By now you’ve read a zillion and one reports on last week’s San Diego Comic-Con International—including mine and Kiel’s—giving you all the details on the panels, announcements and other spectacular happenings during the show itself. But haven’t you been yearning to read about what a legitimate comic book professional does after the convention hall closes its doors to the public each evening?
Well, in that case, I wish you the best of luck finding a legitimate comic book professional to spin those yarns for you.
In the mean time, here’s what I did during the late PM and early AM hours of my San Diego experience.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 21
It’s tough to have a fuller day that I had Wednesday, as it was wake up at 5:00 AM or so Eastern time, get to Newark Airport, hop on a six-hour plane ride to San Diego, check into my hotel, grab a bite, book it to the convention center, then help assemble the Marvel booth and hobnob with fans and pros for a bit during Preview Night (“hobnob” really meaning tell people where stuff is and keep them off Odin’s throne until it’s all set up).
By 9:00 when the show floor closed, I and the rest of my posse were pretty wiped, so we made the easy beeline to the Tin Fish across the street to score some quick grub before passing out. In this case said posse consisted of myself, Ryan Penagos, John Cerilli, Marc Strom, our photographer Ryan Russell and illustrious Spider-Man assistant editor Tom “The Third Ashmore” Brennan (so called because a fan mistook him for Shawn Ashmore one day of the show and acted awestruck for 30 seconds or so before realizing who he actually was and complaining about Brand New Day).
I am much in Mr. Penagos’ debt for introducing me to Tin Fish last year, as it’s not only conveniently located a literal stone’s throw from the show (I mean, you need to put some heft into your throw, but still), but also boasts great eats and a pleasant outdoor seating area where you can really enjoy the great San Diego weather and get a neat view of the goings on around the Gaslamp District. Dinner was a good chance for me to bond with Mr. Brennan, who would become the Toejam to my Earl as the weekend went, learning a bit more about his mystery-enshrouded personal life and explaining to him why San Diego is pretty much my ideal dream city to live in some day.
But as much as I enjoy hanging with T-Bone, the highlight of Tin Fish is without question its grilled calamari, which I waited 12 long months to experience once more. Calamari is absolutely delicious and among my favorite things to eat, but most places you can only get it fried as an appetizer, which makes my mouth happy, but not my stomach; Tin Fish has an awesome version sans deep-frying which serves as a satisfying and scrumptious meal accompanied by awesome waffle fries.
We got back to the room about 11:30 and while Ryan P. opted for bed, I headed over to the Hyatt bar to meet up with Rickey and Kiel real quick. I actually ended up bumping into Todd and Dawn Nauck, two of my favorite folks in the comics world, and chatted them up after our usual greeting which consists of a hearty handshake for Todd and kiss on the cheek for Dawn that I assure her is “an East coast thing” (this year I finally confessed it is not). Things actually got pretty fast and furious for me as seemingly everybody I knew from Kevin to “Big” Jim Gibbons to ComicsAlliance’s Laura Hudson to more ex-Wizard chums converged on where I was standing and Megan also called to say goodnight, so I was multitasking and socializing like a champ. I hung around way past my bed time and offered up a prayer that I’d be able to wake up a few hours later.
THURSDAY, JULY 22
First real night of the con, I got a dinner invite I could not—and would never want to—pass up from the Naucks to sup with them as well as cosmic writing dream team Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning as well as their erstwhile Guardians of the Galaxy artist Brad Walker. As DnA were late arrived from England following a delay in their flight while Todd and Brad (and Dawn) had better things to do, restaurant arrangements were left to me—the fools.
Luckily I had a lull in liveblogging a panel and free Wi Fi to spare, so I figured out that the Hyatte, where they were all staying anyhow, had plenty of places to eat, including Redfield’s Sports Bar, where we ended up.
When I got to the lobby, Todd and Dawn were running a bit late, so I killed time with the space cowboys and officially met Brad for the first time. A few minutes later, we were joined by a slightly shaken Nauck duo who had just spent an hour dealing with hotel security after a flyer for some video game party (or something) was left on their bathroom mirror and the bell desk knew nothing about it; turned out to be a kinda crappy viral stunt perpetrated on most of the major hotels housing con guests (Ryan and I got one in our room but rather than reacting sensibly like Todd and Dawn, just left it on our mirror for two days because we’re lazy).
Redfield’s was nice and laid back, the only downside being there weren’t any real tables so we ended up at the (pictured above) thing that Dan and Andy christened “Odin’s [some British word I don’t remember].” Actually, that wasn’t a downside, it was awesome.
Brad and I both ordered Kobe beef hot dogs that have probably ruined regular hot dogs for us for the rest of our lives they were so good (it’s worth noting this did not prevent me from having several more convention center hot dogs over the course of the show as they along with soft pretzels composed the bulk of my diet). As for entertainment, that was provided by the Brits, who are just friggin’ hilarious, Andy in particular (I don’t think Dan would take offense at my saying so as he seems quite content in his role as straight man to Andy’s manic stand-up). They had us all rolling, especially Dawn, who had heard tales from Todd of their humor, but was witnessing it for the first time in person; getting Dawn’s attention by yelling “Dawn! Dawn! I believe Andy is telling a joke!” became a running gag for the weekend.
Incidentally I also got to hear a top secret DnA pitch that could have been and would have been awesome on a major character that made me hope someday the stars will align because it would be so so cool.
Relatively early night after spending a bit more time with just the Naucks and seeing Mike Carlin for the first time in a couple years, during the course of which I learned there is a 25-year-old Secret Wars promotional video haunting the Marvel offices that must be mine.
To be continued...