Okay. ComicCon was cool this year, and people have been asking for details.
So here they are.
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As I mentioned earlier, my trip to comic-con had a pretty rocky start.
This seems to be a theme of ComicCon for me. My first trip to ComicCon was fraught with peril, as mentioned in this comic by Greg Dean. While my second trip had a delayed flight that left me stranded in Chicago for a night.
Luckily, this year I had Valerie to help me out, so I made it to the con without too much stress. Though I did only get about an hour and a half of sleep Tuesday night.
- 11:00 – Nap.
I arrive in San Diego, find my hotel, and promptly fall asleep. The people at the hotel seem a little confused when I ask them for a 3:00 wake up call.
“You want us to wake you up at 3:00 AM tomorrow morning?” they say.
“No.” I say. “3:00 this afternoon. Four hours from now.”
Eventually they catch on, but I feel like they’re judging me. And I guess that’s fair. When the first thing I do at the convention is take a nap, I am officially old.
The fact remains that it was a delicious nap. I wake up refreshed and ready to get my geek on.
- 4:00 – Blog.
Because I didn’t have the chance the night before, I decide to post a blog telling everyone about the talent pipes Badali Jewelry is making based on my books.
I’ve been approached by various people over these last couple years who want to do merchandising. Most of the time I’ve replied with a polite, “Thank you, no.”
The biggest reason is that I don’t want to feel like a great big whore. I don’t want to churn out a bunch of gimmicky merch just to make some extra money. That sort of thing has always struck me as being tacky, if not downright unethical. It seems like a betrayal of trust, like taking advantage of my readers.
But Badali Jewelry does wonderful work. They hold the jewelry licenses for several big-name geek properties (LOTR and Wheel of Time, just to name a few.) What’s more, they’re actually fans of my books. They’re proper geeks, and their love for what they do shows in their work. I trusted them enough to let them beta read The Wise Man’s Fear, and that says a lot right there.
Anyway, the pipes turned out great. That’s the moral of the story here. You’ll be seeing some more stuff from them before too long.
- 5:00 – Crash.
After banging out quick blog on the computer in the hotel lobby, I head to the convention center. I end up standing next to Seth Green while waiting for a stoplight to change. I try to think of a way to say, “Your stuff is awesome” that doesn’t sound gushy and fanboy, but I can’t think of anything. So I settle on a companionable silence instead.
Despite the long line, getting my badge is a remarkably painless process. I’m just putting the program book in my backpack when my phone rings.
I open it up. “Hello?”
“Hey,” Valerie says. “It’s Valerie.”
“I know,” I say. “Your text is green. What’s up?”
“Badali’s website is down. A bunch of people posted comments about it.”
“Really?” I say. “When did it go down?”
“About twenty minutes after you posted the link on your blog.”
My first reaction was to feel pretty cool. My second reaction was terrible guilt. I thank Valerie and give my contact at Badali a call. They’re only a couple hundred feet away, but I don’t have an exhibitor badge, so I can’t go into the hall until 6:00.
“Janelle?” I say as soon as she picks up. “I’m sorry. I think I broke your stuff.”
“I posted up a link to the talent pipes on my blog. But I think the traffic crashed your website.”
“Wow,” she says. A pause. “That’s kinda awesome!”
A wave of relief fills me, and I’m no longer overwhelmed with guilt. “I know!” I say. “I feel like Neil Gaiman!”
- 5:30 – First contact.
I get off the phone and finish putting some stuff away into my backpack. I sling it over one shoulder and look around, wondering how I’m going to kill half an hour until the hall opens up for preview night.
A pretty young Asian woman makes eye contact with me. She cocks her head to one side. “Are you Patrick Rothfuss?” she asks.
“I am,” I say.
She looks hesitant, then says, “Can I have a hug?”
“Absolutely,” I say.
And we hug.
I decide that this is probably going to be a pretty good convention.
- 6:00 – On the Floor.
For those of you that don’t know much about San Diego ComicCon, let me explain. Wednesday night from 6:00-9:00 is preview night. Only people with 4-day passes can get in.
This makes it a great time to meet people in the exhibit hall. Not only is the place relatively uncrowded, but all the exhibitors are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. (Both literally and/or figuratively, depending on the booth.)
I wander around pretty aimlessly at first. But luck takes me past Donato’s booth, and I get to say howdy to him. He’s a hell of a nice guy, to say nothing of the fact that he’s amazing artist. We chat for a bit, and I thank him for the donation of some prints he made to Worldbuilders this year. (You’ll be seeing those in the Tinker’s Packs before too long.)
I swing by Jason Palmer’s booth too, but he’s not at the con yet. I shrug it off, knowing that I’ll have plenty of time to stop back later in the con.
Next I stumble onto a booth where the cast of the Guild is doing a signing. The con is barely half an hour old, and they already have a huge line. I consider stopping to say hello to Felicia and Sandeep, but even though they’re not signing yet, I can tell the cast is kinda hanging out together. Besides, Felicia and Sandeep are chatting with some guy and I don’t want to barge into their conversation.
I’m also vaguely anxious that if I run into them 30 minutes into the convention, I’ll look like I’m stalking them. Which I’m not. Not at the current moment, that is.
I decide to leave them to their throng of adoring fans and see what else the floor has to offer.
I swing by the Penny Arcade booth, where I say howdy to Mike and Jerry. I wrote an intro for their most recent anthology, and hadn’t had a chance to see it in the real world yet.
Jerry comes out from the booth and gives me a hug. “We said terrible things,” he says.
At first, I have no idea what he’s talking about. Then I realize he’s probably referring to the comic they did a while back, and the podcast where they talked about the book in frank terms, and, well… mocked me.
Honestly, I’m a little flabbergasted. “I don’t know what it’s like where you live,” I say. “But where I come from, mocking is how we express love.”
And it’s true. There’s a world of difference between snarkery, loving satire, and full-blown vitriolic excoriation. Penny Arcade does all of these things, and does them well, but I can tell the difference.
After establishing that we’re all still best friends, I wander by Mysterious Galaxy’s booth, where it turns out they’re selling copies of Ghost Story even though the book technically wasn’t going to be released for days yet.
Needless to say, I bought a copy and clutched it lovingly.
“Is Butcher going to be here at the con?” I ask the people at the booth.
They tell me he is.
This is good news. I’ve read all the Dresden Files books at least twice, many of them three or four times. I’m a huge fan and I’ve been hoping to meet Butcher for years.
So Wednesday was full of win. A great way to start the convention. Best of all, I’d managed to make it through the whole thing without committing any huge social gaffs and making an ass of myself.
But it was only Wednesday, I still had four days of convention left….
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This is part of the San Diego Diary: Wednesday, Thursday Part I, Thursday Part II (Wootstock), and Friday Ad Infinitum.