If you follow me on social media, you know that I have been privileged to have been able to attend two different Comic-Cons in the region this past month. They have been a blast to attend because I love these kind of events, and even though I’m a priest, I am no less called to joyfully embrace my humanity in the way God created me by enjoying the various gifts and hobbies that I have, even if they aren’t explicitly religious in nature (coffee anyone?). Holiness does not mean we must separate from our humanity to be holy or that our human flesh is evil, those would fall into forms of the heresies of Gnosticism and Manichaeism, but true holiness is seen in the authentic union and integration of ourselves, both in our spirit/soul and in our bodies on our journey in intimate relationship with God; Jesus accomplished this perfectly in His Incarnation, when God took on flesh and dwelt among us and brought us back to God the Father through the Paschal Mystery. This means that what fulfills us and brings us joy on a human level is not bad, but is something that we can participate in with God as we strive for sanctity. As a priest friend of mine put it in a homily once: “As long as you’re not sinning, God delights in what you delight in,” (and he was referring to watching K-State sports on TV!). In attending these kinds of events I get to be myself as priest, but also a geek, and I absolutely love it!
First up was Lilac City Comicon in Spokane, WA on June 2-3, 2018. To make it even more enjoyable, my buddy, Jonathan, came along with me and we enjoyed the con together (he enjoyed people watching more than all the geekiness that I get into). We flew into Spokane a few days early so we got a couple days to just explore the amazing land that is Washington state. We wandered downtown and found some great eateries (Wisconsin Burger had amazing burgers that definitely made me feel like I was visiting my family back in the actual state of Wisconsin! – Atticus Coffee and Teahouse became our go-to coffee place, although we were never quite sure how Spokane was related to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee… – and Frank’s Diner was the best breakfast in an old presidential train car!).
Lilac City Comicon kicked off Saturday morning, but first Jonathan and I decided to get up early and hit the gym. I hopped on the treadmill to run a few miles and Jonathan went to do his own routine. About 15 minutes into our workout, Jonathan bounced over to me and with excitement in his voice, quietly told me that Lou Ferrigno was in the gym too (working out on an elliptical)! Lou was one of the celebrities coming to the con and he was a famous body-builder and acted as the Hulk on the TV show, The Incredible Hulk. So, before the con even started I can now say that I worked out in the same gym as Lou Ferrigno! Since I had VIP tickets to the con (which were cheap for this small of a con), I got to enter the show floor at 9:30am instead of 10am like everyone else. This proved to be a great way to enter a small con, I entered the floor and immediately saw that the lines for the few guest celebrities were nonexistent. That meant that as soon as I was able to do I headed straight over to Timothy Zahn’s booth. Timothy Zahn is a Sci-fi author and has written a number of Star Wars books. He was the primary reason I even got tickets to Lilac City Comicon. He is one of my most favorite authors of all time. I proceeded to have him sign one of his books for me and I bought a few more. I really enjoyed chatting with him and loved how personable he is and how he graciously interacts with all his fans.
Michelle Harrison was next up on my list of celebrities to meet. She is an actress whom I knew from the TV show, The Flash; she plays Barry Allen’s mother, Nora. I walked up to her and just started chatting with her. She was also a joy to visit with and she noticed my priest collar and asked me about it. I told her that I was genuinely a priest and not cosplaying as one. She got real excited and told me that she has never seen a priest at a con before. She then told me that her friend and she were both Christians and she went on to ask me why I wanted to become a priest. Yes, I got to have *that* conversation with her (there was no one else in line to see her behind me). I got to share my vocation story (albeit the shortened version) with a celebrity! It was super cool. I then got her to autograph one of her pictures of her as Nora Allen and got to share with her the impact that particular scene had on me (her portrayal as the mother of Barry Allen is moving and so relatable). I thanked her for her gift of that portrayal.
After visiting with Michelle, I caught back up with Jonathan who had just gotten into the con. We wandered around and looked at the various vendors who were there and we kept our eye on Daniel Logan’s booth, the last of the celebrities I really wanted to meet. Daniel Logan plays young Boba Fett in Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Daniel Logan arrived and so Jonathan and I wandered over to get in line to meet him. Daniel was awesome to meet. He is incredibly engaging and takes his time to be intentional with each fan who comes to meet him. We got to the front of the line and he was impressed that I am a priest and we chatted for a bit. At one point, Daniel even offered to let me try on his custom-made Boba Fett helmet, how could I refuse that?? It was awesome and has inspired me to look into one myself…
The rest of the day was spent people watching (a fun thing to do with all the cosplay) and we went to the Q&A panel with Daniel Logan. Jonathan and I also went through Lou Ferrigno’s line and Jonathan got a few autographs and I shook the man’s hand. The next morning we went back and I chatted again with Timothy Zahn and Michelle Harrison before heading to the Q&A panel with Timothy Zahn which was great. I even asked a few questions of him during his panel. Jonathan and I had to cut out of the convention at that point, though, to catch our flight back to Denver. All in all Lilac City Comicon was a blast and the small nature of that con make meeting the celebrities and all the interactions more personable since there was just fewer people and more time could be spent with each of us. That experience contrasts a bit with the second con I got to attend, Denver Comic Con, which was, in essence, ten times larger than Lilac City Comiccon.
Denver Comic Con was on June 15-17, 2018 and I had tickets for all three days. Each day was jam-packed and a bit crazy with the amount of people and things to do, unlike Lilac City Comic Con, and although it was busier, I enjoyed every minute of it. The first day I went with another buddy of mine, Sean, and we had a plan of attack before the day even began (in order to get all the activities in that we wanted). We got to the con early and waited in line to be near the front when the show floor opened. First up on our list was to hit the Del Rey booth in order to get a limited wristband which allowed us to purchase the Con exclusive edition of the novel, Star Wars: Last Shot. After we successfully got to Del Rey for the wristband and bought the book, we headed over to wait in line to get our Eragon novels autographed by Christopher Paolini, who was signing at that time. Meeting Christopher was great, I had always enjoyed reading Eragon and got my collector’s edition book signed! Up next, Sean and I went off to meet the creator of Garfield, Jim Davis and get our picture with him. Garfield turns 40 this year…I hadn’t realized Garfield had been around for so long, he’s definitely made an impact on our modern pop culture.
After a cool picture with the lazy cat and his creator, Sean and I headed back to the author booths in order to meet another one of my all-time favorite Star Wars authors, Christie Golden. In fact when I met her, I told her that I had originally read a couple of her Star Trek Voyager books without even realizing it was her until years later when she wrote Star Wars and I started paying attention to her other works. She was a joy to meet and was also very engaging. (I had to ask about her Star Wars Legends character Vestara from the book series: Fate of the Jedi *note this is not Disney Canon, but pre-Disney. She told me how had she written her story, she envisioned Vestara’s character ultimately ending in a huge way – as a St. Joan of Arc kind of martyr for the Lost Tribe of the Sith in a battle against the One Sith that had to triumph because the comics set in the future had already shown that). Anyways, I digress… Christie Golden was awesome!
Next up was a photo op with Joonas Suotamo, who plays Chewbacca in the current Star Wars movies. He’s 6’11 1/2″, but he’ll say he’s 7′! Even I look short next to him!
Coming up next was a Star Wars Books panel that Sean and I really wanted to go to. We got in line for the panel and got front row to listen to Christie Golden, Delilah Dawson, and Marc Thompson talk about their involvement and opinions regarding Star Wars. It was a blast!
Afterwards we headed back upstairs to meet Marc Thompson, who does voice acting and is a prominent one in narrating the Star Wars novels. He is absolutely amazing and was another person I really wanted to meet and thoroughly enjoyed meeting. He was so approachable and I jokingly said he was my “con buddy” because I kept running into him around the con (mostly intentional on my part). What was super cool about Marc was that we also had some of those deeper conversations (like I did with Michelle Harrison) because he didn’t have the huge crowds around him wanting his autograph. It allowed me time to just hang out a bit and chat with him. He also saw my collar and then wanted a picture with me to send to his dad, who is Catholic. That was super cool, I actually got asked by a celebrity to get a picture with them.
Sean and I hit one more panel that evening: “Avoiding Cardboard Villains: How to Write Villains that Engage & Intrigue Readers.” That panel had a whole slew of authors, including Terry Brooks, one of the biggest names in Sci-Fi authors attending Denver Comic Con.
Day 2 of Denver Comic Con was more of a day for me to try to brave the lines and get autographs from the various celebrities, to which I succeeded somewhat. I started off with Joonas Suotamo since his line was blissfully short. I, also, still look short, definitely a strange feeling for me.
Marc Thompson was doing a voice acting/reading program with the young readers next so I dropped in to hear him read a portion of a Star Wars book and do some of the various voices (which is absolutely amazing!). I then chatted with him afterwards and asked him if he’d do the intro to my podcast, and Marc graciously agreed. So, head over to my podcast and check it out (Yoda is now introducing my podcast, starting with episode 6).
Next up was one of the highlights for the weekend, I got to meet David Tennant! He plays the Doctor from Doctor Who and was definitely one of the biggest name celebrities at Denver Comic Con.
The afternoon I spent grabbing a few more autographs. I waited to meet Daniel Logan again, and he remembered me! We had a cool chat for a bit and I headed back to the author area to get Delilah Dawson’s autograph on her Star Wars: Phasma novel. Last up on Saturday was an Epic Star War Team Up photo op with Daniel Logan, Joonas Suotamo, and Ray Park – Boba Fett, Chewbacca, and Darth Maul respectively (this is my favorite picture from the whole weekend!).
On Sunday morning, I celebrated Mass for Sean and his family at his house before heading back to Comic Con for round 3. This was the morning I finally decided to brave the line to get David Tennant’s autograph. The Holy Spirit was obviously guiding this as once I got in line I heard the mom and daughter behind me talking. After a bit I heard the mom say, “Just ask him!” I turned to them and finally was asked if I was really a priest. I responded with an affirmative, and the young woman’s mom said, “See?? Priests do come to these sorts of things too!” This prompted a cool conversation with them (and those around me in line). The woman is an RCIA director for a parish down in the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico and she was taking her daughter to Denver Comic Con for her birthday. I got to show them both that I can be a priest and totally geek out about meeting David Tennant too. It was awesome. After getting David Tennant’s autograph, I went to Billie Piper’s line (another Doctor Who actress) and got her autograph. Then it was time for one more epic photo op, this time with Ray Park, who turns out to be a bigger goofball than I realized.
I spent the final afternoon at Denver Comic Con going back around to Ray Park, Joonas Suotamo, and Daniel Logan to get them to autograph the print of our photo op together. It turned out amazing and that signed picture is now hanging on a plaque in my office if you’d ever want to drop in to see it, it’s pretty sweet! Running into Daniel Logan the third time that weekend was great too. Not only did he recognize me when I was waiting in line, but he took the opportunity to hand out the water bottles he had to those of us in line waiting. He then signed my picture that I had brought and then grabbed an extra photo and signed it and personalized it for me completely free of charge. I told him that I was hoping to perhaps get into a set of Jango Fett’s armor sometime soon and that Daniel had inspired me to look into it. Daniel was super pumped about it and excited for me. So stay tuned on that front…perhaps by Halloween this year I may have a new costume to wear… Last, but certainly not least in my adventures at Comic Con was meeting Bonnie Wright, who plays Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter movies.
All in all, Lilac City Comicon and Denver Comic Con were both a blast. Denver Comic Con is a con that I’ve done previously and one that I fully plan on doing again, especially since I’m currently in Cheyenne and it is easily doable for me for a weekend. So, Denver Comic Con, until next year! I can’t wait.
Finally, here’s the podcast episode where I do talk about some of my experiences at Comic Con.