Tuesday, January 21, 2014

FLASHBACK: Adventures in San Diego (Part Two)

DAY THREE: Friday [July 24, 2009]

            It’s after 8 p.m. right now. I should be at the Eisner Award ceremonies right now. I’ve been there in my two other visits to Comic-Con. But I’m in my hotel room right now as the sun sets. Why am I not at the ceremonies? Con fatigue.

            I still have blisters on my toes. Between the walking and subconsciously readjusting my toes, my feet hurt. My leg was aching. And when I was at the DC Nation panel, I kept nodding off. With the energy that DC’s editor-in-chief Dan Didio gives off in panels, that shouldn’t have  happened at all. So I decided to do the healthy thing, rather than walking back to the hotel right before midnight.

            (Brief Rant: Why are the Eisners held on Friday? This comes the day before most of Hollywood’s entries show their stuff, turning the convention center into a slow-moving mental asylum. And they expect people to go back to their lodgings on a few hours’ sleep? Do it on Thursday, when everybody’s still relatively fresh. Possibly jet-lagged, but fresh.)

            I made it to the Batman: The Brave And The Bold panel. The press pass got me in a little early, but not early enough to beat out a long line. This doesn’t bode too well to me going to the Doctor Who panel. Anyway, the beauty of the series is that it’s for all ages, and it’s gotten quite a following in its first season. The episode that was aired was a musical. For real. “Mayhem Of The Music Meister” has Neil Patrick Harris as a singing villain who forces people to commit crimes. Since Batman is Batman, he’s got devices for immunity, but it was still a lot of fun. I don’t think anybody walked away disappointed. Well, my biggest disappointment was leaving my camera in the hotel room, thereby missing a ton of chances to take pictures of cosplayers, but it’s a disappointment I can live with.

            Aside from DC Nation, I didn’t hit any other meetings. I got three sketches, and my book is currently with an artist. One of the sketches was from Adam Warren, who is among my favorite creators. His current opus, Empowered, centers around an aspiring superheroine who’s prone to being bound and gagged a lot. Empowered (that’s her “supernym”) has managed to grow in the five volumes she’s starred in, and the only thing missing was a streamer of drool coming from me in Warren’s presence. I also interviewed Gene Luen Yang and Derek Kirk Kim from The Eternal Smile. I wound up waiting as they did sketches and sold books, but they’re popular these days, even if they both deny it.

            I wound up fighting the fatigue by bailing out in the middle of the con by joining a friend of mine for a late lunch. Shawn and me were part of a loose-knit group that posted on message boards for Kingdom Come (which evolved into Comic Book Resources). Some of us got together both times I was there (in 2000 and 2003), but it was just us two for the con, as well as Gail Simone . . . and since she’s a rock star, her availability wasn’t even theoretical. Anyway, I wound up having ribs at a restaurant, shooting the breeze. Shawn’s from Chicago, and he has family in the San Diego area, so lodging isn’t a problem for him. Sadly, he’s done after today, but he’s planning a trip to New York, where could meet me and a few other local online friends.

            I’m beat. While I don’t have any panels to hit right away tomorrow, I should try to get there early for maximum exposure. I did come 3,000-plus miles and spend gobs of money to get here, so I have to get all that I can. And thankfully, Wednesday’s flight fiasco is still the lowest point of my trip here. All in all, I’m having a good time.

DAY FOUR: Saturday [July 25]

            Bad luck caught up with me today. I was having a good time . . . I conducted an interview with Nina Matsumoto, who drew the winner of Best Short Story, “Murder He Wrote,” The Simpsons’ Treehouse Of Horror #14. I was coming out of the DC Universe panel, when I did a random check of my belongings . . . and my tape recorder was gone.

            You have to understand the seriousness of the situation. I never learned shorthand, so I’m reliant on the recorder. It’s not that I don’t keep notes, but I can never keep up with somebody talking unless they’re going really, really slow. Oh, and the interviews I’ve conducted before? On the cassette in the recorder. “Screwed” is about the right word for what I was feeling, losing a single leaf in a vast forest. But the funny thing? I still had it. Turns out it was buried in my backpack. Either I got really lucky, or a higher power took pity on me.

            The other bit of bad mojo came when I stood on line for a panel on Adult Swim programming, which included their hit show, The Venture Bros. I figured to sacrifice about an hour of conning to get in. I wound up getting in the queue about fifty minutes before it was slated to start. I waited. And waited. And the line moved little by little. And I was getting ready for it. But it turns out that the room was already filled, and I was shut out. It wasn’t enough that I was denied, but somebody should’ve counted the people and told them who would be going in and staying out. The line turned into one for screenings of Doctor Who and Torchwood, but I had already seen both. But here’s the real kick in the ass: when I got back to my hotel room and went online, I found a letter from an Adult Swim press person. Turns out interviews would be available prior to the panel. If I received that e-mail 24 hours earlier, I would’ve gotten the most out of my press badge. It would’ve been the biggest interview of the con for me. Thanks, Adult Swim!

            Aside from those two instances, I had a good time. I upped my sketch count to sixteen, met former Doctor Who lead actor Colin Baker and got his autograph, and met four former reality show stars: writer/cartoonist Judd Winick (The Real World: San Francisco), actors/models/goths Kynt Cothron & Vyxsin Fiala (The Amazing Race 12), and Melody Mooney. The latter person was a runner-up on Who Wants To Be A Superhero?, and I did a double-take seeing her as her superheroic alter ego, Hygena. This was about the time I thought my recorder was gone, and I actually came away smiling because I was happy to see her.

            I do have to confess that I haven’t gotten too many comics. My needs are few; all I need are recent issues at slashed prices. I wind up with all sorts of freebies and assorted bric-a-brac. I also wound up with a canvas bag from the Dark Horse booth, which is eco-friendlier than plastic bags. Also, with my camera back, I took too many pictures of cosplayers. I’m thinking about three-quarters of them are showcasing their skills at the Masquerade tonight. It’s not my thing; while I sometimes would like to be somebody else, I don’t have the attitude or the know-how to convincingly pull it off. I do know how to keep one’s sanity at Comic-Con: forget the bigger stuff, concentrate on what you really like. Hey, I like True Blood as much as anybody else who has HBO, but I don’t like it enough to wait on a mile-long line.

            I have one more day left, and the biggest challenge is in front of me: getting into the Doctor Who panel. I’ll have to leave early and get my breakfast on the run, as opposed to staying in and paying $14, including $6 for a glass of orange juice. I’ll have to wait on line for at least ninety minutes. It’ll be a total madhouse, and I’ll be entering the insanity. But everything should be easy after that. I’m dreading the post-con letdown. How can I get used to walking around without seeing people holding “FREE HUGS” signs? How about just walking a half-mile without bumping into sixteen different people and taking a picture of folks dressed as characters from Watchmen? I thinking I’ll need at least three days to decompress, if not an entire week.

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