Omnium Gatherum #74: What A Short, Strange Trip It Was
By Vincent S. Moore
Howdy, folks, and welcome once again to the Omnium Gatherum.
Last week was that grand old time held in San Diego known as Comic-Con International.
Now, I was unable to attend the 2011 edition of the show. Boohoo for me.
This year, I originally thought I wasn’t going to attend either but a few last minute business opportunities showed up on my doorstep. Being desperate as I am for new things to do, I couldn’t pass any of these gems up. So I planned to make a trip down to Nerd Prom as it has been called on Friday the 13th of July.
Maybe I should have paid more attention to that date.
Or maybe I shouldn’t have indulged in my seemingly innocent mental preparation ritual on the Thursday before.
I didn’t pay attention in either case. So I should not have been surprised by how my relatively simple day trip did not go as planned.
My original plan was as follows: wake up early Friday morning, gather items for the trip, have the Faithful Assistant drive down to San Diego, park at Petco or nearby, hit the ground running, come back home late night. Relatively simple, right? Sure there were going to be some bumps. However I didn’t think anything major could go wrong.
Even though dealing with some business at the Omnium Gatherum Ashram initially disrupted and delayed my pre-trip prep, I eventually settled down to watch one of my favorite films, to get my mind ready to cope with the chaos that is Comic-Con International.
My choice of movie may have been my real mistake.
The film in question was Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, starring Johnny Depp and Benicio Del Toro, directed by Terry Gilliam, based on the book of the same name written by Hunter S. Thompson.
Just as the movie was wrapping up, the Faithful Assistant entered my office with an offer I maybe should have refused. The Faithful Assistant had a friend who makes props and dons costumes of a superheroic bent to wear at shows like CCI. This gentleman was in desperate need of a ride down to San Diego Thursday evening because his partner in crime found himself stuck between Ontario and Las Vegas on his way to LAX. The gentleman had a potential opportunity present itself that he could not resist (I knew the feeling) and so, reached out to the Faithful Assistant for help. In return of our aid, he would kind put gas into the Faithful Assistant’s chariot (better than an offer of gold in California) and spare some floor space in the condo he booked for the show.
How could I turn down such an offer? Especially with the Faithful Assistant wondering how we were going to manage even one day at Nerd Prom without some sort of staging area. Also in helping out a stranger I would be helping out myself, right? Giving spirit that I am, I agreed to accept the mission presented and promptly set about rushing together the essentials for what was now a day and a night trip to Comic-Con International: San Diego.
The strangeness was about to begin.
Traveling out to the valley, to North Hollywood, the Faithful Assistant and I soon found and picked up the Gentleman from Florida as I will call him here (just look up a prop shop called The Snikt Shop to find him and his wares) and with a couple of quick stops for supplies and gas, we were soon on the road.
The drive down to San Diego was uneventful. A blessing, given what was about to happen. The only drama was the ongoing phone/texting dialogue between the Gentleman from Florida and his Sancho Panza who was just getting into LAX while we were halfway to San Diego.
We arrived in two hours’ drive time to just outside San Diego, to the event the Gentleman from Florida hoped to attend as a promotional stunt. The basic sketch was this: the Gentleman, garbed as Wolverine, would show up at a Stan Lee sponsored party, armed with a water gun loaded with vodka, and get a few photos with Stan the Man, ideally being hit with or feeling threatened by the vodka gun. That was the plan.
The reality was no Stan Lee, an uncertain event promoter, a quick beer for the Gentleman, some disappointment, no photos, a wait in the chariot, and then back on the road into downtown San Diego.
This was just the beginning.
Before I go on, I want it understood I am not blaming anyone. I went into this situation with my eyes wide open. If anything, I was starting to regret having watched Fear And Loathing because some of its juju appeared to be rubbing off onto me. At least I have this awesome story to tell y’all from this experience.
Pulling up to the streets outside the condo complex where the Gentleman from Florida had arranged for lodging, I was back on familiar territory. Having attended CCI for nearly two decades, this area was nearly as familiar to me as my own neighborhood. I had even stayed at a residence hotel across the street from where we parked.
The Gentleman disappeared into the building, to open up the condo. His Sancho Panza had the garage clicker but, quite in contrast to its reputation, we found a spot to park on the streets of San Diego. Which was fine as there was only one parking spot in the garage anyways.
The Gentleman returned with a more disappointed and frustrated look on his face, lower than it had been after the failure at the night club.
It turned out the person renting the condo to him for the weekend had not left town yet.
It further turned out this person would not be leaving until 6 am, roughly.
It was already 1 am or so.
Oh, boy, the strange part of the trip was starting to take hold.
With Sancho Panza quickly making his own way to San Diego, the first order of business was to find a place to bivouac for a number of hours while waiting.
Fortunately enough, there is always one good place to spend the night, killing time: Denny’s.
Our party pulled into Denny’s about 2 am.
The Gentleman from Florida offered to pay for food, so the Faithful Assistant and I each ordered something light but fattening from the menu.
In time, one of the Gentleman’s friends, a fellow cosplay model and actress, would arrive and break bread with us. I would hear such tales of that lifestyle that would shock me while we ate and talked. I won’t repeat them here even if I could remember them. It was a fascinating glimpse into that part of comic convention life I never knew before.
In time, Sancho Panza, weary from his own travails, arrived and joined the party.
So there we sat.
About 5:30, feeling weary myself, I suggested we retreat back to the condo, to see if the lady had left yet. With some reluctance, the party retreated from Denny’s and journeyed by to the condo complex.
Only to find the lady still at home, slow to be gone.
We ended up sitting in our cars, waiting it out.
By 7 am, she was gone and the condo was now open to us.
But there was no rest to be had. For I had important tasks to do and the day had already begun!
Freshly showered and clothed I ran over to the convention center to pick up my badge. I felt like a voter in Pennsylvania with the time of times I had to show my ID card before I was given that very badge. I think next year I will have to give a blood sample or saliva to prove who I am.
From the convention center I walked briskly to the Analog Bar, to a brunch hosted by Lion Forge , a new new media company. I was invited graciously by Brandon Easton, writer of the Shadowlaw graphic novel and for Thundercats. It was a good gathering, with some old friends in attendance like Todd Harris and Geoff Thorne of Genre 19, Robert Roach, creator of Menthu and The Roach , and Brandon Thomas, writer of Dynamite’s Voltron. I also met a couple of new people as well, including Anthony Montgomery from Star Trek Enterprise and his own comic Miles Away, co-written with Brandon Easton, and Jason Reeves of 133art . It was actually just good to sit for a while, eat some more food, and talk.
While I was sitting, I did note that I was missing out on The Black Panel. Which was good for my nerves but not so good for my politics from what I ended up hearing.
Soon, it was time to get back on the road. I was a working man that Friday. I had places to go, people to see.
I made my way to Marriott Hotel, next to the convention center. I had promised the lovely Valerie Perez I would try to see her film, Paula Peril: Midnight Whistle. I know her from the day job at Comics Ink. She is good people. And I wanted to show support for her. It was tough fighting fatigue in the darkened ballroom. But I sat forward and watched. It was a good film. It is nice to see someone bringing back the tough girl reporter genre. I hope there are more films in this franchise to come.
Next was the main room of Comic-Con itself.
The maddening amount of human beings, sights, and sounds all crowded into what seems like a small space was amazing. I love Comic-Con! I had a few stops to make. Namely go by and talk with John Layman of Chew fame who I had bumped into briefly while running to the film. John was busy, so I said we’d talk later and move on the next target on my list, the Top Cow booth.
I was stopping by to see my friend Lori who is working for ThrillBent, to say howdy and to see about the party they were hosting that evening. We chatted for a bit before I had to go and meet with a new editing client.
A meeting that went rather well in my opinion. I’m keeping quiet on this front for the most part because things are early. Nothing to show yet, nothing to discuss but I am excited about this opportunity.
From there, I had to return to the condo as the Faithful Assistant had summoned me. The Gentleman from Florida, as was his right, had plans for the evening in the condo that did not include our involvement. We had to collect our things quickly and put them back in the car. Luckily, we had secured cheap parking on the streets. I felt a bit like an Ugly American for taking that spot all day and night, but one has to take what offerings the land provides.
Much of the rest of the day was a blur of meeting more friends, talking about comics and the madness that is the show. I even made a couple of new friends as well.
At one point, while sitting and waiting for my phone to charge up, the Faithful Assistant and I ran into an old friend and his son. To back track a bit, Hannibal Tabu, brilliant mind behind The Buy Pile and Komplicated, had mentioned me on Facebook in regards to The Black Panel. Something had happened, something outrageous. As I learned from my friend who had been there, it seems a toy gun had been pulled by Michael Davis as a gag. Oh, brother. This friend found it and finds the antics of Mr. Davis to be very funny. In retrospect, I wished Dave Chappelle had appeared over my shoulder to slap this man several times for finding this outrageousness funny. I don’t know. I find it sad that three years after I wrote about The Black Panel, jiggabuffoonery as usual has returned. I could go on, but enough.
The quest for food, as the Faithful Assistant reminded me more than once, kept us moving like sharks for several hours. The blur resumed.
We ended up killing some time watching anime at the Marriott.
Soon, it was time to prepare for the ThrillBent party.
Along the way back to the car for a quick change of shirt, I received a text message from the masterful Marc Mason, the owner and operator of this very website. He wanted to meet up before I ran myself out of town on a rail. Fortunately, it was well within the route I needed to take to the party, so the Faithful Assistant and I crashed his table at Nathan’s Steakhouse. It was good to see Marc, since I didn’t attend last year’s show. It turned out we had some business to discuss as well. Once that was done, good conversation continued with Marc and his friend Neal Pozner) until it was time to leave for the party.
The party was a wonderful way to cap off the long day.
A few old friends were there and I made a couple of new acquaintances as well. More good conversations were had. I even got to meet Mark Waid, although he thought he had met me before. It could well have been. Who am I to argue with an Eisner Award winner?
Soon, the party was crashed by the Hilton themselves, even though the hotel was hosting it. That and the growing fatigue in the eyes of the Faithful Assistant meant it was time to get on the road home. One last introduction was made, to MF Grimm, and then we hit the open road.
A short drive back to the Omnium Gatherum Ashram, with a couple of pitstops for rest and stretching, ended the very long day and short trip to Comic-Con 2012.
All in all, I got a lot done and had a good time. One task was left undone, but with all I did get accomplished, I didn’t fret it. I only wished I had gone to the full show. I am pretty sure I will be there next year though. Plans a’plenty are in the works.
Until next time, folks.