camera had been upgraded since the previous year and the digital camcorder was a new addition. But we were once again racing against the clock to get there.
After a long drive, we arrived late in the afternoon, but in time to check into the hotel and register across the street at the convention center to get our passes for the con. We made great time in the non existent line and went back to the hotel to hook up with Wally and Alex. We chatted for a bit and it was back to the center for Preview Night at 6:00. We weren’t really walking the floor for very serious inspection of the merchandise, but more like making a mad dash to cross every aisle of the convention to see where stuff was. Wally led the pack and we tried our best to keep up.
Alex had one of his Bat-Shields in tow to see if he could get a table that would sell them on consignment. Luck would have it that we came across a fellow who had some really nice graphics of the Batmobile in various forms. He had it on decals, bookmarks, coasters and I particularly liked his clock. The guy was Dan Bois and he was a big fan of the classic TV show. Wally asked him if he had a message board name and he said that he had never posted but hanged out at the various 66 oriented boards out there. He then asked Wally if he knew about THAT guy who was doing work with Barris and had all of these adventures. We laughed and Wally pointed out that it was me. Dan looked even more surprised and shook my hand and said, “Can you do the voice?” I did my best impromptu Adam delivery and that seemed to get another smile from him. Alex and Dan hit it off as well and he agreed to help Alex sell some of his shields. His family was very friendly and helpful during our stay there. But we’ll talk more about that later.
Wally on the floor of the convention
We blasted through the rest of the convention floor, but didn’t get out until they started closing it down at 9.00. We followed it up with a dinner at McCormick and Schmidt’s at the hotel. Lots of conversation and plenty of food had us getting out of there late. But we still weren’t finished. We parted ways with Wally and his lady friends and took Alex to our room to show him the Robin suit that we had made for him.
Alex is not new to Bat costumes. His mother is quite a talented seamstress in her own right and had made Batman and Robin costumes for him years ago in his teens when he and his friend use to show up at charity events and such as Batman and Robin ( he was Batman then.) Even Wally had met him in Chicago those many years ago and was so impressed by him that Wally GAVE him one of his incredible cowls. But when Alex took a look at the Robin suit he was quite amazed at all of the various details and workmanship. He marveled at the Billy Loyd crafted Batman and Robin belts. He was so excited that he jumped into the bathroom and tried on the Robin suit then and there. He looked great in it but we were still going to have to add some snaps to his cape and DYE his blonde hair to Burt Ward dark brown. But not then, it was already late and Vickie and I didn’t get to bed till 2:30 in the morning.
Alex checking out his Robin suit for the first time DAY TWO
Thursday wasn’t a costume day, but it still was a busy day. We met up with Alex early in the morning and dropped Vickie off at a spa for manicure and pedicure. She was going to be in costume hell for the next two days and I think she needed some well deserved pampering beforehand. Alex and I headed across the street with some Bat-Shields to take to Dan. A quick stop at Dan’s booth and they worked out their details and I told Dan that we would come by in costume Friday and Saturday at 3:00 at his booth for a scheduled appearance. He seemed pretty excited to help us out. What a great guy!
Alex went to check out some other possible vendors for his shields and I went to look at the various vendors selling stuff. I made some serious ground but didn’t turn up anything immediately that caught my attention. I met Michael from Wiz Bang Toys again this year and introduced him to Alex.
Alex and I hooked back up with Vickie and we also hooked up with Wally and his gang for a trip to Hooters for lunch. We hailed a pair of pedal taxis and went down the road through the Gas lamp district. But a few blocks before our destination was met, the chain drive on our bicycle taxi let loose and we had no power. The driver jumped out and pushed us the rest of the way! Another pedal taxi guy joined him for the last block. Now, that’s teamwork.
A nice lunch with a bunch of laughs and we headed back again to the convention center. Vickie and I checked out the various vendors and I was trying to keep an eye open for artist, Gene Colan, who was schedule to be at con this year. But there was no luck that day of finding him. We did come across one of Vickie’s favorite writers from her comic book beginnings, Marv Wolfman. He had mainly written one of her longest running favorites “The NEW Teen Titans.” I had also remembered his classic work “Crisis of Infinite Earths.” He’s a wonderful writer and great guy. Vickie didn’t have anything for him to sign (she’s not really the autograph type) but she took the time to tell him how much she loved his work through the years and what a vital part he played in her getting into comics in the first place. He was quite flattered and then they had a Kodak moment.
Vickie with writer Marv Wolfman
I was getting pretty lucky finding some items that I had been looking for through the years. I picked up a couple of 70’s reissued Marx Marvel figures of Iron Man and Captain America. Now some of you may know that I have been searching these cons for YEARS looking for a vintage Corgi Batmobile. This time I found one. Not only was it in near mint condition, but it was complete with a fair conditioned box and all of it’s missiles and directions still sealed. I told the dealer I would need to think about it and Vickie nudged me. She knew I would be devastated if I came back and it was gone. So I happily made the purchase. Just a bit later I stumbled across a vintage Corgi Black Beauty as well, complete with a Green Hornet and Kato inside the car. Awesome! It was lacking a box and rockets but just needed a little cleaning and it was going to look fantastic!
I went by Dan’s booth to show him my Batmobile find since we had been talking about trying to find them at the Con in general. He got real excited and had me sit down behind the table and we unraveled it from it’s packing and he looked it over. We were a pair of kids!
Another hook up with Alex and we were out of the convention just before the crowds were getting ready to leave. We opted to order some delivery pizza to the room while Vickie worked on Alex’s snaps for his cape then the dying process for his hair. It got pretty late but we got Alex into his completed Robin suit. He looked great! I jumped into my Bat-suit and we did a small photo shoot in front of some orange curtains in the hotels room and a few in the outside hallway of the hotel. But Vickie somehow started to get into a giggle fit and caused a hotel guest to stick their head out of their door. I’m sure they were quite surprised to see Batman and Robin in the hallway, but we were nevertheless embarrassed by possibly waking somebody. We couldn’t wait for Friday to come for our first venture out in costume.
An early morning out on the floor to check out vendors with Wally and I finally came across Gene Colan at his table, but he wasn’t scheduled for signing until after 11 Wally and I went upstairs where he was going to get some various autographs. He caught up with Christine and their friend, Kara. I took some various footage and pictures while I was up there including some pics of Margot “Lois Lane” Kidder with a few costumed characters.
I ran back down to get Alex and we went to Gene Colan’s table to get him to sign a classic picture of Iron Man that I had re-colored in my computer. He was the only autograph I was seeking this year. He was a considerably older gentleman and seemed a bit less engaging with the fans than I hoped, but a sweet fellow still.
I got my picture signed and we made our way back to the hotel room to ready for our costume appearance. Vickie had stayed in the room to get her Wonder Woman makeup ready as well as the wig. The rest of us got ready and we were ready to take convention on as Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman. Vickie’s new Wonder Woman suit was awesome including her new pair of Wonder Woman boots that we had custom made by Bat boot makers, Duran shoes.
With digital camera and camcorder at hand, we left the hotel room to meet the public. We didn’t even make it into the Convention Center before we were stopped time and time again for pictures. It had already started. I told Alex that I dared him to count how many pictures were being taken of us. He stopped counting after the first fifteen minutes. It was great to see Alex’s reaction to the crowds. He made an excellent boy wonder. We couldn’t have gotten luckier.
We contacted Wally and I gave him the camcorder to try and take some video footage. The photo sessions were already becoming demanding (expected) to the point where none of us could really get a conversation going or take very long for instructions on how to use the camcorder. But Wally got it going and was quite the director too. He would introduce us to various groups of people. Jolene had also arrived but not in costume and we met for the first time. But once again, any small talk turned into very short talk and we were swept away into posing for the cameras.
One table was set up for some of the cast from the Superman movies to do signings including Margot Kidder. We were asked by their promoter, Tim Gardner, to go stand behind her for some pictures. I guess she was preoccupied with some of the fans in front of her because she started to turn around and was startled to see us there. After the initial shock, she was quite pleasant to us. Some pictures were taken by various fans and then Marc “Jimmy Olson” McClure wanted some photos with us for his own collection.
We still needed to make our way across the convention floor to get to Dan’s booth to be on time for the 3:00 appearance. After countless stops for pictures along the way, we managed to do so. Meanwhile, Wally was constantly shooting footage for us.
We got to the booth just as Dan looked down at his watch to see if it was time yet. He looked up and there we were. We immediately started stopping traffic in that aisle with the congestion of people taking pictures of us. I decided to take pictures just across the side of the booth to where a little alcove that the employee only doors and emergency exits were located. This took us out of the immediate traffic and provided an ideal place for people to jump in and get their picture taken without blocking the other convention goers. We must have been there for at least an hour, but I would say it went very smoothly. Amongst the people hamming it up with us was Dan Roebuck from “Lost.” We managed to get him to pose with one of Alex’s Bat-Shields as well. And at a moment of improvisation, Alex and I started to go through the congested crowd protected behind the Bat-Shield. The onlookers pointed, laughed and even cheered. That was some serious fun.
We eventually left our spot at Dan’s and moved across the convention slowly. Wally gave us back our camcorder since he had to get some more autographs and such. We took time to do a few interviews. Once again, doing interviews becomes tricky when trying to maintain character and I’ve had more practice over the year, but Vickie and Alex held their own amazingly well. When an interviewer asks the right questions, it’s easy, but sometimes they are being amateurish jerks who want to just ask nearly insulting questions. That’s when you have to dig down and try to answer them in such a way that does not feed into their line of questioning. Hopefully, this will defuse it to the point they stop interviewing you since they’re not getting what they want.
Note the microphone pointed at us
While we were going by the DC booth, I spotted a couple dressed up as the Flash and a Halle Barry style Cat Woman suit. Their costumes were top notch. I had seen them before for the past couple of days. They had been Reed and Sue Richards as well as a pair of Green Lanterns. I went to go get our picture with them and the crowds flocked instantly. I don’t think we moved away from that spot for at least fifteen minutes. Flash told me that it was their first time at the San Diego Con and that he was a costume maker out of Atlanta. I wish I cold have gotten a card from him, because his stuff was really good.
With a Kirk Alyn Superman ( I love that version)
Once again, we made our way slowly across the floor until it was almost an hour before closing. We decided we needed to go back to the hotel before the mad rush and Vickie’s head was hurting from wearing the tiara. The thing is wrapped around her almost like a vice to hold it in place and has been known to put a knot in the front of her forehead after long use.
We managed to make it to our hotel room and I hooked up the camcorder to check out some of the footage. It started off great. Wally was getting some great shots and great moments before we had gone into the main convention floor. But then before we arrived at Dan’s booth, the record button must have been bumped and put the camera out of sequence. That means that when Wally thought he was recording, he was putting the camera into “Pause” and when he thought he was pausing the camera, he was actually putting it into “Record.” So we got a good half hour of footage of people’s feet and the floor. Oh well. No real harm done. We just had to hope to shoot some more the next day.
The days started with a certain routine by this time. Vickie and I would hunt down a place for breakfast in the morning and get our call from Alex when he was in the neighborhood. Once we would meet up, Alex and I would hit the convention floor in the morning while Vickie worked on getting ready. This time was no different and Vickie would be at the room for Jolene when she arrived from her hotel so she could change into Catwoman.
The Saturday crowd was already apparent and the floors were packed. We stopped by Dan’s table but he wasn’t there. I talked to his wife, Wendy that I was going to pick up one of his clocks later. She told me that they only had two left so I decided to snatch up one right then. She also pointed out the Bat-Shield that was displayed on the table. They had included a picture of us from the previous day holding it like an ad. That was so cool. I told her that we would be back at 3:00 for our scheduled appearance and that I would need some help getting some pictures and video taken while we were there. Alex and I went upstairs to the autograph area where he got a picture signed by Margot Kidder.
Back at the room, Jolene had arrived and we talked a bit and all took our turns getting ready in the bathroom. About an hour later and we were ready again to take on the convention.
We managed to get an earlier start than the previous day, but I knew this was going to be a long day and we still had the masquerade to attend later that night. We managed to make across the street to the convention hall and made our way into the main hall. Pictures, pictures, pictures every step of the way. We tried to slowly work our way to our 3:00 appearance and paced it petty well.
One girl that happened to approach Vickie was dressed in the Alicia Silverstone style Batgirl suit, but started to squeeze the daylights out of Vickie when she got to her. The girl said that she only wore this style Batgirl suit because she couldn’t find an “Yvonne Craig” style one. She loved the TV Batgirl and so happy to find somebody dressed as Yvonne at the convention. There are still plenty of young fans created everyday. Vickie ate it up of course that the girl referred to the suit as an “Yvonne Craig” one.
By 3:00 we made it to Dan’s table although Dan was off at one of the panels (I think it was one I wanted to go to.) I asked Wendy if she could use our camera to take some pictures and I showed her how to use our camcorder as well. So we managed to get quite a bit of footage from that session.
While we were posing for the various people, Jason Marsden happened to catch sight of us and stopped to take some pictures with Alex’s Bat-Shield. He was cool as always.
We eventually left our little corner of the convention and headed across the way and then upstairs to where we might be able to try and take a rest. But there didn’t seem to be much luck. There was always a picture to be taken. Especially after I spotted a guy dressed as Kato. Wow! He came over to us for a picture and I likewise. You can never go wrong with a crossover picture.
We decided that it would be best to go rest and get something to eat before coming back that night for the masquerade. Jolene had a date, so we parted ways until later. We went back to our hotel room, still stopping for pictures along the way. By the time we changed back into our street clothes and went upstairs to meet Wally at his hotle room, we were toast. Wally said that he was on his way to the room when I spoke to him on his cellular phone, but it took longer for him to arrive. So by the time he, Christine and Kara arrived to his floor, he found three dead people in the hallway in front of his door. “I see dead people,” he said when we came down the hall.
We were hungry and headed out to Dick’s Last Resort to join up with some of Wally’s voice over friends there as well. It was a noisy and messy place. I advise to NOT look under the table at whatever it is that your foot feels like it’s slipping on. Christine made that mistake. The food was good and the people and surrounding people even better. I had some wonderful conversations with people that I can’t remember their names. But as the time quickly passed, Vickie had to make her way back to the room so that she could change her makeup to be Wonder Woman again. We followed a bit later.
Once again, it was into our suits and onto the streets. We went to the convention center once again and headed upstairs for the masquerade. We didn’t go into the actual hall that the competition portion was taking place because I remember sitting in a seat melting the previous year. We chose to hang out at the more open air overflow area that had a big screen of the goings on of the competition. Wally and Christine were already there when we arrived. After a little while I took the time to show Christine how to operate the camcorder. One either needs a volunteer or simply drafts one. It was fun to stand back occasionally and see so many great costumes. I have to admit that one particular caught my eye. Of course it had to be the Green Hornet. The mask was too bright green, but that’s easily forgiven. He even had a gas gun.
The night went on with laughs and plenty of photo ops. We eventually worked our way to where they had the stage set up for press photos and the like. On the way there I ran into my favorite Green Lantern and his family, Al. His daughter Tiana had grown so much over the past year but she still clearly remembered us from the year before.
We made it over to the stage area when it seemed almost instantly they told us to get up on the stage. It’s a kick to go up there and do that. Vickie really did some great poses as Wonder Woman up there. I just hope I can find some pictures from that session from one of the many photographers. Our camera kept running into problems like the memory card being full to the flash messing up the exposure time and such. So we didn’t get any really good pictures of any of us on the stage but did get to take a few on the side of the stage area. The lighting was great and that was the last of the picture taking, which marked the end of the night. With tired feet, aching heads, and sweaty tights we walked back to the hotel in the glow of a fantastic day.
Sunday was the day we rested, checked out of our rooms and took our last look around at the convention. We spent a little time with Wally, Christine and Kara in the convention hall before they parted ways. Of course, Alex was with us. He had become such a part of the family to Vickie and I.
We walked the aisles, picked up some last minute purchases and sat down and talked to one of our cosplay friends, Norma and her husband. Next thing we knew it almost time to close down the convention. We headed back to the hotel to claim our luggage that we had them hold in storage. After we loaded up the car it was time to say goodbye to Alex. And we said goodbye to San Diego Comic Con after another fun filled vacation.
As we drove off, we already missed Alex. That was tough. He was going to be so far away. We worked so well together, I didn’t know when we would get to work together as Batman and Robin again.
But that’s another story…Stay tuned