For those who want to hear more detailed accounts of my trip to Dragon*Con 2003, I decided to devote some space on the web site for you. This is more in depth than the News section which is just a slight overview.

Anyway, the journey actually began on Wednesday. This year, my friends Dave and Mike were going to ride down with Mom and I to the convention. They had their own room at the Marriott, but we were their transportation. Dave does not have a license (hey, he's from New York City, he doesn't need to drive!) but Mike does which is great since it gave us a third driver. Mike and Dave came down on the bus on Wednesday so they were packed and ready to go. I, unfortunately, was not.

Due to the fact that I had other things to do besides getting ready for the convention, I was still not packed - meaning I didn't have clothes in a suitcase or supplies and artwork in the travel trunk. Luckily, Dave and Mike were pretty patient about the whole thing. At around midnight, I tried to go sleep for awhile but found myself unable to really get 'to sleep'. At 2:30 a.m. I got out of bed and dressed for the trip. Downstairs, my Mother and Dave were awake and I realized that Mars was supposed to be visible. I woke up Mike who had gone up to the extra room to sleep and got him outside to join us in stargazing. It was kind of cool and humbling to be able to see the planet - considering it will be a very looooong time before anyone else can. It was also at this point that Mike and I discussed that in the White Wolf World of Darkness, there is much talk of a 'red comet' being seen that will be leading to the end of the world.. Get it? Red planet.. red comet..? Ok, so obviously you might actually have a life and not know what I'm talking about.

We packed up the car at around 3 a.m. and I have to thank Dave and Mike for lugging the trunk and getting it into the trunk of my car. It was pretty heavy. They also wrangled luggage around and got the car packed. As it was, Mom's small suitcase had to be put in the backseat with the guys to serve as an armrest. Now, in all fairness, this trip was for me. That sort of sounds nasty, but this was a business trip for me to sell my artwork and get my work seen, so the trunk did have to take precedence over all the other stuff.

Before getting too far, we stopped at 7-11 for breakfast type things like COFFEE! I don't do well on a full night's sleep without coffee, so having little to no REM only made it more of a need. Then we drove down and got some gas to fill up the car. I have a personal preference to have a full tank before heading out even if it is half filled. Just a thing with me. At this point, we got into a discussion regarding the NJ state law that does not allow you to pump your own gas. Mike found it rather silly and time consuming to wait for the attendant to come and pump the gas. I don't disagree, but I also know that insurance in my home state is high enough - having to insure the multitude of people that drive through NJ would probably add to the cost. So, I guess it just means the state of NJ feels safer if millions of those 'just passing through' kept their hands off the pumps

Anyway, I drove for a couple of hours and we made darn good time. We decided to take a break at the Chesapeake rest area in Maryland. After using the bathrooms and discussing some video games and Mike wasting a penny in one of those cheesy 'good luck' penny machines, we headed back out. Mom was going to take over driving so I took shotgun and she started the car - no, wait, she didn't start the car.. The car wouldn't start. Yes, that's right.. My car died. After nearly screaming and/or breaking down in tears we took a moment to think. Mike went around looking for jumper cables and Mom noted a gas station. Dave went off with Mom to the gas station and I guarded my car.

Mike found an elderly gentleman in a van who said he had some cables. He pulled his van up next to my car and allowed Mike to do the work. I was concerned about this gentleman since he looked kind of out of it.. Mike mentioned that he didn't think the cables would work since they looked, well, verrrry crummy.. to the point of being dangerous. Regardless, my car refused to do anything but go "cre-ak".

Mom and Dave then walked up with a man from the gas station. He had a portable battery jumper and he got my car started again. He then told me we should drive over to his garage so he could properly check it out. The actual horror of this situation was that it may not have been just a dead battery but also a bad alternator . Well, in the end he checked it out and it was just a battery.. Otherwise we would have had to have waited about 2 hours till the rest of the garage opened and they would be able to get the parts needed. The man was very nice and only charged us for the battery and labor, not for the jump and such.. Pretty cheap and they were very nice to us. So, we left feeling relief at the blessing that if we had to have a dead battery, we were dead in a place with a garage with staff opposed to some backwoods diner with no help. I don't know if you know this, but really, after a certain amount of time, there is absolutely NOTHING on the highway but trees. And of course, it could also have been the following situation:

Me "So, how much is a new battery going to cost?"

Garage-type-person "Heh, heh... How much you got?"

We continued on our way, suffering through the freaking huge state of Virginia that seems to take forever to get through. I believe that it was about this time that we decided to listen to Eddie Izzard on cd. If you don't know who he is, he is a comedian and actor who is just about as close to brilliant as you can get. He is extremely funny, witty and intelligent and kinda sexy too. I'm sure it looked weird having a car full of people just laughing hysterically. But damn it, the man is funny - almost peeing in your pants funny! Though I don't know if that is actually something you'd want as an advertisement: "Eddie Izzard, pee in your pants funny!"

Anyway, we hit traffic in Washington D.C. which slowed us down more. Any good time we had made was long ago used up.

Mike took over driving a bit, though I was pretty clear on warning him not to go too fast. The last thing I wanted was to be pulled over for speeding with the group of people we had in the car.. Two jewish women, a Puerto Rican young man and a young Chinese man.. we were a United Colors of Benetton advertisement and regardless of anything else, I doubt we would have been popular, being 'Northerners' speeding in the South.

For the last leg of the journey, I drove and it was a long bit considering we were so close to the end. Rain started sputtering then torrenting then drizzling which only served to annoy me. But finally we arrived!!! We were in Atlanta and at the Marriott at around 9 p.m.

While Dave, Mom and I checked in, Mike saw Walter Koenig otherwise known as Chekhov from Star Trek. Once we got our luggage stowed, we decided to get through early pre-registration so we wouldn't have to go through it on friday. While walking across to the other hotel, we all got to see Mr. Koenig who seemed a little lonely. We passed by the first of many groups of Imperial Stormtroopers. Now, you should know, that at Dragon*Con there are many stormtroopers, all from the 501st Empire City Garrison. Not only are they fans having fun at a convention, but many from the group are part of "Vader's Fist" - the elite of the 501st who also serve as actual Security for the convention. Mike, after seeing the huge presence of Imperial forces, became enflamed with the ideals of the Rebellion.. and then proceeded to try and provoke any stormtroopers he came by.. I was sure that at some point in the weekend he was going to get a beating. He began by coughing loudly "Down with the Empire!" which got looks but since it was so innocently done, the passing Imperials never saw who it was.

So we got online to register when Dar from the "Beast Master" movie just walks by. Marc Singer was looking a little older, but heck, it was him and that was just pretty damn cool. While standing, a young woman came by and interviewed Mike for the Daily Dragon which is a small little paper telling last minute information and news about the convention. Unfortunately we never found the copy with his interview if it made it to print at all.

Here I must point out the true organization of Dragon*Con. First off, the line moved relatively quickly, considering the large amount of people who were waiting on the cue. On top of that, they were asking if there were any on the line who didn't have postcards with their registration numbers on them (which you were supposed to get through the mail if you pre-registered). Since Mom and I had never got ours we raised our hands. The young woman took down our names and then went off to the counters. She returned pretty fast with our numbers and we were set to register. Once at the counter, all we had to do was give our numbers and sign our name and we got our badges. Now, that was fast and efficient... I wish more cons would learn from them.

After getting our badges, we went up to the main lobby to get food at a buffet.. the food was good though I think we were pretty darn hungry and tired at that point, so poop on a plate might have tasted yummy. After being fed and feeling pretty good, we decided to go back to the Marriott and to bed. Since I was going to have to hang my stuff in the art show, I decided to get my paperwork and forms together. I used my roll of masking tape to attach tags to the art and then went to bed. The tape will come into play later on. I can tell you little after my head hit the pillow - I went right to sleep.

 

The First Day of the convention: I dragged my artwork down to the art show room and checked in. While I hung the work on my assigned bay walls, Mike and Dave went wandering around the art show. Having attended Dragon*Con before, I encouraged them to go and see the work. My first Dragon*Con art show was certainly an emotional and humbling experience. I went in, with the thought that I would be hanging my stuff the following year. But as I walked through I saw the caliber of the paintings and work and felt very very tiny. I mean, not only were there just wonderful artists, but that year there were big names that meant a lot to me - Like Larry Elmore who was actually one of my influences. I was going to hang my work up next to him?!?!?" Well, this year the art show was no different. Artists like Don Maitz, Rowena, and Janny Wurts were there and so was their magnificent artwork. Well, Mike showed up a little while later with this kind of stunned look. I sympathized and understood. Seeing such work does kind of make you go "Well, I guess I can throw out all those art supplies, because they are just taking up space." But it also makes you want to get right to work to get better.

As usual, there were dozens of painters, illustrators, sculptors, digital artists, cartoonists, comic book artists, jewelers and modelers. There was certainly a lot to see and a lot to be impressed by. After I was done hanging my art, we all sort of walked around. When I saw Mike again, I asked if he had seen Brian Froud's work. Hanging were Original watercolors from Good Fairies/Bad Fairies and Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book and ink drawings from Labyrinth. I figured it would have been one of the very first things he eyed since I know Froud is just about his most favorite artist. He looked at me kind of blankly and said no. I was confused at how he could have missed it, but took him by the hand and lead him to the bay where the work hung. I posed him right in front of it and then stepped back. His mouth opened and a real look of awe passed over his features. Feeling that 'my work was done' I patted him on the shoulder and said, "I'll leave you here." before backing away and going to look around some more.

The Art show was filled with many talented artists - those with the big names and those that are just starting out. Some were listed as amateurs like M Edge, and others who were definitely professionals like Charles Keegan had their work hanging in the bays. We stopped by some tables to look over the work displayed at the Artist Bazaar. There was plenty of talent there too, like Satyr (who I bought some work from) and J.P. Targete (who I also bought work from). Later, we spoke to Mike Weaver, a very incredibly talented artist. We all chatted for a long while till I said, "We should let you hang your work up!" And left him to do just that. I also noticed quite a lot of young men wearing what are called Utilikilts. Apparently they are comfortable and useful. I actually almost came home and ordered one myself, but as Mike pointed out, it would only look like a cheerleading skirt on me.

By now we were hungry for breakfast so we decided to head up to The Atrium, a small sandwich etc type shop. While eating I looked around and saw a young man who looked darn familiar. I started trying to place him as a school mate from high school when I realized he was from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"! He was one of the Geeks of Doom, but dang if I can remember his name.. He was the one who was sacrificed. Wait, I got it - Jonathan or you can go by his real name, Danny Strong!

After eating I showed Mike and Dave how to get to the Hyatt from the Marriott using the over ground tunnels that lead to a mall. On the way back to the Marriott, we passed by two large mean looking Klingons. Mike gave a salute and a hardy "Kplah!" to which he was rewarded with a return greeting. Convinced this would drive his brother Niel to insane heights of jealously, Mike grinned like an imp.

At this point, I decided to stop into a shop that we usually miss due to it being closed when we are able to have free time to see it. It is a lovely little clothing shop and it had beautiful china dresses and blouses for sale. Luckily, it was early enough in the weekend that there was a lot of size and style varieties available (the owners buy the dresses and blouses in time for the show and they sell out fast). Finding a size in these dresses is a little difficult since they are not made for.. lets say.. American body types. So I told Mom and the guys to please be patient while I tried on some dresses. The first one was an electric blue color. I came out and.. well.. Both Dave and Mike dropped their jaws to the floor. In the end, that was the dress I got. I also purchased a top and while paying, got caught up in the conversation that was going on between the shopkeeper and the guys. He was a sci-fi/fantasy fan too and he loved Dragon*Con (the shop gives a 15% discount to the convention attendees).

As we left talking and laughing, we started to go down the tunnel that attached to the Marriott. Before getting far a group was walking towards us. They wore black except one guy in the middle.. when I looked at him, I thought, "Wow, great Spike costume!" in the same second my brain kicked in and I realized it was James Marsters! Having taken on the "Don't bother the talent" kind of behavior, I decided to ignore him and continue to walk towards the tunnel to get back to my room. Before I could step through, the front guard put his arm out and said, "Back up please." I was taken aback by this and as they passed, I said, "I only wanted to get by.." We walked on bewildered and I said, "You know, he looked a little scared and nervous." We continued to talk about it at the elevators where a young woman who overheard us said, "In a convention in Florida, James Marsters was pinned up against a wall by a crowd 20 women deep. Security couldn't get to him and he was very scared because they were shouting and screaming at him. I actually had to wade in and take his hand and pull him out." So that explained the 'jumpy' behavior.. but still.. I hate that feeling like the guards gave me, like I was going to jump the guy, when I NEVER do that kind of stuff. oh well...

So, then the real convention kicked in. I took my seat at my table and the art show/art bazaar began. I tried to talk to all the artists I knew from previous years. I spoke to Mike Weaver for a good long time and he gave me some really great advice. I have to say, he is a really generous guy. The first day was tiring and long as usual and it was fun too. My friend from NYC, Adrian showed up at some point with Harry and we spoke a bit before they went off to do things. Some time during the day, I went to use my masking tape. Some of the table displays kept falling and I decided to tape them in place. Well, I looked all over my area and in my belongings at the table and could not find it. Mom went up to the room and looked all over the place there and could not find the roll of masking tape. It was gone. We decided it had to be somewhere around and we would find it.

Sometime in the evening Mike and I ran into Dave Fooden, an SVA alum and pretty cool guy with that kind of offbeat humor you want from a guy who dresses in black and does artwork for RPGs (Role Playing Games). He is heavily involved in a game called Continuum. It was nice to talk to someone from school who was actually doing what they loved and seemed to be making a living at it. He gave me some suggestions on how to approach getting more work and we talked about some common friends from school.

That night was the Artist Meet and Greet.. kind of a gallery opening where artists can talk with Art Directors and such as well as other artists. . I got to talk to Don Maitz about his artwork and he was very open in his conversation. It was very fun to talk about his paintings with him.. Meanwhile Dave and Mike spoke to author Jody Lynn Nye.. She was very open and friendly and spoke to us for almost a half hour I think. She then had to go meet with Janny Wurts, but she was very amiable and treated us like we were old friends. Overall, the Meet and Greet lacked Art Directors so it was mostly artists talking to one another. By the time we were done, it was pretty late and we decided to get some food. We went to the same place as the night before but the service sucked now that they were so busy with so many people at the convention. The lobby of the Hyatt was packed with people.. Most in very elaborate costumes. There was a Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law, Ghostbusters, No-Face from "Spirited Away" and assorted Imperial troopers, rebels, and bounty hunters from Star Wars. Again, I went up to my room and crashed.

 

The Second Day of the convention, I wore the blue china dress. This was my day to go around and see art directors and gaming companies so they could look at my portfolio. Adrian, Harry and Mike were going to go into the Exhibitor's Hall to do the same. Well, Adrian, Harry, Mike and Dave started talking like old girlfriends, so after awhile of standing and waiting for them, I decided to head out alone. Yes, I could have waited, but you know, this was a business trip for me, so if they wanted to talk, I figured I would let them.

I first met up with Mushroom Circle Games to touch base. The book I did the cover for was not published yet and would not be ready for a little while longer. While standing there, I was introduced to two people play testing Fairie Haven as one of the Artists of the game. They asked me to sign the cards I had done and then asked to take a picture with me which was pretty cool! I talked to the staff about future projects so we may be working together again soon. Mike came by and we then went over to the White Wolf booth. I only intended to give a "hello" since I had already shown my stuff last year and worked with them. I'd seen the Art Editor of "Right of Princes" (the book I have work in) the day before anyway. Harry and Adrian showed the Art Directors their work and hung out while I spoke to them. I put my portfolio down and a young man behind me put his water bottle down next to it.. Next thing I know, water spills all over the table and my portfolio - lucky for me, I don't carry the originals! After much apologizing, I spoke to the Art Directors some more, feeling bad for the young man who probably felt like any chance of getting work with White Wolf had just been sopped up with a paper towel. Mike showed his portfolio which was mostly graphic art, but they still showed interest in his working on the web site.. which was cool!

There was one moment in which I had to wait almost a half hour for one art director to view my stuff. His table was pretty busy and he had to keep putting off looking at my stuff. In the end, he wanted computer artwork, which I can do, but mostly don't. My style is the hand drawn and painted art. He was of the opinion that there was a lot of painted work out and he wanted his book to be different with more computer work. See, the funny thing is, it all depends on who you talk to. Not too much later another Art Director felt there was too much computer work and not enough hand done art.. That's the fun, frustrating, wacky world of illustrating. You show your portfolio and you take the criticisms along with the compliments and move on to the next person.

I did go to another company to show my artwork to, and they showed interest, so that may be a promising situation!

Mike and I went down to the Dealer's Room at some point. Here is where all sorts of stuff is for sale, and the celebrities sit to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Unlike the Exhibitors Hall which is more about people or companies selling their own stuff, the Dealer's Room is where there is stuff resold - though there were some artists and such in there (the Art show Bazaar tables sell out quickly). There were artists like Brom, William Stout, Rowena and Ruth Thompson sitting at tables. We walked through tons of wares and marveled at some of the items. There were dolls, toys, jewelry, medieval clothes, swords, light sabers, cards, books and all sorts of oddities.

One place had Wolf puppets and since I collect wolves I was going to get one.. Well, Mike was going to buy it and I was going to pay him back since I didn't have my wallet, but in the end, the puppet didn't look that good so I put it back. Under it was a TERRIFIC fox puppet with a great expression on his face. The kind you just don't see that often. So I decided to get that one, but it ended up being oddly more expensive than the wolf when it was rung up. Apparently, since the company charged the guy more, he was charging us more. I put it back.. though I really wanted it.

Mike and I did a tour of the celebrity area. Ray Park (Darth Maul) was there, as was David Carradine, and Anthony Simcoe (General Ka D'Argo) just to name a few. Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers) was there and so was Mira Furlan (Delenn). Lou Ferrigno was there and he looked better than he did in the 70's! So you can see that there was a wide spectrum of celebrities there.. Ranging from fantasy to science fiction and from bit parts to starring roles and from main stream to obscurity. Unfortunately, the link to the Guest list at Dragon*Con doesn't work since they are already preparing for next year, or else I'd just sent you there!

Now, I should point out that on Thursday Mike had said to me something along the following lines: "The only person I really want to meet or see at the show is Peter Mayhew."

So we continued to walk and then I spotted him. Sitting at a table next Ray Parks (who had a line) was Peter Mayhew - an extremely tall man with shaggy hair, piercing blue eyes and an easy smile. You may know him better as Chewbacca the Wookie. Well I see him and say to Mike, "Psssst, Mike, Peter Mayhew is behind you." He looks up and over his shoulders.. So I say, "No.. There!" And physically turned him around. Again, he was stunned. He went up to the table while hung back to let him introduce himself and have his time with the man. When I joined them, I shook Mr. Mayhew's hand - it was huge.. I mean really big. But when he spoke he had a very gentle and soft voice that seemed at odds with his stature and size. He told us a little bit about the next Star Wars film in which Chewbacca will be appearing. Mike asked him some more questions and even bought a signed photo, but no matter what, Mr. Mayhew kept looking at me when he talked. I was flattered, but felt a little bad for Mike who was so happy to meet him - but we talked later and agreed that at least he spoke to us for a long time.

During the time that I was away, Dave was kind enough to spend some of his time, manning the table with Mom. Aside from helping her with sales or handling customers, he also kept her company, so I'm thankful to him for doing so. I will say, I did a lot of walking around that day, going from table to table and all over meeting and greeting everyone I could. By the time I got back to my table, I was exhausted! I walked around some more in the art show and decided to get some jewelry from a very talented artist and kind person named Dale Armstrong. Since I don't have pierced ears, she was going to have to make them clip-ons. She decided to trade wares with me and walked over to my table to see my stuff. She got quite a lot of my artwork in the end and I was honored she like it so much that she wanted it and to give it as gifts. While walking I showed her my art and she mentioned that the figure of the Stalking Elf at Night looked just like this young man she knew who was at the show. I immediately asked to meet this young man.. Check out the piece in the Gallery under the Warriors section if you want to see why.

That night, Dave said he was tired, so he went up to his room. Mike's friend Mark (another Rebel supporter and a pilot in training) was going to be meeting us at the Steak and Ale restaurant. He was driving up from Florida to meet up with Mike and see the convention. Mark arrived with his friend Ansel and after finally finding a parking space somewhere met Mom, Mike and I at restaurant. The Steak and Ale is kind of a rustic, medieval looking kind of place, so it was a natural environment for all the D&D geeks who wished to partake of grog and raw meat. This meant the place was packed and the staff was overworked. So overworked that after dealing with a party of 40 (yes, 40!!!) they requested a half hour break to recuperate. While we waited to be seated, Mike and I told Mark and Ansel about the convention and what they might come to expect from it. As we were talking about the 'stars' who were attending, Bill Mumy (Lost in Space) came out of the front door with a companion. She went out one doorway and he started to go through another when he realized she wasn't with him. For a second he seemed confused and turned around till he spotted her and darted out the door. I pointed him out to the guys and then said, "Hey, Bill Mumy was lost.. go figure.." The four of us were finally seated and we ordered. Mark was highly disappointed in not being able to order a hamburger the way he wanted, so opted for the salad bar. The rest of us got entrees - Ansel and I ordered a Caesar salad while Mom and Mike got the salad bar. Ansel and I sat while the others ate their greens, wondering aloud if we were supposed to go get our salads or were they going to be brought to us.. In the end, they brought out meals so I mentioned the lost Caesars. The staff apologized and brought Ansel and me the salads.. of course by then we had eaten our steaks.. and the salad was limp anyway.. sigh...we had a lovely dinner, though it was kind of a wonky meal overall. Mike regaled us with some embarrassing childhood memories of Mark and Ansel revealed that he had some geekish leanings (up until now we thought he was just some normal guy dragged into this insanity!) After dinner Mom and I went back to the hotel and up to the room to sleep while Mike, Ansel and Marc walked around the hotels to take in some of the sights.

 

The Third Day was a new day. While still tired and worn out from the previous day, Mom and I went down and settled in for work. Sunday is generally a quieter day due to some people leaving for home. Adrian and Harry came down quick to say their good byes before driving back up to NYC. It was nice to see them at the show and I wished them luck on the drive home. I needed the tape to make some more matted work for my bin to sell, but we still hadn't found the roll of masking tape. And by now, I'd checked the room like an FBI agent looking for bugs. The tape was no where to be found.

Behind us there was another table and behind it sat Jenn and Martia, two of the nicest, friendliest people you could find. Not only were they funny, intelligent and all around neat, but they were very kind and offered their roll of masking tape for me to use. We spent a lot of time talking to them when we weren't busy. Jenn was the artist who did lovely designs that she sold on mouse pads and sketchbooks.

Mike came down with Mark and Ansel into the Art show. This time they had badges that Mike had gotten for them. Mark was given the nickname "Goblin Slayer" and Ansel was "Borderline". Mike gave them a tour of the Art show and about the 3rd or 4th time they came back to my table, I scolded Mike about keeping them in the one room when there was so much more to see. So finally they left and went off to the Dealer's Room.

On my table, sitting among the artwork, are stuffed animal wolves. Most people see them and like them - some even ask if they are for sale. I figure, since I don't have a chick in some skimpy outfit luring people up to my table, cute fluffy animals will do. Besides, I collect stuffed animal wolves (Stormwolf Studios). Well, one gentleman approached my table and noted my collection and then made the bag he was holding obvious to me. And there, with the most shoe-buttonest shoe button eyes was THE cutest wolf face peaking out of the bag at me!

I squealed.

Yes, I actually squealed. I believe dogs in Alabama were wincing. But it was soooo cute. I can't even tell you how cute it was. Words just could not capture the absolute cuteness of this wolf.

The man told me that they were selling the wolf downstairs in the Dealer's room. I didn't see it when I went walking around, but Mom said she would go look for it and purchase it for me. I thanked her and squealed again, though more quietly. Unfortunately, Mom returned a while later empty handed. She said she couldn't find them. I thought that perhaps, the wolf doll had sold out. Martia had been observing all of this and said she knew where they were and offered to go get the wolf for us. Mom gave her the money and Martia left to the Dealer's Room. When she returned she said, "I was going to tell you that they sold out, but I couldn't do it." From behind her back she produced the bag with my own very cute wolf.

I squealed.

I am not ashamed of that either.

Jenn suggested a name and that is the one we chose and so, Martia became Boo's (the wolf's name... shut up.. ) god mother.

At some point in the evening, they began announcing awards in the art show room. They set up a slide show in the art show room and some chairs so they could show the artwork that won the prizes while they announced them. Patrick Roberts, Chairman of the Art Show was the mc for the announcements. He is a very nice guy who respects the artists and makes sure that all concerns and problems are handled as quickly and efficiently as possible. I heard a lot of very complimentary chatter around the art show about him and I certainly agree with them.

I decided to stay at my table with Mom, but Dave went over and sat in the audience to watch the awards and see the work. First they announced the Chelsea awards - something not necessarily to do with Dragon*Con but rather ASFA. Then they got to the awards for the art show.

During the weekend a jury walks through the gallery and awards different artwork like best 3D piece or illustration etc.. There is also a voting by the attendees for things like Best Amazon, Best Horror, or Best Alien.

Now Mike was going to run off with Mark to get something from the Dealer's Room since it was closing soon. He was torn since he wanted to stay to hear the awards in case I won. I told him, "Go, I'm not going to win anything." He was convinced I was, but Mike is often the type to be encouraging even if success is unlikely. So I continued to urge him to go.. and he eventually relented and went running off with Mark, but not without threatening to commit ritual suicide if I won something and he missed it.

I am pleased to announce that I was given TWO awards.. Yup, I got two of 'em! I won in two categories voted on by the attendees. One was for Best Warrior for Stalking Elf at Night and the other was Best Amazon, for Lead me into Temptation. I was so excited, I squealed again. Dave was applauding and cheering for me right off the bat and I was really happy to see his friendly face in the audience. Patrick put the mike in front of me and all I could do was gush and then I realized that Mike wasn't there! I told the crowd that a friend of mine threatened Seppuku if he missed me winning, "But at least it will offer entertainment!" Then I noticed Mike slide onto the floor next to Dave's seat, so I quickly said, "Oh he's here! Tragedy has been avoided." or something like that.

I was congratulated by the other artists and artisans in the art show for my wins and that was a pretty wonderful feeling.

Since Anne McCaffrey (Dragons of Pern) was attending the show as a Guest of Honor, the art show decided to have a contest. They gave out some ostrich eggs to some artists (who had previously signed up for this) who then worked on them. Some painted the eggs, or etched on the egg, and some even sculpted dragons that came out of the eggs. Anne would decide on a winner and all of the eggs would be auctioned off with the proceeds going to charity. A young woman who was sitting at a table by ours won the contest. She was so happy she was crying and shaking. I honestly felt happier for her winning than my winning. I found out some other people who I knew had won awards and we all felt very good and congratulated each other. One thing about the art show - it is a real community. We all celebrate each other's successes and feel for each other when the times are tough. We aren't close by distance or even by frequency of seeing each other - we are close by our love of art and our desire to be around creativity. It is kind of a beautiful thing to see how everyone is just.. nice.

After winning, Mike disappeared, but we were pretty busy being a happy corner of the art bazaar so I figured he went off with Marc or Ansel to go to a panel or something. He returned a little while later with the fox puppet I had coveted before. He presented it to me and said it was for winning the awards. I was very touched by the gift and surprised he had purchased it for me.. Though I told him he shouldn't have done it! But I am tickled pink to have HA! (the fox's name..) as part of my little tribe of wolves and pets.

Stalking Elf at Night went to auction and Wood Elf got a bid.. So I knew those two weren't coming home with me. I was honestly a little sad about losing Stalking Elf at Night.. But Dale kept telling me this young man was around so I kept telling her to send him over! If I had to lose the art, it would have been nice to see a person who looked like the Elf in real life!

That evening was the Costume Contest at the Hyatt. Mike, Ansel, and Marc went over to see that while Dave was going to a panel. Mom and I said our goodbyes to Marc and Ansel since we had been invited by family for dinner. We had a lovely time and enjoyed a splendid meal there - honestly, the food was fantastic!!! But I found I have little tolerance for Chocolate Martinis.. whooo that was powerful stuff.

 

Finally, Monday came..The Fourth Day of the convention. Also, it was the day we were to drive home. Mom and I packed our clothes up and carefully brought it all down to the art show room to stow it till it was time to go. We never found the roll of masking tape. I have absolutely no idea where it got to or where it went. I hope its happy, where ever it ended up.. Mom checked us out of our room and we sat and waited for Dave and Mike to bring down their stuff.

Since they have an auction every year, the Art Show puts out a large canvas and invites the artists to draw something on it. It then goes to auction and the money made from it goes to a charity. Well, this is a pretty neat way to have your work with the big name artists while letting you draw something without pressure. I went over with my color pencils and drew a lovely face (if I say so myself). But overall, the canvas is pretty cool since it has so many talented artist's contributions.

The Auction began and we started trying to get started on the trip home. We were slow checking out since you have to wait for special approval to check out early. The gentleman who finally won "Stalking Elf at Night" at the auction came up with the piece and asked me to sign it for him.. Apparently a small bidding war had taken place for it. I was more than happy to sign the illustration for him since he had also purchased Wood Elf Warrior a few years earlier. It was really great meeting someone who liked my work enough to come back and wanted to get more.

People were still wandering about and a couple walked up to my table. They complimented my work and did buy some of it. They asked me what I was doing and if I was doing more illustrations for books or comic books. They then gave me some wonderful advice on copyrights and such. He told me his name was Jim Martin and that he currently worked on Sesame Street. That was cool in and of itself and as we spoke some more about art he asked me if I remembered "The Great Space Coaster", a children's program that was on years ago. I said that I did and that I remember enjoying it a lot.. especially Gary Gnu.. He then smiled and said, that he was Gary Gnu!!! I ran around the table and hugged him. I couldn't help it. I thanked him for doing what he did because it was people like him that helped stoke the fires of imagination in not only my heart and mind, but thousands of other children. I got to meet Gary Gnu!!! It was sooo wonderful. I won't go into more details of our discussion except to say that he was truly great with his advice and words and I can't say how thankful I am that he stopped by my table and spoke to me. If nothing else, meeting Jim Martin inspired me to continue what I was doing and gave me tons of warm fuzzies while sparking me to do more!

Around 2:30 we slowly got our luggage upstairs. Dave was kind of enough to guard our belongings at the front of the hotel while, I ran around saying goodbye to everyone I could. We hugged and laughed and promised to write. Mike observed that it was like the last day of summer camp. We said goodbye to Martia and Jenn and then headed up to the car.

Packing up the car was much easier this time, though the stuffed animals seemed to take up a lot of room though. We pulled out of the Marriott and headed home.. For lunch we stopped at The Iron Skillet and let me tell you, this rest area had EVERYTHING! Not only was there the restaurant that had darn good food, but there was a store with hats, clothes, food, books, dolls, auto parts, and steins. There was also slot machines, a laundry and place to take a shower. There was also a cutlery shop with swords. Very weird, but true.

We drove on some more and it was very boring. There was much sleeping going on. Dave slept, Mike drove, Mom drove, I drove.. zzzzzz. Then we needed gas! So we got some. And we needed food, but by now, the selection was rather thin. It was between The Waffle House and Bojangles. Originally we were heading to the Waffle House, but it was a rather seedy looking place and upon opening the door, EVERYONE looked up at us in a sort of "yer not from 'round here" kind of way that went into, "Wonder how you'll taste in stew" kind of a look.. There was also that not so clean feeling to the place. So we quickly stepped out and headed to Bojangles.

The specialness of Bojangles cannot be really explained. From the dull, slack jawed counter help, to the grizzled rubbery chewy bits of meat that made up the 'buffalo bits' it was really something to experience. The bathroom, however was something to miss.. I won't go into details. After leaving, we decided that all bad eating experiences would then be referred to as, "being Bojangled". We were even more upset when we saw an Iron Skillet restaurant at the next exit. Argh.

We rolled into the driveway at about 4:30 a.m. Needless to say we were verrrry tired. All in all, it was a pretty great trip if you ask me, though the driving part kind of sucks as far as time goes. I am really glad I went and am really happy with how things went.. though I would have liked to have met the young man Dale was talking about.. sigh.. I am thankful Dave and Mike came with us because it was wonderful having them there to share in the Dragon*Con experience. And a big thanks to the Dragon*Con art show for making it a successful weekend for me and thanks to everyone in the art show for being sooo very wonderful in words that I cannot say.

If you would like to see pictures of Dragon*Con 2003 go to the Photos section of the site or check out Articles about the convention. I also suggest going to Mike's journal page to read about more convention experiences at Phunkie's Bog... er... Blog. Thanks for reading all of this! Please send any comments or questions to my Guest Book.