Hey, Terrificon: Halloween called. It wants its costumes back.
Indeed, at a jammed Mohegan Sun Earth Expo & Convention Center on Saturday, as the second of the three-day Terrificon convention rolled on, it seemed every other person in attendance was masquerading in homage to myriad icons from the interconnecting galaxies of comic books, TV, sci-fi and horror films, and pop culture. Folks wandered the vast hall space in Madame Tussaud-quality outfits depicting characters from “Star Wars,” the Harry Potter series, comic books, video games, Japanese manga or anime figures, “Game of Thrones” and on and on — and even those not dressed up wore T-shirts, hats and sundry accoutrements solidly proclaimed allegiance to favorite franchises.
Standing in line to meet “Guardian of the Galaxy, Vol. 2” and “Avengers: Infinity War” actress Pom Klementieff, Bridgeport couple Freddy and Maylene Escribano explained they were able to overcome the schism implied by her affection for Marvel comics and his for DC comics. “That was more growing up,” she said, though Freddy’s shirt depicted DC icons and hers a Marvel logo. “Now we like both. We’ll buy tickets in advance to see any of the movies that come out.”
They also agreed Terrificon exceeded their expectations. “It’s so much more than I thought it would be,” said Maylene, who was clutching an autographed glossy of actor Michael Jai White, star of the films “Black Dynamite” and “The Dark Knight.” ”(Michael) is from our home town,” Maylene said. “My heart was pounding when we met him, and he was so nice.”
Next? They had plans to shake hands with one of Freddy’s childhood faves, “The Karate Kid” himself, Ralph Macchio, who, along with Lou Ferrigno and Henry Winkler, seemed to draw the longest lines.
Winkler, known for several roles throughout a long career but particularly Fonzie from “Happy Days,” was not content to sit behind a table and calmly affix his signature to pics or pose for selfies — though he did both. He frequently got up to make his way down his own fan line, greeting and chatting with folks with a genuine-seeming charisma most politicians would envy.
He also fielded perhaps unexpected questions fluidly, not missing a beat when someone asked about his role as conman Eddie R. Lawson on the lesser-known “Royal Pains” television series. “Actually, people bring that show up all the time,” Winkler said, smiling. “It’s a wonderful show, a wonderful show.” And, with a quick handshake, he was headed back to his table.
“Oh my God, he’s amazing,” said Jocelyn Frane from Ansonio. That she was a bit overwhelmed to be in the presence of the Fonz wasn’t unusual. However, that Frane was dressed in an accurate portrayal of Lady Meredith Waycrest from the popular role-playing game “World of Warcraft” was interesting inasmuch the typical narrative context for WOW doesn’t suggest an appreciation from its aficionados for “Happy Days.”
The celebrity autograph area was at the back wall of Terrificon, which runs lengthwise, divided into five wide corridors with separate territories: Booths dedicated to the sale of comic books, artwork and merch; on-site comic book artists and writers; and autograph tables where a variety of celebrities signed memorabilia and chatted with fans.
There was also a gaming table room, a hall designated for children’s entertainment, and an exterior corridor where cosplayers — models who professionally dress up in a bizarre sort of character assimilation — posed for photos and, in a bit of a vaguely unsettling segue between fantasy and reality, pretty much acted like they WERE the characters they were dressed up to imitate.
Kevin Luciano, in from Long Island “to see Mohegan Sun but mostly see Terrificon,” approached one cosplay figure who looked, to the uninitiated, like someone had thrown a werewolf, Darth Vader, a spider and Blackie Lawless from the band Wasp into a blender. Even amid all the costumed finery, the figure was impressive and Luciano posed for a picture with it.
Who was that supposed to be? Luciano was asked. “Well, he’s a cosplay character but he’s his own cosplay character,” Luciano said. “It’s a bit different because they usually are someone you know or recognize. He’s got his own booth here, though, and he’s meeting a lot of people.”
Back inside, along Artist’s Row, dozens of famed illustrators and writers from the whole spectrum of comics and manga were on hand to interact with fans. Russ Rainbolt, a muralist/painter/illustrator, sat at a table surrounded by his own larger-than-life paintings-for-purchase of comic book super stars.
Rainbolt said he’s often commissioned at conventions like Terrificon but he was also busy drawing on a large pad of paper. It was one of those “witnessing art in the making” moments inasmuch as Rainbolt was working on a tight deadline to deliver 18 pages for an upcoming graphic novel called “Tales of Frankenstein.”
“It’s a fun job and I’m happy to be part of it,” he said of “Tales of Frankenstein.” If he sounded a bit modest, Rainbolt said, “This is a competitive business full of amazing talent.” An observer pointed behind Rainbolt at a giant portrait the artist had painted of comics artist/icon Stan Lee, the man who created Spiderman.
“That’s a remarkable work right there,” Rainbolt was told.
“Well, thanks,” Rainbolt said. “Someone I know took a photo of it and said he was going to send it to Stan Lee; that he thought Stan would like it. I’ll tell you this: I’d give it to Stan Lee. Happily. That’s part of what makes this a great job. We’re all fans.”
The final day of Terrificon takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Mohegan Sun Earth Expo & Convention Center. Call 1 (800) 745-3000 for more information.