In the weeks that followed Boston Comic Con back in August, I had decided to write an objective, just-the-facts report of the con to be posted here. When that post was completed and I read it to myself, I was so bored by it that I deleted it all and started from scratch. Except that my next version of the post was just more of the same, and I hated it all over again. I gave up on it and didn’t post.
And then, a couple of months later, I read a somewhat contentious article on another site, all about the sorry state of comics journalism. The writer of that article gave advice on how NOT to do journalism, some of which was more than fair, but there was one piece of advice he dispensed in particular that bothered me. The writer declared that when reporting on a con, you should separate yourself from it. He said that commenting on record attendance or major announcements made at the con are better ways to begin your event coverage, and that you, the writer, should not be a part of it.
Reading that made me realize why I hated my original attempts at this convention coverage so much. Because, here’s the thing—I wasn’t there to be a reporter. When it comes to cons, I’m an attendee, and more importantly, I’m a fan. I started my blog from the perspective of a fan, and trying to change that into something else just doesn’t really work for me.
In the past, I’d written con posts in the style that I would want to read them from others. I did that because every other outlet always covers cons in the same way, and if I wanted to read an objective report for info on attendance, guests, panels, etc., I can find that information on X number of other sites. But that’s not what I want to read, and frankly, it’s not what I want to write, either. What I want to hear about are the different experiences, not con stats.
So I have to follow through here and get this off my plate—months later, but better late than never—my experience at Boston Comic Con 2014, in all its fangirl glory. You were warned.
BOSTON COMIC CON 2014
Boston Comic Con, as always, was a ton of fun this year, but the experience for me overall was different. Where in past years my husband and I have gone just the two of us, this time around, we had our 11-year-old niece in tow. A few months ago, she had expressed a sudden interest in comics and, specifically, in wanting to attend the convention. She’s a voracious reader, and I think the media hype surrounding SDCC had infected her with the comics bug. Being the hip and loving aunt that I am, I bought her a bunch of trades and OGNs to read ahead of time to get her excited. She devoured the likes of Anya’s Ghost, Young Avengers, Runaways, Batgirl, and the first volume of Bone. “Jeff Smith will be at the show,” I told her. “You can have him sign your book.”
By the time Saturday morning rolled around, she was a bundle of excitement. I lent her my purple Batgirl shirt to wear, and we were off.
Stan Sakai. As amazingly kind as ever, always happy and smiling. I had met him at a previous Boston Comic Con, where he very kindly drew an Usagi sketch for me to gift to a friend. I had to seek him out to thank him again and tell him about how much my friend loved it. We got into a conversation, and he told me about the Usagi Yojimbo play that was coming up in London (happening now) and signed my copy of volume one of Usagi. I bought one of his lovely sketchbooks. As I had brought some Boston-area gifts with me to give to creators, I pulled some items out of my bag and gave them to him—he thanked me and returned the sweetest smile, the warmth from which I will forever associate with him.
Later on at the end of the day, I went back to Stan’s table with Husband, who wanted to buy a print. I was glad to see that by the end of Saturday, all the merch Stan had brought with him was sold out. Sketchbooks, Usagi trades—all of it, and Husband was lucky to grab one of the few prints left. It was awesome to see how loved his work is.
Now, here’s a thing. At one point, Husband asked Stan how much he charges for a quickie sketch. And Stan Sakai, the fucking legend that he is, was just asking for a donation in any amount to the Japanese American National Museum. When many other lesser-known artists at the show were charging (arguably) unreasonable amounts of money for the quickest doodle, this is what Stan Sakai requested. For this and so many reasons, his reputation as The Nicest Guy in Comics will always remain intact for me.
Gail Simone was the second person I went to see when I got in, after Stan. Husband and Niece were elsewhere, and so I was alone. I had met Gail once before, just earlier this year at FCBD and I was a basket case of nervousness then. I thought perhaps I’d be a little calmer the second time around … but that did not happen.
When I walked by Gail, there was only one person at her table, so I immediately jumped in behind him. When my turn came, we made small talk about her signing during FCBD, and she commented about what a fun day it was for her. I didn't have my comics with me at that point—they were in Husband’s backpack—so I had nothing for her to sign. I bought a copy of one of the Red Sonja scripts she was selling, and she signed and personalized it, which has to be among one of the more unique items I own.
I gave her one of the gifts I’d brought—a travel cup with a Harvard logo—and she thanked me, as she had been needing to buy something out of which to drink her tea. When I saw that she tweeted about it the next day, it pretty much threw me over the moon and left me grinning like an idiot for a while afterward.
I wish I had sat and talked with her a little bit more given that there was no one else there at the time and no rush—I don't know why I left so quickly, but like I said—NERVOUS. It’s like somehow my mind just dissipates and I have an empty head when I'm around creators I admire, and I don't know what to say or how to function, because WHAA? NO BRAIN. I had told her that I'd be back later with my niece, and I left to wander the rest of the floor. And then I COMPLETELY FORGOT TO GO BACK and bring Niece with me. I don't even know what happened. It was such a long day and I waited in so many lines, that by the time evening rolled around, I was so ready to go home. So I forgot to go back, and I didn't see her again. Blergh.
But it’s okay. We Bostonians have a choice saying that applies well in this scenario: There’s always next year.
Amanda Conner, Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jeff Smith's lines were so long that they started handing out tickets for them. After an ungodly amount of time spent waiting in line for Niece to meet Jeff Smith (and snag a selfie with him, no less!), I think it took me about two hours of standing around and pestering the con volunteers (Did you call my ticket yet? What number are we on?!) before getting to meet Amanda Conner. It was absolutely worth the wait.
For a long time, I’ve wanted the opportunity to meet Amanda and possibly get a drawing, but unfortunately, her table had a sign up stating that she was not taking any commissions or sketch requests. Disappointing, and some people seemed a little disgruntled by it, but given how amazingly long her line was, I can certainly understand that she wouldn't have had the time. And it’s okay. It’s okay. Because when it was finally my turn to say hello, she was soooo jovial and warm and spoke to me like we were best friends, and I probably took up more of her time than I should have, but I didn't care. She was just lovely. I would have talked with her all day.
And at some point in the conversation—AND I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS HAPPENED—she told me that I look like Wonder Woman. And I pretty much just DIED right there for just the briefest of moments, before resurrecting back in front of her and resuming the conversation. She definitely didn’t notice that I died, but I did. And I still keep thinking about it. I think it's my favorite thing anyone has ever said to me. Maybe even better than "Will you marry me?"
I gave her some of my swag and she was so thankful and was just such a cool chick, and I now adore her even more than I already did, which is an incalculable amount of adoration.
I mean. Day = made.
Meeting Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is like meeting a couple of rock stars. They are just so much damn fun. It took something like four hours between the time Niece and I got our ticket and the time our number was called to meet them. I think Niece was starting to get quite tired at this point in the day, but that tiredness would disappear shortly.
When it was finally our turn and I went up to the table, Scott Snyder remembered me (WHAT?!?!!?). He was like "You look familiar, did we meet last year?" and I responded "YES! My husband took a picture of us where my eyes are closed and I look like an idiot!" This prompted Greg Capullo to tell us the story of how he came out badly in his wedding photo, so he photoshopped it. I still cannot figure out if this was true or a joke … I think it was true … either way, he had me as well as and the crowd behind us laughing quite a bit.
I introduced Niece to them and told them it was her first convention, and they were both so nice to her and so excited to hear she was reading comics. Scott welcomed her to the community and Greg asked her what she thought of the level of cosplay at the con, actively engaging her in conversation and encouraging her, and it was so sweet and wonderful.
Before we turned to leave, I told Greg that I was embarrassed because I'd tweeted at him earlier in the week that I wanted to touch his arm. He was totally ready and was like yeah, let's do it, and flexed his (seriously massive) bicep at me.
So I grabbed it.
He then very casually asked me how it felt, and my response was literally just a series of giggles because there I was
being a great role model, touching this man’s arm and feigning a shocked face as Niece snapped a picture. You can see Scott Snyder off to the side, pointing to his own bicep, like what? What about me? It's a riot. They also took a picture with Niece that came out super cute. Those two guys are a blast together. Huge highlight of the con.
COSPLAY, aka SO MANY ELSAS
First off, I have to praise the convention organizers for displaying these signs in various areas throughout the floor:
That was such a great thing to see, and I’m hoping it’s catching on to other cons. The more stories I hear about cosplayers getting harassed and bad-mouthed, the more important it is to address head-on.
There was way too much amazing cosplay happening for me to cover it all here, but I just wanted to spotlight a few of my favorites.
WHAT I MISSED
Waiting for hours to see creators meant I had no time for panels, which I have never had the pleasure of experiencing at Boston Comic Con. The DC Comics panel would have been fun to sit in, but it was not to be. Similarly, even little things like buying merch from vendors was a non-factor in my time constraints.
The list of creators I did not see is worth noting: Esad Ribic, Mark Waid, Jeremy Bastian, Clay Mann. I missed Bill Walko again this year, along with a laundry list of independent artists in Artist Alley. So, so many others I’m probably forgetting.
I didn't get any original art this year, although I wish I had. Something from Joe Quinones (SO NICE, drew me a Black Canary in my book) or Babs Tarr (SO NICE, so infectiously excited about Batgirl, and so sweet when talking with my niece) would have been a treat.
I didn't see any of the celeb guests because you needed separate tickets for that area, and since I was only there one day, it wasn’t my priority. Although it would have been pretty awesome to get a pic with Khal Drogo, not gonna lie. I’m told that John Barrowman pretty much stole the show.
Clear lesson learned—next year, attend at least an additional day.
ALL IN ALL
Despite those things I missed, I still took in quite a lot, and the experience was a hugely happy one. Aside from all the guests, one of the coolest parts of the con was seeing my friends Randy and Liz from How i Made the World at their table exhibiting their comic. They got some significant traffic, and it was great to see their hard work out in the wild.
But the most important piece was getting to take my niece around and expose her to this distinctive world of ours in a new and fun way. Having her with us changed the dynamic a lot. I was very conscious of the fact that I was responsible for another human being, and it became a bit of a juggling act where I would take her part of the time while Husband went off to do his thing, and then we would switch. We tried to balance it where she wasn't standing in lines all day with us. Her first convention needed to be incredibly fun—I didn't want her to grow bored standing around.
In the end, the it was an exciting and memorable day for her, and she left the con having met so many new people. She got a bunch of posters and cards from attendees, and an artist who was doing free sketches for children drew her a Wonder Woman. She was in awe of the cosplay, and her copy of Bone now has a signed sketch on the title page. She took a selfie with Jeff Smith. I think it was a win.
At the end of the weekend, I sent her home with a bunch of geeky homework—Faith Erin Hicks’ The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Caanan Grall’s Max Overacts, the Wonder Woman animated DVD and My Neighbor Totoro.
She’s already asking about Boston Comic Con 2015.