A Grand Experience Like No Other - My First Comic-Con

What the hell am I doing?  
That was the question I asked myself as I hit the "Purchase" button on the NY Comic Con ticket website about a week and a half before NYCC.  I mean, my love for comics such as X-Men and Batman died in the mid-'90s.  All the different story arcs, brands, and impossibly-figured characters were just too much for my feeble mind to comprehend.  The only comic book I followed consistently was Sonic the Hedgehog and even with that series I took a five-year break from just because I got lazy.  The main reason why I got back into the comic was because I had a soft spot for it - I was a huge Sonic fan about 15-20 years ago and I nearly wet myself when I saw a trimmed, sample issue of Sonic #0 packed in with a copy of Electronic Gaming Monthly.  If memory serves me correctly, that was 1992.
But I digress.
So yeah, NY Comic-Con 2010.  What business did I even have in going to the event?  I didn't know comics like the rest of you probably do.  I wasn't going to have anything to do.  Sure, there were going to be video games at the event and the convention would probably be the closest version of an E3-like event that I'll ever get to attend in my lifetime, but I was still having doubts about going.  I squashed the inner voices though, said "to hell with it", and purchased my weekend pass anyway.  I figured I'd hang out at the Archie Comics booth for a little bit, also maybe hang out with some friends who were working other booths.  There was nothing else planned beyond that until I visited the Comic Vine website. 
One of the blog items on the site showed that Sara Lima was planning a small get-together for Comic Vine fans and members in NYC just a few blocks away from the Javits Center, the venue for NYCC.  Immediately, like a punch to the face, I felt that there was finally something significant to do!  Getting a chance to meet any of the editors and personalities of the Whiskey Media staff was an opportunity that couldn't be missed!
On the first day of Comic-Con as I was walking towards the Javits Center, I was already feeling queasy.  There were other folks walking over as well; some in great costumes, others in ridiculous ones.  I already felt out of place.  It didn't get any better as we all got to the arena and saw the lines to pick up passes wrapping from the upper level down to the lower level, around the staircase, and back towards another area.  My first experience at Comic-Con was starting off just swell!
Eventually, my time had come.  I got my pass and was on my way to one of the exhibit halls.  Walking into the Artists' Alley, I was a little confused by the display - a huge gathering of artists sitting at lines of small tables with noise from the Intel Gaming Competition drowning out the entire hall.  Was this it?  It just couldn't be.
And it wasn't.  If stupid me had obtained a map before entering the first hall, I would have realized there was another hall with all the exhibitors, props, noise, and fanfare.  As I walked to the end of the alley, I followed the crowd through one of the tunnels that led to another exhibit hall.  Lo and behold, that was when I tried real hard to suppress a smile.
The place was nuts!  There were huge displays set up by each vendor to promote their product; companies from Nintendo to Square-Enix, Archie Comics to IDW, and DC to Marvel were all out in force showing off what they had.  It was loud, it was busy, and boy was it crowded!  Fans were stopping other fans just to take pictures of their costumes, or to get a picture of a vendor's sexy spokesmodels.  Others were playing video games, or lining up for autographs.  The whole scene just screamed "fun!"
Since I didn't really have a plan for the event, I just walked up and down the aisles until I saw something I liked.  20th Century Fox, IGN, and Sega had some interesting displays going on.  IGN looked like it was going for the hard sell with its spokesmodels in super skimpy leather outfits.  I stopped by Capcom's booth to check out Marvel vs. Capcom 3 and Mega Man Universe.  Then I hit up Square-Enix's booth to see Final Fantasy XIV and Wakfu, a RPG that played like Final Fantasy Tactics with a slice of World of Warcraft...if that makes sense.  I was enjoying the booth so much that I actually purchased a Chocobo doll, a Final Fantasy XIII wall scroll, and a Kingdom Hearts Oblivion Keyblade keychain.
But this was a comic convention.  I couldn't spend my entire session just checking out video games.  The Archie Comics booth was a short walk away and I was determined to get an autograph from my favorite Sonic The Hedgehog penciller, Pat Spaziante.  Now mind you I had never done anything like this before, so of course, when it was my turn to meet him and writer Ian Flynn, I nerded out.  You see, normal folks might have asked, "Would you please sign my comic?"  Not me.  No, I broke out with a hammy "Would you do me the honor of signing my book?"  Good God did I want to kick myself extremely hard after I heard myself say that!  All jokes aside, the issue I had them sign was Sonic #175.  The three of us spoke briefly about the cover.  Ian and I would not stop talking about how amazing a cover it was, while Pat remained humble as if it really wasn't a big deal.  While most other Sonic covers were pretty "cartoony," this particular one had a dark and sinister edge to it that I absolutely loved. 
There was about one hour left before Sara's meet-up so I walked around some more before heading out of the arena.  While walking over to the restaurant, I was feeling queasy again.  Since I had never participated in an Internet meet-up before, I was getting nervous.  All that came to a head as I arrived at the pizza place, said hello to everyone that was already at the table, and tripped over my words as I introduced myself to Sara and Tom Pinchuk.
I suppose I should thank my friend for bailing on me that evening since I was supposed to stay at the restaurant for only a few minutes before leaving and meeting up with her.  What I got instead was a (and I can't emphasize this enough) GREAT experience just talking to everyone present at the meet-up.  The Comic Vine members I got to meet were incredibly nice, and I got to meet Ray Carsillo from Classic Game Room as well.  It was a fun night just talking about comic books, video games, comic-con experiences already had, and humiliating experiences yet to come if we were willing to go through with them.  That part came from Sara as she threw down a challenge for Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in that she would beat the tar out of any of us who played against her.  Immediately we had something to look forward to on Day 2 of NYCC!
The second day of Comic-Con was a lot busier than the first day, probably because it was a Saturday.  When I got to the Javits Center, the line to pick up passes went in and out of the building, and hugged the outside walls.  Since the venue was packed with even more people, I wasn't too sure that I would meet up with the Comic Vine crew again so I just walked around the halls hoping to see something that I might have missed a day earlier.  One name in the Artists' Alley jumped out at me: David Mack.  A close friend of mine had told me about him and how she loved his artwork with Kabuki.  I stopped by his table, introduced myself, and told him about my friend.  He was very appreciative and very friendly.  I purchased one of his art books and he was nice enough to sign it, as well as throw in two autographed Kabuki comics for free.  David was a very nice guy and I'm glad I got to meet him.
After making my friend's day by calling her and telling her about the David Mack books, I wandered into the main hall where I found Sara, her crew (Aaron and Drew), and Cristian, a Comic Vine member I had met the night before at the meet-up.  Without hesitation, Sara asked if we wanted to check out the "Thor the Video Game" trailer with her on the condition that we do not film or take pictures of the video.  Needless to say, Cristian and I agreed without a problem.  After we all were done watching the video, we got a front-row seat to watch Sara do what she does best: interviews.  That's right...all the interview videos that you saw on Comic Vine were happening right before our very eyes.  It was a pretty surreal experience.  What followed was more walking around and more interviews to conduct.  Time was going by a lot more quickly for me than it did the day before. 
Little did I know I was going to have another surreal experience though.  During Sara's interview with Sterling Gates,  Aaron asked if I could stand to the right of the camera to act as a sort-of roadblock so convention patrons wouldn't walk in front of the camera while filming was going on.  I had no idea it was going to be such a major issue until people started walking towards me and I saw Aaron and Cristian starting to laugh. I extended my arms out each time a person tried to pass me, while pointing out that a filmed interview was taking place.  Thank goodness the attendees were cooperative and pretty understanding.  I think at any other event, if I attempted the same thing, my bony 5' 5" ass would have gotten run over or shoved aside!  At any rate, it was during that moment that I felt like I was a member of the Whiskey Media staff.  My feet and legs were sore from the walking around and I hadn't eaten anything since the previous night's dinner, but I didn't care.  I was having way too much fun! 
After we all had lunch, it was time to go our separate ways.  Cristian and I had been dubbed "honorary Comic Vine interns for the day" and we appreciated every minute of it.  We thanked Sara, Aaron, and Drew for having us along and for showing us what their world was like.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would experience any of that level of fun.  The doubts that I initially had about purchasing a pass for NYCC had been flushed away! 
This has become one extremely long blog.  My apologies if you're still reading.  If anything, it's a testament to the unbelievable experience I had during NYCC that details are still burned into my memory even though a full week has passed.  I met a lot of great people and had levels of fun that just can't be measured.
Thanks to Sara for putting together the meet-up!  And for those of you who may be wondering, what you see on camera is what you get in person with her: she is a fun, funny, intelligent, and friendly person.  She is also a great hostess and fantastic conversationalist, always making sure nobody felt left out.
Looking forward to next year's NY Comic-Con!