Lone Samurai of the Pen and Paper (mrtonylee) wrote,
Lone Samurai of the Pen and Paper

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SDCC - The Whole Damn Thing.

Yes, as it does every year, San Diego Comic Con screwed me over. Blog writing wise, that is. I always promise to do a daily blog - and it always collapses and dies by Friday. In the past I've had valid excuses - for the first couple of years it was lack of internet opportunity, but this year I simply had too much going on. Which, considering that I'd made big speeches before going that this was going to be my 'most relaxed year ever' was quite simply a pile of old bobbins.

So instead, I shall do a recap of the whole event, which is something I probably should have done from the start, as my 'daily' entries were rushed and pretty pointless, really. And I shall start right back at the start, back to last Tuesday.

I arrived at Heathrow at 7am on the Tuesday, as my father (who had kindly let me stay over the night before) was able to drop me for the Heathrow Express and, while I was in the queue to be strip searched and cavity examined, I saw Harry Markos, publisher of AAM/Markosia and good friend in the row to be given cigars and golden crowns. Damn him. Amusingly though, my queue went much faster than his did and I actually managed to spend a good five minutes the other side waiting for him where I accidentally bumped into an old mate called Darren and his family, off on a European holiday. From there we bought breakfast, changed breakfast when they brought it to us with a hair in it and the eggs cooked wrong and started breakfast again. It was quite nommy. And then after picking up a few things we went to the Dixons duty free and, on a whim because my headphones were a little crappy, I bought a nice new pair at duty free prices. So did Harry.

Suffice to say that twenty minutes into the flight, they broke. (Harry's broke on the flight back, but that's another story). And I was resorted to using my iPhone handsfree headphones to watch about an entire series of Chuck on my Archos.

We landed after ten hours in Dallas Fort Worth and for some reason had to walk out of the airport through immigration (which took five minutes, go Fort Worth! Although they still weren't using the ETSA details) and then walk back through security. Which of course made Harry very happy because it meant that he could smoke. He wasn't able to beforehand, you see. And it meant I could call AT&T and sort out my unlocked iPhone pay-and-go with some money. But, unlike New York in February, once I had the 'Unlimited Wifi' addition, I still couldn't connect, and spent over an hour on the phone, first to AT&T and then to Apple themselves, asking where the hell the APN was - as it seemed to be hidden.

I was reluctantly told that my 3.0 upgrade meant that there was no way I could use the APN and therefore no way I could use the iPhone for data. I was not happy. Luckily, a quick wifi-based search around found me a place called unlockit which, if went to on an iPhone allowed you to type in any carrier and it would sort the APN out for you. Two minutes later, I had email And half an hour later, after a quick Big Mac and fries, we got onto the plane to San Diego.

We arrived in San Diego at about 7.30pm and, after grabbing a taxi, got to the hotel at 8pm. Roomie Jimmy Aquino wasn't around, having gone out for a beer with friend John Cassaday, but he'd left a message saying that he'd meet us at Ben Templesmith's party. So, a shower / freshen up / unpack later, Harry and I made our way to the party.

Now I don't like to name drop - hell, I love to name drop, but there really were too many to do that. And Ben and Lorelei always host a great bash. So there were people there, and I had a blast. So much so that I ended up drinking shots with Rich Johnston, Ben McCool (seen pondering above), Will Christensen and fellow Avatar-er David among several others, wiping out bottle after bottle in pass-it-around shot games, and some of the worst drunken bad jokes you could ever hear.

And then at 3am we were kicked out. I got back to the hotel by 3.30am which was a marvel of walking while Jimmy Aquino and John Cassaday went looking for some mythical sandwich place that was apparently 24 hour.

It didn't exist.

Thursday and I awoke for 9am, tired and hungover for the only time of the convention, a mixture of drink, weather and jetlag. And I sorted this out by going for breakfast at Horton Plaza with Sean Dulaney and Harry Markos, with late and passing arrivals Andie Tong, Ben and Lorelei and their friend Susan Stauff. There was a driveby passing of Colin 'I was the sixth Doctor you know' Baker who, when seeing me bemoaned the fact that I was the first British face he'd seen since he landed at San Diego. He loves me really. Ben and Lorelei left, and the remainder of us killed time by shopping for sunglasses and shoes, drinking in The Field, getting changed, and then went to The Marriott for a beer before going over to pick up our passes.

Now, last year we had a barcode pass, and the line was stupidly short and we were in and out in five minutes. This time however we arrived to find a massive queue - from entrance D and already back past B. A solid mass of people. Probably in the high hundreds, all waiting with barcodes. I don't do queues however, so we went to the front to check if this was indeed the pro queue - after all, last year was five minutes, to be told that yes, it was. But, talking to the woman who was controlling the stupidly long queue, she informed us quietly that if we didn't have our barcode we had a second choice. We could queue for hours to scan a barcode that gave us a badge in seconds, or we could walk straight in without one and queue for hours to get one sorted out at the main 'non barcode' desk. Although that second desk? Currently had no queue, so of course we suddenly had no barcodes. And we entered, sorted out our passes and were done in less than five minutes.

We saw Josh Fialkov and his lovely wife, as well as Dan Taylor and Kody Chamberlain at that point and a few of us made it to the Hyatt bar for more beers so that I could watch some of a Mets game before we entered the madness that was known as... preview night.

My preview night was actually quite relaxed compared to most - I had two things to do - get a signed copy of Darwyn Cooke's The Hunter and grab the con exclusive black and white first and second Doctor figures. I managed both to great effect and was therefore a winner. We were supposed to meet for a post-event meal, but I was useless and missed people and ended up in the Hyatt again drinking with the Torchwood kids and Torchwood writer James Moran (with his lovely wife Jodie Kearns). I caught my only glimpse of Liam Sharp here too. Eventually it was time for bed and I walked out of the bar at 2.30am, to find nobody there. Usually there are a few smokers, but this year - nothing. It was quite surreal walking home.

Thursday started with a signing at the IDW booth, and already we'd almost sold out of our Doctor Who stock! luckily among the people coming for signings were people bringing their own copies for me to sign, and Chris Ryall very kindly gave me an advance copy of next month's issue #2 which looks absolutely incredible. I was jetlagged, tired and due to other publisher reasons quite cranky that morning, but I hope that AnnaMaria, the marketing girl knows that I was incredibly thankful to her for all her efforts over the weekend. And I also love Chris and Denton. And everyone else.

Around this time people started to come up to me saying 'well done' on the Pride & Prejudice & Zombies adaptation - and this was seriously confusing me as I a) hadn't told anyone and b) the panel I was announcing it at later that day had been moved to Saturday. Luckily I found Tricia, my erstwhile editor and she discovered that actually, the publisher PR guys had been telling everyone, so I was then able to announce it myself, about an hour after I discovered that Rich Johnston had announced it first on BleedingCool.com.

To be honest, as I said in the following day's blog, Thursday was a light day for me, spent mainly saying hi to a variety of people, going to a couple of meetings and then accidentally finding myself once more with James Moran and Jodie Kearns in a bar. And then I was at the Kansas City BBQ for food with Chris Kirby, Neil Kleid, Alan Robinson (Kirby's incredibly talented artist friend, artist on the Lost Squad and IDW's upcoming Weekly World News), Andy Briggs, an awesome screenwriter and friend - and of course publisher chum Harry Markos. From there we made our way to the IDW party which was, well, a party of awesome and full of wonderful people, when we eventually made it there - eight people entered the lift and not one of us knew which floor it was on, this was followed by about five random floors being checked before we found it. The open air event was much better and less crowded than last year's one, I chatted to Neil Kleid and Dan Taylor and Claire from ImagineFX was there and AnnaMaria mentioned an adaption that IDW are considering that I would pretty much kill to do.

After we left the Omni, Kevin Colden and I made our way to the Whiskey Girl to join the Zuda guys who were apparently singing kareoke- but on carded, I was denied entry to the bar. Mainly because they could only take a passport from UK residents, but I'm happy to say that I looked under 21 or something.

From there I went back to the Hyatt, where I hung out with the Torchwood guys again (and a couple of new additions like Risa and Steven Lilley) and had one of those out of body evenings when, after jokingly telling one of the girls there that she wasn't lesbian, she was just confused, I kicked off some kind of girl-on-girl snogging session in the bar, to the delight of many comic writers... And I eventually disappeared around 2.30am where I found Neil Kleid alseep and Jimmy Aquino working on the next days schedule...

Friday was a lot of people talking about Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I'm still shocked at how big this thing was. But, I had a signing to do in the 3700's, for the Captain Action guys, Ed Catto and Joe Ahearne. Actually, the signing went incredibly well and I met Lady Action artist Jake Minor. We got on like a house on fire and there will be something creator owned happening with us now - but I was stunned by the amount of people who loved Lady Action, considering I only created her when the Captain Action guys discovered how popular Niki, the 'Captain Action booth babe' was...

I had an afternoon meeting that turned into a solid greenlight for an ongoing that I can't announce yet but should be looking at a late 2009 release so expect news soon, a project that once more I've been wanting to do for years - and then I went back to the hotel and changed for the Eisners. I was Kevin Colden's 'date', his real wife unable to make the convention, and I'd been one of the few who'd been saying from the very start that his Eisner-nominated Fishtown should have won. We grabbed a drink in the Hyatt where I saw a brief flash of the passing Irene Adler and then we went to the Hilton where Kevin and I shared a table with IDW head honcho Chris Ryall, new IDW editor Bob Schreck, Dean Mullaney and his lovely wife and Joe Hill and his equally lovely son.

The Eisners always go on long, but I can see why they're fun. You see your heroes on stage and it's also very humbling. I know I came out with a stronger desire to be a better writer than before I went in. And the free drink helped too. And I learned what 'Gumbo' was.

Unfortunately Joe didn't win his awards for Locke & Key, neither did Dean, and Kevin lost out on Fishtown. But as he said as we left - 'I lost to a woman I've idoled for years, who's been working probably longer than I've been alive. And I got to have Jane Weidlin read out my name'.

We returned to the Hyatt after that, and of course there was late night partying. I spent most of the evening chatting to Rich Starkings and his booth assistant Nova, who, at 4 ft 11 was technically a midget, I believe. She was incredibly smiley. I blame alcohol.

After that I sat back with James, Jodie and Irene and eventually left for bed, still looking snazzy in a three piece. Annoyingly, I have yet to see a picture of me from that night.

Saturday. The stupidest, craziest day of the con, and the stupidest, craziest day for me. Started at stupid O'Clock in the industry lounge, using their wifi to download wiki entries and YouTube clips for the new gig. Then, once I'd worked enough I was off to another signing, via the main Autograph area where the Doctor Who guys were having their group photo shoot. From there I was back to the Captain Action booth to sign and then, still without a break, I was off to the Vampire panel, or more accurately 'Bram Stoker - The Joss Whedon of his day?'

This was a panel of Vampire heavyweights. And me. I'm serious, on this panel were authors Jeanne Stein (The Anna Strong Vampire Chronicles), Chris Marie Green (The Path Of Razors), J.F Lewis (Staked), Dacre Stoke and Ian Holt (Dracula: The Un-Dead) and comics celeb chum Steve Niles (30 Days Of Night). Even the moderator was Leslie S. Klinger, author of the incredibly useful The New Annotated Dracula. And there was me. Yeah, it was a little imposing. I mean, hell, we had an honest-to-God Stoker on the panel!

Luckily, I was as ever on form. And on one person from the audience's statement that 'all Vampires are the same anyway', I suggested a '30 Days of Twilight' mashup to see just how the franchise would work if Edward was a Niles-esque Eastern European Vampire. Bella would be nommed up by the end of the opening credits. I got a lot of cheers for that.

After the panel we did a signing, but of course I had nothing to sign, Harker not out until November - so I chatted to Chris Marie Green who was incredibly lovely and hadn't realised that the Southwark location in one of her London based novels was actually right by one of Dracula's house.

I also met Elvira, who was signing beside me. She had a larger queue though.

I also met Count Gore De Vol, a Vampire host of a TV movie thing, something we don't have in the UK, but apparently he's massive in the US. He was again, a lovely man. and of course I got to spend time with Dacre, Ian and Leslie who are all doing introductions for From The Pages Of Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' - Harker, so therefore rock - and Alex Galant, Dacre's historian on his novel. He also rocks. Everyone rocks.

From there I was back to the Industry lounge to work via a quick bumping into meeting with Jazan Wild, I also caught up with Kevin Colden and Bob Wayne, waved hi to a passing Warren Ellis (complete with tiny person entourage) and saw Melissa and Helen, my lovely Kamikaze iPhone girls, who told me that both Prince Of Baghdad and Hope Falls should both be up on the iPhone any day now, which made me incredibly happy. I went back onto the con floor and caught Dan Taylor, Chris Kirby and Alan Robinson who all came to the Marriott bar with me for a quick drink and a discussion on a new multi-creator idea which if it works will be awesome and called Pulp Heroes. And then I was off to my second panel of the day (via IDW who gave me a wonderful 'golden ticket' to the following day's Doctor Who panel), the Del Rey comics panel, where among many new announcements, my Pride & Prejudice & Zombies adaptation was announced once more, this time 'officially'.

From there it was a quick change at the hotel and then meeting Leslie at hall C to take him to dinner - We were going with a whole mass of people, Chris Kirby, Alan Robinson, Dan Taylor, Neil Kleid, Rob Guillory - but while Leslie and I walked to meet them, we met with Adam Baldwin, he of Chuck and Firefly fame - and we actually ended up chatting for quite a while, convincing him to go to the Radical party where three of the four members of KISS were playing. After we said our goodbyes we met with the others, saw Lou Ferrigno and then caught Dominic Monaghan as he bumped randomly into Elijah Wood. It was Hobbit love all over again.

At this point we discovered that the person who'd suggest to Chris that there was an awesome Chinese at a certain place was a lying bastard as there was no such restaurant, and eventually we found a food place on fifth - and Harry came by to meet Leslie, having never met him.

After food we started to split up and Neil, Leslie and I found ourselves in the Omni via the incredibly crowded Hard Rock, where the Radical party was - and we eventually made our way back to the Hyatt where we met back up with the others. The Hyatt was as ever a tale of two lobby bars and I found myself with some of the Torchwood kids who I love all dearly, and James Moran who I lust lust after, obviously. I managed to catch a few other people while I was there including Mark Buckingham and Dave Gibbons but eventually I snuck off to bed, tired and actually a little down after a final drunken conversation with someone that rubbed me up the wrong way. I called my one true rock and solid anchor Tracy because of this, but then the bloody iPhone died after about 30 minutes. Not fun. But I eventually fell asleep about 5am, as I also spoke to Jimmy who was up on the laptop.

Sunday. The last day of the convention started with a yay and a nay, to be honest. I saw Rantz Hoseley in passing, always a pleasure to see the guy for he is one of the nicest guys - wait, I'm sorry, I mean the Eisner Award Winning Rantz Hoseley - and we promised that next time, we would definitely make time to see each other. I then made my way to the Doctor Who panel, only to be told that I couldn't enter with the ticket I had - I had to join the queue, the one that people had been queuing in since midnight the day before.

I was gutted, but then one of the security guys I'd met in the previous day's Vampire panel caught me - he was a fan of my Doctor Who comic and I'd signed him a book the day before - and was confused as he'd seen my twittered photo and knew I had a ticket. I showed it to him. He marched me back to the door guy and screamed at him - apparently door guy didn't realise that these were 'special' tickets, and I was allowed in. As I entered, looking to sit at the back Rich Starkings phoned, he was holding a seat for me in the 'super special VIPs' area. I slipped down to the front and walked across, getting a 'Tony Lee!' cheer from most of the second row (cheers guys) and a few IDW fans who recognised me. I sat down next to Rich and Gene from Alien Entertainment, two rows ahead of Jonathan Ross and in front of celebrity chum and legend Marv Wolfman. And the panel? Was bloody great. The finale looks amazing. And as we left, I was already rethinking one of my two-parters because of the upcoming Waters Of Mars special.

From there it was to the IDW for the last signing of the weekend, a Doctor Who signing with Eric J and Rich Johnston (there signing A Room With A Deja View) and Kelly Yates (signing copies of The Forgotten with me, and Autopia). We were there for an hour and caught up with a whole load of friends made at Gallifrey One, one of whom was even in an Eleventh Doctor outfit. Awesome.

From the signing I then managed a couple of hours shopping, buying a couple of nice things for Tracy and then I was back in the hotel and changing into my vicar's gear. That's right, I was performing a wedding, bitches!

4pm and I'm on the Amphitheatre waiting for the Bride and Groom. There's a guy stealing free wifi to stream the wedding across the net to the world and a crowd of friends and curious fans who have come to see it. At 4.15pm Renae still hasn't arrived and Ray's starting to get nervous.

At 4.30pm though it starts, and in fifteen minutes the wedding's over and Mister and Mrs Ray Dillon face the world. I'll put the actual wedding transcript up tomorrow, actually.

(An amusing sidenote - I wrote the date in UK style, not US - and the clerk was a jobsworth to Ray on the Monday, telling him I had to re-sign. By which point I was on a plane. But one phone call and it should be fine, I told the clerk that he had my proxy to change it.)

I left the con now, dressed as a priest and not gaining a single raised eyebrow until someone in a queue went 'nice cosplay' at me. I feigned innocence, effectively explaining (well, letting them gather the info) that I was there to give the last rites to some guy named 'David Tennant'. As the multitude of phones emerged, Twitter about to seriously spasm, I was recognised by a fan and the game was up. So close...

I went to the Marriott Tiki pool bar with Neil Kleid after changing, one of our convention traditions, and were joined in turn by Harry, Dacre and a passing Nick Barucci. The four of us (minus the leaving Nick) then went to grab some food and wandered over to the Hyatt, where we caught Kirby one last time and Sean Dulaney for one of the first times this weekend. Irene Adler also came over and I introduced her to Rich Johnston who in turn introduced her to William Christiensen. After a two hour conversation, she's the latest columnist for Bleeding Cool. I also caught up with Dan Wickline, saw old chum Frank Gibson and then managed to lose him (even though he was apparently across the bar) and eventually sat with the Timonys (Bobby and Peter and Bobby's lovely wife Danna), Kevin Colden, Ron Perazza and Kwanza Johnson while Ron talked about cheese. On fire. And then fired Kevin. And then hired him once more on the promise of doughnuts. I want to work for Zuda.

From there it was bed.

Monday I woke and went to breakfast with Harry, we found ourselves next to Kevin Colden once more (and dammit, someone I know the name of but at 3.30am it escapes me) and after saying our goodbyes Harry, Jimmy and I shared a cab to the airport. And then it was just the two of us. I watched more Chuck to Chicago, having caught Will Christiensen and Stuart Moore in the departure line, and I took a tablet and slept like the dead to Heathrow...

And there you have it. My trip to San Diego. Did I get work? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes. Am I still jet lagged? Well, it is 4am now...

Oh, and those broken headphones? On getting back, we went back into the Duty Free area and had them replaced! Instant win!

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