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11th Annual Gathering of the Gargoyles
Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
June 22-25, 2007
Thursday, June 22
I decided to drive down to the con. Why not? Left at 5 AM with my trust GPS/satellite navigation system guiding me all the way. The trip would be 92miles and take about 16 hours. It was long. There were lots of 18-wheelers. Lots. But the trip itself was uneventful. I got in around 9 PM. I ran into Karine in the lobby who helped me get my key. I'd be rooming with her and Jen this year. Karine then took off for the staff dinner while I got settled in. Talked to Hudson, Greg B, Dancer, Jeb, and a few others. Jen, Karine, and her 4 month old son Samuel showed up at the room and we hung out. Greg stopped by at one point to see if the wireless internet connection was any better in our room from his. Nope. He took off for the lobby to get some work done.
Friday, June 23
Grabbed breakfast with Jen, Karine and Sam at the hotel's buffet. Biscuits and gravy. For breakfast? I just don't know. I went for the more traditional pancakes and eggs. Karine had an art tips panel so I followed along. Perspective and reference. I'd read Karine's article on perspective, but it was nice to see it demonstrated live. After the panel I hung out at the registration table, checked out the dealer tables and the art show. One dealer was selling these knitted/crochet gargoyle dolls that were easily the hit of the show. A couple pages from issue #5 (without dialogue) were on display, with a sneak peek at Brooklyn's costume. Very cool. And very not what you'd think the costume would be given the theme seen in earlier issues. Seth and Sammy showed up and we talked for a bit.
The radio play auditions started up and I was right there. A group of us stood in the stairwell outside the audition room trying to guess what the play would be this year. It'd be a large cast with 40 parts, each paired to make it a minimum of 20 actors needed for the play. The bottom of the audition sheet lists out 2 or 3 letter abbreviations for each part making it possible to pick up on the characters that appear in the play. I spotted both the clones and Xanatos were in this one and figured it had to be an adaptation of the current story arc (issues 3,4 and 5). The audition itself was very cool. I picked Angela to read for because she's the only dialogue I've yet to read from for the auditions. I then demonstrated my perfect Scottish accent to great applause and praise from all. My heart wasn't in the dog bark this year. I'd love to know how the hell Frank Welker makes the sounds he can.
Opening ceremonies were what we've come to expect. It's still just as much fun as it was in 1997. Greg mentioned that he's got a new contact at Buena Vista Home Entertainment and is starting to talk with him about releasing volume 2 of the DVD. Here's hoping. The Team Atlantis episode "The Last" was shown with a ton of new updates. It looks very cool. Vashkoda has done a great job putting that together.
A bunch of us went out for dinner at this place across the street that specialized in catfish. Drinks were served in mason jars and we had beans and hush puppies while we figured out what to eat. I grabbed a steak. Someone ordered aligator tail and that went around the table. Tasted a bit like tunafish. A man was going around playing songs on his guitar. Jen knew EVERY SINGLE ONE. After we walked the strip for a bit and headed back.
Saturday, June 24
Breakfast again. Karine had another panel on going from fan to pro (she's the artist on issue #5 and the Bad Guys mini series). One things got started the panel went pretty strong. Lots of people showed up. The radio play cast was announced and I was on it.
At the play rehearsals it was announced the play was an adaptation of issues 3, 4 and 5 of the comic. We'd all get to see what happens in issue 5 before the rest of the world. Sweet! 37 people were cast making up what must be the largest radio play cast we've ever had. I was cast as Martin Hacker. Mike, sitting next to me, was cast as Quincy (the waiter with the Illuminati ring). As my lines were from issue 3 and his were from issue 4 on we were paired to share a script.
The play was a hit. The whole cast did an amazing job. Lots of really good performances. I can't wait to see it up on YouTube. The story was full of big revelations and an ending that I loved, but really hated, but really loved, because I knew it could only mean a ton of problems and complications for the Manhattan clan in issues to come. This one issue every two months deal is just torture.
A group of us (Jen, Seth, Sammy, Karine, Rebecca, Tony, Andrea, and myself) walked the strip looking for a tattoo artist. There'd been rumors of a plan for a bunch of us to get ink. I'd been looking for an excuse to get ink and tagged along. Once actually in the shop I started feeling a bit nervous about the whole idea. We eventually decided to wait since there wouldn't have been enough time to ink us all. Jen wouldn't leave without having something done to her body and despite my offers she chose to get her nose pierced.
We had dinner at another restaurant across the street. It had a Boston theme and dealed mostly in seafood. I had steak. Again. It wasn't the greatest prime rib I've had, but it was food and I was hungry.
The blue mug was blue. Raunchy, but not all the time. Thom Adcox dropped his pants. Again. Then again. By 2am we were all really tired and headed back.
Sunday, June 25
Those who were looking to get inked the previous day met up for breakfast. We all figured we could skip the opening panels (although we had to be back for the Bad Guys panel at 2 PM) so, after breakfast, we went back across the street to the tattoo shop we'd visited. This time there was no turning back. The tattoo artist, Phil, would give us a group deal. The tattoo would be of the phoenix gate, about 2.5-3 square inches in size and in color for the low low price of $100. The clever businessman that he is, Phil had us pay up front. No more chickening out now, we'd paid, it was going to happen. Jen went first getting it on her lower back. Andrea followed suit. Then Seth on his upper left arm. Now I was in the hot seat. I got mine on the upper right arm. It's my first tattoo. Does it hurt? Hell yes. Someone describe it, and it makes perfect sense to me, that it feels like someone cutting through your skin with a razor blade. Despite this, not a single scream, nor tear, was shed. In fact nobody who went screamed or teared up. Thom Adcox showed up with a few others. After mine was done we left Tony, Thom and company to get theirs while we headed off to the Bad Guys panel.
The Bad Guys panel was more about how to promote the show than anything. Greg's got an out for his stories now and he's reluctant to reveal new details. Jen showed her ink to Greg and Greg shared his opinion on Jen's mental state. After the panel we headed back to the tattoo shop. We'd forgotten the tip, oops. We also had Greg and Thom sign a copy of the season 2, volume 1 DVD and gave it to him. Tony had gotten his on his upper right arm. Crimson Obsession has gotten one on her lower back, and Thom Adcox was in the chair getting his on his calf when we walked in. Greg B came over with us and stuck around to get one on his upper right arm as well.
We left and got read for the banquet. This year's banquet was a buffet style affair. The food was really, really good. And I was, unexpectedly, introduced to sweet tea. I think the ratio of sweet to tea was about 95 to 1. After the banquet we hung out for a bit while preparations were made for the masquerade.
This year's masquerade was heavy on original characters and light on canon characters. I'm thinking I need to get back in the game. Hal's costume as a stone gargoyle was awesome. Easily best in show. Thing broke down into dancing and partying after that. I left after a little bit to check in on home and make sure everything was okay. I sat down in the lobby because it was the only (mostly) reliable place to get the wireless internet. At some point Hudson and a few others come rushing through. The rain that night was heavy and apparently the roof was starting to leak.. right over the comic book dealer's table. We headed up and started rearranging furniture and moving comic boxes to try and keep them dry. It seemed at every spot we thought dry enough to put the books we'd find a small leak in the ceiling. Eventually we just stacked tables and stuck the boxes under the tables. The following day I found out the books came through the night dry and fine.
Headed back to the room where everyone had piled in to hang out. Introduced Greg to *things* on YouTube. Had some booze. Eventually fell asleep.
Monday, June 26
Packed up. We were all leaving today. Had breakfast once more. After breakfast a bunch of us headed to the live auction. Lots of cool stuff up for auction. I managed to grab a large, metalic looking poster of Coldstone holding Goliath over his head. You've seen a smaller version of this on the cover of the "Brothers Betrayed" VHS tape. Greg and Thom signed it to continue my tradition of having at least 1 signed souvenir from each con I've attended. As the auction was winding down Jen, Karine and I decided it was time to go. We said our goodbyes and went back to the room to get our stuff.
Thom, Karine, Jen and Patrick piled into a car for the drive back to the airport. I said my last goodbyes to them then got in my own car and headed home. 17 hours. 926 miles. And I got lost in downtown Newark because of the late night construction they're doing on the highways. The way down to the con I went I-287, over the Tappan Zee bridge and around New York City. I went through the city on my way home. Paid nearly 1000% more in tolls (not overstating that!) and nearly got lost again in the Bronx, but I finally got home around 3 AM.
Lasting memories: Ink, boobs, Samuel giggling, first rule: don't talk about ...., and THE MAJOR REVELATIONS OF ISSUE FIVE THAT I AM SWORN TO NOT TALK ABOUT. Although I'm dying here. I need to talk!
I had a great time.
Dude -- The name "Quincy" does NOT appear until issue #5. <sigh>