Amazingly, I got up on time. Un-amazingly, there wasn’t really anything for me to get up on time for. Last year had featured the Shatner/Nimoy panel at 10 AM – the first event of the Con. This year the only event was the [adult swim] panel at 11:30, and I wasn’t positive I was going to that. Actually, I decided on the way down that I would rather hang in the room for a while and be ready to hit the Comic Artist room ASAP.
When I pulled into the Sheraton I was told that their parking garage was full – their first fail – and told to park across the street. I took this to mean the garage across the street had some sort of accommodation with the Sheraton. I would later find that thing about assuming to be true. Except for the “you” part. A very short man forcefully helped me load my luggage onto one of the carts and then ran off with it. He yelled over his shoulder that it would be at the bellhop desk. I trusted him. Nobody would wear that stupid uniform just to steal some masks and beer – the bulk of my luggage. So I drove my unburdened car across the street and parked it.
Thankfully, my luggage was indeed beside the bellhop desk when I entered the Sheraton lobby. I went to retrieve the cart, but a man who was apparently a licensed cart-handler insisted I couldn’t do it myself. Thusly ensnared into tipping, I followed yet another forceful little bellhop to my room on the fifth floor. I have never, ever in my life tipped somebody for carrying my luggage; so I hope five bucks was appropriate. He’s lucky I didn’t just give him one of my Triscuits.
The first thing I noticed was that my room – much like the bellhops – was diminutive. At least compared to my previous rooms at the Hilton. Later in the weekend I would find out my room was not so tiny, after all. I stowed all of my masks and beer in the appropriate places and changed into some casual Troublemaker gear to go meet up with Mrs. Troublemaker and Varis.
I also broke my early drinking record by having a beer at 11:30 in the morning. Thirst quenched, I found them and we got something to eat; then ran into Monkey and his wife. We also noted that the industrious business owners in Peachtree Center appeared to be putting the Furries to work this year:
Afterwards, it was time to go to the Comic Artist room to see what kinds of sketches I could get out of people. Varis and Mrs. Troublemaker were there on Official Odin’s Business, so we split up. On the way to the comic artists I saw my first hiney (what is your preferred spelling? I know Bill Watterson likes “heiney”, but that seems like too much to me) of the weekend:
And then I saw Monkey and Mike and maybe Evil and somebody else. I know Monkey and Mike were the only ones that stuck around until the room opened.
I had a mission this year: Sketches from J. Scott Campbell, Kelley Jones and Tim Sale. This is the first year I was aware of that these guys – three of my favorite artists – were at Dragon*Con. After walking around with the guys a bit, I pulled out my map and figured out where my first target – Mr. Campbell – was going to be. I headed over to his table and was stoked to see that there was only one guy in front of me. I was sure to be able to get a sketch! From nobody! Because Campbell wasn’t there yet, just some guy that sort of knew he was running late or something. He was conversing with the guy in front of me, who I couldn’t help but notice mentioned that he had brought two thousand dollars. I thought it seemed crazy that he was proclaiming this in public, and also a bit excessive to spend on sketches at a convention. Maybe he was hitting up all the big guys?
Nope. Turns out that’s how much Campbell charges for a large sketch. And three hundo for a head sketch. Holy fucksauce. I had just quickly learned that I will never, ever be getting a sketch from J. Scott Campbell. It bummed me out, but I had been prepared for the very real possibility that these people would be wanting more than I was willing to part with for their personalized artistic services. I’m not one to give up hope, though, so I headed over to see Kelley Jones; my next target.
Jones had already picked up quite a line, so I decided to find Tim Sale. He was right around the corner from Jones and only had a couple of people standing there. After a brief wait I stepped up and gave him a little verbal handjob (let’s not lie. That’s what we do) and handed him my copy of Madness to sign. I also asked him if he could do a sketch and simultaneously realized he had no medium to draw on. He said a backboard or anything would be fine. Luckily, I had a few comics in my bag to get signed and one of them had a backboard. I whipped it out (the backboard) and gave it to him as he asked what I wanted a sketch of. I told him me and he grinned and started drawing. It is extremely uncomfortable to be two feet away from somebody that is sketching you. But also extremely awesome, because I got this:
I asked how much he wanted and he just shook his head and waved it off. I gushed again about how awesome he was and thank you so much and walked away clutching my prize. This was pretty much the best thing that happened all weekend. Or at least on the same level with the other best things, which we’ll get to soon enough.
Kelley Jones had a big line and I was so thrilled with my Sale sketch I felt good enough to move on to something else. I met up with Mrs. Troublemaker and Varis again and we went to the Dealers Room to check out their wares. Mrs. Troublemaker had seen an Amy Pond figure at Titan for fifteen bucks and for some reason had decided it would be more entertaining to tell me about it and watch me try to chase it down than to just buy it. I managed to find another one that conveniently cost a whole lot more. I explained to her the principle of “just go ahead and snag a deal”, but I shudder to think how that might come back to haunt me. I hope dishwashers don’t go on sale anywhere anytime soon.
I bought more Doctor Who figures and my Sgt. Slaughter (finally!) and got Mrs. Troublemaker a Living Dead Doll that was almost as disgustingly overpriced as Amelia Pond and Sarge were. But not quite. There was also a Dalek shirt mocking the Westboro Church nuts that I should have bought.
I decided then that I had to get back over to Kelley Jones’ table. I’d be kicking myself all weekend if I missed the guy.
(I know some of the stuff here is out of order, but there is an awfully large amount of alcohol floating between now and then. Forgive me for any inaccuracies and just know the only things wrong are the order of events and the shit I just made up.)
There wasn’t any kind of line, but there were some of those people standing there. You know the ones. The douches that bring in a giant stack of comics or cards for the artist to sign and then don’t even buy anything. Not that Jones had any wares, but there must have been a hundred cards in the stack he was working on. Thankfully, he paused and asked me if I had something. I handed him my hardcovers of Red Rain and Bloodstorm and asked him if he was sketching this weekend. He asked what I wanted and when I told him I wanted a pencil sketch of me, Cal McDonald and Moloch he absolutely lit up.
“That’s great! Steve will love it! I’m going to have to call and tell him what I’m doing.”
The man was thrilled. We talked about Elseworlds and Batman and Steve Niles for a bit (Niles is so amazingly polite and nice and cheerful to be writing such fucked up shit – seriously, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met) and then he told me he’d work on my sketch on Saturday. I thanked him even more profusely than I had Mr. Sale and went on my way.
I met up with Monkey for the Quantum Leap panel around 3:45. I liked Quantum Leap as a kid, and I thought the chance to see two Hollywood veterans like Scott Bakula (has anybody ever thought of Count Bakula before? Did I just make that up?) and Dean Stockwell shooting the shit for an hour was not to be missed. These two might be almost as entertaining as Nimoy and Shatner.
We got in the ballroom and sat down, somewhere behind the halfway point. Shortly after we sat down, Monkey called Evil to see if he made it in. Evil was two rows in front of us. Like, right in front. We felt a bit stupid.
I’m not going to belabor this one(!). The panel sucked. We couldn’t hear anything; but what we could hear indicated that there was very little worth hearing. Here is a near-verbatim example of one of the exhilarating exchanges that occurred:
Audience Member: “What was each of your favorite episodes to make?”
Dean Stockwell: “The Pilot.”
Scott Bakula: “Yeah, I liked the pilot.”
Crickets: “This is boring as fuck.”
Me: “I hate to say it, but I’m out. This is weak.”
Monkey: “Word booty.”
Evil: “I can’t hear you guys; but I, too feel that this sucks and am leaving for reals, yo.”
So we left and went to an even worse panel. I shit you not.
The other guys had taken note of a panel on Star Wars toys that was to feature some of the new stuff coming out and focus on collecting. What it really featured was a bunch of toy collectors nowhere near as funny and clever as us answering questions from people with the intelligence of bellybutton lint. I’m sitting here at work laughing out loud remembering the guy who asked one of the panel hosts how often he dusted his collection. I am fucking serious here, people. We left with that one. The panel hosts should thank their God that we weren’t drinking yet.
We split up and I went to the artist room to meet Mrs. Troublemaker, Varis, Friend Steve and Jeffistopheles. Varis and I got in line to get some stuff signed by J. Scott Campbell while Mrs. Troublemaker hung out with some artist’s wife and kid that she was friends with. I had a very difficult time in the Campbell line, mainly due to the fact that Varis struck up a friendly conversation with one of those people. I managed to keep myself fairly civilized while inquiring as to why the fuck he would think it was okay to just bring stacks of stuff to get signed with no compensation. He had no satisfactory answer, mainly because I veiled my disgust as best I could.
Mrs. Troublemaker got a great local artist, Jason Flowers, to do this awesome sketch of me and Lil’ Troublemaker:
It's from a picture that I can't currently locate.
I bought one of Campbell’s new sketchbooks and don’t like it nearly as much as the last one.
I bought one of Campbell’s new sketchbooks and don’t like it nearly as much as the last one.
Now it was time for the most awkward lunch. Ever.
Varis, the Missus and I got some food from Chick-Fil-A and found a relatively filthy but unoccupied table. Varis had to go back for pickles or something and while he was gone a smoking hot Ironette came and sat right across from me.
I am not going to lie. I couldn’t help but notice a certain female outline in the front of her extremely tight and tiny shorts in the long moments before she sat down. I also couldn’t help but notice she was smokin’ hot. Also of note was the fact that she sat in the chair right next to the one Varis would soon be re-occupying. Interesting.
Would he sit down, make clever conversation, sweep her off her shiny, red-booted feet and take her home? Would he yelp in fear and retreat to a corner somewhere? Maybe just stop, look, and scream “NO! BAD! YOU GO AWAY!” I was curious to see. I knew exactly what my pre- and post-marriage reactions would be. Pre-marriage I would have sat next to the lady and not said a word, trying the whole time to come up with something awesome to say and probably totally creeping her out. Post-marriage I would probably just ignore her unless she spoke to me, which is a thing that is oddly more likely to happen now.
Anyway, Varis came back, quickly and deliberately put his bag in the chair next to the Ironette and sat down to eat. No fuss, no muss. Leaving me directly across from her to spend the entire meal not looking in that direction while sitting next to my beautiful wife.
Eventually, a guy in a Stark Industries racing suit came and sat next to the Ironette, which eased things up a bit. It was still weird, though. You try sitting next to your wife and eating your chicken sandwich and waffle fries with some hot, half-naked chick in front of you. Let me know how that goes.
Mrs. Troublemaker and Varis had to go at that point, so I went back to the room to relax for a bit and get ready for
Without a doubt, Dragon*Con Wrestling is the highlight of my crew’s weekend, and this year was the best yet. And you’ll hear all about it on Monday.
Note: I bought that zombie E.T. print because it actually makes that little bastard alien less scary to me.
Until next time, stay creepy,
Until next time, stay creepy,