Somehow I began to think about my first every comic con experience. I'm not talking about he local church conventions my dad took me to. The ones that were filled with local comic shop venders looking to sell some books. Those were fun, but I think they are geared more toward a different blog. I'm talking about my first true comic convention. A convention aimed for you to spend a boatload of money while meeting the industries hottest artists and writers. I'm talking Wizard World Philly.
The year was 2005 and comic conventions were't as big as they are today. Instead of finding a decent con every weekend with the larger conventions popping up every few months, a decent con popped up every few months. San Diego Comic Con was growing. I believe San Diego and Wizard World Chicago were the two busiest cons in the country at that time. This was about a year before New York Comic Con's first show. I didn't realize it then, but the industry was changing.
I was writing regularly, but only just beginning to hone my craft. I'd developed the next big series (like all new writers) and was going to pitch my story to all the publishers. We would be getting to work right away on this great concept. Anyone who knows anything about writing knows that that didn't happen. One person read my package and gave me advice. I still talk to that artist to this day on social media. Funny thing, I almost got a story green lit that had nothing to do with this package. Sadly, I was young and green. I put too much pressure on the publisher and he nicely told me the story wasn't going to happen. I'll share that story one day. It would have been cool to get that first story published, but I was far from ready.
This con had it all. I believe it was Aspen Comics first time on the east coast. I only just learned that this year at NYCC too. I didn't know who they were, but the first thing you saw when you entered the show floor was their enormous booth. They interacted with every fan who came up to the desk. I got to speak with Michael Turner very candidly. Again, I was really green and probably asked him a question that he didn't need to hear. Yup ... I was that idiot at the con. Cool thing, Michael smiled and answered my question with total sincerity. I still tell that story today. He made a fan for life that day. Aspen also had their artists around the table drawing free sketches for anyone who stopped by. I still have my Aspen Matthews sketch drawn by Marcus To. A great company that still treats their fans the same way all these years later.
I did my research before the show and got plenty of autographs from artists and writers. I hung out at the DC booth and spoke with Dan Didio and Jim Lee. That may have been the year I met Geoff Johns there too. Bob Wayne talked to me a lot too. It was cool. I started to think that all I needed to do was work for one of these companies and I would be set in the comics industry. Remember when I said how green I was. Yeah ... that guy ... right here. Funny thing, you can't talk to any of those guys at a show today without a special wristband. It's a pretty cool memory to have.
The highlight of the show was the DC panel. I didn't know that these panels were all the same. It was my first big show. I sat around and listened to them hype their books in their presentation. I ended up getting really excited for some not-so-hot books that were coming out. And did they disappoint too. They told us about a wristband that I had to get the next day.
The next day, we got to the show early, and picked our wristbands. The crew that was there agreed to ask for blue bands. We did. The DC staffer looked at us, thinking for a second. He had orange in his hand, shrugged his shoulders, and let us know that we had to get orange because that's what he had. We all laughed and went about the day. Later, we all ended up going to the DC panel to find out what we won. We won a free copy of the super rare (not anymore) sketch cover of Superman 204. That was cool. Not as cool as the prize the blue wristbands got. Nope. The blue wristbands got put on a bus and taken to a local IMAX theater to see an exclusive screening of Batman Begins. The room exploded and the movie didn't disappoint.
The show was insane. I had to go back. I did too. I went to Philly a few years in a row but, like everything, once it got too expensive, I stopped. I've been to every NYCC since it's establishment. I've been to a few local, smaller shows. My favorite was the trip to Boston for Wizard World. It was only their once and my wife will never forget it. I'll tell that story in it's entirety one day. The best part was when I spoke with Bob Wayne. I talked to him about the show and brought up how I was at Wizard World Philly. He looked at me, smiling, and said, "Not all shows are like that one." Boy was he right.
Till next time.
I came back to add a PS to this story. Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica fame was at the show. My buddy and I saw her and raced to buy a picture, which she autographed. Very cool moment. This was the first time my friend and I discovered how easy it is to avoid a line at a show. There would be plenty more to come too.