Michael Rooker is one tough dude on screen. As Merle Dixon, he sawed off his own hand to escape zombies in The Walking Dead. As the blue-skinned Yondu, he led a crew of space mercenaries in Guardians of the Galaxy. But don't be fooled by his formidable roles, he's really approachable — especially at comic conventions. "Whenever I have free time, I'll go to these events. Why? Because of these fans," he says. Catch him at comic con all three days.
Q. What's your favorite part about comic conventions?
A. I give [fans] big hugs and chat eyeball to eyeball. And [conventions] are completely filled with, in my opinion, some of the best artists in America.
Q. Any difference between The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy fans?
A. There's a lot of crossover. You have 7-year-olds who watch The Walking Dead. And I'm like, 'Wow, it's not scary for you?' And they say, 'No, no, not at all.' I'm blown away by that.
Q. Merle had a knife for a hand and Yondu had a flying arrow. Which would you rather have in a zombie apocalypse?
Three to See
A veteran of 15 conventions, Cleveland illustrator John Sloboda knows what it's like to sit on both the fan and artist side of the table. The designer behind Star Wars trading cards and The Walking Dead cast T-shirts breaks down these can't miss comic con events.
Artists' Alley: "You get more one-on-one time with the industry artists," Sloboda says.
William Shatner table: "That guy clears the line in record time," he says. "He'll have a line out the door, and it will be gone in an hour."
As a child, costume designer Tyler Lawrence noticed a resemblance between Storm from X-Men and her mother. Now, the Cleveland native pays homage to her mom by suiting up as Storm for comic con. Lawrence, who runs the Colors of Cosplay Etsy business, makes a case for why you should try dressing up too.
I was 12 when I first dressed up at an anime convention in New York. It felt like a place where the nerds and the geeks get together without being judged. My aunt Jackie, a fashion designer, taught me how to sew, and I started making costumes for my friends.
The best part is dressing up as a character a little kid recognizes like Captain America. You see his eyes light up, and it gives you this warm and fuzzy feeling because you just made some kid's day.
A big majority of my friends I've met at conventions, because you stand out more. You have a little more confidence. You aren't you anymore and you start acting like the character. It's basically Halloween all weekend but at a much deeper level. — as told to John Hitch