I’ve attended a lot of conventions over the years. Star Trek ones as a child, official Stargate ones slightly more recently, fan conventions with no guests, fan conventions with guests, giant comic conventions, and so many more. But my favourite is Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention that takes place in Los Angeles, CA every February.
My first Gally (as it’s nicknamed by the attendees) was in 2010, and while I had expected to have a great time, that description didn’t come anywhere near describing the awesomeness of that weekend. The people I met, the discussions I had, and the friends I came away with, made it so much better than any other convention I had experienced before.
But I truly anticipated a drop off from the amazing first experience. And it didn’t happen. The second year was better than the first, and this year, my third, topped even that. I don’t know how it happens, and I’ve just about stopped questioning it. I can, however, pinpoint some of the moments that made the weekend of February 17-19, 2012 so special.
- Comics. When I went to my first Gally, I was only just starting to read the Doctor Who comics. After three panels and a lot of discussions, I was completely hooked. This year, I got to spend time with two comic artists who I’d met previously, Matthew Dow Smith and Blair Shedd. I had the pleasure of talking to Joshua Hale Fialkov, the current writer of the IDW Doctor Who Ongoing series, and Charlie Kirchoff, who does the colors for the series. In addition to that, I spent an entire evening talking to Matt, Blair, and Denton Tipton, the editor for the Doctor Who comics, about… well, everything.
- Directors. Before leaving for Gally, I wrote a “preview” that I neglected to post, listing what panels I was interested in seeing, which Kaffeeklatsches (small group discussions with the one or two guests) I wanted to try to attend, and generally what I wanted to do. The directors Richard Senior and Toby Haynes were nowhere on that list. But when I arrived in LA on Wednesday, and was invited to join a friend for dinner, I met Rich, and had no idea who he was. Later that evening, I met Toby, and also didn’t know him. It wasn’t until almost forty-five minutes into our conversation that I figured it out. By then, any awkwardness was long past, and I got to spend the weekend talking to two new friends who just happened to direct Doctor Who.
- Friends. I’ve made tons of friends through fandom, and more specifically through twitter, who I’ve either never met or only met briefly. This year many of us managed to track each other down and talk in sentences that weren’t limited to 140 characters. I put faces to online names, and realised I actually knew a few people in real life and online, I’d just never connected the pair. I got to reconnect with people I only see once a year; even if we make an attempt to stay in touch online, it’s never the same. I even discovered that some of the people who I follow on twitter and facebook know who I am. Sometimes it’s just the little things that make you feel special.
- William Russell. A brief encounter while getting his autograph, but I got to meet William Russell, the man who played Ian Chesterton from the very beginning of Doctor Who’s history. Out of every guest set to appear at the convention, he was the one I was most looking forward to.
- Inspector Spacetime. Inspector Spacetime is a show within the show Community and a tribute to Doctor Who. The man who plays the Inspector, Travis Richey, was part of the Inspector Spacetime panel, and I got to speak to him later that afternoon, and ask him to sign my Tardis cross stitch. Which he did, inside the Tardis pattern, right next to Peter Davison.
- Writers. I still have trouble seeing myself as a writer, even though I guess, technically, I am now. But I ran into the person who unintentionally made me realise that I do write, and thanked him for that. To that person: If you read this, I’m still more comfortable writing in blog/opinion/ramble format, but ask me again in a year or two, and I might change my mind.
- Hot tub con. A group of us decided to skip closing ceremonies in favour of hanging out in the hot tub instead. Good decision. Closing ceremonies is great, but essentially it’s just a lot of people jammed into one room clapping as the guests are introduced and thanked on stage. Instead I stayed in the hot tub for hours with a combination of old friends and new ones, and simply relaxed. Gally involves a lot of running around, standing in lines, and forgetting that eating and sitting are important. I didn’t eat in the hot tub, but I definitely let me brain unwind before the Sunday night lobbycon party.
There are so many more moments that made this year special, and if I wanted, I could probably keep writing for days. So I’ll stop myself here and now, and simply end by saying, if you’ve been to Gally you know what I mean when I say it’s truly special. If you haven’t, I hope I’ve convinced you to give it a go. Next year is the 50th anniversary. It’s going to be brilliant!