Friday, September 6, 2019

Interview with Don Price of Son of Houston-Con: Part 3

Son of Houston-Con IV (2019) starts tomorrow and I've been running a lengthy interview with Don Price.

In Part 1, Mr. Price discussed his origins as a comic book reader and him attending the early conventions. In Part 2, we discussed what he's had to do in order to host the four Son of Houston-Cons and the featured guests this year.

Today is something special. It is only one question, but as you will read in Mr. Price's opening statement, "Hold on to your hat."

Be sure to read to the end, because Mr. Price sums up his outlook on life that I appreciate and to which I subscribe.

Note: Son of Houston-Con IV (2019) will be held this Saturday and Sunday, 7-8 September, from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Wyndham West located at 14703 Park Row. Tickets are only $5.00. Here is a Facebook link with more information.

You seem to be a part of several very uniquely Houston communities.  Would you care to share a bit about what this city means to you and how you've seen it change over the last 60 years?

Hold on to your hat. So I was an Air Force brat who moved around a lot, and then it became a “broken family” when my mom and dad divorced (before that was common.) So it took me eight different schools to get through 12th grade. They were: Jim Bowie in Baytown for 1st and 2nd grade, Shearn and Red elementary schools. Jonston Jr. High, then Lanier Jr. High for what is now called “middle school.” Then I had one year at HSPVA [High School for the Performing and Visual Arts], and then finished high school at Lamar.

I had to decide whether I wanted to stay an introvert or forge ahead and make new friends everywhere I went. It used to drive one of my bosses crazy when “important” video clients when come in and I would treat them as if we knew each other all our lives. My philosophy became, “I never met a stranger.” I met have met plenty of stuck-up people with more reserve than was called for, but no real strangers, other than maybe the creepy Serial Killer I met when I was hitch-hiking in the 70s. For real!!!

But I always attributed it to the social skills I developed as a survival technique from moving so much and maybe the Officers’ gene I inherited from my dad that I have variously been the President of the Jaguar Club of Houston (I have a 1952 XK-120 and a 1962 XK-E) and a Wing Leader in the Commemorative Air Force.

I am putting on my fourth Son of Houston-Con now. This is in addition to the fact that I still play original music live, and have played coast to coast. I played the opening night of infamous “The Island” on Main Street. Later on our beautiful lead singer was accepted to Columbia University and we wound up following her up for visits and have played New York City multiple times. And when she got busy we booked into clubs with what I call “The Houston Band” and were well received. When my nephew Matt moved to Seattle we wound up using his place as a base to play there. And Austin is just down the road by comparison. Let’s save the stories about when I used to choreograph, teach and perform dance for another article.

But Legacy? I have been in Houston through the days when it mushroomed in size. The 610 Loop was not built yet when we moved here in 1964. It was started, but nowhere near complete. The city has always had an inferiority complex, even when we had one of the largest conventions in the country. There was no Comic Con in San Diego, or at least it was not the mammoth it was to become. And because of its growth, everyone seemed to be from someplace else, so it was easy to sit back and let the rest of the country bash us!

But things changed in Houston’s self-confidence. I think NASA’s achievements started that, but that was shared across the nation and the world. The Houston Rocket’s winning back-to-back championships did TWO things. It showed that Houston sports teams COULD win championships, especially after the Oilers had been screwed over. But it also showed how much the power centers of the East and West Coasts hated us when they ignored the Rockets on such venues as Sports Illustrated and then ignored the rules to avoid a three-peat.

Stick with me. Pop Culture matters! And sports is part of it for a city’s group gestalt. So my opinion is that things are getting a LOT better in Houston. Now the Astros won a championship and you could see people perked up. Of course the “I hate sports” curmudgeons are snorting, but you could see it when the basketball and baseball teams won.

What has that to do with comic book conventions? Well Houston already proved it could put on some of the best conventions in the country. And as far as Airshows go, Wings Over Houston rightfully claims to be one of the top air shows in the nation. But comic books and airplanes are on the fringe: Geeky fringe in the case of comics and hardcore aviation in the case of Wings Over Houston.

My little show is a start and I am getting some help. Will it grow to the scope of the original Houstoncons? Not without some more help and support. The OLD Houstoncons stopped when people started moving away and having life distractions. But the potential is there. Of course the elephant in the article is Comicpalooza. It is proof that the fan base is there and willing to pay $35.00 a day to walk miles through a convention center that is filled more and more with things that have less and less to do with comic books. But SOMETHING is there in the comic book industry. The fresh creativity to generate projects that start on cheap paper and wind up multi-million dollar movies and spawn whole franchises.

And then there was “The Big Bang Theory.” Suddenly Geek became chic. Who knew? Amazingly enough Bedrock City provides all the proper comic books for “Young Sheldon.” So the same Richard Evans who owns Bedrock City was in Roy’s Memory Shop rifling through bins and stacks of comics when I was riding my 10-speed over and he was at the same Houstoncons when I was getting lost on the way home on that same bike. Until some bastard stole it from my back porch at La Fonda Apartments, long since torn down but proudly decaying over by the Summit, where the Rockets won back-to-back championships.

But most of all, REMEMBER THIS: “These are THE Good old Days!”

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