By Liz Lopez
After Comicpalooza initially announced Academy Award nominee Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell, Jason Isaacs and Marky Ramone were set to appear, the list of special guest appearances kept coming. Many people I talk to about a Comic Con either have limited or no knowledge about the extent of entertainment there is for individuals and families. It may have started out with comics, but it is far more than that.
For example, Friday, May 22nd is Education Day, featuring art, writing, science panels and seminars. Schools have been able to schedule field trip classes to the con at discounted rates with teachers and chaperones attending for free. Here is a sample of what is offered to participants for Friday, May 22: 11:30am (Workshop) – So, You Want to be an Author…
1:00pm (Panel) – Methodology of Painting and Illustrating
1:00pm (Panel) -Crash Test Dummy: Life on the Inside of a Spacesuit (NASA presentation)
Saturday, May 23rd is one of the biggest days at Comicpalooza that will offer so many activities that the Schedule of Events seems to go on for pages on their website. Jeremy Renner’s Saturday only appearance will draw many fans to this yearly event, as well as many others, but the diversity of guest celebrities is quite extensive as well in different genres. Among the list is Anime, Comics, Cosplay, Entertainment: Line/Stage, Film and Television, Gaming: Electronic/Table Top, Horror, Literature, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Science Faction and Sports.
In the Science Faction genre, Gerald B. Cleaver, Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Physics at Baylor University in Waco Texas will provide a presentation at 2:30pm, titled “The Science Behind a Possible Multiverse.” Cleaver heads the Early Universe Cosmology and String Theory (EUCOS) Division of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). Cleaver earned his Ph.D. at Caltech in 1993. His EUCOS team conducts systematic computer-based studies of the collection of possible universes implied by string theory and its theorized multiverse realization. Professor Cleaver will discuss the development of multiverse not just as a comic/science fiction idea, but also as a genuine scientific concept.
During a recent interview with Professor Cleaver, he stated, “This is my second year to talk at Comicpalooza. I have spent time at NASA and talked to non-profits.” He shared his extensive knowledge of physics, cosmology, the Big Bang Theory and inflation from approximately 22 years ago to present. He said there is evidence that the universe is expanding and added, “it is expanding now faster than when we had breakfast this morning.” That is quite an eye opener for me!
The conversation continued on to the Hubble studies and measurements starting from 1997. He talked about physics and taking it backwards with an observable universe at a time when billions of years ago was almost the size of a point. I don’t want to replay all he shared with me about the multiverse concept, but since the theme of a collection of parallel universes has been a theme in comic-dom/science fiction for decades, this is one presentation you can consider scheduling for your convention experience. “At the talk, I will present where it is growing in acceptance and is controversial, to say the least. The theory fits well with Science Fiction and comics.”
Professor Cleaver, who referred to himself as a String Theorist, said he has been collecting Marvel and DC comics for over 40 years now. Although he recently sold his Marvel collection, he stated that both Marvel and DC update their heroes every 20 years or so. “There is a cataclysmic event that destroys the universe and another appears. They make them younger and flashier.”
A string theorist who can also talk comics in one presentation is certainly something I recommend attending at this Comicpalooza! I guarantee you will walk out learning more than you imagined.
Comicpalooza runs from May 22 -25, 2015 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. With over 2,000 hours of programming running from 10 am until 2 am and 1.1 million square feet of exhibit and event space, Comicpalooza is the largest pop-culture event in Texas after SXSW.
Don’t forget that veterans and current military personnel are admitted free on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25th with proper ID. For the most up to date information on guests, autograph and photo op prices, admission and schedules, visit www.comicpalooza.com