My first convention of the year – which is a show I commonly start my year with – was Anime Milwaukee, and it never disappoints. This weekend is, and does, set my bar for the year on how conventions can and should be run. I love this show. LOVE IT. And I’m going to tell you why: the attendees are awesome. Period.
What do you like most about the cons you attend? What tends to bring you into a show? Guests? Events? Bands? Panels? Word of mouth about the show? Let me know.
That said, let’s jump into the con.
After work, I picked up my buddy Russell Lissau (another guest of the show, and writer of Old Wounds) and we decided to hang out and grab some dinner locally before beginning our drive north to avoid some traffic. Russell took me to a local Mediterranean place that had some very delicious kabobs and hummus. We sat and caught up, having not seen each other for some time (and not having done a con together for months). Eventually we finished dinner and headed up to the con, which was a much faster drive than we both anticipated.
We got to the hotel and parked, and headed in to get our badges and itineraries for the weekend. We met up with Alan Evans (Rival Angels), who showed us that our rooms were all next to each other (and connected!). We poured some drinks and hung out for several hours, eventually being joined by our good friend Sandi. I didn’t stay up too late, because I was exhausted from having the baby at home, but I did stay up later than I expected to.
Alan and I got up early and hit up the gym, taking turns and spotting each other in the workout. We had a good hour in the gym, and then headed to our rooms to get ready for the day and headed to breakfast. We went to a local diner across the street, grabbed a quick bite, and then went to the floor to start setting up our tables.
The booth, set up in all its glory!
Our table position was PERFECT. We were just to the right of the main entrance to the artist alley / dealer’s area, so we had a lot of main traffic coming past our table. We were very visible from the entrance, and got a lot of spillover because of the extra visibility. Before we started selling, however, it was time for opening ceremonies.
Do you attend opening ceremonies at a con? I find them attended very sporadically, depending on the show – some have incredible attendance, others less so. This show has great attendance at their opening ceremonies.
Many guests were still arriving (or would not be attending for the weekend, due to the massive storms in California cancelling flights). They called the guests up in groups, and so the comic guys all went up together. Despite having agreed to me doing all the talking, Alan said a few words which lead to some awkwardness, and then we went off stage and opened our tables for the start of selling and panels. Well, sort of….
We had received our panel schedules from the guest department, which we were following. However, that schedule did not always match the schedule outside of the rooms. So when I arrived at my 3:30pm Writing for Comics panel, I found someone else already talking in the room and no line waiting for me. When I looked at the panel doors, that scheduled claimed the panel was in another room an hour earlier. I told my guest handler about the snafu, and went back to my table to keep selling. This would become a theme for the weekend, unfortunately, but was really the only hiccup in an otherwise perfect weekend.
Godzilla sketch card commission
About the time the floor was supposed to close, we had another panel – this one was a group panel, about Making Time for Making Comics. Attendance was a bit light, but again – our schedule didn’t match the door schedule. But we had a fun time, talked about identifying and removing distractions, and how to prioritize creative projects. After that, we grabbed some dinner and hung out in the green room with the rest of the guests – including an appearance by my buddy Matt Mercer, and Vic Mignogna.