Tuesday, April 7, 2009

My Five Day Roadtrip: To Seattle and Back Again

DAY ONE

- In the morning I rose, dressed and packed my only travel bag. Realizing that I probably wouldn't have lunch and needing to eliminate food which would otherwise spoil, I took in a large breakfast. I left the house to catch a bus to Edmonton.

- On the way to the bus I made a brief excursion to look for shoes; all of my sneakers had been worn out and discarded and I realized that my boots would be too much for traveling around Seattle. However, the store I visited had nothing to interest me.

- I caught the Red Arrow bus to Edmonton. Red Arrow remains the superior bus between Calgary and Edmonton; I can't believe that Greyhound hasn't got an express.

- I was received in Edmonton by Olav, who was providing his car for the roadtrip. Olav brought his Calgary Flames jersey along, even though we planned to stop in Vancouver. After gathering Earl, the third member of our entourage, we departed from Edmonton.

- It was a long drive that evening. During the trip, the "check engine" light came on in the car, even though Olav had left the car with the mechanic before the trip. Unable to find any clue to the problem and not experiencing any unusual performance, we carried on. Had supper at A&W's.

- We arrived in Kamloops and stopped at a hotel for the night.

DAY TWO

- Departed Kamloops in the morning and headed for Vancouver. We didn't stop for breakfast so I made do with a muffin from a gas station

- Delayed while entering the city when an accident tied up traffic. When we passed the scene of the accident, I was stunned to see that one of the cars was a blackened, smoldering wreck.

- Went to meet Olav's friend Nathan for lunch. Nathan was attending a Stargate convention in Vancouver and Olav thought it might be funny to attend the convention. When we learned it was $200 at the door, we thought better of it.

- By now, Olav's Flames jersey was winning him some colorful remarks (and occasional warnings) from the locals. We met Nathan at a Red Robin's for lunch. When Calgary had a Red Robin's I frequented it often with Craig; I was amazed to find that the franchise still existed on the west coast. It was a good thing I had a harty meal because we didn't have supper that night.

- Earl & I dropped Olav off to visit some relatives, leaving the two of us with the car. We tried our best to navigate the city and finally found a mall where I bought two pairs of sneakers. With plenty of time to kill, Earl offered to treat me to the film Fast & Furious. Since he was paying, I accepted.

- We met up with Olav again in the evening. I was ashamed to admit I had gone to see Fast & Furious and was evasive about what we had been up to. When Olav noticed that the "check engine" light had gone off, he assumed that Earl and I had done something to the car, possibly taken it to a garage. Earl and I played along with this idea, neither confirming nor denying Olav's assumptions. This would later prove to be a BAD IDEA.

- We decided to continue on to Seattle that night, but getting out of Vancouver and on to the correct highway was a lengthy and difficult task. We experienced no problems crossing the border, but Olav tired out before we could reach Seattle; we stopped at a hotel 30 minutes from the city and remained there for the rest of our stay.

DAY THREE

- We all slept in, missing the complimentary breakfast I had hoped to catch. We traveled on to Seattle, located the convention center where the Emerald City Comic Con was being held, then took a quasi-breakfast/lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. Concerned about the number of meals I was missing, I took in another big lunch.

- At last, we went on to the convention. We traveled the floor both together and separate. Olav was most interested in acquiring new Robocop on a Unicorn sketches, while I had a lengthy list of autographs to seek out.

- Passing Gail Simone's table, I was surprised when Earl expressed ignorance of her work. I cajoled him into buying a Birds of Prey trade from her.

- Olav and I stood in Paul Smith's line for a lengthy period; I only wanted some autographs, but Olav was hoping for a sketch. I conversed with another person in line for most of the wait and he showed me a sketchbook full of great images which had been gathered over years, including the likes of Gulacy, Eisner & Kaluta. Smith was funny and gracious, but declined to sketch Robocop on a Unicorn.

Proof's Alex Grecian, Kelly Tindall and Riley Rossmo

- I visited the Proof table to see the book's complete creative team. Although I've known Riley Rossmo & Kelly Tindall for some time, I had never met writer Alex Grecian before. I collected autographs and admired a Dr. Who sketch Kelly was working on.

- I visited Stan Sakai's table to collect an autographed poster and receive his autograph on Usagi Yojimbo#99. I introduced myself as a friend of Texcap and related how Tex had convinced me to purchase the single issue. I mentioned that I was waiting for the collected Usagi trade so that I could follow the title from its beginning. "Oh, you're one of those." Sakai replied.

- I introduced myself to Christos N. Gage, collected some autographs and chatted about his work. I also apologized for not following his Wildstorm work, telling him that I couldn't follow Wildstorm's continuity. I also told him how I had used my blog to help promote the recent Avengers: The Initiative Featuring Reptil#1.

Jeff Parker

- I spent a ridiculous amount of time (1.5 hours?) at Jeff Parker's table, chatting him about Interman, Mysterius and others. Jeff kindly introduced me to one of his fans as "the guy who keeps me from making mistakes." I spent a great deal of time admiring the sketches Jeff drew for fans. I asked Jeff for a Robocop on a Unicorn on Olav's behalf and he supplied one.

- I met Jay Faerber and purchased a new copy of Dynamo 5 Vol.1 (Olav lost my copy) and the not-even-in-stores-yet Noble Causes Archives Vol.2 from him. I also apologized to him for insulting him at comicboards.com about 10 years ago.

- I also collected autographs from Khoi Pham, Ben Templesmith and Greg Horn.

- I finally went through the vendors and found myself searching for 1950s Atlas comics. One vendor had an amazing stock of Atlas books at reasonable prices; I walked away with a $50 stack of books.

- Near the end of the day, Olav mentioned that he had seen Lars Brown at the Oni booth and mentioned I was here. I sped to Oni, only to find Lars had left. Right then, I knew I would have to return the next day.

- After the show we wandered around looking for a place to have dinner. We finally chose a Mexican grill.

- We returned to the hotel reasonably early that night and spent some time reading the comics we purchased before bed.

DAY FOUR

- Earl and I rose early enough to take in the free breakfast.

Science Fiction Museum/Hall of Fame

- We went back to Seattle and rode the monorail to the Science Fiction Museum/Hall of Fame (rock n' roll) facility. Olav had free passes.

- The sci-fi museum was interesting - it displayed costumes, props and models from the likes of Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, Outer Limits, Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes and so forth. There was also a lot of emphasis on sci-fi novels, with many of them displayed in cases throughout the exhibits.

- Unfortunately, the museum gift shop was a major letdown. It's a rather small shop with only a few shelves of books and most of them the sort of sci-fi books you can find at any Chapters. Given all the acclaimed and hard-to-find books on display at the exhibit, you would think the curators would use the gift shop to seize an opportunity for people to read the books for themselves while the titles are fresh in their minds. I just may write a complaint letter.

- The Hall of Fame wasn't that interesting to me; the exhibits included a history of guitars, a history of Seattle-area music and a display of local concert posters. Borrrring. But free.

- We took in lunch at the Cheesecake Factory again. While Olav and Earl went off to explore more of Seattle, I went back to the con to see Lars and other guests I had missed.

- Lars was the first person I sought out on arrival; we caught up briefly (we had been side-by-side at the 2007 Calgary Expo) and I bought an autographed copy of North World Vol.2 (not available at any of my local shops).

- I sought out a few autographs from Kurt Busiek and apologized for insulting him at comicboards.com about 10 years ago. This was a good weekend for my karma.

- I also obtained autographs from Mike Mignola, Stuart Immonen and Matt Fraction; that made everyone on my list.

- I visited the Proof table again while Riley was doing a Dr. Who sketch. I asked Riley for some paper and a pen: I had a special mission to undertake; when Riley learned what it was, he threw in a crayon. This would prove vital.

Wil Wheaton

- I stood in line for Star Trek's Wil Wheaton, although he was absent from his booth when I arrived. Ahead of me was an attractive woman named Madison who was an exuberant Wheaton fan; when he finally arrived she began shrieking and jumping about. Without any paper for him to sign, instead she had him autograph her left breast; sayeth Wil: "I feel like a rock star." She loaned me her camera to take their picture.

- And now it was my turn and I presented Wil with the paper, pen and crayon along with my request for a sketch. Without flinching, Wil went to work with the crayon, commenting on the picture as he drew, much to the delight of his onlooking fans. Wil completed his masterpiece and I gratefully returned the pen and crayon to Riley, allowing the Proof team a chance to soak in Wil Wheaton's Robocop on a Unicorn.

- I went back to the vendors and picked up a Usagi Yojimbo poster, Fell trade and Losers trade, all for Earl. For myself, I found a $0.50 bin full of my own Marvel Universe handbooks; I took them all.

- I met up again with Olav and Earl at the end of the con. We had originally intended to visit a Travis concert in the evening, but Olav suggested that we start back toward Alberta instead. We agreed.

- We crossed the border back without incident and took in supper at a White Spot.

- It was on the drive back that the "check engine" light came on again. Earl and I confessed that we hadn't been to a garage as Olav had assumed, earning us his ire.

- We stopped again in Kamloops, albeit at a different (cheaper) hotel.

DAY FIVE

- Again we started out without taking breakfast. Lunch was spent at a Denny's.

- I should mention that aside from some snow & fog on the first night, this trip was full of clear, sunny weather. Certainly not what Seattle's reputation led me to expect.

- Olav & Earl dropped me off in Calgary after 6 PM. And so, the trip is finally over.

TALLY

Number of Autographs Collected: 15 different creators Number of Meals Missed: 5 Number of Vehicles Used: 5 (2 buses, 1 LRT, 1 car, 1 monorail) Number of Bad Vin Diesel Movies Seen: 1

3 comments:

Traumador said...

how many robocop on a unicorns?

Wil Wheaton, that is the awesomest of awesomes!

Michael Hoskin said...

Ask Olav for the exact count - I think it was 5 in total, although there's a special sixth which has a story behind it.

I think the full stories will be presented at Olav's various ROAU sites.

texcap said...

Glad you stopped by to say "howdy" to Stan and I hope it was a good experience meeting him. I'm honored you introduced yourself as "Texcap's" friend. Hopefully he didn't kick you in the pants and send you packing as a result. ;)