Features & Columns

Silicon Valley Comic Con 2016

Big Silicon Valley money brings big names at the inaugural Silicon Valley Comic Con.

Intro | Comic Book Store | William Shatner | Back to the Future | Firefly | Women in Comics | Geek Out

THE STARS ALIGN: Some of the biggest names in nerdom are slated to converge on the San Jose Convention Center this weekend.

Leveraging his fortune and influence, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is bringing a San Diego-style comic convention to the San Jose area. True, the first-ever "Silicon Valley Comic Con" isn't exactly new. It is, in fact, the buying, rebranding and supersizing of the long standing Big Wow! Comicfest. However, with The Woz's backing, the event is growing and packing some serious star power. It's a chance to share drawings, confer with the lions of the business and grip 'n' grin with celebs, some of whom cost a significant sum of money to grip.

With the exception of Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver, nearly everyone who knows how to fly a starship will be in San Jose this weekend. Carrie Fisher has cancelled, but Firefly fans will rejoice to learn that Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk, will be in attendance. Also making the scene, Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; the time-traveling trio of Christopher Lloyd, Michael J. Fox and Lea Thompson from the Back to the Future trilogy; and doing his last tour of the convention circuit (he plans to retire after September) is the putative, and sometimes actual, creator of so many of those masked Marvel characters, the nonagenarian Stan Lee.

Oh... And Shatner. Frickin' Shatner.

The souk-like chaos of the convention floor is sure to resemble the Mos Eisley cantina full of cosplayers pushing their high-limit credit cards. Here are Furries and filkers, old-time slingers of ink and slicers of Letraset. Amid the myriad Stormtroopers and Deadpools, sweltering inside their plastic helmets and urethane hoods, is the occasional suit-wearer, attempting to achieve some modicum of professionalism. In the far distance, there is tomorrow's autobiographical cartoonist, manning a lonely folding table.

Saturday morning includes a spotlight on Silicon Valley artists, led by the Cartoon Art Museum. Longtime cartoonist and inker Mick Gray will be taking the podium; the Eisner Award-winner has worked on DC Comics for a quarter century. In addition, Norm Felchle—who has done storyboards, comics and logos, and collaborated with Slave Labor Graphics' Dan Vado on DC's Star Corps: United—and Alex Sheikman, of Robotika and The Dark Crystal series, will speak.

There is a surprising amount of meat—and I don't mean carnage—to be found among other panels. The serious science of inter-planetary exploration is up for discussion, along with cosplay help, competitions and support groups for artists and writers. And the festival pays a significant amount of attention to women, which is a relief in this male-dominated field.

The world of comics shares the old literary schism between the romantic and a classical. On the one hand, Captain Kirk himself, a dashing representative of a benign United Federation of Planets; on the the other, Mal Reynolds of the Serenity—a don't-tread-on-me type, rebelling against the sweet reason of his own government, The Universal Alliance. The struggle between these opposites is also exemplified in this year's Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (coming to an ear-blasting, retina-burning, big screen later this month). It's Batman, the romantic hero, up against a real live God and embodiment of that classical, paternalist Greco-Roman-American might. Of course, any one of these characters are never just one thing: Is Batman a terrifying hell-knight of the Gotham wastelands, or a Lego figure? Is Superman an unshaven warrior with flaming eyeballs, or a comforter to frightened children everywhere?

And Shatner. SHATNER. Whence William Shatner? He's clearly one of most satisfying actors who ever lived. Sure, there was a certain carelessness and excessive joie de vivre in Shatner's non Kirk parts in the 1970s—when his phone wasn't ringing as much as it should have been. Consider the man: unparalleled in dash, suaveness, perhaps a little grease, master of the rolling vocal thunder characteristic to the Shakespeare-trained Commonwealth thespian. There was a time in the middle of the last century when all that Brando moodiness hadn't bled over the border, and the studios used to smuggle them across the border (including Lorne Greene, Leslie Nielsen, and hey, Dark Shadow's Jonathan Frid). Royal Canadian stalwarts all, they really knew how to stand and deliver a line in a loud, clear voice. If you don't love Shatner, you don't love acting, and that's a fact.

continue to Comic Book Store