Convention Report: Con Alt Delete 2014

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My final convention appearance of 2014 was a chance to go out in style, and style is exactly what happened this weekend at the show. It’s the second year I’ve been a guest at Con Alt Delete, and the show has experienced some amazing growth and changes in that short period of time. So without further delay, let’s check out what happened this weekend:

The day before the show, I headed out to Rosemont to check into the show and drop off my stuff. I wasn’t going to be able to stay up too late since I had to work a half day on Friday, but I wanted to show my face and say hello to everyone. I went back to my condo to grab my next load, and crashed soon after that. Really it was a short opportunity to say hi to people before the chaos of the weekend had a chance to start.

This year CAD moved to Rosemont’s Hyatt hotel, which holds a special place in my heart. I love this venue for cons, and I know it like the back of my hand. When people tell me what room my panel is in (by the room name), I know where that room is located. I know where the hotel rooms are. And I love the atmosphere and accessibility of the hotel. It was a fantastic place to move the show to, and I was very excited for the weekend.

Friday morning I headed out to work a half day, but then went straight back to the con to set up. I was there about the time the doors opened, set up quick, and started selling. Albert the Alien artist Gabo was set up next to me, so it was a fun time conversing with him and catching up in between sales.

At one point we were collected for Opening Ceremonies, and got to hang out with some of the other guests of the show including voice actors like Todd Haberkorn, Sonny Strait, and Eric Stuart. We also got to see Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian, two of my favorite convention friends. Gabe and I were some of the last guests called to the stage, so I made sure to poke a little fun at our panels and our status (“We all know who you’re here to see: us!” — “The con that’s so awesome they got not just one, but two bald guests” — “Watch out, folks, or North Korea will hack your phones this weekend and censor all your anime!”). The audience was in stitches.

The floor was open until 8pm, which only gave us a little time to grab grub before Gabe’s first panel (which was right before mine, in the same room). We went up to the Hyatt Red Bar for some food with some of Gabe’s friends. This group of girls are students at the college Gabe graduated from, and occasionally goes back to teach at, and they were pretty cool. One even bought us dinner, which I thought was really sweet.

After dinner we bum-rushed down to the room to set up for Gabe’s panel, which was on digital coloring. The guy started his career doing coloring, and still does it for a lot of his projects including Albert the Alien and The Life After.

After Gabe’s panel was my Evening with Trevor Mueller panel. Since the group was largely unfamiliar with me, I went into some of the fan-favorite jokes and stories – which always get a laugh. I even ended with some fake movie trailers from my wedding, which have gone over really well with audiences at this panel.

After the panel ended, we went to the Green Room to hang out with some of the voice actors. It was a nice way to unwind after the long day, and Sonny and Gabe were able to bond over their mutual “love” of coloring techniques. It was fun to listen to them geek out over something like coloring, which I have a very basic knowledge of how to do, but they went super in-depth together. It was the nerdiest conversation I couldn’t contribute to all weekend.

After the relaxing chat, we all headed to bed.

Saturday morning Gabe and I got up really early and headed to the Hyatt gym. As expected, no one else was in the place, and so we had our run of the machines. I love working out in the morning of a con since it helps give me a boost in energy. It also gives me an appetite, which is why we quickly met for breakfast after the workout.

The Hyatt has a very tasty (but expensive) breakfast buffet. Thankfully drinks are included, however, so I was able to get some OJ (great after a workout), and carb and protein up for the day. After breakfast, we headed down to artist alley to set up for the day. Saturday traffic was greatly increased over Friday (not uncommon at a convention), but sales were also much higher (always a pleasant thing).

Around 11:30am I had a panel about Making Webcomics, which I combined with some topics on Self-Publishing (since Sonny Strait was doing a few webcomic panels throughout the weekend, and I didn’t want to steal his thunder). It was a bit of a Q&A session, with some very insightful questions from people about digital distribution, update schedules, pacing and buffers, best practices, and how to find creative collaborators. It was a fun time, and after I had a few people follow me back to the table and make a few purchases.

The day continued with a few commissions. One person wanted a Raven from Teen Titans, which I knocked out for her pretty quickly. Another fan wanted a Loki, and she was kind enough to let me take a picture and gave permission for me to post them.

Loki commission sketch card

Another satisfied customer

Gabe ordered some Chinese food for the group off GrubHub, which sounded plenty tasty. None of us had brought snacks, so we were pretty hungry as the day went on. The food arrived and we ate at our tables during the last hour of the floor. Since the floor opened a little earlier in the day, it closed a little earlier too. Which was nice, because it gave us a break. We went back to Gabe’s room and popped on the TV while we started to doze off a bit.

Around 8pm, we all headed downstairs for Gabe’s last panel of the weekend, which was on Time Management. I sat on it with him, providing some advice from my own perspective – as well as my usual brand of informative humor.

After the panel we had a few fans stick around to ask us some questions, and then I met up with my friend Lauren. I met her through a mutual friend (Johnny Young Bosch of Power Rangers and Eyeshine fame – good taste in friends!) a number of years ago, and she came to hang out a bit and check out some of the panels and bands. We were able to catch the last few chords of V is for Villains concert, and then headed over for the Cards Against Humanity panel that Dan and Jillian lead every year. It’s seriously my favorite panel, and I look forward to it every convention I do with them.

The panel lasted until 12:30am, and then we all headed over to the Green Room to unwind a bit and chat with staffers and friends. We had some extremely nerdy conversations about How I Met Your Mother, Star Trek, anime, and a number of other topics. After an hour or so in the green room, we dispersed our separate ways and not too long after went to bed.

I woke up not feeling quite right, which didn’t make sense to me. My stomach hurt a lot, and I couldn’t quite figure out why. I took a quick shower and felt worse. I decided to skip breakfast and muscle through it, continuing to hydrate. When I got to the floor, Gabe told me he got hit last night with the same thing (and was still feeling it), and his brother got sick this morning. We had all gotten food poisoning from the Chinese food we had ordered the night before!

As the day went on I kept feeling worse and worse. My wife showed up to hang out, and I got a little food in my system, but as the hours went by my pain increased. It got to the point where I couldn’t stand up straight anymore. As much as I hated to do it, I eventually went to find a staffer to ask if it was okay for me to take off early. I was in no shape to participate in my guest duties, much less interact with the fans and attendees of the show. Upon talking to a staffer, I was surprised to hear that several of them had been hit by something similar. “Chinese food?” they asked. We weren’t the only ones who got sick.

I went home that night and passed out immediately. It took a good 24-48 hours to fully recover from the food poisoning, which was a bummer.

Despite the unexpected food poisoning, Con Alt Delete was a fantastic show and a lot of fun to go to. We saw a lot of first-time con-goers, a lot of people celebrating their birthdays or being rewarded by their parents for good grades, and just generally awesome people having a fun time. It was a lot of fun to hang out with Gabe and Ren all weekend, to see friends both old and new, and to participate in some seriously fun and informative panels.

If you’re looking for a fun low-key con to hit up before the holidays next year, I highly recommend Con Alt Delete! And I hope to see you there!

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