Super-summer pt1: My trip to the 2013 Metropolis Superman Celebration
This summer has been a \S/uper one so far!
First up was my trip to Metropolis, IL for the annual Superman Celebration. This was the 35th celebration in Metropolis- the official home town of Superman.
If you’ve ever been to Metropolis, or have read my previous posts on the famous city, you’ve discovered that it’s more like Smallville than the big city we’re used to seeing in the comics, movies, or on TV. However, each June the population of the real life Metropolis (around 7,000) increases tremendously due to an amazing amount of visiting fans who travel from all over our planet to show their love for Superman. The majority of them tend to wear their underwear on the outside of their pajamas over the 4 day event. (I’ve been guilty of it while in Metropolis, too.)
I left out early on that Saturday morning. Metropolis is about a 3hr car ride up I-55 (with a short hop on I-40 and a couple turns here and there) from Memphis for me- 4hrs if I stop in Sikeston, MO for lunch at Lambert’s Cafe! Mmm…throwed rolls..! I’ve been attending the Superman Celebration since 1999 and haven’t missed a year yet. Like I’ve said before, it’s like being an Elvis fan and making the trip to Graceland- if you’re a Superman fan you’ve got to go to Metropolis.
Normally I go up a day or so early and have one of my friends driving or riding shotgun with me for the trip, but this time I was on my own. So I fired up the Batmobile, grabbed some Sonic for breakfast, and hit the road solo. I stopped at BOOMLAND! off 57 to gas up, and picked up a co-pilot for the rest of the trip- Monk! He’s not great on navigating or conversation, but seemed to be having a great time.
I noticed something a bit different when we hit town this Metro trip…a TARDIS was sitting out in front of Daily Star Comics! I parked the Batmobile and went to investigate…
Turns out that it is owned by the comic shop’s owner ‘who’ is a big Dr. Who fan! Over the weekend lots of Whovians were stopping by the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space) to have their pictures made and ‘The Doctor’ was always handy with his sonic screwdriver- which he would let fans use in their pics if they liked.
He was nice enough to let Monk and I check out the inside of the TARDIS (I brought my own screwdriver). The TARDIS is still a work in progress, but once it’s finished the light on top, “police box” signs, and windows will light up at night. Should be an awesome sight and I’m really looking forward to checking that out the next time I’m in town. I picked up a few Dr. Who BBC magazines and books at the comic shop to take home to my wife (and Dr. Who fan) Nicki.
Oh, and if you were wondering, “Why ‘Daily Star Comics’ and not ‘Daily Planet Comics’..?” Joe Shuster worked for the Toronto Daily Star as a newspaper boy when he was growing up. When Superman first appeared, his alter ego Clark Kent worked for the Daily Star newspaper, which was later changed to the Daily Planet. There’s some super-trivia for you!
A trip to Metropolis isn’t complete without having your picture made in front of the giant statue, visiting the Metropolis Planet newspaper’s offices, checking out the Superman memorabilia collection at the Super-Museum, buying some souvenirs at the Metropolis Chamber of Commerce, or meeting Josh Boultinghouse- the official Metropolis Superman.
Those are all a lot of fun I and I recommend each one, but for me it’s not a complete Superman Celebration experience unless I’ve had a footlong corndog and a lemon shake-up from one of the food vendors!
The Superman Celebration not only celebrates the most iconic super hero in the world, but also celebrates many other great geeky creations like Marvel Comics, Star Wars and Star Trek; American values like “Truth, Justice, and the American Way“; and thankfully things like corndogs and funnel cakes!
Think of a small town festival or county fair crossed with a comic book convention- that’s pretty much the very unique and family friendly Metropolis Superman Celebration!
After getting my corndog fix (later had another for dinner) I walked around some more with my friend Ronnie Shenks. His folks are the ones that took Ronnie, his brother (DC Comics artist) Dave Beaty, and me to Metropolis for the first time back in 1999!
Ronnie an I stopped by the Noel Neill/Lois Lane statue, did some shopping at the Chamber of Commerce, talked to friends we’d run into along the way, acted like the tourists we were, and later happened across a Superman group photo shoot. You tend to see a lot of these group shots over the weekend.
One of the fun things I got to experience was lots of praise for the Superman t-shirts I designed for the celebration. This was my second year to do the official design (which was also on celebration programs and posters) and featured official Superman art by legendary comic artist José Luis García-López, who is one of my favorites! I saw a ton of people wearing the tees so I’m guessing the sales went well!
One of the biggest draws at the Celebration are the \S/uper-celebs- especially the SMALLVILLE and movie actors, and this year was no exception! I lucked out and happened to be standing near the Superman statue when two of the celeb guests left the Q&A session at the main tent and had their “Titanic” moment!
Michael Rosenbaum (right- Lex Luthor on SMALLVILLE and the voice of the Flash on Justice League Unlimited) and Alessandro Juliani (left- Dr. Emil Hamilton on SMALLVILLE and Sergeant Sedowsky in Man of Steel) were two of the featured guests, along with Margot Kidder (Lois Lane in Superman: The Movie), Tracy Scoggins (Cat Grant on Lois and Clark), Laurie Mitchell Roberts (The Adventures of Superman), and Gregory Moffett (The Adventures of Superman). And if that wasn’t enough, wrestling legend (and fellow Memphian, artist, and Superman fan) Jerry “The King” Lawler was there as well. The autograph lines were a bit long as usual, so I snapped my pics and headed back up market street.
Celebs are cool and all, but, hey- this is a Superman Celebration and you can’t celebrate Superman without celebrating comics and creators like Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster- and that’s what Artists Alley & Writers Way does! Comics guests this year included Ron Frenz, Chris Sprouse, Brett Breeding, and Art Baltazar. That’s Art in the photo above- who I got a great Batgirl sketch for Nicki, and a Harley Quinn one for me! Art is also part owner in Aw Yeah Comics- a comic shop in Skokie, IL near Chicago.
This was the first year since 2005 that I wasn’t part of AA&WW (due to my new day job and no time off), but I did get a bit of sketching done while I was there.
I was asked by NCS member John Read and ComicsPriceGuide.com‘s Rick Frogge to do a sketch cover for the auction later that night. I did one of my “Superkid” style Superman toons. Luckily I had markers in my backpack- have markers, will travel! It was a lot of fun to do, and the first time I had ever worked on a blank sketch cover comic. Hope to do it again! There were 9 covers done that day by the guest artists, and a collector at the auction offered $500 for the lot of them- the comics that is, not the artists.
This year I didn’t have to be on a schedule, put out any fires, or make sure anyone else was having a good time. I just got to run around, take pics, and experience what I usually miss while setting up or being behind a table for most of the weekend. Unfortunately I missed the showing of the fan-films and the awards ceremony Saturday afternoon. First time that’s happened for me since the event started! If you missed them, too- you can check out the winners on the Superman Celebration homepage. If you make fan-films, be sure to enter yours in the contest next year!
Saturday night was the first Smallville Prom at Planet Krypton hosted by my buddy (and best man) Tim Brown, who also hosts the fan-films. Previously it’s just been called a dance party, but this year the prom theme was a big hit with everyone!
Some folks came in costume, some dressed casual, some dressed up in formal wear, and some even sported formal costumes! A prom King and Queen were crowned and many attendees busted out some super-moves. The prom went on until 11:30pm or so, but for those who stuck around a big surprise was in store..!
Around 11:15pm the prom had a few celebrity crashers…
Guests Alessandro Juliani, Michael Rosenbaum, and Tracy Scoggins arrived and joined in on the festivities.
They even posed for pics with some of the lucky remaining prom attendees. That really made some fans’ night!
Later the guests headed down the street to Harrah’s Casino which is just a few blocks away on the banks of the Ohio River. Tim, Ronnie, and I closed up Planet Krypton, hit the 24hr Huddle House across town for some late dinner/early breakfast, walked across the street to the Super-8, and called it a night.
It was a great day in Metropolis- well, at least for some of us…Lex is still wondering where his statue is! More pics to come, and up next are Sunday’s activities including the costume contest, Superman world record attempt, and closing ceremony.
Until then, remember- when in Metropolis, beware of super-villains bearing gifts!