The hottest Pensacon of all time is upon us — and not just because the eighth annual Pensacola pop culture convention is taking place in May this year instead of its typical February.
Thousands of comic book, video game, TV and movie fanatics from all over the Southeast swarmed the Pensacola Bay Center and other downtown venues Friday for the first day of the event.
Below are some of the sights and sounds from day one:
First in line
Absence certainly made the hearts of convention-goers grow fonder this year, even if the COVID-19 postponement of Pensacon only spanned about three months.
Semmes, Alabama, native Clayton Ramaker said he was “extremely nervous” at the turn of the year with so much doubt surrounding one of his favorite annual events. That’s partially why he did everything in his power to become one of the first guests inside of the Bay Center on Friday.
And he succeeded. He was the first person in line alongside his mother, Pam.
When the doors did fly open at 1 p.m. Friday, Ramaker said he would be on the hunt for anything Power Rangers after one of his most anticipated guests had to cancel.
“This year, Jason David Frank (the Red Ranger) was my main reason for being here, but he had to cancel recently, so out of all the characters I’d like to get autographs from, only one of them is here, and that’s Aisha,” Ramaker said of actress Karan Ashley, who played the second iteration of the Yellow Ranger.
Ramaker said the hour-and-a-half drive and nearly four-hour wait until doors opened at 1 p.m. were absolutely worth it.
“I got down here at about 9:30,” said Ramaker, who was wearing a bright blue Port City Comics T-shirt. “For me, I’m just so excited for events like this. I’m from Alabama so we don’t have a lot of big ones like the one down here.”
‘Incredible Hulk’ and ‘Star Trek’ writer Peter David shares thoughts on both iconic brands
New York Times bestselling author Peter David parked himself on the vendor’s floor at the Bay Center Friday for meet-and-greet opportunities with his fans, many of whom know him for his time writing the “Incredible Hulk” character for Marvel comics.
On Friday, David shared what he believed to be the biggest public misconception about the character, especially his version.
“The misconception in my mind was that the Hulk was this big, dumb brute who was monosyllabic,” he said. “That wasn’t the Hulk as I wrote him. And if you go back to his earliest appearances, that wasn’t how he was originally written either. He was perfectly articulate. He spoke in whole sentences and understood personal pronouns.”
David also defied some high-profile doubters in the late 1990s when he penned the “Star Trek: New Frontier” series of novels. New Frontier was the first official Star Trek property not to be based on television, or even depicted on television.
“Paramount was not enthused by the prospect,” he recalled. “They said, ‘People are not going to be remotely interested in following a Star Trek series that is not based on the TV series.'”
The series ended up having an 18-year run, and David partially credited the general contempt fans felt toward the “Star Trek: Voyager” TV series that ran parallel to “New Frontier” in the 90s.
“At least to start off, ‘Voyager’ was not particularly popular,” David said. “A lot of the literary fans were telling viewers, ‘Screw Voyager, come read New Frontier. You want quality Star Trek? Read New Frontier.’ So we benefitted very prominently from Voyager backlash.”
Early costume of the weekend contender?
Pensacola resident Miguel Navarro was receiving celebrity treatment from fellow Pensacon guests for his standout homemade costume in which he cosplayed the character “Patrick” from the “Spongebob Squarepants” cartoon.
Navarro said he had received 10 or 20 compliments on the suit and even a couple of photo requests, all by about 2:30 p.m.
“And we’ve still got plenty of the day to go,” Navarro said.
The bodysuit was purchased on Amazon, he said, but he got the actual Patrick shorts and sandals from the Boxlunch and Hot Topic stores.
What brought the outfit together was the party hat Navarro wore that depicted Patrick’s actual face. The hat was a foldable, PDF file that he printed out earlier this week.
“That was just a quickfire idea because I didn’t want to wear the full body mask. It’s really hot out today, we just got into summer, so I’m like, ‘It ends in a point like his real head does, so a party hat might be a good accessory,” Navarro added.
As for his favorite all-time Patrick moment?
“That has to be in (the episode) ‘Band Geeks’ when Sandy shoves him in that trombone,” he said.
The second day of Pensacon, traditionally the most energetic day of the three, gets going early Saturday when the Bay Center opens at 10 a.m.
Jake Newby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 850-435-8538.
Original posted at www.pnj.com