I may have geeked out a little.
So I went to a con for the first time last week. I went Sunday, figuring it was the day with the least amount of people and the best deals, as I did want to walk away with some swag. I took my youngest son, because he got in free and I figured I could use him as an excuse to get out of anything that made me uncomfortable, and vice versa. We’d make a good team.
And it was awesome. I’m going back next year. With more cash. Because yeah.
So, the first thing that confronted us upon entrance was Toothless and his Lightfury (did she ever get a name in the movie?). And for a $20 donation to Make-A-Wish, you could get to be a dragonrider with a prop of your choice. My boy clambered on up and smiled big. They also gave him a nifty medallion that showed he was an official dragonrider now. That thing didn’t leave his hand the rest of the day. I think he’s sleeping with it still. The people running the booth were great with my son, too. They knew how to handle kids well and make them feel special!
I was advised to walk the con floor, browse the tables, and don’t buy anything right away. I was planning to do that.
Really. I was.
But then I saw a booth manned by Paul Storrie. The name rang a bell. What did I know him from? Of course he had a stand of comics he’d done. And there… there was this:
I bought that book… oh, a long time ago, and I loved it. One of my favorite Robin Hood stories of all time. And look – right next to it, another Robin Hood comic that I’d never read! Sold.
So I approached and told him I’d loved Robin Hood and the Minstrel. “Whoa. I don’t get many people that remember that thing!” he said with a smile. Apparently he loves Robin Hood and had done a lot of other stories with that company that basically never got published, or got published in difficult-to-find circumstances. But here was a newly remastered book! Sold. And he signed it right there.
We continued talking about the new book and its history. He motioned to the table next to his. “And Thom over there lettered the new book,” he said.
I glanced to the next book. I did a double-take. On this guy’s stand was Time & Vine, one of the best comics I’ve read in the last few years. It was about time travel and romance and drinking wine. Yeah, ok, I don’t read a lot of romances in general, but trust me, this thing was fantastic and original in all the best ways. My wife read and loved that comic!
So I scooted to the next table and bought some swag there after a brief discussion. Also got a nice signature! Both Paul Storrie and Thomas Zahler (the guy behind Time & Vine) were complete gentlemen. It was a great way to get into the con.
The next booth that caught my eye sold books. Well, I like books. And these books just looked like a lot of fun:
A man I found out was the author’s husband sold me on the books and answered all my questions with excitement. And then he called his wife over to sign and personalize the novels I bought. I wish I’d gotten a picture of her; Lydia Sherrer wore some amazing garb. She spoke kindly, but as we conversed we stepped into the business of writing. I found out she used some of the same resources I did online, and she was so gracious talking about what she did and how she did it. The books look like fun, but I’ve not read them yet so I can’t speak to their quality. I can speak to the author’s quality, though. She’s fantastic.
From there we wandered a bit and took in some sights. I looked in to the celebrity signing lines, but everyone I wanted to see had very long lines. Plus, I’d already spent the money I wanted to use for autographs on books.
I might have a problem with books.
So we kept wandering.
I noticed a booth for a card game called Story Stacks. Well, I’m a sucker for a good story, so I wandered over. One of the game designers saw us looking and offered to play a game with me and my son. He conned two more passers-by – two teen girls – to join us in playing. He explained that he loved tabletop RPG’s, but no one had time to sit and play with him. So he designed this game for people who loved the story aspect of tabletop RPG’s that just wanted a good, quick story.
Oh, the game is a blast. You draw a random narrative theme and characters. A storyteller draws random plot twists and complications. There’s a simple random mechanic to determine whether players can do what they try to do. And from there… it’s just storytelling.
In that sample game I played a cat burglar, while my son played a ninja. The two teens drew cards for con man and “the muscle.” Our narrative theme was, “You are a youth group attempting to free bigfoot, who has been captured by the government.” You also draw a random setting; we drew the Old West.
When my son and I got home, we ended up playing another game with the full family. It was uproarious; we were a band attempting to stop the resurrection of an Old One in a ghost town. We faced a field full of bear traps and parachuting surfer bank robbers.
Look, if you like storytelling games, I highly recommend this one. We had so much fun. My son begged me to get the game, and it was an easy purchase.
More wandering. My boy bought himself “a Transformer.” It was from a random Japanese show I’d never heard of, but what mattered to him was that it was a robot that turned into a gun that turned into a crossbow. What more does a boy need? As he went to check out, some of the other patrons of that booth saw what he held and exclaimed that it was such a great show, and when we made it clear neither of us knew it, they spilled everything about it. They wrote down the name of the show and where to find it online. They were very respectful, just excited. And honestly, it did sound like a show very appropriate for my boy. I’ll dig up the show and check it out.
And then we found the Star Wars area. My boy got to do the Death Star trench run. He was quite excited! Alas, he did not blow up the Death star and now Yavin has been destroyed.
I hate it when that happens.
I also got caught by a wampa, but that’s mostly unrelated.
After more wandering, I saw a booth for Art Baltazar. If you don’t know him, do yourself a favor and read some Tiny Titans. He writes stuff for kids, but as an adult, I find it hilarious. Think the best of Animaniacs and you have a little idea of how entertaining it is for all crowds.
So I was a total goober and approached the guy behind the table. “Are you… are you Art Baltazar?”
He looked a little amused and answered, “Yeah. That’s me.”
He graciously posed for a pic with my son. He signed and personalized a comic we’d actually bought earlier that he had written, and then I bought a graphic novel off his table, which he signed and sketched in.
We got a few more pics, finally tracked down my comic shop’s booth and got to talk with the owners a little bit, and generally had a great time.
I’d been told that most people are friendly at cons, but I did not expect the level of how welcoming everyone was. We didn’t encounter one single troll. I know they’re out there; the fact that they had to say in big signs up front, “Cosplay is not consent” informed me plenty. Maybe it’s just that I was a guy with a young boy that the jerks stayed away. But every person I talked to that was exhibiting, every person I encountered in the aisles, every volunteer, they were great.
Yes. Will go again.
But I need a bigger allowance. There were a lot of books I didn’t buy there.