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A WORD FROM OUR FOUNDER
This is your pilot speaking…what are all these buttons for?
I’m not big on thanking people on this blog because…well…it’s boring. It’s boring for you people to scroll through me thanking a bunch of people you never met for things you didn’t see them do. But I think I figured out a way to make it interesting.
I’m going to give you a play by play of what goes into setting up at a convention the size of Comic-Con International. I’d give you a link to the show or a review of it but none of them really do justice to the overwhelming size and scope of it. Attendance this year was 120,000. that is roughly Yankee stadium filled to capacity…TWICE. The convention center is 7 city blocks long and about 2 city blocks wide. That is big. Displays and booths range from dealers selling original artwork from fantastic four no.1 to movie studios with big screen t.v.s the size of a Winnebago showing previews surrounded by actual, big as life, props from the movie. It’s got A list movie stars (Harrison ford, will Ferrill and such) A list producers, and A-list comic book makers. I’m pretty sure Jack Kirby was there even though he’s dead. THAT is a lot of competition. You can’t roll in there with a table cloth and a 3x5 banner and expect to get noticed.
Since I live in Milwaukee coming up with a decent display and product is half the battle…it is a logistical nightmare.
Oh, Before i start...when ever i do a Blog about the stress and mad dash to get things done i get e-mails from dopes that go something like this "why don't you plan better?" or "try not doing thigs at the last minute"
i'll address that first...i belive it was either Rumsfeld or Rumsfeld quoting Douglas MacAurther "no plan survives first contact with the enemy" We do things at A.L. Entertainment (new name..sanzy eh?) that by and large have never been done before or if they have been done they have been done with a bigger budget and by people who only do that one thing all year. We are for the most part just a bunch of talented ambitious jerks from Milwaukee...we do the best we can, plan as best we can and deal with the holes in the plan when we realize they are holes. How do you properly plan doing something you've never done before and don't know how to do? making this animated polit destroyed us. we all put in a ton of hours and were at out wits end when we got it done ...five days before they convention...so if as you read this and see a simpler way things could have been done i would simply ask this.."when's the last time you did ANYTHING that didn't come with instructions? When was the last time you did anything that could RUIN you if it went wrong? and when was the last time you did that on no sleep? and all for what? so someone can watch it one time, laugh and stick in their collection of 158 other DVD's...you ungrateful bastards i hate you all!!!
okay so...Here’s how it went.
I shipped most of the stuff and brought a bare bones kit with me in case something went wrong and everything ended up in Nebraska. (if you are not set up on preview night they give your table to someone who has there act together…I find this COMPLETELY reasonable, this isn’t a show for people who do this as a hobby)
SO..i get there a day early, get all the badges and deal with whatever problems come up early. This year for instance we were told we’d have two backdrops and planned for that. When I arrived we had…one half of a backdrop…that’s a problem. Fortunately Comic-con International isn’t run by dousche-bags like some shows I have mentioned in the past and they where happy to take care of it, after I tracked down the guy in charge of taking care of it which took about 2 hours. I consider myself fortunate to have tracked him down at all since he has 14 square blocks of problems to deal with. After that was on the docket I threw down the table clothes and whatever décor I had with me and went to the hotel.
WENSDAY…was a whole other animal. The stuff I shipped got to fed-ex the same time Jose got into town which was about a half an hour after the first of my team, Josh, arrived. We had to get 12 boxes of merch, décor and other stuff from fed-ex and into the building AND go across town to pick up a 54 inch T.V. and set it all up in three hours. The ball bounced in our favor though because Kempo and Aaron arrived early. SO we drove to fed-ex picked up the crap…and pilled it onto the curb for Kempo and Aaron to drag in while we got the t.v. I’m sure they had no fun doing this because each box was about 25 pounds. For the sake of traffic not spilling into the city, the convention center won’t let you pull up to the doors. We had to drop it off about a block away and Kempo had to guard the pile while Aaron went back and forth with a cart. SO my first thanks are to Jose for letting me pile so much crap into the back of his truck that the rear bumper dragged and Aaron for muling 12 boxes up and down the convention ramp…and Kempo for…sitting in the warm sun watching Aaron mule boxes back and forth.
Josh, Jose and I got to Sears to pick up the t.v. and were encumbered by the two loneliest sales men on earth. No one told me that Sears was a magical land where people lived forever, and all the time in the world to do minor things, chat, and had no concept of time "oh you need a t.v. well...let's chat about it and perhaps if we wait long enough newer modles will arrive that will suit you needs even better...OR perhaps if we take long enough they will invent something better than a t.v. that you would like." Not only was I my normal degree of rude…but I dialed it up to complete dick when I realized that these two would talk to us about comic-con for the rest of our natural lives if allowed to…here is an actual excerpt from our conversation with sales guy no.1
Me- okay well we’re gonna talk this over a second and decide which one we want
Did I mention this was an EXCERPT…he tagged along with useless knowledge and stupid comments about comic-con for about half an hour as I tried to get my overtaxed, sleep deprived, stressed out brain to decide on one t.v. or another. Did I mention how stressed and pressed for time I was at this point? I don’t really know how I managed to not beat him to death with a dvd player…oh wait, I remember, they were all bolted down.
At that point my phone rang…it was Kempo…someone from comic-con arrived at the booth the make the changes I asked for but was confused…my blood ran cold. Kempo directing this would be like Teddy Roosevelt trying to hook up a stereo system “where do I put the coal?”
Me- WHERE IS AARON?…PUT AARON ON THE PHONE.
I grabbed the biggest t.v. they had and filled out more forms that I did when I got married and got another phone call. The delivery service was at the convention and needed to know where to drop off another 12 boxes…the DVD’s and cases had arrived…and I was 45 minutes away. SO Aaron got to mule ANOTHER pallet of crap while Kempo baby sat.
I send Aaron and the delivery service to the same corner to make the exchange…after about a half an hour and 6 phone calls back and forth the two of them turned around and saw each other standing 10 feet apart and the DVD’s were handed off.
Then Another phone call EMMA had arrived and needed a badge to get in. This should be easy…Kempo needed to simply go out and find her and give her a badge. Seeing as how they have both been helping together for three years this shouldn’t be a problem. 20 minues later I get a call from Kempo “I can’t find her what does she look like?”…
I direct Emma to stand under the BIG “B” signifying hall “B” and tell Kempo EMMA is under the big “B” that signifies hall “B”…two other people heard me say “B” and in “boy”…ten minutes later I get another call from kempo "what does she look like?"
Me-forget what she looks like, she knows what you look like just stand under the big “B” and she’ll see you
Then I hung up.
They found each other shortly after that and we dragged the massive T.V. up the ramp while Jose parked. Oh wait …we dragged the t.v. and all the tools needed to set up the homemade t.v. stand and the banner frames.
We get in with about an hour before the show starts. And someone Set up the tables, two other people put up the banners and Jose, Josh and I assembled the t.v. stand…which I made out of six pares of aluminum crutches. Some sawing and drilling was needed but once it was done it almost looked too good to cover with a black cloth…almost. Some discussion was held over whether or not it would be cooler to just leave it uncovered and let people figure out that it was made out of a bunch of crutches…in the end I decided that the point was what the t.v. was playing and not my ability to MacGyver a t.v. stand out of old medical supplies.
After that was done the DVD’s had to be inserted into the cases and the DVD inserts had to be inserted. OH and I had to finish painting details on the fetus stautes.
The show opened and the booth looked like this.
Not too bad considering the mess that we started with…and it looked better and at least more interesting then the people around us.
Chris, and “M” showed up Thursday morning with back up t-shirts and whatnot and we where up and running at full force in time for the crowds.
Then it was four days of pushing comics and DVD’s and nothing but pushing comics and DVD’s. And me trying to not offend any of the several hundred people who come to the booth every single year by not remember specifically who they are and what they have already. Most people realize that I’m stressed and deluged by people for ten hours a day at this show and understand if I get confused…and for the most part I do remember everyone. Which is kind of amazing not only because I see so many people but because on any given day I spent 30 minutes looking for my keys. But I do for the most part remember everyone because I genuinely appreciate all of you. I remember who was there supporting me when I was starting out and I do my best to make sure they know it. but every once in awhile I miss someone and they get irked…what are you gonna do? I’m human. Oddly enough when I do forget someone I’s someone KNOW personally…”I’m sorry I forget your name?” it’s “DAD” I’m your DAD”
I ALSO remember who was a pain in the ass and this year I even remembered to be a dick to someone who always complains about the spelling…and overcharged him, although Emma was there and I think she though I was kidding and charged him the correct price. I’ll be DOUBLE overcharging him next year just for good measure.
After the show closed we had to beak everything down and box the T.V. back up and get to Sears and return it by 7:00…oh yeah…you bet your ass I returned it. what am I gonna do with a big ass plasma t.v.? Watch a life sized bear gryills strip down to his boxers to pull off a leach?…I mean I like the guy but I don’t need to know if he’s jewish or not.
Because of time Chris, Josh, Emma, and John (Emma’s Fiance) had to box up whatever was left and get it out of the hall while Jose and I charmed the Sears staff to get the cash back for the T.V. “
Me-“if I come back home with this t.v. I’m gonna be divorced” ( I neglected to mention I’d be divorced anyway…because…I’m divorced.)
One the way we picked up a few bottles of hard liquor and went to the hotel to empty them.
I don’t remember too much after we opened the booze. I sort of remember me babbling on about how rough my high school was (these are my “go to” stories…they are interesting and help me avoid sounding like a pompous dousche…which is easy to do after four days of people telling you that you are awesome). I woke up with a bunch of liquor bottle and and glow sticks around me which means…pictures where taken while I was unconscious. It didn’t seem like any of the bottles where inserted in any of my orifices while the pictures where taken which speaks to the saintly patience the people who had to deal with me for four days have.
And that was just the show itself. I won’t go into the process involved making our animated Arsenic Lullaby Pilot…but I think at this point you can use your imagination and wonder how we managed to get one done at all much less get one done that turned out well.