Greetings Skkawliens, the return of Justin is nigh! And have I got some con stories to share with you. Read on to discover new friends, how nerds deal with meeting their idols, and some tips and tricks for Comic Con and life in general. I promise it’s not as enlightening as I just made it sound. Let’s goooooo!
Something I learned from my first comic con in 2019 is that preview night is a great time to get some shopping out of the way and to just explore the exhibit hall and see where all the things are located. That is exactly what myself and my partner set out to do but first, we needed a COVID wristband to get in.
Luckily on preview night, they were checking all of this right out front of the convention. The staff was clear about which gate to go to. However, I heard from others in my group who went to get their COVID wristband on Thursday that they changed the place to one of the neighboring hotels and that there was very little signage about where to pick those up. It turns out that SDCC organizers still have a few things to learn, which makes sense. I mean this was their first time doing this during the pandemic. My guess is they will come up with an improvement for next year.
Okay, so after getting our wristbands, myself and my partner needed to drop some books off at the booth we were volunteering for, the Cartoon Art Museum booth. Shameless plug, if you’re ever in San Francisco, please do yourself a favor and check out the museum! Right next to the museum’s both happened to be the Peanuts booth so we took the opportunity to do some shopping and take a photo with Snoopy! We also stopped for some photo ops like the animatronic Grogu at the Star Wars booth, the Dragon Ball Z crew at the Dragon Ball Z Super Hero booth, and the Super Mario setup at the Lego Booth. After some photos, it was shopping time!
Something that I really wanted was a copy of the Grim #1 comic with the exclusive variant cover by Veronica Fish. I got in line at the BOOM! Studios booth and found it moving quite slow. I waited for about an hour. When I was about two people away from the register, we were informed that they had sold out of all of the Grim Fish variants for that evening but would be welcome to try again tomorrow morning. I was definitely bummed about missing out on that since I waited for an hour.
But, I was happy to get a “Slaughter Pack” pictured above, which includes some great variants of Something is Killing the Children 1-5. It includes one variant by Dan Quintana and several more from David Mack. I absolutely love David Mack’s work so I was happy to be able to get the pack with the first five issues of variant covers. Here’s one of my favorite covers from the set:
While I was waiting around at BOOM, my partner was doing some shopping and more scoping of cool booths. It was cool because she was able to tell me even more things for us to go check out after I was done waiting in that line. If you have a group and are willing to split up, doing that can be a great strategy for lines and kind of spreading out to do more things.
My big takeaway from Preview Night 2022 was that it is a really valuable experience to just get a feel for where things are before going hard for the rest of the weekend. I loved seeing the exhibits and I’ll share some photos of the ones I visited below.
Thursday is probably my favorite day at SDCC and I think it was last year too. It’s the first full day so the excitement and energy are fresh and it’s a little less crowded than the rest of the convention.
I’ve got two stories for this day. The first was getting in line at around 6:45 AM and having my buddy, the one and only Skkaw, meet me in line. We got to talking with our neighbors in line, Anthony and Sara. It was cool learning more about them and what they were excited for at Comic Con. I remember that they were excited because they had friends that were doing a rotation waiting for Hall H and they would be jumping in that line for Saturday’s big day of panels. They were nice enough to share some of the Facebook SDCC groups they are a part of. We traded socials and they followed us through the initial crowds getting into the exhibit hall. It was really great to chat with them. Anthony runs Gunroom Comics on IG and Sara is an author of a fantasy novel series called the Empyrean Trilogy. Please go check them out @gunroomcomics and @saramschaller. One of my favorite things at SDCC is making new friends and connections, even if they are brief. Here’s a shot of us all together in line.
My second big story for Thursday was making it into the hall in time to get a signing wristband for the creative team for Paper Girls. In case you’re unfamiliar, Paper Girls is a comic written by Brian k. Vaughan and drawn by Cliff Chiang which is now a television series that will be released on Amazon Prime Video. Paper Girls follows the story of four 12-year-old paper delivery girls in a small town who become unwittingly caught between two warring factions of time travelers. Let me tell you, I was so pumped to get that wristband and to get a chance to see the creative team. It has been one of my big bucket list items to meet Brian K. Vaughan as another comic he wrote called Saga is one of my favorite comics of all time. I even cosplayed as Marko from Saga with the hope that I would get to meet Brian. I was on a mission to get that band and I wasn’t going to let a little early morning fatigue stop me.
I got over there and got a wristband first thing. A few hours later, I was back and one of the first few people in line. Because I am a pretty big comic nerd, I even went to the CGC tent and asked if I could be accompanied by a certified witness to authenticate the signature for comic book grading. Often times big authors will not allow this at these kinds of signings but there were no notes about no CGC grading, so I thought to take a chance and see. We arrived early and the CGC witness with me went to the front to ask if he was allowed at the signing while I got in line. I started chatting with the other folks in line, we all had thoughts about Saga and Paper Girls and were sharing other things we were doing at the convention.
I told two guys next to me in line the story I’m about to tell you. Unfortunately, I was not buying single issues comics much when Saga came out and while I was more into comics when Paper Girls hit the stands, I didn’t end up grabbing a copy. Until . . . I was at a second-hand book store near my work. They also happen to buy and sell comics and I’ve often found great deals digging in their bins. On this particular day, I found a very good looking copy of Paper Girls #1 for something like $6-10. Mind you this was years ago, but I thought I would snag it and hold onto it just in case. Finally, the moment had come.
The CGC witness gave me a thumbs up from over by the booth. I was getting this baby signed and graded! When I got over to Brian he was so excited about my cosplay. He asked if he could take a photo of me and of course, I obliged. In case you’re wondering, I did not make the beautiful beanie myself. It was made by the talented Toni at Toni’s Crochet Craze; they are on Etsy!
I was able to chat for a bit with Brian and Cliff Chiang (the illustrator) about their favorite episode of the upcoming show. Brian immediately answered that something really special happens in episode five and that I should stick with it. Cliff agreed but also added that episode three was another stand-out. We were passed out a little swag bag by the other members of the creative team Matt Wilson (the colorist) and Jared Fletcher (the letterer) and they were also kind enough to sign my books.
It was over in a flash, but by the end of it I had met one of my favorite comics book creative teams and gotten a few souvenirs to help me keep memories of this moment alive. I’ll share some photos of the souvenirs below minus that Paper Girls #1 that will be coming in the mail after grading. Praying for that 9.8! (For the uninitiated, a 9.8 is a very high grade for a comic book to receive out of ten. Few books rarely get above that so 9.8 is the gold standard.)
I really like that they gave out a bag that looks like something a paper girl would carry newspapers in. Such a perfect giveaway item and I can’t wait to carry some comics in it.
I spent a good deal of Friday volunteering at the Cartoon Art Museum booth so my big events happened in the morning and evening this day.
My morning was filled with comics goodness. Lined up nice and early and was able to be the third person in line to pick up Adi Granov’s amazing Mandalorian #1 variant cover set. While I wasn’t able to get it signed due to a conflict, my good buddy and the creator of this very blog, Skkaw, was able to get mine signed for me. This is part of what makes a good con. You take care of each other!
Speaking of taking care of each other, the next thing on my list was to get Skkaw and my copy of Nocterra signed by Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel. I was also looking to get my Nocterra #1 signed and graded so I swooped over to the CGC booth, connected with a witness, and was off to get in line. Scott ended up showing up maybe 15-30 minutes late. He was seating when he arrived and you could tell he had rushed from somewhere to get there when he did. The first thing I did was grab a fresh bottled water and offer it to him. He said thank you but that he had just gotten one from someone at the booth. He then proceeded to apologize to everyone in line and offered to sign anything extra for free and suggested that if we wanted something he would try to help us get it for free. I told him, man, thank you so much for that but really don’t worry about it. These cons are crazy to get around.
He started signing and I was able to ask him a few questions about Nocterra. I had recently heard that it was optioned by Netlfix and I wondered how Scott felt about that. He was super excited that Netlfix had optioned it and said that he really liked the team working on it. He hoped that they would finalize it but also said if they pass on the option that there could be future chances too. While we were having this conversation, I failed to notice something. He added a little remark to my graded comic that read, “Stay Lit!” which if you have read Nocterra is just so perfect for the story. I wish I could show you a photo of this but alas, I forgot to take a picture before turning it over to CGC for grading.
While I’ve met Scott Snyder a few times already and gotten many Batman comics signed by him, this experience was a little different. I appreciated how he handled the situation and how kind he was to his fans. Again, you got to take care of your people, and Scott did that as best he could.
Okay, okay, I try not to go too long for these things but I gotta talk for a second about the Dungeons & Dragons offsite. I was stoked that my group was able to RSVP for this. The outside of the venue had some cool photo ops and there was even an actor in costume who creepily came through and ended up stamping someone next to us with a weird symbol on their wrist. When we got it into the large tavern we noticed that there was a large screen on one side that had a screen and was supposed to be a window to the outside fantasy world. There was a bar to the left, and several people roaming who apparently worked at the tavern. We were initially visited by a serving made and handed alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages for free! The serving made spoke to us for about a minute and seemed to have some basic responses but the conversation didn’t really feel like it went far.
After my group decided to do our own little toast, the tavern owner called for his own toast and gave a short speech. Then, soon after that came the grand finale! A dragon attacked on the big window screen. The chandeliers shook as it landed on the building and dust exploded. When its face finally appeared directly in front of the window, it shot what looked like light green poison smoke at us and the smoke really came all the way through the room. Also, during all of this was one very loud and buzzing blue lit-up drone flying through the tavern. I’m not really sure what that was supposed to be. A familiar? A fairy? A spell? They never really explained. After about 2 minutes this ended and we were told to finish our drinks and exit the experience.
I enjoyed the whole show and definitely can’t complain about the free drink. I do think they could have had more people dressed up in character and walking around. I felt like seeing that one in line was the coolest part of the experience other than the dragon. It was a really cool experience though and definitely glad we did it. We survived a dragon encounter!
My Saturday highlights really evolved meeting artists and being able to purchase their work. Oh, and asking for things you don’t think you’ll actually get. More on that in a bit.
One of the first artists I ran into that day was Babs Tarr. I didn’t even know she had a booth at SDCC so I was stoked to find her there! I decided to get one of my friends one of her art books, and I ended up getting myself some stickers. Some of her work is pretty SPICY but all of it is AMAZING! I first found Babs’ work while reading Motorcrush and have continued to follow her work. Pictured below is Babs holding up the art book she just signed for my friend.
Now, to come back to that moment where I learned that its important to just ask while at SDCC. Earlier that morning, my group had gone to the Netflix booth to scan a QR code. Only a certain number of folks who scanned in the morning would be invited back later in the day to enter the booth and get free swag from one of the big Netflix shows. The swag on Saturday was specifically swag for the upcoming Sandman series. Being a huge fan of the comics I really wanted one of the Sandman pins they were giving away.
1:30 pm hits and still no text from Netflix. My volunteer shift started at 2 so I decided to try my luck going to the booth and seeing if they might let me in early. I figured I had to be close! The girl working the iPad with the list of folks signed up was really nice. She looked through the list and saw I was about two pages away. That was maybe like 20-30 parties away but she said come on in! I won a pin, a comic, and a poster, and my partner and I got to take a cool photo at their photo booth. This was all because I asked if they would let us in early! Morale of this story, it doesn’t hurt to ask in these kinds of situations. We finished right about 1:55 with just enough time to get to our volunteer booth.
At the Cartoon Art Museum booth, where I was volunteering, I met another amazing artist, Jeffrey Brown. Jeff is famous for his super cute Star Wars: Darth Vader and Son series. Jeff and other artists were doing sketches to raise funds for the museum in San Francisco. Watching him work was amazing. He did not use any pencils to outline his work. He just started drawing with a black micron pen and absolute confidence. Everything he drew came out amazing. I watched him draw for an entire hour. As he was finishing one more drawing close to the end of his shift, I asked if he had time for one more drawing.
He told me that he would do it! So I told him this sketch was for my dad, and I shared my idea, which was to have Vader and son wear cameras and look like tourists somewhere. I requested this because my dad is a hobbyist photographer and nurtured me to enjoy photography too. I grew up going out shooting with my dad.
In a little over 10 minutes, Jeff handed me a sketch that made me want to cry. As someone who watched Star Wars with his dad hundreds of times, this sketch really meant a lot to me. I can’t wait to gift it to my dad. This moment was the high point of a day filled with cool moments.
The saddest SDCC day by far is always the last. Sunday was really just a final day to explore, see the cosplay, and look for last minute deals or gifts for friends and family.
One of my highlights was the booth that sells lots of dice! I remember seeing them in 2019 but didn’t end up getting any dice. This year was different; I knew I wanted some dice. So, I chose the most ASMR option which was to take a cup and scoop dice at random for $9. The sound was nice and I ended up with a cool variety of dice.
Another very random highlight is that when we left the convention center for lunch at Ike’s Sandwiches, we got to meet Ike! Being from the Bay Area, it felt like we were meeting a local celebrity. He was super nice. He served us outside and took a picture when we asked him.
My last highlight was one of those last minute deals you only get after 4pm on Sunday. At the Neff booth, they were doing buy two items get 50% off your whole order. I ended up getting this hat for free when I bought the matching shirt. I’m super stoked to sport these.
Also, my partner was given a free Bob Ross puzzle and we were offered one of the TVs from a booth, for FREE. Only problem, we flew and couldn’t pack it with. But I promise you, someone else next to us got a free TV. One more lesson, if you can linger around until closing on Sunday to get the deals, do it!
If you read this far, you have just spent a few minutes of your life that you will never get back. But, I am glad you chose this blog post to spend your precious moments on. I hope someday I can trade some epic con stories with you via the interwebs or in person. On that note, if you do have an epic con story, we would love to hear it. Feel free to post your top con story in the comments or send us a message. Adios Skkawliens. Until next time, stay lit!