Comicpalooza is arguably the best comics and pop culture convention in Houston, but I can remember when it got started as nothing more than a loose association of local artists and collectors. Or, to put on my “hipster” hat, I remember it before it was so big and popular and cool.
And I’m genuinely glad it’s gotten to the size and renown that it has.
If you look at Comicpalooza’s website for their media coverage over the years, they only link to two stories from 2009. I remember that year fondly, as it was at the West Oaks mall, and was noticeably less celebrity-heavy than it’s gotten now (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Guests were comics industry people, and they had tables set up in the mall, and it was really easy to get to them and talk to them personally for a few minutes.
It was also the year before Comicpalooza moved to the George R. Brown Convention Center, where it’s been held ever since to a justifiably grown attendee crowd.
But I’m here to tell you that 2009 isn’t the first year Comicpalooza was held.
Nope. It was 2008.
I had been working for the library for a little over a year at that point, and in July of 2008 I was overjoyed to suddenly find out there was a very small comic book convention happening in Houston–I don’t think we’d had any in years at that point, and certainly none since I’d arrived in town. Even better was that I was able to convince my supervisor to let me attend as part of a library outreach, on work time. I got to bring library calendars, talk to attendees, creators, and convention staff at the Alamo Drafthouse in Katy about possible collaborative opportunities. Terry Moore was there (among many other local artists and creators), and I met him for the first time at this first Comicpalooza.
Since 2009, Comicpalooza has grown, at a seemingly exponential rate. It’s gotten comparable to size and scale to some of the larger and more famous cons, and each year attendance seems to get even bigger. I think I’ve been every year except for one, and it’s easy for me to say I’ve watched this con grow from its very infancy. There’s definitely an affection here that I can’t claim to have for the other cons that have since popped up around Comicpalooza’s success.
Not that there’s anything wrong with them. Well, except for Space City Comic Con this year. They seem to have really dropped the ball. But hey, they’ll learn or they’ll sink.
Which is not the attitude I have towards Comicpalooza. Their success matters to me in a very real and tangible way. I want them to be the best, and as far as I’m concerned they are the best that Houston has to offer in terms of fan conventions. When they report bigger attendance numbers, I get genuinely happy for them. If ever there is a major problem with how they run things, I will be upset and will want to know everything about it.
As I get ready to attend this weekend’s festivities, I have the occasional thought that perhaps I’m doing this out of a sense of obligation or rote. I’ve done outreaches to Comicpalooza in the past, I’ve liaised between them and the library for many of the last few years, and I’m more than familiar with how things are laid out and done here.
But then I remember how much fun I have at events like this. Seeing fellow fans in cosplay, cosplaying along with them (I’ll be Hawkeye and/or some version of Spider-Man, in case anyone is curious), attending panels and perusing the dealer room and artist alley. I also recall that I missed Comicpalooza one year, and I’ve always regretted it. I always see friends at this con, and I usually make new ones.
So, I’ll see everyone there. This event is as important to me as many of my comics-related quirks, and I’m excited to continue to grow and develop with it.