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Apocrypha Entertainment Presents:

A Little Bit Of History and Some Tips For a Good Show

The first time I went to San Diego for the con was 1991. Let me put that into a little bit of perspective for you.

My friend Raymond told me hr had heard about the show and we decided to drive over. That year it was held over the July 4th weekend, and that’s exactly when we went. Get this: we drove into San Diego on the 3rd, having no hotel reservation at all, got a room on Hotel Circle with no problem, and showed up for the con the next day. Back then, the extension to the convention center wasn’t even a concept as of yet, so it ran (I think) from hall A to hall D and that was it. We registered on-site (no computer reservations, of course) and went right in. These things are mythological at this point., but honest- it used to be that way… and that small. Though, I admit, even then I thought the show was so enormous that I could never take it all in during the course of a day. I can only imagine how single-day folks feel now.

I got a few books signed. Geof Darrow signed HARD BOILED for me and sketched in it. Matt Wagner signed the DARK HORSE 5TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, as well as a bunch of other folks in the book. In short, I had a really fun day. But by the time it was over, I was ready to leave.

Ray and I drove off to go home that very night. The thing I remember most was that, as we raced through the desert, I was able to look off in the distance to see fireworks displays from small towns and cities. Such a beautiful thing. The sky out there is very clear, undisturbed by pollution and city lights. Night in the desert is one of the last remaining vestiges of natural poetry we have left in the world.

It took nine years to make it back to San Diego, but my ex and I did a one-day excursion in 2000 that put me back on the path. It was her first con, and to my surprise, she really had fun and decided we should come back the following year and do it right- multiple days, a hotel downtown, the whole shebang. That was when I really had to begin to learn how to manage the show, and I’ve gotten kind of decent at it, mostly through trial and terror.

For instance, in 2001 the only shoes I had were worn through to the heels, and I paid for that in horrible fashion. Nasty blisters, knee pain that was agonizing. Ugh. We also quickly figured out the importance of Ralph’s in keeping costs down that year. The easiest way to go broke is to eat every meal in a restaurant.

The importance of maintaining a reasonable smell was impressed upon me the year that Lucasfilm announced the name of the third prequel and put t-shirts on sale at their booth right after their panel. I got stuck in a swarm of (literally) hundreds of STAR WARS geeks cramming their way towards their nerdvana, and by the time I was able to extricate myself, I was ready to vomit from the smell. I’m not sure any of them had showered that day. Or the day previous.

On my day job I am constantly dealing with the public, so I make it a point to maintain things like breath that will not kill someone. I love Godzilla, but I don’t want to be the Big Green, you know? So I take that knowledge to the con with me. I also make sure on the job to try and avoid catching every single germ and virus that enters the library, also something I do while in San Diego.

So I guess my point is: no matter how the show has changed and grown since I first attended in 1991, some things never have and never will change. I do a little less walking, thanks to the trolley (and to being press and working the press room as much as working the con floor), and I don’t stick around for as many days, either. But what I carry with me? If you want to have the best possible con, make sure your bag contains these items:

Breath mints
Clean shirt
Hand sanitizer
Extra business cards
Ralph’s discount shopper card

Your suitcase needs:

Comfy shoes
Underwear that fits properly and prevents chafing
Clean clothes for every day you’ll be in town

There’s no reason you can’t have a great show every year you go. There’s always something fun going on, no matter what you like best (comics, anime, Hollywood stuff, games). But do something to help everyone else have a great show, too, okay? Take the tips above to heart. If this year is your first con, I hope it is an experience you’ll never forget. If you’re a veteran, I hope this year brings you something new. And to those who can’t make it: sorry. You’ll be missed.

And to everyone who has been reading CWR: thanks. We appreciate it. And six of the eight of us will be in San Diego- see you in the Hyatt bar!

Marc Mason


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