I had a ton of fun at Comicpalooza. It was huge, with lots of celebrities signing (I saw Nichelle Nichols, J. August Richards, Peter Davison, Paul McGann, Billy Dee Williams, Ming Na, Erin Grey, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker. Oh, and James Marsters and John Barrowman and Nicholas Brendan.), plus a huge Artist's Alley area (where artists sit at their tables and sell and display artwork) with all kinds of comic artists, a huge dealer's area, and a Maker Fair area with 3D printers and a bunch of robots running around and virtual reality game booths, and various exhibits (a replica of the car from Supernatural, a Batmobile, Daleks (that I saw also roaming the third floor programming area), a thing about a Bioshock movie, and more.
There was a children's play area with a giant inflatable slide (I know fans have been called sexless nerds for a long time, but I would like the people who say that to tell me where all these children and teenagers came from then), a sports area for quidditch and swords and whatever, a few food and drink places scattered through the dealer's area (we had real barbeque sandwiches for lunch there Saturday), roving musicians, and a guy doing a carnival sword swallowing act and balancing on a unicycle.
There was also a big gaming area on the third floor for table top games and other stuff, with a large set of 80s-era arcade games free to play, plus a ton of panel programming. The celebrities were doing panels in the bigger assembly rooms, but there was about 200 other panels throughout the four days, on writing, art, comics, steampunk, crafts, ghost hunting clubs, etc. The writing panels were well-attended, and a lot of people took notes and asked really good questions. I had two panels on Friday, both with about 15-20 people (though the second one was a two-hour workshop, and several people had to leave during the second hour), then a World building panel on Saturday morning with maybe about 40 people. (The room was nearly full.) There was a fourth one on Monday morning with only two attendees, but I found out later from Cassandra Clarke that the panel had been moved, and she was in one room with an audience of 10-15 people and me and the other two panelists were in the original room with our two people. I feel bad we made that mistake but it's also pretty funny, so no big deal. And Barnes and Noble had a booth in the dealer's area and was doing author signings and selling books by the attending authors.
There were also concerts in the evening and some late night celebrity programming, and a bunches of costumes. There were lines to get in every day, though Friday and Sunday were not nearly as crowded. On Saturday people said it was about an hour and a half wait to get in.
There were people of all ages and it was a diverse crowd, and we saw a lot of family groups, with everyone in costume. There was just a really happy excited vibe to the convention, and it made it easy to forget that your feet were KILLING you. They didn't have any padding on the convention floor, but that probably made things less complicated for wheelchairs and robots and daleks. I don't think Houston has had a big con like this before, and for a lot of people it was like Disneyland came to town for four days.
It was also not that expensive. There were expensive VIP passes to get special places in lines and more celebrity autographs, but the base pass was (I think) $55.00 for all four days, or you could buy cheaper individual day passes. (There was a discount if you bought in advance online.) I think Saturday was the most expensive individual day, at $35.00 at the door. If I was going as an attendee, I'd buy a four day pass online and try to go pick it up Friday morning when the con opened. There were still lines, but they were much shorter.
The attached hotel was very expensive (so expensive that I probably won't be doing any more cons this year after the two I have booked in July -- as a regular author guest I just got a four day pass for doing programming) but it was also very very nice, with very very nice staff, and the food in the restaurant was actually really good. (The Sunday night buffet included cupcakes, lemon cake, red velvet cake, and the best churros I've ever had.)
Sunday we did run down to Galveston for a few hours, and I'll post about that later.
I posted some photos of the con on Tumblr:
* First set of Photos
* Second Set
* Third set
* Fourth set
May 27th, 8:19