Posted in: Community Service, Conventions, Cosplay, Fan Club, Rant, Star Trek

FanX after-con report

Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021
Salt Lake Magazine interviewed me at FanX 2021

FanX: The Salt Lake Comic Convention was held at the Salt Palace on September 16-18. In my duties as Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet Command’s Seventh Fleet, I helped man the charity booth that we were running at the con. The club was raising funds for the Best Friends Animal Society of Utah.

While I was there, I was able to get some additional photos for my online photo gallery. I was also able to obtain some new Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars autographs for my autograph collection. Spending time with Larry Nemecek and John Eaves was a highlight of the convention. I was even interviewed by Salt Lake Magazine in one of their FanX video reports. The video is posted below.

Salt Lake Magazine interview

Some of the additional good things included how most people were following the health guidelines. Watching the attendees from the booth I’d say that 99% of the people were wearing masks. Hopefully enough people will take steps to make the conventions next year a safer event. I also really loved the wider aisles that were mapped out on the vendors room floor. While the con was still crowded (I was told that more tickets were sold for 2021 than 2019) it wasn’t crazy sardine packed on the vendors floor. I really hope that FanX keeps the wider aisles for future years.

I’m going to go a little bit on a soapbox here. I really think that autograph prices are getting way too high. There were several guests that I ended up skipping because I didn’t want to pay that much for a signature on a photo. I think that managers hear the term “Comic Con” and automatically hike the prices up by 30-50%. It also bugs me that the autograph prices are not advertised before the con so I can budget ahead of time. The con website posts the photo op prices, but the autograph prices are always listed as TBA. When I show up and find out that someone wants $90 for an autograph that I didn’t plan for in advance, I turn it down. Speaking of photos, what is the deal with charging for a selfie? Yes an autograph creates a value on an item that can be resold, so I can understand a guest charging for that. But you can’t really re-sell a selfie. All of the selfie-style photos that I have posted on this website were obtained without extra payment. While they are kewl and I thank the guest for posing with me, I don’t see myself paying for a selfie. If I wanted to pay for a photo with a guest, I’d get a professional photo done. End of rant.

After not being able to attend a convention for two years, it was good to see my convention friends and geek out. There are a certain number of people that I only see at these events. It was good to see who had kept themselves safe. I hope that things will get better so we can continue to have more events and conventions. The new uniform worked great and I may pick up a few more from that manufacturer.

Here are some of the photos that were taken at the con.

Posted in: Collecting, Conventions, Music, Sports, Star Trek

Why I collect autographs

I was thinking about this subject the other day and realized that it would make for a good blog post. I’ve been collecting autographs ever since I first met several members of the Utah Jazz at a mall in downtown Salt Lake City in the 80’s. The team was trying to drum up interest in fans and they had several of the players at a table signing autographs for anyone who happened to be there. I was able to get four of the five players who were present (the fifth had just run out of photos to sign). I still have memories of going through the mall to that chance encounter. It was one of the many of my teenage times when I would just go wandering off on my own not knowing what I would find while exploring.

Mark Eaton

As I started going to Star Trek conventions I had the opportunity to meet several different actors. Some I’ve been able to get photos with that I’ve added to my Star Trek Actor’s Photo Gallery. From these conventions I’ve been able to get autographs from several of the actors that I’ve seen on television and movies. To get an autograph, especially when you can see them sign it yourself, is to have something that they have interacted with. I will never forget meeting with James Doohan. Especially since he was staying in the hotel I was working in at the time. I was able to interact with him on the phone after the convention.

Jimmy Doohan

Not all encounters were pleasant ones. Sometimes you have to plan to attend conventions out-of-state, make arrangements to get something to sign, think about what you are going to say to the celebrity since you only get a few seconds with them (if you are lucky it could be a few minutes). At a convention in Los Angels I had the opportunity to get an autograph from Dwight Schultz. While he is famous for his role as Howling Mad Man Murdock in the 1980’s television series, The A-Team. I wanted to get a signed photo of Lt. Barclay from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I went by his table before he arrived and noticed all of the A-Team photos, but there were no Trek photos. I enjoyed watching the A-Team. But I knew what I wanted. In the dealers room I found a vendor who had a stack of Lt. Barclay photos for sale and snatched one up. I remember being in the first dozen people in line at the appropriate time for autograph signings. Several people had commented that they liked my Barclay picture. When you get to the table, you hand the assistant your money along with the photo. My photo was the first Star Trek picture of the day for Mr. Schultz to sign and he said “oh” and reached down with his pen to sign the photo. Suddenly from behind him, a hand reached out and yanked the picture away from him. Shocked I looked up to see some woman shaking the picture at me and screaming “Where did you get this picture? This is an illegal picture!” As I started arguing with the woman that I had already paid my money and that I was owed an autograph on the item I selected, Mr. Schultz’s face went back and forth between me and the woman as we yelled at each other. I think she was his agent or something and she wouldn’t budge. I wouldn’t budge either as I had already paid for my product and stated so. Suddenly she whirled around and grabbed one of his photos, slapped it down in front of him and yelled “Sign it!” The poor actor quickly made it out to me an not wanting to fight any more, I thanked him for the autograph. Then the woman grabbed me and stated “You’re going to show me where you got this in the dealers room.” As I was being dragged past the line, I noticed how many other fans with the same photo I had quickly hiding them. I knew that while she was away, they would be trying to get them signed as quickly as possible. Not wanting to get the dealer mad at me, the moment we got into the room, I waived my hand in the general direction and said “he’s down that way.” and I walked in the opposite direction. I couldn’t have been more than a minute later before I heard the harpy scream of this person yelling at the vendor. Every time I see the photo below, I think about that encounter. To this day, I wonder what Mr Schultz thought of what happened. I don’t blame him for it, but I could tell that he was embarrassed by it.

Dwight Schultz

I wish I could say that I’ve met everyone that I’ve got an autograph from. I’ve had several friends, knowing of my hobby to collect and of my interests, provide me with autographs that they have come across on their own. I’ve enjoyed several “Weird Al” Yankovick concerts, but I’ve never had a chance to meet the artist in person. Two different friends procured an autograph for me at different meet-and-greets that they participated in. I am very thankful to these friends. And yes, someday I’ll get a chance to meet Weird Al in person. Until then I’ll continue to enjoy his music and his sense of humor.

Weird Al Yankovick

I’ve got a quite a few autographs. Not just photos in an album but on artwork, books, action figures, hats, comics, games and other collectibles. And while some have gone up in value, especially with the celebrity passing on from this life, I’ve never thought about selling these items. These are memories for me. Memories of efforts to collect the autograph. Memories from meeting these human beings who have done extraordinary things. Memories of friends who have gone out of their way to help me with my collection. I’m sad that large scale events and online auctions have pushed autograph prices higher and higher. But I am also grateful for the opportunities to meet these people. I still get a smile on my face when I look over my autographed items.

Posted in: Art, Conventions

The things you find in boxes

Carl Stark cartoon by Howard Tayler

So I’ve been trying to get all of my stuff out of cardboard boxes. While cardboard boxes are good for short term storage or getting pizza delivered in (mmmm… pizza) they are not good for long term storage of items you want to keep safe. One of the goals that I have set for myself is to get everything that is still in a cardboard box out of said box. Sometimes I even feel like Indiana Jones uncovering the hidden ark. From there I can decide if I want to trash it, donate it, trade it or keep it. When I uncovered this bad boy in his protective sleeve (now scanned and posted above), I knew I wanted to keep it.

Over thirteen years ago I went through a period of insanity where I was a Con-Chair for a local fan-run convention. A Con-Chair is basically the president of the committee (a Con-Com) that puts together the convention. One of our primary guests at this convention was an artist named Howard Tayler. Howard is one of those fellow geeks that when you see what he’s done, you have to be inspired. Twenty straight years of publishing the web-comic Schlock Mercenary without missing a date. He has also designed role-playing games, written short stories and participated in a weekly podcast which has won a Hugo award.

Howard made a caricature of me at the convention. I was in “Con-Chair” mode with my body in an injured Captain Pike wheelchair. Like Pike, I could beep ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but I also had the option to ‘delegate’. I thought it was hilarious. I have fond memories of those conventions and seeing this image reminded me of some of them. Now that I have an office, I will be framing this and putting it up on the wall. Thanks Howard.

Now I wonder what I will find next? I’m motivated to get more boxes emptied.

Posted in: Conventions, Star Wars

Farewell David Prowse

David Prowse was an English actor who recently passed away at the age of 85. According to his daughter, he passed away due to complications to Covid-19. As fellow geeks, you probably know David Prowse from his most famous role as the actor in the Darth Vader suit from the first three movies. He was also seen in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (the BBC TV mini-series), Space: 1999, The Benny Hill Show, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (as The Monster), The Tomorrow People, A Clockwork Orange, The Horror of Frankenstein (again as The Monster), The Saint (TV series), the 60’s Casino Royale movie and Doctor Who.

In 2007, David Prowse was one of the guests at a local fan-run Science Fiction convention that I chaired. I cannot tell you how much of a gentleman he was. Even when he was in pain (which he suffered from a lot) he was always gracious to the people around him. He appreciated his fans who came a long way to see him and made the meeting a memorable one. He posed with my daughter and myself for a photo just before getting ready to return to England. Farewell good sir, you’ve earned your rest.