Everyone has different reasons for attending that local comic book convention or traveling to a far off convention. The reasons can range from meeting their favorite artists, inkers and creators of their favorite comic book to dressing up in their favorite cosplay to finding that collectible to add to or complete their collection. The main pull to these cons, for me that is, is to feel comfortable with like-minded and like-interested people celebrating all the things we are passionate about. If you love comic books, you can box dive hunt for that specific book for your collection. If you love cosplay, you can meet old and new cosplayers and find your community at these cons. If you love art, there are countless familiar and new artists at every con where you can meet and appreciate their work which you can hopefully display in your house. If you love meeting celebrities, you have the opportunity to not only meet them, but get an autograph with them, a professional and not so professional photo and a memory you will remember for a long time.
For the past few years, I have found myself gravitating toward conventions with celebrities I would like to meet. Granted, it’s always fun at the “big show” (referring to the coveted San Diego Comic Con). But in the last few years, with the popularity of that specific con paired with my unavailability to attend, I’ve been throwing my gaze at other albeit smaller conventions which happen to be local to the Bay Area. Running into and meeting celebrities isn’t a new thing to conventions, but I believe with the emergence of Fanfests, which are shows geared toward bringing your favorite actors and actresses to you in a more meet-and-greet/personal experience than some of the other cons where you get a quick hello and signature and on to the next person. Granted, not all cons with autographs and photo ops are like that, but some are. But with the conventions and fanfests around now, you can meet all your favorite celebrities and some that you weren’t much fans of before could turn you into a fan after meeting them!
The first celebrity I met was Olivia Munn at San Diego Comic Con at Borders (a bookstore that went out of business) for her book signing (Pic of book / autograph). I was surely starstruck and could only muster a cheesy smile when she was signing her book! I’ve felt since then that I have definitely become more confident in my interactions with my favorite actors and actresses. I recently met the 12th Doctor from Doctor Who, Peter Capaldi at San Francisco Comic Con and was able to chat with him a bit and get my Titan Merchandise Vinyl Tardis signed. I had Jenna Coleman, who was a companion to Peter Capaldi in Doctor Who, sign the Tardis last year at San Francisco Comic Con. So, it made it even more meaningful to have Peter sign it. He was so worth waiting an hour and fifteen minutes in line for! He genuinely took the time to chat with each of his fans and even though he had a panel at noon, he was still signing and meeting people up till noon! I’ve met actress/voice actress Janet Varney which is awesome since you don’t have that many opportunities to meet the voice talent at some of the bigger conventions.
I do credit meeting more celebrities to the Heroes and Villains Fanfest in San Jose. Fellow Nerd (Col)laborator and my brother, Jeremy and I volunteer every year for this con which has us assisting in line control in the autograph and meet and greet area. We may not necessarily work with the celebrity we want to meet, but we are in such close proximity that it isn’t hard to get something signed or take a table selfie during our breaks. Jeremy and I worked Michael Rooker‘s (Yondu in Gardians of the Galaxy and Meryl in the Walking Dead) line which was three tables away from Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennett of Marvel’s Agents of Shield! And, I was even able to meet Brian Tee, DK (Drift King from Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) just by walking past his line to get lunch!
So, what is the process of getting autographs and meeting with favorite celebrities, you may ask. Well, the process may be different depending on the convention but I will highlight a few that I have experienced in the past years I’ve attended cons.
The Walk Up:
So, most of the time, the celebrity or “talent” as I like to call them, are at a specific booth or their own booth and you can simply walk up (and fall in line if there is a queue starting) and you wait you turn to meet them. Jeremy once met Bruce Timm at San Francisco Comic Con at his artist booth just by falling in line. Most artists, comic book creators and inkers are situated at their own booth and you can go up and chat with them, browse their portfolios, purchase art, request/pick up a commission, get something signed and take a photo if that is available at their booth. That is usually how it works with cosplayers if they have their own booth or at an affiliated booth. I met LeeAnna Vamp at San Diego Comic Con sharing a booth with Nadyasonika and she was dressed in her Boba Fett cosplay! I even met Sandeep Parikh from The Guild just walking by a booth he was just at and got a picture with him. He eventually was part of a signing with the rest of the cast at that booth later that week.
Nowadays, especially at San Diego Comic Con, there isn’t just a line to wait in hoping to get an autograph signing session, toy voucher coupon or wristband to attend a specific screening. You not only fall in line and wait however long it is before the whole process begins but once you do arrive at the front of the line (and hopefully all the giveaways aren’t already ‘given away’) you would have to draw a number for that giveaway or in the technologically advanced society we live in today, you would scan your attendee badge. So, there is no guarantee that you will receive anything and coming away very empty handed is very real possibility, but that’s the fun right? Personally, I’d like more of a guarantee. I am not a gambling man myself, so I am biased in not even trying my luck, but Jeremy was very lucky in the past and not only got to go to a screening of Cowboys & Aliens that year at San Diego Comic Con, but also got to meet Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man) and attended a signing with the cast of Doctor Who including Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Michelle Gomez.
In the Wild:
And if you are astute and more aware, you could possibly meet celebrities out “in the wild!” My meaning of “in the wild” is at the convention floor or surrounding area and city where the convention is taking place. I wasn’t able to get any pictures with these celebrities but being surprised as you realize who that actor or actress is makes a great story to recount to your friends later. I was walking back to my hotel after picking up my attendee badge at San Diego Comic Con and who happens to walk out of a trendy preteen sunglasses/apparel store in the Gaslamp District was Hook’s Rufio himself, Dante Bascos! Jeremy and I happened to ride down to the lobby of the hotel he was staying at during San Francisco Comic Con with a Malcolm Reynolds and Kaylee Frye cosplayers from Firefly/Serenity when stepping out into the elevator bank area we spied who we thought was a very accurate River cosplayer. But, after a few seconds of looking at her, we all realized it was the real actress who played River Tam, Summar Glau!
Fanfests are a bit different because you have the opportunity to purchase tickets ahead of time prior to the event starting. Most fanfests like Heroes & Villains Fanfest give you the opportunity to purchase passes for autograph signings and there may be a few options in the passes you can purchase. Each pass will allow you “jump the line” so to speak, in order to meet the celebrity of your choice quicker than general attendees. When Jeremy and I were working Michael Rooker’s line, there were three distinct entrances/lines to fall in line at: General, Gold and Silver. General were for people who did not purchase an extra pass. Gold and Silver lines gave you a quicker route to the celebrity with the line set up being shorter in length than the General line. And, when you do make it to the front of the line, there is a specific flow to the lines that the volunteers facilitate. Gold goes first, then silver then general and if there are multiple people in each line, quotas are set and followed like three people in gold, two people in silver, and one in general and it repeats. And, I would be remiss not to mention the Platinum or VIP pass which lets you jump all the lines and have you next to meet the talent. That pass is usually the most expensive out of all the other passes.
Professional Photo Ops:
If you have not experienced a photo op line, it is an experience. Just imagine being corralled by cowboys and you find yourself following a group of people in the line or chutes until you reach the front where the talent is and the photographer snaps a photo and you are escorted out of the area to pick up your photo. What I just described is an exaggeration of the experience, but somewhat accurate view of it. The good thing is you are in and out quickly so if there is like 100 people in front of you, the line moves fairly briskly. The bad part is you really do not have time to meet the celebrity, but that is what autograph booths are for. You do get to meet the talent like my boys were able to give Grant Gustin (CW’s The Flash) a high five and I got to shake his hand as we all showed him our Funko Dorbz Flash figures before we took our photo. And, you don’t have to worry about the photo being off centered, out of focus or having your eyes closed because the professional photographer frames you correctly and makes sure everyone’s eyes are open. They do a little touch up as well before you pick up the print which is a nice touch. To get a photo op of a specific celebrity, you either purchase online before the convention or before fanfest begins (if it is available) or at the beginning of the day at the Photo Op table and you just have to arrive 10-15 minutes before the photo op time and present the receipt/ticket/photo op voucher you purchased previously. And, you can have up to two adults and four children in the same picture! Jeremy and I weren’t planning on taking a professional photo op with Chloe Bennett but was able to walk up and purchase a photo op ticket, fall in line and choose a fun pose and get a picture with her in the span of 15 minutes! Granted, some celebrities will take table selfies at their booth. Table Selfies are selfies taken on your camera or phone camera by a volunteer, a friend who came with you or the celebrity themselves for a monetary fee which is less expensive than professional photo op prices. Katie Cassidy from CW’s The Arrow took Jeremy’s phone and took the picture herself with Jeremy and I as the bread and her as the meat. You may be already waiting to get something signed by that celebrity and to add a photo is very convenient, but some celebrities do not allow it and the photo ops may be your only opportunity to get a photo. And, I have noticed some fans take a professional photo first then have the celebrity sign that print later in the day. It’s a great idea, but most celebrities will have a collection of 8 x11″ glossy prints that is included in the autograph price for them to sign. I saw an awesome ‘Korra and Asami’ artist rendition print from the Legends of Korra that Janet Varney’s friend illustrated and had to purchase it when I met Janet even though I brought something for her to sign.
Meeting celebrities and getting their signature is part of the comic convention hunt fun. I personally do not hunt for autographs since my wife won’t let me put up that many signed photos or items in the house, but I love to meet the people that bring your favorite character to life. To me, it’s getting to show your appreciation for the people responsible for making these characters a part of your life. It may be difficult at first to see them other than the character they play on screen, but I think it means so much more to see them as a normal person like you and me. And, for them to take time out of their busy shooting schedule as well as their own families to meet with fans is a big thing as well. Not that many celebrities will do that so I am happy and grateful for the celebrities that do venture to comic book conventions that I have met.
Who would I want to meet in the future? That is an excellent question! I saw a Con Man panel with Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk at Id10t Music Festival and Comic Conival last summer and would love to get a photo with them! I missed out on meeting Grace Park (Battlestar Galactica and Hawaii 5-0) and would jump at the chance to get anything signed by her and a photo! And, I’m looking forward to meeting the King of Nerds himself, Mr. Zachary Levi at Heroes & Villains Fanfest in San Jose at the end of the year. I’ll be there to volunteer for sure, but plan on getting something signed, a table selfie (if he allows that) and maybe a professional photo op in Chuck cosplay!
* All images provided by Google search and from Kdiz’s personal gallery
Is there a celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet? We’d love to know and maybe point you to the cons that they will be in attendance! Please feel free to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page here or Instagram page here or our Twitter page here.