This day was also notable in that it was the smoothest and quickest check-in I've ever had when I came to the registration desk. It did help that I arrived a little later than I normally would have, around about 9:30 when the Convention Center was already open, but even so, I got through so quickly that I almost doubted what convention I was actually attending! All told, I only waited about five minutes from the time I got into the center until I had my badge in my hands (at which point, I had to resist the temptation to break into a jig and a song because it was REAL and ACTUALLY HAPPENING.) I should say that before I got into the center, I was in a scrum of people getting off the trolley, during which time I had a lovely discussion with a woman dressed up as Cruella DeVil about the difficulties of cosplay in a hot costume/intense wig. The fundamentalists were there, too, as usual. I saw a SDPD officer having a very difficult but respectful discussion with one of them about where he (the protestor) was allowed to stand in relation to the convention attendees, and I wanted to high-five the officer for being so infinitely patient, but I held back.
Once I had my badge and had squared away the free gigantic bag (I got the Lucifer one, somewhat to my disappointment--Teen Titans Go! or Supergirl were also in evidence and I would have preferred one of those, but oh well, whatever), I headed downstairs and started looking at EVERYTHING. It's a little hard to describe the rush that comes from stepping in the Exhibit Hall for the first time; there is so much to see, and there are so many people, and 99% of them are happy, and there are costumes everywhere, and there is a low hum of enthusiastic chatter, and it's just magic. This year, I was joined by my friend A. (who was dressed up in her awesome Flash costume), my childhood friend Mith (who was there in a volunteer capacity, but had some time to hang with us before she started feeling too sick to continue), and my friend Miss A, the R.E. coordinator from our UU Fellowship (who was a Con newbie.) In fact, I had forgotten how much fun it was hanging out with someone who'd never been to the Con before. Miss A was interested in EVERYTHING and her enthusiasm and excitement were contagious.
We spent a lot of time in the Small Press area (which has been bundled very successfully with the book booths) and Artists' Alley. I was super-excited to stop by 4th Dimension Entertainment and see Tracy Butler again; she did a gorgeous sketch for me in my book of Seraphine Savoy (the pic is over on Twitter, if you're interested). I also got to see my friend I see once a year at Con, Ryan Clayton. (His son is 2 now, which is crazy talk, and he's going to bring out some autobiographical comics about parenting, which I can't wait to see.) I also ran into the artist and writer of a comic that I snagged on our trip a while back, and was convinced I'd never find Volume 2 of. But it was there and I bought it! (And I totally chickened out on confronting them about their lack of female characters because they seemed so genuinely happy that someone recognized their work. Sigh. That's another entry for another time.)
One of the funniest interactions with anyone we had was at the Christian Comic Arts Association booth. In the past, I've gone by this booth because, well, it's not particularly relevant to me, and after the fundamentalists outside, I'm sort of done with religion. But this time, I saw a book there and brought Miss A to look at it: The Brick Bible, two volumes that retell the Old and New Testaments through Lego mini-figure dioramas. Miss A was able to buy this as a work-related expense and I paged through it. The book of Revelation is especially odd (the Lego monsters look incredibly goofy and the lake of plastic fire is just, uhm, adorable), and the death of Jesus is... well, it's odd-looking, and not particularly dignified. But Miss A thought it was wonderful and bought it, and a copy of the "Action Comics Bible!" and the people at the booth looked so happy that someone was talking earnestly with them, so yay for that!
We also stopped by Cartoon Network's Bearstack booth and had our pictures taken in a print club-ish booth that got emailed to us later; we looked at the Ugly Dolls booth (adorable as ever, now with Star Trek uniforms), and we went through almost every booth in Artists' Alley. I was on the lookout for a present for Yebisu, but as I told A. and Mith, finding something that both of us would like (or that he would like and I can live with) is really tough. I found a couple of things that I liked a lot, but wouldn't have been to his taste. Still, a ton of amazing work to see. I also got to meet Lea Hernandez (the character designer for Teen Titans Go) and told her how much R. enjoys the show. We were also on the hunt for Hello Kitty merch, and TokiDoki had a Hello Kitty-patra Egyptian style toy for sale that was... well, adorable, obviously, but highly coveted, with the line stretching around the booth to the back of the hall. (We did not buy it.)
Speaking of toys, at the Hasbro booth, I got to see the new line of My Little Pony miniatures (which include adorable tiny furniture), several awesome new full-scale action figures (including Captain Marvel and Scarlet Witch, both of whom look really good) and the Ahsoka and Sabine Star Wars figures. Dammit, my son is gonna get all these great toys because I am an adult.
There were the usual swag/freebies this year, although not as many as I've gotten in years past. I have several new shopping bags (yay!), a lot of postcards, a few more pins, a fan, a tiny flask for Yebisu (that came with a book I bought him), a pack of tissues, a Spiderman sticker book for R. that he liked a little bit, and a Pinkie Pie paper hat that he really likes. Oh, and a hardcover copy of How We'll Live on Mars, which is a very interesting read! So yay for that!
There was only one bad thing that happened all day, and it had to do with (you've guessed it) zombies. As my group of friends and I was making our way towards Artists' Alley, we found ourselves next to the Walking Dead booth. There was a promo playing on their big screens, and I was carefully avoiding looking at that when I realized that up ahead in the crowded lane between booths, there were people dressed as zombies sneaking up on Con goers. At this point, we were pretty much stuck in the flow of the crowd and couldn't go backwards. I don't remember what I said, exactly, but A. was in front of me, and the two of us kept our eyes on the guy ahead of us in costume who was the most likely to try and accost us. We were navigating fairly successfully and avoiding him when the woman in front of us suddenly stopped and A. nearly ran into her and had to shout to get her to move again. We got out of the crowd, and A. apologized, but the woman was very angry, and I stammered something like, "those guys give me panic attacks and I can't be near them." The woman huffed off, and I got myself back together (fortunately, no actual crying, but my heart was pounding.) A. later told me that if the costumed guy had come near me, she would have punched him in the face. (With these words and her actions on the floor at the time, A. moved into my mental "I am loyal to you forever" tier of friends. I am beyond grateful to her for being supportive and kind like that.) It was pretty low-key haunted house stuff, but goddammit, it pushed all my buttons. I'm proud of myself for not letting it ruin my day, but it was a fucking strain on my mental well-being for a few minutes there.
If you want to see my photos, I've put them all up on my Twitter feed (@ChaoticSensible). I saw some amazing cosplay this year, and I tried to get a few shots of the scene around the Con itself (although these are often tough without being on a ladder, because it's almost impossible to convey the scale of the experience.)
I think we're gonna try to go all four days next year, providing that we can get the tickets. Bad stuff aside, I had a wonderful time, and I'd love to put together a costume of some sort together. As usual, the frustrating/difficult parts were far outweighed by the good times and I really can't wait to go again.