I gotta admit, my fellow Macrocranians, the entire past five years of my comic book convention going was a lie. I may have sounded like I was having the time of my life during the podcasts I recorded while I was conventioning and talking to guests but the truth is I absolutely hated the convention part of it. I hated the long drives and bus rides and expensive food and hotels and overpriced tickets just to get in and I hated the frenzied atmosphere. I would've rather met those comic artists and creators in a half empty comic shop or bar or 7 Eleven Slurpee fountain somewhere in some secluded part of town instead of at some giant super mega convention with tens of thousands of other people and dealers and organizers and Deadpool cosplayers sucking the life and money out of me. And to be completely honest, I did find some comfort in the idea of moving to the middle of nowhere in Georgia where I am now because it meant there was no reasonable expectation or possibility that I would ever have go to another convention again. Except for one thing-that damn box of space bunny Christmas cards!
BUCKY OR BUST!
I thought I could retire from comic conventioning after hitting the apex of my comic congoing career at East Coast Comic Con 2015. There I talked to great legends of my toy robots comic booking childhood and uncovered fantastic new unknown truths about Transformers comic history. It was a massive high point where I could have called it quits and never gone back. And to a great extent I did believe that was my last one. But there was still the matter of that friggin' box of Bucky O'Hare Christmas cards I had signed by only two of the three creators of Bucky O'Hare. It was my last boss left unbeaten, my unfinished concerto, my second Death Star hanging ominous and unfinished around the Endor moon of my mind. So despite my self proclaimed con retirement I found myself compelled to hit up HeroesCon 2015 in North Carolina last Sunday. After achieving a lifetime's worth of comic celebrity encounters over the past few years, I still had to knock out one more show and get that final autograph. So I bought my ticket to Oz, hopped on the nearest tornado and went to meet the comic illustrating wizard Michael Golden.
FIFTY FIRST CONVENTIONS
You know those stories about the police detective who has one last case to solve before he retires, or the spice smuggler who has one last mission to Alderaan before he pays off Jabba, or the Jaeger pilot who has cancer that will kill him if he fights kaijus again? They all get screwed in the end! They get shot or carbonited or eaten by kaijus and I knew that was exactly what was going to happen to me at HeroesCon (at least metaphorically).
This is because I like to live in a fantasy where every famous person I meet remembers clearly in vivid detail the one time I got them to sign some thirty year old action figure or comic book or paper plate with toy robot cartoons on it. And they smile and think warm thoughts about the time they did an interview with that one guy who asked those terrible questions for the podcast they'd never heard of before or since. But the truth of course is I am just another customer buying autographs or prints or comics or whatever from them and they don't even know my name, much less remember it. And that kills me. It kills me to know our meetings are in no way significant or have any lasting impact on them beyond the five bucks I paid for their scribbles. That's why I have a personal rule that I never ever ever talk to the same famous person at conventions twice in the same lifetime (unless it is Jose Delbo but the exception proves the rule there. The other exception is heavy metal singer Bruce Dickinson, who I did meet once and was never disappointed that he didn't recognize me when I was sitting in the 78th row at Iron Maiden concerts.)
OH THANK GOLDEN I'M FREE AT LAST
Yes, it was that box of Bucky O'Hare Christmas cards that I'd gotten signed by Larry Hama and Neal Adams at conventions prior that had me laying awake at night thinking about how no Bucky O'Hare piece of memorabilia is complete without Michael Golden's autograph on it. I simply could not quit going to cons until I had the one key signature I needed on that friggin' thing. So to complete the trifecta, the holy trinity of Bucky O'Hare creators, I had to go on the pilgrimage to Charlotte, North Carolina to get that damn box signed so help me god by Michael Golden.
And sign it he did. It was probably just another one of billions of signatures he's done, but man, he will never know how much of a momentous occasion it was for me. It's like he was signing my life back to me. Never again would I have to go to a comic convention. Never again would I have to brave the crowds and expensive food and giant lines and Deadpool cosplayers and all the associated nervousness and anxiety I got from meeting people and going to those places. Now truly everything I ever wished to accomplish at comic cons was done. I was free. It was over. Michael Golden signed my ticket and Bucky O'Hare was the pilot on the last flight of the Righteous Indignation out of conventionville.
MY HEROES DON'T DISAPPOINT ME, THEY JUST KINDA NEVER REMEMBER MY NAME
Thankfully Michael Golden didn't remember my awkward interview skills (from episode 25) four years ago or if he did he was still very warm and professional anyways. He made those precious few seconds I was at his table unforgettable by just being enthusiastic about Bucky O'Hare. He even had a single Bucky print left for sale and I grabbed it. I could have gone home then and it would have been super sweet but I just had to go over and revisit a couple of other creators like Mark Texeira, Tom Scioli, and Bill Sienkewicz. It was a mini Roboplastic Podcastalypse reunion of guests and acquaintances from the last few years (in my head at least-I'm sure they didn't know me from Johnny Blaze).
To my amazement they still talked to me again even though I don't do a podcast anymore! Holy hell if I knew they'd talk anyways I never would have come up with the ridiculous pretense of having a podcast in the first place! But at least with my recordings I have something uniquely related to any given convention experience to show for all the time and money I spent. I can handle paying for autographs (and being forgotten for free) as long as I have proof that for a few moments the giants knew my name.
|Tom Scioli and Mark Texeira signed Transformers stuff for me.|
DOROTHY WOULD'VE COME HOME SOONER IF SHE WASN'T FREELOADING IN OZ
I think now I can get on with my life and put all this convention madness behind me. There's no reason left to pack my bags and stay overnight somewhere hundreds of miles from home just to get maybe 30 seconds of interaction with some comic creator I admire. Nowadays with YouTube and Periscope and everyone and their mother doing a podcast I can pretty much sit at home and watch the action at the big cons from my living room. And of course eBay renders buying things at conventions rather pointless by making it possible to pay over inflated convention prices from the comfort of home. Cons are still good for meeting creators but I have been there and done that to my utmost satisfaction. HeroesCon 2015 was the best double last convention I could've ever chosen. From here on out I ain't going anywhere to see anybody unless anywhere is my backyard and the anybody is my kid who wants to play ball. Good luck to all you Dorothys out there still jumping in those tornadoes. I hope the wizard remembers your name!