Pensacon kicked off at 12:30 pm on Friday (February 18) for the VIP passholders and 1 pm for the rest of the attendees. That gave Barb and I plenty of time for a free breakfast at our hotel (the Hampton Inn Pensacola Beach), a short walk on the beach and even a wee bit of souvenir shopping. Just before noon, the Pensacon transportation team took us to the Pensacola Bay Center, the legendary main venue for the convention.
Via Wikipedia, the “Pensacola Bay Center is an indoor arena located in Pensacola, Florida. It has a capacity of 8,049 for hockey games, and as much as 10,000 for non-hockey events.” Sadly, that’s still too small to hold all of Pensacon’s wonderfulness.
The first floor (where the hockey games and other sporting events take place) is the vendors floor. Besides the folks selling comics and much more, you’ll also find some guests and photo ops on that floor. It’s usually packed. Pensacon has devised a system to filter the fans from the third floor to the vendors floor and allow them to keep the vendors floor from overcrowding.
The second floor is where you’ll find celebrity guests like Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Rooker, John Ross Bowie and others, including a bunch of classic TV stars and voice actors. I made it down there on
Sunday for a brief conversation with Dreyfuss.
The third floor ring is the artist alley featuring amazing talents like Mike Grell, Mark Maddox, Pat Broderick, Michael Golden, Thom Zahler, Guy Gilchrist and many more. There were also a handful of
voice artists within the ring.
Beyond the artist alley ring, on either side of the ring were food and drink places, additional artists and, this year, some celebrity guests. That’s where you would have found George Takei during the convention, as well as Jim Shooter.
Unfortunately, the Pensacola powers that be do not want to expand the Bay Center, even though venue experts have shown that would pay for itself in five years. So the arena misses out on many concerts and corporate events. This is why Pensacon must “out source” panels to various places in downtown Pensacola, which, fortunately, isn’t far from the Bay Center. A free trolley is available for the fans and the panelists are delivered to the events by the ever-terrific transportation team. It’s like the next best thing to being beamed to the events by Scotty.
First up for me on Friday was some media. Julio Diaz, the Marketing and Media Director of Pensacon, set up an interview for me with the local CW affiliate. At my Artists Alley booth, I chatted on camera with Black Lightning fan Theo Williams. Edited by Kimber Collins, I think it’s one of the best interviews I’ve done in recent years.It’s short but packed with information. You can watch the interview at the News 5 WKRG website.
I’d tell you my Pensacon got off to a good start, but that wasn’t exactly the case. I’d turned off my cell phone for the interview. However, when I turned it back on, all my data has vanished. I had no contacts, text messages, photos, nada. It was if I had a brand new phone. I was ready to throw the damn thing in the bay.
You have to understand something here. I never wanted this phone. When T-Mobile bought Sprint, they decided they’d cease supporting Sprint phones. I was pretty much forced to get a “free” phone from them and it is truly a piece of shit.
The good news was that someone from the Pensacon staff was able to get my crappy phone to the point where I could receive and respond to and occasional make phone calls. I could do the same with text messages. Since I can still look up my contacts and old texts on my dependable old Samsung phone, I have been able to use of my crappy new phone to some extent.
My first thought was to go to the T-Mobile store to have them once again copy my Samsung data (contacts and such) to the newer phone. But I really hate the newer phone. Since my son Ed also has to get a new phone, the current plan is for both of us to open our wallets and get the same phone, albeit a better phone that the crappy free one being offered by T-Mobile. That way, if I need help with this better new phone, Ed can be my tech support. You can likely imagine how much this thrills him.
Let’s move on to more pleasant things...
Sales were good at my table. I was charging for my signature ($10 per signature), but the only item I was selling was the exclusive-to-me reprint of the first Misty Knight appearance. When the Luke Cage TV series made its debut, Marvel Comics did a special reprint of that first appearance. Marvel also offered me an opportunity to get a variant edition that would only be available from me and with a cover not duplicated on any other edition. These comic books are signed and numbered. Only 1500 were printed and I sell them for the ridiculously low price of $10.
Saintly Wife Barb was the one who came up with the sales pitch that would allow to sell all of the fifty-plus copies we brought to the convention. She pointed out to the fans that, while I charged $10 each for signing items brought to my table, you could get both my signature *and* an exclusive comic book for the same price. Is that a deal or what?
The Pensacon fans were wonderful as always. They were appreciative, excited and friendly as all get out. I want to give a shout out to Mary. When she wasn’t able to get an item her son wanted, she came up with another idea. Using her phone, which was obviously better than mine, she recorded me telling what I’ve come to think of as my favorite Stan Lee story. I’ve told this story at many conventions,
but I first shared it in a 2014 bloggy thing.
No Pensacon report would be complete without my mentioning the old friends I saw at the convention and the new ones I made. Though I won’t get to all of them in today’s bloggy, I still have two more days to cover before I’m finished with Pensacon 2022
I’ve known artist Pat Broderick forever and it’s always a pleasure to chat with him. This time around, he showed me a comics project he’s doing with Mike Baron and the pages just blew me away. Pat is just a bit younger than me and he’s as good or better than he ever was. My immediate thought was to wonder why editors and publishers are not besieging him with offers. My next thought was to tell him that, if he and Mike go the crowd-funding route, they can count on me supporting the project all the way.
Writer Adam-Troy Castro and I have been long-distance friends for longer than I can remember. We initially bonded over a mutual love for the obscure Marvel super-hero Razorback, who, I say enviously,
Adam got to feature in a Spider-Man prose novel. This was our first time meeting face-to-face and it was very cool.
[Note to Marvel. The world is waiting for a Razorback series and I can think of two writers who would be prefect for that gig. I stand ready to serve the quietly massive public clamor for this under-utilized super-hero. You know my number.]
The glamorous and forever delightful Nancy A. Collins was there. She has so many incredible life stories to tell. Her and Barb hit it off immediately. So much so that, when I mentioned I had never read Nancy’s run on Swamp Thing, Barb bought me the Swamp Thing by Nancy A. Collins Omnibus Nancy was selling at the event. I bought some cool swag at Pensacon, but I’ll write about my scores after my convention report concludes in a few days.
And, of course, I have to mention artist John Dell, who has taken to calling me “America’s Treasure.” He’s a terrific artist and one heck of a sweet guy. The burden of being a legend in his eyes may be considerable, but I bear it gladly for him. I hope I can get a chance to work with him in the future.
After the end of Friday’s activities, Barb and I went back to our hotel. Having enjoyed Thursday’s dinner at Crabs, we decided to go to the other beachfront restaurant owned by the fine folks who own McGuire’s Irish Pub.
Flounder’s Chowder House has an enormous menu filled with excellent food they serve up in enormous portions. We were still eating our leftovers in the late hours of Sunday as we packed for our flights home to Medina.
There was one item on the menu I really wanted, but passed on due to the dire results my enjoying would bring. It was their Florida Sunshine Orange Cheesecake, “a colossal 1-POUND slice of New York Cheesecake with our homemade Florida Orange Marmalade Sauce.” Oh, how I longed for that doubtless tasty treat.
I will end today’s bloggy thing with a vow I made that night. When I am ready to die, I will return to Flounder’s and utterly consume that dessert. I will die with glazed eyes, a protruding belly and
a cheesecake-eating grin on my face.
The rest of my Pensacon reports will alternate with other things I want to write about, but they will return.
I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2022 Tony Isabella
I'm a bit jealous of the state of Florida, to be honest. Hope to see u at an East Coast con (perhaps a certain one that you attend regularly in Philly?) in the near future! After all, I have a Tigra TPB that is begging for your signature next to her other co-creator!ReplyDelete
I'm not scheduled for anything on the East Coast or Philadelphia at the moment.Delete