Wednesday, October 30, 2019


After several delays, I’m finally getting around to writing about my recent weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, as a featured guest at David Heynen’s Fanboy Expo 2.0. The event took place Friday through Sunday, October 18-20, at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Those of you have enjoyed (endured) my previous convention reports know I always discuss more than just the convention. The journeys are often as noteworthy.

My journey started Thursday morning. An American Airlines flight to Charlotte on a plane only big and comfortable in comparison to the baby American Eagle plane that took me from Charlotte to Knoxville. The only saving grace was that neither flight was long. The flight to Charlotte was around a hour and change, the flight to Knoxville was less than an hour. The convention picked me up at the airport and took me to my home for the weekend.

The Holiday Inn World's Fair Park was originally built for the 1982 World's Fair. Some of that fair’s iconic structures remain open to tourists in the hotel’s back yard. As I would later learn, the park is the city’s largest public green space. Unfortunately, because of a lingering stomach flu, I had to curtail my explorations of this area. Hopefully, I’ll get another chance in the future.

My room was fairly large. I could’ve fit two American Eagle cabins in it. The bed was exceptionable comfortable and the reading chair likewise. On the minus side, the cooling/heating system was erratic and there wasn’t a room safe. I spent a little of my leisure time during the convention working out a grading system for hotels. If you manage to stay awake during this series of Fanboy Expo reports, I’ll share it with you.

Quick clarification. The Fanboy Expo was exciting and fun. Mister Tony was less so.

Here’s something weird that was in my hotel room. Over the controls for the AC was a card reading:

Insert your room key card into the illuminated wall slot located at the entry door.

This illuminated wall slot did not exist. I checked every part of every wall in the room. I checked around the outside of the room. No illuminated wall slot. I think it’s particularly cruel to mess with a tired old man’s head that way.

I had lunch at the hotel’s Brew Burger restaurant. I was seated at a table with a gorgeous view of the park. I ordered the Park Club sandwich, which was both tasty and large enough that the leftovers (kept in my room refrigerator) made for terrific snacks on Friday and Saturday nights.

My room view wasn’t as nice as the restaurant view. I looked out at a large YMCA building. At least, I quipped in a text to a friend, I knew where the fun would be.

My Thursday evening was restful. After watching MSNBC for a while, I talked myself off the ledge via Young Sheldon and The Unicorn. I worked on my October Previews order and read several chapters of Ohio author Andrew Welsh-Huggins’s third book in his “Andy Hayes” mystery series. Hayes is a disgraced Ohio State University football star turned private investigator after a stint in prison. If you’ve been reading the bloggy thing, you know I’m a sucker for mysteries and police novels set in my home state.

I woke up early Friday morning because my cat Simba has trained me to wake up early to feed her. But it gave me a chance to plan for the day, watch some morning news, and have a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. The Brew Burger served a pretty standard buffet, but the food was well prepared and the service was excellent.

On the local ABC morning show, I caught a very nice report on the convention that would be starting at 5 pm that evening. I did wince when they announced a few guests, leading off with an actor who had cancelled his appearance because he had to work. I hope any of his fans who were disappointed by his absence found comfort in all the other terrific guests and programs who appeared over the weekend at the Fanboy Expo.

The Convention Center was across the street from the hotel. I went over there to get my badge, receive a nice gift bag and set up my table. I was delighted to see the charming, talented artist Robert Pope was around the corner from me. We would frequently poke our heads Laugh-In style through the curtain between us.

For lunch, I walked three-tenths of a mile upstream to Knoxville’s Market Square. It was a bit of a hike, but it’s a really nice part of the city. Lots of interesting looking restaurants, most of them not open until the late afternoon.

I ate at a place called Ruby Sunshine. They did a great burger and fries, which was all I needed. At the table next to me was a fan I have met at several shows. He told me he had a bunch of books for me to sign.

After he left, another group of fans came to my restaurant table. Feeling so much charitable than I usually am, I was going to invite them to join me. But they just wanted to know when I would be set up at the convention and if I would be doing any panels and signing comics there. They were very polite, so polite they missed out on my buying them lunch.

Just before the Fanboy Expo opened, I sort of met the one terrible person I would meet the entire weekend. But since that’s the kind of hook that will get you to come back tomorrow, I’m not going to tell you about until tomorrow.

I’m such a tease!

© 2019 Tony Isabella

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