The next few hours were spent scoping out where everyone was situated; getting a feel for the place. I promptly hit up Greg Horn to buy a gorgeous "Star Sapphire" print (and wound up buying a Vampirella print too...I'm a sucker for Vampi...have I mentioned that I have one of those life-size posters of Vampi from the '70s signed by Vampi herself?). I checked out Buck Rogers (Gil Gerard) and Wilma Deering (Erin Gray). Erin Gray has aged quite well and were I single and she willing...well, I'd canoodle a bit.
Visited bunches of dealers just looking for a "good deal." One guy had a bunch of longboxes with random comics thrown in for 50¢ each. I found mint copies of all 3 issues of GREEN ARROW: THE LONGBOW HUNTERS...a series I regret having gotten rid of years ago during a comics purge. Knowing Mike Grell was at the con, I was thrilled to find them. So, I presented them to the dealer who looked at me with a constipated look and groaned "Are you sure you can't find one more?" I said "Well these are all I wanted." He groaned again "....I don't have.... 50¢" Really? He didn't offer to just let me take all 3 for $1.00, so I said "I'm sure I can find something." I remembered flipping past an old '70s BATMAN comic I had as a kid, so I grabbed that one. Dealer was happy and gave me my change...in bills. Mentally tucked away the fact that I needed to get back to Grell for another sig.
After that, it was time to check in at my hotel room. Originally, I planned on heading back for the Bionic panel, but I realized I needed a little lay-down time. So, I relaxed at the hotel until about 5:30 and then started getting ready for dinner with some friends up from Louisiana. Chatting by text a few times during the day, I knew they were in town and we planned on meeting up for dinner. They wanted to know where and when, so I made a reservation real quick at MariaMaria Restaurant right off 6th Street. A great place for high-end Mexican food and drinks, plus it's co-owned by Carlos Santana. :) I figured more than enough time to meet up with my wife and daughter on the south end of Round Rock and skedaddle back to the downtown by 7.
I was wrong.
COMICON DAY 2
Woke and showered in plenty of time to catch the "Continental" breakfast at the hotel. First time ever that his included Mexican fried burritos and boiled eggs....but I'm not complaining. Booked it over to the Convention Center, no prob. Staying literally 3 minutes south (away from all the football madness) was genius. Met up with my sister and my son just as the doors were opening. Friday had been a steady but not overly large crowd. The Saturday crowd was monster sized already. In terms of space, this was not a particularly large space...easily about 1/4 of the size of the C2E2 for comparison. So, when this crowd descended on Saturday...well there were times during the day where I literally could not move because there was simply no space, just bodies. Of all the comics guys there, the top 3 in terms of continuous long lines were Greg Horn, Joe Madeiura, and Arthur Suydam. Suydam was the most popular (again, in terms of lines) with his massive Marvel Zombies banners and hundreds of zombie prints. Horn and Suydam were selling prints and books and were willing to sign with a purchase. Without a purchase, Horn was requesting a donation go into the Hero Initiative donation jar in exchange for sigs.
There was a huge emphasis on THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE at this Con. Which is bizarre to me. I don't get that appeal at all. But the guy and the two hot girls who star in that low-budget torture flick were there and the most disturbing thing I overheard as I walked by was a guy holding his signed picture from one of the girls and telling her he loved the movie. *shudder* How anyone loves a movie where that girl gets her mouth surgically attached to a guy's butt is beyond my comprehension. Had no interest in Xander from BUFFY. But he was there.
"By entering these premises you consent to be photographed, filmed and/or otherwise recorded for any use and waive all rights you may have to any claims for payment or royalties in connection with any exhibition, televising, or other publication of these materials." [emphasis mine]
Roaming around in the crushing crowd, I periodically popped by the Artist's Alley to see if a few of the guys I was interested in talking to (like Matt Sturges) were available, but crowds everywhere. Eventually I gave up and decided to hit them all up on Sunday when I was sure that the crowd would be much smaller. I overheard a lot throughout the day as I went in and out of the pathways of celebs, comics pros, and dealers. The most obvious constant was that they were without exception very very happy with the response in Austin.
My son spent a lot of time at a dealer in knives, swords, and stun guns. I will say that the telescoping light-sabre-style massive stun gun was definitely impressive. You could hear those things going off all day as the dealer was demonstrating her wares. She always had a full contingent of men checking out the weaponry.
Claudia Christian bumped into me on what I believe was a quick dash to the restroom and when I turned back around, there were some friends I was supposed to meet up with for lunch. So, the three of us grabbed my son and headed outside to look for a place to eat. I wasn't exactly sure what all was in the area, so we just started walking. Sidewalk was a little busy, so we slipped into the mostly empty bike lane for a block or so. That was a mistake. I forgot that the Austin bike community is a militant wing having delcared a fatwa upon all pedestrians and drivers. We weren't there 5 seconds and an obnoxious biker...with more than enough room...yells "BIKE LANE!" at us. We ignored her. But we got a good amount of daggers flung our way from bikers' eyes during that short walk across the street. *sheesh*
Rushed back downstairs to meet up with my son to sit in on the Walter Koenig panel. Took note of the sign at the entrance to the Exhibit Hall with two stages set up. The sign said "Photos allowed in Exhibit Hall while celebrities are on-stage as long as photos are for personal use only." Woohoo! So, I happily snapped away with my phone as ol' Walter talked. I'm not kidding when I say that he was asked TWICE to say "Nuclear Wessel" in 30 minutes. If he was Del Shannon, he would've killed himself on the spot.
After Walter's talk, it was time for my son to decide how he wanted to spend his $20. Out of everything he walked around to look at, it came down to a decision between 2 items: A butterfly knife from the stungun lady or a signed soup ladle from the "Soup Nazi" from SEINFELD. The "Soup Nazi" won the prize...and my son is incredibly happy and thrilled. "Soup Nazi" was so nice, visited with us, and let us take pictures with him. At one point as he was signing the ladle, I told him "that must've taken some practice." To which he smiled up at me and said "You'd think so. But the weird thing is that the very first time I tried it, it came out perfect. I guess I was born to sign soup ladles!" And he laughed. That was the end of the day for my boy. Once I got him dropped off with his mom, I was back inside for Bill Sienkiewicz's panel. Snapped a couple of shots of him just with my phone. Good sized crowd. Immediately after that was the Adam West & Burt Ward panel on the other stage.
In fact, I kind of needed to just get out for awhile at that point and went and grabbed some dinner. Headed back for the Costume Contest after some food, which was a lot of fun. Lasted over 2 hours and a guy dressed as Mario actually won. He was funny and good...but Power Girl, Blue Falcon, Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl were all much better and all deserved Best In Show...in this humble reviewer's opinion. Honorable Mention should go to "Pimp" Vader.
Headed in to the last hour of the GHOSTBUSTERS screening and afterwards visited outside for about another hour with the drop-dead gorgeous cos-play model "Taffeta Darling" and Scott from busygamer.com. I then headed to Sixth Street where I thought I might pop in to the costume after party at the Gypsy Lounge until I realized it was waaaayyyy down on the east end of Sixth Street. I no go there. Sorry. Soaked up the Sixth Street scene for a bit. Grabbed something to eat while reading a HOUSE OF MYSTERY trade and it was about 1 a.m. and time for bed. Relaxed and streamed the pilot of THE WALKING DEAD before heading to sleep.
COMICON DAY 3
After Sturges's panel it was time for Mike Grell's panel. And boy what a panel. Grell is one of those old-school got-a-story-for-every-occasion kinda guys. He was very fun and interesting. His story about how Vince Colletta made Jose Delbo cry over the butchered inkjob he did on an issue of JONAH HEX was a gem. As well, his story about how he came up with the entire pitch for THE WARLORD in 2 minutes while Carmine Infantino was taking a phone-call was classic. After his talk, he came down and shook everyone's hands and thanked them for coming. Very nice.
Cartoonist Phil Ortiz was set up across from macabre cartoonist Angus Oblong and it made for an interesting thing to watch. Phil, of course, illustrates THE SIMPSONS comics and looks like a Simpsons character himself. Angus spent all 3 days in full clown-face make...including the red ball nose. Definitely a sight to watch. Both of them were entertaining delighted fans the whole weekend.
*A revised and edited version of this report will be found on aintitcool.com on Nov. 22, 2010