Celebrating 25 years of geeky fun at Planet Comicon 2024

It’s always a bittersweet feeling when, on the last day of a con, you head out of the building for the last time and start the long walk back to your car, or the bus, or whatever mode of transportation you used to get there. 

Your heart is full because of all the amazing memories you made at the con (even if your wallet is empty from all the autographs, merch, etc. you purchased). Yet there’s also a lingering sadness, because there’s no experience quite like a con, and you always wish it would last just a little bit longer. 

Once again, Planet Comicon went by way too fast, and I’m already daydreaming about next year. Planet Comicon in Kansas City is the largest con in my region, and my dad and I have been attending ever since 2017. This year was the 25th anniversary, and it was the busiest we’d ever seen it. It annually draws about 50,000 attendees, and even though I haven’t heard official numbers yet, I’d be shocked if that total wasn’t considerably higher this year. 

There were some really great guests at the con this year, which probably contributed to the crazy crowd levels. Ian McDiarmid, Paul Bettany, and John Rhys-Davies are just of the few famous faces who stopped by to sign autographs, take photos with fans, and host panels. 

Last year I stood in line for my very first celebrity autograph. In the past, I’d always balked at the cost and been nervous that if the autograph was a bad experience, it would sour my view on that person and I’d have a harder time enjoying their performances on screen. However, I couldn’t say no to a signed print from one of my favorite Star Wars voice actors, Dee Bradley Baker, and it was such a fun experience I was open to trying it again. 

Now, you may be surprised that the autograph I got at this year’s con was NOT from Ian McDiarmid, a.k.a. Emperor Palpatine. I considered it – I really, really did. In fact, I was still debating right up until I stepped onto the con floor and headed for the celebrity autograph line area. But I have a sort of unspoken budget limit for celebrity autograph experiences, and both Ian McDiarmid and Paul Bettany were over that cap. (I have one celebrity who gets a guaranteed waiver of this budget limit, and that is, of course, Daisy Ridley, my girl Rey from Star Wars). 

In the end I decided on Jon Bernthal, who played Punisher in the Marvel/Netflix shows. I was really impressed with his nuanced, complex portrayal, and I’m super excited about seeing him return in the new Daredevil series. 

I was feeling nervous about the autograph experience, but a shout-out to the fellow fan standing with me in line, who chatted with me for about two hours while we waited. This other fan served as a Marine and had actually met Bernthal before. It was really cool to talk to him about what Bernthal’s advocacy for veteran support meant to him. The other fan’s excitement made me even more excited. 

Meeting Bernthal was a lovely experience, and I’m glad I did it! I don’t really remember what I said, just that I smiled, shook his hand, and attempted not to be super awkward. He signed a photo, and it’s now proudly hanging in my entertainment room. He seemed warm and gracious with all the fans, and I also enjoyed getting to hear him speak at his panel discussion the following day. 

Even though Ian McDiarmid’s autograph was out of my budget, my dad and I made sure to get in line early for his panel. What I loved best was hearing how much McDiarmid enjoyed playing the Emperor in all the films. I know the prequels and sequels are controversial amongst the fans, but McDiarmid clearly has a passion for playing this character, and that’s what makes his performances so fun to watch. Knowing how much he truly delights in playing the role will make my next Star Wars rewatch even more fun. 

Another favorite part of any con is cosplay, and this year I debuted my official Star Trek: Strange New Worlds outfit. I joked with my dad that the uniform shirt was probably the most comfortable cosplay I’d ever worn, and it was fun interacting with all the other Trek fans. Day 2 was Dark Rey (I have to wear at least one Rey outfit at every con I attend!), and Day 3 was a casual cosplay with a crocheted sand worm on my shoulder and a sparkly gold scarf inspired by the sands of Arrakis. 

Also really special to me was getting to take my daughter with me on the final day of the con. This is actually her fourth con to attend, even though she’s only 3, and she really got into it this year. In the car, she asked completely unpromoted by Mama if she could “see Kylo Ren.” Thankfully, the 501st had a Kylo Ren cosplayer at the con that day! She also got to see Spock, another favorite character, and several Disney princesses. 

She also got to participate in the kids cosplay showcase. She was a little nervous, but with Mama’s help, she went up on stage to display her Disney Frozen-inspired fairy costume. And by the end of the day she was hamming it up for the camera at the Disney cosplay group photo meet-up. 

Geek culture and conventions are near and dear to my heart, and it meant so much that Lizzy could experience it with me and I could watch her having fun. On the way back to the car she declared that she did not want to go home and is already talking about wanting to go back. 

Like with every con, I didn’t get to check everything off my list or do as much shopping around at the various vendors as I had hoped to. But in the end, that’s OK. Because overall the weekend was a great time to celebrate pop culture and positivity, and I can’t wait to see how Planet Comicon continues to grow and evolve in the future.

ESO Network Sponsors


Support Us

A Dollar a month keeps us in orbit. Trust us it’s better that way.

Ways to Listen

Find Us Wherever Fine Podcasts are Found

Sign Up for the ESO Newsletter


ESO Network Archives


No matter where you go here you are

Follow the ESO Network

You didn't come this far to only come this far

Contact Us

    Remember any comment made today will be the tomorrow you worried about yesterday

    <-- see them in a pretty grid

    42 Cast
    The Best Saturdays of Our Lives
    Blurred Nerds
    But First, Let's Talk Nerdy
    Cigar Nerds
    The Con Guy
    Cosmic Pizza
    Dragon Con Report
    Drinking with Authors

    Most Recent Episodes

    Earth Station DCU
    Earth Station One
    Earth Station Trek
    Earth Station Who
    Epsilon Three
    Metal Geeks
    Modern Musicology
    Monkeeing Around
    Monster Attack
    The Monster Scifi Show
    Soul Forge
    Thunder Talk
    The Watch-a-thon of Rassilon