Friday, September 6, 2013

Dragon Con 2013: Day 2 – Friday

Draw me like one of your French girls.
I got up at 7:30 AM on Friday.

No – really.

It was nothing short of a miracle, because getting out of bed at 7:30 AM just is not something I do. Especially after a night of incredibly strong Mai Tais and incredibly weak hillbilly beer. But I think what got me going was my concern for waking up the Evils. My phone alarm had been going off for a minute before I was totally awake and I had that shock of, “Oh, shit! I don’t want to wake them up at 7:30 AM!” going through my system. So as soon as I deactivated the alarm – which take a second because you have to swipe the screen in the right way and that is not something that comes naturally to me at 7:30 AM or any other time of the day – I was awake.
I got dressed and debated on whether or not to go ahead and bring my luggage (funny word – literally “thing that is lugged”). I decided not to because past experience has taught me that you can’t always check in to a hotel when you think you will be able to. Especially if that early check-in was “guaranteed” by a series of vague and almost sketchy e-mails.

The hotel had figured out this ingenuous plan to wring twenty-five more bucks out of its guests. For that price you could “guarantee” and early check-in. I jumped on it without even knowing what time the early check-in would be. I just knew the issues I had had at cons in the past and figured that anything they offered would be better than 3 PM. I got one e-mail back asking what time I needed to check in. I responded with “8 AM” and never heard anything back. Because of that, I descended to the lobby hoping for 8:00 AM and expecting anything between 10:00 AM and 2:59 PM.

There was no line at the desk and I’m not sure if that’s because it was so early or because nobody else was foolish enough to buy their “early check-in” nonsense. I walked right up to the guy there and told him my little e-mail story. He made a show of looking me up and then did that thing that you never, ever want to see a clerk of any kind do – he went into the back room. And was gone for a while.

When he came back out he said that he had checked with his supervisor and that my check-in time was for 9:00. I suppose I could have made a big deal about it, but I was so happy that it wasn’t hours from then that I just told him I’d be back at nine. I was going to have to eat breakfast sometime anyway and it might as well be when I couldn’t be doing anything else.

I made my to the Peachtree Center Food Court – the source of at least seventy percent of my annual Dragon Con meals – and got some food.

The difference between the Food Court that morning and the rest of the weekend was amazing to behold. On Friday morning I walked right up to Chick-Fil-A, ordered my chicken biscuit, and sat at an unoccupied table in under ten minutes; barely more than five.
I took my time eating – another luxury I would not be afforded for the rest of the weekend – and then moseyed back over to the hotel.

I am not a fan of moseying. I don’t like doing it and I really can’t stand it when other people do. Especially when they’re in front of me. At Con. Now, if somebody has a physical issue or some other legit reason that is obviously a different story. But if you’re just sort of ambling along with no agenda you should be doping your best to minimize your profile and keep right. It’s a different story in the Dealer Room or the Walk of Fame where there are things to look at and appreciate, but if you’re just in a walkway or hotel you need to be maximizing your ambulatory efficiency.

But there really wasn’t anybody out yet on Friday morning and I had an hour to burn. So I forced myself to mosey. At this point you might expect me to say I had an introspective moment or learned to appreciate the beauty of the city or had the opportunity to think about all of the wondrous events that were sure to occur over the next few days.

Nope.

I was just irritated that I couldn’t be accomplishing something. I could almost feel my body grinding at the slow rate I was forcing on it. I am not usually a boundless source of kinetic energy, but between the fact that I was at Dragon Con and the unreasonable pride I felt at waking up at such an early hour I was practically ablaze. So ablaze, as a matter of fact, that I finally understood the diabolical torture of the Comfy Chair.

I got back to the hotel check-in desk and still had fifteen or so minutes to wait, which is telling in and of itself. Just imagine leaving a spot, going to eat, and then arriving back in the same spot in under forty-five minutes at any other time during Dragon Con. But anyway, I got back and sat in a Comfy Chair in the lobby. It was very comfy. And it was pissing me off. Because I did not want to be sitting in a Comfy Chair. I wanted to be getting my luggage out of the car and unpacking and taking a shower. I wanted to be accomplishing. I did not want to be comfy.

At 8:50 I couldn’t stand it anymore and I went up to the desk. Thankfully the gentleman recognized my dismay and gave me a room. He was also nice enough to give me one of the Derek Yaniger hotel keys even though he said they weren’t working (he gave me a regular one, too).

This year’s Dragon Con brought a new development that I have never had to deal with before – I had stuff to lug around for panels. Zach Oat at Diamond Select Toys had sent me a huge box of products as displays and giveaways and Billy’s Toys & Comics had sent an equally huge box of vintage toys for display. On top of that, I had the new DCW Hooligans shirts and the remaining stock of my Needless Things shirts.

Side Note: I can’t possibly thank Billy and Zach enough. Billy is an amazing guy and can find you any toy you are looking for. Mr. Oat was the only person that responded to the e-mails I sent out to pretty much every toy company in the hopes that somebody would be willing to send product along.

Once I got my unreasonable amount of stuff into the room, I was able to unpack and shower and be ready to head out by 10 AM. 2013 was looking to be a banner year as far as me having my shit together (I know that sounds ominous, but I’ll go ahead and spoil things and say it mostly was). My later check-in meant I would miss the Defiance panel, but I had plenty of time to make it over to the Marriott to see Mr. Entertainment, John Barrowman.
On my way to the panel I just happened to see some of my favorite costumes of the weekend:
Eric and Bobby from Dungeons & Dragons! They said they had a group with everybody except Diana.

The Brigadier and Sgt. Benton!


And I have to say that Con-specific Grumpy Cat is a win. Big time.


As you can tell from my shitty picture, I was roughly 7,389 rows back from John Barrowman, but even considering that being in the same room with that guy was electric. He is so over-the-top and enthusiastic and un-self-conscious. It’s amazing. I can’t say he was the best speaker I’ve seen at Con, but he was beyond a shadow of a doubt the most energetic and enthusiastic. I’m thrilled I had the opportunity to see him live.

As soon as the panel was over I headed straight downstairs to the Walk of Fame. Aside from showing up for all of the panels I was on, I only had one concrete, can’t-miss goal for the weekend – I had to meet Peter Davison, get him to sign my Fifth Doctor figure, and get a picture with him. I had a few other celebrity goals that I would meet if I had the time, but I might not ever have another chance to meet Mr. Davison. It’s entirely possible that he is the last Doctor I will meet at all. I don’t know that Tom Baker is traveling much these days and the post-McCoy Doctors all seem relatively inaccessible to somebody who doesn’t really leave the Southeastern United States.

When I got downstairs I realized the Walk of Fame wasn’t open yet and there was a massive line outside of people waiting to get in. I was tempted to leave and come back later, but I have learned my lesson about being patient and just waiting for the best opportunity to do things. I wanted to take care of my Davison business as soon as I possibly could. Also, I got to get a picture of this amazing-looking lady:
I didn’t know what she was dressed as and told her so. I’ve decided that if I tell people they look awesome, they won’t mind explaining their costume. She said she was from Blood, a vampire-hunting anime.


Once I got inside the Walk of Fame I was pretty amazed at the lack of Famous People. I don’t think even half of them were in there yet. But what really mattered was that Peter Davison was. And there was a very short line. Despite how huge the line waiting to get into the Walk of Fame had looked, once it was inside it dispersed fairly well (I’ll get into my opinion on the Walk of Fame’s new location in a minute). Everybody spread out over the huge ballroom, looking for whomever they were looking for (and likely not finding them).

As I stood in line, I thought about what I was going to say to Peter Davison. Meeting a Doctor is a very big deal and I don’t want my memory of the encounter stained by the fact that I dorked it up (like my meeting with Bruce Campbell). All I really had was telling him that I when I was a kid watching Doctor Who I had never dreamed I would have the opportunity to meet a Doctor and to thank him profusely for being there. Which is exactly what I did. He was very nice and seemed somewhat overwhelmed. He also told me I looked fantastic, so that was cool.
I also decided that from now on I am only going to ask Famous People to sign stuff to “Phantom” for me. I really don’t want those folks to have to write out “Phantom Troublemaker” all the time. Heck, I don’t even like typing it.
So there it is. I now have signed figures from and pictures with three Doctors. That is absolutely fucking unbelievable.

I didn’t even bother looking around anymore after that. I had some other stuff to get signed, but had only brought the Davison figure with me then. 
 
I’m not sure how I feel about the new location for the Walk of Fame. It’s definitely more rectangular than the Hilton’s space. The room is incredibly long and I think it might have been nice to have a walkway in the middle. Also, despite the larger size I found out later that they didn’t even have all of the Famous People in there. Lucy Lawless was downstairs in the room that used to be the Dealer Room, which explains why I never saw her. I had totally planned on getting her to sign something for Johnny Danger, but just didn’t have the time to hunt her down all weekend. I didn’t go down to that basement level once.

Speaking of the Dealer Room, that was next up on my Sober Friday agenda.

This year the Dealer Room was located in the AmericasMart, which is one block up from the Hilton and further away from Con than I remembered. When I got there, I was relatively shocked to see a huge line going out of the front door and wrapping around the side of the building. The place had been open for almost an hour at that point and I know for a fact it is much larger than the Marriott rooms, so I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

I ran into Monkey as I was investigating the entrance and he said that people were just walking in. He went to fetch Lady Monkey and Hooligan Mike while I made my way to the door. Things weren’t looking good up there. A big, burly Dragon Con staffer gave me the stinkeye when I got within fifteen feet of the door and told me there was a line. I didn’t know where Monkey had gotten to, so I followed the line back around the corner of the building. Just as I was about to say, “Fuck it,” and go find something else to do, the bright, shining ray of hope that is Lady Monkey came around the corner and said there was another door!

This was the line to get into the Dealer Room.
We raced back around the building and saw Monkey beckoning me in the distance. Sure enough, there was another entryway situated far back from the sidewalk. I thanked Lady Monkey for coming back for me (which was super nice of her) and the four of us headed into the vast and confusing place known as AmericasMart.

The Dealer Room

First off, I was not against the move. I feel like the Dealers need more space and combining them with the Exhibitors is a good move. AmericasMart really isn’t that far away from the main Con. 
 
I don't know where this originated, but I found it on Facebook and it is spot-on.
Unfortunately, the Dealer Room ended up being a frustrating disaster – in my opinion – despite my positive outlook.

It encompassed two floors of the AmericasMart, which sounds great until you get into the room on the first floor and realize how tiny it is.
It was so cramped that you literally couldn’t move freely and the only merchandise in that first room seemed to be corsets and t-shirts. We forced our way through the best we could and came out on the other side. I think at that point all of us were fairly uninterested in continuing. But with the help of another Con-goer we located the escalator and headed upstairs, which is where I ran into this guy:
A Captain America-themed luchador. Rey Mysterio would be proud.

At first glance the upstairs was massive, but I really had no idea just how massive until later on. The setup was extremely chaotic, with no regular aisles or way to tell which way to go or where you had been. You just had to wander around and hope you found everything. As of this writing I still have no idea if I saw the whole place. It was just too crazy.

I lost track of the Monkeys and Hooligan Mike at some point. One minute they were right behind me in an aisle, the next they were just gone.

I have been on a quest since last year. Not a Fairy Quest, but a quest to obtain some green or purple bracers. I know I could have some custom made – even with my logo on them – but it’s not something I can justify outside of a con. So if I just find some that I can fork cash over for, I’ll do it. I tried three different leather vendors this year and nobody had what I wanted. Well, that’s not entirely true – one guy had some awesome green lace-up bracers. The problem was they were attached to mugs he was selling. They weren’t actually for wrists. I did what I always do – I got business cards from everybody and will never get in touch with them.

I ran into the lovely and diabolical Miss Rachael at one point, who was looking far too fabulous for it being so early in the day. I think she was as lost as I was.

I didn’t buy a single thing in the Dealer Room this year. The few items I might have been interested in were vastly overpriced - the SDCC Star Wars Black Boba Fett was $250, for example – and all of the toy dealers had exactly the same toys. There was nothing vintage. It was all modern stuff that I could go online and buy right now for less than what it cost at Con, including shipping.

I finally decided I had had enough of that place and wanted to leave. I am not exaggerating when I say it probably took me half an hour to figure out how to get out of that place, and I didn’t go back all weekend.
****
After the Dealer Room debacle I only had one more stop for my Sober Friday list to be complete – the Comic & Pop Artist room in the Hyatt. I had one goal for that place that was almost as important as Peter Davison had been – to find an artist named Brian Kesinger and buy some stuff for Mrs. Troublemaker, who didn’t care to attend Con this year.

Before I went inside I spotted the Nova I had used as the top pic for my Sean Patton Q&A. I stopped to say hi and Mr. Patton himself was there, too. I got a picture of him with his creations and then went over to a table where some of the folks from Heroes of Cosplay were hanging out. I’m not going to get into how I feel about the way that SyFy is handling the show, but I wanted to tell the Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe folks that I thought they came off really well despite the “drama enhancing” editing of the show. They were super nice. The girl that did the Victorian Poison Ivy costume was also there and was very sweet.

I stopped by Mike Gordon’s Tiki-Tastic table when I got inside the room, but he was at a panel. So I wandered around looking for Kesinger. I couldn’t find him. There was a map on the back wall of the room, but it was just a picture of the tables. There were no names anywhere. That was pretty strange.

I finally spotted Kesinger’s table just as I was finishing up with these lovely ladies:
I believe they’re Aspen Comics characters. I’m not sure. They just looked good.

Kesinbger wasn’t at his table, but Mrs. Troublemaker really doesn’t care about getting stuff signed or whatever. She just wanted a print. So I got the biggest one there, as well as a Limited Edition copy of the guy’s book. Actually, that reminds me – I did buy something in the Dealer Room. I got Mrs. Troublemaker some kind of crazy demon horse stuffed animal from the Vampire Babies people.

From bkartonline.com
I made another round of the artists’ room and said hello to Jennifer from Handmade Stuffs, who was all out of Rainbow Dashes (I was going to buy one of those for Mrs. Troublemaker, too). The room was packed with talent, but Dragon Con just can’t compare with Heroes Con on the artist front. I was still reeling from the good time I had there.

Plus, it was getting close to the most magical hour of all of Dragon Con. The time when gods and titans gather in one holy place – the Hyatt Centennial Ballroom – to do battle for the entertainment of the Dragon Con masses and the DCW Hooligans. I had just enough time for dinner and a costume change before I had to return for 
 
Dragon Con Wrestling

Be sure to check back on Monday for the greatest and best wrestling recap of the whole year.

-Phantom

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