Having a booth at Comic Con is fun. You get to meet all sorts of people, and sell things, and think about what you’ll do better next year. And you go hungry during the day and make up for it by eating and drinking too much at night and then you go to sleep and do it all again the next day. The one down side to having a booth, is you are hungry most of the time. But I’m familiar with that.
Some things don’t change. I have been going to the Con for a long time. Sometimes just for the day, leaving home before the sun came up and returning to LA the same day. Yeesh. Back before I had a booth, I would mow the lawn of the convention center, methodically traveling up and down each and every isle. Because I sensed that there was something waiting for me out there. Something for Chris. Something Chris wouldn’t know he couldn’t live without until he found it. And if I stopped to eat or drink or go to my car to drop off my bags of heavy books I foolishly bought when I first arrived, then someone else might find my…whatever it was that was waiting for me. And they might get to it right before I did, if I stopped to do something frivolous like drink or eat. I really did approach the whole thing like a treasure hunt, only instead of scratching around in some barren foothill with a canteen and a donkey and a rusted pistol, I chose to hunt for an original drawing in a cavernous super-cooled environment where eighty thousand other people are doing the same thing. So what kept me moving on that convention floor was the fear that not only would someone find that special something, but somebody I WORKED WITH would find it. Whatever IT was. Then I’d have to know about it. And hear about it.
The fear I’d get back to work on Monday and show everyone the yucky Herculoid drawing I bought. It didn’t have a signature so it wasn’t worth much, but the character was mostly all there. Only his head and left arm were missing. And then I’d and tell everyone about the flavorful churro I stopped to eat, and my co-worker would laugh and say,
“You fool, I was right behind you when you veered off to buy that churro. Ten seconds after you left I came upon a booth where some poor stupid man was selling…THIS!” And my co-worker would reach into a Tokyo Pop bag and pull out a yellowed illustration board….. “It’s a drawing that Frank Frazetta made when he was on a vacation in Key West with Charles Schultz and Gil Elvgren and Jesus. Did you know Jesus could draw? Anyway, they all got back from snorkeling and were playing quarters when Hemmingway stopped at their table and asked them if they could draw him a cave-girl in a leather bikini wrestling a serpent while she was riding a space-gorilla who’s driving one of those chunky race-cars popping a wheelie and holding onto one of those crazy-long gear shifts. See? His tongue is all trailing out of his mouth and drooling. It’s a group drawing. Frank did the ape and Elvgren did the girl. Jesus did the car. Sparky added Snoopy waving a checkered flag because there was nothing left on the car to draw. They all signed it and Hemmingway wrote a poem in the corner and drew a space helmet on Snoopy. The helmet kind of ruins it, but it’s Hemmingway, so it’s still worth a lot of money. They all signed it at the bottom.”
“You mentioned that. Who drew the serpent?”
“Leonardo Da Vinci. Did I mention he was on the trip? Sorry. Yeah, he did the snake. See how it’s all sepia and the other characters are black ink?”
“Oh. Yeah. It must have been expensive.”
“That’s the best part. The guy selling it left to get a churro and his stupid brother was covering his booth and didn’t know what it was. He sold it to me for five.”
“No, five nail clippings. I thought he was joking but there was something wrong with him and he handed me clippers and I trimmed my right hand nails and he caught them in his palm and then gave me the drawing. It was free. He was weird. My hand looked nice after that and people who shook my hand commented on how well trimmed the nails were.”
“Wow. That’s great. I think that’s great. Well, I have to go back to my desk now and eat my Herculoid drawing and then cry and then kill myself.”
So I kept moving. Like a shark who would suffocate if he stopped.