My Image Expo Experience---Day Two

[NOTE: Here’s part one and part three!]

First off, this was the view from our room. AMAZING

View of Oakland

The show starts at 10 the next day (Saturday the 25th of February). I raced to get ready and got everyone breakfast. We walked down to the exhibit hall at 0945. There was a bigger line, but not anything as big as Wonder Con. We got in the MVP line. The excitement is uncontainable! The doors open. I rush to Ryan Ottley first! I pulled out my book and walked over to his booth. The look on his face…he knew I would be back. I pulled out my money to pay the kind sir and was on my way to rest of the convention.

Image Expo with the Rochesters

This time I made it a point to go visit the good ole’ ‘Elephantmen’ booth! When I got to the booth, I saw Mr. Gabriel Bautista Jr. and Mr. Richard Starkings. The two coolest people I get to meet at almost every convention I go to. I love going to their booth. **A little backstory, every convention I went to and met these guys at, I always saw ‘Elephantmen’ but had no idea about the comic. Finally, at WonderCon 2011, I bought Volume One….LOVED IT. Then, at Long Beach Comic Convention, I rolled up to the ‘Elephantmen’ booth and I bought Volumes 2, 3 and 4! I was sold!** I greeted the two gentleman as I always do. And they are always so nice. At this convention, they were selling Volume 00. I already knew I was going to buy it. I picked it up and pulled out my money. Then I looked at my wife and said “Please?”. She was astonished. “You don’t have to ask me. I know you love this book. BUY IT!”. Could I have asked for a better person to go on this trip with me?

I then paid for the book and GaBo started to sketch an AWESOME picture in it for me ( I have one for each volume!). After thanking them for the awesome picture, I told the guys I would DEFINITELY be back. Mr. Starkings called me by my first name (!) and told me to read it that night and let me know what I think in the morning. I was on a mission to do it! I was stoked. This was already looking to be a great day! At that point in time, my friend Eddy walked up. He and I worked together and he had brought his girlfriend (Yes, that was a label), Maribel. We conversed in front of the booth for a second when my son jumped out of his stroller and asked to get a picture with GaBo and Mr. Starkings.

My son w/GaBo & Starkings

These guys are THAT awesome Even my son knew it!

Now we were on our way to take a look at the Image booth again. We walked around and saw a few things that I would LIKE to get, but I had to save money for the rest of the weekend! We started to turn the corner when I saw the Spawn statue. It was the McFarlane booth! I waltzed over to them and pulled out my money, yet again. I mean, seriously? Like I wasn’t going to get this? I walked away from the booth with a ticket to meet Todd McFarlane (on Sunday), the statue and four more comics for my collection! I couldn’t believe how awesome the day was turning out to be. Then, as if fated to happen (or scheduled to happen by the people that had scheduled Image Expo) a voice came over the loud speaker. Todd McFarlane was going to be signing with the other Image Founders in five minutes!

We walked over to the line and we were surprised to be one of the first ten people in line. We sat for a few minutes and there he was. IN ALL OF HIS GLORY!! He was carrying about 40 different colored Sharpie markers. I didn’t know there was such a variety. I quickly pulled out my books. Oh no. I didn’t have my ‘Haunt’ sketchbook. THE HORROR!!! But I did have my issues of ‘Haunt’ that I wanted to get signed so all was not lost. The line moved quickly. I was all the sudden in front of a legend.

I pulled out my books and, much like a giddy little girl, I smiled uncontrollably and kind of laughed while thanking him for doing ‘Haunt’. I told him I had a sketchbook dedicated to the character and that I would love it if he could ink the page that Ryan Ottley was going to do for me. He said YES! He saw the Spawn statue and told me to come back with it the next day so he could ink it. I was so happy!!! Again, I thanked him and, upon receiving my books, I moved to the side. My wife took out her sketchbook and flipped it to the page where other Founders had signed and sketched. He took a look at it and gave a puzzled look. I just expected him to sign it. LORD was I wrong. He turned the page and, within 30 seconds (MAX) drew my wife Spawn!

Spawn sketch

Did that just happen!? She didn’t even know what it was or even expect him to do it! My mind was exploding at the fact that this happened within the span of five minutes. How can this day get any better?! I had to sit at the wall for a second. I was going crazy about this. Shortly after I regained my senses, my wife brought something to my attention. Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints, The Walking Dead) and Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) were both set to sign autographs shortly.

Poster featuring Reedus & Yeun

Pushing like we do when we want to get something done, my wife and I raced up to the ticket line and bought two tickets to meet them. I got the wristband to meet Norman Reedus, because I LOVE ‘The Boondock Saints” series (even the comic) and she got Steven Yeun because she really likes his character on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’, Glenn. On the way back ai saw that Rick Basaldua would be signing at the Top Cow booth. I had to take a mental note of that. We then started back towards the signing area when I saw Norman Reedus just talking to random people walking up to him. It was Murphy MacManus right in front of me!! Are you kidding me!? I contained myself (I still don’t know how) walked around him CHEESING and doing the head nod. He head nodded me back and, once I got around the safety of the black curtain, I blew up with excitement! My wife calmed me down and we got in line.

Two minutes after getting in line, both Steven Yeun and Norman Reedus walked up. The crowd was a quiet hush of excitement! The girl immediately in front of me started crying. Apparently someone was a bigger fan that I was. Once again, the line moved quickly. First up was Norman Reedus. I walked up with my Image Expo exclusive of ‘The Walking Dead’ and asked if he could sign it. “Oh man. Where di you get this? I haven’t seen a black and white copy.”. I explained how we got it with the MVP badge and he signed it. I told him how much of a fan I was, that I was born on St. Patrick’s Day (WOOT WOOT!) and that my mother’s side is Irish and he said “Man, you must get tore up on your Birthday.”. I looked at my wife and I said “I will be this year.”, with a huge smile on my face. I took that as Norman Reedus thinking it was ok to do so and that he gave me permission. Oh it will happen I then asked if I could get a picture and he agreed to it. This was NOT the only time it would happen (SPOILER!)

Meeting Norman Reedus

Right after that the family and I walked over to Steven Yeun. He smiled and then gave us a puzzled look. He says “Hey! My name is Steven. Nice to meet you.” But it came out incredibly sincere. Then said “Don’t I know you guys?”. My wife and I looked at each other and told him how we met him last year. That is when he said the funniest thing EVER. “I thought I recognized you guys! I didn’t want to be rude and say you all look the same to me because I get that a lot.”. WOW. I laughed and then he did and then my wife did. I then pulled out the comic and he signed it as well. SUPER NICE PEOPLE.

When that was done, we broke for lunch and a trip back to the room so I could drop off my lovely booty (pirate for treasure—learned). After an hour of being up at the room, we broke again for the convention. That is when I met Rick Basaldua at the Top Cow booth. WOW!! I was taking a look at his art and he had some really good stuff! I started talking to him and asked what he was currently working on. ‘The Darkness’ is what he’s working on. He is the current inker! I read that book all the way up until Jackie died the first time. Then I picked it up again. And then he died again. My heart was being tossed around like a yo-yo! I had to stop. And then I picked it up when they started it again. It is SUCH a good book! I had to stop collecting after the first 15 issues (money) but I will eventually go back. REGARDLESS, the book was still looking extremely nice. Marc Silvestri was supposed to be signing with him but he was running a little late, and I was there for Rick anyways. I asked if he would do a page in my ‘Haunt’ book. He said “What? Like a ghost? Sure I can draw a ghost for you.”. I laughed to myself and tried to pull out one of my comics. But then I had a better idea.

Directly behind me was the McFarlane booth. I pointed and walked over to the case to show him the ‘Haunt’ model that was coming out. He had never seen nor heard of the character before! But he agreed to do it! I told him I would have to come back after I got it back from Ryan Ottley and he said it was ok. But he did want it before the night because he wanted to make it “EPIC”. I was stoked. In the meantime though, my daughter had an idea. She pulled out her sketchbook and asked him to sketch a Skylander character for her. He looked at me and said “I can’t say no to a little girl man. Especially a daddy’s girl.”. And of course my daughter did the thing where she hugs me really hard. I love it She gave him her sketchbook and we stayed to watch him do it. He had never even seen these things before and he was bringing the character to life!!

From that point, we went to Artist Alley and then crossed over into the stores. That is where I saw the DC Universe Swamp Thing figure. YAY!! I love that comic so I had to buy it. $40…well worth it. The packaging alone was worth that much! So I grabbed that and we attempted to leave for the day. And then I remembered my sketchbook! I walked over to Ryan and he had done more than I had even paid him for. I didn’t know what to say. He told me he was having fun with it and that he wanted to do the rest whenever I had a chance. I wish I had the money to buy his ‘Haunt’ pages. MAN those things are awesome. I don’t think I will ever be able to show him how much I appreciate his art. But I will try! If you ever read this, THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!!

After I got the sketchbook, we went back upstairs. And then I remembered the reason why I went to get the sketchbook. SO, I ran back downstairs and caught Mr. Basaldua right before he was leaving. I presented the sketchbook and that is when he introduced me to his friend Katherine French. The way he explained it was that if he ever needed anything, be it for a model of his to have a certain detail added or for anything at all, she would be there for him and come up with it. She knew exactly what he wanted and she could make it happen. She was very quiet but I still enjoyed meeting her. As we said our goodbyes, I walked away thinking that this was my best convention experience ever. But there was still ONE MORE DAY….

To Be Continued….

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