Got back late last night from my trip to Charlotte (where the residents are split into two castes: the Charlottonians and the Charlatans) where I attended HeroesCon.
Now, I've never been to a comic book convention until this year. In January, I attended F/X for a few hours. I found it busy, overwhelming, and quite annoying. It almost turned me off of conventions - not the fault of F/X, just the concept in general.
But I decided to give conventions one more shot. HeroesCon, typically a relatively small event, was going to be booming due to a David v. Goliath fight (Wizard magazine tried to set a convention the same weekend, and most creators rebelled against Wizard, opting to show support for HeroesCon instead).
If I was going to go, though, I wanted to do it comfort. I wasn't cramming into a tiny car and sleeping five to a room. Fuck that.
So I rented a Lincoln Navigator for the trip. This car was great - air conditioned seats, smooth ride, satellite radio, everything you could want for a road trip.
Then I rented the Hospitality Suite at the Hilton in Charlotte. I was told over the phone that the suite had a sleeping area, separated from the living area/reception, plus a kitchenette.
The drive was uneventful. By averaging 85 mph for the whole trip, we made it in exactly 7 hours. We checked in, and then went up to our suite. I'll upload a picture later, but it reminded me of the room in European Vacation. The bed and the "reception area" were the same fucking room! The kitchenette was nice, but there was no minibar or refrigerator. I guess no capability to keep things cool is what separates a kitchenette from a kitchen.
So I decided to call and see if either (a) they had an adjacent suite that we could reserve as well, or (b) they had a bigger suite available. After some haggling with the reservation clerk, we decided to move to the 21st floor, accessible only by keycard, to the . . . Presidential Suite!
Now this is what I'm talking about. Over 900 square feet, with a large dining room table, office area, living room, two bathrooms, plus a separate bedroom with a King-size bed, additional television, jacuzzi tub and jet shower. To give you some perspective, my first apartment in law school was 440 square feet. My apartment in Los Angeles was 1060 square feet.
And yes, if you're looking closely, I brought my own toilet paper. Even nice hotels use sandpaper for their toilet paper. Fuck off.
Our first night there, we get to go out to dinner with a creator by the name of Warren. Those of you who don't know comics won't know him, but he's the comic world equivalent of Jesus. Those of you who do will know exactly who I'm talking about. You can be jealous now.
Warren joined the five of us for a great steak dinner where there was much drinking, joking, conversing, and, of course, eating. It was a great start to the weekend, and definitely the highlight. He's delightful to spend time with, extremely friendly, and even if we had gone home that evening, I would have considered the entire trip to be worth it.
The convention itself was fun. I really didn't need to buy anything, so I spent most of my time watching people. And I have something to say to some of those people:
Hey, you disheveled smelly fuck. Geeks have a bad reputation because of someone just like you. Learn how to shower, brush your teeth, use mouthwash, cut your hair, buy new clothes that actually fit, and use fucking deodorant! That ones bears repeating. USE FUCKING DEODORANT!
The only time that I've seen that many stinky fuckers in worn-out, threadbare clothes is - NO LIE - the shanty town in downtown Los Angeles. I made the mistake of venturing two blocks south of my office in LA one time, and the inhabitants of the shanty town were as well-dressed and as nicely smelling as 50% of the Heroes Con attendees.
Now, this isn't saying that everyone was horrible. The other half of the attendees were nice, normal people. Many geeks are fastidious with some level of OCD, so cleanliness is a must. Those types of geeks are okay in my book (especially since I'm one of them).
There were also a group of people in costume there. Some of them were very cool (Reanna) some were just a bit creepy.
Zatanna was hot (although it looks like she has a penis or a gerbil stuck in her crotch), but Black Canary really looked like a man in drag. The worst Green Arrow and an even uglier Black Canary. Not everyone can pull off that outfit and fishnets. Don't be upset just because you're an uggo.
I did get a few sketchbooks, a Mace Windu lightsaber, and a cool free signed Bryan Hitch Superman sketch that I promptly put on eBay.
I also met, spoke with, and got a signed headshot from Rosario Dawson. She was over in the 12-Gauge booth and nobody ever seemed to realize she was there. This meant that there was no line, and since she had zero entourage, it was a great setting to talk to her. She seemed very down-to-earth and actually was quite a geek. Needless to say, that was hawt.
And here's a random picture of someone's ass:
Night two was uneventful. Room service and sleep, mainly. One funny story from Friday night. We went back to El President Suite and decided to order pizza:
"Hello, Mr. Avitable, how can I help you this evening?"
"I'd like to order three large pizzas."
"I'm sorry, sir. We're all out of pizza."
"How can you be out of pizza? It's . . . .pizza!"
"I know, sir. We were caught a bit off guard."
I get off the phone and explain this incredulous situation to my partners in crime. One of my disciples of evil, Mr. 42, says "Of course! We're at a fucking comic book convention! Every fat fuck in this hotel is ordering pizza as we speak! No hotel on earth could keep enough pizza in stock to keep a nerdquake sated!"
And then we felt shame for doing what the rest of the retards were doing. Sigh. So instead we ordered non-pizza food to show our non-geekness. Right.
Saturday was another normal day. I attended a DC Nation panel and got to see Dan DiDio and Greg Rucka in action. It was great to see the energy of DiDio compared to the slow intense intelligence radiating off of Rucka. At the end of the panel, they opened it up to questions. And wouldn't you know it. One fuckwit stands up and in a voice reminiscent of Comic Book Guy, asks some asshole question about Batgirl and Batwoman that demonstrated the fact that he couldn't relate to women, had no social concept of a universe outside of his parent's basement, and annoyed most of the people in the room.
Saturday night we went out to dinner with another well-known creator, Brian. Brian does a lot of alternative, non-superhero stuff. He was a nice guy, a bit shy and quiet, but we had a good time. The only possible negative aspect was that I decided we should go out to a different restaurant and chose a Franco-Japanese Fusion place called "restaurant-i". I've eaten Franco-Japanese fusion before, and it was great.
This place had excellent food, but the atmosphere felt like a slightly nicer Chinese restaurant, with plastic menus, and horrible tablecloths and decor. The other customers obviously considered themselves to be better than anyone else by eating in a non-traditional restaurant.
The other downfall was the portion size. Charlotte's a small-enough town that maybe people still feel like if it's going to be a high-scale restaurant, the portions have to decrease in reverse proportion to the price, but that's not true. Many of the nicest restaurants in LA had filling meals and exorbitant prices.
Well, after dinner, we were all still hungry, so we dropped Brian off and headed up to the suite, where we ordered room service.
"Hello, Mr. Avitable, how can I help you this evening?"
"Do you still offer dessert?"
"Yes, sir. Dessert is available 24 hours a day."
"Ok. We'll have one of everything."
We gorged on all different types of desserts and played Bullshit into the night.
It was a great cap to the evening, and the real end of the trip. Sunday consisted of waking up, packing, putting in an appearance at the convention, and then getting in the car for the long ride home. It only took about 30 minutes longer to get home than to get there, but it felt interminably long, as you can imagine.
And now I'm back. And definitely planning for next year.