[TMPL page.setTitle=" - Spiels: Comic-Con International 2000"]
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Yeah, on the week of July 19th, I attended my first big convention as a semi-professional. Not only was it an overwhelming experience, but it turned out to be a great vacation, too.

As most of you know, I live in Rancho Cordova, CA. It's about 10 miles from downtown Sacramento. It also happens to be about 540 miles from San Diego, where the comic convention was held. Seeing as how I'm too cheap to fly (or too broke, take your pick), I decided that we were going to DRIVE to the convention, and in doing so, retain the use of my car while down there. According to MapQuest, the trip was going to take me 11 hours. I made it in 9, even with L.A. traffic (which, after experiencing it for the first time, is as bad as everyone says it is). In other words, I drove about 90 miles an hour for about 80% of the drive. :)

On thursday, we went to go get our tickets. Crystal had been lucky enough to have registered in advance, and got hers almost right away. I, on the other hand, had tried to register as a professional a few days before the deadline, and after finding out that I HADN'T been approved, I also found out that I missed the pre-register deadline. So, while Crystal went and picked up her ticket, I went to stand in line. But this was no ordinary line - this was the MOTHER of all lines. It literally must have wound for at least 1/4 of a mile around the building more than once. I also found out that the line stretched INSIDE the building for quite a good deal as well, and my hopes sank. Luckily, even though I had been nearly at the VERY BACK of the line, the line moved quite quickly and I was able to get my ticket and go inside.

The convention itself was pretty much as I imagined it would be...only with a lot more stuff to buy. I went in with very little money, but even if I had gone in with 500 bucks burning a hole in my pocket, I would still come up short with all the stuff they had there. And luckily for me, Anime had a very large portion of the convention. I would say a good 10% of all the stuff for sale was Anime stuff.

As far as actual exhibitors went, though...I wasn't really impressed. It's not because there weren't any famous comic people - there were LOTS of them. It was mainly because I'm not really a fan of traditional "American" comics. I don't read D.C. or Marvel, or just about anything other than Manga, for that matter. Regardless, the D.C. booth was DAMNED impressive, but it really didn't have the impact on me that it did on some of the people we met up with.

I did, however, get to meet up with someone of some import to me. Scott McCloud, the creator of the online comic Zot!, had a small booth at the far side of the convention. Now, I had never read Zot!, but I had heard of it, and being that he was another online cartoonist, I felt obligated to go say howdy. Scott was a great guy, and much to my surprise, he had actually heard of Real Life. Why is that such a big thing? I have NEVER run into anyone that I didn't already know who had actually heard of my comic. He may not have read it, but news of me had reached his ears...kind of gave me a boost for the day.

Anywho, Crystal and I went to the first two days of the convention, bought a ton of stuff (Crystal bought mostly "Lain" stuff), and on the second day, we met up with Josh and Divo (Otherwise known as Gaedan and Tolsia from the Fourth Wall, the PvP Everquest guild), who turned out to be GREAT people. By the end of Friday, our group had grown to quite a large entourage, and we had a great time together. And that was pretty much it for the Con...next year, we'll be trying to get a Keenspot booth going, and I'll most likely be hanging out there. :)

Oh, aside from the Con...seeing as how this was my first time being to San Diego, Crystal and I figured we'd go see the Zoo. So, we met up with Josh again, and the three of us headed down there. It was a wonderful experience - I don't really think I've seen anything like it. Those of you who have been there know what I'm talking about. Those of you who haven't...sucks to be you. :)

Anyway, it was a great four days, and I'm looking forward very eagerly to next year. Hopefully some of you will be able to come, too.

-Greg Dean