At the southern tip of Illinois and across the Ohio River from Paducah, the small town of Metropolis devotes the second weekend of every June to their world-famous Superman Celebration. More than just a carnival acknowledging their local heritage and history, the Celebration invites tourists from all walks to come join in their festivities. Their Main Street’s center of attention is the also-world-famous Superman Museum, dedicated to their greatest fictional resident, the recently rebooted Superman. Also major draws: the special guests from various Superman movies, TV shows, and other related Super-works who drop by for autographs and Q&As.
This coming June 8th and 9th, my wife and I will be attending our fourth Celebration after previous enjoyable experiences in 2001, 2006, and 2008. The 300-mile drive from Indianapolis to Metropolis against 65-MPH speed limits is not quite my favorite road trip, and we’re not a fan of their casino in any way, but when the Celebration aligns with our schedule, we consider it a weekend well spent.
This year’s guest list as of this writing, subject to change without notice, includes:
John Glover! Normal people know him best as the great and powerful Lionel Luthor, but my favorite Glover role remains that of the Devil himself on the short-lived Fox horror series Brimstone. Peter Horton was necessarily glum and stoic as a resurrected widower charged with returning escaped souls to damnation, while Glover stole all the fun as the sly, charming, yet no less fiendish Prince of Darkness who called the shots and had all the best lines. In addition to voicing the Riddler on Batman: the Animated Series, Glover also earned extra Lionel practice when he played a less-than-commendable one-percenter with a fancy high-rise in the overlooked epic Gremlins 2: the New Batch, recently released on Blu-ray. Glover, more than anyone else, is why my wife and I are pinning this year’s Celebration on our calendar.
Cassidy Freeman! The ambiguously antagonistic Tess Mercer was one of the highlights of Smallville‘s later seasons, much of which we avoided. In those few latter-day episodes I did catch, Freeman was a welcome addition who never disappointed.
Gerard Christopher! I never watched The Adventures of Superboy, but my wife seems eager to meet him, so I’ll assume she did. I bought the first several issues of DC’s accompanying comic series because of spiffy Kevin Maguire covers, but that’s as far as my attention went.
George Perez! I met this legendary comics artist at Wizard World Chicago 1999, but it’ll be great to see what he’s up to these days up close, even if it’s part of DC’s New 52.
Terry Beatty! Co-creator/co-owner of the ’80s hard-boiled detective comic Ms. Tree, and co-creator of DC’s own Iowa vigilante Wild Dog. The costume looks odd today, but I still have my copies and fond memories of the original Wild Dog miniseries and his serial in Action Comics Weekly.
And more! The “Artists and Writers” section on the official site has a couple of names and will surely expand in the weeks ahead. For your small-town festival entertainment, scheduled at various points are strong-man displays, bicycle stunts performed by locals, and a Southern gospel quartet. Of paramount importance is the wonder of deep-fried carnival food, steeped in rich, creamery butter. (Fun trivia: the Superman Celebration is where I first met sweet potato fries. I remember a time when those weren’t a common steakhouse side dish.)
If you prefer to stick to convention-shaped events, your options are a Saturday fan film contest, a dance party, and a Sunday costume contest. Usually I’m a sucker for costume contests (and for posting photo parades online after the fact), but Sunday won’t be doable for us. Dances are no-go as a general rule. As for the fan films…we’ll check our exhaustion levels and plan from there.
I highly recommend keeping tabs on the official Superman Celebration site or their official Facebook page for updates, calamities, and hints about their autograph procedures, which aren’t as simple as “Show up, line up, walk up, win!” In fact, I’ll need to go review those myself…