Sunday, August 12, 2012

My First Comic Con Experience

My friend E and I arrived about a half hour before doors opened for Wizard World Chicago Comic Con Saturday morning. Not knowing what to expect, we traded our daily tickets in for a hand stamp, accepted a bag full of World of Warcraft cups, and followed the enthusiastic con workers' directions into the general admission line.

A few minutes into our wait, they let in the VIPs.

At a couple minutes after 10:00, they began filing in the general admission folks. Although we were probably in the middle of the very large line, divided into rows, the line moved very quickly. That was pretty much the theme of the day - impressively efficient lines.

We decided to head to the photo op area first to get in line for our Joey Lawrence photo op at 11:15, and so that I could get checked in right away for my Tom Felton one at 11:30. On our walk, we spotted our first celeb of the day - Luke Perry, who was hanging out at his autograph table.

Once we found the photo op area, I asked the man there what I should do about my back-to-back photo ops. He recommended getting in line for Tom Felton's first. Or, he said, we could get in line for Joey first, then hurry to Tom's line. I decided the second option was a much better idea, but I was still nervous about them cutting of Tom's line. It turns out it was the right decision; Joey was long gone before Tom even started.

While we were (first!) in line for Joey Lawrence's photos, we heard some woo-ing and commotion from the other side of the photo op area. I popped up in time to see William Shatner walking in and waving to fans.

A little before 11:15, we saw Joey Lawrence walk by and behind the photo op curtains. I started getting inexplicably nervous. Maybe it was because he was super hot, buff, tan, and wearing a deep V. They led us to the opening of the curtains, and we chatted with the one of the security-type people while a couple people got photos before us.

The security guy said, "No crying now! But you can hug and kiss!"

I asked, "What about lick?"

He replied, "That's OK! ...Man, I should've been a celebrity!"

Haha, he was awesome. When it was our turn, we put our bags on the table and stood on either side of Joey. He didn't say anything, or even really look at us, but he put his arm about E. We both put our arms around Joey's back and felt how incredibly buff he was. Then, we probably said thank you and scurried away. It was all very fast and kind of a buzzkill. I don't know, maybe Joey was just having a bad day. I shouldn't judge.

Picture of a picture, stolen from E's facebook

Anyway, next E went off to try to get an autograph from Holly Marie Combs while I got in Tom Felton's very long line, which was divided up into two VIP rows and probably four general rows. I ended up in the middle of the last row.

While standing in line, I spotted Dean Cain going to his photo op in the other room. He's a good looking man, at least from afar (which is all I have to go on). From what I could see from his photo op, he looked smiley and light-hearted, too. I expected to have to wait awhile for my own photo op, but even with all those people, it only took about a half hour to get through the line. I was pretty nervous again, but at least I kind of knew what to expect. This time, I tried to be more proactive. I stuck my hand out and introduced myself.

"Hi, I'm Rebekah."
"Hi, I'm Tom. Nice to meet you." Haha, I'm always somewhat amused when celebrities introduce themselves. Like I just paid $50 to meet someone I didn't even know. But he was very polite and sweet.
"Nice to meet you, too."

We then took our picture, and he froze a second while the photographer checked to make sure it looked OK. Then we thanked each other, and I giddily walked away. For minutes later, I was shaking while I met up with E and posted about it my experience Twitter and Facebook.

Since we had a little bit of time to kill before checking out the Charmed Q&A panel, we walked around and did a little shopping. I bought a Spock bobble head for hubs, and I think that's all we found during that shopping endeavor. This might have been when I saw Bruce Campbell sitting at his table. I really wanted to get a picture of him for hubs, but I knew I'd get yelled at for taking pictures from the aisle.

We walked in to the Charmed panel maybe 5 or 10 minutes before it started and found a seat near the back. Although I only saw Charmed a couple times, and E's never seen it but is a fan of Holly on Pretty Little Liars, it was still a fun panel. Holly Marie Combs and Brian Krause have great chemistry, and they were funny and liked to laugh themselves.

As we were exiting the room, I saw Randi, whom I was planning on meeting up with for lunch. We headed to the cafeteria to grab some food. Randi had already been at the con Friday, and was planning to go Sunday, so we got to hear all about her adventures thus far and about her plans for the rest of the weekend. She and E also chatted about their mutual interest in One Tree Hill and Pretty Little Liars.

After lunch, E and I made our way back to the programming rooms for Tom Felton's panel. I guess we shouldn't have been surprised that there was a huge line already with a half hour to go before it began. We got in line, and they started letting people in just before 3:00. I was a little concerned that they would have to cut the line off, especially when I heard a couple of girls in front of us talking about how that had happened to them before, but we made it in with plenty of room to spare in the large meeting room. We bolted to the seats on the right side and got about 10 rows back.

I planned on asking a question during the Q&A, so I jumped up and hurried to the microphone when the moderator announced where to line up. Again, I was about 10 girls back in line. Luckily, I had two questions ready to go because someone further up in line took my first one, which was asking about his music career. He said he was just doing it for fun and hoped to do more music eventually. He said he even had his guitar back in his hotel room, to which the whole crowd went, "awwwww." He was like, "I'm not sure why that's cute. It's not like it was a puppy." He's a funny guy. I've been trying to find a transcript or a summary of his Q&A session, and this is a pretty good one.

I was super relieved when no one took my second question, which you can see here (sorry for the blurriness):

So that was my second exciting interaction with Tom Felton for the day. My last goal was to get his autograph.

Our next scheduled event was E's photo op with Luke Perry at 5:30. We decided to finish walking the floor and see if there was anything else we wanted to spend our money on. I saw that Adrianne Curry, whom I was a fan of from America's Next Top Model Cycle 1, was at her table. I got in her line for an autograph. She was really chatty with her fans, which was awesome, but it took a little longer even though there were only a few people in front of me.

When I got up to the table, I passed her the headshot I purchased and told her I was a big fan of hers from Top Model. Not surprisingly, she quickly changed the subject and asked me my name. Since Top Model, she's kind of had a tumultuous relationship with Tyra and the show in general, and I think she's tried to distance herself from it all. She asked me if I had read the novel Rebecca and said she always thinks of that book when she hears the name. She explained that it was a really smartly written mystery novel, and she said she thought I'd like it. When I spelled my name for her, she seemed to think the spelling was pretty cool and held up the personalized picture for her friend at the booth to see. I was like, "It's from the Bible," and she said, "It's biblical!" Haha, it was kind of funny. Then, Adrianne asked if I had a camera, and she came to the front of the table to take a picture with me.

For those of you wondering (my husband was), yes, it was a little awkward taking a picture with a nearly naked lady. But I was just excited to meet someone from Top Model. There were quite a few scantily clad ladies there.

At some point, E also found a 90210 shirt to buy; and soon after that, she went over for her photo op, and I circled back and joined Tom Felton's autograph line. Because it was nearing the end of the day, the line was pretty short. Before I even had time to get my camera out and snap a couple pictures in line, it was already my turn to pay and get my wand box out to sign. I'll try remember what we said, but it won't be exact:

Me: That's not mine. (There was a photo with a post-it note that said "Allison" sitting in front of him.)
Tom: You're not Allison? I'm sensing...Rebekah. (My wand box was also in front of him, with a post-it note with my name on it.)
(He finished signing the picture, which for the girl in the booth with him.)
Tom: OK, Rrrrebekah.
Me: I was listening to your music on the way down here today.
Tom: Oh no, was it bad?
Me: No, I liked it. It was good. I thought the Hawaii songs kind of had a country western feel.
Tom: Yeah, maybe a little. They were supposed to sound Hawaiin, but they really didn't.
Me: Well, they kind of did.
Tom: They had the strings.
Me: Yeah, so are you ever going to do a tour?
Tom: No, no.
Me: You can play in my basement. That would be fine.
Tom: I'd like that. If I do a show, it'll definitely be in America.
Me: Awesome.
Tom: (pushed my wand box back) There you go. Use it wisely.

I think that was about it. I thanked him for the last time and went back to the photo op area to meet E.

The autograph line moved so quickly that I was back before the Luke Perry photos had even started. I chatted with E until she went in and then stood by the exit of the curtained area to peek in. Luke Perry seemed so nice from what I saw. He looked right into the eyes of everyone who approached as he shook their hands. He also helped a couple people in wheelchairs out of their chairs to come stand by him. What a guy. A few girls before E hugged Luke in their pictures, and I was excitedly waiting to see if E got a hug, too. Which she did! It was so cute! I've never watched 90210, but yet, I'm now somehow a Luke Perry fan.

Picture of a picture, stolen from E's facebook

It was a great way to end the day. We hung out at the charging station, sharing a beanbag chair, while we waited for her Luke Perry photo to be ready. It was ready a half hour later when we checked back, and then we headed home, getting a little lost on the expansive floor as we tried to find the exit.

I must say, if you were there for the comics, I don't know how you found anything. There were tons and tons and tons of comic stands with tons and tons of boxes at each one. It would take all day, at least, to go through all of them. I guess that's why it's a four-day event.

I will definitely be back for other comic cons in the future. Next time, depending on who's there, I may do the VIP option instead. For example, Tom Felton's VIP was $225, and it included admission to all four days. I paid a total of $135 for a single day admission, photo op, and autograph. It might be nice to pay extra for all that plus the perks of getting in lines first, and to have admission for more than one day. We'll see. Like I said, it probably depends on who's there at the next one.

But I'll definitely be back. Thanks to Wizard World, some regulars who answered all my questions beforehand, and especially Tom Felton, Luke Perry, and all the other celebs we saw! It was tons of fun!

I'd love to hear about your experience if you went this year.

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