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REFLECTIONS: Convention Special Edition

by  in Comic News Comment
REFLECTIONS: Convention Special Edition

“Reflections” Special Convention Edition

Thought I would try something a little different this week by covering this weekend’s annual MegaCon in Orlando. Now, with New York’s comic convention coming up next weekend, no major announcements were made at the convention, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a lot of fun anyways! Conventions are, after all, the place where any comic fan, however rabid and fanboyish, can feel at home and know that somewhere in the same room there is at least one other person geekier than he or she is (and for that final person who really is the geekiest, I don’t mean any offense, buddy! Knowing Cable’s every appearance in descending chronological order must be important for something!)

But then, of course, MegaCon decided to be uncharacteristically mellow this year! No one was jumping over tables attempting to bite their favorite writer/artist’s ears off this time and no one mauled Sean Astin or showed Jamie Bamber their boobs. Hell, Rich Johnston wasn’t even electrocuted. Well, I’m writing this Saturday night so all could go to hell tomorrow.

So, instead of doing a skip week for “Reflections,” I’ve decided to enlighten you, dear reader, on some of my favorite convention experiences ever. The stuff I wouldn’t normally ever tell anybody unless I was so intoxicated I thought you were Kristen Bell. And, for good measure, some behind-the-scenes stuff I’ve picked up from random creators.

At my first convention, a Wizard World Chicago affair, Joss Whedon was doing a rare appearance and signing. As one of the biggest fans of “Buffy” and any other Whedony-goodness out there (if you are reading this, Joss, email me. Stop reading the story and email me.), I made a point of highlighting his appearances and stamping them in my mind. He was doing a lecture on the first night of the convention, and you needed a ticket for it. I got into line and, wouldn’t you know it, tickets ran out three people in front of me. I was not pleased. Really not pleased.

Later that evening and about ten minutes before the lecture began, I was in line for a Jeph Loeb signing when the man in front of me stupidly set all of his belongings down on a table and walked away. Those belongings included, oddly enough, two tickets to the Joss Whedon lecture. I thought to myself that the man did not have a wedding ring on (or maybe I didn’t check and told myself that) and therefore didn’t need two tickets to the lecture, so I grabbed one and ran, feeling very guilty, but not guilty enough to put it back.

I raced into the lecture to find it completely packed with most attendees already sitting down. Well, this just wouldn’t do, I told myself, and since I was already heading straight to hell because of the ticket-stealing ordeal, I walked to the front of the auditorium and began to limp and cry.

People asked me what was wrong, and I moaned that someone had kicked me hard in the leg (no one had) and that I was in excruciating pain (I wasn’t). A man tapped me on the shoulder and told me that I could take his seat. Success! I turned to thank the man, and realized it was Marvel President Dan Buckley.

Yeah, crap. I took the seat and began sweating profusely. Luckily it was a great time once Whedon got onstage, making it (mostly) worth it.

I ended up walking around the rest of the convention with a limp in constant fear someone would call me out and I continue to have guilt about it to this day. Perhaps this will serve as amends, or perhaps I will find an email in my inbox Monday titled “That was you!? @$hole!”

Something you will find almost every creator possesses at every convention are bottles upon bottles of hand sanitizer. Think about it: these guys shake approximately one hand every two minutes for eight hours straight. Most are lucky to make it through the first hour without contracting a deadly hand-spread disease!

I was having breakfast with Mike Perkins and Mike Carey and Perkins plopped some fizzy medication into his water, noting that helped him not become as sick as he usually does. Carey dived onto the container, noting that “This looks like some good shit.”

Purell: it’s the newest medicinal drug of choice for comic creators.

While at Wizard, I got the opportunity to interview the beautiful Kristen Bell, who I intend to marry. It was the only time I’ve almost “geeked-out” during an interview and dropped into hysterical laughter and drool, which is odd because I never ever do that.

The interview went well, and since we only had ten minutes I stuck most to the standard questions about upcoming episodes of “Veronica Mars” and her films. But, at the end of the interview, I threw in a random question that tripped her up: Bell had almost gotten the role of Chloe on “Smallville” but lost it at the last minute, and I asked her what her life would be like if she had gotten the roll. She had no idea how to respond and told me no one had ever asked her that before.

Cut to two weeks later at the Wizard convention in Chicago. I waited in line for twenty minutes to meet her (yes, us Wizard staffers have to wait our turns too) and when I did, I told her about the interview. She smiled in that way that meant she had no idea what I was talking about. Then I told her about the “Smallville” question and recognition spread across her face, she stood up and hugged me.

That’s right, y’all, Kristen Bell hugged me! It’s the best thing to come out of “Smallville” since season one, that’s for damn sure.

This year at the Wizard fan awards, there was a problem: there were no trophies! Kind of difficult for creators to receive awards when there is nothing to give them, right?

Luckily for Wizard, there were two leftover trophies from the year before that would be used as dummy trophies during the ceremony. What they planned to do was keep using the same trophies for every award, and as soon as the winners walked offstage someone would snatch the still-warm trophy from their paws and sneak it back onstage.

Guess who got that phenomenal opportunity?

The good news is that I got to meet Geoff Johns, Joe Quesada, Thomas Jane, Dan DiDio and several other creators out of the deal, and all but one were more than cool about giving over their gold until the real trophies came in.

Apparently the number of issues Grant Morrison wrote for “JLA” is reason enough to begin a fistfight. During Wizard’s Chicago convention last year at the main hotel two fans got into a bit of a bicker about just how many issues Grant penned for the series. Neither of them wanted to relent, and instead of settling it like civil human beings, they decided to spar over it. Whale said it was 41 and stick said it was 42.

The problem is that one person was at least 400 pounds and the other was probably barely 100. But the whale of a man decided to throw the first punch, causing stickman to go into karate mode, knocking whale down with two quick kicks to the legs. When whale hit the ground he didn’t relent, though: he began to roll himself like a giant bouncy-ball into stickman, crushing the stick underneath him.

Stick seemed to be in a lot of pain, and in need of a good meal, so he bit into whale’s stomach. Whale immediately kicked off of the guy and punched stick deep in the belly.

Meanwhile a woman ran over to both of them, screaming that they were both wrong because they forgot to eliminate the filler issues Mark Waid and J.M. DeMatteis wrote, dropping the number down to 34.

Whale and Stick immediately separated and walked in opposite directions. They later got married and now living in New Hampshire. Or at least in my dream world.

Back to my first convention in Chicago, I was so excited to be meeting my favorite creators that I had only interviewed before and actually getting food and hanging out with them. I was spending time with Mike Perkins, Drew Hennessy, Chuck Dixon and Marvel editor Bill Rosemann when they decided it would be a good idea to go into the hotel’s sports bar. I began sweating and followed.

You see, I was only 20.

Needless to say, I got us thrown out of the bar and had never been more embarrassed in my life…well, except for the Joss Whedon thing a few hours before. Sorry guys, next beer is on me!

My favorite “Star Wars” battle is not in any of the six films, but at MegaCon last year. The convention has an annual costume contest, and two attendees thought it would be a good idea to dress up as Darth Vader, like it was original or something.

Then they saw each other in the lobby and one insulted the other. Darth 1 shoved Darth 2 into a concession stand, and Darth 2 responded by pulling out his lightsaber (actually prop lightsaber, not the one you readers with dirty minds might be thinking of) and beaming Darth 1 on the helmet with it. Darth 1 was none-too-pleased, and pulled out his own and they literally began dueling in the lobby while screaming obscenities at one another. A group immediately formed and began rooting for their favorite Darth. I had my money on Darth 2.

Then, irony of irony, Darth Maul showed up out of nowhere and broke up the fight by, get this, throwing himself into the lightsabers’. Maybe the guy wasn’t so bad after all.

Next week we get back to normal, with an in-depth with the great Joe Kelly. Be here or be cube.

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