AMBER LOVE 28-OCT-2013 I returned from Detroit Fanfare in one piece but definitely changed. It was my first time there but I had always heard positive feedback about that show. There were a couple of incidents but nothing so bad that I needed security intervention or anything like that. As I predicted, it was very pleasant having the con inside a hotel so all the activities were convenient and people could pop up to their rooms at any time.
If you saw my tweets, you may know that there were airport delays in Newark. It was my first time flying since the new rigid TSA rules were created. I heard about removing shoes so I prepared and wore my comfortable slip-ons from Cabela’s. There were no signs anywhere explaining these rules though. Luckily a few people told me about putting anything considered liquid needing to be in small baggies. The staff at Newark was aggressive and cold. That’s the best way I can think to describe it when employees are too busy talking to each other so that when you want to ask a question, you’re bothering them. Anyway, they were snappy and rude. Then my necklace set off an alert in the full body scanner so my breasts got the pat-down routine from a female agent. If it’s a full body scan, the people viewing it can see every outline and can see I was wearing a single necklace. My plane was delayed two hours due to something breaking on it which is not something you want to hear about when you’re already on edge and freaking out. I spent those two delayed hours sitting on the floor near an outlet to charge devices while wearing my sunglasses because I couldn’t stop crying. This continued even after boarding the potentially broken express jet. It was cold and overcast when I landed in Detroit Metro. My ride and I couldn’t seem to find each other but eventually I was picked up and everything fell into place.
Friday night was low key on the show floor. It was a preview night and people had the chance to make introductions. One thing for sure, Fanfare is a party show. Good gods – these people have events and parties into the wee hours. The Shel Dorf Awards which took nominations from the general comic-loving public, started at 10pm. The thing is most of the people who won weren’t in attendance. This was nothing like the Harveys in Baltimore which are awfully long and include a high-priced dinner. The drinks were flowing and people were pleased with host Brian O’Halloran. Steve Geppi received a special honor for his contribution to the industry. I did not get the nomination for Vodka O’Clock to be on the best blogger ballot; the award went to Decapitated Dan who has his own network of podcasts and conventions but even he wasn’t present to accept.
Saturday was my only costuming day. Since I was attempting to assist Dirk Manning at his booth this weekend, I didn’t want to show up as any of my signature mainstream superheroes. It wouldn’t have worked well. Years ago I began studying images of sugar skulls and makeup designs for the celebration of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead in Mexico). I’ve always loved this celebration. A couple of my friends in cosplay had done their own Muertos designs, Megan Marie who went really traditional with hers and was so gorgeous someone got her face tattooed on him; the other is Amy Fletcher who busted her ass creating a Gothika Muertos Mermaid that was breathtaking. I decided this was the right time for me to try something. As fate would have it, Dirk had a story in Riley Rossmo’s graphic novel anthology about Dia de los Muertos. Not only that but the trade paperback arrived on Dirk’s doorstep Thursday before this con. It seemed destined for us to partner up in this particular way. Fortunately, he also had a few copies on hand of SHAKESPEARE SHAKEN in which we had stories so I had one small professional connection to be there as well.
From what I heard, some of the panels didn’t have good attendance. Part of that may be because there was so much to do. As I said, the schedule was jammed packed from beginning to late night. The party Saturday night was simply too much for me. I had been at the loud show then a loud but delicious dinner with new friends; I got to the dance party and lasted a few minutes. I was back in my room I think at 11:00 and could hear the commotion until 3am. The organizers wisely plan by making Sunday’s start time at noon.
Sunday was not only a kids’ day like most shows but they also had Trick or Treating. Imagine hundreds of kids going table to table filling buckets with candy… and then consuming them right on the spot. Pandemonium is not even strong enough a word to describe the brightly colored mini tornados that bounced through all the aisles and hallways.
All the creators seemed to have slower sales activity from previous years according to the banter despite the visibly higher numbers of attendees. I’m not really privy to the back end details of anyone’s lives so I don’t know what the two and a half days amounted to for them overall.
As for the couple of “incidents” I mentioned, both involved interviews. I think I gave three total interviews this weekend and only one of them of pre-scheduled. Someone named Tommy Zimmer whose card states he’s a freelance writer and blogger, was interviewing Dirk and said he had a couple questions for me. I swear I heard him toss out “Bleeding Cool” as his credentials. Luckily the problem was when the recorder was off. A very respectable creator stopped by and I shook his hand reminding him that we met before through a mutual friend. He walked away and this podcaster began giving me the most uncalled for shit stating that I was “after” this creator and “wanted” him. He would not let up. He showed no respect for me with the accusations nor to Dirk at whose table this was occurring. This was utter bullshit. I’m posting with this podcaster’s name because in our new trend of harassment in the comics culture, I’m one of the people completely sick of it. I did nothing to provoke that. I was professionally saying hello to a creator that I admire.
The other moment in awkward interview history was when I was asked about my ex; I’m happy to say that this segment was edited out of the final interview. If someone wants to do this, they should have the decency to ask me before the cameras/recorders are running to see if it’s okay. I wouldn’t discuss my relationship on camera for a big production like Comic Store Heroes while I was dating this person so I’m certainly not going to discuss it after it ended badly. I have no idea how but my brain somehow came up with a reply likely not to be very well disguised in my uncomfortable body language. I’ve been interviewing people since college. ##ProTip, don’t do this. Sure, I make plenty of interview mistakes which is why I feel confident giving advice on it. People are usually more inclined to talk about current relationships than past ones that have strong hurtful emotions attached. When I interview people, I spend a couple minutes before recording to go over some of the basics I want to cover and anyone who listens to my show knows I ask things like how one balances work and family life or how parenting affects their career. There are ways to ask. “So what’s home life like for you?” that way it’s not an intrusive question and leaves the guest a wide space to answer at their own comfort level.
There’s one Detroit mystery I didn’t solve: What is it with all the Faygo? I managed to get through three sips of insanely sweet soda called Rock & Rye. Just so you know, this not a New Jersey thing. Rock & Rye is supposed to be an alcoholic beverage with the simply ingredients of rock candy and rye whiskey. It’s long been considered the appropriate combination to add to hot tea for anyone of any age suffering with a bad cold. It’s that old fashioned from before the shame of the slightest bit of booze putting a sniffly miserable kid to sleep for a few hours. This Faygo on the other hand is what I could only describe as bubblegum and cream soda. The really strange thing was that people kept dropping off bottles and cans of the stuff at Dirk’s table. It was the tribble of soft drinks. Every time I turned around there was another new one on the table. As for non-boozey beverages, one of the staff members dropped of Detroit’s own 313 energy drink made with real cane sugar. I’m hit or miss with energy drinks. I’ve finally found a few that I can tolerate and the rest seem to be varieties of battery acid. The 313 was the best I’ve tasted. This was necessary because I was without a decent cup of coffee for most of the weekend until Sunday morning when I had a delightful breakfast in the Rotunda restaurant inside the hotel along with Jamal Igle, Paul Storrie and Gordon Purcell.
Sunday afternoon, It seemed to take forever to beat back Dirk’s fans so we could close up shop and get me on the road. Honestly, it was pretty crazy at his table. I didn’t miss my flight or have one bit of trouble at the Detroit airport. They were actually friendly. I can’t predict that I’ll ever be back to Fanfare but I wouldn’t mind it. The organizers and creators made it a fun show.
UVN interview on YouTube