“The line is over there.”
Where the line ended was out the door, around another building, and spiraling back towards the front of the line.
When the doors opened for day two of the Wizard World Sacramento Comic-Con, a flood of visitors marched into the Sacramento Convention Center proving the Comic-Con a huge success.
I spent the first part of the morning standing in line for a Humberto Ramos commission with a purpose. One of my top priorities at the convention was to get James Hong’s autograph, and since I had nothing to get signed, I thought I’d get something one-of-a-kind.
While I waited, I had a great discussion with the others in line. We shared commissions, stories, some gossip, and I found out Jim Lee took some private commissions a few years back. (There was a screenshot, so there’s proof.) There were also some horror stories — I spoke to at least two fans who had lost their sketchbooks at conventions. One of them got theirs back after a year or so, but with great pain.
When Ramos’ handler showed up and took down our requests, I let him know mine wasn’t conventional.
“I want a Lo-Pan. Can he do that?”
“Ramos can draw anything. We just need a great reference.”
And it would be the first one that Ramos had ever done.
At 12:15pm, I went over to the film festival to find out when Ghost Light would be screened. Ghost Light’s cinematographer is Tim Kang, a friend of mine who couldn’t make the showing because he’s in Chicago working on a documentary. PJ, the director, and Patrick, production designer, would be there, and they were expecting me.
I also got word that Ghost Light had already been designated best in show — “Don’t make the announcement until the official announcement,” I’d been told — and I wanted to be there to congratulate PJ and Patrick on a job well done.
I got a bit of background from the panel, and I had the opportunity of hanging out with PJ and Patrick for a short while. Ghost Light began as an idea inspired by American folklore from the Midwest. As a fan of Tales From the Crypt, PJ wrote the story with a little bit of horror infused into the short along with some 80s sci-fi influences. The result was a 20-minute short (including credits) about a father and son who encounter a ghost light and end up in a strange diner hidden along Route 66.
We talked about the set — a sudden snowstorm destroyed it forcing PJ to make the decision of bringing in comic-book style transitions — and working with Ahmed Best (Jar Jar Binks) as producer — “I would work with him again,” PJ told me.
PJ and I split at the autograph booth for Billy Dee Williams, and I was off to Ramos’ booth to check in on the Lo-Pan. Another request had been given priority because the one making the request had to leave early. Since mine was a simple black and white, I was told to come back in half an hour.
I circled the floor a few times, then I was off back to Ramos’ table. James Hong was scheduled for autographs at 3:00pm, and I wanted to make sure I got an autograph — Stan Lee was scheduled for Friday and Saturday but fell ill, and I didn’t want to miss my chance, especially with a commission of one of Hong’s most famous characters.
“He’s working on it right now.”
I walked behind the booth and looked over Ramos’ shoulder. While I oogled, Ramos turned around.
“Oh, hey!” he said, recognizing me from Portland. “Is this yours?”
When I came back to pick up the commission, they requested I come back to tell them what Mr. Hong thought about the piece. At the autograph booth, a sign said Mr. Hong would be back in 10 minutes. I decided to wait behind three other women who I assumed were in line, but when I asked them if they knew how long it would be, they turned out to be members of Mr. Hong’s family. I got a quick tour of the booth along with some tidbits of information about Kung Fu Panda and the possibility of a sequel.
When Mr. Hong came back, his family brought me forward, and I handed him a letter I had written — I didn’t want another Adam West geek-out moment so I planned ahead — and he read it on the spot. He signed the Ramos commission — “What color do you want?” he asked, and I chose gold — adding what I’m assuming is his Chinese name down the right side and tagging it “LO PAN” under his signature.
I got a picture with him, thanked him again, and returned to Ramos’ table.
“He loved it,” I told them.
With one thing off my list, I worked on the others. I decided to visit Eisner Award winner Paolo Rivera who was trying to fit me into his schedule for a commission. Rivera was busy accommodating visitors who wanted simple sketches and autographs, and he was gracious to me the entire weekend even when I felt I was bugging him a little too much. I think I checked in with him about seven times total, and each time he showed me where he was at with the work that was currently on his plate. I could have just let it go, but Rivera told me he wasn’t planning on anymore conventions in California for the rest of the year.
Once I got the okay to check back in another couple hours, I went to Buzz’s table to see what the status was for a Batman commission I requested earlier in the morning. Buzz was great to talk to, and he told me the most time-consuming part of drawing a commission is finding a composition that he’s happy with.
For the next few hours, I wandered the main floor taking photographs of cosplayers, shopping for comics and collectibles, and waiting for the cosplay contest. I picked up a copy of Watchmen — finally! — and read it while I waited in line to get into the cosplay contest room.
There were over 100 contestants for the contest which was hosted by Eric “The Smoke” Moran and judged by special guests Ivy Doomkitty, Ryan Frye, and Vegas PG. Some of the contest highlights were the Spaceballs group, RoboCop, a duo of Predators, and MechaGodzilla, though every one of the cosplayers deserved recognition.
You can find the gallery here.
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