The Maddys have returned from our first comic convention of the season: Steel City Con. The Monroeville-based event is held three times a year, usually in the spring, summer and winter in the hometown of zombies: Monroeville, PA.
Billed as a ‘childhood toy and comic show’, you’ll find everything from CGC-graded comics (which Duane bought) to Pteri from “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse” (which is where I drew the line). It doesn’t offer panels or supplementary programming, like many conventions we attend, but it’s fun to spend a few hours trying to snag a good deal on a wind-up E.T. figure and bartering with fellow toy collectors for their stash of goodies that we know will look much better on our shelves than theirs.
Since it is a modest 3 hours away from Charleston, WV, we usually attend when there are notable celebrity guests. So far, at the Steel City Con, we’ve met Adam West, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and David Faustino. Other lineups have included various wrestling retirees and notable independent comic book artists.
This time, we made the journey up I-79 to meet the eptiome of cool: Henry Winkler–who of course starred as Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “The Fonz” on “Happy Days.” Duane and I also fondly remember him as Barry Zuckerkorn, George Bluth’s lawyer on “Arrested Development.”
Mr. Winkler has been promoting his latest book: “I’ve Never Met an Idiot on the River.” We followed his updates via Twitter, and saw that his plane was delayed Friday night, so he was a little later than expected. We went back to our hotel and returned to the convention center when we saw he had begun tweeting again. Social media really does have its advantages.
Then we saw him. Replacing his trademark leather jacket with a salmon colored sweater and lavender button down, apologizing for his tardiness. He pretended to be amused when people would yell out random misquoted quotes from the Fonze, like “Sit on it, Mr. Belvedere!”
When it was our turn to go up, he very warmly greeted us. We asked him about his possible involvement in the upcoming “Arrested Development” movie and mini-series. AND he confirmed that, yes, Barry Zuckerkorn will make a much-anticipated return. The whole experience was pretty much what you would expect from the Fonz: cool.
Our other big reason for attending was to meet Linda Blair of “The Exorcist.” We had specially purchased an original, unfolded “Roller Boogie” poster for the occasion. Through the magic of Netflix, we recently watched this cult film originally meant to be another “Saturday Night Fever.” It featured Ms. Blair (in her not-so-scariest roll) cast alongside a real-life roller skate champion. Though the film was not a box office success and was panned by critics, it’s a fun light-hearted movie that’s campy fun. It had all the late 70s/early 80s cliche’ characters you would expect, including the valley guys with the sweaters wrapped around their neck as they prepare for a game of tennis with Buffy…there’s always a Buffy.
Linda told us that she’s seeing more “Roller Boogie” merchandise pop up, and she gladly signed our poster “Keep On Rolling.” Hopefully, she got a kick out of it since I’m sure the majority of other items being signed were Exorcist-related. We felt a little like pop stars at a goth concert.
We also stopped to say hello to Doug Jones (Silver Surfer from “Fantastic Four, Abe Sapien from “Hellboy” and many other roles.) Doug rarely appears as ‘himself’ in films and has a background in mime. He was incredibly friendly and pleasant. He hugged us like he was going to miss us when we left. For the record, he has a coffee table book coming out this winter that looks really interesting. It’s all about his work as a mime in various situations. ”You can pick up a copy from Amazon”, says Doug, “for much less than you can find it in stores.”
We rounded out the day by speaking with Margot Kidder (Lois Lane) who is always a friendly and fun lady. She will always be Lois Lane, and she accepts that without hesitation. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan came in a few minutes late. The reason I know that is because he made his presence known to the entire convention center. He let out a “Hooooooo” as soon as he hit the door. He began shaking hands, like he was running for public office, while giving thumbs up and smiling like he was happy to be anywhere. Things would begin to get a little quiet and “Hacksaw” would yell, “Where’s Hogan?! I want Hogan in the ring!”
We met Erika Eleniak, who was on Baywatch. We, however, knew her from E.T. and aren’t ashamed to admit it. There were a couple of people there from the newer Star Wars movies and another WWE wrestling Diva named Maria Kanellis. Duane and I don’t watch WWE, so we only know that she is apparently going to be in the revamped “Manos: The Hands of Fate” movie due out in about a year.
All in all, it was a great mini-convention trip and a great kick-off to what will surely be a fun-filled convention year of 2012. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a first convention to attend. They usually post the guests and information well in advance, so you won’t be disappointed or surprised with the guests.
Now, if we can just secure our San Diego Comic-Con passes, we will be happier than Jim Duggan at a lumberyard.
Tags: Arrested Development, CGC, Comic books, Comic-Con, convention, Doug Jones, E.T., Exorcist, Fantastic Four, Fonzie, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Hellboy, Henry Winkler, Linda Blair, Maria Kanellis, Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Roller Boogie, Steel CIty Con, toy show, WWE