...and now for another Statler and Waldorf review from the cheap seats.
Where do I begin? This was my first trip to the Emerald City Comicon (I am sorry Jim and George, I feel like I have let you down until now) so here are my thoughts, comments, observations, and whatnot. Let me preface this by saying that I did spend some time in lines and having guests sign this and that, but the majority of my time was spent watching, listening, and soaking it all in.
The Con itself lasts for two days, which is just enough. If you can't get your fill in those two days then you should pack your bags and head to Calgary for more crazy Con madness. For those of us who don't fall on the crazy side of the geek meter it was just enough. Long enough to see everything and everyone, but not long enough to wear you out and get "overexposed." I did not attend every hour of the two days, but was able in the 10 hours I did spend there, to get everything done that I wanted/needed to do.
The guests, for the most part, were great. Absolutely great. Now, when I say guests I am talking about the artists, writers, vendors, and what not. I will talk about the media guests in a bit. I think that if you are a comic book fan then this Con would have to be on the top of your list, and here is why. This Con had the best of the best when it comes to comics. Names like Fraction, Mignola, Bendis, Brubaker, Mack, Cebulski, Liefield, Cho, (and countless others who should not be offended because they were left out) just about everyone who is anyone in comics was there. The beauty of this was that this Con is large enough to draw those types of names in, but small enough that you actually get to meet and talk with them.
Yes there were lines, but more often then not a "line" consisted of 10 or 15 people waiting, and honestly, there were very few of these. There were times during the day that Bendis and Brubaker had long lines, but conversely there were several occasions where one could just walk right up to the table and say "hi." I saw fans with comic boxes FULL of comics standing in line, and I witnessed several of them emptying the contents of the afore mentioned boxes on the tables to get signed. I did not see one artist or writer turn anyone down. They signed EVERYTHING. Granted, they may be having a conversation with one or several other people while signing all of this zhech, but they signed it none the less. Where it San Diego or New York you would be waiting in line for hours on end, with a 2 item limit, and would get enough face time to get them signed and get the hell out of way for the hundred other geeks behind you. Here I saw numerous artists and writers engage fans in lengthy conversations, without complaint or the pressure to "move along."
As far as the guests themselves, I will relate: David Mack was awesome. He talked with everyone, including me, for as long as you could hold a conversation. He had a smile on his face and actually seemed like he wanted to talk with you (hey, Stuart Immonen, you could learn a thing or two). Jim Mahfood was cool. Talk about down to earth, he was awesome, and took the time to do a quick sketch for me that was absolute freakin' cool. Bendis and Brubaker were swamped most of the time, as I mentioned earlier, but both were really nice to everyone. They chatted it up, answered questions (and oh God, some of the questions they were asked even made me cringe) and took as much time as they could with everyone. The Half-Pixel crew was the best. Talk about guys who are just plain nice, these guys were it. Each of them was easy to approach, fun to talk to, and just seemed like they wanted to be there and were grateful that you stopped by. I was actually taken aback by Kellett and Guigar who actually asked the fans if they would mind a sketch or two in the books that the fans bought. How do you respond to that? "Um, gee Brad, Dave, no, please don't do a sketch in my book, I ONLY want your chicken scratch signature." Clayton Crain was great to talk to, and his art kicks it hard. Matt Fraction was cool to talk to, Frank Cho seemed like he wanted to be somewhere else, but it was late in the day and he had been swamped most of the day. Franco and Art Baltazar were super. I got a quick sketch from Art for my little girl - it rocks! You could tell they were both having a blast. Jimmy Palmiotti and his wife were very laid back and took the time to chat. All in all just about everyone there was approachable, friendly, and took the time to placate the fans.
As for the media guests, I only had a run in with one. That was Wil. I went over numerous times to see him but his line was by far the longest (side note: Jewel Staite is an absolutely beautiful woman. Oh my. I actually passed by her in the hall when she was on her way to a panel. When I saw her I was startled a bit. You know that fluttery-silly-bashful-embarrassed feeling you got when you were a little kid and the cutest girl in the school said "Hi" to you - I actually felt that when I saw her. I wasn't expecting that at all). There was either a line from hell (okay, 30-40 people isn't a line from hell but here it felt like it) or Wil was off at a panel. Finally, Sunday, around 4:30 I made it back over to his line. Luck! There were only about 10 people in line. I made my way over to the line and as I was about to pull up behind the last guy in line I noticed the dreaded "I am the last in line" sign hanging on his back. CRAP! The one guest I wanted to see I was going to miss. Not if I could help it. I asked the last guy in line if he would take my copy of Sunken Treasure and have Wil sign it. He was real wishy-washy about it, and as I stood there trying to convince him to do it one of the Con volunteers turned to him and assured him that it was in fact o.k. to have Wil sign the book for me. He begrudgingly agreed to do it so I parked myself about 7 feet from Wil and waited.
It was fun to watch Wil interact with the fans. He almost seemed amazed that people were lining up to talk to him and get his signature. He had a smile for everyone and was overly gracious in his responses. In the fifteen minutes or so I waited I was privy to not one but two body signatures (luckily the girls were fit enough to lift their shirts and have him sign their stomachs), several giggly girls, and one "oh my I think I just had a nerdgasm" quote. While I was waiting I struck up a conversation with one of the volunteers who had been there to sit with Wil. She was very nice and regaled me with stories of the day’s events. As the line drew to an end I noticed Wil's sign with his picture and name on it was still hanging behind him. I leaned over and asked the volunteer if anyone had laid claim to the sign. She said that she didn't think so but said she would go and ask her supervisor if it was o.k. to give it to me. She returned shortly to tell me that indeed no one had wanted it and if Wil didn't want it was mine. Finally the last guy in line made it up to Wil (after we had to wait for a minute while Wil sprinted to the bathroom - and sprinted back) and handed him the book. He told Wil that I had asked him to sign it for him. Wil looked up at me and I chimed in that I had missed the end of the line and that I hoped that he didn't mind signing it for me. He looked at the book and said "you bought this?!?" "Yep, off of Lulu" I said. "Cool man, thanks!" Wil said, and then proceeded to sign my book. Then, as he was handing the book back to the guy in line, he pulled it back, got up, walked over to me, handed me the book and thanked me again! I didn't know what to do! I actually pulled out a $10 bill and handed it to him (it felt like the least I could do) but he turned it away and said "you already paid for the book, you don't have to pay me for it!" Embarrassed, I put the money back in my pocket and stood there feeling silly.
A minute or two later Wil got up to leave; I was lingering hoping to procure the sign. The volunteer leaned over to Wil and asked him if he would like to take the sign with him. He looked up at it and considered it, but you could almost see the "now how the hell would I get that through the airport and into the overhead bin" look come across his face. He politely declined, and at that point she said that I had asked if I could have it. He looked over at me, I smiled, and he reached back, pulled the sign down, took the hooks out of it, and promptly signed it. He walked it over to me and handed it to me, at which point I thanked him again. Embarrassed, and actually quite giddy from my score, I turned and left the floor. As I walked out one of the vendors saw my spoils in my hand. He exclaimed "Wil Wheaton is here? Where is he?" I pointed about 30 feet behind me and proceeded to tell him that his booth had been set up there for the last two days and that it was a shame that he missed him. As I left the Con I had numerous comments on the poster/sign. All of them good.
When I got home I placed the poster/sign on the fireplace mantle, in a place of honor. More than once that evening I caught my wife staring at the picture. At one point I had to remind her that I was in the room, and that if she wanted some quiet time with Wil to let me know. The funny thing is, she actually looked for a moment like she was contemplating the idea. Thanks Wil. Not that dealing with her George Clooney fetish was enough, now I may have to add you to the list.
All in all it was a great Con, put on by some great friends. George, Jim, everyone - you did one hell of a job and should be proud. I can't wait until next year.