2007 Merchandise & Miscellaneous News Archives

Wizard World

June 16, 2007: Wizard World Philadelphia - DAY ONE

By Neal Bailey


For some reason I thought it'd be a good idea to sleep on a plane. I said to myself, Neal, if you can sleep on a couch, if you can sleep on a floor, if you can sleep on a bus over the course of thirty hours, what's the difficulty in sleeping on a plane? Nothing, right? Hah.

So I set my flight for 11PM-7AM Wednesday night through Thursday morning, thinking, hey, that's most of eight hours. Then you get in, roll around town for a few hours, and then get checked into the hotel. Dig?

At about 11:14 I realized that I was going to a time zone that was three hours ahead of my own. At 11:16 I realized that I was seated next to the snoring-est old lady on the face of planet America West airlines.

Nonetheless, I managed to crash out for about two and a half hours, then found myself staggering semi-drunkenly into the main area of Philadelphia with two hundred pounds of baggage, mostly books, and an already sore shoulder.


In the morning sun of 8AM, my 5AM, with my normal waking time around noon, I struggled verily with the choice between a taxi cab and public transit. After all, the El in Chi treated me well, and the cab trip, if I skipped it, would save me twenty dollars, which is three meals or one restaurant trip, or, more importantly, two books.

I arrive chewing the caffeinated gum from the last con, but where the hell are those hot chicks now, I mumble, dragging my bags up and down two flights of stairs, over the human transom and past stimulation.

I chose public transit. I don't regret the trip, they have a really awesome ticket system on the SEPTA train, whereby some dude comes by and clicks a small piece of paper about eighty times for a ten miles trip that stops twice. It was amusing. At least, I think it was, because I was trying not to pass out under the bags. About this time I drink energy drink number one on an empty stomach.

I jump off at the Market street stop, which, while not a country mile from my hotel, felt like three. Shouldering my bag, I hunch-walked, praying to Philadelphia that someone wouldn't attempt to grab any of my bags, because my muscles couldn't fight them off. However, I don't think that it would have been that much of an issue, given the fact that I was toting my vintage Star Wars pillow case, crunching as I walked with the chips I had in the space between the case and the pillow.

Seven blocks later, I staggered into the Travelodge next to the homeless shelter, the single cheapest one-star hotel in the city. Its windows open into the hallways, and I believe if I screamed the poltergeists would kill me. But it's a block from the convention center, so I can't complain.

Besides, joking aside, it's rather quiet when the pipes aren't leaking blood.


The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are rather strictly guarded, and I guess I can understand why. I didn't think very much of the Liberty Bell. I mean, it was small, and the darned thing was cracked. What good is that, huh?

But that design flaw aside, I have to say it was a pivotal moment of my non-sarcastic life to sit and ruminate on the things that help to shape my own personal patriotism. Benjamin Franklin was a key inspiration for my fourth novel, and remains a key influence in my political thought process. The man's utilitarian spirit and belief in pragmatism, coupled with firebrands of intellectual thought, lead to all of the processes we're slowly forgetting, the precepts that allow us to be bold enough to take funnybooks and call them art.

I didn't have the two dollars it would have cost to visit his grave, but I looked through the fence and got rather emotionally sad, something not particularly frequent with me any more.



Yeah, everyone does the Rocky steps. I did them rather impatiently, though, because I was quite interested to check out the art museum. Drinking energy drink number two, and wired sick, I walked my way in, paid my dues to the pretty desk lady, and began wandering through early Renaissance.

I don't like art that much. Most of it is pretentious crap, much like any other art form, poetry, novels, music, movies... but like most other things, there are some rare gems among the crap, and I love to find them anywhere, so even though generally I find painting one of the most lamentable art, I loved the museum.

They had a lot of the crap that I glossed over in college. It was strange to see "Why So Sad, Rrose Selavy?" a few feet away. I was utterly astonished that they had forty guys guarding every square inch of the Independence Hall, and yet I could have quite literally smashed that piece of Duchamp crap about the ladies and the chocolate and the marriage with my bare hands. I even felt a moral duty to do so, but being averse to jail, I decided that I never ever ever ever ever ever ever would dream of such a horrid thing. I still hate pretentious art that thinks it's deeper than it is.

I end up finding my favorite pieces among mid to late 1800s, usually, a piece with an extraordinarily solid light source in the middle of either a rural or an ocean setting, a precursor to what Kincade would later corrupt, those sublime times that would later be called the Golden Hour in film, captured perfectly, usually by some artist whose name is not sung but nonetheless has survived well. I hope to be like that ray of light, and like that artist. Beautiful, but nothing incredibly immersed in the cult of personality.

But besides, at that point my feet were tired, and I was onto my third energy drink. I walked the last fifteen blocks to the hotel and collapsed, sleeping for fourteen straight hours with one frantic wakeup at 8:30 PM believing I'd slept sixteen.


The first day of the con was extraordinarily busy for a Friday, and filled with crazy, manic, cool people. There are those guys, I'm not sure if it's a disorder or a tic, but they seem very prominent in comic book conventions, the guys whose mouths are terminally open, or who blink their eyes as if eating a lemon repeatedly. This is usually before they stop to tell you how much they hate Superman, or Captain America, or what they ate for breakfast for about a half hour.

I was next to a fine group of people I kept listening in on, the creators and organizers of the Philcon, and two tables down from the 501st Imperials. Who knew there were girl Fetts, troopers, and heck, even a girl crimson guard. I've come to only one conclusion. Guys like girls in skimpy outfits. Guggenheim, please.

The books don't seem to sell like they used to, mostly because I have a comic now, and the comic is an easy way to say no to the more expensive book. Fine by me, because the comics are actually what I want to get into. The title of the book, suffice it to say, is something I can't name here, so I disclose it, put an adult warning, and almost hide it, but nonetheless, people manage to zero in on it. It's my first great success, thankfully, though I have yet to break even, there's promise, and a nice guy with a shop even offered to carry it.

Superfan Homepage The Black Knight tee and artist group was to my right. I met a really nice man named Skye, and just about chatted his ear off.

I didn't get a chance to go meet anyone, but I did meet a number of great people who frequent the page. You guys know who you are, and thanks. I think Philly's had pretty much the biggest turnout, at least so far, for folks who know that page, and they saw past the legalese "SuperFAN Homepage" sign.

All in all, a good, tiring day. I came back, ate some of Jake's Pizza (incredible) and then snuck Noah Runzo here. He's sitting next to me now, so enough! More tomorrow. Selah. Buy the cheesesteak, take the, well, excuse me...

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