The Force was strong at Comic Con Revolution 2019 in Ontario, California…

Outside the Exhibit Hall on Sunday, May 19th; the quieter day of the two-day convention.

This year marked the third for the relative newbie convention Comic Con Revolution, which is in three cities (Chicago, West Palm Beach, Florida and Ontario, California). The Ontario CCR just wrapped up today (as of this writing, Sunday May 19th), and it has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings. In 2017, my wife and I had parking right at the convention center itself (just outside the main entrance, in fact), and there was a lot of elbow room. In 2018, it seemed to double in size, with new lots of off-site parking opening up, a lot more vendors and a few more celebrity guests. This year, the little convention that could seemed to grow yet again, as the off-site parking lots filled up even faster. There were also more celebrity guests and a bit more buzz as well.

Inside the main dealer hall, my wife (in her Muriel from “Courage the Cowardly Dog” cosplay) is in the foreground.

The autographs used to be signed in the main dealer (exhibit) hall, but his year they were moved to the main ballroom area to give the lines a bit more breathing room. Seeing Comic Con Revolution unfurl over these past three years has been like watching a coltish kid mature into an adult. Right now, CCR is a teenage convention, with many new faces, but keeping that local energy. It’s not nearly as big as WonderCon (yet), but it has a lot of potential. CCR is cleverly exploiting a niche that is ripe for exploitation; small city/town conventions. It’s pretty sweet to have a convention like this that’s only about 20-odd minutes away from my house...

The Force Awakened in Ontario.

Our friend’s son Joshua makes nice with two R2 units and a Mouse Robot. He also got a kick when the second R2 unit (RT-DT) started playing the “Ghostbusters” title song in honor of Joshua’s costume. Joshua broke out in a big grin!

While the dealer hall packed full of Marvel, DC and independent comic books, fan art, toys, jewelry, and other neat collectibles, there was also a lot of love for Star Wars and Ghostbusters…which was fortuitous, since our friends brought their 7 year-old son Joshua, who is absolutely crazy about both. In fact, Joshua wore his Ghostbusters costume and even had a few memorable encounters with some fully-functional R2 units.

Model-maker/designer Colin Cantwell (“2001: A Space Odyssey” “Star Wars”) leafs through my copy of J.W. Rinzler’s “The Making Of Star Wars”, reliving memories and giving context to some of the photos and illustrations.

I then had the sincere and genuine pleasure of meeting legendary model-maker/spaceship designer Colin Cantwell, whose work I’ve read about in the pages of Starlog magazine (the internet before the internet) since I was about 11 or so. He designed many of the spaceships and miniatures for “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968), and was the third person to read the early script for George Lucas “The Star Wars,” which lost its “The” to become 1977’s “Star Wars” (no “A New Hope” yet…that came a couple of years later in rerelease). Colin Cantwell and the late artist Ralph McQuarrie (whose production paintings helped sell the movie to 20th Century Fox) worked on the film’s visual aesthetics even before the formation of the now legendary special effects house ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) came into being c. 1975. Cantwell also designed and built prototypes for what became the Millennium Falcon, the X-wing fighters, the Y-wing fighters, the TIE fighters and the Death Star. I came back the following day (Sunday) with my copy of J.W. Rinzler’s “The Making Of Star Wars” (2007) to autograph, as it had many pictures of Cantwell’s work, and even a photo of a young Cantwell in there, too! One of the joys of a smaller convention is the generous time you get to spend with the celebrities (unlike San Diego Comic Con, where you often only have seconds at most). Cantwell leafed leisurely through the pages of Rinzler’s book, reliving memories and giving me context to some of the photos. It was a bit of magic for me…reliving Star Wars’ early history with one of the people who literally made it happen.

Sam Witwer is the voice of Darth Maul in the animated “Star Wars Rebels” and in 2018’s “Solo” (where his Maul voice was dubbed over actor Ray Park’s physical performance).

Also met a face from current Star Wars, actor Sam Witwer (“Star Wars Rebels,” “Solo,” “Battlestar Galactica”, the US version of “Being Human”). Currently, Witwer is playing the right-wing villain Ben Lockwood (aka “Agent Liberty”) on “Supergirl”. Tried to meet him on Saturday but didn’t have the time. Coming back to the convention on Sunday, I finally got my chance to chat with him and it was worth the wait. No matter the length of line, Witwer gave his all to each and every fan, and is surprisingly knowledgeable about pop sci-fi (I overheard some protracted discussions about Mr. Spock and the original Star Wars trilogy that sounded very familiar to me…).

Turns out “Darth Maul”, aka Sam Witwer (“Star Wars Rebels” “Battlestar Galactica” “Being Human” “Supergirl”) is a really cool guy. He’s an ‘actor’s actor.’ I enjoyed discussing the craft with him. Still think he’d play one hell of a Norman Bates if given the opportunity…

When I got my chance to meet with Witwer, we talked about his work in the 2004 version of “Battlestar Galactica” (he played the ill-fated Lt. Alex Quartararo, aka “Crashdown”), and his character’s subtle slide into a full-on mental breakdown, collapsing under the pressure of a planetside command which resulted in his getting “Fragged”. I told him that I thought his character’s breakdown was a bit more subtle than that of, say, Michael Biehn’s Navy SEAL “Lt. Coffy” in “The Abyss” (1989). Witwer seemed genuinely surprised that I used Biehn’s example, as he used that same example himself in a recent podcast (which I didn’t know of). Witwer said he didn’t want his performance to be like Biehn’s, since Biehn was playing acute pressure psychosis (a physical condition) whereas Crashdown’s break was purely psychological. We also got on the subject of the late Anthony Perkins when I mentioned that Witwer could play a terrific Norman Bates (luckily for me, he took that in the intended complimentary sense). Turns out Witwer and I are simpatico in a few of our tastes, as he is also a big Anthony Perkins fan as well. Wish I had time to do a proper interview with him. Someday, hopefully

Raymond Montemayor, the creator/writer/editor/director of “Star Wars: The Toys Awaken”… a clear favorite of the Star Wars fan film festival at Comic Con Revolution, Ontario.

The Force was also well-represented in a panel we attended on Star Wars fan films We watched five of them, and were given pencils and scorecards to rate them. Little Joshua got to play film critic as well, as he gave his likes/dislikes to his mother Kathy, who dutifully recorded them on his scorecard. The easy favorite among us, and most of the audience I think, was the first film, “Star Wars: The Toys Awaken” (2018). The film is a delightful mashup of “Toy Story” and “Star Wars” and was created/written/edited & directed by Raymond Montemayor, who was in attendance himself (we found that out after we filled out our scorecards). The film deals with a little girl whose Star Wars toys come to life in her absence, and accidentally shake loose one of her three tickets for the premiere of “The Force Awakens”, leaving her a ticket short! In Toy Story-style, the figures work together (yes, even the Kylo Ren figure) to deliver the errant ticket to their child companion on time…just as she is about to enter the theater.

“Star Wars: The Toys Awaken” got our top scores. All of the Star Wars fan films (“Dresca” “One Day I’ll Become…” “The Lightsaber Maker” and “Prop Wars 3”) screened at the convention looked and sounded amazing, but The Toys Awaken had a lot of heart as well.

There were other fan films, each of which were interesting in their own ways. All of them had excellent visuals that were far more professional-looking than what I’d seen in sci-fi fan films of only a decade ago. An Eastern European effort called “One Day I’ll Become…” was on a par with the current level of visuals seen in cinematic Star Wars. But Montemayor’s “The Toys Awaken” stole our hearts… in fact, I think it’d be ideal to screen theatrically before a new cinematic Star Wars release. Joshua had a big grin on his face the entire running length. After the films finished, we had a nice chat with Montemayor and he was gratified by our reactions. He also told us that he is working on a new film at the moment called “Home Solo”. You can see more of his work at http://starwars.pixelplex.com

You can always tell the fan-made R2 units from the screen-used ones as the fan-made ones usually look better. The creator of this particular unit built the real-world version of “Rebels” droid “Chopper”, who made a cameo in 2016’s “Rogue One.”

Cosplay and Cool Cars!

Cosplayers are, for me, the heart and soul of any good sci-fi/fantasy/comic book convention. And CCR’s level of cosplay is getting higher and higher every year. My wife and I also partake, of course, as we’re just a couple of big kids ourselves at heart. In addition to the colorful, creative cosplayers, there were also a bevy of famous replica cars outside to drool over as well!

My wife as “Muriel” from “Courage the Cowardly Dog” (1996-2002); her costume got a LOT of attention at this convention. Lots of millennials recognized the beloved character. She also made the “Courage” stuffed dog prop as well (her first attempt at a stuffed animal!). Someone offered to buy her “Courage” prop, but she wisely held onto it.

Joshua, wearing his homemade proton pack, mixes it up with the Southland Ghostbusters, a local Ghostbuster cosplay group who do birthdays, conventions and charity work. They admired Joshua’s ghost-busting skills and even offered to make him an intern. I can’t say enough good things about the members of this group, especially “Jeremy”, who later had a one-on-one talk with Joshua and made him feel really special. They also mentioned a “Ghostbusters Fan Fest” commemorating the new Ghostbusters sequel (“Ghostbusters 3”; directly following the events of the 1989 sequel). The event will take place at Sony Pictures Studios, on Friday June 7th through Saturday June 8th.

An entire family of time-suited Marvel “Avengers” are ready to go off and find those infinity stones!

Some cosplayers in the autograph room; such a variety of cosplay, from the minimalist to the extreme. All of them are labors of love! Even when I’m not sure of the subject of a cosplay, I’ll often take the picture anyway, simply because they look so cool or clever.

The “Mayor of HalloweenTown” and the villainous “Oogie-Boogie” from my favorite animated movie of all time, and not just of the holiday season, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993). My wife and I once held a “Nightmare Before Christmas”-themed Halloween party once in our home back in 2002.

A cosplayer recreates Yul Brynner’s deadly robotic gunslinger from the 1973 Michael Crichton movie “Westworld”, which was eventually adapted into the 2016 HBO TV series, which took the concept to bold new heights of science fiction storytelling. I will say this for the 1973 version; the deadly simplicity of the chase between Brynner’s gunslinger and hero Richard Benjamin really scared the piss out of me when I was a kid!

That’s me, blind as a bat without my glasses, but getting into the cosplay spirit as Fred Flintstone; a character I’ve been cosplaying for the last 10 years. If anyone told my ten-year old self in 1977 that someday I’d be taking pictures with a full-size, fully functioning R2-D2? I’d have NEVER believed them.

My absolute favorite of the Batman “Batmobiles”; the 1989 version. That giant jet turbine up front looks aggressive as hell.

Batwing-shaped tail fins make for a perfect Batmobile! The 1989 version is peerless.

Austin Powers’ Union Jack-emblazoned “Shaguar” Jag. Incidentally, “Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me” (1999) was the movie my wife and I saw saw on our honeymoon nearly 20 years ago!

Gotta get “back in time!” Doc Brown’s famous time-traveling De Lorean from the “Back to the Future” trilogy (1985-1989). I used to live in a town (circa 1990) where a neighbor had a De Lorean. Every time that car drove by, I always half-expected to see it flash away in a blinding light with three sonic booms…

Three iconic movie/TV vehicles; “Back to the Future”’s De Lorean, the Camaro-mode “Bumblebee” from the “Transformers” movies and the turbo-charged Pontiac Firebird “KITT” from the cheesy 1980s TV series “Knight Rider.”

Transformers’ fan Joshua takes Bumblebee out for a drive. Incidentally, the voice of “Optimus Prime”, Peter Cullen, was signing autographs that weekend. The line for Cullen’s autograph was fairly long, too…

The full set of ALL of my convention photos (with captions) are in this link to my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/18703657@N03/albums/72157707153966971

Last Look Around.

Gigi Edgley, whom I first met a few years ago at Comic Con, in a scene from “Star Trek Continues” (“Come Not Between the Dragons”).

There were other celebrities signing in the autograph area, such as Gigi Edgley (“Farscape” “Star Trek Continues”), whom I’d met a few times at various conventions. I really enjoyed her performance in the superlative web series, “Star Trek Continues,” where she played Lt. Eliza Taylor, in “Come Not Between The Dragons”. Edgley and her husband (wearing his ALIEN “Nostromo” cap) brought their adorable little baby girl, Skywalker, whom Edgley calls her ‘baby alien’ ever since she took her to see Stonehenge last year. Upon arriving at the iconic stones, the previously crying baby girl immediately quieted and uttered her first softly spoken word… “Home.” Cue Twilight Zone theme

Herb Jefferson Jr (“Lt. Boomer” from the original “Battlestar Galactica” ) during a panel on “Battlestar Galactica” at WonderCon 2017, where he gave a moving tribute to his late friend Richard Hatch (“Captain Apollo”).

Also talked a bit with Herb Jefferson Jr. (“Lt. Boomer” from the 1978 version of “Battlestar Galactica”). I’d met Jefferson at conventions many times since I first got his autograph back in 2004. He recognizes me now, as we’ve seen each other more times than I can count. He’s quite a trouper, and I admire his stoic professionalism.

Taking one last look at the dealer hall’s wares before I left Comic Con Revolution 2019 in Ontario, California…

Even on the way out of the convention, I paused to take a ‘cover shot’ of the convention center for this article, when I caught a glance of one of the ushers mockingly pretending to pose for me! I got such a kick out of her antics that I told her I was going to put her in this story, and so…

… I did! She was a character. I also put her on my Instagram account, hash-tagged under #OntarioConventionCenterUshers . It’s people like her that best embody the spirt of these smaller local conventions, where everyone who participates is part of the show. I had a blast at Comic Con Revolution Ontario this year, and I look forward to seeing how much this ‘little convention that could’ will grow in 2020…

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. Paul Bowler says:

    What a great event! Awesome you got to meet lots of the guests as well. Some brilliant cosplay, fun pic of you and R2D2! That Batmobile from the Tim Burton films is my favourite as well. Thanks for sharing this fun convention 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As always, Paul, it is my pleasure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick Cook says:

    Love the cosplaying Yul Brynner gunslinger. And I refuse to believe the Spy Who Shagged Me is 20 years old!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That gunslinger was just perfect; he even had Brynner’s ramrod posture, too. And yes, 20 years of “The Spy Who Shagged Me”… it carbon dates my marriage.

      Like

  3. sanzbozo says:

    Many thanks for the great pics Sebastian!

    Liked by 1 person

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