It started with getting lost and ended with rush hour traffic, but it’s everything that happened in between that made Gallifrey One special.
An absurdly early Wednesday morning flight left me without a hotel room until mid-afternoon. Which was okay, since it gave me time to catch up with friends and relax.
Thursday, which has typically been my relax and do nothing day, turned into a “Let’s go to the beach!” day. And so, after four years of trips to LA, I finally saw the Pacific Ocean.
Thursday night, in the middle of relaxing in the hot tub, I picked up my badge and shortly thereafter, began exchanging ribbons.
Ribbons are… hard to explain. Physically, they’re pieces of fabric that are attached to badges. In actuality, they’re ice breakers; fabric with phrases, jokes, websites/podcasts/etc on them, that people give to friends, participants at certain events, and, in my case, perfect strangers.
My first Gally, I got six ribbons. My second year, fifteen. Third year, about sixty. This year, I lost count.
By the time the official convention activities started on Friday, I was already having a great time.
At some point in my years of attending Gally, I realised I was going to more comics panels than any other type. Even this year, when I highlighted the panels I wanted to get to, I still wound up going to three comics panels, one kaffeeklatsch with two artists, and… not much else. And I’m quite okay with that. I’ve been lucky to get to know a lot of the people who work on the Doctor Who comic through the past few years, and Gally is the perfect time to catch up.
So Friday. I attended a kaffeeklatsch with Blair Shedd and Paul Hanley, bothered the guys at the IDW booth, talked to Sarah Douglas, went to a panel about illustration, pimped Outside In (go buy it!), hung out in the lobby and drank a lot of whiskey, and actually went to bed a bit early. The early to sleep, while unintended, turned out to be a very good thing, as it meant I would be awake and functional on Saturday.
I would say that Saturday dawned too early, but when you go to sleep at midnight and wake up at 7am, it’s early, but it’s still 7 hours of sleep. Far more than I usually get at Gally, or any convention for that matter.
The first thing I wanted to do was the blood drive. I can very rarely donate blood, mainly because I am very rarely more than a year since my last tattoo, which is the time constraint in my state. This year, I was 14 months since my last, and I wanted to take advantage of that fact, before I lost the chance. Even though it took longer than I had expected, it felt good to do something for other people in the middle of a weekend that tends to be very self focused.
Anyway, when I made it back to the convention floor, I wanted to sit down for a bit, so I wandered down the hall to annoy, I mean talk, to Tony Lee, and ended up talking to Marv Wolfman as well. See, the comics at Gallifrey One theme continues. I spent time catching up with Sarah Douglas and Daphne Ashbrook also, before grabbing lunch from the wonderfully convenient sandwich bar, and going to the Superheroes as Pop Culture panel.
I wish I could tell you what the panel was about, but Tony Lee joined me before the panel began, and we spent the entire panel very quietly heckling everyone. All I recall is something about Superman, mermaids, and a gloriously inappropriate response from Tony that left me laughing hysterically while desperately trying to stay silent for most of the panel.
The fact that a single look was enough to start me laughing again meant that the IDW panel was going to be… shall we say interesting? It’s become a standard part of my convention experience to either sit in the very front or very back of that panel and heckle. Sometimes loudly, sometimes quietly, and occassionally by tweeting almost everything spoken. This year, I ended up in the front row, with whiskey, and friends. And while we didn’t heckle as much as we could have, it was definitely a panel I felt the need to apologise for afterward. At least to the couple of people on it whom I didn’t really know.
Following the IDW panel, I wandered down to the dealer’s room, pimped some more copies of Outside In (why haven’t you bought it yet?!), and hung out and talked to the guys at the IDW table.
*Note: Pocky is a very good apology for heckling a panel.*
I eventually made my way to the con suite, where those who had donated blood were eligible to win prizes. I never win anything, but I figured it would be fun, and I hadn’t actually made it to the con suite yet. I certainly wasn’t expecting to hear my name called for the prize of a free membership to next year’s convention. And I was even less expecting to recognise the badge name of the caller as someone I knew from twitter!
Saturday was already pretty amazing, and I still had the unofficial Young Justice meetup to look forward to. The artist of the Young Justice comic, Christopher Jones, was an attendee at the convention, and suggested a meetup on Saturday evening. There tends to be a lot of overlap between various fandoms, and the idea of a small gathering within the larger gathering of Doctor Who fans was appealing. The meetup was a lot of fun, despite the fact that by the time Greg Weisman arrived (writer of the Young Justice cartoon series and surprise guest), I was embarrassingly a few steps beyond tipsy. Oh well, evening at a convention, I suppose.
As per tradition, I decided to completely skip the masquerade, and ordered pizza instead. Even though the lobby was still crowded, with a large number of people attending the masquerade, it felt quieter, and gave me a chance to both breathe and talk to some friends, both old and new, that I hadn’t gotten to see yet. One of those friends was Chris Gore, who we convinced to stop by the lobby via the magic of twitter. He was also one of the distractions from my attempts to go to sleep at a somewhat reasonable time, as was the karaoke happening downstairs. By the time I eventually went to bed, it was 4am, and I couldn’t feel my feet. And it was so worth the pain and exhaustion.
Sunday really did come too quickly. Not enough sleep, not enough coffee, not enough advil. But I did get to sit at IDW’s booth and hide from the crowds, while talking to Charlie Kirchoff, who I hadn’t seen since last year, and talk random people into buying various comics.
And then the unexpected craziness started. While I was relaxing, I was asked if I wanted to sit and help Mark Sheppard at his autograph table. ‘Cause that was ever in doubt. I don’t follow Mark Sheppard’s work the way many people do, but he does seem to show up in quite a few shows I watch, and I’ve only briefly spoken to him in the past. So over to his table I went, where I stayed, helping collect money and talking, until the line trickled out, and he decided to take a break. And so I ended up in the green room. Which was also pretty awesome… and guaranteed I ate lunch.
Since I wasn’t sure what was expected of me, I hung out in the green room for a while, before deciding to bother the guys at IDW some more. Despite abandoning them for Mark Sheppard, I was welcomed back, and I continued to hide between there and a few other friend’s tables until the late afternoon.
As with the masquerade, I don’t attend closing ceremonies. It’s the perfect time to get dinner, before the massive crowds reappear and both food and seating space become impossible. The plan turned out well; food was quickly obtained, we invited Christopher Jones and Hal Bichel to join our claimed seating area, and as the evening continued, the group grew bigger, both with people I knew and friends I hadn’t yet met.
Gallifrey One is a special convention. What makes it unique isn’t the guests, or the activities, or the location, or the costumes. It’s the people.
I refer to Gally as a family reunion. Some people are relatives you see regularly, some you see less often but talk to on a regular basis, some you only talk to once in a while, and some you haven’t met yet.
But when you keep attending, your family just keeps getting bigger.