Gencon 2012: Full of Win

Our trip to Gencon this year almost didn’t happen considering our 2011 experience was less than wonderful. Physical issues, hotel and financial stress, gaming disappointment, and a general lack of enthusiasm last year had J. Felbs and I questioning if we were going to try it again. 

After looking at what did and didn’t work for us the previous year, we tweaked a few things and gave it another try, figuring that if it was another bad year, we’d try something new in 2013.

I’m glad we did. This year’s Gencon was our best (so far). We planned ahead for several games but still allowed ourselves time to wander the exhibitor’s hall. We stayed away from the downtown area hotels and chose a much cheaper one about ten minutes from the convention center.*  We splurged to park closer so getting to and from the con was no big deal, and I was already ahead of the game since I’d been working towards improving my physical walking abilities for the past year. We also planned things to allow for plenty of sleep and rest time.

Even when we were just sitting around, staying at the convention center gave us the chance to meet fellow gamers and people watch. For me, this is part of the fun of any convention. It also meant that we found things to do in the “down time,” like visit the paint and take station.

We played a bunch of new games and browsed things in the exhibitor’s hall. I got a new print, poster, and sketch from one of my favorite webcomic artists. I picked up a new system for a horror campaign I hope to run soon. I gamed with the creator of White Wolf and Vampire: The Masquerade. I passed Wil Wheaton in the corridor (even though I failed to meet him at the autograph station). 

This is only a short list of the good times we had. It’s hard to put into words all the little things that added up to such a great vacation. I know not everyone gets it, but Gencon has this sense of happiness and acceptance that I don’t find in many other places.  Almost everyone wants to be there. They want to talk to new people and try out new things.** It’s a great experience, and looking back at 2011, the only reason I didn’t have a good time was because of my own personal hangups. In 2012, I was able to let those go and just enjoy myself.

Gencon 2013 is definitely on our to-do list for next year.

*Most people find it better to stay closer. But being lazy by default, the closer I am, the more likely I am to just hole up in the hotel room. With the daily drive, I ensure that I’m going to stay in the convention center and experience the con as much as possible.

**I say almost everyone because I read of a few less than nice comments people at the con said in passing. There was also a woman in a scooter who was actually pretty mean to people in the convention corridor. It was kind of jarring to see someone so miserable in a crowd of happy people.

Planet Comicon 2012

Today was the day J. Felbs and I got our nerd on and went to Planet Comicon in Overland Park, KS.

We got there early and found good parking and didn’t have to wait in line long at all, which was partially due to pre-ordering our tickets. We spent some early morning time just chilling near the entrance where we were able to get some pictures of Star Wars cosplayers and check out some of the other costumes coming in. I’ll be honest, I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures (admittedly, I was getting in some knitting-in-public time on the Trekkie hat). I did get this one of a couple younger cosplayers:

Then there was this guy, aptly named My Little Stormtrooper:

We sat in the atrium of the convention center for a bit, and at first it was relatively quiet. Then we were invaded.

We chilled for awhile longer and waited for the line into the exhibitor’s hall to go down. I’m not one of those people who need to be the first in the door, so I was more than happy to just wait until we could walk right in. We got in there before things got really nuts, which was nice. I picked up a discounted Dark Tower graphic novel right off the bat (couldn’t resist) then browsed the artists that were there.

One of the big highlights of my day was getting to meet Randy Milholland, the artist and creator of Something Positive, one of the webcomics I enjoy.  I bought a print and a ChooChoo Bear plushie, and Mr. M was nice enough to do three quick sketches for us, one for each of us of our favorite character and a third that he offered to do for a friend who couldn’t make it.

We also met the creator of Chew and got a signed print from him and the creator of The Oblongs who signed and did a sketch of Milo in the book I bought.  We picked up some other things that looked interesting too, so look for some future posts once I get acquainted with some new graphic novels.

We decided not to get autographs or pictures with the celebrity guests, partially because of budgeting and partially because of lines, but we did get to see a couple people from The Guild and Edward James Olmos from afar (EJO looked very stoic, I noted). We’d talked about staying for some panels but ended up leaving a little before 1 to find some lunch, cruise around town, and eventually come back to our hotel room.

The trip was definitely worth it. I had a blast at the con and we got some great prints I can’t wait to hang on the wall in our new apartment. I’d also like to note that I was able to walk the con for a full hour straight before sitting down, then another 45 minutes to an hour after we took a load of goodies to the car. I’m definitely feeling good and if this was practice for GenCon, I’m so ready.