So, I just returned from a very long, very tiring trip out to California and Las Vegas for a work-related trip. Long hours and long days of driving and working on the West coast. But, unlike most of my long work-trips, this one ended in an awesome coincidence of me being in San Diego on the same weekend as Comic-Con!!!
Angie and I had been planning a trip to this year's SDCC back in January... as a matter of fact we were going to buy our plane tickets and hotel room on January 8th... On the night of January 7th, we discovered that the Glump was upon us and quickly decided that being 7 months pregnant at Comic-Con would not be an enjoyable experience for anyone. So, when I found out I'd be in San Diego with work on that weekend, I was a little more than just pleased.
So... I arrived in San Diego on Thursday night for a load-in at the venue... before which, Dan (the production manager) and I were given two seats to the San Diego Symphony's "Symphony of the Goddesses - A tribute to The Legend of Zelda". (for more info go here: [link] ) And that was just an amazingly good time. Surrounded by SDCC attendees in full Zelda and Link cosplay while the Symphony played music from all of the Zelda games in time with videos and screen-caps of the games... it was, in a word, AWESOME.
The venue itself turned out to be right behind the convention center on the Harbor... a gorgeous piece of land set between the Marina and the Bay. And after the symphony had ended, we loaded in for our show. It was a late night and after a 7 hour drive (2 hours of which was sitting, parked in Los Angeles on the 405) and the Symphony, I was beat. But, after my allotted 3 hours of sleep, I returned to the venue at 8:00 in the morning to finish setting up and have a 10:00 sound check with the band and the Symphony.
Well, as I drove back into the venue our car passed between the Hilton and Hall H of the convention center... where several THOUSAND fans were lining up to get into the Firefly 10-year reunion panel. It's okay to say I was pretty excited. We set up and got things ready when it was time to check out the sound system. Dan asked me if I had anything I'd like to play... and oh boy did I. First up, "TANK!" (the theme song to Cowboy Bebop - and the song Angie and I entered our wedding reception on - [link] ) Several heads in the mile and a half long line turned towards the stage. I followed that up with a few selected songs from Mega Man off of the OCRemix site. This had two effects... one: I was smiling and laughing like a little kid, and two: the kids in the line were too! Now, these songs are awesome by themselves... but when you play them at 100+db on a line-array... they become something else...
I wrapped things up with "Still Alive" of Portal fame... And it was awesome. (It's a big song in the nerd community [link] )
Then, we proceeded to sound check with the normal stuff for a bit and it was business as usual. Afterwards, I had the option of going back to the hotel and sleeping for 5 hours... or walk around the outside of the SDCC and look at all the people... Well, I obviously walked around. I couldn't enter any of the Panels or the Convention Center, since I didn't have a pass, but still... there were enough people out and about to entertain me.
That's when I met "Comic-Con Lady" -- I have already forgotten her real name... I think it started with a T or S. She was a nice lady who sat next to me at the counter when I was eating my lunch on Fifth Street. She had a "Professional" pass to the Con and I inquired about it. Well, turns out she is a writer for a few television shows and one of her friends is leaving and she might be able to get me a pass... I quickly jumped on this with "If you do, I'll get you backstage at MY show." - Turns out she just LOVES the group I'm working for and a potential deal is struck...
Well, The show comes and goes and I hear nothing back from this lady. Then Saturday arrives and I again spend my day walking around, taking pictures and explaining to Dan who all of the characters are that we pass... I do not think he was impressed at my knowledge of these things, but he did enjoy the costumes.
Saturday night came and our show started... and as the band is playing with the Symphony on stage, I get to look at the back of the Convention Center - if you've been there, you know the back has a LARGE concrete stairway that leads up to the entrance, and at night each of the steps lights up. It's very nice... well, as the band is playing, I see several (about 13 or so) figures moving about on the steps... and then they all light up lightsabers and have a pretty epic night-fight on the steps of the convention center. It was very cool, and somewhat surreal to watch this happen, but I smiled and laughed and had a good time.
As the show ended, my phone lit-up and I got a text from the lady I had met at lunch. She has a pass for me and is leaving it for me at the front desk of her hotel...
"SHUT UP AND LOAD MY TRUCK, PEOPLE! I GOT SHIT TO DO!!!"
So, I go and get the pass and leave her an autographed photo of the band. After a few hours of sleep, I'll be able to go into the convention center, be IN the SDCC and, well, HOLY SHIT!!
When I get the pass, I investigate the name on it a bit... turns out, I'm supposed to be an older African-American man who writes paranormal young adult fiction... AND, it seems I took part in a panel discussion with several other famous people about racial identity and comic books... hopefully nobody would notice my name. I had a feeling I'd be pretty safe.
So... Sunday morning, I am up and at'em and over at the conention center as the doors open. I walk up, show my pass and enter.... Now, for those of you who have ever been into a "super store" such as Buy Buy Baby, and were totally overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices in the store... Well, this is just like that, but only on Steroids AND meth. People EVERYWHERE... and TOYS! Lots of toys... and video games, comics, books, t-shirts, posters, figurines, prototype models... I wanted to just run through and grab one of everything! But, then I realized I only had about 2 hours before I had to leave and stealing is still illegal.
So, I made my way to the booths I wanted to see... Kotobukiya, Sideshow, Hasbro, Capcom, and a few others. I got a little stuffed Totoro for The Glump and some Mega Man stuff for Angie. I only spent $20 on myself with an 11"x17" Clone Wars "UNITE" Poster
After that, I looked at my nifty "SDCC2012 iPhone app" and what do I see? Peter F. Hamilton is giving a talk in 15 minutes upstairs in room 25! HOLY SHIT!! Well, up the stairs I go, coffee in hand... I get there just in time to catch the end of a talk with John Scalzi ("Redshirts" and "Fuzzy Nation")... I mean, I had just finished two of his books and just started re-reading Hamilton's "Void" trilogy... I was about to pass out from sheer nerd-joy. I mean, here I was, sitting in the SDCC listening to my favorite writer talk about his writings, life and everything else... My head was about to explode from awesomeness.
As the Q&A with Hamilton started, I felt it was best to slip out and make my way back tot the hotel. I still needed to drive BACK to Las Vegas to fly home... Which I did... and now I'm home. And it is good.
But I must say... the last 3 days of this trip were the BEST work-related experience EVER...
Do you remember being a kid? Do you remember getting that most amazing Christmas or birthday present? That one moment where you just felt like "Everything in the world is right" ? -- the "Red-Ryder bb gun" moment of your life as it were... Well, walking into Comic-Con gave me that feeling again. And it was wonderful... The only thing close to that feeling I've had in my adult life?
- My wedding day
- Finding out about the Glump
- Coming home from Iraq
And in about 2 months, little Rex will be here... and he will make me feel like that again... and more so. And maybe in a few years, Angie and I can take him to Comic-Con... it can be our version of Disney.