Professional Works

Monday, August 23, 2010

Adventures at Wizard World Chicago 2010

As a abudding comic book artist, one of the things you're told is to travel t oconventions to get your work looked at by editors and pros alike. With this comes a degree of cold feet, as I wasn't sure of...well...anything really.

Grandiose adventures started the night of Friday, August 20th 2010. I had been working my day job as a
lifeguard at the YMCA during a rather stormy day (nothing pisses people off more than when you have to close to pool because of lightning). Almost immediately after, my writer friend Eric 'The Indomitable Progressive Blogger' Pusey arrived in my tiny, ho-dunk town of Jackson. We were able to meet up at Jimmy's (a fabulous small-town diner), and just chill. Going over the pitch, which turned out great, as well as the weekend itself, a plan was hashed out.

Come 6:45 Saturday, August 21st 2010 I'm on the road to Chicago! A road trip for the ages, Eric had the pedal to the metal and the top down on his sweet Miata. I could feel the wind blowing through whatever hair is left on my head.

Soon enough, we ended up in the home where the FIBs roam (Eric is convinced he didn't pay any tolls coming in, yet doesn't seem to remember stopping at one). And like two out-of-staters, we were completely lost getting to the Hyatt for our stay. Conveniently located by the convention center, we trotted our way the few hundred yards to our impending doom...I mean*t, I mean fate (I told you I was nervous). All the while, I kept telling myself 'This is really happening. A year of planning, hard-ish work, and waiting and we're finally getting ourselves here!'

Right was we touched our feet to the convention floor, Eric and I are immediately herded into a different direction: Exhibit Hall B. Not what you think. Crammed full of people, Exhibit Hall B housed the gigantic line to the main entrance. Over the course of one-half hour, Eric and I mused about geeky things, poked fun at some of the more oddly dressed folks (all in good-natured humor too, btw), and kept our spirits high by talking ourselves up.

Once on the showroom floor, we were overwhelmed. Vendors, celebrities, and pros abound, we didn't know where to go first. So, we did the simple thing: we walked around. A lot. Our first stop was at the Avatar Press booth, Brian Pulido showing off his greatness with Lady Death. Our first 'meeting' to show off our pitch, we were told to leave contact info, and they'll get back to us. Perfectly fine. Seeing my favorite droid from a galaxy far, far away, I grabbed a photo op. Word. I was also able to catch glimpses of Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker from SW: Ep 1), Daniel Logan (Boba Fett from SW: Ep 2 and SW: The Clone Wars), Brent Spiner (Mr.Data from ST), the back of Walter Koenig's head, Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor from Terminator), Christina Loken (from T3, who also walked right by me with Linda in the ATM line), Gareb Shamus (former EIC of Wizard Magazine), and Adrianne Currie (a model who is a SW nerd).

Our next stop was the artist alley. The first person I saw there was my old classmate Joel. He gave me good advice, as well as doing some small catching up since I'd hadn't seen him since 2008. Next we quickly deposited our pitch to David Mack, Eric kinda freaked a little thinking we were taking time away from his 'selling of stuff', which is neither here nor there at this point. Another stop at Hanson Press, and then I'm finding myself talking to freelance comic artist Mike McKone! He too offered great advice, telling us to go the digital route, and even asked if I had any relation to CB Cebulski of Marvel. Sadly, I do not. Turing 180 degrees, we spoke with Jim Calafiore, another free-lance artist who is going to get a web comic up and running, he too dispatched more words of wisdom (seriously folks,this was almost as exciting as meeting Patrick Gleason and having Doug Mahnke walk over and offer tons of advice!). The duo pretty much had this message for us: never give up, and explore as many options as we can. Plain and simple. We even got some great digital websites to display our comic from the guys of Mid-Knight Adventures.

A special mention will go out to Rod Blagojevich who was in attendance. Why? Who the hell cares. Every time they announced him, there were boos abound, and everyone had something to say. As I came back in from the ATM line, he was standing right at the entrance, and I was standing shoulder to shoulder with him. I didn't actually talk to good ol' Rod, but I'm sure I'm in a TON of pictures with the guy.

Feeling we'd exhausted all sources we could find, Eric and I decided to try and enjoy the Con a bit, and head out shortly after. But first, I had some detouring to do: 'The Final Five' actors from Battlestar Galactica were in attendance at their own tables taking photos and signing autographs! Unfortunately, I got confused by some of the signage so I wasn't able to get a picture and autograph from Michael Hogan, who played one of my favorite characters on the show. Bummer. I at least got 'a' picture of him signing stuff.

However, I was able to get a photo-op and personalized autograph with Michael Trucco, aka Anders. As a fan of the show, I fell into the cliché of blanking when I met him. We chatted a bit about the show, the fact that his character 'Anders' became one of my other favorite characters as the show went on. He even told me how it was a hard sell to keep him on, mainly because he kept getting in the way of Starbuck and Apollo. I managed to compliment the fact that he was 'representing' with a Captain America shirt and stupidly said i was rocking the GL shirt. When I got my picture taken with him, he allowed Eric to take more than enough photos, and was even trying to direct him AS he's taking them. Finally, we got 'The One' as Michael put it, I shook his hand once more, gave my compliments, and was on my giddy merry...right into the line to meet Rekha Sharma, aka Tory.

Even more beautiful in person, I again blanked upon reaching her table. I simply gave my praises for her and the cast of the show, telling her how much I enjoyed it, and then blanked again. I awkwardly said 'I guess it's picture time' to which she responded 'Picture time, kinda like it's business time?'. Having no clue I again awkwardly responded 'I guess so.' To which she responded 'Do you watch Flight of the Conchords?', and my stupid response of 'I try to', which isn't far from the truth as I'd heard of it, but had never got the chance to see what it was. I was mentally punching myself in the head. Hard. Eric again played camera man, got a few pics, I shook her hand politely saying how good it was to meet her, and off I went. I had never felt more stupid around a female in my life, regardless of Ms. Sharma being an actress on my favorite TV show.

My VERY LAST STOP came in the form of the making a purchase from the custom lightsaber creators of Saber Forge. Laugh all you want, but holding a movie quality prop that is super-durable is a nerd's wet dream (aside from meeting hot TV actresses).

Back at the hotel, Eric and I chilled out and rested our feet and knees. Professor Avery Brooks (Captain Benjamin Sisko from ST: DS9) was wandering around, and even sat within 15 feet of us at the hotel restaurant. Michael Biehm from 'Terminator' was there too, as well as David Mack, and Joe Madruiera. The clocks struck midnight awfully fast.

Come morning, we had to depart. But not before I see Michael Hogan from BSG going down one the elevators. We ate some breakfast, packed our stuff (me getting extra paranoid of my autographed pic), loaded the car, and headed back in to the Con. We again spent time in Exhibit Hall B, this time not as long (what with it being Sunday and all). We decided to peruse the vendors some, Eric looking for some long-sought after comics and trades. Soon enough, however, we were on the road. Illinois behind me, I found myself in DT Milwaukee with my buddy Alex playing Madden and going back to being plain old me. The weekend, however, will stay with me forever. And every time I look up at my framed picture of 'Anders', it shall remind me to continue to bust my hump to get my dream of being a comic artist into a reality.

Casey J., over and out.

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