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Ghastly's Adventures At I-CON 23

This weekend past I enjoyed for my first time the privillage of being a guest at a convention. The convention was I-CON 23, a very long running Science-Fiction, Anime, Technology, and Comics convention hosted on the beautiful campus of Stonybrook University on Long Island, New York. Never having been a convention guest before, and only every having been to one convention as an attendee I went into it with no idea what to expect.

This was my experience.

Being a guest at a convention ROCKS!

It's hard to know where to begin, everything was just grand. The staff were all so helpful and friendly and understanding that I actually felt pampered. I was very well looked after by the staff at I-Con and I'd just like to thank each and every one of them for making my first convention guest experience such a pleasent one. You guys did a great job. Congratulations.

The guests they had booked for the comic panels were absolutely amazing. I enjoyed each and every panel experience. Tim Buckley of Ctrl/Alt/Del was a very bright an witty lad, but I've got to tell you, he was completely upstaged by his girlfriend. It was so cute and funny to watch. He took it all in good stride because he know who controls the access to the nookie. Now he has truly become a man.

Jonathon Rosenberg of Goats had me damn near doubled over with laughter. His panel introduction line of "Hello, my name is Jonathon Rosenberg and I do Goats... ...and I also do a webcomic" was classic. If you've ever had the pleasure of hanging out with Hard of Sexy Losers, you'll be wondering if Jonathon Rosenberg has the other half of the amulet around Hard's neck. They were both very much alike in mannerism and both are wickedly funny.

It was nice to meet R.K. Milholland the creator of Something Positive, a man who shares my pain as we have both been on the wrong end of the Furry Wrath Yiff-stick (although it would seem, from my e-mails that the number of Furries who hate my strip are outweighed by the number of Furries who love it, it's just that the hateful Furries bark louder). Very funny and twisted guy and a lot of fun to hang out and chat with between panels.

J.D. "Illiad" Frazer is definetly, no doubt about it, one of the coolest guys I've ever met. As if that wern't enough he's also a Canadian too. I had so much fun hanging with him in the green room and being on panels with him. If you ever get the chance to meet this guy you've got to snatch it because he is really a class act. The best part was somehow he got stuck on the "Why We Love Tentacles" hentai panel with me and some other wonderful perverts and it was a complete "One of these things is not like the others" moment which he weathered with class and dignity and a great sense of humour. If I ever get invited to another convention again I really hope it's one that J.D. is at because the guy is just that amazing.

There was another guy too on some of our panels, but I can't remember what his name is, and what his comic's name is and I can't find his card at the moment (I still haven't fully unpacked yet). He was the guy wearing the Goats T-shirt. He was fun too, great guy. I'll post his name and URL as soon as I find his card. He was a late addition to the panels so his name wasn't printed in the programme. EDIT: Here we go, Rob Balder of PartiallyClips. Very funny guy and the only webcomic artist there who may have been older than me.

One of the coolest things about being a guest at a convention has got to be hanging out in the green room. For one thing, there's free food in there, and lots of it. The other thing is you get to meet all the other convention guests outside the context of their panels, just hanging and being themselves. It was an absolutely amazing experience getting to kick back and just shoot-the-shirt with scientists and authors and actors and artists and all kinds of really interesting people. You might not like everyone in the green room but I can guarentee you will not find a boring person there. Everyone was so very interesting to talk to and a lot of them are super nice people too.

I signed my first real autographs at this convention. There's no ego stroke quite like having people wait in line for you to autograph something for them. I was just so amazed that anyone could possibly want my autograph that I felt so honoured and flattered by the attention. Being taken out to dinner by some fans was also a really amazing experience. Meeting so many of my readers and finding out they're such nice people was really something else. Thank you very much guys, you made my weekend!

The most fun at the convention, for me at least, was the "Celebrity Poker Tournament". I'll tell you right now that Peter Jurasik is a class act all the way. He's a wonderfully warm and friendly guy and he treats his fans like they were friends. He's also not as good a poker player as I am. I kid! I kid! He actually held his own quite well, but sometimes the cards just arn't with you and what can you do. Great guy and everyone loved playing poker with him.

As for me, the first night I made it all the way to the final table in the "Celebrity Poker Tournament" but I was the third person eliminated. The second night I lost my first table tournament but won my second table. Win or lose though, the coolest thing about the poker game for me, as a Canadian, was sitting at a table playing poker with a bunch of guys who had New York accents. That New York accent is just so cool. I felt like I was in a Robert Deniro movie. Anytime someone would say "fuggeddaboudit" it was all I could do not to yell out, "You guys are so cool". It was just so cool and if I gt the honour of being invited back to I-Con next year I sure hope they keep the poker game.

I also have to say a special thanks to Alex and Joel for giving me a personal 3 hour tour of Long Island. We covered every square inch of the island, some parts of it several times. It was a lot of fun and I learned something very important about finding your way around in the States. Do not, ever, use "The building with the giant US flag in front of it" as a landmark to find your way around. Here in Canada I've only ever seen a giant flag in front of one company that I pass on my way to Toronto, so you can use it as a directional landmark "When you get to the giant flag, turn right". Doesn't work like that down in the States. There are more than one giant flag down there. Had a great time hanging out with you guys, and thanks for the tour. Hope that transmission remains attached to your engine a little while longer Alex.

There were a few misprints here and there in some of the I-Con literature that caused some confusion and comedy. For one thing my name was mispelled, but that wasn't that big a deal as my last name is always getting mispelled, usually as "Cracknel" though, this was the first time I've seen it mispelled as "Craknell". The other thing was on the I-Con schedules they listed me as a panel guest by my last name instead of by my pen name Ghastly so I came home to find some e-mails saying "I couldn't find you at the convention, you wern't listed as a guest on any of the panels". Sorry gang, I'll make sure if I ever get invited to another convention again I'll have them list me in the schedules as "Ghastly" since so few of you ever knew my real last name. The best typo was in the intinary I was given to tell me what panels I was one. It told me my "Why We Love Tentacles" panel was in room 306 when it was actually in room 302. I was really looking forward to this panel because it was the one I expected to see most of my fans at.

Imagine how crushed I was when five minutes past the time the panel was supposed to start I'm still sitting in an empty room. Not even the other panelists had shown up. It was a huge ego blow because I was certain I'd have a lot of my readers there but not only didn't they want to show but the other panelists didn't want to show either. It was absolutely humiliating in the extreme and since it was (or so I thought) my last panel it damned near completely crushed in defeat the wonderful experience that the convention had been for me up until that point. I felt like the biggest no-talent hack in the world thinking "not one single person came to one of those panels I was on to see me".

I was almost about to slink off back to my hotel, pack my bags, and crawl into bed to sulk away my sorrows when William Gafford, the young lad running the comics panels, came to get me and said "You do realize that your panel is waiting for you in room 302?" Oh joy, oh bliss! They love me! They really, really love me! I boot on over to 302 to a packed room. Oh I felt so much better and the panel went wonderfully.

The other discrepency was the Tentacle panel was listed as my last panel on my schedule, but on the convention schedule I actually had one more panel with Rosenburg and Milholland. So after the Tentacle panel I lagged behind for photo ops and to meet some of my readers and do the autograph thing when Willian Gafford said "Umm.. you know you have another panel starting now, don't you?". Oh crap! So I booted over to my other panel where everyone was waiting for me. Now I've learned an important lesson. Always check your schedule against the convention's schedule. It will save you much embarassment and heart break in the future.

I also learned that sleep deprivation has almost the same effect as alcohol consumption. The more and more tired I got the stupider and stupider I got and my speech became a little slurred and my accent a little more pronouced I've been told (accent? what accent? you are the ones with the accent.) I was probably a complete idiot by the time of my last panel for which I am very sorry.

I also want to apollogise to the attendees of the last panel for not having a painting for you. For each of the panels I was on I did a quick and dirty watercolour of one of my characters who best fit the theme of the panel and then I gave it away as a prize to an audience member who asked a question or did something that met a pre-established criteria to win the prize. For example, on the "Geek culture in comics" panel I painted a picture of Fnanp (my geekiest character) saying "My mother says I'm cool" and then said I would give it away to whoever asked the geekiest question. The guy who won the painting damn near dropped me to the floor when he asked J.D. Illiad "Why can't I get laid even when I'm wearing your T-shirts?". Oh man, contest over, give that man the painting. In any case, since I didn't know I was on the last panel I hadn't prepaired a watercolour for that panel. The theme of the panel was "I'm not cute, I'm EVIL!". Since I didn't have a painting to give away I did one on the flight home the next day. So here it is. If you think you were the cutest and evilest person in the room for that panel then you can print out this picture and pretend I gave it to you.

Evil is as evil does.

So once again, thank you everyone who made my first convention guest experience such a wonderful experience. I truly hope it won't be my last.

Ghastly 03/30/04