Chris Proulx of Double Midnight Comics
From "Lord of the Rings" to "Star Wars" and "Gilligan's Island," Manchester's Chris Proulx helps you get up close and personal with pop culture icons
The Double Midnight Comics guys are on fire. Their original Manchester store has doubled in size, they’ve added a second location in Concord, and over the summer their cultural influence spilled deep over the border. Their first annual MASSive Comic Con, in Worcester, gave overshadowed Central Massachusetts its own marquee event for fans who don’t want to make the pilgrimage to Boston.
Double Midnight co-owner Chris Proulx says that, when he helped launch the first Granite State Comic Con, or “Granitecon,” 13 years ago, “celebrity” meant a comic book artist or writer. Over the years, attendee expectations have expanded to include stars from their favorite movies and television shows — not necessarily related to comics at all. In 2014, Granitecon hosted their first celebrity guests, voiceover artists from “Animaniacs,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and various Disney/Pixar characters.
Proulx is now the point man for bringing celebrity headliners to Granitecon. Most recently, he brought in actors Sean Astin (“The Lord of the Rings,” “The Goonies,” “Rudy”) and Dirk Benedict (“The A-Team,” “Battlestar Galactica”). On Sept. 12-13, he’ll be hosting Dawn Wells (“Gilligan’s Island”) and Billy Dee Williams (“Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back”) at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester.
How important is it to have a blockbuster star at a comics convention? It definitely impacts attendance because along with the big names comes the media. While the comic book community still looks forward to meeting an amazing “Avengers” writer or artist, reporters want to interview who they’ve seen in the movies or on TV.
Who’s your favorite star that you’ve booked so far? Sean Astin did a movie screening of “The Goonies” with us and he was super friendly during his Q & A with the fans. He actually sat down and watched the movie with us — which isn’t something these stars always do because they’ve seen their own work a million times.
Do you ever get star-struck? Sure. Dirk Benedict was one of my favorite characters on “The A-Team,” so it was a thrill to meet him. A few years ago, I went to the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con to meet (Marvel Comics founder) Stan Lee. I just had to meet him.
Actor Richard Dreyfuss recently canceled on you at the last minute, after you promoted a “Jaws” 40th anniversary screening with him for months. Does something like that impact how you think about the movie? It’s still a classic film, but there is a sour taste in my mouth. Media guests can cancel their appearances for work obligations, illness or a family emergency, but Dreyfuss backed out for none of those reasons. (Proulx shared the “dirty laundry” details of the cancelation on the MASSive Comic Con site “because we owed the public an explanation.”) If anything, that experience taught me to book a diverse group of personalities rather than depend on one big name.
You’re also hosting Billy Dee Williams. Are you a “Star Wars” guy? Who isn’t a Star Wars guy? This is a pretty big deal for Granitecon. Obviously, there are dozens and dozens of characters from the movies. To have a recognizable character like Lando Calrissian is not like getting the “Strange Alien #3 from the Cantina.” He’s a recognizable face. And to have him this year when Star Wars hype is in overdrive is unbelievable!