Wednesday, August 17, 2011

San Diego ComicCon International 2011, Thursday

Day 1 (Thursday the 21st): Woke up around 7:30am to get to the Comic Con at 8:30ish because my counterpart needed to get in line for an author and I decided to get in line for the Exhibit Hall.  Now, the Hall doesn't open until 9am and not until the Fire marshal says so.  The Fire Marshal is The Law around these parts!  The end of the line for the Exhibit Hall is upstairs, while the Hall is ALL of the downstairs.  It makes sense later on to me.  People want to be inside, and lines are better controlled inside.  There isn't room downstairs for this line.  I am one of the first 500 or 600 people in the Exhibit Hall on opening day.  It's amazing.  Almost empty, so it's your chance to walk, twirl, and explore with no hindrances.  It won't last, but while it does, it's magic.  One artist is taking a white car and through all four days is transforming it into a Star Wars geekout illustrative knockout   , there's Mattel with new and coming out toys   , and a Conan the Barbarian with real life Barbarian Babe posing in front.  I rushed around, getting freebies          that were being handed out, and just generally trying to get my bearings.   I was scheduled to donate blood at 11:15 and I needed to know where Terry Moore was and when Jeff Smith was signing.   My Convention Buddy (also one of my best friends) stood in line to say hello to Terry Moore, and I picked up the first issues of his new series "Raising Rachel" and got that signed. I found out that Jeff Smith was signing at 1:30pm, so I went upstairs to the Sails Pavilion, left CB for her own destination, found the Blood Station Booth in the Sails Pavilion, got a map to the Blood Drive Station (across the street and over on 6th Street) and made my way over across the street.  The Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive is on it's 35th year with the Comic Con to help the San Diego Blood Bank meet its need.  It's a great cause and there were some freebies:  ComicCon bag  True Blood Band-Aids  original film cell of the TV show Heroes.  I had decided to sign up online a few days beforehand when figuring out my schedule.  The process went smoothly, I meet some new friends in line (love line buddies!), was stuck and bleed and then dutifully sat, drank orange juice and munched Chex Mix for 20 minutes before getting my goodies and heading back to the mob. 

There was a sign stuck up in the recovery area that said if you gave blood, come up this guy's booth for a free 8x10 poster.  So I found the booth, chatted with Scott Beaderstadt, the artist, , paged through the books of artwork and asked for one of his Iron Man renditions  So nice and just amazing.  He had given blood as well and thought that other people taking part was really amazing and he wanted to give them something for that generosity.  His friend in the booth next to him thought he was nuts for giving away free stuff.

My next trip (lugging my Comic Con bag growing full of swag, my tote bag filled with trades and issues to get signed and my camera bag) was over to Jeff Smith's table to wait for his signing time at 1:30, but I wanted to get a spot in line and by this time it was about 1pm since I had left the Blood Center at 12:25ish.  The crowds take a toll on how fast you can move.  So I found Jeff's table again, asked where the end of the line was, and then took my time getting my stuff out that I wanted signed and looking at some of the other stuff that was out on the table.  It was the 25th Anniversary of Bone and there were some great things up, plus his new series that is almost finished called RASL.  There was a point when one of his table staff called him to remind him he was supposed to be at his table and he appeared shortly after and mistaking me for the person he was supposed to meet with, but I thought he was joking so when he said "do you want to take here or go somewhere else", I said, "sure, we can go get a coffee" and was trying to keep a poker face on when he said "sure".  But then it was pointed out to him that his REAL interview was two people away from me, so he said he would take a rain check on our coffee and he did a quick photo taking session with the interviewer and then they sat down in the booth for 10-15 minutes.  It was during this time that I started to feel a little tired and hazy.  I started to page through on of the RASL  books and decided I was going to get it, got out my money for it and then started to feel a little short of breath.  Set down all my bags, put both hands on the table and leaned forward a little to see if that would help, and I thought it was, but then the shortness of breath didn't go away and my vision started getting a little dark around the edges.  I was doing my deep yoga breathing to keep my lungs filled with fresh oxygen, but I still kept seeing more darkness.  The interview ended and the booth started getting set up for him to sign.  He likes to sign standing up and he decided that were I was would be the start of the line... heh.  So, by then I couldn't hear out of my right ear and I was feeling more then a little light headed but also really exhausted and there was more of the darkness in my vision.  He was ready to sign, I smiled, said I wanted to buy the first trade of RASL, gave him the money and while he was getting the change I started to feel clammy and far away.  When he gave me the change, I didn't know what to do with it so I dropped it in one of my bags and he started to ask me how I was and shake my hand.  My response to him while moving to shake his hand was,  "I just gave blood" and everything started to get really dark and far away.  I think I was about 10 seconds from completely blacking out in front of Jeff Smith, one of my favorite author/artist and for whom to meet I had lugged ten pounds of trades and issues from Kansas City and through the busiest, largest ComicCon and here I was about to go unconscious on him.  But my apparent dead white face, and the big I just gave blood bandage on my arm was enough for everyone to react within a second - Jeff grabbed my stack of stuff, his staff came around as grabbed my bags, someone helped me walk around the table, into the booth, into a chair, shoved a bottle of water at me and watched me while I drank.  That helped so much right there.  Vision came back right away.  Jeff left me in capable hands, started signing and one of the staff asked if anyone had any chocolate or sugar.  Someone in line had some Smarties, opened the box and poured me out a huge handful.  I dutifully drank sips of water, chomped sugar (although I really couldn't taste much of anything at this point either) and gradually stopped feeling like a boneless piece of meat.  Several of the people helping me out, knew first hand what it was like to give blood and black out, so they knew very well what had happened to me.  So grateful for that.  Breathing became normal, hearing in my right ear came back a little, still light headed but after 20 minutes that come back to normal as well.  Jeff sat down next to me  and signed all my trades       and the five issues  I had brought, double checked and triple checked that I was ok to walk out of there, made sure I was going back to my room to unload and that I was going to take it easy for the rest of the day.  Shuttled back, called to told her let my Convention partner know what had just happened and turns out she just joined Jeff's line, so I told her to tell Jeff that her best friend was the girl who had almost passed out him front of him.  doh!  Hotel elevator is out when I get back.  I'm on the 12th floor.   I decided to power climb the stairs - I've done 14 thousand footers before, I know how to handle the last bit of a tough climb.   After the fourth floor, I was stopping every other floor because my heart was pounding in my ears and my breathing was labored.  Yeah.  Awesome so far.  Get to my door.  Guess what.  My key doesn't work.  Call my buddy.  She's the next person in line from Jeff.  I tell me the elevator is still out and my key doesn't work.  Jeff hears my name, and rushes the guy he's signing.  Record speed signs her stuff, gives a super fast sketch and says, "Go save Jenna!".  I'm floored by that, and literally sitting on the floor trying to recover from the stairs.  I'm not out of shape, just out of blood.  Sip water, sip Chex mix from donation center until buddy arrives, lets me in and we unload our stuff.  I go about 50 pounds lighter back to convention hall after we've eaten food and de-stressed.   

We walked back into the Convention Center just before 5pm and raced off to our respective panels.  Mine was in room 9 called "Epic Literary Adventures" featuring Jeff Smith, Anders Nilsen and Brian Ralph with moderator Tom Devlin .  This panel really centered on the what's and how's of making an epic adventure with real characters grounded in that world.  Do you have an end point and a few middle points and figure out how to get your characters from here to there or what?   Loved hearing about how they created their worlds, where they got inspiration and how they viewed issues vs. trade paperbacks.  Seems to be a consensus that issues are more like a first draft and when they go back to put the trades together, they then get to tweak, and tighten or expand as needed.  Also seems like much of the time, the landscape they invented was very much influenced by the landscapes they loved as children.  I loved when I found out Old Man's Cave is real, and apparently is a really mind blowing cave that Jeff Smith grew up near as a kid.   I think they all had a start point and then would have an image for a splash page and would have to figure out how to work towards that image - could take five pages or thirty-five pages, but that's why it's epic.  The characters really have to work to where they are going.  It was a great panel, and they all worked really well together up there.  

After I got out of the panel at 6, and worked by way downstairs and found R2-D2 ! in the fan table section.  Walked around the Exhibit Hall for a bit       and then my Convention buddy texted to to get over to the Image Booth where David Mack was signing.  There wasn't anyone else there, so when I walked up we grin, I waved, we shook hands and started jumping up and down together - it's where we left off in Seattle at the ECCCC when I last saw him.  ^_^  We all chatted for a little bit and my CB got caught up on what she was missing from her collection for his issues, he signed them and we started to walk way.  But then she stopped and mentioned she had heard him talking about a live model drawing session going on that night.  So we turned around, I spotted the TARDIS   and she got directions, "It's called Trickster and it's in the building that looks like Kingpin's building in DareDevil."  So in the last few minutes of the Hall being open, we raced over to the Dick Blick table to buy a pad and pencil - found one I liked and got out of there.  Walked across the street to see what we could find...      ... Started walking to see if we could find this place.  Walked past some guys wearing name tags, but they didn't look like ComicCon goers, but I noticed one of them had a name tag with a artist's name I knew from back home so we went back to ask if he was the same guy (know guy a little from Dr Sketchy's and Facebook, but didn't know face all that well) - at first he said it was him and then he said he was just joking but would we like to come inside their private party to have free beer and free food.  At first we were a little spooked, but since it was all outside and they were ALL engineers and this party was part of their bonus; they get to invite anyone they want to to join them.  So we decided to go for it - one free beer and my CB grabbed herself a little bit of food (apparently some of the best beef she's ever had, but it looked like chicken livers to me).  From there we stopped at a hotel to ask their concierge if they knew about Trickster.  He didn't, but we got these  there.  Sat down to eat some of my food bars I had packed and a guy with a Professional badge like us came up and asked if he could interview us for a project he was doing.  We agreed and he interviewed us about why we liked The Big Bang Theory.  At the end he said it wouldn't be putting them up; that he was trying to perfect his interviewing skills.  We agreed that there were some skills he needed to work on, but he let us talk, so that's a big plus for him. After that we continued walking, saying how very random our first day was going and then we found a building that looked like it fit the bill and there was a sign out front that said "Trickster".  woohoo! 
Wine, cocktails, artwork, and sushi inside and lots of awesomeness in general.  Looked through all the artwork and art related goodies for sale before I bought several amazing wood shingle postcards as gifts and then we settled outside for sushi.  My CB saw some people she new and we all sat around to wait until the Live Model Session got started at 11pm.  While we waited, Tom Morello played a small concert.  Didn't have a wrist band, but we were sitting right outside, so once in a while we could hear a little bit and I did snap a few photos  .  Finally, the space was ready for artists to come in and draw!  But only 100 people are allowed in this room at any one time... Got in and sat down at a work horse, complete with pad, graphite and pastels.  Started off with 5 minute poses,  then 10  and 20 min poses  .  LOVED IT!!!!           Great costumes, fun poses ... and ... got to work next to David Mack  who happens to be one of my favorite author/artists.  I don't think I could have imagined ComicCon any better then that   .  Worked until 1am and then texted my CB to find out if she was ready to leave her group of people and she was.  So I left and we took the shuttle back to our hotel. 

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