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Avril Brown Presents:

I only recently started attending comic conventions. My visit to the Wizard World Comic Convention in Rosemont was only my second trip to the Chicago Con, despite being a comic fan for the last ten years. I plead ignorance for the first several years; I was not aware of the awesomeness that is comic congregations. When I was finally enlightened to their existence I didn’t really have anyone to go with. Now I am conscious of the San Diego Comic Convention International, the largest comic gathering in the world, and I have a posse of people to hang with, but I have to pull the most common and frustrating excuse: I’m broke.

Well, not completely. But unless I wanted to decimate my already depleted and laughable ‘life savings,’ flying out to San Diego and paying for a several night hotel stay simply is not in my budget. Not to mention I have no more vacation days to take off of work.

So the SDCC and I are separated by a vast sea of money troubles and work commitments. Time to put on my imagination cap and take a trip out to the West Coast.

I step off the plane into the warm California air. I pause, take a deep breath, and exhale the sigh of a content woman; one who is all set to enjoy a fabulous, fun-filled weekend of all things nerdy. The air is humming with the excitement and aroma generated by thousands of un-washed comic readers, Trekkies, Yoda-worshipers and role-players. I can’t wait to get started.

After ditching my bag in my fabulous penthouse hotel room, complete with fully stocked mini-bar, I make my way to the convention center in time for a panel starring Stan Lee and Grant Morrison.

Me: Mr. Lee, I know you’re an octogenarian, but can I make out with you?

Stan Lee: Like I would say no to that? Pucker up, buttercup.

Me: (SMOOCH) Thank you; there’s one thing I can cross off my life’s to do list. Now down to business. How does it feel to be the creative mind behind some of the most popular and long-lived titles in the comic industry?

Stan Lee: Makes me feel like Jagger.

Me: DAMN that’s hot.

Stan Lee: No kidding. But seriously, it gives me warm fuzzies knowing that characters I helped to create almost fifty years ago are still resonating with people today. You can’t buy that kind of immortality.

Me: True that. And Mr. Morrison, you wrote a story several years ago for the X-Men which involved Xavier’s twin whom he tried to kill in utero, and the havoc she helped wreak: namely the devastating murder of sixteen million mutants. Disturbing and powerful stuff. How does it feel to commit genocide in a fantasy world?

Grant Morrison: ‘E is for Extinction’ was about a new beginning for Marvel’s Mightiest Mutants. The number of mutants were growing exponentially and it was only a matter of time before regular humans would become the minority. It was time to hit the reset button…with a bang.

Me: A bang, indeed. But seriously, an evil twin? What is this, ‘Days of Our Lives?’ And mass-murder? That’s pretty harsh.

Grant Morrison: An evil twin who survived an assassination attempt in the womb! That’s new and different. Plus I’m not the only writer who’s killed off millions of characters in one fell swoop. Brian Michael Bendis de-powered almost all the mutants in the Marvel Universe. That’s sort of like genocide.

Me: Yeah, but you started it.

Grant Morrison: What are you, twelve?

Me: If the situation calls for it. Thanks for your time, gentlemen!

I wade through the crowd, seeking my next opportunity to accost another comic celebrity I’ve been dying to get my hands on. Empowered by the magical fairy dust coating Stan Lee’s un-dying lips, I allow a skip to creep into my step as I make my way over to the divine presence of Russell T. Davies and Steven Moffat, writers of the immensely popular Doctor Who.

Me: What makes the idea of the Doctor and his time-and-space traveling TARDIS so appealing is the limitless scope of what he can encounter. Writing the adventures of a character who can literally go anywhere and anywhen must be like a free candy shop for a innovative mind.

Russell T. Davies: Being on the imaginative team behind Who certainly has been an experience. Though we are seemingly bound by nothing in terms of characters and scenarios, we still need to present believable and enjoyable aliens and mysteries for fans to truly appreciate the show.

Me: Well you’ve been wildly successful at that. You two have written some of my favorite episodes of Who. Promise me you’ll never leave the show.

Steven Moffat: Um, you know we can’t promise something like th--

Me: (voice lowers to a growl, a sharp object appears out of nowhere) PROMISE me!

RTD and Steven Moffat: We promise!

Me: Much better. Mr. Davies, you seem to have a knack for writing season finales where everyone lives to fight another day, which is usually a hallmark of a reasonably happy ending, but yet the fans still feel like they got punched in the soul. Elaborate.

RTD: Why go for the kill when you can go for the pain? If a character goes out in a blaze of glory, the viewer can at least take comfort in the fact they died a hero. However, if a character continues to live each day knowing they experienced something amazing and can never return to that existence, like Rose at the end of Season Two, or if they are completely unaware they saved all of creation, like Donna at the end of Season Four, you’ve made an impression that’s not likely to fade anytime soon.

Me: Excellent point. Well thank you for your time, gentlemen, and I look forward to more fabulous episodes of Doctor Who, which you will be writing for the rest of your days.

RTD and Steven Moffat: Yes, ma’am.

Aside from the depressing fact I’m old enough to be considered a ‘ma’am’ now, I continue to whistle a happy tune as I further explore the wonders of the SDCC. The art, the costumes, the comics, the celebrities! My eyes are spinning and my heart is thudding, it is almost too much to take in. Time for a drink.

I sit at the bar, put bread in someone’s jar, and enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow CWR staffers. We nurse our drinks, chuckle a nerdy chuckle and discuss the happenings of the day.

Elliott Serrano: Hey, isn’t that Joss Whedon? I knew I should’ve worn my ‘Joss Whedon is Evil Incarnate’ shirt today!

Joss Whedon: Hey there, folks. Mind if I grab a drink with you?

Me: (too busy staring and drooling to form coherent response) Ugnalfamrga.

Joss Whedon: Pardon?

Me: Uh, yes, please, drink a have, seat my take. I mean, have a drink! Take my seat!

Joss Whedon: No no, that’s quite alright. I have a press conference to get to soon, I’ll just hover. So what do you folks do?

Marc Mason: We’re all part of Comics Waiting Room dot com, of which I am the editor extraordinaire. Perhaps you’ve heard of us?

Joss Whedon: As a matter of fact, yes. Which one of you writes ‘Rogue Element?’

Me: Um, that’d be me.

Joss Whedon: I’ve read your work, I’m a big fan.

Me: (emits hysterical laughter) Sorry, I’ll try to control that.

Joss Whedon: S’ok, it happens all the time.

Me: I’m not surprised. And can I just say…I’m a HUGE fan of your work from Buffy to Firefly to ‘Fray’ to ‘Astonishing X-Men’ and everything in between except for Angel which I haven’t seen all the seasons ‘cause I’m more of a Spike fan than Captain Broody Hair-Gel but still you’re an absolute genius, well, evil genius you know you’re evil, don’t you, what with your penchant for killing off one half of a happy couple not to mention Spike trying to rape Buffy at the end of Season Six which I felt was a gross deviation from his true character he pretty much rocks and totally wouldn’t have done that so I like to pretend it didn’t happen but regardless ‘Fray’ is one of the best comics ever created I’ve read it a million times and I think Fox totally screwed you over on Firefly it should’ve had many more seasons and I’m so looking forward to Dollhouse and if Fox fucks with that I’m gonna burn them to the goddamn ground.

Joss Whedon: Wow. Um, thanks. Listen, I have to get going. Nice chatting with you, and I look forward to reading more of your work.

Me: (more hysterical laughter)

Eventually the weekend winds down, I return to my hotel room which is twice the size of my apartment, pack my meager belongings, hop a plane back to Chicago and allow myself to reminisce. I enjoyed a beautiful weekend in San Diego, California. I bought some comics, met some of the most amazing creative brains behind my favorite shows and books, nearly wet myself at the Wolverine trailer (can anyone say Gambit?!?) and enjoyed a good stare at one of the hottest couples on television today: John Barrowman and Gareth David-Lloyd as Captain Jack Harkness and Ianto Jones of Torchwood. I shook hands with occasional X-Men scribe and this year’s Eisner award-winning Best Writer for 2007, Ed Brubaker, while simultaneously slipping him my card. I had the time of my life.

And then I took off my imagination cap.

No West Coast tan, no exclusive previews of upcoming films, no make-out session with a comic icon. Just second hand accounts of this enormous geeky gathering, a few thoughtful souvenirs from a guilt-ridden friend, and egg on my face, courtesy of someone who took advantage of my emotionally vulnerable state and extreme gullible-ness and managed to convince me I actually was speaking to Joss Whedon on the phone. (Hope you have your handbasket picked out, Brandon; Hell’s waiting for you)

So I missed the San Diego Comic Convention for 2008. I’ve gone more than a couple decades without attending this spectacular symposium, but now that I know it’s there, I feel the loss most acutely. Hopefully, this will be the last time I’ll be lamenting my absence. I will scrimp and save and call in sick if need be, but SDCC 2009 will be expecting one more visitor.

So grab your chap stick, Mr. Lee, ‘cause come next July San Diego won’t know what hit it.

Avril Brown

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