|I love my little arts. I hope you do, too.|
Here it is folks: The Great Post-Botcon Memorial Write-Up,
or “What I Did At The Thing With The Robots”
I had fun, is what I did. Here’s the rundown. (Sit back -- this’ll be a while!)
I’d gotten a great deal on tickets, but it meant I left earlier and came back later than anyone else in the pal-posse. (It was also a great excuse to run away from home for as long as humanly possible.) I was far (faaaaarr) more organized and ahead-thinking than I usually am, but still those last-minute tasks kept me up hours later than I’d hoped, and between that and being FAR TOO AMPED TO SLEEP OMSP BOTCON!1!!, I’d done little more than doze, when the alarm went off at 4:00am. There’s always that concern when flying that you’ll have enough time to get through security. But it was a scant 20 minutes from the time Ironhide dropped me off on the curb, to my sitting down at my departure gate. So I had a whole hour to kill. Ah well. I fell asleep in a chair.
I love flying. American Airlines lets you choose your seat when buying, so I had snatched a window. I’ve mentioned earlier on FB how amazing the mountain tops looked sticking up from the clouds beside (not much below) the jet. Also how we flew over the Hoover Dam (not Sherman, though I mess that up all the time -- thanks G1) and it looked so tiny and precious and cute down there… and I remembered how much fun the posse had visiting there at the conclusion of our very first Botcon trip back in 2009. (We had talked of visiting the Griffith Observatory this time for an ‘07 movie pilgrimage, but alas, without a car it was not to be.) When I stepped out of the plane at LAX, I could smell the ocean. [huge intake of breath] But we didn’t make it to the beach this year either -- too much else going on!
I was proud of myself for taking the bus and train to the hotel, and not ever getting lost or nervous about doing so. I did have to ask a nice boy at the ticket kiosk if he’d take my cash and use his card to buy my ticket, because it was a card-only thing. Funny enough -- another passenger asked him for the same favor after I’d broken the ice! But yes -- I did it all by myself. Boo-yah. (I am a city novice.) The coolest thing though was how many kind people I ran into. I realized that I have an assumption that train cops are mean and that security people are fed-up with dumb tourists, but I had the exact opposite experience. The train cops loved my TF shirt and encouraged me with a hearty “One Shall Rise!!” as I lugged my suitcase up the stairs, and they didn’t even make me get my fare card out of my pocket. The security person took time to help me and another lady with the fare purchasing machine, and never once treated us like imbeciles. Huzzah for nice people! They’re everywhere!
I was woozy from no sleep, but Chromie who is better at this sort of thing than I am had put together a customized map for me of walkable places of interest while I awaited the posse. I checked out an antique store that kept going and going and going… but my eyes were crossing and all of the chairs said “NO SITTING!!” So I wandered out again. I joined up with a fun little family whose boy got ALL excited about my Autobot/Decepticon Unity “tattoo,” and also correctly identified my “old school” Transformers shirt. (He got many, many points.) They had not known Botcon was happening in their town again, but were stoked to hear that it was back. I was happy to invite them. (Missionary activity: Check!) Anyway, they mentioned a theater, and by then a movie in the dark and cool was sounding like the perfect thing. So I went to see Godzilla again because I wasn’t up to paying the attention needed for a movie I had not already seen, and because I wanted to have it all fresh for squeebling to Matt Frank. No, I did not sleep through it, But it was relaxing. (And now, let us all take a moment to be grateful for Utah movie prices. Whereas here, you can go to a daytime matinee for 6 bucks, it cost me ALMOST SIXTEEN DOLLARS to go to An Eleven O’Clock Show in California!! WTS?!??)
I hooked up my laptop in the hotel lobby, and proceeded to DA-note Razzie back and forth. We’d planned on meeting up and hanging out. Alas, traffic snagged her, and it was ages until she finally prevailed, and arrived at the hotel. She was a pal and let me come up to her room and be entertained by all the handmade cosplay fun she’d brought, the neon papers she uses to troll people’s hotel rooms with swears, and her illustrious, one-of-a-kind self. She has this song about Sentinel Prime that will make you cry laughing….. and she sang it in the hotel foyer. Because she is Razzles. (Seriously, it is a HILARIOUS song.)
Around 5:00, Chromie, Hound, and Ultra Magnus (aka Lindsey) finally arrived, and I bid farewell to the Razzie. I was certain we’d get to hang out with her some more; but it never happened, alas. I’d been on my own all darn day, and having conquered aloneness, was quite ready to join up with the posse. Chromie had gotten us a suite, because we had originally planned on having 7 (shh! don’t tell the Hilton!) people stacked in there on rollaway beds and couch cushions. In the end though, Tyla and her friend Marianne took one look and got their own hotel room. So we had TONS of space. It was awesome. This was the first Botcon I’ve attended where I ACTUALLY GOT REAL SLEEP. HUZZAH!!!!! (Chromie threw a pillow at me once for snoring, but apparently my bedmate Lindsey and I reached some sort of somnolent accord, because at one point we were doing some kind of harmonic call-and-response snore. Hee hee!)
I was on Utah time, so I naturally wanted to wake up and go to bed an hour earlier than it actually was. This served me VERY well. I woke up refreshed, went down to the hotel, and asked about a grocery store. The one across the street from the convention center, to our everlasting grief, had closed down since we’d been there last. But the nice reception gal gave me a map to the Trader Joes 6 blocks away, and I had a nice walk and brought back delicious BREAKFAST and SNACKS. And I got to feel like I had CONTRIBUTED.
Once everyone was vertical and filled, we boarded the train to Hollywood.
We’d visited Hollywood the last Pasadena Botcon, but Lindsey hadn’t been with us then. And not only did she want to go, but it is also a kind of tradition to buy sexy underthings on our pre-Botcon tourist day. It started when we went to Frederick’s of Hollywood in 2011. So of course we had to go back. Many fun things were tried on and [some of them] shown off. Ky bought a DEAD SMEXY bikini, which she actually wore at the hotel pool, and looked awesome in. I got a garter belt to go with the Fun Thing I’d gotten the last time there. Chromie got a bra that’d support the space shuttle. And Hound got what Razzie’d call “pants.”
And now you know.
After paying homage to the late Kasey Kasem’s star (there was a flower wreath placed on an easel), we got back on the train, bound for Little Tokyo. It was a tossup between there and Chinatown, but Ky’s lived in Japan, so she dropped her “I’ve been in charge at work for ages, and for once just want to be led around” thing, and she led US instead. She took us to a real tea house, where they had ALL KINDS of teas in a quiet atmosphere. This was very nice at the end of a long day. We all teased Hound that her tea tasted of horses. (It SOOOO did. She drank it all.) Lindsey and I got Chrysanthemum tea, a kind I discovered at a local Japanese restaurant and love. We had it iced. It hit the spot like you would not believe. We next visited a sweet shop that had been there for over 110 years (!!!), and bought Japanese sweets that none of us could identify. I also finally, after years of searching, found out what “those white steamed round things with purple inside” are. Would you believe that sweet purple stuff is not plum-based, but RED BEANS??? Who’d have thought?? I nommed me one o’ those and it was delicious. (Though I had guilt when the homeless person asked for it to eat, and I did not give it up. I could have lived on half of it. Foodle.)
We came back to Pasadena for Botcon registration at 7:00. That was the listed start time, but once in line we were told our serial numbers would not start registering till 9:00. But oh well, because at that point the ART GODS started showing up!
Here’s the thing. I stinking LOVE the Art Gods. So my whole energy level started going through the roof about this point. This is the entire reason I save up to go to Botcon. It is my family reunion.
We first ran into Matt Frank and Thomas Deer. Matt became our collective Art Bro last year. And I’ve been quiet about this, but Thomas Deer actually asked me to critique his in-prog prints as he drew and colored them to sell at Botcon. (I was SO HONORED you have no idea. There are no words.) So basically instead of pointing shyly and squeebling quietly to myself, I called out, “FRIENDS!!” and ran up to them for massive hugs all round.
I saw Josh Perez, whom I hadn’t seen since 2009, through the window, and gave him a huge smile and wave -- he had no clue who I was, but I didn’t care. I was just glad he’d come! We saw Josh Burcham (the #1 God of Color) at a table with a slew of other Art Gods when we all went for dinner. I admit it -- I was sorely tempted to abandon the posse and go try to be a total dork and be all, “Can I sit with you guys at the Cool kids table?” But I didn’t. You don’t abandon your sistas, and you don’t go intrude on the Art Gods at Table.
I was also on the lookout for my beloved Podcast Peeps. So when I saw McFeely and Dave in the registration line, I ran up and called out, “Welcome to America!” (I am nothing if not cheesy.) The only podcaster I did not find that first night was Big C. I found him next day though.
Chromie collects all the girl transformers toys. (This used to be a much easier proposition…) She’d gotten the Botcon collector’s set, and scored the ‘first day’ pin. When I saw the pin, I kinda did an involuntary “OMSP I CAN HAS!!!?!” face, because it’s similar to my own symbol. She gave it to me, because she is a pal. (HUGS!)
Y’all have seen my varied and multitudinous squeeblings about the man the legend the Ultimate God of Writing James Roberts. Basically, Botcon for me was all about him being there, in terms of “Famous People I Plan On Stalking” (in the most sincere and trying-not-to-be-a-pest of ways…..) So of course we all fell out of bed on Friday and skittered over to the Very First Panel of Botcon, for it was the James, and verily, he must be worshipped.
Poor dude was sooooooo jetlagged. I felt for him! But here’s the thing about James that you have to understand, and a big reason why he’s so beloved: He Loves Us. So despite the tired, he was all cute about this being the special panel for the die-hards, but ‘Please do come back for the second one!’ As if we’d skip the chance to hear that dry and slightly-evil sense of humor and his crisp diction. (“ISSSS-you” instead of the American “ISHoo” is my favorite.) Because I am a dork and stress inordinately about meeting my heroes, I had actually planned out what I wanted to say to him, and divided it up into “Questions to ask at panels” and “Stuff to tell him in person.” I had crafted my panel question. For my goodbest pal Corax, I asked if Coptimus Pax were influenced at all by Sam Vimes from the Terry Pratchett books. He’s only read Good Omens, and is not too familiar with Vimes. So Pax is more of a trope, he said. My own question was about the fact that there have been hints of Quintessons in the IDW universe, and having read Eugenesis, just how scared ought I to be? Of course he couldn’t answer fully, but boy did it feel good to let him know we KNOW what he does with them things, and we’re watching. Everybody laughed and clapped, and I felt clever for telling James that there are some toys he should not be allowed to bring into the sandbox.
I was freaked out that I might have to spend tons of time in the autograph line if I wanted to talk to James. But he had a table, and was easy to approach. So I got to tell him how MTMTE 12 is my personal 113 because it was the first single issue I bought, and it changed the type of TF stories being told forever. I got him to sign that one and #21, my other favorite. He is so awesome! Like I said, he’s got that gift of listening to people and treating them like they’re important. He offered to take a picture with me, and there was much hugging and love. Seriously, that man. I know it sounds like I’m obsessing, and I might be, I dunno. But it’s based on this huge, deep respect, and the massive well of kindness that exists from James to us fans, and from us back to him, despite all the times he’s broken our hearts. (I’m nervous about the next issue………There’ve been hints!) In a weird way, we own him. Not the person, but the writer who crafts this universe we play in. Just the same way, he owns us -- our hearts and souls, anyway. I recently found out that he goes by “Jim” at home, and it absolutely broke my brain. But yeah -- Jim Roberts is a guy with a job and a family and a regular life. James (or “bloitting James!” as he’s known around Art Night) is the Mad King of Guernsey with whom we all have this symbiotic relationship of love and fear and [for all I know] evil cackling.
I genuinely love that man.
I was making a bathroom run between panels, when a lady asked me if I knew where Pete was. Now, I felt mildly awesome for knowing WHO “Pete” was… and then even more so when I realized that I was leading Sue Blu around. The “I’m so slagging awesome” feeling dissipated though, when Pete Sinclair, Botcon organizer, was not to be found where I’d last seen him, and I had to drop Sue off into the dubious custody of a nameless blackshirt. I hope she found him eventually. So yeah -- Botcon was the year I utterly failed to help Sue Blu. (She voiced Arcee back in G1, and is now a greatly respected voice acting director.
Sue stayed for the whole Botcon, and to all appearances had a blast. Her joy was infectious. I ran into her again on Sunday, on the main floor, and thanked her for sharing her love of Transformers and her joy in being a fan. It makes us feel less silly in our costumes and obsessions, if a serious person like her still says playing Arcee was her favorite role, and loves being at Botcon.
Of course I went on a hunt for all the Art Gods as soon as the morning’s two panels were finished. Usually there’s an “Artists’ Alley” where they are collected (or corralled?) and I can stay there happily corralled with them and ignore the siren song of the toy-sellers. This year, they were scattered all over the place, so I had to go hunting. (I didn't even find Livio and Andrew until the following day!) I did find Matt and Thomas’s table right away, because they were right up front. I was really excited to see how all the pieces I’d given critiques on had turned out, and especially wanting to see in person the hilarious genius of the Last Supper MTMTE print. Thomas had said he’d give me a print for helping him, which was very generous. But then he kept offering me more! Now, my ability to say no to people offering me stuff is a one-time-use thing. I fail utterly at that second refusal. So though I felt like a complete pirate, I came away from that table with THREE glorious prints for my studio wall. Thank you, Sir!!! Matt, bless him, was excited to draw me “another Megatron” (he remembered!) But this year was a Very Low Budget year, so I couldn’t do any commissions. I did tell him about how on the Windblade podcast we were saying how funny it would be to get him to draw Metroplex as the “Operation” game patient, with little holes in him and Windblade trying to get bad things out without touching the sides and getting zapped silly.
I made sure to find Casey Coller’s table, because the one thing I had made sure to budget for was 11x17” comic board lineart prints from him, because I’m spoiled now and I LOVE to color them. (LOVE!!!!!) I yipped involuntarily when I saw he’d brought the “everybody around the bar” cover lineart, which I absolutely love because “Getting Along!(™)”, and snapped that one up. I also got the Magnus and Whirl running through Metroplex cover, which I really wanted to try my hand at coloring. He is so awesome about letting me color! And he always looks at what I’ve done and leaves encouraging comments. He was so incredibly nice -- he let me have one print for free, and said he looked forward to seeing what I did. Thank you, Casey!!! Seriously Bro, you make my whole life better. At the end of the Con, I decided to just go for it, and told him that if there’s some future year where he’s once again JP-less and would like a colorist for his commissions, I’d do it for free just because it would be fun. JP is better and faster, obviously, but it’d be good for me to just get things done without spending ages pondering and stressing over them. (I’m sure I could finish one in the time it took for Casey to draw the next one.) And also, coloring Casey’s art!!!!!!!!!! It’s never gonna happen, but you’ve got to offer or it REALLY never will happen. The one thing I totally forgot to tell him? How much I loved seeing his work on interiors in RiD 30. Barbarian Galvs ftw!
When we went to worship at the altar of Sarah Stone and Mairghread Scott, the Windblade creator team, Mairghread said she recognized my voice from the podcast!! (*gasp!*) [Quote: “There was a lot of giggling on that one…” ← we have tons of fun.] I really hope that Sarah was not too overwhelmed by the hyperness of Botcon. This was her first TF convention -- and she was attending as an Art God. Ky bought and ooh’d/ahh’d/wow’d over Sarah’s EPIC[!!!] art book. And for a late birthday present, Ky gave me the Windblade poster print she’d gotten. Thank You!!!!! It is beautiful. We must keep Mairghread and Sarah as creators FOREVER!!!!! [*slightly-worrying basement key-rattle*] I got them to sign the Windblade 1 I’d bought for that express purpose, and squeebled like a crazy person at them. Funny story: we were all intensely interested in what we could do to get them slated for more Windblade after this miniseries is over. They acted like it was all out of their hands, and they were just doing what they could, working on a creator-owned thing together, and just hoping for more work maybe. Well, THE NEXT DAY, IDW announced that there will be more Windblade from them next year. Those punks! They kept that secret WELL! (Though to be fair, Sarah said later that they hadn’t known either.) The massive cheer that went up at the announcement was quite heartening.
Razzie gets friend-points for seeing my sad “I can live without it” face when I saw the price for the special Botcon edition of the latest RiD comic (the one I loved and wanted to get everyone to sign) and saying “It’s a crime to see someone not able to feed their plastic crack addiction,. Here. Let me buy that for you.” Again, I only have a single-use refusal of generosity. So Razzie got the comic for me. Thanks so much, Razzles!!! I got John Barber to sign it, and told him how I enjoyed the balance of fun and serious he’s found, got Andrew and Brendan to sign it, and got Josh P to sign it. So a good day’s work, there.
That evening was the trip to Universal Studios. I got to go with Chromia as her minicon (or as we joke, given the tendency for transformers to ‘powerlinx’ together during the mid-2000’s cartoon series, I went as her pants.) I’d seen videos on YouTube of the 12-foot Megatron-that-talks they have there, and was ridiculously fangirlish about that prospect. (It’s DOTM Megs, the one movieverse Megs that I love like a looney. I blame the chains, the Mad Max Trukk, and the ending of the novelization, where we FRAGGING CUT THE CRAP AND GET ALONG. (gosh darnit!!) Anyway, however they did it, it was glorious fun. The voice actor was deliciously snarky-snarly, just perfect. So much fun. They also had a Prime and a Bumblebee, which I had not known about. They were also delightful. Prime was great -- more good voice-acting -- and would freak out at anyone in Decepticon gear. (He broke McFeely by calling him Seth Rogan. So funny!! There’s a video somewhere.) I never was close enough to the Bumblebee to learn whether he talked or just beeped. But those costumes were AMAZING. Like, you have no idea how good. They felt REAL. It was So Awesome. I got to snark back and forth with Megatron, so that’s my life’s work completed.
There was a whole special thing going for us TF fans, and part of the fun and games was slave labor by the Art Gods. I truly hope they were getting paid, but I worry that they weren’t. Chromie and Lindsey got sketches from Casey, that were awesome and that they love hard. But the next day, we gave Casey and Brendan some little treats for showing up and sketching for the madding crowds. (I found out later that Livio and Andrew had done sketches too, and felt bad that I had not gotten them treats as well!) We love our Art Gods, and wish to keep them!
We rode a total of 4 rides at Universal. Of course, everyone wanted to go on the Transformers ride, so the line was insane. (85 minutes?!?!!) We went through the haunted house, and I screamed like a little girl and about had a heart attack when the mummified mom from Psycho jumped out of the shower at Chromia right behind me. (Absolute. Terror.)
We waited in the half-hour line, and went on the Jurassic Park ride, which was fun. We got ‘diverted’ from the ‘real’ ride where it had been ‘broken,’ water-squirted (hey, at least it’s not poison!) by Dilophosaurs, and shunted into the factory-like red-emergency-lit ‘water treatment system’. I think my favorite random thing was when we passed the Raptor paddock, in which were only waving trees, but we All Know What’s In There, so it Worked. When we went into the factory part, the T-Rex busted through the ceiling and my brain was blinking sure it had eaten the people in the row behind us. What’s that term for the stuff that your mind fills in between the comic panels -- closure? Yeah. It works! Things glimpsed behind me are far more effective than things I see clearly in front of me. Well, then we went up a clanking hill, and just before going down, the T-Rex struck again. But what gave me actual chest-pains (gosh darnit, am I literally getting too old for this slag??) was the unexpected massive straight-down drop. I forced myself to take one breath. One was all I managed. Then we got PUMMELED by about a thousand gallons of water at the bottom. So we were wet for the rest of the night. Front row seats: the pros and cons! It was a fun ride, though. We went again much later, when it was full dark and most of the water was turned off. Totally different experience. And surprisingly, less scary. More beautiful though. Brachiosaurs will always be beautiful creatures -- even when they’re animatronic.
We went on the Mummy ride after everyone else had gone, so there was no waiting. The girls made me stick my arm in the Scary Hole, and I was cursing at them in fear, and it blew a sudden sharp burst of air and made me squeal and berate them. Ha. The Book of the Dead didn’t open or do anything, though. This ride got me but GOOD. I was enjoying the ambiance, expecting something about like the Jurassic Park ride. I thought the bursts of air around our feet when the scarabs swarmed was a nice touch. I had an involuntary moment of “TAKE ME NOW” when Imhotep appeared -- he is one of my movie boyfriends. BUT THEN. The ride went from meandering to SUDDEN-ONSET MILLION-MILE-AN-HOUR ROLLER COASTER IN THE DARK!!!!!!!!! And I did not get any breath At All. Then it skidded to a stop and went Backwards! then there was a burst of fog and light, and we were at the ride’s end not knowing how it had happened! I was NOT PREPARED. (Everyone laughed when I gasped that out, being good WoW nerds.) Such heart-attack. Very ow.
So of course we stayed on and rode it again straight away.
We rode the TF ride dead last. Finally there was no line wait. But we realized that we’d missed out by skipping the line. So the second time through, we waved everyone past us, and watched all the interactive stuff. Ratchet and Ironhide got more characterization in that line-wait than they did in all the movies, sadly. And as for our “ride,” Evac -- well, we all loved him intensely by the time we’d gone through the ride with him! They sell toys of him there, and they are awesome. But some punk went through and bought them all before we could get one. He actually transforms into the ride-thing, ftw. His voice actor deserves mad props. I was actually thinking it was TFP Bumblebee’s voice (once he finally got one) But I just checked, and it’s some guy I’ve never heard of. Well done though, sir. I got embarrassingly into the ride experience, and started shouting out to the characters. It was too fun. I had forgotten just how scary intimidating Blackout is!!! And I never handle it well when Megatron punches through “My” chest, so I yelped ow. Seriously, that Evac. You start feeling bad for not helping him more! And then, after all the fleeing-for-your-life you do with him, when he goes all “No more running!” and bashes into Megatron’s back, you feel so gosh-darn proud of the guy -- even though you all fall off the building until Bumblebee catches you in Improbable Physics 101. It was very hard to tell what was real and what was projected, what was actual movement and what was simulated. And when you get “shot in the face in slo-mo,” you first wonder how you’re still alive, but also are in awe of the burst of Actual Heat and fire-orange light that blasts over you when you’re hit. It’s a darn impressive ride. Ky, whom I file under “Far Wiser In These Matters Than I Am,” said it was the best ride she’d ever been on. Word.
When we finally got back, there was a Giant Circle Of Podcasters And Art Gods, and I stopped to say hi and worship, because I love them all. But I didn’t want to ditch the posse, felt like I would have been insinuating myself into a place I had not earned yet, and didn’t think that at that late hour I had much to offer! So I said hi to Big C and asked him how his first Botcon was going, and went home to the hotel.
I ran to the store again for foodz, but had a much worse attitude about it this time. (News flash! I am not perfect!!) I had to skip the Rescue Bots panel, and those guys are always INCREDIBLY FUN, so I was sad about missing it. But the hotel shuttled me to and from the store, so that was nice.
I found Andrew Griffith and Livio Ramondelli, and had a VERY helpful and instructive discussion with Andrew about his artwork for RiD. See, I get all this cred I don’t deserve when I say I’m a reviewer/podcaster. But it does help to have people know who you are, and be able to address things specifically. I’d been bringing up in my reviews how Andrew’s been struggling with drawing humans. He’s getting better each issue, but still. He said that I was never to hold back on crits, which is one of the reasons he’s an awesome guy, and one of the most grounded IDW artists. But he also clarified specifically what was going on, and now I understand it much better. He’s having trouble finding ways to ink things clearly enough that Josh knows how to color them (and so he can have control -- who can blame him?) without getting all crazy-lip-liner on it. It’s a tough balance. There were some really subtle things in his original lineart that got lost in the coloring. He still needs to work on anatomy, and just get more comfortable with humans. But there’s also the fact that you can draw robots -- even a specific robot -- all kinds of ways before anyone calls it “wrong”; whereas if you get a line half a millimeter off on a human, WE WILL KNOW. Anyway, I will be paying much more attention to the inking of RiD in future. (Inking is something I understand, but am bad at critiquing. I need to improve my perception in this area.) I had Andrew sign RiD 30, and DC 1 where he drew the EPIC SHOCKWAVE.
Livio told me some great news about Primacy, the series I’ve been waiting on for ages. It’s going to be full-sized issues this time, not the little half-sized ones, and it’ll be released in digital and print simultaneously. Livio is stoked for more big spreads, which is what he’s good at. If I understand correctly, he was able to help with the shaping of the story as well. So good on him! I can’t wait. I had him sign my RiD 21, the Soundwave one with the Megs vs the deceptigod image that I would hang on my wall in a HEARTBEAT. It’s always nice to be able to tell artists how much you like something that you did. Seeing his pencils was interesting, because it shows just how much is added by his gritty, layered colors. I mean, he had one of the most evocative pages of DC there, and it was as nothing compared to the colored version.
I talked to Josh Perez about cell shade coloring on humans, and he said he does that because getting noses right is hard! It’s the little things in art that will get you every time, and this I can most heartily attest to! I complimented him on his mastery of rich purple, because it’s all too easy to make digital mud when coloring. I got him to sign DC 1 too, for that same Shockie page. And of course DC 10, aka The Best One. Forsooth! He told me about coloring Alex’s massive million-character spread in DC 10. It took him [relatively] ages, but boy did it turn out great! Those boys! Them pages!! Love. I hadn’t realized just how fragging MUCH Josh P colors!!! That crazy man must never leave his computer!!
I found Brendan Cahill and told him in person how much I’m enjoying watching his artwork improve. He knew who I was (squee!) because of the long thank-you note I’d left him for My Page at the end of DC 12 where Me & Megs are getting along. Somehow, though, I hadn’t clicked that he was also responsible for THAT PAGE in MTMTE 12, too. You know the one -- no words, just Cyc and TG and a broken vial, and ALL MY FANGIRL TEARS. He told me that he’d given the original art for that one to James. That’s a princely gift!! Brendan gives his writers a page every time, he says. Wow. It was really cool to see his lineart. I really hope we get to keep this guy, because he does cool stuff. I talked to him about his layouts, because he does creative things with them. (I love his borders.) And I got him to sign stuff, too. Basically, I went around Botcon asking people to sign my comic books.
Ky and I both hung around Josh Burcham’s (aka My #1 God of Color) table a lot last year, because we both think his stuff is the bomb. So whether or not he likes us, he remembers us! This time, I heckled him mercilessly for ‘ditching out’ on coloring MTMTE. In love, of course. (It had to be done.) He was kind of off by himself due to table placement. I hope he wasn’t too abandoned by the masses. He’d done a cool print for the Botcon theme, and I was sad to see there were still lots of them left by the end of the con. Darnit, people, buy these people’s stuff! You know you want to! (Which reminds me, I forgot to buy one of his sketches off him! Alas! He has a Prime I neeeeeed.) I did get to thank him for a comment he’d made a while back about being happy when people asked to color his sketches, because it made him feel great. one of the best things I have ever done was one of his headshots, and I’ve always felt silly asking the God of Color to color something of his. It was nice to get to say Thanks, Bro. That punk! I love him so.
I went to James’s second panel, the Women in Animation one, and to the Art of IDW one. The Women in-- one was my favorite. They had Morgan Lofting (GI Joe’s Baroness), Samantha Newark (Jem) and Sue Blu there. And they were having so darn much fun together, and were slightly amazed at being here with all us crazies! Chromie made me misty though, because she asked if they had any stories about the late Linda Gary, the voice actor for Chromia back in the day. Morgan told how the two of them had met and instantly hit it off for life, and Sue and Samantha had the nicest and most heartfelt things to say. I know how much that actress means to Chromie. So, tears.
It really does mean a lot to me that these ladies could come to Botcon and feel loved and uplifted by the experience. I’m so glad they weren’t scared off!! And it was so easy to love them. They were REAL. And real is hard to find.
James was selling annotated scripts, which I had been wanting since I first heard about them at last year’s Auto Assembly. So I went up first thing Friday. But he was asking $17, and he ran out of change for people’s 20’s in about three astroseconds.
So I went back on Saturday, fully equipped with dollar bills. And He Remembered My Name!!! Yet another of his talents I admire. (I forget everyone’s name.) This time, I got to thank him for the best adjective in MTMTE: “Cyclonus, I’ve just had some *stupid* news.” SO GOOD!!! It’s characterization and audience reaction all in one! He confessed that he’d liked it too, and I said I could tell just in reading it that that had been one of his Boo-yah moments. So fun talking writing with my Ultimate Writing God!!
Matt Frank asked if we were planning on going to the bar after the con was over for the day. In other words, he invited us to come hang out with the Cool People. To say this made my whole day -- whole darn Botcon, for that matter -- is an understatement.
So little Mormon me ended up saying things like, “So you guys wanna head over to the bar now?” Glee. Evil glee. All kids of glee. More glee.
So, the Sheraton has this miniscule bar, into which a platoon of Art Gods packed themselves, and everyone talked at maximum volume in order to be heard. Yes, this was my first time in a bar. (What?) So I have nothing to compare it with. In the end, only Ky and I went, because the rest of the posse was worried they’d feel out of place. They went to the MSTF thing instead. I feel bad that they were nervous; I would have really tried not to let them be left out! But they wanted to go to the other thing anyway. Ken Christianson, with whom Ky had had a good conversation about game design work (which they both do) actually bought us drinks. That was super nice! (My debauchery extended to consuming the diet Coke Ky ordered for me. le gasp! Funny -- I’m waaaaayy more strict on avoiding caffeinated sodas than anyone else I know, Mormon or not. (avoiding caffeine is a suggestion for Mormons, not a rule, but I tend to be a stickler.) So I was conflicted. But not even Art Night pal Angela (aka Grapple) who makes me look like a flaming heathen, batted an eye. People are funny -- myself included.
So first we ended up talking with Mairghread and her husband Jason Enright. Those two give me hope for the entire world. I love how Jason is just as excited about what Mairghread’s doing as she is. He is the one who slipped me secret hints and information. I’d asked my ever-burning question about why the Titans are treated as demigods, yet slaughtered and generally treated as power tools by whoever’s scheme is being covered in the comics. Jason remembered, and told me there would be more about the titans in Windblade 4. Great news, because Mairghread is the only one who writes titans like people. He also whispered in my ear the name Elita-One, which caused my feet to leave the floor for about seven hours thereafter. YYEEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!! SO HAPPYYYYYY!!!!! (I’m the worst at keeping hints like this a secret, just so you know...) Mairghread was funny -- she’d been talked into a “half-yard beer” at the Yard sports bar across the way, and demonstrated the difficulty of drinking such a thing to us, for much amusement. She’d had almost no voice in the afternoon, so I was shocked that she could manage the decibel level needed for that packed bar. But we did have a really really good talk about how Starscream is portrayed in Windblade, and why his portrayal is creeping people (me) out. Apparently, Mairghread has gotten a share of hate-mail over it, for which there is no excuse. (“This creeped me out” is different from “You are scum and should go die in a fire.” Learn the difference, people!!) Yeah, it’s creepy reading and seeing sexual[type] aggression/harassment in a TF comic. I admit it takes getting used to. But at the same time, I give Sarah and Mairghread all kinds of mad props for writing/drawing things that No Guy Ever would be willing or able to put into a comic like this. Not just Starscream, but flawed Windblade as well. Totally non-guy-written and awesome. Windblade makes me realize just how accustomed I am to the male-created paradigm. Huh. Anyway, I love Mairghread. She’s one of my favorite people in the whole darn world, no lie.
Ky and I ended up at a table with Thomas Deer and Josh Burcham, mostly paired off in our conversation because sound could only carry about 14 inches. I’ve never had the chance to talk much with Thomas before this, and it was cool. He is the only person I have ever met who actually talks about Pat Lee like he’s a person, and not just an invective. Apparently, Thomas was still only in the sending-sample stage when Dreamwave folded, so he never was technically owed any money. And he got an email with an apology in it. I wish that whole era could have ended better, but this was a very interesting window into the debacle. (We were sitting at a table surrounded by people whom Pat still owes money to, I presume.) I have no idea what Ky and Josh talked about -- they were more than 14 inches away, so for all I know they were plotting a global takeover using Josh’s colors as hypnosis. But we later moved to a slightly quieter area in order to include Matt in our group, and there was squee. See, Matt Frank is me, if I were just slightly more male. When we came into the bar, James was talking to him about a possible one-shot collaboration, and was in full feet-not-touching-the-floor, fists-up-to-face, grinning-whole-head-in-half squeeble-mode. And this is why we love him, children. It’s just so funny to see in him what my reactions of glee must look like to other people. I hope it’s as infectious when I go squee as it is when he does. We were talking about the sublime TF artists, and worrying that Alex might get burned out. Matt can’t take over MTMTE -- Godzilla is his baby. Brendan’s coming up and might be able to do it, but he’s still a newbie in the field. Nick’s left us for Marvel; congratulations and blast him. (We all, to our everlasting shame, forgot about Guido the god of drawing robots. But his style might be too straightforward for the quirkiness of MTMTE. And he’s doing a ton of work for the games right now.) So we were having a small group panic. Hopefully Alex remains buoyed by our love -- and human sacrifice, if necessary! -- and is able to continue drawing MTMTE for ages to come.
Basically, that evening gave me just a taste of what the Auto Assembly people always taunt me with -- that everybody-hangs-out-in-the-evening atmosphere that I have so wished I could participate in. Because have I mentioned enough that I love these people?!? I go into honest-to-Primus withdrawal when we go our separate ways at the con’s end.
I wore the Verity cosplay I’d put together, and ran into another girl dressed in the same getup. We took a picture. That was fun! This was the first time I had ever dressed up, and it was a weird experience. I had my first and only person coming up to ask if they could take my picture. Which was weird and cool. But I also felt like I would not be taken as seriously by people, as a person in costume, even though it was a tame one. An unknown person in a costume immediately seems more intense (and possibly scary) in their fandom than a regular t-shirt-wearing human does. Or is this just in my head? Dunno.
We got all the reveals about upcoming comics at the IDW panel, and the room erupted in cheers when “Windblade Returns” popped up onto the screen. There’ll also be a second Drift mini, written by Shane McCarthy. I wasn’t all that stoked for it, until I saw a little thing he’d posted yesterday (I think) about what he plans on doing. Also, apparently there will be Ratchet. This is always a good thing. Those two bouncing off each other is hilarious -- at least the way James has it all set up. We’ll see! So basically, it will be Drift, then more Windblade. (But with a different name.)
The night before (in the lull between conning and ‘hitting the bar’), Ky had read the early special Botcon release of MTMTE 30. (Which I still think of as S2 Ep3… I get all messed up now on numbering!) It was the first time ever she had gotten to read a comic before I did, because usually I lend her mine, or she buys them later. So that was weird and fun. When she was done reading, she handed it to me with a weird look and said, “Tell me when you get to the Tailgate part.” First off, I strained our friendship by ‘throwing’ the book down at the Megs with his head in his hands part, because that hurted my little heart. (I care a lot about comic books, and stopped the momentum just before slamming it onto the couch. But still. My bad.) But then the Tailgate part did hit, and we proceeded to have a heated discussion about it. Because Ky said Getaway was hitting on Tailgate. And I really, really, really didn’t want to believe it. Ky and Hound then proceeded to act out the scene, enhancing my much awkwardness. When Botcon resumed on Sunday, we headed for James yet again. Ky and Hound got to talk with him about the original RP they write and illustrate together with some of their friends, and James was super interested and encouraging. (That man!) Hound bought an script off him, and he wrote “Good luck” on hers, which was different from what he usually writes (at least from what I’ve seen), so she should feel the love. But anyway, we got all whispery and asked him if Getaway was hitting on Tailgate, because we were arguing about it. I babbled about not wanting Tailgate to lose his innocence, and how I’d been waiting for somebody to tell him to quit with the finger-in-the-head business before people got annoyed, and instead here was Getaway being smarmy….. And he said he was glad we were arguing, and could he please abstain! That punk!
I did come back one last time to thank him for letting Prime and Megs just talk, like I have always wanted. But I think he’d reached critical fangirl mass, because at my saying “As someone who self-identifies as Prime,” he did kinda blink and slide back a half-inch. Darnit! I may have imagined it, but then again, I’m sure there is such a thing as fangirl critical mass. (also, remember my previous comment about how I am perceived in a costume vs regular clothes.) Chromie said she’d seen a group of fangirls cornering John Barber and thanking him profusely for all the couplings in MTMTE, and he was backed up as far as he could, protesting “You know I did not write that book, right?” and they replied, “It doesn’t matter; you’re all IDW.” As a wannabe writer, his ticks me off something FIERCE. It MATTERS who writes what. I mean, I told John how much the speech from Roddy to Prime about how much the world needs him to be HIM meant to me, how it was an encapsulation of 30 years of love we feel for the character and why he matters. And John just shrugged and said, “That’s all James.” (So I went and thanked James. And that was probably when I dropped the ill-fated phrase, come to think of it.) Anyway, point is, authors aren’t interchangeable!!
Seth, my small and intense 10-year-old son, had been asking for two solid years for “one of the tape guys.” I told him they were expensive, but decided to see if I could find anything. I asked around the booths, (my first real look at any of the toys because I am an Art Addict, and “plastic crack” has no hold over me) and found a few for $10 I was still panicking about money like I always do, so I held off even at that. But when I asked another vendor if they had an old busted cassette for a boy who would love it, he gave me Steeljaw sans accessories for $8. (He lost his remaining stickers a few hours after his reveal at home. Of course no one would admit to stripping them. This is why I will not spend $40 on a toy from the 80’s.) The engineering of these little guys is really nifty. The kids kept finding more bits that pull out or move around. He is an awesome little lion. I also found a “Steve” (the fan-name for TFP Vehicons forevermore) for only $5, and though I convinced myself that we didn't need it, Hound disagreed and bought it for us. He is a GREAT toy!! (thanks Hound!!) Also, Liam discovered that you can transform him into a GIANT HAND, ftw!! (So creepy and awesome! We must stage The Revenge of Poor Steve Who Was Thrown Off The Nemesis And Couldn’t Fly, with our TFP Megs toy.)
Botcon came to an end, and we went back to the hotel to collapse. Chromie had worn her [AMAZING GLEE] girl-Spike cosplay with the epic high-heeled yellow boots, so her feet were killing her. I’d worn my awesome but ridiculously heavy and slightly too big platform combat boots for Verity, and my feet were dead too. We were all starving, because we just couldn’t stand to leave before the con came to an end. We couldn’t agree on where to eat, because everything was starting to seem expensive (a common end-of-con/end-of-budget symptom) but there was still food from the grocery store, and we munched that. And then collapsed dead for a while. (I hit the pool, which I do at every opportunity.)
When I came back, relaxed and dripping, Ky and Hound’s internet RP ACTUAL BOY pal had arrived. He’d driven down to see them. He recognized me, because the last time we’d met I was also beswimsuited and dripping -- at the beach! (I am amused by this reasoning for his recognition, despite its dubious veracity.) Not being gifted with James’s ability to remember people’s names, I am afraid I have forgotten his. It might have been Robert? In any case, we formed a tribe and walked out to conquer Old Pasadena. (We were geographically bounded by foot travel, because there were too many of us to fit into his car -- though I did volunteer to ride in the trunk!) He recommended this restaurant called Umami Burger -- some chef’s little side project, from the looks of things. I ordered a salad, got what was basically a plate heaped high with dandelion leaves (arugula, but still) with a few blanched beets and a scraping of white truffle dressing. And my body inhaled it, for it was VEGETABLE MATTER. And the dressing was amazing.
But the cool thing was that the whole Underbase podcasters group also chose that restaurant at that time to eat in. So although we did not all gather round one table, I did get a last chance to give everyone a hug (McFeely is a silly man) and tell them they are awesome. Because gosh darnit, they sure are! (McFeely introduced me as “the one I was telling you about,” which made me wonder/fear just a bit, I admit!)
When we got back, we wanted to go swimming, but RP Guy had not brought trunks. Chromia to the rescue -- she tends to wear a bikini top and guy-trunks, and owns that look so hard. So she threw her extra trunks at him. And we went swimming. Such relax. Very hot tub. Our feet were grateful!
We said goodbye to Ky that night, because she was leaving early enough in the morning that we were all pretty sure we would be insensate. The exodus had begun, alas.
When I woke up for reals, Ky was gone. It turns out she’d accidentally packed my watch, which threw me because I’m dependent on that thing. (My phone has a clock?? Who knew???) I survived, obviously!
Chromie and Hound and Lindsey left around 10:00, and it was back to leaving my luggage with the nice hotel people, and wandering the town on my own. I went to the comic shop down the way. I thought I’d check on the slim chance they had an MTMTE 28 with the homage cover -- my comic shop is STILL not giving me the subscription covers, and my rage is growing. (RAAAGE!!!!! I didn’t get the Hot Rod Handing The Keys Over To Megatron cover this time because of their bungling!! RAAAAAGE!!!!!) No luck there, but I did have a really great conversation with the comic store guy. Again, mentioning that you write reviews and podcast gives me cred I don’t deserve. It’s not that I’m rubbing it in people’s faces; it’s that it just comes up when you’re talking comics and asking questions. I was happy to see that even though the TF comics were not blipping his radar, he did say “There was one that came out recently with a GIRL on the cover…??” So I got to tell him how great Windblade is. He got out a bunch of trades for me to flip through, and we shared our preferences and recommendations. In the end, he sent me off with a bunch of those sample issues that the companies send out. They’re supposed to cost a dollar or a few, but he just gave ‘em to me “to read on the plane.” Seriously, people are kind.
I called the girls after the comic shop, to squeeble about how fun it was to talk comics with someone who cared. And it turned out that Matt Frank had joined up with them at the airport, and they were getting into shenanigans together. (GLEE.) Chromie threw the phone at him before I even got the chance to talk to her! I will confess though, that Matt’s the one Art God I suffer most withdrawal from. He’s just such a kick in the head!! (and we’ve all sorta become his fangirl pal harem.) So I was glad they were all hanging together, and that I got a teeny taste of it.
I was surprised by how sad I was on the plane leaving LA. I had this overpowering idea that I would Never Return This Way Again, either because Botcon would be held elsewhere, or because I dunno. It’s total bogus paranoia, but still, I was sad. Missing the Art Gods. (The girls and I have reached the point where we’re such family that we don’t even really miss each other too much, or feel like we’ve been apart when we get together after a year or whatever. This is an awesome thing!!!!!!!!!!!) Anyway, had a bit of a sad moment as I literally flew off into the sunset. (Although, dude, I thought we were gonna fly to Hawaii there for a bit -- we took off over the ocean and did not turn around for like ages!)
That’s about it. I’m back to cleaning toilets for a living. Last night I got to podcast about Windblade #3 with Aimee, Nicole, and Mike. Tonight I get to gather with the Art Night people, and Ky and I will recount our multiplicitous adventures. And I’ll break out Casey’s lineart. (*squee!*) After Art Night, Ky and I are planning on making the obligatory pilgrimage to the Altar of Bay, to watch TF: Age of Extinction. Yes, we know it will be silly. But the ‘07 movie is what got me, indirectly, all of these wonderful things. So I owe the guy that much. This is my passion, these are my peeps, and my life is full of goodness because of giant alien robots whom James writes with enough personality that we love them like real people.
Thanks for listening, for writing, and for a great hug, James.
Thanks for letting me play in your sandbox, Thomas.
Thanks for being yourself, Matt -- ilu so hard.
And thanks to every-stinking-one else -- all y’all are so darn awesome it will cause a black hole of Shockwave proportions any second now. Thanks for letting me hang around ya, and not kicking me to the curb.
And thanks everso to anyone who’s still reading this novella!
All my love!
Current Residence: Post-Ceasefire Cybertron|
deviantWEAR sizing preference: Human sizes don't work for transformers
Favourite genre of music: There's something great in every genre, but I tend to like great words and a beat.
Favourite style of art: Besides comic book art? I tend to like a bit of expressionism as an icing over realism
Wallpaper of choice: AAAAARRRRRTTT!!!
Favourite cartoon character: Myself, Optimus Prime, of course!
Personal Quote: I have fought the good fight; I have finished my course.