The adventure began at 5am on Saturday. I awoke, unable to force myself to sleep any longer, and began preparing for my first real voyage out to New York City. I'd only been there once in grade school to visit Ellis Island, but I don't remember much other than it was quite cold and we were all on a boat at some point. I'm not a city girl by any means. I like my little hometown with all the fields, cows, and mennonites.
I stuffed my backpack with food and water, full well knowing I'd never get away paying less than $3 for a drink while there. I was pumped and ready, and soon my friend's van pulled in the driveway. As a final word of advice on my way out, my mother informed me that my AAA membership would post bail for me if need be. I told her that was good to know, because I planned on turning a few tricks while I was there.
Also on the list of new experiences was taking a bus trip. Sure, I'd taken school bus trips, but this was a huge chaperone and buddy system-free excursion. We stood outside in the cold, cruel world, waiting for our bus to arrive. The first one filled up, and were were lucky enough to get just about first pick of seats on the less-cramped second bus. It's a two-hour drive from the bus terminal to NYC, but with a fully charged GameBoy and two chatty friends, the ride went by in no time. Thankfully, no one caught me humming the theme from Strawberry Shortcake in Big Apple City.
New York City is kinda gross. It smells weird, there's trash everywhere, and I kept having to turn around and make sure people weren't stealing things out of my backpack. Still, as I crossed the streets I played hopscotch on the sewer covers because I knew the Ninja Turtles lived down there. One of my friends (we'll call her Friend #1) pulled out her map and pointed out the direction in which to head, but a strange man told us we'd be heading in the exact opposite direction we wanted to go, and since he was going to the con, we could just follow him.
#1 soon became confused, thinking that we were on a hike and not a walk, and really exasperated friend #2 and I. As #1 and the strange man headed far in front of us, I turned to #2 and whispered, "Yeah, I'm in a big hurry to get there and stand in line." At that moment, I had just jinxed the fucking shit out of us, because when we got to the con, there was a line to the entrance wrapping around the block. We had to stand for an hour in the blistering cold as debris flew into our eyes before we arrived inside.
All the while we had to put up with the strange guy trying to converse with us. I wasn't particularly interested, because he just spewed "no-shit, Sherlock," from every orifice, and acted like a mighty god because he liked anime since the 80's, and hated Naruto fans. Had I not been grateful for him heading us in the right direction, I would have pointed out that Noozles, Adventures of the Little Koala, Mapletown, as well as a slew of other shows that aired on Nickelodeon in the 80's were anime and that technically I'd been watching it just as long as he has. To be honest, I was just happy that I didn't have to hear friend #1 relay her "He proposed to me in a Spiderman costume then broke my heart," story one more time.
One of my first sights sent my heart on fire. I saw Soundwave, the single most fuckable Transformer ever. I would rewind his cassette anytime.
I don't think my friends had any fathom of how huge the convention was going to be. I'm a bit of a seasoned vet, and can pretty much maneuver my way around a con without too much fuss, but having friends with was a bit of a new experience to me. In the dealer's room they seemed more interested in pressing forward than buying anything, so we separated for a bit while I shuffled around.
Despite heavily plugging that the con was hosting the 2007 American Anime Awards, I saw a miniscule amount of anime anything. A few booths here and there, but nothing that I couldn't get at any book or DVD store. Cosplayers took up an undersized amount of participants, and I wasn't given the impression people were encouraged to dress up.
I was amazed at how many camcorders I encountered. It was like every 30th person or so had some sort of half-assed documentary, mockumentary, podcast, news site, website, or other such bullshit they were trying to push. As I passed more the of them, it became increasingly harder to not stand in the background of their shots feeling myself up and making kissy faces at the camera, just to fuck shit up.
Promotional cards and other useless paper were being distributed in mass amounts, to the point where they were practically being shoved in your pockets as you went by. One particular booth took it upon themselves to claim that if I didn't take their promotional card, I must not be interested in having fun. Insulting me really didn't seal the deal on wanting to check what they were hawking.
One of my big goals for the trip was to do something Ninja Turtles related. I knew there was a new TMNT movie coming soon, so it made perfect sense that some Turtle Power would be going on at the con. Outside of a booth set up to try the new TMNT Xbox 360 game was Donatello. I snapped his photo, and then extended my arms, and cuddled Donatello, rocking gently back and forth as I held him in grasp.
Pikachu, however, got no hugs.
I passed not too far from Stephen King as he was entering a large panel, but since I never really read any of his books, I pressed forward to the autographing section. There were a few decent people there, and lines were extremely small -- on average maybe 5 people in a line, if that. As my friends lined up to get autographed photos of the actor who played Chewbacca, I stepped up to pay $5 to get photographed with a much more hilarious pop icon -- Gary Coleman.
Mr. Coleman had a rough demeanor and seemed angry in general at the entire world. He was frantic and upset, and although I tried not to stare at him like a caged animal, he certainly came off that way. I didn't even ask him to say, "Whatchyou talkin' bout, Willis!"
I was also dragged into a group photo with some of the cast members from Who Wants to Be a Superhero. I've looked at clips from the show, but never really watched it. The participants were amazingly friendly and energetic. I received signed cards from Nitro G and Feedback, but they both spelled my name wrong. It's okay, because Feedback's ass looked amazing, and I got a front row seat to see some of that vinyl-covered action while fighting the evils of keeping my hands to myself.
We fought our way downstairs to the foodcourt where we sat just a few seats down from one Unemployed Skeletor. I wanted to go snap photos, but I didn't want to bug the shit out of him while he was taking a load off and having a few beers with his friends. Instead I choked down some food and we headed off to see Kevin Smith.
Security at the Kevin Smith Q&A was practically nonexistent. You see that guy there in the red shirt? That was it. There was nothing preventing me from walking over to the steps and just plopping my ass down on stage other than the risk of getting tossed out for doing it. The fan response was impressive, but I still managed to make everyone around me cover their ears when I let out my shrill, high-pitched, death-scream.
The panel went on with Smith's usual gutter antics of talking about wee-wees and woo-woos. Not all of it induced personal laughter, but the audience was giving him a great response and I was entertained nonetheless. Don't get me wrong, I love Kevin Smith, but I'm more jaded about hearing the term "cum-dumpster" than the rest of the crowd. There was an curious flock of fans standing there, leaning on the stage watching him, as though they were preparing to rush him at the conclusion and ravage his body. A few more volunteers emerged towards the end, taking place next to the original, and telling the last 10 people in line to ask questions that the con has no concept of time, and they wouldn't be able to have their Q's A'ed.
Like most cons, there were stormtroopers aplenty. I managed to grab a nice tall one for a shot. The great thing about the stormtrooper costume, is that you don't have to worry about fucking up your face in a photo like I obviously did. No foolsies, that's about as far as my tongue stretches. I'd make a horrible lesbian.
During these antics my friends were constantly on and off their cell phones, calling everyone they could think of with a banter of, "Guess who I just saw?" We steered our way over to Slave Labor Graphics in the Dealers Room to ask where the hell Jhonen Vasquez was since we didn't see him in Artist Alley. To be more precise, I didn't find a flock of goth girls cluttering over anyone, so I assumed he was located elsewhere. The guys from SLG informed us he just finished at his location, and within about 90 seconds, Jhonen had immerged in front of us. #1 took a photo. I stood there and gawked.
By this time things were winding down, my feet hurt, and my legs were about ready to give on me. #2 was brooding because she wanted to go to Times Square, which I wasn't particularly keen on, owing to the fact I was tired, and it was a long walk in the dark. Instead we headed back to the Port Authority to wait for the next bus. There wasn't any proper seating, so we plopped our tired bones on the floor by Gate 21 until the 9:00 bus arrived.
The ride home was horrendous. The bus wasn't heated, it was 15°, and I curled up and napped, trying not to think about how completely numb my legs were. After hitting land again, we sped our asses to the nearest diner to fill up on breakfast food. 27 cups of coffee later, I finally began thawing out.
The Comic Con was a prime outing, in which a great deal of fantastic things were accomplished. Unfortunately, the schedule provided didn't give full insight on what was really happening around the con. I would have liked to see it laid out more like a TV listing and less like a catalog, so you could gather a more well-rounded idea of what was happening and when. Also, an index would have helped. There was low attendee to volunteer ratio, and many locations seemed to have no volunteers at all.
Next year, I'm hoping that they'll open up even more of the center for Comic Con. The main halls barely allowed room to take proper photos, and there wasn't the usual clusters of people spread out on the floor oogling their purchases or break-dancing like I typically find at anime cons. The long entrance line really broke everyone down for the day. The con needs to cater more towards fans socializing with their peers, and less towards The Press getting the run of things.