Thursday had been a fun (and somewhat relaxing) way to start the long weekend, but now it was time to get into the meat of things. The con didn’t start until the afternoon, but there was still plenty to get done before we set up and got started (plus, we had to actually set up), so as the alarm went off I realized that it was…

FRIDAY:
…the first official day of the convention, and therefore time to get down to business. But before I could do that, though, I need to hit the gym. This is a ritual for me at conventions, and because it’s a con the gym is usually empty. I was pleasantly surprised to find people in there, however, some of which were likely attendees of the anime con (the Aska yoga pants were a dead giveaway). This gym was INCREDIBLE. Not just the best hotel gym I’ve ever been in, but probably the best gym period. Full pool, basketball court, 3 racketball courts, 7 places to do pull-ups, a full kettlebell set, tons of free weights and a full cardio room. Yeah, this was my version of workout heaven.

After working out and a quick shower, I needed some fuel to get through the day. I texted some friends who were attending the anime convention, and we went down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. At the table a few down from us, I saw a most peculiar site: Lou Ferrigno (TV’s The Incredible Hulk) having breakfast with comic book legend Neal Adams. Lou got up for seconds as I was going up for my first, and I opted to say good morning to the man – who responded in a kind of gruff, “Oh crap it’s a fan and I’ve been recognized – don’t talk to me, kid” kind of way. Have you ever had a childhood hero turn out to not be what you expected?

After breakfast ended, we were joined by Samurai Dan and had a chance to chat a bit before I needed to go grab my 80 lbs of books (plus displays) and trek them over to the convention center from the hotel. Thankfully, the weather was gorgeous that day and the walk was warm but pleasant. I arrived at the con with plenty of time to set up, and I had a choice location – right next to Danny Fingeroth (Spider-Man) and Dean Hapsiel (American Splendor, The Red Hook). It was a fantastic corner spot, too, so opportunity to connect with cross traffic on their way back to the celebrities in the back of the building.


The swanky corner booth, all set up for sales

The show didn’t start for a few more hours, so after setting up I settled in and started working on sketch cards. As guests and artists started to arrive, I eventually broke away from the table to talk to friends like Victor Dandridge (WonderCare), and also met Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Barry was super nice, and very funny. Eventually, the time came and the doors opened and we were in full sales mode.

After a few hours, I decided to break down the table a bit early so I could have dinner with my good friend Alicia and her kids. Alicia used to live in Michigan and we saw each other all the time, but eventually she moved back Minnesota and started a family, so our opportunities to hang out had become less frequent. Well, now I was in her home state, and she drove over an hour to come see me and hang out. Plus, her kids were awesome. We went to a Perkins and played tick-tack-toe on the placemats, and I bought the kids some quarter ninja figures from the machines by the cash register. The kids drew me pictures and I got to catch up with Alicia about how her life has changed since coming home. It was a great way to enjoy the evening, but since it was past the kid’s bedtimes (and they had another hour until they got home), we called it a night early.

She drove me back to the hotel and I freshened up, went to the anime con’s green room for some “refreshment,” and then headed to the panel room for Cards Against Humanity. Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian do this at almost every con they attend, and they’re always kind enough to invite me to participate. The dais had some great people on it, too, including my good friend Briana and her wife. The jokes started flying as we read the most inappropriate cards, and the evening came to a fitting close (much later than it probably should have). Saturday would be the proving ground for the show, and would determine if I had to bring a bunch of stuff home or not…