Monday, March 9, 2015

Cleveland Comic Con Recap

I just got back home after nearly three weeks of traveling, and I'm not finished yet. From Feb 20 - 22, I was a special guest at Cleveland Comic Con, and I have to say it was one of the best things I have ever been a part of. I had a blast! Well, I had a blast once I got there, getting there was not as much fun as I would have liked.

I decided to drive because I thought bringing paintings and the Tangled Tower would make for a great presentation. I left on Wednesday Feb 18, in the morning. Cleveland is about sixteen hours from where I am in Florida so I was hoping to be there by late Wed night and then head over to set up at the convention center on Thurs morning. In North Carolina I started seeing snow, but the roads were clear so I didn't think much of it. It was cold though. I was in West Virgina by about eight pm when it started to snow. I thought, there is no use in getting killed, I'll spend the night at a hotel, and get there early tomorrow. I tell my story to the woman at the front desk of the hotel, and she tells me that it's supposed to freeze below -15 and they aren't ready for it. If I spend the night there, I might miss the whole convention. She suggests I keep going, so I do. I drive for a bit with no issues, then all of a sudden I am going up, and up and up, and there are no street lights, and I am on this mountain... and it starts to snow. Heavy snow. So much that I can't see and I am alone on this road, in the mountains, and I can barely see in front of me. This lasts for about the longest twenty minutes of my life. I am going one mile an hour, in the left lane because i am using the guard rail as a guide. Then I see truck lights in front of me so I get behind them. Then more truck lights and suddenly there is traffic and no one is moving. We are at the top of a mountain, its snowing like crazy and I am stuck in traffic. Wonderful, this is now about nine thirty I guess, it's hard to remember details when you are terrified. After a few hours, yep, hours, the traffic starts to move, however by now the snow has frozen because the temperature dropped and now the road is solid ice.
In talking to other drivers I heard that two trucks had slid into each other causing the delay. Now we are moving so slowly that my speedometer reads 0. Everyone is sliding, tires are spinning, and there are no plows, no salt. Apparently West Virginia's snow preparation is to have one plow, and one round thing of Morton's table salt, and that's it. I won't bore everyone with the rest of the details but I arrived at Marietta Ohio, at 4am, still three hours from Cleveland, but off of the darn mountains. I can honestly say it was the most terrifying night of my life so far. To my credit, I kept my cool, drove slow and smart, my father taught me how to drive in snow and ice, and that honestly may have saved my life. I saw the sign below at about noon, never thought I would be so happy to be in Cleveland in Feb!!

So now I am there. I go to the convention center to unload, and set up. Wizard had rented the room next to the main room and we could drive in and unload from there, It was -8° outside so this was an amazing gift already!

A shot of my booth. I'm next to John Russo who wrote Night Of The Living Dead, with George A. Romero. Once I'm set up it's off to the hotel.

We were staying at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade. This is one of the most incredible buildings I have ever been in. It was built in 1890, and it really looked like it. Just a stunning place to stay.

Not the most amazing view from the window but look at that snow coming down...again.
On Friday, I went down early, the show didn't start until three pm. I chatted with John for a while, mostly chit chat when a person over a loud speaker said "Comic Con will begin momentarily." I looked at John, and said I hope it doesn't begin momentarily, I hope it begins presently. I figured that as a writer he would find that funny and he did. Having him in the booth next to me was definitely one of the best parts of the show. Not everyone is so easy to get along with.
On the subject of getting along with people, I was shocked at how nice everyone was. Guys I would have thought to have huge egos, Joel and Neil Adams, Rob Leifeld, all of the artist's and creators, and the entire Wizard staff were extremely quick to say hello. If they saw you in the hotel lounge it was "hey, pull up a chair, come on over". It was a nice and welcome change from some of my experiences in the fine art world.

It snowed a lot on Friday and many people didn't show up because of it. On Saturday the house was packed! I could not believe the amount of people there! To the right is a shot of the convention center with all of the snow.

One of the coolest things to happen was that I was part of the Wizard VIP package which meant that Wizard VIP guests got a trading card that I could sign for them. I have my own trading card!! I'm still not quite used to getting asked for my autograph, but I doubt I will ever get sick of
On Sunday, things were busy at first but then slowed down a bit. Although there were many actors and actresses there, William Shatner, Lou Ferrigno, Joey Lauren Adams, to name a few, I barely met any of them because I couldn't leave my table. Right now I have no people. I working on getting people, but as of now, no people. Someday, when I have people, I'll be able to walk around and shake some hands...

 A parting shot of my booth below.

After the convention I spent a few days in NJ visiting family, then back to Florida for a charity event. I have to finish a painting by Friday because I am part of a show at Disney World this coming weekend! Busy, busy, busy, and loving every second of it!

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