The Thursday before the convention weekend, my wife and I noticed that the turn signal had stopped working in our Saturn SL1. I, of course, declared that we could not drive the family to Ohio with the car in that state because it would be a Safety Issue.
So my wife took the car to the dealership to get the vehicle fixed Friday morning. On the day that the news broke that Saturn was officially being closed down.
They diagnosed the problem -- a bad fuse box -- and made the fix.
When we got on the road, we didn't have a care in the world. The plan was to drop Caroline and the boys off at my in-laws and for me to get up early Saturday morning and head off to Columbus.
Around dusk, I noticed that my dashboard lights weren't working. But, not problem. I have an iPhone, and the iPhone has an app for everything. Every few minutes, I'd flip on the Flashlight app and check my gauges to make sure I wasn't going too far over the speed limit.
Later we pulled into a rest stop for a coffee break around nine o'clock, and a car came screeching in behind us. A man ambled over from the sedan and motioned outside my window:
"We've been following you for the last ten miles. You don't have any brake lights or taillights whatsoever! And in the driving rain, you're awfully hard to see."
So there we were. No taillights. No brake lights. In pitch darkness. Plus rain. In Breezewood, Pennsylvania.
If you're not familiar with Pennsylvania, let me help you out. It's Pittsburgh on one end, Philadelphia on the other, and Alabama in the middle. We were in Mobile.
We didn't have too much choice. We turned our hazards on and nursed the car through the darkness. For the next four hours.
If I never hear "blink-blink, blink-blink, blink-blink" for the rest of my life, it will be too soon.
We arrived at the in-laws at one o'clock a.m. I rented a car online, and awoke at six to have my wife drive me to the airport to pick up the car, bring it back, re-pack my convention materials, and get on the road for Columbus.
My wife called from the mechanics a few hours later. It was the fuse box that had been supposedly fixed the day before.
Good NeighborsI arrived on the convention floor only about twenty minutes or so late. And my mood immediately improved when I saw who my neighbors were. On my left was Tony Miello, whom I met a couple weekends earlier in line to meet Stan Lee in Pittsburgh. To my right was Bryan Miller, whom I met at New York Comic Con when I taped a brief interview about his book, "How I Became a Super-Villain." To Brian's right was Jeremiah Witkowski whose delightful comic I'm familiar with. And even though he wasn't a neighbor per se, I was happy to see the familiar face of Dean Stahl as well.
Ghost Rider's in the
So, with my demeanor buoyed by the presence of cool creators and even cooler fans who came out to say hi, I decided to take a quick walk around the floor to pick up some souvenirs for the boys. Along the way, a wonderful only-in-comics story unfolded.
A couple weekends earlier, at Pittsburgh Comic Con, my family was once again along for the fun. My in-laws met us at out hotel, and while I was at the con, the rest of the family had a great time together.
At one point, I was walking into an elevator with my three-year-old, who immediately recognized the character in the shirt of another person in the lift.
"That's Ghost Rider! That's Ghost Rider! He's a Marvel Super-Hero! Ghost Rider!"
The man turned and smiled, somewhat amused to see a kid so young recognizing the biker with a flaming skull.
(OK, so the three-year-old like to help when my seven-year-old and I play Marvel Ultimate Alliance. I'm a bad dad. Sue me.)
Anyway, the man gets off on his floor, and my son and I exit onto ours.
Fast forward to Mid-Ohio-Con. I'm walking around a corner and I see a big sign that says: "Meet the creator of Ghost Rider, Gary Friedrich." I look behind the table and see...
The man from the elevator.
HospitalityMid-Ohio-Con is an automatic green light for next year for two reasons. First of all, I was supported in a tremendous way by my readers who came out to the show to say hi and pick up some swag. I don't get to the midwest nearly enough, and when I see such a positive response in places like Columbus, I realize I have to start making a bigger effort to get there more often.
Secondly, the promoters threw a party on the second floor of the Hyatt with an open bar -- including top-shelf liquor -- from the time the floor closed Saturday night until about midnight. Any exhibitor -- including those of us, like me, who merely had an Artist Alley table -- was welcomed to partake in the evening's celebration.
I do an awful lot of shows every year, and let me tell you, things like that make me want to support a show like that and help it thrive. I'll be back, Columbus. Have my whiskey sour ready. :)
Never Enough TimeNo matter how many of these shows I do, I never get enough time to talk to as many of the other creators as I want to. Heck, I barely caught my friend Tony Isabella on the way to my car Sunday Afternoon!
However, I did block Chris Giarrusso's fans from him for long enough to tell him how much I envied his art. Chris' G-Man comic is being published by Image right now, and I wasn't able to snag it at my comic shop, so I picked up the first two issues at his table. And I'm glad I did. G-Man is everything you'd expect from Chris. Sharp art and snappy, funny writing.
And while I was booth-barnacling Chris, I got to meet Jacob Chabot, who laid a few Skullboy Army books on me. Since I'd been living under a rock, I wasn't familiar with the series, but I am now, and I'm a big, big fan. Look for Chabot's new project, X-Men Babies, premiering today at your comic shop. If it's as good as his Skullboy stuff, you'll love it.