Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Packrat Comics at Comic Con

Hi All

Life is an adventure and if things went according to plan we’d have nothing interesting to say. At least that’s what I tell myself whenever William does just about anything. Our trip to Comic Con was no different. Luggage was packed, the kids were off to spend a weekend with friends and we remembered to find someone to take care of Hulk, the ugly pug, at the last minute. Rushing to the airport Thursday afternoon, we made it thru security and I was lucky enough to have to endure the embarrassment of the full body scanner and full body pat down as a result of the pacemaker. And I know it’s been a while since I flew, but they threw out my shampoo and conditioner. What could I possibly do with such a cheap brand of hair care products to warrant those being tossed in the garbage? Making it with 20 minutes before the scheduled boarding time, we were in the clear and ready to collect our award at Comic Con.

However, other plans were made on our behalf. Weather delays and mechanical problems forced us to change our flight from a Thursday afternoon departure to a 6am Friday morning flight. Retailer programming was commencing at 9am on Friday morning and our rescheduled flight got us in to San Diego at almost 10. That sucks, but we’ll make due. We head home for a night of rest before our flight, setting the alarm for 3 to give us plenty of time to catch our flight. And could Jamie sit for a few hours? No, he mows the lawn when we get home, really, take a break man.

But for this trip 3am turned to 3pm and the alarm did not go off. Jamie bolted up out of bed at 4am; we showered and were out the door in 20 minutes. But half way to the airport I remembered I pulled out all our paperwork to call the hotel to check in so we wouldn’t lose our reservation and included in that pile of paperwork were our Comic Con tickets. We had to turn around and go back home. Boarding the flight was to start at 5:25am…rushing to the security check point again, with only 5 minutes before boarding, the security agent slowly checked our boarding passes and laughed saying something to the effect how we like to run a bit close on time. No we do not! It was like a scene from a movie, Jamie and I are running down the long corridor to our gate, except I had to stop and catch my breath telling Jamie don’t wait for me, I’d catch up with him in a minute. By the time we boarded the plane I think the excitement of leaving for San Diego was met with more of an exhausted and fatigued feeling.

Finally landing in San Diego we must have caught the only taxi with a driver that was as in much of a hurry to get to Comic Con as we were. We make it to most of the retailer programming we wanted to participate in and around 2 o’clock began our first trek to the main convention floor. This place was huge. Three full levels of programming and vendors, multiple hotel conference rooms full of programming even a bookstore down the street had some programming.

I felt like a little kid with ADD who comes to Packrat for the first time, senses completely overwhelmed by everything in view and then learning there’s more in the basement. Oh look Brian Michael Bendis, Oh look, Stan Lee, Oh Look J. Scott Campbell. We were trying to locate Sean and Steph Forney from the time we entered the hall until probably around 5pm. I had to set the map on the ground and step into it figure out where we were and had to go. But finally found them and their table.

Everyone who ordered a comic con exclusive needs to thank Stephanie, she spent Thursday hunting down what was left and getting tickets to stand in line for other items on Friday. THANKS STEPH! We would not have been able to get so much if it wasn’t for her!

The main exhibit hall was huge, crowded and awesome. From talented creators Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis to Dan Jurgens and Robert Kirkman. We had the opportunity meet and talk to all we could in the few short hours we had. And it took a trip to San Diego for us to meet and talk to our homegrown talent Jeff Smith. Meeting Robert Kirkman was a bit odd after all of our emails, we were pleasantly surprised at his recognition of Packrat Comics and the polite attitude he displayed towards us.

But the real reason we were there was for our award. So at 8:30pm (11:30 here in Columbus ) we sat down for the Will Eisner Spirit of Comics Awards. It started a bit late but that didn’t matter, I was too nervous. As much as I couldn’t wait to hear the winner, I also didn’t want to find out that it wasn’t us. So the longer it was delayed before an announcement the longer I knew I hadn’t lost yet. The competition for the award was tough. And at that point, I really could say, with a straight face and everything, it was an honor to be nominated and sit with some great comic shops from around the country. One such gentleman we met said “I hope you win, but I also hope I win”. Fun guy.

Around 11pm (2am here in Columbus ) we found out we were not the winners…and not having much of a chance to eat, we decided it would be best to head out and get some dinner. But not having actually checked into the hotel, we still had our luggage we decided to head there and order something from room service. There was no room service, but several pizza shops who were kind enough to stuff their flyers under our door. So we picked one and ordered, a large pepperoni pizza and a 2 litter of diet coke. Simple order, somehow it ended up a meat lovers with a coke. When I called back they said they ‘upgraded my order’ and were out of diet coke. The guy hung up on me. I called back. He hung up again. I called back, just trying to get what I ordered, he said they were closed but I could order from the Mexican restaurant part of their menu. Yeah, that place sucked. So we eat our pizza and it’s off to bed…because Saturday was a full day at Comic Con that even crappy pizza couldn’t ruin.

We catch the shuttle service and bright and early Saturday morning and head out for our second day. That’s when we discovered the true price of Comic Con food…$4.00 for a bottle of water and $3.25 for a can of soda and $8.00 for a slice of pizza. Man the water fountain was refreshing this time of year. We were able to participate in a few panel sessions, one with Gerard Way, writer of Umbrella Academy and My Chemical Romance band member (don’t ask me what he does in the band, you all know I won’t know). Even hung-over, he was a great panelist, but not nearly as great as our next panelist.

Sitting in the Boom panel we listened to Mark Waid introduce a few new books they are launching in the fall with one being written by Paul Cornell, writer of some great Doctor Who episodes “Human Nature” and “The Family of Blood”. We were polite and listened intently as one panelist was missing. Only 2 hours earlier his tooth broke and had to find a dentist at 11am Saturday morning, but I’m sure any dentist would be thrilled to be the superhero to the father of most modern day superheroes, Stan Lee. Still on Novocain but full of energy that he may have figured out how to bottle from William, Stan Lee was amazing, he was entertaining and charming, witty and brilliant. He couldn’t have been a nicer gentleman. Truly the highlight of my trip. He was in and out and it went so quick, but still time well spent. So we head back to the convention hall.

Great costumes, polite attendees and long lines, the rest of the day flew by in a blur of wonder. There were giant Megatron and Bubblebee transformer statues, a platform with life size Star Wars statues you could pose with, a life size Lego figures, Tron Cycle statue, a life size Star Wars action figure case where you could step inside and become a figure and so much more. The main hall was so large that the DC booth alone was larger then our comic shop. One sad note was that the comic dealers that have been with the convention and really make a comic convention were an after thought at the show.

Even with all there was to experience, I was homesick and missed Bobby and William more then I thought I would for only being away for a few days so Sunday morning couldn’t come fast enough. Not wanting to get stranded in San Diego with another 6am departure, I had the hotel provide us with a wake up call at 3AM. With plenty of time to spare we were at the airport and getting ready to go threw security. One question I have to ask, almost hate to ask, but where were the full body scanners? Are there that many more dangerous people leaving Columbus, Ohio that could cause harm to a plane full of passengers then those leaving San Diego? Just a thought.

The first leg of our flight was very smooth and we land in Atlanta around 2pm. Oh my goodness, the Atlanta airport is huge, we had to take a shuttle to our concourse. Worried we’d miss the flight because we only had 30 minutes from the time the plane laded to board the connection to Columbus there was a bit of a panic trying to find the light-speed train running thru the airport. But we made and then we waited. And waited. And waited a bit longer finally boarding only about 40 minutes late. But hey we’re on our way home so it’s all good. Sitting in our seat and the plane fully loaded with passengers ready to take off the pilot announces over the PA “I’m just going to let you know what’s going on. A passenger on the last flight got off the plane and took with them the luggage that belonged to one of the flight attendants and left their luggage on the plane. The good news is they found the flight attendants luggage in the hall, but not the passengers luggage left on the plane.” So the flight attendants had to look in every overhead compartment and match up each piece of luggage with its owner. I’m thinking they left a bomb on the plane, totally freaking out, but glad they are looking before we take off. Later Jamie tells me his thoughts were they took the flight attendants luggage to copy schedules and id’s and such. Great. Good news is they found the luggage, scary news was it was in the overhead compartment above our head.

We figured since we’d been gone from the boys for so long and we survived the trip, we’d better make sure we spend some quality time with them Sunday evening. Figured we’d get some KFC and take them to the park and enjoy the balance of the afternoon. Well they did want KFC, but were just as happy to go home and watch a movie. I won’t share Greg’s comic shop adventures, he’ll tell you that one. But we couldn’t have done it without the help of both Jeff and Greg watching our third baby, the comic shop while we were out. Our quality afternoon turned into an early bed time with William calling his uncle late Sunday evening to have him bring back the ugly pug. And I’m still living off the hotel shampoo, gotta fix that soon.

Until next time true believers. (Oh and there will be a next time, I still want that dang award!)