Our Weekend At Emerald City 2015 (part 1)

So here's the deal...

The ugly truth is that between work and classroom deadlines and the really spectacular case of con crud Julie and I contracted last weekend (it's our annual ritual, apparently; despite being ridiculously standoffish to our dearest friends and practically bathing in Purell we still get clobbered with it every year) ... anyway, because of all that, the bulk of the Emerald City Con report is going to have to wait a week. Too much going on, some of which I hope to share with you soon.

But I can manage one brief ECCC anecdote, and a couple of links. The rest will be up next week. I'll tell you the story of the coolest thing I got at the show. Call it a warmup.

The one part of the convention that we try never to miss, NO MATTER WHAT, is something that's become a tradition at Emerald City. It's not one of the big nerdlebrity things in the main hall, and it's not an author signing or anything like that.

No, our very favorite Emerald City Con tradition, always and forever, is "Convention Horror Stories" with Katie Cook and Jim Zub.

It's exactly what it sounds like. Just the two of them telling stories about all the weird and silly things that have happened to them at cons over the years. I saw the listing the first time they did it, a few years ago, and though I had no idea who they were I knew it was something we had to see, and it was as hilariously cathartic as I'd hoped. (Afterward, we sought out both Gronk and Skullkickers just on the theory that people that could tell stories that good had to be making cool comics, and it was true.) The last few years at ECCC, no matter how snarled up we were at the table with our students in Artist's Alley, we have MADE time for that panel and told everyone we know about how awesome it is.

This year we did not have a table, but I still qualified for a pro pass and since that gave us free admission, we looked at our budget and decided we could manage a little bit of an outing. And once we knew we were going to be able to go, it was a given that we were NOT going to miss "Convention Horror Stories."

The panel was as wonderful as always. In particular, Katie Cook told one story that we couldn't stop laughing about.

I'm paraphrasing, but it went like this. She had been upgraded to first class on the flight out. "Which is the most badass thing EVER! It's amazing!"

"You have two children," Jim put in. "But you're saying this is the most amazing thing ever."

"It's a five-hour flight! From Detroit to L.A.! I see my kids every day, and they don't bring me free drinks."

Anyway, Katie went on, she was seated next to a man who might as well have been going to a convention. Now, in coach, she explained, it's like here, have a peanut, and they throw it at your head. But in first class, they bring a wicker basket around with a selection of snacks.

Well, the guy next to Katie pointed into the basket and said, "What's that?"

The flgiht attendant looked at him, a little dumbfounded, and said, "That's a banana, sir," and offered it to him.

He shuddered and said, "Nooooo.... I'm not feeling adventurous today."

By this point the room was in hysterics. Katie concluded, "So I spent the entirety of Long Beach Comic-Con noticing every banana. 'Bah-na-na, the rich man's fruit.' " Pause. "Who doesn't know what a banana is?! I mean, it's the go-to fruit, everybody has one, and now I'm just stuck on it. Every one I see go by. Banana. Banana. Banana."Julie and I laughed about that to the point where just saying the word or pointing at a banana in passing (there were lots of them; it really IS the go-to fruit at a con) would get us started again. On Sunday we had a little bit of our allowance left and since we happened to pass Katie's table I told Julie we should go buy something in return for all the laughs she's given us at Convention Horror Stories over the years.

So I bought a Gronk collection and also a custom sketch.

Katie Cook does these amazing, playing-card size watercolor commissions in moments, and she is fearless. She'll try anything. (Well, anything not obscene-- some inappropriate sketch requests have become immortalized as Convention Horror Stories.) She asked me what I wanted and I told her, "A sinister banana and the man that's scared of it."

She laughed. "How did he not know? It's weird, right?" We agreed. In a couple of minutes I had this.

It's in my office now. We're going to go down to the local thrift shop and see if we can find a little frame for it. It gives us the giggles every time we look at it.

So that's our favorite thing from ECCC this year. Though there's another piece that comes close. I'll tell you about that one...

...next week. In the meantime, here's the audio from this year's Convention Horror Stories. And here's last year's, up on YouTube. And here's 2013's... that one has a brief shot of Julie right at the beginning getting to her seat, which mortified her but I thought it was a fun little Easter Egg. (Also, the person telling Zub that they should have whiskey is Greg Burgas, as it happens.) Enjoy.

We were sad that we didn't get to Jim Zub's table, as well... but it was too crowded and we just ran out of time. Next year. We promise.

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