Comic Con Revolution 2023: The Inland Empire’s ‘little Comic Con’ is well-established…

Welcome Back

Since the Southern California Inland Empire’s first Comic Con Revolution (CCR) in 2017, my wife and I have attended nearly each one, save for 2022, when we attended the COVID-delayed “Star Wars Celebration 2022,” which unfortunately, landed on the same weekend.  While my wife and I have attended many big ticket conventions, including San Diego Comic Con and Star Trek Las Vegas, we try to support smaller local conventions as well, because we want to see more of them. 

Inside the Ontario Convention Center, with the Exhibit Hall off to the left, and guest services, food, and panels off to the right (including the upper level, where most of the panels took place).

The first Comic Con Revolution in 2017 was small, but sincere, and in the six years since, it’s grown to the point where you finally see the customary long lines for autographs and panels that are par for the course in bigger cons. This is both surprising and encouraging—despite the waits—because it means this little convention has taken hold.  It’s established, now.  And while the Ontario Convention Center (close to the local airport) isn’t anywhere near the size of the San Diego or Anaheim Convention Centers, it somehow manages to get the job done.

Used Cars

A few of the famous car replicas outside the convention (clockwise from upper left): ‘Lightning McQueen’ from Pixar’s “Cars.” “Herbie the Love Bug,” from the long-running Disney movie series (1968-2005). One of the touring cars from “Jurassic Park” (1993). “Bumblebee” from the “Transformers” movies (2007-2018).

Outside the convention center was the usual collection of famous automobile replicas, including such recognizable vehicles as “Lightning McQueen” from Pixar’s “Cars” cartoons (excuse the pun, I think…?), “Herbie the Love Bug,” from the long-running series of live-action Disney films (1967-2005), the supercar “KITT” from TV’s “Knight Rider” (1982-1986), Doc Brown’s DeLorean time machine from the “Back to the Future” trilogy (1985-1990), and both the gas-powered jeep and electric tour car from ““Jurassic Park” (1993).

Left (top and bottom): Doc Brown’s DeLorean Time Machine, with a glimpse inside. Right (top and bottom); the supercar KITT from the 1980s series “Knight Rider.” Inside of KITT’s interior somewhere was the not-easily visible signature of series’ star (and inexplicable German pop sensation) David Hasselhoff.

These attractions are very popular with all age groups, and it’s great to see kids’ reactions when a mechanical piece of fiction is reified in front of them, or from people closer to my age, who simply want a nice photo op. 

Personal Note: While I was never a great fan of “Knight Rider,” I do have a very fond memory of watching it on a hospital TV once, during a long recovery following a motorcycle accident almost 30 years ago (I was nailed by a drunk driver). During my extensive rehabilitation, I was on a morphine drip, and I watched the show while high as a kite, with the TV’s audio SAP button accidentally set to Spanish. For some reason, hearing the car KITT speaking with a super-macho Spanish accent was the funniest thing I’d ever heard in my life, and I could not stop laughing. That one episode of the show (dealing with KITT’s evil automotive doppelgänger) may have been the most entertaining thing I’d ever seen. I think the nurses and staff were convinced I’d lost my mind…

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall, or Dealer’s Hall (either name works) changes with the number of vendors participating. When CCR Ontario first happened in 2017, the wares within the dealer hall were rather sparse.  Now, 6 years later, it’s stuffed with all kinds of goodies for fans to peruse…so much so that some of it now spills across from, and into the adjacent spaces.  

The main exhibit hall of the convention; a bit more crowded this time towards the back, as it shared space with autographing celebrities–who brought some long lines with them, particularly the “Avatar: the Last Airbender” voice cast.

In what used to be largely wasted space within the Autograph Area (across the corridor from the Dealer Hall) there were now rows and rows of fan-made jewelry, props and other items for sale. Even lining the corridor between the Exhibit Hall and former Autograph Areas, I saw small tables offering all sorts of cosplay wares for sale.  Among these were Nerd Mafia’s excellent reproductions, which included masks, props and helmets from “Power Rangers,” “The Mandalorian” and others. 

NerdMafia booth, in Artist’s Alley, which was partly moved into a corridor outside the Exhibit Hall, to accommodate the autograph signings. NerdMafia is one of the better prop/costume-makers at the convention. Their “Kuill” mask (“the Mandalorian”) on the right was handmade.

My wife found some custom jewelry, while friends of ours scored some autographed comic books for sale within the main Dealer Hall.  Almost any collector’s nostalgic sweet tooth could be sated for the right price, as lots of collectibles were up for sale, including an original, large, single-edition Marvel Star Wars comic book adaptation of the 1977 movie, which included deleted scenes from the original screenplay worked into the book’s panels and captions.  I once owned this very book, which I still remember getting free from a kindly drugstore merchant, because the cover had torn off, and he was going to destroy it.  Now, a near-mint version (with cover) was staring me in the face, and could be mine again…for “only” $150.  As much as I would’ve loved to see that large edition in my mitts again, I passed.

Hey… no one ever said being a geek was cheap.

Autograph Area

This year’s autograph area was moved back into the Dealer Hall, with around half of the Dealer Hall’s back row devoted to celebrities signing for fans. Among the celebrities I recognized were Sam Jones (1980’s “Flash Gordon”), Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood,” Netflix’s “Daredevil”) and a few names my aging brain couldn’t quite place. Also in attendance were Claudia Wells (“Jennifer Parker”) and Donald Fullilove (“Goldie Wilson”), from “Back to the Future.”

Left: Actor Sam Jones (1980’s “Flash Gordon”) talks with fans. Top Right: Some of the voice cast of “Avatar: the Last Airbender”; the lines for their autographs were crazy-huge. Bottom Right: Other actors in the area included Billy West (“Futurama”) and Deborah Ann Woll (“True Blood” “Daredevil”).

The year’s biggest signing event was unquestionably the reunion of the voice cast for “Avatar: the Last Airbender,” (2005-2008) which included actors Mae Whitman, Zach Tyler Eisen, Jack De Sena, Dante Basco (who also played lost boy “Rufio” in 1991’s “Hook”), Jessie Flower, Grey DeLisle, Greg Baldwin, Cricket Leigh, Jennie Kwan, and Olivia Hack (who also played Cindy in the two “Brady Bunch” feature films from 1995/1996).  Judging by the huge autograph lines (perhaps the largest I’ve yet seen at this particular event), it was clear this mid-2000s animated series’ passionate fan following is stronger than ever. 

Actress Olivia Hack (red hair, center) shows a young fan dressed as her “Avatar: the Last Airbender” character the ropes.

One of the cutest things I saw while waiting in one of the autograph lines was the aforementioned actress Olivia Hack, posing for several photos with a very young fan, who came dressed as Hack’s “Avatar: the Last Airbender” character, “Ty Lee.” Hack patiently taught the little girl how to assume an action stance, with the child proving an attentive pupil.  It was simply adorable. Having never seen the “Avatar…” series, I only knew of Hack through her 1990s “Brady Bunch” movies and a fleeting cameo as one of Jean-Luc Picard’s ‘nexus children’ in “Star Trek: Generations” (1994); an admittedly flawed, yet misunderstood Star Trek movie that I will defend, tooth and claw…

Got a pic with Scott Grimes (“Gordon Malloy”) and J. Lee (“John LaMarr”), from “The Orville.”

I myself was in the autograph area waiting to meet actors Scott Grimes (“Lt. Gordon Malloy”) and J. Lee (“Lt. Commander John LaMarr”) of “The Orville” (aka “The Orville: New Horizons”). The autograph lines for both actors was handled a bit awkwardly, so when Grimes’ line stalled, I just walked over to J. Lee, who was patiently waiting for fans who’d received their Grimes’ autographs. J. Lee and I shared our similar reactions to his character’s disturbing battered makeup in the third season episode, “From Unknown Graves.”  Afterward, I met Grimes, and he asked my name. I told him “Sebastian,” to which they both began making references to “The NeverEnding Story” (1984) and its character of ‘Bastian (oh, if I only had a dime for each time I was called ‘Bastian after that film’s release…).  Both men are sharp-witted, and clearly feed off of each other’s energy.  It was fun to meet them!

Note: I will admit, it took a few episodes for “The Orville” to grow on me, following its clunky 2017 premiere, and I wasn’t terribly fond of either Gordon Malloy or John LaMarr, either. However, through Seth MacFarlane’s skillful writing, and the show’s smartly-evolving sense of humor, I came to love “The Orville.” LaMarr really took off when he was promoted to chief engineer, and I felt Malloy’s heartbreak when he fell in love with a long-dead woman from the 21st century, via her restored cellphone. The actors really grew on me, too; so much so, that it’s hard to imagine the show without them.  


I only attended two full panels at the convention, both of which were on the upper level, in Room 200 and 203ABC.  My first panel was for “Back to the Future,” and showcased actors Claudia Wells (“Jennifer Parker”) and Donald Fullilove (“Goldie Wilson”). The actors have enjoyed a 15-year friendship from doing various conventions together (their characters never appeared together onscreen).  They spoke of working with Michael J. Fox (a real special dude, as Fullilove said of him), mega-producer Steven Spielberg (who let them play his arcade games), and actor Eric Stoltz (“Mask,” “Caprica”), who played Marty McFly until four weeks into the shoot, when he was let go over creative differences.  Fullilove spoke highly of Stoltz’s talent, but said that he tried to bring a more serious energy to the character of McFly that just didn’t fit the lighter tone director Robert Zemeckis wanted.

Top: Claudia Wells (“Jennifer Parker”) and Donald Fullilove (“Goldie Wilson”).
Bottom: The panel’s moderator takes the microphone to a young ‘Marty McFly’ cosplayer (left) and his sister (right), who was dressed as ‘Jennifer Parker.’

Wells initially auditioned for the role of Lorraine McFly, which ultimately went to actress Lea Thompson, who was also Wells’ friendly rival for 1986’s “Space Camp”; another role which went to Thompson. However, Wells was fine with getting the role of Jennifer, which better fit her own personality. Wells later got the chance to voice the role of Jennifer Parker in a “Back to the Future” video game, as well.  Fullilove mentioned that his character had several deleted scenes where he would’ve been seen Goldie Wilson going to night school in the 1950s, to fulfill his eventual ambition of becoming Hill Valley’s future mayor—an idea unintentionally planted by Marty.  During the panel’s Q & A session, a pair of young brother-sister audience members were allowed to say ‘hi’ to the panelists; the two kids were dressed as Marty and Jennifer, and were just sooo cute.  

Note: I actually met Claudia Wells back at 2014 WonderCon in Anaheim, where she signed a “Back to the Future” book of mine.  She told me that her son was also named “Sebastian,” and signed the autograph “Dear Sebastian, Great name!  Love, Claudia Wells.” 

“The Orville” panel

The last panel I attended was for “The Orville” (aka “The Orville: New Horizons”) which featured actors Scott Grimes and J. Lee, both of whom I’d just met a couple of hours earlier.  The two discussed their mutual love of music, while teasing that a potential fourth season for the series (which streams on Hulu and Disney+) was in preliminary stages before COVID restrictions and other issues slowed the forward momentum to a crawl. Both actors are still hopeful that it might happen someday.  During the panel, the Boston-born Grimes discussed his role in Seth MacFarlane’s new “Ted” prequel series, where he plays a racist redneck.  J. Lee jokingly quipped that it’s “right in your wheelhouse,” to audience laughter.  The two actors also shared behind-the-scenes tips for working in FX-heavy camera setups on the bridge (never turn around while speaking on the bridge, as it requires extra camera coverage; hence, more setup delays).  J. Lee also told a hilarious true story about how he began his showbiz career as a receptionist for MacFarlane’s “Family Guy,” where his admittedly exaggerated enthusiasm for guests got him noticed. 

Note: I know I speak for many readers when I say that ““The Orville: New Horizons” deserves a fourth season (and perhaps fifth, sixth and seventh seasons as well…). Hey, Disney+, if you’re reading this…?.


Yes, I say this every year, because it’s still true; cosplayers are 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.  The level of passion, dedication and pure love of the game are great fun to behold.  Enjoy this small, cross-section of the cosplaying talent on display from this year’s Comic Con Revolution!

The Force is strong with them!
Left: “The Mandalorian” arrives on the scene.  Right: An Ewok makes nice with Grand Admiral Thrawn, the blue-faced, art-pillaging Imperial who first appeared in Timothy Zahn’s “Heir to the Empire” Star Wars books (1991-1993), and who later became ‘official’ in more recent Star Wars series (“Rebels,” and the upcoming “Ahsoka” live-action series from Disney+). Author Zahn was also in attendance at CCR, but I didn’t get a chance to meet him. 
“This is the way…”
A family of Star Wars Mandalorians takes care of their own Baby Yoda (aka “Grogu”).
“I want you to do me a favor. I want you to tell all your friends about me… I’m BATMAN!”
“Need a lawyer?”
Marvel/Disney has some great representation at CCR, with “She-Hulk” (aka ‘Jennifer Walters’) and “Daredevil” (aka ‘Matt Murdock’) cosplayers, as a Mandalorian contemplates removing his helmet (gasp!) behind them.
The twin ghosts from “The Shining” (1980). 
These two real-life sisters really played it well, fixing you with their unblinking stare. Even the moderator of the “Back to the Future” panel was a bit unnerved by their appearance, as were the two panelists!
“Chess, anyone?”
A convention guest exhibitionist from the Western Science Center National History Museum’s booth was also cosplaying as “Beth Harmon” from the Netflix series “Queen’s Gambit” (she looks quite a bit like actress Anya Taylor-Joy, too)
“Shut up and take my money!”
From Matt Groening’s “Futurama”; Leela, Frye and Nibbler, with Frye doing his famous “Take my money” GIF pose…
Our friend’s son, Joshua, cosplaying as Harry Potter.
posing with a classic-design stormtrooper from “Star Wars.” Right: Joshua took a moment to pose with “The Incredible Hulk” himself.  Confession time: I once went as “The Hulk” for Halloween back in 1989, but I did mine the Lou Ferrigno-way; green body/hair spray from head to toe, with strategically-placed ripped clothing covering all my naughty bits…
Left: A young fan dressed as “Wednesday Addams” with “Thing” on her shoulder! Right: That’s Wolfman to you, Jack! This fan came dressed as a really cool werewolf, made from an old fur coat by his mother.
Purple Reign.
I have absolutely no idea who the purple cosplayer was supposed to be playing, but I was moved by the loving attention she showed to these two young “Ghostbuters”—who were not related to her at all—by very patiently answering all of their questions about how she made herself purple, how she did her hair, etc.  This cosplayer held court over these two enthralled fans, while her boyfriend stood smiling nearby.  This was one of those spontaneous moments at conventions that make you involuntarily smile.

Final Thoughts for Comic Con Revolution 2023

While my wife and I had a great time at this year’s Comic Con Revolution, one thing is becoming clear; this once ‘little Comic Con’ is just beginning to outgrow its venue.  The Dealer Hall booths and tables are now spilling into the aisles and across the hallways.  The autograph area felt a bit crowded as well, particularly with the huge lines for the voice actors of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Perhaps the event could remain based at the convention center while outsourcing some of its panels and other events to nearby hotel ballrooms (à la San Diego Comic Con). These minor criticisms aside, the Ontario Convention Center staff were friendly, and tried very hard to accommodate the ever-increasing crowd sizes; even issuing special wristbands to people who wanted to attend the overstuffed “Avatar: the Last Airbender” panel.  Despite the increasing crowds, I’m glad to see this local convention still thriving after six years. It’s near the point where I could see it matching Anaheim’s WonderCon, or Star Trek Las Vegas in scope someday. This is one of the few conventions I’ve been attending since Day One, so it’s personally gratifying to see it continuing to live long and prosper (all apologies to Mr. Spock).

All 71 of my photos from Comic Con Revolution 2023 can be found in this LINK to my Flickr album. Enjoy!

Images/collages: Author

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Lorraine Fiel says:

    I enjoyed reading about your trip to the this con. The only ones I have attended were tiny by comparison. I attended three cons in San Antonio in 1988-89. The first one had as a guest Nichelle Nichols and was pretty small. It was in a hotel but not a very big one. It had a dealers room but it was a small room. I think there might have been 150 people there.

    The second one in San Antonio had Mark Lenard as a guest. It probably had at least 500 people attending. The dealers room was much bigger but still small comparatively.

    The third con I attended in San Antonio had Michael Dorn and George Takei. There might have been 300 people attending and the dealers room was not very big and pretty crowded since George and Michael were signing autographs in there are as well.

    They weren’t very big but they were fun and interesting.

    1. Smaller conventions are great; I enjoy them, too (we’re going to a very small anime convention next weekend, in fact). You get more face time with the celebrities, and you get to absorb things a bit better, as well.

      1. scifimike70 says:

        Small conventions are certainly nice, in recollection of a small Doctor Who convention I once attended in Toronto where I met John Levene and Anneke Wills. The best thing about SF is that its unique genre dimensionality can bless any form of convention. It’s always nice to have the best chance to meet your idols too.

        Thank you for sharing your Comic-Con experiences.

      2. My pleasure, Mike.
        So help me, I plan to continue attending these for as long as I’m able, and I’ll always strive to share the experiences.

  2. Paul Bowler says:

    You must’ve had an amazing time at this convention. Looks amazing, especially the main hall, stalls, and all that great cosplay! I loved seeing the cars as well! 🙂

    1. Thanks Paul.
      I’m just glad to share the experience as best I can.

    2. scifimike70 says:

      The cars are the pictures I like best. Especially because they bring back memories of KITT from Knight Rider.

      1. Paul Bowler says:

        Oh yes, good old KITT! 🙂

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