Suzanne and I got a late start leaving Richmond Friday night and so we didn't get to the Marriott until almost 11:00 even though it was less than three hours on the road. We spent most of the drive trying to find the Presidential debate on the radio. About 45 minutes out, we succeeded. We stopped by the hotel bar to see if anyone we recognized was hanging out. No such luck so, after a quick drink, we headed to the room and some much-needed sleep.
Saturday was strange. We lugged all our Scholarship stuff over to the convention center, a bit of a longer haul than the one in Charlotte. Fortunately, we'd made the early decision to use the car to haul the heavier stuff over. When we got there, however, we discovered that because of a snafu with the convention center, we didn't have a table to set up on. Marc and Brad of the Baltimore Convention bent over backwards and really hustled and took care of the problem by Sunday so we only lost one day. They really came through for us because I know from experience that getting convention centers to do anything on short notice is like trying to tug a cruise ship with sailboat.
While I was a little disappointed that we couldn't set up right away, Todd was a sweetheart and put out the donation jar so we still pulled in a pretty nice sum on Saturday. Mike's fans in Baltimore were out in force and they were very friendly and very generous. I was also glad to have a day to wander around the convention floor and picked up some books I'd been looking for. There were a lot of great deals and I wish I could have kept looking longer. But I always feel that way.
Saturday night, Marc and Brad made sure we had tickets to the Harvey Awards. We were expecting a quick presentation with drinks and out. What we got was a terrific dinner, an entertaining show (Scott Kurtz, as usual, brought the house down.) and an all-around lovely evening with some great company. Brad and his wife were seated at the table with us along with Craig, Trish, Todd and Sharon. Brad disappeared before dessert to take care of something so he missed out on the amazing chocolate mousse-thingy. When we were seated, we were surprised with goodie bags in our seats with some nice books including the multi-nominated DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, which I can't wait to read. Darwyn Cooke won for Best Cartoonist which thrilled me no end but he was sick with some kind of bug and couldn't attend the award show. (He was feeling well enough on Sunday to put in an appearance at the convention, thankfully, though I didn't get to see him.) The highlight of the evening was Nick Cardy's Lifetime Achievement Award, presented to him by the always-entertaining Todd DeZago. Nick was obviously having a great time and it really was his night. In fact, he got a standing ovation. I wish Mike had been there to see it. He would have loved it.
Sunday was a bit of a blur. We had our table and were able to set up. We spent most of the day selling stuff and taking in donations for the Scholarship Fund. Despite only having one day, Baltimore made sure our trip wasn't wasted. We're very grateful for that. Marc and the gang made sure we were treated like kings and we are so grateful for everything they did for us. They really did go above and beyond for us.
Mike's friends (including Cully Hamner, Scott Kurtz, Rich Faber, Jamar Nicholas, and many others) were so thoughtful and generous to us and I can't thank them all enough. To be honest, I sometimes feel a little guilty at all the kindness Suzanne and I have received. I feel a little unworthy. All these folks have allowed us into their world and we are always a little afraid we're overstaying our welcome. I hope that never becomes the case because we love them all.
As we were saying goodbye to our friend Rich Faber, we had one of the highlights of our weekend. Jamal Igle (one of my favorite artists) happened by with his new daughter. She is so adorable and he was obviously a proud papa. He was absolutely beaming. Suzanne fell in love instantly and I probably had a big stupid grin on my face. Jamal kindly allowed us chat him up while Suze played with her.
Anyway, the goodbyes were long and reluctant but we had to hit the road. By 6:30, we were on the way home, looking forward to a long night's sleep. We were exhausted.
All in all, we had a great time. Marc Nathan puts on one hell of a great convention. It's a lot like Heroes in that it's a comic convention first and foremost. Not a whole lot of that Hollywood nonsense. It is one of my great regrets that I never went to Baltimore with Mike. 2007 was going to be the first year Suze and I planned to attend with him. But that was not to be. I'm glad he had so many great friends to share it with.