Part Two: Thank you for asking
By Wednesday night, television's Ryan Callahan and I had vowed never to wait in another line again. We almost pulled it off on Thursday at the Comic-Con International, and by "almost," I mean we had to wait in a line before we even started walking to the convention center. A pay-for-parking line. For about twenty minutes we stood there, waiting to get the chance for pay for the privilege of parking in lovely San Diego. It was the only line we waited in all day, but it was enough.
Have you ever gone to a convention panel?
As you wait, they post the "rules," again and again, projected on the screen. Rules like, "ask only one question," "get a ticket before you leave the room," and "don't punch anyone in the face, ever." Television's Ryan Callahan and I didn't plan on doing any of those things, but when someone tells you what NOT to do...
Well, sometimes it's hard to resist.
Don't worry, though. We didn't punch anyone in the face. Not even the giant Pikachu.
But you know what should be a rule?
Don't switch into a fake British accent halfway through givingdirections to your friends loudly on your cellphone and then continue in that fake British accent for ten minutes. Especially don't do that while imitating Gareth from the British version of "The Office." Especially don't do that when you're two seats over from television's Ryan Callahan and I.
We don't appreciate it. And nobody thinks your Gareth imitation is funny. Not even your friends. Not even your mom.
Thus, we spent our time waiting for Stan Lee and Grant Morrison trying not to listen to the pseudo-Brit next to us. Instead, I listened to the much more heartening father-son chat behind me.
"I'm going to ask Stan Lee why he never sent me my FOOM membership kit when I was eleven."
"FOOM? Friends of Marvel?"
"Friends of OL' Marvel. OL' Marvel."
"Do I disappoint you father?"
"Never my son. Never."
Stan Lee heals all wounds. Even when he's not yet in the room.
I typed like a madman during the Stan Lee/Grant Morrison panel, as television's Ryan Callahan took photos. He was always a second too slow to immortalize Morrison's can of Red Bull on digital celluloid. Meanwhile, I typed, trying to capture every nuance of the panel for CBR readers.
After a long hour of typing and not listening to bizarro Gareth, I needed a recharge. For my computer. So I looked for the press room so I could plug and type.
No press room.
Scratch that. That's not exactly true.
When I asked a member of the Comic-Con staff, I was told, "there IS a press room, but they won't tell us where it is."
Not that they wouldn't tell me where it is. But they wouldn't tell the Comic-Con staff where it is. And who's they? Aren't they, "they"?
Just as I walked away from that baffling discussion -- television's Ryan Callahan having long abandoned me for swordfish and chips on the streets of San Diego -- a tall matronly woman stopped me and asked, "do you know where the press room is?"
Oh, the irony.
So we joined forces. We would find the press room or die trying. Or give up and walk away awkwardly.
But before we came close to finding out how far we were willing to go, we began to chat, as people do when they find themselves allied in a cause they may not fully understand.
She asked me who I was working for, and I explained the history of Comic Book Resources and how Jonah Weiland brought the tablets down from the mountain and the people rejoicing -- you know the story -- and I sped through all of that to talk mostly about myself.
Then I asked, "what do you do?"
"Thank you for asking!" she said, with genuine joy. "I'm a documentary filmmaker."
"What are you making now?"
"Thank you for asking!" she said, even more excitedly, as if she didn't just say that a minute ago, and as if it's not completely normal small talk between two people who are talking about what they do.
As she started to explain how she normally makes films about the elderly, we stumbled across a sign that said "press room."
I asked the red-shirted guard, "how do we get into the press room?"
"Press room? I don't know where that is."
"It's right here. This sign says 'press room.'"
"This room's for interviews and stuff. We don't have a press room."
I gave up.
By then I spotted an outlet in the hallway outside, plugged myself in and sat down. I didn't even have an awkward goodbye with the documentary filmmaker who makes movies about the elderly. I didn't even get to find out what she was working on. All I was left with was the resounding memory of her thanking me. For asking.
As I filed my Morrison/Lee story with CBR, I spotted a beautiful sight only seen at a comic-con: Rorschach stopped to take a photograph of Jango Fett. If only I had my camera at the ready. If only television's Ryan Callahan was nearby to capture the moment for all of us. Alas, he was not, and you'll have to imagine the beauty of such a scene.
The rest of the day was a blur of movement and action. Television's Ryan Callahan and I sat through another panel or two. We toured the convention floor, visiting with Zuda's Kwanzaa Johnson and DC's Paul Levitz.
We scoured the 50% off trade paperback bins, picking up Marvel Essentials, "Walking Dead" volumes, and loading up on comic book goodness.
We saw Kevin Smith again. This time it must have been the real one, because he had a backwards cap, a trenchcoat, and a magic marker beard.
And at no point did we punch anyone in the face. Not even Pikachu, who was totally asking for it.
As the day drew to a close, we were visited by a special guest: Canada's Stephanie Thorpe, who had arrived just in time to say goodbye to Comic-Con International and hello to baskets and baskets of greasy appetizers via Whisky Girl.
NEXT: What are the odds that anyone will get into the Watchmen panel?