Saturday night we met up with my parents after the con for dinner. On the way to the restaurant, Chopahn — very good Afghan food, another one we’d definitely recommend — a mob of people made up as zombies came shambling up the street. We decided to hang back and wait for them to pass.

Sunday morning we got up early so we could check out of the hotel and move the car. (We left most of our luggage stored at the hotel, but they wanted all the cars out of their valet lot by noon to make room for a new round of guests.) I was amazed that we managed to get a space in a lot literally right across the train tracks from the convention center. Of course, it was around 7:00 AM, and the con didn’t open until 9:30. Neither of us needed to get in immediately today, and standing in line for 2½ hours didn’t seem appealing, so we tried to find something else to do.

We went back to Cafe 222 for breakfast (it seems appropriate that we did it twice), then wandered the Gaslamp district a bit — which is a little creepy at that hour, when very little is open aside from coffee places and restaurants that serve breakfast, and few people are out and about aside from people working at deliveries, taking out trash, etc. and homeless people. Once the William Heath Davis House opened, we went into the museum and took a self-guided tour.

Back to the convention, we both spent the morning combing the floor. I focused on the artists’ area, and ended up getting another sketch, this one of Iris West II by Freddie Williams II. Eventually I made my way to the second DC Nation panel, dashed off a blog post, and discovered that my writeup of the Comic Book Tattoo panel and signing had hit Undented and at least half a dozen other blogs and forums. The 24 hours from 5pm Saturday to 5pm Sunday (midnight to midnight in UTC) had the highest traffic this blog has seen since I installed WP-Stats, something like a year and a half ago.

Katie hit the Cartoon Voice acting panel, during which room staff moved her purse without telling her. She stood up at the end of the panel and it was gone. We spent the next hour and a half talking to event staff (run by a different organization, so they didn’t actually talk to each other), filing a missing property report, reporting her credit card lost, and looking for the purse itself, until I went back into the room and checked with the tech table — and there it was.

We had just enough time to make it to the sing-along screening of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode, “Once More With Feeling.” It was different from last year, since it was a much bigger room and the sound was turned up too high to really hear the audience sing, but still a lot of fun.

Afterward, we wrapped up the weekend with ice cream at the Ghirardelli shop. Then we picked up the car and the luggage, and started the long drive home.

Some years I find myself spending most of my time at Comic-Con attending panels. Some years it’s looking for books. Sometimes I end up mostly looking for people with interesting costumes. This year, the theme seems to have been collecting sketches and autographs, and in fact, I spent just about all of Saturday on one event.


Autographs (Kelson):

  • Phil & Kaja Folio on complete set of Girl Genius volumes 1-7. (I’d gotten Phil’s signatures on volumes 1-6 in bits and pieces over the last few years, but Kaja was never at the booth when I had the books. So I made an effort to catch up.)
  • Phil Foglio on the edition of Myth-Chief for which he did the cover.
  • R.K. Milholland on Super Stupor.
  • Colleen Doran on A Distant Soil vol.1, Orbiter, Reign of the Zodiac #1 and Comic Book Tattoo. (I went to her table 3 times over the course of the con.)
  • Sergio Aragonés on “Day of the Dead” (because I forgot to bring something for him to sign, and I looked for stuff at his booth that I hadn’t seen before)
  • Tori Amos on Comic Book Tattoo (see the full story)
  • Rantz Hoseley, Hope Larson, and (I think) Jason Levesque on Comic Book Tattoo (they were all at the table when I picked up the book)
  • Rantz Hoseley and two people whose names I can’t make out on a poster-sized print of the Comic Book Tattoo cover.

Autographs (Katie):

  • Naomi Novik on the new Temeraire novel, Victory of Eagles.
  • Keith Knight on The K Chronicles and Red, White, Black and Blue.

I ended up not spending much time looking for comics, because of the whole low-grade Golden-Age problem. But I did pick up a couple of new items — like the Tori book, and the new Halo and Sprocket, and such. I was looking in the fantasy art area this morning, and there was actually a painting of Red Sonja that I really liked (she was wearing practical clothes — leather armor, not the usual chainmail bikini), but couldn’t think what I’d do with a print, and it seemed kind of weird to pick up a print of a specific character whom I didn’t normally follow.

The panel for Comic Book Tattoo was great. They had not just Tori Amos but 6 of the writers and artists who worked on the book, and most important of all, they kept it balanced. Too often when you have one high-profile guest, the panel ends up focusing entirely on that person. But everyone had a chance to talk about the process.

One of the things that Tori emphasized was that she’d wanted the artists to have complete freedom, because she’d been on too many projects where someone stepped in and said something like, “Did you think about the demographic?” Rantz Hoseley expanded on that, pointing out that many of the artists kept asking him (or, more precisely, Tori, through him) whether they could do things like do a story without word balloons. They were accustomed to that kind of limitation working on other projects. Ted McKeever mentioned a Superman story he turned in that got rejected because he drew the wrong number of belt loops. And Rantz took great pleasure in telling them to go for it, whatever it was.

At one point, Tori mentioned that when she read the stories, she didn’t hear the songs they were based on in her head — she heard new music, which she’s now working on. She and several of the artists talked about the cyclical nature of inspiration, with different kinds of arts all inspiring each other.

I was in the 5th row, off to the side, which was great — but I also had managed to get a slot for the signing this afternoon. I had to skip a bunch of stuff I would have liked to attend — Pushing Daisies, “Quick Draw,” Battlestar Galactica — but you know, I’m going to see those shows when they come back from hiatus. Who knows when I’ll get another chance to meet Tori Amos?

Update: I’ve posted more photos from the panel.

Between the end of the panel and the start of the signing, I wandered a bit, grabbed lunch, went back to Todd Nauck’s table to pick up the Impulse sketch (he was doing a sketch of Secret, and mentioned that he’d started Young Justice as a huge Impulse fan, then started to really like the other characters, and ended up with Wonder Girl as his favorite because he got to show so much character growth over the course of his time on the book.) I caught up with Katie in the line for Pushing Daisies — she got into both the Heroes and Lost panels — and then headed over to the line for the Tori Amos signing around 1:30.

This was the first time I’d been to one of the big autograph signings in the Sails pavilion. They do everything in multistage lines. For about half the first stage I just pulled out the book and read the first few stories. (I must track down a copy of “Here in my Head.”) Then I got to talking with the woman behind me, who had somehow managed a last-minute trip and gotten into just about everything she wanted to do. (Though she disappeared between stages, so I suspect she didn’t know she needed to get her badge signed to get into the signing, and thought she just needed to buy a copy of the book.) During the second stage, I ended up mostly talking with a man in front of me who had been in the comics industry during the late 1990s and left. He said this con, and the book, had inspired him to try to get back into comics.

I got up to the front of the line around 4:10. I’d been trying to think of what to say during my 30 seconds, and promptly forgot all of it. I don’t think I’ve ever been quite reduced to the level of a babbling fanboy as I was when I got to shake Tori Amos’ hand — twice — and try to say something about how I’d loved her music since college, and got this T-shirt at the first concert of hers I went to, and so on, and she just kept looking at me like she was expecting me to continue, and ohmigodi’mtalkingtotoriamos. I remember she asked me if I was local, and I said something about the LA/OC area, and I wanted to mention catching her show at the Grove last December but said something incoherent instead, and that’s honestly the only thing I can remember that she said to me, even though I know there were several more sentences.

Not my book, but the same page that she signed in mine.
Not my book, but the same page that she signed in mine.

I walked away from the signing thinking, “I’m done. I could leave this convention right now and go home, and I’d be perfectly happy.”

Update: I’ve posted more photos from the signing.

Every year I think I’m ready for the Comic-Con crowds. And every year they astonish me. By the time I’ve gotten used to the crowd level from Thursday and Friday, it’s Saturday, and there are even more people.

Katie got up 2 hours before I did to make sure she got a spot in the Heroes line. She succeeded, and managed to get into the hall before I even made it to the convention center. Of course, that was in part because I wanted to grab cash, coffee, and a sandwich to hang onto for lunch before I got in. I think I stood in line for at least 10 minutes waiting for an ATM at a branch in the Gaslamp district. There were two machines, one of which was broken, and the two — just two — people ahead of me were both making deposits. And the machine was slow.

As for coffee, I figured I’d go to a Starbucks just because it was closer — but once I got to the nearest one, I realized I wasn’t far from an It’s a Grind. So I walked the two blocks, and passed another Starbucks on the way. 😕 So I grabbed coffee and something to eat, then spent at least 20 minutes at Subway. Then I had to wait for the trolleys so I could cross the tracks…

By the time I got to the convention center, they were letting the Hall H line in. It was running all through the park area at the end of the center, zig-zagging around, and reportedly went all the way to Seaport Village. Which doesn’t make sense, because IIRC Seaport Village is at the other end of the center, so maybe they were talking about the line for badge pickups?

I waited near the front, figuring I’d hand Katie her water bottle and crochet hooks on the way in, but then I asked one of the “Elite” staff when the line started moving — and it had been almost an hour earlier.

So I went back to Artist’s Alley to pick up that sketch from Todd Nauck. He was off doing a signing at the DC booth. So I went to the reservation desk to set up for dinner. Which took a while, since I went through the main floor, which was a very cattle-drive-like experience. At least my shoulders are starting to get used to the backpack again, though I’m starting to feel like I’m in that third-day convention haze. (Plus I had only a scone and coffee, instead of a full breakfast, which might have something to do with it.)

There are a lot more people in costumes here today. As expected, there are lots of Jokers this year — so many, in fact, that I’ve stopped paying attention to them except for the really good ones and the creative ones. I’ve seen at least two Nurse Jokers over the last few days, possibly three.

I’m waiting for the Tori Amos/Comic Book Tattoo panel now. I figured the line would be long, so I showed up about 45 minutes early, but it turned out they were letting people walk right into the Ralph Bakshi panel, so I wandered in, watched the end of it, then moved to a better seat at the break. The room’s packed, and there are about 10 minutes left before the panel. But I’m only 5 rows back, and a little off to the side, which is better seating than I’ve had at any of her concerts.