Comic-Con Honolulu: Wisdom and inspiration from the Stars

I didn't expect to get so inspired at Comic-Con Honolulu. 

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First of all, I felt lucky to have the opportunity to attend this comic-con with my husband. Scheduling events months in advance is often difficult since one of us is in the military. Recognizing that we were lucky to be there made the time at the convention extra fun. Being inspired by others' creative endeavors was priceless. 

1. Kevin Sorbo on Latin


I had to resist the urge to just call this post, "Kevin Sorbo cares about Latin."  (Photo courtesy of Nick Holt.)

I had to resist the urge to just call this post, "Kevin Sorbo cares about Latin."  (Photo courtesy of Nick Holt.)

Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess were a big part of my childhood TV viewing. There were a lot of things that influenced my eventual study of Latin, but having the name "Hercules" thrown around in casual conversation didn't hurt. When I heard that Kevin Sorbo would be at this convention, I knew I had to meet him. 

After living in San Diego and seeing how crowded San Diego Comic-Con International was, I thought we would have spent most of our convention time standing in lines. Comic-Con Honolulu is big enough to draw in cool people, but lines weren't really an issue. We had our autograph tickets in hand, and, (Mirabile dictu!) we lucked into a time in which there was no line for Kevin Sorbo. 

This gave us a chance to chat with Sorbo and his son. We talked about how great Hawaii is, and I told the elder Sorbo about studying Classics and occasionally being rewarded for my efforts with an episode of Hercules. Sorbo told us that his son was studying Latin. The boy enthusiastically recited the familiar rhyme about how the language is killing him. 

Sorbo launched into a defense of Latin and the importance of learning many languages. I'm so used to having to defend my choice to study Classical languages. What a treat! Kevin Sorbo also had a lot to say about the importance of education and the way that excellent teachers' hands are tied by the system. (Agreed!) 

We got the chance to meet The Doctor! (Photo courtesy of Nick Holt.)

We got the chance to meet The Doctor! (Photo courtesy of Nick Holt.)

2. Colin Baker on the toughest thing about working with Daleks

Though I only started watching Dr. Who during the Doctor's ninth regeneration, having "Old Sixy" with us was nonetheless exciting. We went to his panel discussion on the first day of the con, which proved to be an entertaining and thoughtful discussion on what makes stories great, what it was like to be The Doctor, and his positive opinion of the latest regeneration. 

At 74, Baker's wit and talent made the hour-long panel discussion go by too quickly for all of us. An audience member asked him what the most difficult acting he had to do on the show was. He cited working with the Daleks because he had to act like he was scared and running away from them. The classic Dalek was a slow piece of machinery with a human being inside. The humans had to tread with care because there were nuts and bolts sticking out on the inside of machine, and if they became overzealous, they'd be jabbed by these things. If a Dalek ran over "anything larger than a peanut" it would tip over. 

We ended up having a few minutes to chat with Old Sixy ourselves the next day, and he was just as entertaining and personable during the meet and greet.  

3. Cary Elwes on giving in to peer pressure

We were lucky enough to catch the Cary Elwes panel on the last day of the convention. He had lots of hilarious stories about what it was like to work on The Princess Bride. (If you love this movie, you might be interested to know that he has just written a book on the experience. See the linked image of the book for more information.)

Most of the stories he shared with us involved Andre the Giant. Andre's size led to some great physical comedy in the film, but it also spurred some epic off-camera moments, including a fart that lasted for 16 seconds and disrupted shooting because of both it's decibel level and its ability to cause other cast members and crew to dissolve into fits laughter and genuine concern. 

Andre couldn't travel from place to place easily because he didn't fit into a regular car. They ended up finding an ATV for him, and he spent lots of time between takes zooming across the countryside. On the first day of shooting, he asked Cary Elwes if he wanted to take the ATV for a spin. Elwes politely declined, but was coerced later by Andre saying simply, "You know you want to." He traveled all of three feet before flipping off the thing and breaking his toe. Who knew that Elwes filmed most of The Princess Bride with a broken toe?

4. Kathy Najimy smells children...

As a lifelong Hocus Pocus fan, meeting Mary, the hilarious Sanderson sister known for her superhuman sense of smell and her transportation of choice, the vacuum cleaner, was a real treat. I didn't even realize that she was also the voice of Peggy Hill from King of the Hill until I saw the images of Peggy at the booth. 

Najimy is a San Diego native, and we found some common ground talking to her about the city. We'd just lived there for a year, and she has roots there. I said something dorky like, "It just doesn't feel like Halloween until I watch Hocus Pocus (true)." She graciously autographed a Hocus Pocus poster as we talked. 

It was only upon walking away that I looked down at what she had written. She had autographed the poster, "Angelina-- I smell children." I had a good chuckle off that. That's a kind of comic timing I haven't witnessed in action before, but I appreciated it. 

5. C. Robert Cargill on short stories

Of course, this writer couldn't miss the chance to meet a successful author. I read Cargill's Dreams and Shadows as part of this year's Summer Reading Challenge, and it was an incredible tale. I had to pick up the next book, Queen of the Dark Things (linked in the image), and what better place to get it than from the author himself? 

I've met a few authors in my day, and I always have this great fear that I will have invested hours of my life into seeing the world through their eyes only to find out that they are terrible. What if Cargill isn't as cool as his stories?

When I approached his table, my worries vanished. He smiled and listened intently as I talked his ear off about all the things I loved about his book. I mean, I was really nerding out about Dreams and Shadows. Then we discussed short stories as a medium (that's what I write when I am not working on the internet). "A short story has to be about one thing," he said. Sometimes the most straightforward observations on the craft are the best.  We both agreed that short-stories are grossly under-appreciated. 

As it turns out, Cargill has another novel, Sea of Rust, coming out on September 5th, and a short story collection will follow next year. I know some of you anticipate the newest video game titles after watching E3. That's how I feel about these books. If you like Neil Gaiman, you'd probably enjoy these books as well. 

Creative people inspire creativity

When you go to a meet and greet, you don't always get the chance to chat for long. I came out of Comic-Con Honolulu feeling as though I had the chance to have meaningful interactions with people who have made creativity their life's work. Whether through panel discussions or one-on-one interaction, I pulled some inspiration from everyone I listened to that weekend. 

People who create things are often discouraged by societal norms that place a high value on the 9 to 5 and marketability. I named a few pearls of wisdom from our time together, but there was something bigger in all of this. If you look at the bios of everyone I mentioned, they are always working. They are taking on diverse projects and changing the world through their art. Sometimes, they make a standout contribution that gains them notoriety, but more often, they are providing support without much pomp and circumstance.

For the creative people and the dreamers reading this: Keep showing up and doing the work. Fame and fortune aren't guaranteed, and there is no elegant pathway to success. There's only the choice to live and create authentically or be buried under ambitions that others have for you. Own your journey. 

In addition to meeting celebrities at Comic-Con Honolulu, I was lucky enough to enjoy some of the local talent at the vendor/ artist booths as well. Check out my post on that here