August 13, 2009 – 1130 AM
The busy day lay ahead. I was the point man for preparing First Storm Manga’s table for San Japan, and my duties consisted of securing a table at the Municipal Auditorium for our group and obtaining our badges. The day started off well enough. I went to work, and my short day was quickly eaten by meetings and busy-work; as usual, not much got actually done.
My mission was made easier by the fact that we had someone “on the inside.” Laken is a good kid, cat ears and all. Our youngest member thus far, her initial shyness at her first meeting (she refused to let anyone see her art until I secretly photographed it using my cell phone’s camera, earning me her ire) got her unfairly labeled as being ditzy, but she can be counted on when there is a job to do.
Laken is also a San Japan volunteer. She had also contributed to our first compilation and we were hoping for her assistance in navigating the confusion that is often associated with cons.
I had read on the San Japan forums that setup was going to start at two o’clock. Thus, my plan was to get out of work at eleven-thirty, get home at noon, take an hour nap, and then drive to the Auditorium to setup the F.S.M. table. We wanted to get a good location across from a known artist that we knew would attract a crowd. To make sure I was on the right track, I sent a text to Laken once I got home, and I was all but ready to fall into sweet slumber for an hour when my phone beeped.
“BE HERE AT 1”
Well, frak. I cursed Randomizer’s Dumb Luck ™ as I quickly got up and ready to leave. About a half an hour later, I exited the Reliant after parking in front of the Holiday Inn El Tropicano where the convention was to be held, and luckily ran into another First Storm Manga member.
Chris Holm has a table in Artist’s Alley, and for the most part, he was doing his own thing at the con. He was also helping us rookies out, and his previous experience at conventions, and San Japan, in particular, was to be of great help. He also contributed to our first manga, “San Japanic!” and would be checking up on us as the con went on. He was there to setup his table, and I was glad I wasn’t going to be going it alone as my San Japan adventure began.
For the moment, though, he looked as lost as I was, and he asked me where we were supposed to go. Not having any idea myself (we only had two choices, the hotel or the Auditorium) I sent Laken a quick text and we started walking toward the El Tropicano. Laken responded by telling us she would meet us in the lobby, and there we met.
Much to my disappointment over the lost nap, I soon found out that the Auditorium was closed until two o’clock, and we had an hour to burn until we could get our tables. Instead of spending it lounging around the hotel lobby shooting the breeze and browsing the Internet, Chris and I were put to work stuffing goodie bags to be given to the con attendees.
It was lots of fun. Being the only geek in my family, it is very seldom that I find myself in the presence of other geeks; so being in a room filled with geeks was a delight. That said, I have an unfortunate tendency to show my age when I talk shop, and I soon discovered that more than a few of the kids in the room weren’t even born yet when Robotron 2084 came out in the arcades.
Pardon me for a moment while I grow OLD…er.
The hour soon ticked away, and the Auditorium was open. Laken accompanied us as we walked over.
We were the first ones in Convention Alley. The place was pretty much ours; we had our pick of tables. After debating the merits of getting the end table (as opposed to the second-to-the-end table) we got the second-to-the-end table and I laid down our tablecloth and taped up our cheesy paper logo signs.
We kept the setup low-key for a reason; there is a fan group in town that has a penchant for tampering with other groups. While I’m sure most of their members are decent folks, we know that there are a few miscreants in the bunch. Some of our members have had dealings with them in the past that had come to unpleasant endings. We kept a careful eye out for them; we wanted to afford them as little an opportunity to tamper with our table as possible.
Content that all was at the ready, Chris and I took the opportunity to go to Sam’s Burger Joint to scarf some good burgers and shoot the breeze for a bit. I then headed home to relax and start packing for The Big Day.
Frankly, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Everything was proceeding according to plan…just as the Emperor had foretold. Actually, “The Emperor” was more nervous about the whole thing than I was, and I would soon discover that he wasn’t being entirely paranoid.
NEXT: BADGES?! WE NEED OUR STEENKING BADGES!