Con Journal: Dragon*Con 2011

Dragon*Con logo
Dragon*Con logo

Normally I go into conventions having some sort of project or achievement I want to carry out to say I really got experience out of the con and have a great story to tell when I get back home. Being a first timer at Dragon*Con and a comic book geek I picked up on the idea to pull an all-nighter at the convention in an effort to pounce the line to get to Stan Lee’s signing.

I put emphasis on the signing because while this convention is huge for sci-fi and fantasy media, it is a smaller and more focused convention for comics; making this an ideal spot to get some bigger names on my books, being that I won’t have to go up against as many big lines and strict signing policies. Many creators I was looking forward to meeting had cancelled the week before the convention in reaction to flight delays and various other work load problems, so a lot of my plans shortened down to insure that I was able to get to Stan Lee.

Just because this is a smaller comic convention however, doesn’t mean it would be a push over to get to Stan Lee so I entwined this project with my idea to stay up all night Saturday at the convention and stood up the evening before his signing.

Going into these sorts of projects requires some prep-work:

  1. Backpack
  2. Reading material
  3. Tooth Brush + Paste
  4. Deodorant
  5. Cell phone charger

These are pretty much staples even if you aren’t planning to raid a convention for 24 hours, they are practically mandatory for all conventions that demanded heavy tanking. For this occasion I would advise adding #6 for a spare change of clothing. This con is known strongly for being a food/drink convention and accidents do happen with great frequency, having a stain or worse on you for 24 hours is not pleasant.

As an aside, being part of the preparation and planning process, it is noteworthy to mention that the registration process has been, according the previous years and D*C veterans, a vast improvement on previous years. My registration experience on Thursday at 5 pm had me placed around the block of the Sheradon Hotel, and done within 30 minutes. Impressive by SDCC standards!

Around 8 am Saturday I arrived at the convention able to queue up for the comic artist alley section, since Friday seemed a bit of a slow day for the artists I had a few more signatures to stack before I could devote time to figuring out how Stan’s event worked. Lines are always one of the better parts of cons for me because it’s a good forum to share information and meet new people. Sure, chatting things up makes time go by a lot quicker and being quiet is sometimes painful due to close proximity but a lot of the time good connections are made in lines and valuable information is shared. After a few hours in the alley chatting it up with some creators about their experiences and work, not to mention collecting some gem sketches and signatures, it was time to scope out the rest of the convention and find Stan’s signing area. Scanning the program got me to the signing area, and after purchasing a ticket for the 11 am signing Sunday, I was off.

Another integral part to doing the over-night con experience is to find places that you can lounge in and be comfortable with reasonable assurance that you’re not going to be disturbed. The place I picked out was the 24/hour gaming area down in the basement of the Hilton; plenty of power outlets for the charger, more than enough room to claim a corner to rest, and most of all great games to soak up the long hours. It also turns out that it was the same building for the Walk of Fame and Stan’s signing area. Located not far from the gaming area was a 24/hour café, now it’s somewhat a con-sin to purchase sodas and confections for 1.5x the average pricing but for this occasion I made an exception. The body can subsist without sleep temporarily if you have a good caloric intake to fuel you.

Venturing into the later hours, things became more party focused and the screenings tended to taper off a bit so I retreated back to the gaming area at the Hilton to get in my gaming for the convention. For a long time my friends have been raving that the gaming at the convention is epic scale, hosting Settlers of Catan tournaments and endless bouts of Dominion and Ticket to Ride. The hype was true, and the games were wall-to-wall. Turns out a sort of meme game showed up called Werewolf, gathering huge circles of folks for a favor of “Who Done It?” fashioned game determined to find out who is the werewolf among a small village’s population. Games could last forever, involving intense politicking and collaborative work, and seemed like an ideal game for long haul conventions.

As morning took hold, and having munched down some more con-sinful breakfast at one of the hotel’s restaurants, I ventured to Stan Lee’s signing area at about 8:30. The comic I was bringing to him was a Thor #600 variant from my home town’s comic store, Coliseum of Comics. Having been a patron for well over 10 years, the choice seemed more fitting than any average Modern Age book. Things started off well enough, having indeed achieved first place in line and progressed at a rocky pace line shift after line shift as the line got longer still. While in queue I meet some more folks, and we shared stories of previous conventions and the ones behind the items we were taking to get signed. Then the magic happened and finally the line moved. I got my Thor #600 signed, and then promptly authenticated, and then I was off but not before I took this:

Stan Lee
Stan Lee singing my Thor #600

Not too long after that, the party I went with had to go due to some serious weather coming our way that might make some road travel hard for us the following day. Being that I had accomplished my project in full, I was good to go. Thanks Dragon*Con, see you next year! “Excelsior!” – Stan Lee

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Alex Añé

I am a geek, writer, web developer and avid comic book fan.

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