Phoenix Comicon 2013 Day One Recap

This is just my personal recap, so please do not expect a complete rundown of the day and every little thing that happened…

After going to bed at around 12:30 on Thursday, I was up at 3:30 to begin tidying things up in preparation of my flight to Phoenix for Phoenix Comicon 2013. As I was getting ready to go, I zipped up my brand new luggage only to find BOTH main compartment zippers were off the tracks, and there was no hope of getting them back on  I shuffled everything into my laptop bag (which was my original plan anyway), headed to the gas station, then boarded my flight.

While in the Des Moines airport I sat down and was eventually engulfed by an extended family on their way to Hawaii for a wedding. Think an entire family of Larry the Cable guy.  One of the daughters who came later and sat directly next to me, slid down in her chair and let a big expulsion of bodily gasses erupt.  Classy.

The flight to Phoenix was nonstop, so I arrived around 9:00am local time, hopped in a taxi, and went to check in my smaller bag at the Renaissance downtown, then headed to the convention center.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend one of these bigger conventions, I highly recommend going on Friday, or even Thursday is the celebs are there that early. Saturdays are a zoo.  After picking up my registration pass with no line, I grabbed a few copies of the awesome Babylon 5 themed program guide, I headed out into the main area to wait for the doors to open.


I followed the masses into the main hall and I started to get the feel of my surroundings.  I saw where the actors will be, then meandered through not one but 2 TARDIS’s and a control panel, and found a friend John Hudgens already at his booth.  John has a great documentary screening Backyward Blockbusters about fan films.  I will link it in.  I had a little bit before my first panel, so I decided to get a couple autographs while I could.

Many people are confused and angry about paying for celebrity autographs – and the price.  I go back and forth.  Patricia Tallman talks about conventions and autograph income  in her book, but needless to say the photos and signatures they do are a significant part of how they get to appear at the cons at all.  I’ll try and see if her explanation is available online, otherwise, you’ll have to buy the book!

In Kansas City, Wil Wheaton’s line was huge.  But at 10:15am, it was virtually non-existent.  Even though I already had 2 Wil signatures, I decided to get one of him writing.  Seemed a welcome alternate to his “film” photos.  Next I went down the Babylon 5 line, and stopped to talk to Claudia Christian.  I admit I was a little disappointed she didn’t seem to remember me although she had sentme some photos and we talk online every now and then, but she was probably overwhelmed.

I also said hi to Stephen Furst and Patricia Tallman, then decided to try and talk to a few of the anime people and say hi from rightstuf.  One was completely unfriendly (wont mention names… or maybe I will later…) but Alexis tipton was extremely friendly and said she loved rightstuf!  So that was neat.

I attended the first panel, Points of Departure, about story arcs that could have been.  On it were longtime online friends Jan Schroeder and Sandra Bruckner.  During the panel, someone in the audience mentioned another friend, Louise Kleba, and she was actually in the room.  Reunion ensued afterwards, and we all had a picture taken together outside the panel area, which was fun.

After that panel we all made our way to J. Michael Straczynski’s special panel.  I will let other describe this panel more fully, but let’s just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  Joe told some really great observations and stories from some of the people who could not be at the con because they have passed beyond the rim.  The story of Michael O’Hare shocked some people, and to some it was a relief that people would finally know.

I will link to someone else’s explanation if I find it.

I ventured out into the exhibitor area again until my 3:15 photo op with Claudia Christian, which was running late, but there were only 20 or so of us there.  Then I met Lee Whiteside, one of the organizers, at the B5 cast photo op for the big one with the entire cast.  I even brought a Sheridan action figure so Bruce Boxleitner could be in the photo with us, which people seemed amused by (thankfully!)  Peter Jurasik held him for me during the shoot.

I wandered the exhibitor hall again, getting a signed photo from Tracy Scoggins, whom I did not have, and then even The Honky Tonk Man and Virgil from WWF/WWE.  Honky Tonk and I exchanged some Des Moines stories, where he said whenever he had one day off in his 300 days a year schedule, they would give him the day off in Des Moines where he had nothing to do except laundry. Was pretty funny.

After picking up the B5 photo from the tables, I finally went to get something to eat.  Food at the convention center is expensive.  Like, really expensive.  After a pepperoni and jalapeno slice of pizza, I went to where my first panel wold be, and got out some of my notes and studied for a bit.

The panel was on the production of Babylon 5, and consisted of myself, Jan Schroeder, Sandra Bruckner, Emily Albee (who did CGI in season 5 and the tv movies), Peter David (author) and Arne Starr – another pro and comic book artist.  This panel didn’t have a moderator so we pretty much started with a Q&A that involved a lot of Peter’s experience writing his two episodes, and then naturally flowed between the other panelists talking about CGI, the day to day process of creating a TV show, touched a little bit about camaraderie on the set, and our early experience with B5 fans on GEnie, Compuserv, Lurker’s Guide and of course Keyword: Babylon 5. Afterwards, I had some people come up to say they enjoyed it, so that was good to hear since it was the one I was the most worried about.

After talking with some people in the hallway (including someone who came from Germany who wore an amazing EA uniform) I headed to Awesome Hour with Wil Wheaton.  I saw Wil last in Kansas City where his panel was free, and this one was $10.  Unfortunately, even though Wil is awesome and very entertaining, it was the same stories he told in KC, although with more expletives. Was still a good time.

I managed to find my way back to the hotel and went to the Captain’s Cantina: The Zocalo at Babylon 5 and had a drink or two, chatted with some fans of the show, saw the German guy win the costume contest, and met Jay, who runs the B5 moderated group. The table all of the newsgroup people were at was full, so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to talk to anybody or be a part of the fun.  I felt like a third wheel, actually, so I mingled a bit, and eventually left to go to the hotel around 11:45 or midnight.

Tomorrow are the two big things I am looking forward to: the dawn of fandom panel I am on, and of course the big B5 reunion panel.  My afternoon is relatively empty except Backyard Blockbusters, so I am not sure when I will go sit down at the reunion panel for a good seat.  I am told it will also be uploaded to YouTube eventually, so when it is, I will link it here in this post.

Here’s to another great day! I am not finding the opportunity to take many photos, but hope to.

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