Diary of a Comic Con Veteran: Day 1



Day 1, Friday

4:33am Wide awake. Too excited to sleep. This is worse than Christmas.

4:46am Get up. What’s the point of staying in bed when I am THIS wide awake?

5:02am Brush teeth. Sinus rinse. Shower. Etc.

5:27am Search frantically through clean laundry pile for a clean geek-themed shirt. Cannot appear at Denver Comic Con in some shirt I would wear to work.

5:32am Phew. Dancing Baby Groot shirt is clean.

5:47am Inject caffeine and read things on the internet. Check for passes. Put them in bag. Consider breakfast. Need energy for the day!

6:04am Eat ramen. Check bag for passes.

6:18am Still hungry. Eat handful of Ruffles All Dressed potato chips. Check bag for passes.

6:32am Why is it only 6:30? Why isn’t it time to go?

7:07am Check bag for passes. Remember Stan Lee photo op ticket. Add to bag.

7:19am Move photos off phone to make room for thousands of cosplay photos I am going to take at con.

7:48am Check bag for passes and photo op ticket.

7:50am Ponder footwear. Choice is between blue floral Birkenstocks, brown Birkenstocks, striped Birkenstocks, or black Birkenstocks. Because I learned lesson last year: Birkenstocks are proper con footwear.

7:56am Choose floral Birkenstocks.

8:02am Wake teenage son. He asks for five more minutes. I remind him it’s comic con. He settles for three minutes.

8:15am Force feed teenager a Snickers bar and a bottled water. Check bag for passes one last time. Get in car. Ask son to check bag for passes.

8:24am Hit giant traffic jam on highway. Have forgotten today is Friday. It’s rush hour. Why do they call it “rush hour” when it moves so slowly?

8:45am Pick up teenager’s teenage friend. He is not a geek. (This will be important later.)

9;03am Pull into Light Rail parking. No spaces in main lots. Watch 9:03 train pull away.

9:15am Complete hike from far away parking. Is already so hot outside. Glad train and convention center have air conditioning. Purchase train passes. Ask son to double check which line we want. Get entire Light Rail system mansplained to us by schlubby dude in a Flash t-shirt. Will sleep better knowing how it works now. Thank god he was there.

9:16am Mad dash for train car without schlubby dude.

9:23am Strange man with hospital bracelet takes empty seat next to me. Initiates conversation with teenage son and friend. Son and friend will overshare with literally anyone. Am surprised they are not making lunch plans with this man who clearly has some issues.

9:38am Arrive at convention center. Gaze at line to get inside. Thank all the seven gods for media badges.

9:42am Send teenagers off into mean streets of downtown Denver on hunt for coffee and breakfast sandwiches. Go inside to meet up with Megan and Carolyn.

9:56am Realize I didn’t give my child any money. Oops.

9:57am OOOH! People from Sphero are here! Stop to talk to them about my BB-8. Tell them it is my favorite toy I’ve ever owned. They seem pleased to hear this. They are real-deal nerds. I love this.

10:10am Pass through Star Wars fan club area on way to Main Event stage. Lots of characters and robots. Suspect this area will cause crowd traffic issues later on.

10:15am Meet up with Megan outside Main Event stage at the Bellco Theatre. Outside, the line to get into the convention center is still wrapped around the building. People stare resentfully at us. I wonder how people are supposed to make it to panels that start at 10:30 when the line isn’t even moving. We both shrug and assume the con organizers know what they are doing.

10:18am Wander into empty theatre. We are directed to the front by friendly volunteers. Media seating is taped off, just behind ADA seating and just in front of Speed Pass seating. We step over tape to access seats. This is more of an adventure than it should be what with my bum ankle and all.

10:30am Panel is supposed to be starting. There is no one in theatre. Panel does not start.

10:37am A handful of people have wandered in. Panel does not start.

10:45am Announcement is made that panel will begin “in a few minutes”.

10:50am Text from teenage son. He is annoyed by line to get into convention center.

10:55am Panel still has not started. Theatre is still close to empty – maybe 30 people in seating meant for thousands.

11:05am Panel finally begins: Women Working in the Comics & Animation Industry Today. This panel features some amazing women – Barbara Randall Kesel, Cat Staggs, Chrissie Zullo, Dana Simpson, Jennifer Shiman, Marguerite Sauvage, Mindy Newell, and the incomparable Trina Robbins – and is being moderated by Hannah Means-Shannon from Dark Horse Comics, and while I am thrilled to be here, I’m super annoyed that whatever situation with getting the outside line into the convention center has caused the panel to have basically no audience. This panel was clearly set up as a main event to open the weekend in response to the failure last year to really have a presence by women on panels. So to not make sure it has an audience is a big fail.

11:15am Annoyance passes as soon as Trina Robbins makes a sassy remark about not telling us what her new project is, and also threatens to crash another Wonder Woman related panel later today.

11:50am Panel over. Doors are closed for the next panel I wanted to attend so Megan and I head upstairs to the showroom floor. She and Carolyn are very excited to show me a Luna Lovegood print by one of our favorite artists, Ben Byrd.

11:56am Become distracted by Captain America print at Felipe Echavarria’s booth. It’s just the right size and color scheme for an empty spot on the art wall in my writing room. SOLD!

12:05pm Ben Byrd booth. Buy all of the things.

12:20pm Megan and I stop to chat with Mindy Newell and get a photo with her. Mostly she tells us how wonderful Trina Robbins is.

12:30pm Part ways with Megan and go to meet up with son and his friend. We agree to meet near the Tower of T-Shirts booth because it is easy to find. Alas, the floor has started getting crowded and all people look like blurs to me. Stand there absorbing the confusion for what feels like twenty minutes but is really just five. Son and friend show up. They have been looking at hats and artwork.

12:40pm Head downstairs to locate line for Ralph Macchio panel. Find said line breaking up just as we arrive. Apparently his plane was late and he didn’t make it in time for this panel.

12:45pm Teenage boys are hungry. I suggest we leave the convention center to eat lunch.

12:55pm Snarf’s downtown. Score a table and sit, feeling relieved. Still, Birkenstocks were correct footwear – my feet don’t ache anywhere near as badly as they did at this point last year.

1:05pm Delicious sandwich is delicious.

1:30pm Return to convention center. Part ways. Remember to give son money this time.

1:45pm Wander around main concourse on street level, taking photos of cosplayers. There are some amazing costumes.

2:00pm Decide I need a shopping bag for all the stuff I’m carrying around. My messenger bag is large but not large enough, and also feels way too heavy. Stop at Denver Comic Con merch booth and buy a bag and some stickers.

2:05pm Find seat in room for Girls Are the Heroes of Their Own Stories panel. Organize my stuff.

2:13pm Realize that if I stay in this panel, it will overlap with the beginning of the Wonder Woman panel starting at 2:45. Hurry out before it starts.

2:30pm Find seat in room for Wonder Woman panel. See a placard up front for Trina Robbins. Text Megan to let her know.

2:40pm Compliment woman on her owl-print messenger bag as she walks past. She takes seat next to me and starts to tell me about company she got bag from. As she talks I realize she is my old friend Kim whom I haven’t seen in over ten years. We gush and hug. Her daughter who is 5 is graduating from college. I guess she is not 5 anymore.

2:45pm Panel begins: Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Creators, Issue #1. Denver Comic hosted several panels over the weekend featuring different artists, writers, and animators who have worked on various Wonder Woman properties over the years. This one was moderated by Wonder Woman historian Andy Mangels, and featured Cat Staggs, Georges Jeanty, Joe Staton, and Trina Robbins. Staggs and Robbins immediately declare their belief that Wonder Woman has always been a female power fantasy, in that the Amazonians don’t need men to fight their battles for them. Also that Wonder Woman is probably a lesbian and should be written with that assumption in mind, and that her romantic relationships with men always ring false to them.

3:00pm After fourth epically sassy comment in a row from Trina Robbins, Kim leans over and whispers to me, “Old age goals.” And I’m like, “Amen, sister.”

3:30pm Panel ends. Shout out to our awesome Sisters In Geek follower who I met at Denver Comic Con last year and who came over to say hello to me – I am a giant dork for not getting your name or chatting longer. Next time!!

3:40pm Meet up with Megan and Carolyn for next panel. It seems like it shouldn’t take ten minutes to walk from one hallway of rooms to another but making your way through this crowd is like a game of Frogger without the cars or dying. It takes ages.

3:55pm We are settled into seats in back of room. Women with insane hats two rows in front of us. That is the story of con life: There is always a wig or a hat to block your optimal view of the panel guests.

4:00pm Panel begins: Damsels NOT in Distress. This is a discussion by four authors of representation and depictions of young female characters in YA Fantasy and Sci-Fi. It’s a fun conversation. Someone asks about sexy costumes on characters and panelist Sherry Ficklin declares that she is all for female characters being sexy and wearing sexy clothing, but “for god’s sake, put on some real armor.” It is at this moment that we decide she will become our new best friend.

4:45pm Wander main concourse with Megan and Carolyn. Decide we need snacks and a place to sit down. We buy soft pretzels and sodas and find a wall to sit and lean on. This is a good time because we are not far from the main entrance and there is much people watching to do. We get some good cosplay snapshots and talk to some fun people.

5:30pm It’s time for me to head back upstairs and get in line with the teenagers for our Stan Lee photo op. Honestly have spent most of the week in disbelief that this would actually happen but here we are.

5:45pm Son and friend are standing at the back of a crush of humanity waiting for groups for be called to line up for photos. Can’t hear anything. Stand around making snarky remarks, hoping we’ll hear when they call group 2. Notice son and friend noticing the two older teenage girls in front of us. They are very pretty, one on Scarlet Witch cosplay, the other in Captain America. Silently credit son and friend with very good taste.

6:00pm Proper lines begin forming. Enjoy passersby inquiring as to what we are doing there. “Stan Lee? I thought he cancelled.” Nope. And I’m about to meet him!

6:15pm We are in a line behind a family of three. I joke with son’s non-geek friend: “Do you even know who Stan Lee is?” He says, “Kind of.” Dad in front of us turns around with look of horror like we just kicked a bunch of puppies. We laugh.

6:38pm I should have used the restroom before getting in line.

6:40pm Wonder if I have time to run to restroom and get back.

6:45pm Hand ticket to son. “Just go in without me if they call our line before I get back.” Wander to front of line, looking for volunteer or person in charge to find out if I have time to run to the restroom. Only see two police officers talking to some random guy who is not a volunteer or an employee. Ask them if it’s okay to run to the bathroom. The one officer is all, “I don’t know. Can you?” in weirdly flirty voice. I laugh. He asks if I need him to write me a hall pass. “Would you?” I ask, then wave and rush off to nearest women’s restroom.

6:55pm Return to spot in line. Teenagers are now seated on cement floor.

7:05pm Line moves! It’s time! We’re going to see Stan Lee!

7:09pm We are told not to touch Mr. Lee, not to ask him to sign anything, not to engage him in lengthy conversation.

7:11pm Walk into photo room. All I can say is, “STAN LEEEEEE!!!” He gives me a look like, “Yeah, thanks lady, I know my name.” Can see residual of this look in our photo. Son and I both look insane. Son’s friend looks politely interested.

Behold: Three dorks and a legend.
Behold: Three dorks and a legend.

7:12pm And that’s that. It’s very anticlimactic!

7:15pm After picking up our (mostly ridiculous) photo, agree we are all tired and ready to head home. Make our way back through show floor and down to Light Rail station. Wait a few minutes for a train. The young ladies from the Stan Lee photo op line get on same car as us. Watch in amusement as son and friend proceed to sneak glances at them the whole way home. These boys have no game.

7:50pm Chick Fil A for dinner.

9:27pm Bed. Gotta rest up for day 2!

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