I really wanted the BIG D….Dallas on my travel schedule this year. C’mon….what else do you think I meant?
While not exactly last minute, it certainly was not planned all that far in advance either. With a little more than a month in the con, I decided this would be one that I would hit up. My friend Jason, who I met at Toronto’s Fan Expo last year, decided to join me. I got a fantastic deal on a round trip ticket for just a tad bit over $200. The Wingate we booked was also VERY cheap and VERY close to the convention center. So with the travel costs at a min., this trip made a lot of sense.
We originally purchased GA tickets, but when reading more and more about Dallas Comic Con, we learned that VIP was a much better value. $35 GA for Sat and $25 for Sunday was $60 total value and the Funko Pop Exclusive was $15, totalling $75. The VIP pass was a mere $20 more and included 4 autograph line jumps and early admission to the con, ahead of the GA AND priority guaranteed seating in the Q and As. Unfortunately, these tickets sold out almost instantly and we could not buy them. I did spend time trying to find a pair and was very fortunate that the Dallas Comic Con promoters were so over the top friendly with trying to answer questions as quick as possible….even going as far as helping us locate VIP tickets. With a week before the con, Dallas Comic Con contacted me and put me in touch with a con regular who was unable to attend and wanted to sell his VIP tickets. We paid face value for the tickets and we’re very happy to obtain these. These would most definitely be a HUGE help come con time, but more on that later. We figured we would be forced to eat the GA tickets, but once again the promoters for Dallas Comic Con helped us sell off out GA tickets for just under face. So we recovered most of the money we spent on the GA tickets.
With our tickets in place, we flew out the Friday before the Con. We arrived to the BWI in plenty of time. When it came time to board the plane, they scanned my ticket and it beeped and I was asked to step to the side. What the hell was this about? They wouldnt tell me anything, but a minute later reprinted me a boarding pass and told me that the airline moved me. They moved us again, so we could sit together and now we were in the very last row on the plane. We got on the plane and sat down. We could see our old seats were empty, but some chick was sitting in the window seat of the row now. Our seats kind of sucked since the engine was right there and we could barely hear one another. A few minutes later they moved a man to my seat to make some room in his row. So now I was moved from my original seat with no explanation, so that some chick could have the row to herself to have some other guy sit in my seat.
Three and half hours later we arrived in Dallas. I went directly to baggage claim, which was a mistake. In Dallas, once you go through the doors to get your bags, you cant get back into the AP….so no getting dinner. I grabbed my bag and it was time to call for the shuttle. One of the reasons we chose this Wingate was because they were providing free shuttle service to and from the hotel, the con and into the city of Dallas. We called the hippo and was informed the shuttle service ended at 8pm. WTF?! Friday and Saturday shuttle service ends at 8pm but Sunday through Thursday it ends at 10:30pm. It was completely ass backwards. In addition, when we booked the h0tel, we explained when we were flying in and out to ensure we would have the shuttle.They confirmed it would not be an issue. Yet….no shuttle. The service at this h0tel was fairly poor. The woman on the phone asked me what I wanted her to do. In the end, we were forced to get a cab and pay for it out of our pockets to get to the hippo. Once we arrived, I asked about places that would deliver and was told only Domino’s would. Ugh. So I passed and went straight to the room. Didnt make it to bed till around 2:30am after unpacking and getting my stuff packed for the con.
With only 2.5hrs of sleep, we were up. First stop was the breakfast buffet downstairs. After no dinner, I was starving. Our shuttle to the con was scheduled to leave at 7am, so we finished quickly and saw the shuttle pull up. We went upstairs to grab our bags and with about 5mins to spare, we came downstairs…….only to find the shuttle was gone. We were told the shuttle took people to the AP. WTF?! We had the shuttle reserved for the convention center. They said it would be about 40 mins before it returned. Again?! Are you serious? So we went back to our rooms and waited for the shuttle. Once the shuttle returned, we headed out to the con. We got there and wasnt too bad. They had 3 lines…VIP, GA and people who needed tickets. Our VIP line had about 50 people in it. Normally Texas was in the 70s, but they just got hammered with snow and it was still cold. They were expecting 60 on that day, but the morning was still pretty cold. Being from PA though….the high 30s wasnt all that bad. But the Texans were freezing their asses off. Some brought giant blankets, kerosene heaters, etc. We waited about an hour and a half before the doors opened for VIP and we got inside. Most VIPers hit the Funko Pop stand to get their Funkos first….we did not. We didnt want to carry them around the con, so we opted to skip it and in doing so, I became the very first person through the doors of the con. I figured there might be a prize as they were giving away free prizes via twitter….but alas, I got nothing. We were taken to the auditorium, as eventhough we were allowed inside, we couldnt get into the con portion until 10am. But at least we got out of the cold. We sat around and 10 came around very quickly. Our first stop was Froggy’s table on the 3rd floor. One of the guests we both purchased photo ops for was Alice Eve. She had cancelled about 2 weeks before the con and we were instructed to stop at their table to get refunds or exchanges. We got to the table and there had to be 200 people in line. I was not gonna stand in this line….I figured I could come back and get a refund later. So we headed to the 4th floor to the autograph section. My first stop was going to be Stephen Amell’s table. He was by FAR the most in demand celebrity at Dallas Comic Con. He was in the main autograph room at the very far end. Only Stephen had a separate table setup before you got to his table that sold autograph tickets. Every other guest, you would just pay at the table they were seated at. The line to purchase autos extended out of the main room, down the hall and into the other autograph room. And to think…..GA still had not been let in. I got into line and the line moved fairly quickly. Took me about 20 minutes till I got to the autograph ticket table. I started with just 2. I wanted to get things signed in paint and figured it would be easier to just get certain items done at certain times to avoid paint blotches. There was no need to use the VIP ticket, as we were all VIPS at this point. I got into line and was immediately met with Dallas Comic Con staff saying no pictures and no video of the celebrity. This is something new I have been running into as of late and its incredibly annoying. Why cant I take pictures of the celeb while I wait in line to get my stuff done? Anyway, I stopped shooting photos and waited till my turn. Since Stephen was a big fan of my Lian Yu Vigilante Training Camp shirt and I promised I would bring him one of his own the next time I saw him….I decided to live up to that promise and do so. In addition, I brought him my best selling design “Hood Up” in both tshirt and hoodie form, as well as a new favorite of mine….Keep Calm And Hood Up, as well as his own personal Hood Up coffee mug for his new line of Nocking Point coffee which is delicious by the way. So if you see him wearing a Hood Up shirt or hoodie, Keep Calm or a Lian Yu shirt or see him drinking coffee from a Hood Up mug…you will know where it came from.
Stephen was very appreciative of the gift, but didnt have the time to look at it all as his line was ginormous! He did like my original inked drawing by Juan Castro, who did the ink in the Arrow Comic Season 1 series. I was done and Jason and I headed over to the next table. A late add was Jesse Rath, the star of Defiance. He wasnt originally scheduled to be there, but showed up. Jason wanted a photo and went to his table and got one. It didnt turn out well on his cell phone, so I took it on my camera. I was amazed at the number of people who were doing photos at their tables in addition to the Froggy professional photos. I believe the only names who did not do at their table shots were Stephen Amell, Karl Urban and Peter Weller. Eddie McClintock was next. He is best known for his work on a show called Warehouse 13 that I never watched. But I DO know him from the most recent episode of Modern Family, where he played the guy who proposed to his girlfriend at dinner, with Cam and Mitchell at the table next to them. It was a hilarious scene. His photo was only $10 and he was a really nice guy….so I went ahead and got one. After Eddie, it was getting close to my Karl Urban photo op time. I left the main autograph room to head to the escalators to go down 1 floor to photo ops. However, there was a long line blocking the escalators…….we found out that was GA people that had come in and joined the Stephen Amell line.
I got down to the 3rd floor and found a line that was wrapping all around that floor. I wonder what that was. I asked someone and they told me it was the Karl Urban line. WHAT!?!?!? I get into the end of the line and begin my wait. About 30 mins later, a DCC volunteer walks up and asks if anyone has a Karl Urban photo op ticket. I said I do and they said come with me, that they were on last call. Wait…. What line was I in? The volunteer told me it was the line to PURCHASE a Karl Urban photo op. The line had to be 300 or so deep. They would never make it. One guy was so desperate, he asked me as I was walking by with ticket in hand if I wanted to sell it. I paid $45 for it….he asked me how much would I take…..$200. He didnt seem interested, so I marched on. Turns out, he was smart not too…..as Urban agreed to stay longer at the con and they added another photo op session in the evening for him to accomadate the people who would not get him at this session.
So I got into the photo op room and was about 25 back. When it was my turn, I greeted him as Detective Kennex, we snapped the picture and off I went. I asked Froggys how long for the jpeg, because I hear nightmares for turnaround times. They told me no more than 24-48hrs. I’ll believe it when I see it.
I went out and found the Stephen Amell photo op line which was starting in about 15 mins. It was VERY LONG! It was so long….that they started snaking people in a room in order to keep that line away from the line to purchase Amell photo op tickets. For whatever reason, the majority of people did NOT pre order anything and this would spell impending doom in some cases. This line moved at a snail pace though and it took a good 35 mins to get to my turn. While I waited though I spotted a gentlemen who happen to purchase one of my Lian Yu shirts. I went up to him and thank him for the business. I also got a picture with him, as he loved the shirt. He said Stephen even commented to him that he just got one as a present. I was giddy like a school girl. One of the guys standing a few down from us over heard my conversation concerning other items for sale and new designs and asked me for a card. I gave it to him and told him where he could purchase items. He said he loved the designs and was a big Arrow fan. Before the day was out, I gave out all 5 of the cards I had in my wallet to people who wanted to know where they could get the Lian Yu shirt or the Hood Up shirt I was sporting. It was very cool. I got in…got my pic., told Stephen I would be back at his table and left.
Now my photo ops were done and Jason’s werent going to start for another hour. So we hit the artists room on that floor. We kept hearing announcements for free swag in a room, but that stuff is usually junk….so forget it. I got enough junk. We headed into the artists room and started walking around. Some very cool items for sale, but there were 2 tables that caught my eye. First was this guy who was selling all these creative drawn and inked 11×17 mini posters of comic book characters, television shows, anime, and video games. I spotted this fantastic Arrow piece he did with Deathstroke’s head looming in the background and had to have it. He was so reasonably priced too. The place was called Mustap art studio and their work was fantastic! I flipped through and just saw some amazing pieces. They sold for $10 for 1, 2 for $15 or 4 for $20. Jason wanted 2 and I wanted…a lot. But, I figured 2 was good to start and we split the cumbo…paying just $5 a piece for them. I got the Arrow one and a “I Am Legen-Wait For It-Dary” Barney Stinson one. It was so cool!
The next table I was amazed by wasnt as cheap. This was an artist that took blank comic covers and hand drew different super heroes on them. So for instance he had a lot of Walking Dead blanks and drew Walking Dead characters on them. His work was amazing. I asked him if he could do Arrow and he said he could. Oh and for those who dont know what a blank is…..a blank is a white cover with the logos of whatever title that book is on it, but no actual cover art. Its a variant edition of a real comic issue that is specifically used at comic cons for artists to draw whatever they like, creating a unique cover for that book. What really caught my eye was that the artist was willing to add ME to the cover. He could put me and Stephen Amell on the cover shooting arrows or whatever. Now he had me. What a fantastic idea. What a 1 of a kind piece of art I could own. I had to have it. We made the deal. I should have it in 2 weeks.
The time had come for Jason’s photo ops, so I stayed with him as long as I could till I had to head up for Stephen Amell’s Q and A. I wanted to be there extra early to get a front row seat, dead center. I headed up and decided to hit the Stephen Amell autograph line, which was still very large. I went up and decided to use my VIP jump and get my 24×36 poster signed. I would get nothing else done at this point, as it was being signed in paint. He even inscribed it Oliver Queen.
Rolled my poster up and headed to the main ball room. At this point Richard Dreyfus was getting ready to begin his Q and A. I asked the guy outside where the Amell line was and he pointed to a line that was 100 people deep. But the volunteer suggested I just take my VIP pass and attend the Dreyfuss con. He said to get a seat and wait till it was done and when those folks got up to leave, I would be the first person to get a seat. That made a lot of sense. So I went inside and sat and listened. Loved listening to Dreyfus’ stories about his career, but not so much into his political agenda push it turned into. Dreyfuss is very into politics and knows his stuff. Just dont think this was the time nor the place for that. So I tuned him out and waited patiently for Stephen Amell.
Once Dreyfus was done and people were getting up to exit, I immediately headed over, found my seat and sat down. The hall filled quickly and got to the point it was standing room only and people were turned away at the door for his Q and A. Stephen was introduced and the moderator asked if the VIPs minded if the people turned away could come in and sit in the VIP rows, as there were a few empty seats in the VIP section. The crowd said no….but they let them in anyway. I feel bad people were turned away, but at the same point this is what my $20 is paying for. What would happen if a VIPer that was running late wanted to come into the Q and A and was now being told no cuz now there are no seats available due to a GA person sitting in it. But whatever. I had my seat. I videoed the Q and A and it was actually one of the better Q and As I have ever done. Normally these are filled with nonsense questions like boxers or briefs, whats on your ipod, favorite food….etc. But the people who asked questions had some decent questions. I wanted to ask a question, but that line was ridiculous too and people were turned away from questions as well, as they ran out of time. During the Q And A, it was mentioned that Stephen’s photo op line was cut off earlier in the day and about 100 people were turned away with no photo, having to settle for a refund. Ouch! Stephen was even nice enough to take a picture with a little boy who happened to be in that cut off portion of the line. It was also announced that due to the overwhelming demand, Stephen agreed to stay till 7pm so he could finish out his autograph line.
When the Q and A was over, I exited and headed down stairs to see how Jason was coming along. I first decided to stop at the first floor to get Peter Weller and James O’Barr. Got Weller to sign my Robcop 2 Laserdisc which was sadly partially damaged in travel. Then I stopped over at James O’Barr’s table, who has eluded me. Every comic con I goto, he is scheduled and is never there. FINALLY he was there and I got a photo with the creator of my all time favorite movie…The Crow. When I got back to the 3rd floor, I was met with the most hysterical moment of the weekend. During Jason’s photo with Eddie McClintock, some weirdo wandered into the photo op and posed with Jason. Jason had this WTF look on his face, while this other guy had a huge smile. The op was over, the weirdo exited and Jason wanted to know who that guy was and why he was in the photo? He eventually got a retake and grabbed the weirdo’s photo, which was so funny to see. Still dont know who this guy was. Since we were here and the line was dead for photo ops, we decided to get our refunds for the Alice Eve cancellation.
Once we gathered his photos together and I picked up my Urban and Amell ops from earlier, we went back upstairs. I still needed to get Karl Urban and Stephen Amell autos and he wanted to get a few too. He went to do his thing and I went to Urban. I used my 2nd VIP jump and got through the line and got to Karl. Got his auto and he even inscribed it Detective Kennex. When I was done here, I moved to Stephen Amell’s line which had finally shriveled down to nothing. I decided to finish off 2 8x10s and call it a day. I went over and was his last auto. Got 2 items done.
We exited the con and called for the shuttle. It arrived in decent time and we headed back to the ho tel. We hadnt eaten all day, so I bribed the driver to stop at Wendy’s to get us some food. I scored him a Frosty and the dude was happy. We went to the room, ate dinner and got ready for Sunday. Sunday was gonna be a much more casual day. We didnt plan to stay on the con all day…but sometimes plans change.
Sunday came, I didnt feel like getting up early. Skipped breakfast and headed to the con. Doors didnt open till 11am and we arrived around 10. This time we were a good 100 people deep in the VIP line, but it was a little warmer than the day before. We got inside and immediately hit the vendors on the first floor. Checked out all the cool action figures, Funkos, etc. Nothing really jumped out at me, cept the prices were higher than ebay. But, I did come across 2 Stephen Amell Vampire Diaries official Promos. Crazy! Never seen them before and never even saw a high quality image of Stephen as Brady from VD. I grabbed both…my only purchase there. BUT…there was a vendor selling tons of bootleg DVDs. One of those was the elusive Viper television series that I watched. I loved that show! I have never been able to get the entire series. I have tried and tried and no one seems to be able to help. This guy had it…..$100!!!! His highest priced DVD set. They’re bootlegs. I would have done $50….but not $100.
Jason had a couple of photo ops to do with Froggy’s, so I went to wait in line with him, as he did with me. Unfortunately, today they were not allowing this…so I went and took a seat on the bench. The only thing I was really interested in today was to get that photo with Richard Dreyfuss, if he was doing them at his table. While I waited, I saw people coming out of this room with full size movie posters. Thought maybe they were for sale. What really caught my eye was the new Robocop poster. I found out that was the free swag room. YES! The free swag is actually GOOD STUFF!!!! I stood in this ridiculous line that took forever, but got inside and they allowed you one of each poster. They had some small posters of Wolf Of Wall Street, Robocop, Anchorman 2. I grabbed them. Then they had 2 different Robocop versions, Thor 2, Ride Along, The Furnace, Monsters Inc, Nonstop, Neighbors, Lone Survior, Machete Kills, Delivery Man and more. I couldnt even grab one of each as I couldnt physically hold them all. Worse yet, I had no tube that I could put them. They were selling this nice tube….but it was too big for my suitcase and wouldnt be able to bring them home with me in it. So I rolled them up and was forced to carry them around.
When Jason was done, we headed back to the 4th floor for the autograph rooms. They moved some of the celebs around. I hit up Richard Dreyfus, using my last line jump and got my photo with him. At first he was eating a hot dog and wanted to take a picture with him eating it. I laughed and he tried to swallow it fast before the flash. The first take was him choking on his hot dog. So we retook it and got a better picture. Funny though. I thanked him and was very happy to get a pic with him for a measly $20. Its Richard Dreyfus.
We were done. We called for the shuttle to take us back to the ho tel. They said about 10 mins. No shuttle. We called back. They said any minute. We waited 15. No shuttle. We called again and they said he was already there and picked up and they would send him out again. Nearly an hour later…the shuttle finally got us. We got in and got back to the ho tel. All we needed to do was grab our bags, put some of our con stuff in them and we were gone. Well the shuttle driver wanted to leave right then and there for the AP. I explained that we reserved the shuttle for 5pm and he said he had to take other people now. But it was 5pm…this is OUR shuttle. I had had enough BS from this ho tel and the shuttle service and had a minor meltdown. I told the driver that he was nearly an hour late picking us up, which he denied…saying he came and picked people up and we were not there. I told him our hippo was leaving at 6, when it was 7….just to pressure him into staying. He just flat out told us we werent gonna make it in time. I told him thats fine….he can pay for a new ticket to get us home. He finally agreed to give us 10mins to get repacked and in the shuttle. We did and got inside. Got to the AP and figured the worse was behind us.
It wasnt. So I get us checked in and my bag checked. We head for security. I have to take off my belt, shoes….everyone knows the routine. So I discard everything and get into the xray machine. I get out and I am asked to step to the side. Police officers surround me. They show me a picture of my xray that shows a yellow box around my ass. They tell me there is an obstruction in my ass and ask if I have anything on there….like a deformity or growth, etc. I explain that I do not. They then ask if I would like to goto a private room or am I ok here? For what?!?!? Oh….. So I unbutton my pants and begin to drop my drawers when the officer explains that he just needs to pat my buttox down and that I didnt need to take my pants off. So I button my jeans back up. He tells me that he will feel my ass with his hand…..I asked him why cant the female officer do it? He explains that females do females and males do males. I explain this would be less awkward if she did me. Sadly…no luck. Once I had my ass felt up, I was escorted to another station where they swabbed my hands for explosives. They processed the sample and it came back negative. They let me through. But they held up the entire checkpoint during this ordeal.
We grabbed some food at Chillis before getting on board the plane. I wanted to say this was the last hassle….sadly it was not. Once we got on, we found someone sitting in our seats. They announced that this fl ight was COMPLETELY filled and no seats would be available. We then find out that the stewardesses put her in my seat because somehow her ticket was double booked and now they had more people than seats. Dont know how it was resolved, but it took us about 20 minutes and holding up several other people to play musical chairs and get in our seats and to sit down. Even though we didnt have the annoying engine to listen to, this hippo was less enjoyable because the guys in front of us leaned their seats all the way back and I was already having trouble getting my knees in. I couldnt move at all and the in hippo wifi absolutely sucked.
Due to the seat ordeal, the flight took off 30minutes late. We made up some time in the air…but not a whole lot. When we landed, we headed right to the garage and got out of Charm City. I made great time home and couldnt wait to hit the sheets. Sadly for Jason, his drive home was just to begin. 6 hours all the way back to Buffalo he went. But it was worth it. Great trip. LOTS of success. Good memories to take back…even if I didnt get to goto Cowboys stadium and take a leak on Jerry’s World. I’m sure DJ is glad about that!