[TMPL page.setTitle=" - Spiels: Comic Con International 2001"]
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Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed the Comic Con International. However, it doesn't even begin to compare to 2001's con. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd have to say 2001 ruled. Since I'm not generally the reviewing type, and since my writing generally flows with little rhyme or reason, I'm just going to write as it all comes to me, and you'll just have to deal with it. :)

First off, I have to say that I'd wholeheartedly recommend Southwest Airlines to anyone who needs to fly in their service area. I had the most hassle-free travel experience I could have asked for. The people at the baggage check counter were very friendly, the plane was right on time, the flight was smooth. No complaints from me. However...I will say, I'm a rather nervous traveler. Not a nervous flier, mind you - I have absolutely no problem with flying. I rather enjoy flying. It's the traveling part that gets me. I'm not entirely comfortable unless things go according to plan. This is why checking my luggage is not one of my favorite things to do. I don't like the idea of not being in control of where my bag goes, and I know that lost luggage, while rare, does occur. So as soon as we get off the plane, I'm at the baggage claim area, waiting right in front of the little hole where the suitcases come out. And waiting. And waiting. And finally, the last bag comes out, and it's still not mine. So I wait a minute longer, just to make sure that I wasn't just being impatient, and when I'm absolutely convinced my bag has been lost and am about to go complain, I notice my bag sitting over in a corner away from the little baggage turntable, not next to anyone, just sort of alone and forlorn-looking. This has me perplexed, since I was by the little bag-hole the entire time luggage came out of it, and mine never did. I'm still of the opinion that it's just a devious plot by that jerk Murphy with the sole purpose of foisting his blasted laws on me, just trying to piss me off.

So anyway, we get out of the airport, grab a taxi, get to the hotel, and find out that they've messed up our reservation, booking us for only three days instead of five. Now, while I will recommend Southwest Airlines, I give NO such recommendation for the idiots at Howard Johnson (yeah, I know...not exactly the Hyatt, but I had to live cheap, okay?). Not only do they mess up our reservation, but they tell us there's nothing they can do about it. We ended up having to move to a Super 8 after the third night. They get no props either. Hell, the HoJo had better beds than that place.

Hotel and travel issues aside, the convention was great. Last year, I had to wait in the eternal line to get my pass. This year, thanks to the Comic Con people, I got my badge in the mail about a month ago. No lines. Thank GOD, no lines. Not only that, but since this year I had a professional registration, I was able to get into the con a day early and wander around the massive hall. I must note that I reached carrying capacity for the night within 2 minutes of entering the place when I saw 12" Final Fantasy Movie figures. I'm pathetic, I know. :)

The coolest thing about the entire con, though, was finally getting to meet all the other online cartoonists for the first time ever. I've been with Keenspot for a little less than a year (I think? I don't remember when I joined...), and meeting the people behind all the comics and e-mails was incredible. Over the five days of the con, we had a chance to actually become real honest-to-god friends, rather than just names and words. Hell, I even got to meet Scott Kurtz of PvP (one of the things I was looking forward to this year, but more on that below) and Dave Kellett (Sheldon). I also had the luck of NOT being the youngest Keenspotter there - that honor goes to Aaron Farber (Pentasmal), who is 16, compared to me at 20. Paul Southworth (Krazy Larry, The Black Plague) is also 20, though a bit moreso than I am.

Cool Stuff at the Con : There were a lot of cool booths and displays and whatnot, but one of the biggest and coolest IMHO was the one for "The Time Machine", a remake of the classic film of the 60's(?). They had a full size mock-up (Or it might have been one of the actual props) of the machine from the film, and it looks DAMNED cool. Very true to the original, though with a different overall design. It has this wooden platform with all sorts of fuses and switches and whatnot, and a seat for the operator to sit in. I'll upload some pics of it once I get them developed.

I'll take this time to bring something up, though. I've noticed that the con is less of a Comic Convention as it is a Multimedia Convention. They had movie stuff, book stuff, video game stuff, a couple sword retailers...I mean, it was very much comic-dominated, but there were a lot of things that I didn't really think belonged. (I will note, however, that opinions aside, I bought tons of FF stuff, so I'm as guilty as anyone). I mean, come on...why would someone dress up as a Klingon to go to a comic convention? The place for Klingons is STAR TREK conventions. And don't try to pull that "There were Star Trek comic books too" crap on me, either. We both know that doesn't count. Hell, there were Tomb Raider comic books too, but that doesn't make it right (though I have a lot less to complain about when I see a Lara Croft walk by). I mean, even though the storm troopers looked damn cool, stick to the Star Wars conventions, people. I'd prefer to see Captain America or the Tick walking around, frankly.

On the first day of the con, the hordes arrived. I had no idea that many people even existed. Wow. I think they said something like 40,000 or 50,000 people showed up. Frankly, I think that's a bit conservative. Luckily, I didn't have to fight the crowd on Day 1...I got to sit in comfort at the Keenspot booth, hawking my wares and whatnot. To those of you who came by to say hi, Thank you. It was awesome to actually MEET people that read my comic. You guys r00l. It was also amazing to see how many Keenspacers and Keenspot/space enthusiasts were able to come by. It felt like we OWNED that convention.

Oh yeah, the panel. :) I didn't let on to anyone, but I have this certain aversion to public speaking (and yet I jump at the chance of being on a panel....sometimes I swear I'm a genius). I also tend to shiver a lot when I drink or eat something cold right before entering a cold room. So, in another stroke of genius, I actually bring my soda into the panel with me. Not 2 minutes into the thing, I'm shaking like mad, trying the whole time not to be conspicuous. I think I managed pretty well, but I'll have to see the video to pass judgement.

First off - funniest part of the panel. Right before we start, Darren asks the crowd (Of about 250 people, mind you) "Who here does NOT run a Keenspot or Keenspace comic?" A little less than 1/3rd of the room raised their hands. He responded, in an ominous tone, "You will."

So we have this list of questions, right? You know...to prepare and such. So I'm all prepped and ready to answer them, when instead of going to the questions, Aric turns the question-asking over to the audience (Dash cunning of him - less work for himself! That brilliant bastard!). A good idea, really, since we were there to answer their questions, not our own. I, however, was still in the mindset of waiting to get to the list of questions. I would answer questions that were asked directly of me, or of each of us as a group, but for the most part remained more or less quiet. It wasn't until about 45 minutes into the thing that my brain tells me "Start grabbing that microphone and talking, you yutz." So I did, and the rest of the panel was pretty cool. I calmed down, relaxed, and just had fun. It was a blast.

The rest of the con was mainly just a mix of wandering around and sitting behind the booth. I managed to spend somewhere around $400 on random stuff (not counting food), and I'm even happy with my purchases a few days later. :) I also got a chance to speak with Steve Purcell, creator of Sam and Max (to this day, still my all-time favorite game). I even got a sketch of Max the Rabbit in my Sketchbook.

The L3WT:

  • Aki Ross and Gray Edwards 12" figures from the Final Fantasy Movie. C'mon, really...how could I resist? And they even threw in a poster of Aki in a bikini!
  • Animation Cel of Iria from Iria : Zeriam the Animation. It's an awesome cel, and it has the pencil sketch, to boot.
  • Squall's Lionheart necklace from FFVIII. They had two of these at the con...one made of silver for 180$, and one of high quality made from steel for 50$. I'm sure you can guess which one I bought. Though, it didn't come with the ring, but oh well. I'll probably be wearing it for a while to come...it looks pretty good on me.
  • Tidus' necklace and ring from FFX. I know the game's not out in the US yet, but I had to get it anyway. You know, to be cutting-edge and whatnot. The pendant looks cool, but the quality is a little less than the lionheart one. Though I think it may be electroplated with silver.
  • 5 Final Fantasy Albums, at 10$ per disc. I got the FF Tactics soundtrack for $20, the FFV soundtrack for $20, the FFI and FFII soundtracks for $20, FF 1987-1994 for $10, and FF Love Will Grow for $10.
  • The Irresponsible Captain Tylor Soundtrack. Great anime, funny music.
  • Pewter figurine of Boko from FFV. He's just such a cute little Chocobo. I couldn't resist. :)
  • Posters of Tidus and Yuna from FFX. The set was $15, and my walls needed some FF on 'em.
  • A limited edition print of the Sam and Max Hit the Road artwork, numbered and signed by Steve Purcell. The man is a mini-god to me. And I didn't even know he was gonna be there.
  • An Iria wall scroll. My walls needed some Iria on 'em, too.
  • A PVP hat, and "Ale and Whores" T-shirt, and a copy of PVP issue 2. Finally getting to meet Scott Kurtz in person was another one of those "Wow" moments at the con. He's an awesome guy to hang around with, very supportive of Real Life, and just an overall Übercool guy. And, as you know, I'm a huge fan of PVP. I also managed to get a sketch of Skull from him. r0XX0r.
  • A "Cracker" shirt from some booth along the wall. It had "astalavista.box.sk" on it. I had to buy it.
  • I also managed to score a PS2 hat, a Gran Turismo 3 shirt, and a Playstation carrying case from the Sony guys over by the Marvel booth. Basically, I won one race to get the hat, two in a row to get the shirt, and had the second fastest lap time of everyone that raced to get the carrying case. I also played the GT3 product specialist, and finished the race a mere .3 seconds behind him. He's a tricky one. It was fun to show off my GT3 skillz against a bunch of people.
  • An XBox hat. Scored this off one of the XBox booth people (yes, XBox was there. I know it's just a demo, not a completed system yet, but it r00ld. The controller is 10x better than the Dreamcast's, despite what people tell you, and the gameplay and graphics are awesome.) I told the lady I did a gaming comic, and she hooked me up with the hat. I love this job.
  • Copies of Superosity Issue 1 and Black Plague issue 1. The new Keenspot comic books are GREAT. The quality is really top-notch.

There was a lot more loot, I'm sure, but since I'm writing this thing at work, that's all I can remember.

But anyway, the con this year r00ld, meeting all the Keenspotters and other cartoonists r00ld, and next year is gonna r00l even more, since we plan on having a bigger and better-placed booth. 0\/\//\/4g3 is imminent. And maybe next year I'll have the foresight to actually get some flyers printed up. Gee, that would make sense and stuff. And I hope to see you again next year! In the meanwhile, I'll make with the funny here online. :)

-Greg Dean