Friday, November 18, 2016

Rhode Island Comic Con 2016

This last weekend was Rhode Island Comic Con, the last convention of my 'con season'. That means winter is coming.

This is still a young con and therefore still suffering from some growing pains. Looking back at my last posts about this con it seems every year there is some snafu on how the thing is being run that irks me. And, as I have always said, the thrust of this con is on celebrities (ranging from A to D list) with the comic part being only a small part of the happenings.

Now overall, I had a very good experience in the one day, Saturday, that I was there but let me get the administrative difficulties out of the way.

The con has basically grown exponentially over its life so now it actually is held in two buildings - the Rhode Island Convention Center and the attached Dunkin Donuts Center (an arena for concerts, basketball, and hockey). The buildings are connected by a narrow 'sky ramp'. Last year this was the bottle neck as people were going in both directions.

My main goal in this con was getting a signature from Stan Lee. I prepurchased a 'ticket' for an autograph. A buddy of mine went on Friday and told me that Lee was in the Dunkin Donuts Center so I wanted to run there early and get in line. The line for the con formed outside the Convention Center and at 830a I was there, awaiting for the 10a opening.

Well, it turns out that two lines were forming. The one I was in at the con center. And another at the Dunks. When I entered, I headed towards the skyramp only to be told that the ramp was made 'one way' this year, heading into the convention center. If I wanted to get into the Dunk, I needed to exit and reenter there. So I had to leave the building, badge out, head outside, and then find the 're-entry door' which was around the side of the Dunk and barely marked.

Once inside, I ran to the floor and had to wait in line to turn my ticket for the Lee autograph in for another ticket. This seemed counter-intuitive and I wouldn't have done it had I not been warned by my buddy. Then I waited in line for Lee ... for 2.5 hours. I was around 40th in the general population line, and the VIPs got to go first. I am lucky it didn't take longer.

All of that said, this all seems confusing and weird. This could still be run more smoothly ...

On to the fun stuff.

Once in line, we had to wait for Lee to arrive after a photo op. But once he arrived, he really was methodical, working his way through the line quickly. You weren't given any time for small talk. I thanked him for visiting the state and he looked up and gave me a half-nod. I'll take it!

His handlers were both efficient and occasionally gruff. But that's okay too. There were hundreds of people behind me. Things needed to be run with an iron hand if everyone was going to get there.

I'm more of a DC guy so I didn't have much that truly bore Lee's touch. But one thing I did have was Captain America #111, one of the Steranko issues. I had Steranko sign the inside page at Boston a few years ago (at the time Steranko refused to 'mar' the cover).

I finally made it to Lee, had him sign the book, and got a certificate of authenticity.

I knew that Joe Sinnott was also at the con and he inked the issue so I got his signature as well.

And then I saw Steranko. Even though it was signed on the inside page, I just thought it would be a cooler aesthetic if Sternako's signature was on the cover, and so got him to sign it again, this time visibly right there. (I will say he commented that he was signing the cover because 'those other guys already messed up the art.)

Whether this is a true representation of my fandom is debatable, but this is probably the 'biggest' issue in my collection right now.

Roy Thomas was also at the con and I had never met him before. I have to say it was difficult to limit the issues to bring Thomas. I honestly should have brought some Invaders for him to sign. But I decided on the above issues. Secret Origins #1 was already signed by Jerry Ordway. All-Star Squadron #1 was already signed by Rich Buckler. I like Infinity Inc. And the Wonder Woman issues guest star Supergirl so I felt compelled to include those.

Thomas was very amicable. He didn't charge for signatures but had a bin for Hero Initiative donations which I gladly threw some money into.

I also got some Graham Nolan signatures as well.

But I knew I only had Saturday. And the morning slipped away in Lee's line. So no commission this time.

Mehcad Brooks was there as a celebrity and I wanted to chat with him about James Olsen. When I got to his table, he was unfortunately on his way to a photo shoot and then a panel. I knew I wasn't going to still be at the con when he returned. So I only got to tell him that I was looking forward to his run as Guardian. For that one comment I got (what my daughters call) a bro-hug. The clapped hand, lean into each other shoulder hit sign of mutual respect.

My youngest loves the Supergirl show and so I got her this James Olsen coffee mug from his table. Had he been there I would have had him sign it.

So, despite the early morning debacle of getting in and into Lee's line, this was a fun quick day.

I'll always support the con. I can only hope it continues to streamline the experience.


KET said...

Congrats on scoring all those legendary signatures, and the nice-looking mug. Your experience at the con in Rhode Island sounds very encouraging, as I had heard other good things about how expansive it is becoming.


Dave Mullen said...

What a fantastic experience. I'm quite envious!

More than perhaps even Stan Lee Roy Thomas is somebody I would like to meet, purely as over the years my appreciation of his work grows stronger, in particular his catalogue of 1980s work with the Earth-2 characters and latterly Wonder Woman and Doctor Strange. He is one of those writers, like Roger Stern, who never quite gained their due hbut always delivered solid work that has stood up well ass the years have passed and fashions change.

How lovely it is to hear that he wasn't charging for signatures but asking for a willing charity donation, I can't get it into words how much I admire selfless 'stars' like that who give up their time to meet their fans and give mutual respect to them.

You had a great day there, well done. :)

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.
I have no buyers remorse for Lee. Totally worth it.

And fun time overall!