The big highlight of MFF 2004 is that it's probably the first furry con I've been to where I didn't find myself inexplicably alone and feeling ditched at some point. MFF in particular has a bad history of that, and I was very happy that this one broke the tradition. Maybe it was related to the Bambino's curse ... or maybe I've just become better at making friends.
Day-Specific Highlights, on the other hand, include...
The trip to Chicago was uneventful except for being stiffed $20 by the cab driver. I wouldn't mind, except that I gave him a generous tip -- and didn't realize until afterwards that he'd just added $20 to the proper fare. Since I didn't make note of the operator number, the bastard got away with it.
I got in too late to pick up my badge or anything like that, but I did get some nice hang time in the bar with unclekage (and of course benbear, who was my roomie for the con). One of the prime topics of the conversation is how much difficulty poor Kage has in just "attending" a furry event any more without getting swamped by fanboys a la The Beatles. No solution was found, alas, but we did mull over the problem. At least 'til the fanboys showed up and ended the conversation.
First day of the con proper, and also the day that both of my panels fell on! Yikes. The day itself was mostly a blur, but a happy blur, which included doing a lot of sketchbooks, wondering why nobody was buying neverwench's print, telling people that yes, cody_frost was at the convention but no, I didn't know where he was, and wondering if bauske was going to make it. mammallamadevil was her perky, efficient self as always, engaging everyone who went by as I scribbled away. I always feel bad that I don't do more direct schmoozing with the fans, but it's not because I don't want to -- it's because I don't multitask well!
Bruce from Plan 9 (a.k.a. Vlk) was flying solo across from me at the Plan 9 table, but fortunately had David Gilbert and susandeer to keep him company from time to time. Bruce and David asked for my advice on how to run the table, and in particular, "What do you DO at a dealer table?" I basically told them to chat and schmooze everybody who went by, and that David should do sketchbooks. (Of course, dummy that I am, I didn't ask him to draw in mine. WTF?) D.C. Simpson showed up later to help populate the table, but alas there was a snafu with his books (although now I can't remember if that was Friday or Saturday).
My 3:00 "Basic Drawing Techniques" panel came and went without any major snags. I really need to beef up the curriculum for that, as well as learn to sloooow doooown in my delivery, because I always finish my schpiel at around 36 minutes, leaving half an hour of "Questions? Comments? Anyone? Bueller?" but everybody seemed to enjoy it and get some use out of it, so that's good.
The 6:00 panel with David Gilbert was something of a wash. The panel topic, "Three Panel Comics," was not exactly a crowd-pleaser, and neither David nor I had any real program in mind, but we did the best we could with what we had. It more or less evolved into the same "webcomics vs. syndication" panel that happens at every con, but it wasn't too bad. I wished afterwards that I'd asked Sue Deer to join us. (I didn't bother to ask Vince, 'cause he would have just backed slowly away from me at the suggestion, but he ended up in the audience anyhow.)
Then it was off to dinner at Ruby Tuesday with Vince, Ben Bear, "Ben's Buddy" (whose name I've forgotten, alas), spikedpunch, and "Spiked's Buddy," (whose name I've also forgotten; I suck). We went in the infamous hellcatpt, which is certainly a sweet ride, except I had a little accident with the door lock lever. (Sorry, Spiked! I don't know my own strength, apparently.) graveyardgreg, GG's bf Aaron, and Sue Deer were also having dinner a few tables away, and accused us of stalking them. Which we weren't. Really. I mean it. ¬.¬ Upon leaving, we were treated to an impromptu striptease from Sue, which was a pleasant surprise in a shocking and scandalous sort of way. I think the other people at the restaurant were a bit perturbed, tho.
The rest of the evening was spent hanging out in the hotel lobby doing sketches and just chatting about whatever, which was much fun. bauske finally showed up at this juncture, with much "SQUEE" all around; he also brought his main squeeze patchworkjester, and the two of them are just too precious for words. I used to figure that invisiblewolf and Derrick were shoe-ins for "Cutest Gay Couple EVAR," but I think Ben and Dustin give them some serious competition.
Saturday was Dealer Day. I was in the dealer room all day, except for the times when I wasn't, but I was in the dealer room then, too. I drew like a wild man, bangin' out sketches and badges like there was no tomorrow, pausing only occasionally to walk across to Starbucks or do a room circuit. Again, the day was a happy blur. One highlight was being called over to the charity auction, where the cameo went for the respectable sum of $380 IIRC. I usually buy some stuff myself at the charity auction, but this time I wanted to concentrate on being in the dealer room, since I'd had to abandon Kerry to operate the table solo so much on Friday.
The evening was even happier and only slightly blurrier, as tygercowboy had invited mammallamadevil and myself out to dinner, and the party kept growing until there were something like 20 of us. The cheap eats of choice was Old Country Buffet, at which I am a veteran.
I should also mention that Uncle Kage attempted to burn the hotel down at about this time. Sneaky bugger. That's one way to cut down on con competition!
lowen_kind and I rode with Bauske and Ben, who wanted to hurry back for the Smash Bros. tournament. When we got back, LK and I then stopped in on Jim Groat's "How to Draw Cartoons" panel. I was surprised but delighted when JG said, "What are YOU doing here, Gneech? You know how to draw already!" He also forbade me from answering any of his rhetorical questions. It was a fun little panel, although a bit skim-the-surfacey. That's an unfortunate side-effect of having to cover a big topic in about 45 mins, I suppose.
When his panel finished up, we headed down to the hotel lobby again, so I could do my homework. We were joined shortly thereafter by Spiked, Sue Deer, Sue's buddy tehrasha (who was a very cool guy whose name I forgot several times WHILE HE WAS STILL THERE, gawd I suck), Bauske, Mammallamadevil, shockwave77598, GG and Aaron, Bruce, Lunawolf, Ben Bear, lots of others who came and went ... we were practically our own room party, right there in the lobby! 0.o It was more fun than I could begin to describe, all of us joking and chatting and being silly ... not to mention occasionally breaking into spontaneous renditions of "Love Shack."
The evening was rounded off by hanging out in the room a bit with Vince and Ben Bear, where we gossiped about other cartoonists and chatted a bit about Brigid and Greg.
Well, it was the last day of the con, of course, so there was lots of "packing," and "checking out of the hotel" type of crud to deal with. Again, the day was spent in the dealer room, and I was drawing right up to the wire this time. Usually I run out of energy about halfway through the last day, and this time was no exception, but I kept drawing anyway. The last few drawings of the day didn't come out very well, alas, so I didn't charge as much as I normally would. A half-vast sketch only deserves a half-vast price, I figure. As soon as the dealer room closed, I ran to dinner in the hotel restaurant with Kerry, LK, GG and Aaron, Ben Bear, Bauske and Ben. (Vince had already fled to the airport, or I would have asked him, too.) There were lots of good-bye hugs and then it was into the cab (where I snoozed) and onto the plane (where I continued to snooze).
I was picked up at the airport by the lovely and talented laurie_robey, who was (and still is, alas) suffering from some variety of flu, so we contented ourselves with greeting hugs. At home, I only had 50 e-mails and an hour of LJ friends list to catch up on, which is not bad at all for a three day trip. ;)
I had a great time. :) Thanks, everybody, for being so darn cool. Life is good.