Our Ten Terrific Tricks for a Stay-at-Home Comic Con

Quarantine Jazz Hands!

With your host, Dr. Bane-ton Forrester!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: for the past several years my wife Anne and I have made a tradition of going somewhere — anywhere but home — for each of our birthdays. One-day road trips and events, such as last year’s tour of the Art Institute of Chicago, give me the gift of new experiences and distract me from the physical decay at hand. It was a nice tradition while it lasted.

For my 48th birthday we had hoped this weekend would see us returning to Motor City Comic Con up near Detroit. Our first trip to Motor City in 2017 was a fantastic experience, and this year’s guest list had a few larger-than-life personalities we would’ve loved to meet. Then, much as has happened to You, The Viewers at Home, our best-laid plans gang agley. In the wake of COVID-19, businesses closed or severely restricted their services, workplaces were scuttled, my employers enacted strict rules about out-of-state travel, and any and all events involving two or more people were canceled. All one-man events, such as the worst YouTube channels ever, were allowed to continue on schedule. I haven’t had a birthday party in years, but the state of the world has derailed our road-trip tradition for my big day. Whether we can resume our practice on Anne’s birthday in October will hinge on a number of variables, none of them within my personal control, though I’d totally be on top of that for her sake if I had Dr. Manhattan’s powers.

Anne and I were determined to line up an enjoyable weekend for ourselves anyway. Between the two of us we made the most of these past two days with the resources safely available. We found a way to recreate ten (10) commonalities we’ve encountered at various entertainment conventions over the past several years. Welcome to what I nicknamed “TakeoutCon 2020”, which included the following comic-con-esque features:

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A Series of Scarecrows on a Small-Town Square

fitness scarecrows!

In this display a Danville fitness center shows us why we’ve never seen a fat scarecrow: they work out till they’re healthy and strawng.

Last weekend my wife Anne and I were out of town visiting my in-laws’ church and scouting the surrounding areas for fresh donuts when we stumbled across a surprise delight. Apropos of the autumn season and the upcoming Halloween holiday, we learned the nearby town of Danville, Indiana, holds an annual contest inviting local businesses to create their own scarecrows. A few craftspeople kept it simple. Some drew inspiration from their own lines of work. Some dove right into pop culture for their subject matter, which of course is bound to catch our eyes. Still others let their imaginations run amok. These were some of the standouts to me, proudly on display around the town square.

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #11 of 12: The Dragon’s Lairs

RX-24 + Mouse Droid!

RX-24 from Star Wars Rebels and a Mouse Droid from the same universe, signs we were definitely in the right area.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…though we weren’t sure how easy it would be to transition from one mode to the other. Thankfully we found D*C has the best head-start program for newcomers that we’ve ever seen at a convention.

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #10 of 12: Last Call for Cosplay

Chernobyl Russian nuclear technician!

A Russian nuclear technician from HBO’s Chernobyl.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…and thus we arrive at our final D*C costume gallery. From the badge pickup on Thursday afternoon to the last cosplayer we caught at the Peachtree Center food court on our way out Saturday, ’twas a merry assortment of wardrobes and wearers. Our own modest collection here on MCC is but a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the total cosplay on display among the tens of thousands of attendees and passersby. The fun thing about so many folks sharing their own cosplay pics is you’re guaranteed never to see the same lineup twice.

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #9: No Parades, Just Cosplay

Insurance Mascots!

TV insurance mascots role call: Lady Liberty Mutual! Mayhem! Flo from Progressive! The General! (“For a great low rate you can get online / Go to The General and save some time!”)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…where, as you can imagine in a show with 80,000+ in attendance, with or without the parade in progress, boring sights were in short supply. Every con of every size has its share of cosplayers bringing fun, creativity, imagination, and heightened quality of life to any and every square foot around them. We spent much of our time in lines, panels, and massive crowds where poses and shoots became next to impossible without making gridlock even worse, but we did what we could whenever time, space, and energy allowed to salute those who did their thing.

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #8: Ultimate Final Cosplay-Parade Climax Endgame Finale

Adult Swim coming!

An Adult Swim coterie on the horizon at left. If you know the characters at right, let me know? That isn’t Princess Bubblegum, right?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. And it all comes down to this: one last catchall entry of parade pics that I thought had their own charms, uses, and/or recognizable characters. We have dozens remaining, but they’re largely shots of (a) tiny people waaaaaay in the distance, (b) characters we don’t know and didn’t think we did justice to, and/or (c) parade marchers who turned the wrong way at the last second and faced too far toward the other side of the street, or were obscured by the people next to them. If anyone’s interested in some of those, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to add them here for posterity and curiosity.

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #6: Still More Cosplay on Parade Continued Yet Again

Whovians!

Doctors and Daleks and Davros, oh, my!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

…such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. In this installment we throw in a smattering of Doctor Who and then another roundup of random characters from science fiction and here and there and everywhere. Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #3: More Cosplay on Parade

Penguin!

The Penguin from Batman Returns but 100% less slimy.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

..such as that Saturday morning parade through downtown Atlanta. Same cautions apply as last time: we’re pros, not fans; corrections are very welcome if we misname anyone; we do take requests, but can’t guarantee we photographed every parade participant; enjoy!

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Dragon Con 2019 Photos #2: Cosplay on Parade

Patchy the Pirate and SpongeBob SquarePants!

Patchy the Pirate and SpongeBob SquarePants!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

For years we’ve been telling friends in other states that we’d one day do Atlanta’s Dragon Con, one of the largest conventions in America that isn’t in California or New York. We’ve been in Atlanta, but we hadn’t really done Atlanta. Hence this year’s vacation, in which we’re aiming for a double proficiency in Atlanta tourism and over-the-top Dragon Con goodness…

The proud annual tradition of the Saturday morning Dragon Con parade is definitely not a thing we can see back home at any of our usual cons. Multiple groups and organizations walk, ride, roll, and gallivant together in a united display of pop culture through downtown Atlanta. Hundreds of participants boast costumes and gear from across the wide spectrum of entertainment. The festivities draw thousands of onlookers every time — not just D*C attendees, but Atlanta citizens as well. Though the many overhead Skybridges running between buildings prohibit the use of giant floats (as we’re used to from our hometown’s own Indianapolis 500 Festival Parade), the spectacle is nonetheless a staggering feat of community and imagination.

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Encore: Another Ace Art Assemblage

Pennywise!

Happy clowns: a natural fit at any fair!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

But then four days later we drove once more out to the east side and enjoyed a 4-hour whirlwind do-over. Among other Tuesday oversights, we’d failed to brake for the basement of the Indiana Arts Building, an entire bonus section of paintings and other arts vying for ribbons and renown.

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 5 of 6: The Art of the Fair

Good Omens art!

I tried every possible angle and couldn’t find one that would eliminate the reflections on this Good Omens fan art.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

…so we’re interested in seeing what new works of paint, photography, building blocks, and science have been offered up for the various competitions. The State Fair holds its massive celebrations on behalf of our farmers, but Indiana has no shortage of artists, either. They come from all demographics, work in multiple media, bring ideas from pop culture as well as from their own home life, and all contribute in their own ways to the Hoosier State hometown legacy.

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Happy Free Comic Book Day 2019!

Free Comic Book Day 2019!

This year’s haul, part 1.

It’s that time of year again! Today marked the eighteenth Free Comic Book Day, that annual celebration when comic shops nationwide offer no-strings-attached goodies as a form of community outreach in honor of that time-honored medium where words and pictures dance in unison on the printed page, whether in the form of super-heroes, monsters, cartoon all-stars, licensed merchandise, or entertaining ordinary folk. It’s one of the best holidays ever for hobbyists like me who’ve been comics readers since the days when drugstores sold them for thirty-five cents each and comic book movies were sad, cheapskate abominations.

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Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Photos #12 of 12: What We Did in the Star Wars

Buckle Up Baby!

Did YOU spot all the appearances of Donald Glover’s Young Lando in this very special maxiseries? I mean, you don’t win a prize or anything and I’m not even keeping track of them myself. I was just curious, is all.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

April 11-15, 2019, was the ninth American edition of Lucasfilm’s Star Wars Celebration, recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s was in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. My wife Anne and I attended Thursday through Saturday and fled Sunday morning…

…and it all ends here, by which I mean we finally stop trying to prolong the magic of that eventful weekend. We’ve covered the cosplayers we saw; the actors we met; the big, big trailer we watched with thousands of other fans in an awkward communal setting; the one panel we were permitted to attend; the geek stuff we bought; and the other geek stuff we walked past.

Here on MCC, many such lists end with me promising all that “and more, more, MORE!” At long last, it’s time for the mores.

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Our Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 Pre-Show: Who We’ve Already Met

Billy Dee Williams!

The debonair Mr. Billy Dee Williams at Cincinnati Comic Expo 2016, raising the bar for convention fashion.

This weekend my wife Anne and I will be attending the latest edition of Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm’s recurring major convention celebrating their works, creations, actors, fans, and merchandise, not always in that order. After jaunts around the U.S. coast and overseas, this year’s will be in Chicago, gracing the Midwest with its products for the first time since 2005. Previously on MCC, we shared our personal experiences with Celebrations 2002 and 2005, which were each held at our very own Indiana Convention Center. We’re happy they’ve turned our direction once more, but a bit flummoxed by a few aspects of the show, which we hope goes well despite our nervousness about a few early warning signs.

Bugging us more than anything else is the lack of big, big-name participants from either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. We had accepted that there would be a Wampa’s chance on Mustafar of The Mark Hamill coming within a thousand miles of Chicago that weekend after his not-so-great 2017 experience in Orlando. (Ditto Harrison Ford, which we absolutely understand.) But being snubbed by the main casts of the last two non-digressive SW films stings a tad. We also despaired when special guest Temuera Morrison (Aquaman, Attack of the Clones) canceled last week. He was at the top of our must-meet list and has now freed up some of our funds for other activities, such as slightly better Chicago food.

We hope to have fun nonetheless, but of those folks scheduled to attend, we’ve already met many of them. While we’re counting down to opening day this coming Thursday, please enjoy this look back at this year’s Celebration guests that we’ve already met at previous conventions. Please feel free to pretend this is an exclusive sneak preview of the weekend to come. For other folks besides us, I mean.

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C2E2 Photos, Part 8 of 8: Geek Commerce on Parade

C2E2 Dalek!

This way to REGISTRATE! REGISTRATE! REGISTRATE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and taken photos as a team, of whatever sights catch our eyes around the vast exhibit hall, which could contain several football games at once, though it does not because football is out of scope for geek mega-parties like C2E2.

In the spirit of the Moral of the Story from our seventh exciting chapter, in which we ultimately learned that photos are cool and words are dumb if you put too many together in a row, please enjoy one last photo gallery of stuff and things that demand your money or at least your attention. Looky!

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C2E2 2019 Photos, Part 5 of 8: Last Call for Cosplay

Calvin and Hobbes!

Calvin and Hobbes, complete with Watterson-accurate expression.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and sooner or later we run out of cosplay photos as a team. It’s time to share all the cosplay that’s fit to print and left to post. Same disclaimers apply as in Part Two. Enjoy! Some more!

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Merry Christmas from MCC!

Elf Sweater!

Not an ugly sweater in my book. I mean, the fashion chapter in my book is just a footnote that says, “EDITORS NOTE: The author doesn’t get fashion,” but still.

This year most of my Christmas ties were given the season off while a new addition to my holiday wardrobe gets taken out for a couple of spins.

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Thanksgiving Between the Christmas Cues

Thursday paper!

Another ancient tradition falling by the wayside in today’s culture: newspapers thrown on driveways.

Before our first glimpse of Thanksgiving turkey or family, my long holiday weekend kicked off after work Wednesday when I arrived home around 4 p.m. to find Thursday morning’s newspaper already delivered, articles and all. The largest physical edition every year, Thanksgiving Day papers are coveted for their Black Friday ads, more or less the official Christmas season launch. Shoppers can’t wait to get started on it — hence more and more stores reopening on Thanksgiving itself, hours ahead of the Black Friday starter pistols. It stands to reason our carrier couldn’t wait to get past it, to unload this newsprint behemoth as soon as possible.

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Hall of Heroes Comic Con 2018 Photos, Part 2 of 2: On a Wing and a Prayer

William Katt!

It’s William Katt! The Greatest American Hero! Believe it or not!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In March 2017 my wife Anne and I attended the inaugural Hall of Heroes Comic Con in Elkhart, Indiana. Under the same ownership as the nearby Hall of Heroes Museum (which we’d visited the year before), HoHCC was a two-day convention contained entirely in Elkhart’s historic Lerner Theatre, a beautiful 94-year-old venue for live plays and other cultural events. The organizers made creative use of the available spaces and had the assistance of a bevy of friendly volunteers. Initial response from fans statewide and beyond was so overwhelming, they earned themselves an encore presentation, this year in a much warmer September as opposed to that wintry March…

…and it very nearly didn’t happen for us. Our original plan called for driving three hours from Indianapolis to Elkhart on Saturday, enjoying HoHCC, and returning home the same evening; then on Sunday driving 70-odd minutes west of Indy out to Turkey Run State Park for Anne’s annual family reunion. We would’ve been wasted come Monday if Plan A had happened. All lights were green through early Friday evening. Then a couple of things spun out of our control.

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Wizard World Chicago 2018 Photos, Part 6 of 6: Objects of Affection

cat nurse!

Space taxidermy! Me and a Sister of Plenitude from Doctor Who.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! This weekend my wife and I made another journey up to Wizard World Chicago in scenic Rosemont, IL, where we found ample enjoyment and new purchases alongside peers and aficionados of comics and genre entertainment. A few guest cancellations dampened our spirits somewhat, but we persevered and enjoyed our couple’s outing anyway, especially since Anne’s entire weekend admission was free as a consolation prize given to her and a couple thousand other fans after David Tennant’s last-minute cancellation last year.

Now that site traffic has subsided to its normal insignificant levels and all our visitors and new acquaintances have retreated to their respective internet corners, we wrap our miniseries with one last photo gallery in honor of what it’s all about: all that stuff around the convention. Everywhere we walk in an exhibit hall, we’re surrounded by millions or nifty items , whether for sale or for display only. Two organizations in particular brought their finest collections to entertain, to educate, to raise funds, and/or to treat fans to deeper glimpses into revered elements from their favorite fictional multiverses.

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