Rhode Island Comic Con 2017 Review and Haul
Hey everyone, Jack Drees here! If you were in Providence, RI last weekend like I was, there’s a good chance you were there for Rhode Island Comic Con, which advertises itself to be “The BIGGEST show in the smallest state!” I went for my third year in a row, I had my reasons for going, and despite wanting to go right away just because I had a lot of fun at this event for the past two years I went, new enormous reasons developed along the way. Mainly the fact that a good number of the people who were in “Revenge of the Nerds” were showing up. Not to mention, you’ve also got the legends I like to call Curtis Armstrong (Booger) and Robert Carradine (Lewis), the hosts of “King of the Nerds,” which is perhaps one of the most overlooked shows I’ve ever watched in my entire life.
The convention had one of the biggest lineups for any con I’ve seen. If you want to come here for autographs or photo ops, you’ve got the whole day ahead of you because you’ve got a plethora of guests from various realms including movies, TV, and music. For movies, I’ve recently mentioned the cast of “Revenge of the Nerds” was having a reunion, but you’ve also got a couple folks from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies including Dave Bautista, who you may know as Drax the Destroyer, Sebastian Stan, who you may know as the Winter Soldier, and Paul Bettany, who you may know as Vision and JARVIS. Not to mention you’ve even got a couple folks from “Back to the Future” including Tom Wilson (Biff Tannen) and Christopher Lloyd (Doc Emmett Brown). For TV, you’ve got a number of “Star Trek” cast members, mostly from “The Next Generation,” which includes Brent Spiner (Data), Michael Dorn (Worf), Gates McFadden (Beverly Crusher), Marina Sitris (Deanna Troi), and Jonathan Frakes (William Riker). You’ve also got a cast member from CBS All Access’s/CBS All Cash-Cow’s “Star Trek: Discovery,” Jason Isaacs (Gabriel Lorca) and a man who needs no introduction, but I’ll introduce him anyway, William f*cking Shatner (Kirk), who moderated a panel dedicated to the cast members of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” There also happened to be some cast members from “Married with Children” including Ted McGinley (Jefferson), Amanda Bearse (Marcy), and David Garrison (Steve). Also there were a couple of musical artists including Gene Simmons and Al Yankovic. This is just scratching the surface of the neverending guest list, I could write every single person’s name down, but for the sake of not killing my keyboard, I’m just gonna stop here.
There were a number of guests who also happened to be artists. I didn’t really take much of a gander at them, but I did notice that there were a lot of these people. A lot of them happened to be local, I actually happened to talk with one of them, in fact since we’re on that I actually will bring something in particular up to you all next.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce, “The Overlords!” “The Overlords” is a book series written by J. Michael Squatrito Jr.. According to the website, it’s a “fantasy adventure set in the times of warriors and magic.” Seven men and a special dog embark on a journey to find the coveted treasure of the land, the bounty left behind by the ancient Four Kings. The main character is referred to as Harrison Cross, an orphaned warrior. There’s an antagonist who goes by the name of Lord Nigel Hammer, which by the way, badass name! That might even be a better name than Taserface! This antagonist has an army and often gains the upper hand which damages the adventurers. There’s also a humanoid race known as the Seynthians, who want to eliminate humanity as a whole. If you want to find out more about this, click the link below to find out about these books on their website. Also, if you’re reading this before December 2nd, the author of this book will be attending the 5th Annual Rhode Island Author Expo, where many Rhode Island authors show off their material. This takes place in Cranston, RI, so if you’re into that, check it out!
THE OVERLORDS WEBSITE: http://the-overlords.com/Default.aspx
Moving onto the con itself, the con was more organized than I thought it would be. I say this because I’ve gone the past couple of years and they kind of f*cked up. I remember going in 2015 and it happened to be overcrowded, which interfered with me as I was simply attempting to go to a panel. In 2016, the autograph system was a little different than I was expecting it to be (in ways). The convention had multiple headliners including Millie Bobby Brown, Stan Lee, Frank Grillo, and Alice Cooper. They had you pay for your autograph at a box office before heading in line, which I didn’t even know about until the moment I was near a celebrity when I went. I don’t know how many other conventions are like this, but I don’t really think that’s a good idea, because for what I know, it’s non-refundable, which only benefits the con and not the customer, but also it prevents you from deciding whether or not getting an autograph from someone is actually a good plan. By the way, they had the same system this year for the headliners. Although one thing I did notice this year that I didn’t notice last year, is that for certain celebrities on the Dunkin Donuts Center floor, you don’t even have to pay at the box office, you can just give the money at the table. Sticking with last year’s headliners, the line for Gal Gadot was all over the place, and I know that because I was in that line. For what I know, none of the issues I encountered, including one I had this year which I’ll mention in a second, were as abysmal as 2014, a year I didn’t go. I first heard about this from a con-goer as I was facing my 2015 incident. Unlike the years I went, 2014’s Rhode Island Comic Con took place in the Rhode Island Convention Center. While it still happens there, 2015 has brought an expansion to the mix at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Although before that happened, 20,000 people had tickets, but the convention center could only hold 17,000. The convention center had to shut down due to overcapacity, making this a first in the building’s history. I had an issue where you had to literally make a loop around the Dunkin Donuts Center to get to the convention center, but that’s not the big problem I had. My main issue this year was the organization for a panel I was attending. Granted it was in a tiny room with people you’d probably only know if you were constantly surfing the web, but nevertheless, it irked me. A lot of people were in line for a panel, and when you hear what it is, you’d understand why. Apparently, around the time of my panel, which was for Channel Awesome, there was a “Game of Thrones” panel. There was almost no line whatsoever for Channel Awesome because “Game of Thrones” is more popular, but what really caught me off guard is that there were basically people next to the walls of the doors to the room which I was trying to reach happened to be located. They were in the “Game of Thrones” line. I guess size DOES matter. My suggestion is that you’d put down barriers for each panel room. When “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” came out, I went to a local theater and they had barriers for each auditorium dedicated to showing the movie so you can discern which auditorium is showing it and which line you should get into. The photo ops were organized and they didn’t even use barriers. Although it makes sense because they were in a tent which is covering the sky, and the lines happened to be drawn in yellow chalk. The staff was a mix between nice, unaware of various situations, or just there to organize. Some of the staff could have used a more pleasant tone when this happened, but still. Speaking of misunderstandings, I have a story for you, but we’ll dive into that later. For now, let’s talk about a purchase I made.
If you like “Star Wars” but hate the changes George Lucas made to the original trilogy, you’ll love what you’re about to hear. This here is the original theatrical version reconstruction of what’s now commonly referred to as “Star Wars Episodes IV-VI.” This started out as a fan project which involved tons of Photoshopping, reconstructing, color correcting, and all sorts of other stuff in order to create an HD version of the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Hardcore fans are aware of this, but in case you don’t know, there was a time when “Star Wars” started releasing what became known as “special editions.” A name which nowadays a good number of people disapprove, because the only thing that could be considered special about the special editions is not watching them. Granted, they are still the original movies, but they’ve added some changes here and there. Pretty much all of them are unnecessary. Some of them have enraged fans, including me. What made many viewers outraged is the change made during the conversation Han Solo and Greedo have in the Cantina. Specifically, they changed Han shooting first and made Greedo shoot first. There was also a Blu-Ray release in 2011, which brought more changes, including a change to the Cantina scene where Han and Greedo shoot simultaneously. This also brought my least favorite change, which happens to be featured in “Return of the Jedi.” During the scene when Luke is being electrocuted by the Emperor, Darth Vader screams “No!” like he did at the end of “Revenge of the Sith.” So essentially, these three discs take that pile of unfortunate s*it, and throws it into a trash compactor, leaving it to die. I already have seen the original versions of the “Star Wars” original trilogy, but I can’t say I’ve seen them all in HD yet. I will say though, one complaint I have, and it’s rather minor for now, is that the discs are in 720p HD as opposed to what Blu-rays traditionally have, which is 1080p. Speaking of stars, let’s move onto some “stars” I ran into during my visit.
Let’s start off with a guest I took a professional photo op with. This is also the first pro photo op I’ve ever done at a con. I’m pretty sure you’ll be impressed with my first choice, Christopher Lloyd. For those of you who haven’t been to conventions or don’t get to experience pro photo ops, these are very quick, so I never got to say hi to Christopher or engage in conversation with him. I did utter “Hey, man” as I was walking up to him however. One pro I will give to the entire staff behind the photo ops is that they seemed nicer than the con’s main staff. Also, for those of you who don’t know, the photo op company taking charge at this year’s convention is Celeb Photo Ops. Last year the convention had Froggy’s Photos, which I heard brought some issues last year, which is why Rhode Island Comic Con made the switch.
Before we get into other guests, I have a story that occurred during the con that quite honestly, will make you slap your knee harder than whenever a bitch slap occurs. So I was looking for a certain guest, and I run into this man, the man you see in the five photos above alongside me. That man is David Garrison. I don’t see anything on his table worth signing, but I notice the price for a posed photo, which happened to be $20, so I’m just going, OK, I’ll do that. I take my camera out, I give it to a guy sitting next to David, the guy is then referred to by David as a “great photographer.” The camera I was using happened to be a Samsung ST150F, which I don’t think is a bad camera for the money, but it’s by no means anything professional. I pointed out that unfortunately the camera he was using was probably not the greatest, I had more professional cameras in my mind. I tried to be humorous, calling the device “a camera that looks like something traditionally used by soccer moms.” We took five shots, then I headed away from David. Only thing is, when I headed off, I had no idea what I was in for. There was another guest two seats away from David, it’s Ted McGinley.
The placement which was just recently described makes sense, because Ted McGinley, like David, happens to be from “Married With Children.” I actually walked up to him and I had something to say. “You say that guy (David)? I thought you were him.” I even told him “I took five photos! I paid $20!” Ted responded to me saying that he was in a similar situation when he was signing autographs for people while getting off a bus and someone asked what this was. They thought McGinley was someone else. My memory remembers him saying “George Michael” or something like that. Although it could have been David because he said he’d rub this story in David’s face if I had that worded correctly. Although when we were taking a photo I said “screw George.” Before we did that, we high-fived each other. Just a little fact about Ted, he’s known for playing Stan Gable in “Revenge of the Nerds.” When I was talking to David, I was unaware of the embarrassing situation, but he said “See you on the reruns,” obviously referring to “Married With Children” as I was walking away from him. I don’t think he quite made out what I said, but I replied back saying “And the “Nerds” movies.”
Here we have two autographs, one of them is from Ted McGinley, specifically the one the right. If you can read the left one clearly enough, that one was from Donald Gibb.
Here we have a picture of me alongside Donald Gibb, a guy who some folks might refer to as Don Gibb, but also a guy who as of just recently, I personally refer to as “Surprisingly Not Santa Claus in a Live Action Movie or TV Show.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I’m right. I scrolled through his IMDb. Gibb was fun to talk to, granted this was a day after a panel I attended featuring him so we had something to talk about, but we still had fun talking to each other.
We’re not quite done with “Revenge of the Nerds” just yet, we’ll be coming back to it. For now, let’s focus on Channel Awesome. Channel Awesome, if you don’t know the name, is an online media production company. One of its popular series’ happens to be “Nostalgia Critic.” This is a series where Doug Walker, AKA the Nostalgia Critic (middle) gives a commentary on whatever random topic related to movies happens on his mind. Doug’s brother, Rob (left), and their father, Barney (right) also join in on Doug’s content. These folks have a pretty dedicated fanbase. I know someone who watches Channel Awesome’s material, and by the way, on Sunday, I went up to the trio and purchased an autograph for that friend. That wasn’t the only time I went up to them, because my sister was trying to get an autograph for her friend as well and this happened on Friday. When I went up on Friday, I informed the trio I wanted to help out someone who’s often shown in Channel Awesome material, Tamara Chambers. I had a DVD for “Point Break,” the original, not the remake. I figured I’d give it to them so they can give it to Tamara since she wasn’t at the con. Why was it exclusively for Tamara? I wasn’t sure if she saw “Point Break,” but if she didn’t, she could make this a part of her “Tamara’s Never Seen” series. I didn’t have the copy of the movie on me at the time, it was in my hotel room, I said I’d bring it over before the con ends. They said they have it and the movie can be an idea for Tamara to watch. I told them that was OK. I honestly figured Tamara just watches whatever she owns, I didn’t think she would take them from the Walkers or the Channel Awesome studio. Going back to Sunday, Rob noticed my shirt. You’ve already seen it in a few images, the one that says “Jar Jar Stinks.” By the way, remember the folks behind The Overlords? They thought it said “Star Wars Stinks” until I corrected them. Rob actually took a picture of it and sent it to his friend. I also attended their panel, which was advertised as a “Movies Everyone Disagrees With You On” panel, but was also, according to the panelists, a Q&A. Although it was mainly a “Movies Everyone Disagrees With You On” panel. The panel was fun, not to mention surprisingly calm, and Channel Awesome would agree because at one point, someone said they didn’t like “Napoleon Dynamite.” I own the Blu-ray for that film, but I haven’t seen it. Although it was mentioned that whenever Channel Awesome does these panels, “Napoleon Dynamite” has caused some violence in the past.
Speaking of panels, let’s talk about one I attended on Friday. At 6:00, there was a panel for the “Revenge of the Nerds” cast called “Nerds on Stage.” This does make sense because two of the sequels in the series have similar subtitles. Those sequels are “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” and “Revenge of the Nerds IV: Nerds in Love.” The panel was moderated by Clare Kramer, who you may know from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as Glory and “Bring It On” as Courtney. Each actor had something to say, Donald Gibb was trying to make everyone laugh saying that he can’t read. Curtis Armstrong was talking about how he got the role of Booger and how he didn’t want it. I heard that story multiple times and it never gets old, especially when I hear it from him because he delivers it with such passion. Julia Montgomery was saying that she didn’t appear on “Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise” because her character was cheating on Lewis, played by Robert Carradine. Speaking of Robert Carradine, someone asked him to do the laugh that you’d often hear in the series. Andrew Cassesse was talking about how he was much younger he was compared to the rest of the cast as the first film was in production. This was one of his earliest films, and it’s interesting to realize Andrew, who at the time, wasn’t even a teenager, appeared in a movie containing nudity, sex, and panty raids. At one point, Curtis Armstrong brings up what was originally thought of as an attempt to cash-in on “Revenge of the Nerds.” This is now known as “King of the Nerds.” He and I basically agree that it is a show that definitely deserved lots of praise, and its passing is mourned every day. I’m trying to get it back though, and Curtis is well aware of that. Curtis also pointed out a “King of the Nerds” contestant was here at the con and he happened to attend the panel. By the way, that contestant is Colby Burnett, he’s a “Jeopardy!” champion whose combined winnings come out to $375,000. He talked about his time on the show and what it was like. I actually interacted with him before the panel, and this isn’t the first time I actually had a conversation with him, because we were once on a Google Hangout together. We talked about “Jeopardy!,” Austin Rogers, and other contestants. I wanted to talk to him one more time by the end of the con, but by the time I came up with something that I really wanted to discuss with him (“500 Questions”), he was nowhere to be found. Oh well! Nevertheless, the panel was a blast and I loved seeing these cast members come together.
Staying on the topic of the “Revenge of the Nerds” cast, I happened to meet Julia Montgomery, and when we met, it was almost like we were long lost cousins. You may know Julia Montgomery from “Revenge of the Nerds” as Betty Childs, a cheerleader and head of the Pi Delta Pi’s. We talked to each other, I ask her to sign an autograph. I also mention that she may know me from Twitter, and I happen to mention my name. She knew who I was and she said she comes across my stuff a lot. Just for the record, she follows me. She even called me “famous.” Oh yeah, if you want to join Julia in that club, be sure to search my handle, @JackDrees! When I met her on Friday, I forgot to take a photo, so I did it on Sunday. Julia Montgomery was not only nice and beautiful, but she also had a great fashion sense. Just look at what she’s wearing in the photo where I stand alongside her.
Some of you might be wondering what this is here. Well, it’s basically everyone from “Revenge of the Nerds” who happened to be part of the Lambda Lambda Lambda fraternity. I’ve already talked about a couple of these people while I was focusing on a panel I attended. I didn’t go into full detail however, when I talked with them in person.
Starting off with Andrew Cassesse, you may know him as Wormser. Cassesse appeared to be a nice guy, we shook hands, he gave me an autograph, we talked a little bit about the con, and we took a picture. It’s interesting to see his progression into an adult. I wonder how many people who have watched the “Revenge of the Nerds” films would recognize him now because in that movie he was very young and looked a bit different than he does when I walked up to him.
This here is me with Brian Tochi, who you may know as Takashi. For those of you who happen to be big “Star Trek” fans, you might also recognize this guy from two episodes in the franchise. His earliest appearance was in the third season of “The Original Series” where he played Ray in “And the Children Shall Lead” and he also appeared in the fourth season of “The Next Generation” as Ensign Kenny Lin in “Night Terrors.” We talked for a short amount of time, he gave me an autograph, we took a photo, and I went off. When I went off, I actually managed to receive a sheet of paper detailing what this guy has done throughout his career.
Right here we have Larry B. Scott. I met this fellow on Saturday, and I consider him to be a nice guy. It was almost the end of the con (as far as Saturday goes), so he said “You came in at the bottom of the ninth!” If you watched “Revenge of the Nerds,” you might know him as Lamar. I had a chat with him, he gave an autograph, we took a photo, and before I headed off, he asked if I’m coming to the after-party. I said I couldn’t because I wasn’t 21. He said “That’s OK, you’re still my friend though!” To me, that’s great, because I could use more friends. We’ll see if we run into each other again as “newfound friends.”
Before we dive into this next photo, I will remind you that Julia Montgomery recognized my name based on her experience on Twitter and she happened to call me “famous.” This next person who you may recognize said the same thing. Although I’ll remind you that this is the second guest I ran into during the entire con, Julia was the fourth. When I was talking to Julia, and she exclaimed “You’re famous!” I shouted in a voice in a pitch higher than what I usually give off, “He said that!” Who’s he, you ask? Well, he is Robert Carradine, although I personally call him Bobby. He is one of the two hosts of “King of the Nerds” and when I walked up to him, I asked how he was doing, he said he was good, I went on saying I had a story to tell him, and I assure you this is true. I was vacationing in Delray Beach, Florida. There are barely any times I leave the New England area, but this wasn’t one that I personally enjoyed. The main parts I enjoyed was watching “King of the Nerds” because season 3 was happening. So I mention that one night I’m at a restaurant, I’m looking at my phone, and a notification pops up saying something along the lines of “@bobbyislewis is following you.” If you don’t know what @bobbyislewis is, that’s Robert Carradine’s Twitter handle. The name does make sense since Bobby plays Lewis in “Revenge of the Nerds.” That moment made my vacation. Yes, you can argue that there’s more to life than Twitter, but I was 15, and my Twitter life was just getting started. Robert guesses who I am with two words that part of me still can’t believe he uttered… “Jack Drees?” I get that I’m super active on Twitter, but for what I know, he barely goes on there! I’m just amazed he knows my name! I confirm I’m the guy he’s thinking of, he says I’m famous, and he asks how far up I am. I say to him “30 minutes north of Boston.” Although maybe he meant followers, I probably didn’t understand what he was going for during the conversation. I got an autograph from Bobby on Friday, and I took a photo with him on Sunday. This just goes to show how much one person’s dedication towards something, even after perhaps a good number of people had it erased from their memory, can pay off. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, I’m speaking of “King of the Nerds.”
If you have followed this blog, you might already know about how much I admire “King of the Nerds.” You’d know that me talking about it here on this post isn’t necessarily a once in a blue moon event. “King of the Nerds” not only introduced me to Robert Carradine, but it also introduced me to Curtis Armstrong. My memory goes back far enough to seeing material containing Armstrong prior to “King of the Nerds,” specifically “Jingle All the Way,” but I didn’t even find out he was in that until months ago. Since we’ve been on the topic of “Revenge of the Nerds” the whole time, I might as well state Curtis plays the character of Dudley Dawson, but you can call him Booger. Let me just remind you, this isn’t the first time I met Curtis. I went to this same con during November 6-8 2015, and Curtis happened to be there all three days. I first met him on the second day because this con is large and there was an entire area which happened to be open that I didn’t even know about. I went back to him the final day saying he was the best part of the con. Then came July 12th, 2017. Curtis releases his new memoir, “Revenge of the Nerd,” great read by the way! There happened to be an event dedicated to it where Curtis talked about the book, it took place at the Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, MA. I happen to run into Curtis there, and he’s signing books for everyone who wants a signature. I already purchased a book, so I brought mine in case the autographs were bound to happen. It took a moment for him, but he recognized me. Now we’re here during the time of November 2017, it’s been a year since Donald Trump was elected, and there are still two controversial sides related to this, the Houston Astros won the World Series, and “Will & Grace” is now back on the air making new episodes! It’s also the time of my next meetup with Curtis. Instead of having to remind him of who I was, he recognized me instantaneously. He recognized me because I was wearing the same shirt I wore every time we met. In fact, a little something extra that could’ve helped, but also possibly didn’t matter, is that I was wearing the same sweatshirt I wore when we met for the first time. When he saw who I was he got up and hugged me. We talked for a moment, I told him I recently watched “Ray,” a movie he’s in, and I thought it was great. Curtis said he loved that movie. I ask him to sign an autograph, which was free by the way, I’m not trying to brag, I’m stating the truth. No fake news here! We take a photo, and I leave telling him I’ll see him at his panel, you know, the one I recently talked about. There was a point in my life where I considered Curtis to be an idol. I still do by the way, although based on our recent meetups, I consider him a friend. We may not hang out all the time. In fact, if he wanted to be alone I’d respect his privacy, I need plenty of alone time so I can understand someone else feeling the same way. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done. By the way, if you’re weirded out by the photo of me alongside him, let me just say that I have no idea what I’m doing either. I can just tell you I’m not impersonating Booger during the belching contest in “Revenge of the Nerds.”
If I had any other disappointments to list, it would be that I didn’t get to meet John O’Hurley, who didn’t really show up all that much despite having his name on the guest list. Although overall, I’m inevitably coming back to Rhode Island Comic Con for another year. If there are any guests that I would suggest bringing to the con (that weren’t there this year), I’d say that a few of my requests are Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory, Hitch), Ezra Miller (Justice League, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Stand by Me). This convention was organized by Altered Reality, who also does conventions including ComiCONN, which is a convention that occurs once a year in the state of Connecticut. They also do Terror Con, which also occurs in the Rhode Island Convention Center, but has a dedication towards horror as opposed to comics. There’s also Colorado Springs Comic Con, which takes place in Colorado Springs, CO. And a new convention will be popping up next year called Empire State Comic Con. This new convention will take place in the Albany Capital Center in Albany, NY. One guest has already been announced, Jason David Frank, and based on what these guys have done for Rhode Island Comic Con, I’d say for some folks this could be worth checking out.
Thanks for reading this post and thanks to Rhode Island Comic Con for providing a wonderful experience for me. It wasn’t perfect, but I hope my criticisms would help you in next year’s organization. I would like to thank the cast of “Revenge of the Nerds,” Christopher Lloyd, some of the lovely people from Channel Awesome, all of those people for providing me a great time. What will the next con be? Who knows? The Empire State Comic Con I just mentioned sounds somewhat intriguing. Maybe PAX East, maybe when Super Megafest announces their next convention, we’ll have to see. Although a little note to conventions, I want to come to you, and I know you want me there. So if you want me there, leave a comment below, send me an Email (visit my contact page), and I’ll see what I can do. As far as upcoming reviews go, I am hopefully going to see “Justice League” this weekend, but it’s not a certainty yet. Only time will tell. Stay tuned for more great content! I want to ask, did YOU go to Rhode Island Comic Con? What did you think about it? What did you do there? Have you gone in years before this one? OR what conventions do you want me to cover in the future? Let me know down below in the comments! Scene Before is your click to the flicks, and with a thanks to @ClareKramer having this tweet up, let me leave this little moment from the “Revenge of the Nerds” panel down below for you all to look at.