The Gold Standard: Grey’s Weekend of Awesome at NYCC 2010

Let me preface this by saying that a month ago I would have opened up by saying “I hate New York”, because I did. With a fiery burning passion. I avoided the city like the plague for all matter of reason for years after my initial encounter with the city left me feeling grimy and nervous. So when I said I wanted to go to the Comic Con there, I was only half serious. Yes, I wanted to go, but not as badly as I didn’t want to go to New York.

Well, obviously, I went to New York. Had I not gone then this would be the shortest delayed write up of the New York Comic Con that the internet will see this year. And this post is about the Con, not my mini vacation, so let’s break it down by the days.

Friday was my first time at any sort of real Comic Con, hell, it was the first any kind of Comic Con for me since my infamous Alex Ross story happened like, thirteen years ago. I was overwhelmed by the sheer crowd, and I have no shame in admitting that it took me almost two hours to realize that I hadn’t even found the booths yet. Sad, right? This is what happens when you put an agoraphobe in a room with a huge amount of people where it’s just about standing room only. Friday was cool though, I met Amanda Connor and Jimmy Palmiotti, talked to some indie comic promoters, and more or less just acquired my legs so that Saturday would be more productive. I eventually found my way to the main show floor and found myself overwhelmed, however. So many more people, so much more to do. So many lines marked with the “Last person in line” markers. Lessons learned quickly though.

Saturday was awesome. I got to talk to Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle about Supergirl, Igle drew me a Booster Gold, and Gates broke the news to me that they were off of the book. Apparently the news had been announced at the DC Panel an hour or so earlier….I was disappointed. I mean, these guys made me a fan of Supergirl, and now I’ve got to hope the new team can live up to their high standards. Gates denied that he’s moving on to a Kid-Flash book, but hey, I had to ask. Whatever he moves to, I’ll buy it. I also got Chris Batista to draw Booster for me (like I was going to pass up the chance to get Booster Gold drawn by the guy who’s drawing his book), and talked with him a little. At some point in the day I also ran into Greg Pak at the Comic News Insider booth, which was unexpected to say the very least. I also talked to Joe Prado for a little bit about the often forgotten issue of Action Comics he penciled (which is how his name wound up on my radar), and got something signed by him and Ivan Reis (who was pretty busy everytime I saw him).

Darwyn Cooke made me hauling my copy of Absolute New Frontier worth the added weight on my shoulder. I was shocked that he didn’t have a line.

The highlight of Saturday though is my big personal adventure from the Con. See, almost all of my friends who have been to conventions have a story. Like my buddy Matt who works for the Nexus now, he’s got an awesome story for every convention he’s been to. So I went in wondering if I’d have one…..doubting it, actually, as I’m not known for my luck. But anyway, Todd Nauck and Andy Lanning were set up next to each other in Artists Alley, and considering I’m fans of both, I made it a point to swoop by as often as I could to see if either was available for a sketch or to get something signed. Nauck was there for most of the weekend, but he was always pretty busy….and rightfully so. Lanning, however, I didn’t see at all on Friday, nor most of early Saturday. At some point on Saturday afternoon though, I stopped by to see if he’d shown up, and he was actually there. I asked if I could get some stuff signed by him, and pulled out my Nova hardcover as well as the gem of my collection I brought just for the chance that I’d run into DnA.

Resurrection Man #1,000,000. The first Abnett and Lanning issue I ever read, something I came across in a grab bag at my local comic book shop years ago that introduced me not only to a character that I wound up loving, but a writing team that I’ve been following ever since. When Andy saw that he told me that he was actually late for a signing on the other side of the convention center at the Marvel booth, with Dan [Abnett], and that I should follow him and they’d both sign it. So, through what felt like thousands of people, and given how busy the event got that afternoon easily could have been, Lanning opened a hole and led the way through Artists Alley, through the hallway connecting it to the other room, and then through that even more crowded room full of people. He hopped me to the front of the line, he and Dan both signed my things, and on top of all of that? I got the memory of what I’ll always remember as an awesome story.

I know people who have met creators they’ve followed and loved them, I know people who have met them and hated them, hell, Alex Ross. But for me? Andy Lanning will go down in my book as one of the most awesome people in the industry, because he was just a really cool guy who did something awesome for a random fan. I didn’t even mention the site until after it was all over and done with. Great guy.

Sunday will go down for me for many reasons, like Joel Gomez drawing a Kyle Rayner for me, or meeting J.T. Krul in person after totally botching getting in touch with him for an e-mail. Or the Nicola Scott Huntress that I got. That’s not to discredit Freddie Williams drawing Stargirl for me, in fact, I want to give him some added props real quick. I asked him how much for a commisioned sketch and got myself on his queue, but when I told him that I only had twenty minutes he bumped me to the front of the line. Awesome guy, and the sketch is pretty sweet too.

I don’t want to knock on any of Sunday’s awesome, but chances are you’ve read me before, and you know that I’m something of a fanboy. And where does that fanboyism find its focus? On a certain cancelled arachnid that I have repeatedly professed my love for over the past decade. Why does this matter?

Because I met Tom DeFalco, and my fandom got the best of me. I met a lot of people while I was at the convention, but only DeFalco had me completely awe struck. More surprising, to me, since he was completely cool. I said that I’d been looking for him the entire convention (true story, as I’d been looping back by where his booth was supposed to be in Artists Alley the entire weekend with no luck), and he asked if he owed me money. I talked to him for a little while and got some Spider-Girl stuff signed (in my complete wash of OMGness I forgot that I also had my Real Clone Saga hardcover with me as well, which Todd Nauck had signed not two hours earlier), and to be honest, it was awesome. Had I not been trying to restrain myself from complete fanboy worship I would have tried to stand there until he told me to leave and pick his brain about all things comics, Marvel, and Spider-Man. I still have a ton of questions for him, but I’m content with how it went. You only get to meet someone you admire and respect for the first time once, you know?

And on a completely personal note, I also had the fortune of finally meeting a long time friend of mine face to face. Mike Maillaro, who many of you might recognize as a Nexus contributer, has been a friend of mine for years, and actually helped me get my start on this site. The vast majority of my Gold Standard’s went through him for editing before ever seeing the light of day, and I’d be lying if I said that he hasn’t made me a better writer. He’s been one of my primary influences, and I’ve learned a lot from him, and the biggest shame is that neither of us thought to snap a picture of finally getting to meet face to face after as many years as we’ve known each other.

What’s my end verdict?

I’ll be at C2E2 in April, maybe San Diego in July, and back in New York next October. I’ve had my first taste, and I want more. It was an awesome experience that went by way too fast.

The Gold Standard

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