Lifestyle

Boston Comic Con grows up

TRAVEL ADVISORY!

Attention all hobbits, Vulcans, vampire slayers, droids, Time Lords, Wonder Women, and sweet transvestites from Transexual, Transylvania: If you’re headed to our starport for Boston Comic Con this weekend, please be advised of an important change of address.

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To celebrate its 10th year, the annual gathering from various quadrants of the nerdverse moves from the World Trade Center to a new mothership: that spacecraft parked in the Seaport District, also known as the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. With some 500,000 square feet of cavernous exhibition space, there should be enough room for all of you.

Especially anyone coming to pay homage to a dearly departed iconic television show: This year, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” celebrates the 20th anniversary of its birth.

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“Holy [crap], time flies,” said “Buffy” star and Watertown native Eliza Dushku in an e-mail. “I can still tap into that 17-year-old wild woman” who played Faith, Buffy’s nemesis. Dushku, who will be in attendance with fellow cast members Felicia Day and James Marsters, said she’s grateful for her relationship with the “passionate, loyal, happy folks” who are her fans. “Fans follow the shows and they come down and oftentimes share extremely personal stories/parallels they’ve had in their own lives. It’s beautiful.”

Dushku, who moved back home to Watertown from Los Angeles, recently wrapped shooting for “Mapplethorpe,” a biopic she produced about the art photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, starring former “Doctor Who” Matt Smith (who will also be appearing at Comic Con) in the title role. “I’m looking forward to being surrounded by some familiar faces and probably, likely, some hilarious Boston characters,” she said.

Day overlapped with Dushku on the final season of “Buffy,” then starred in such Internet hits as “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and “The Guild,” and now appears on TV’s “Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return,” among other roles. Her experience on “Buffy” “inspired the trajectory of my career, because I was lucky to be in a show that had that fan family,” Day said. “I really love that feeling that you’re not only making entertainment, but you’re providing somebody a world that they feel a part of as they watch.”

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As always, whether your brand of fandom is sci-fi, horror, fantasy, anime, or superhero, there’ll be plenty to geek out about. The Comic Con schedule includes more than 100 events including panels, live theater performances, anime screenings, Q&A sessions, and voice-actor live script readings. Celebrities on hand for autographs and photo sessions include Marvel Comics legendary creator Stan Lee, Karen Gillan and Smith of “Doctor Who,” Anthony “C-3PO” Daniels from “Star Wars,” Ming-Na Wen of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and cast members from shows and films such as “Arrow,” “Daredevil,” and “Star Trek,” plus dozens of comic artists.

Comic Con will also feature a gathering of the cast of the 1975 cult favorite “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” including a rare appearance by Tim “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” Curry, who suffered a stroke in 2012; he’ll be joined by castmates such as Barry Bostwick, Nell Campbell, and Patricia Quinn.

“This one’s special,” said Bostwick, via telephone while attending another convention, Wizard World, in Columbus, Ohio. “We don’t get together that often. When we do, it’s a big party for us and for the fans.” He’s pleased to be “initiating” a new generation. “That’s what happens at these events. All of a sudden 12-year-olds are in front of us doing ‘The Time Warp.’ It gets a little creepy when a 9-year-old is doing ‘I’m a Sweet Transvestite.’ ”

The event’s change in venue isn’t all that’s new for 2017. The locally-grown show, owned by founder Nick Kanieff, has been sold to Fan Expo HQ, a company that operates eight similar conventions. (Kanieff will remain as an adviser.)

“Boston Comic Con has such a fantastic reputation on the pop culture circuit,” said new convention vice president Andrew Moyes via telephone from Toronto. The convention had started “to burst at the seams at the previous venue.” Moyes expects more than 60,000 attendees over the weekend, up from 42,000 last year.

For fans the growth, corporate buyout, and move to a bigger venue “could be a good thing” and mean “more celebrities or bigger names,” said Kevin Harrington, creator of the Boston’s Geek Week comedy event and a dozen-year veteran attendee. But he fears a shift to more mainstream programming. “I just hope that doesn’t overshadow the comics and creators, which are the real source for all the movies and TV shows and other media tie-ins.”

Despite the changes, hordes of cosplayers will still be there, likely jabbering and Jabba-the-Hutting about news and controversies, be it the impact of this summer’s female-helmed superhero blockbuster “Wonder Woman,” arguing about Jodie Whittaker as the choice to be the next “Doctor Who,” or picking apart the trailers for the upcoming TV series “Star Trek: Discovery” that debuts in September.

As Dushku reminds her “Buffy” buffs, “I’m a fan myself. I think we’re all fans of someone, something, and can appreciate celebrating that.”

Boston Comic Con may have grown up, but you don’t have to. You can time warp to the dot-com bubble heyday of “Buffy,” or the Goth glam rock days of “Rocky Horror,” let your freak flag fly, and slay some vampires.

Ethan Gilsdorf is the author of “Fantasy Freaks and Gaming Geeks.” Contact him at ethan@ethangilsdorf.com or on Twitter @ethanfreak.
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