Random Conversations with Random Strangers-NY Comic Con Day 1

10/11/13
It’s my first comic con and I’m excited and nervous. I got a 4 day professional pass and hope to go for 3 days. I spent the weekend planning my 3 days using the comic con app. I decided not to dress up which is funny considering I own at least 30 costumes, but none of them work for comic con.

I headed to comic con straight from work. I had a Holocaust panel I wanted to attend. I got off at Penn station and ran to 34th and 11th in my rain boots. They told me I had to enter at 39th. Turns out I could have entered at 35th since I have a professional badge. Security searched my bags and then tapped my badge.

Once in Javits I went straight to the official store and bought a $5 pin since it was one of the cheapest items. Then I went in search of my panel. I got the official program and a lanyard for my badge. I easily found my panel and realized the place was empty so I didn’t have to wait. I decided to kill time and walk around. I used the bathroom and ran into one of my old high school teachers. I checked out the autograph area, which was empty. I went back to the panel room and they eventually let us in.

The panel was set to start and there was only about 15 people in a room for at least 100 to 150 people. The guy running the panel, Neal Adams, walks in and goes, “Where is everyone? Everyone here go out and grab a Jew.” Everyone started laughing. He continued to crack jokes while they set up the panel. He told us about a young Jewish girl who’s mother was being taken away by the Nazi’s. The little girl elected to stay with her mother and they were brought to Auschwitz. While there a boy found out that she could draw and her paint Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs inside one of the bunks for the kids. Dr. Mengele found out and demanded to see her. She thought she was going to die. Instead he asked her to paint/draw gypsies as inferior in exchange she demanded that her life and her mother’s be spared. She eventually went on the Death March and survived. She wound up coming to the U.S. and married one of the people who worked on Snow White. Years later Auschwitz called her and said they found her work. She wanted it back and they said no. Artists and lawyers have been petitioning for her to get her work back. So Neal Adams turned her story into a comic. Here’s the NY Times article about it.

The rest of the panel was about the DVD they created that tells the stories of heroes during WWII. The stories are all done in a comic book format. We watched the one on Laguardia. I found it fascinating!! I never knew how much he was against the Nazi Party he was. His actions prior to and during the war were incredible. It made me want to read a biography about him. The DVD was $20 so I decided I was going to purchase one. I thought it would make a great teaching tool. After the clip was done playing the lights were still off and the guy controlling them was no where to be found despite his promise he would stay. Someone eventually found him so he could turn them on using his switchboard. Neal teased it was anti-semitism, which made everyone in the room laugh.

After the panel was over I decided to take advantage of the fact the convention center was empty and went in search of the other panel rooms I would need over the next couple days. I headed to Artist Alley to get Dan Parent, one of the Archie artists to sign my comic books. He wasn’t there. I waited and waited and waited. Then a staff member told me that he was at a panel and I should come back. I decided to go upstairs to kill time and I walked through the 1000 or more booths selling merchandise. There were too many and I got overloaded. I found the one I wanted and purchased the $20 DVD. I decided it was time to head back to Artist Alley. Dan still wasn’t there. I picked out the items I wanted and waited. Right next to him was Fernando Ruiz. He’s another Archie artist, but I didn’t have his comics on me because I didn’t know he was going to be there. I saw Alex Simmons (he draws Clayton) come back from the panel and then I saw Dan. I bought a comic book and a drawing from him. I had him sign the comic I brought with me. It was late and I was tired so I decided to head home. On my way out I saw the coolest Inspector Gadget costume. There were so many great costumes!

On my way long way back to the train I see this guy who looks exactly like one of my former students (it was dark outside). I do the “omg hey” face and at the same time so does he. So I’m thinking it really is my student. I go “Nick!” and he makes a confused face. Not him. He thinks he knows me and we try to place where he knows me from. We can’t figure it out. I’m stuck walking with him to the train station, which is about a 10-15min walk. At first I’m super nervous because he’s a strange guy, but then I find out he’s gay. He begins to tell me everything about his life and I do mean everything. Half the time I don’t know what to say so I just nod or make one word comments. He winds up needing my same train and in the same direction. Not good. I already begin to plan what I’m going to do to get away from him. Turns out he needs to get off several stops before me so I’m ok. After he gets off the train I breathe a sigh of relief and can’t believe that the conversation actually happened.

One minute goes by and a man facing me on the train makes a comment about my Comic Con lanyard. I ask him if he went he said he didn’t. He tells me that he works for HBO on True Blood. Since I don’t watch the show that doesn’t impress me. We talk about comic cons, Star Wars, celebrities, etc. He shows me pictures on his phone of his family and celebrities he has met. I eventually have to get off the train. As I walk home I think only in New York and I wonder if I have a sign on me that reads, “Strangers please talk to me.”

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