Big Apple Con - The National

A while back, PooZ and I made plans to attend the first day of this year’s National convention in New York, and Friday was that day. We’ve been planning this for months. We bought our tickets well in advance. We asked for the day off from work. I stayed at his house the night before the show. So we had this all planned out well, right?


For some reason, both of us were under the impression that the convention started at 10:00 a.m. We got up at 5:30, left his house at 6:00 and took a 7:17 train into New York City. We walked from Grand Central Station to the Hotel Pennsylvania, and when we walked in at 9:01, we were greeted by ... some guys setting up who had no idea what we were doing there. D’oh.

Turns out the doors were scheduled to open at 1:00 p.m., not 10:00 a.m. Whoops. Honestly, though, that was the only part of the day that went wrong. To pass the time, after we got some breakfast, we stopped by Nintendo World, which was 15 blocks away. For some reason, I never walk anywhere when I’m home, but I’ve got no problem walking everywhere in New York, even on my busted-up ankle, which is still in so much pain.

To be honest, both PooZ and I were a little underwhelmed by Nintendo World. It was less a “world” and more a “store that sells most of the same Nintendo games and hardware you can buy at any other store”. Sure, there were some museum pieces (including a GameBoy that was near-destroyed in the Gulf War but still worked), and some Nintendo-related clothing and stuff, but mostly it was just a big store. A big store that had a huge line of people waiting to buy Wiis (oh, those were the days!).

After we left Nintendo World, we stopped at the official NHL Store, which was pretty nice. I almost bought a Gretzky Oilers jersey, but decided to save my money. We did play a nice game of NHL ’08 -- I was the Flyers and PooZ was the Islanders, because those were the two teams it was on when we picked up the controllers -- and we tied 1-1 through the first two periods, before I figured out how to completely destroy Rick DiPietro and started scoring on PooZ at will.

So that was it for the non-comic portion of our day. We walked back to the hotel, and got in line outside. Then we found out the pre-order line was inside, so we got in that line (once again, we’re AWESOME with the planning). Finally, our plan came together. We spotted Adam Hughes’ booth from the line and made the plan to dash there immediately once we were in. You see, the way Adam Hughes’ commission list works, he takes names for the first 5-10 minutes after the doors open, then selects names randomly off the list to do sketches. PooZ has been on the list at three previous conventions, but has never gotten a sketch. I’ve never even been on the list (or even at a convention he was at), and PooZ said to me, “no joke, if you get a sketch and I don’t, I’ll kill you and sell the sketch.” I’m pretty sure he was kidding.

OK, so after we got on Hughes’ list, we took a quick walk around the upstairs section. And that was a slight disappointment. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t anything special. Plus, at this point, I had a bag full of books to get signed and neither Tim Sale nor Ron Garney were there. We did find out though that Tim Sale would be at a table in the first floor Artists Bullpen, which was convenient.

We went back downstairs and watched Adam Hughes draw for awhile. Eventually, Tim Sale showed up and I got in his line. Not only was it not a huge line, but it moved quickly, and I got my Spider-Man Blue set signed by him. I’ve now got the complete collection signed by both him and Jeph Loeb, which was my main purpose in going to this event.

After finishing up with Tim Sale, I re-joined PooZ, who was watching Adam Hughes finish up his 2nd sketch of the day. Adam was working at a pace that would probably allow him to finish no more than 5 sketches, out of a list of 35, so obviously we had some concern. Then he started his third sketch. It was obvious that the request was stumping him; he wasn’t quite sure how to draw it. Then PooZ got a glimpse of the rough outline and almost peed himself: it was PooZ’s sketch!

Adam took almost 2 hours to finish PooZ’s piece, which sadly I forgot to get a picture of. It’ll be on his ComicArtFans Gallery soon enough. PooZ got up to go to the ATM, and I asked him to get me a soda. Plus, I think he just needed some time to breathe, since he was getting a sketch by one of his favorite artists. When he came back, he sat down and started watching again, then after about 2 minutes he realized “oh crap, I forgot your soda.” Yeah, his mind was definitely elsewhere. During the drawing of the sketch, PooZ got up and left multiple times, because he was so nervous. He wasn’t even there when the sketch was done, so Allison Sohn -- Adam’s assistant and a great artist in her own right -- slipped the sketch into the front of Adam’s print book, which meant a whole bunch of people got to see it and be impressed by it. When PooZ finally came back to pick up his sketch, he couldn’t have been happier.

The next sketch Adam did was just as detailed and just as amazing and took almost as long. The day was coming to a close and it was obvious that Adam would only be able to get one more sketch done. At this point, I was semi-nervous. I hadn’t really even planned on getting a sketch, but at this point, I’d sat there all day watching, so I kind of wanted something. Allison briefly spoke to Adam, then Adam sat down and started sketching. When he started, he had the book close to him, so I couldn’t see what he was doing, but at one point, PooZ caught a glimpse and leaned over to me and said “that’s Gellar”. As in “Sarah Michelle Gellar” (who, as an aside, just changed her name to “Sarah Michelle Prinze” to take the name of her husband). That’s right, Adam was doing Buffy, my Buffy! I tried to hide my excitement, but I must have broken out in a huge smile.

Adam didn’t finish the sketch until after 8:00, when the convention was supposed to be closed. I didn’t care about waiting. I was just so happy when it was done. On the way back home, PooZ and I actually gave each other a high five in celebration of our successful day. It’s not often that two people can go to a convention and both get sketches from one of the best artists in the business. Plus, getting to watch him do his work all day, and just talk with him, was pretty damn cool.

We had planned on going to 99 to eat after we were done with the convention, but by the time we got back home it was so late and we were both pretty tired from walking around all day so he just dropped me off at my parents’ house (where my car was) and I went home. All in all, though, a pretty damn good day.

Saturday, I got a frame for my new piece and added it to my ComicArtFans Gallery. I also went to A.C. Moore to get a quote on a custom frame job for my “Spider-Man Blue” set-up. I plan on getting the 6 individual signed issues framed with the two original pages I own. It’ll be a fairly expensive frame job, but it’ll be worth it. I’ll be sure to post pictures once its done.