Feb 6 2009 3:38pm

Before the Con: Set-up

For those who haven’t enjoyed the chaos and debris present at every Comic Con set-up, below are five familiar elements from it:

1. Getting there: Five of us cram into a van-sized taxi cab. One of the seats almost reclines all the way back, thus flattening two of our passengers. It takes five of us ten minutes and vague instructions from the indifferent cab driver to figure out how to un-recline the seat. We feel that we have already accomplished a lot and we haven’t even reached the convention center! Onward, ho.

2. Having a booth: Our adorable Marketing Manager frets that bits of the booth (you know, like the wall) won’t be there upon our arrival. Or better yet, that there will be a dark hole or a time-warping wormhole in place of our booth. I tell her that we will have a booth even if I have to build it myself. I am momentarily inspired by Field of Dreams and Kevin Costner and baseball, but then chalk it up to lack of breakfast.

3. Food: Someone on our team kindly made a deli run and brought back “lunch” for the booth set-up team. The carrot sticks could not be found.

Everything is very tasty, but having not eaten a Halloween salad of Milky Ways, Three Musketeers, and Snickers since childhood, I eat everything and feel terribly ill.

4. Stuff at the Booth that Should not be There: Among other things, an awesome curtain decoration from a video game booth shows up at our booth space. After hearing about the mix-up, the Con set-up employee laughs and says, “You mean, you don’t want it there? It’s pretty cool.”

It is pretty cool. However, we’re sure that the video game booth wants its curtain rod back. But this is why we heart the people behind the Con. They have a sense of humor and they move big things.

5. The Deterioration of the English language: Two hours into booth-setup, we are all a little brain-dead and one can overhear this sample snippet of conversation:

Con set-up person #1: sitting on the floor and unpacking boxes  Hey, can you hand me that thing?
Con set-up person #2: What thing?
Con set-up person #1: The thing … from last year. The thing that we used.
Con set-up person #2: Oh, that thing. The big thing.
Con set-up person #1: Yes.

Also note that the back convention doors were wide open to the outdoors (so that movers could transport materials onto the floor), making the internal temperature as frigid as the ice frosting the concrete outside. One was tempted to buy the Dragonball Z hoodie from the partially set-up booth a few blocks down, but considering that they’ve made a terrible live-action movie out of it, one decided against it.

But it was all worth it because … PARTY!

The pre-Con festivities soon began, and where else can you meet your favorite artist, reunite with old friends, and bond with a stranger over an anime that (really) only 13-year-old girls watch???

Fantastic people for a fantastic cause: the CBLDF party at Side Bar

(Can you spot the person in the crowd?)

Melissa Ann Singer
1. masinger
From my perspective of staffing the booth, the "professionals only" hours were more crowded this year than last. I came away with a fistful of business cards. Tomorrow morning, I suspect, will be hellish (yes, I'm working the morning shift on Saturday). But time flew--I couldn't believe it when it was 1 PM and time to go back to the office.

Big Fannish Moment: I introduced myself to Neal Adams! Yowza! Walking away, I wished my father was still alive so I could call him and say, "I just met Neal Adams!" Because dad _so_ would have gotten it.

(I have worked with all you people for too long, because I can indeed spot the person in the crowd.)
Ben HM3
2. BenHM3
Sadly: after 11 years doing every tradeshow at a major midwestern facility, they ALL go like that. Well, with industry-centric variations on the anime-bonding, of course.

The "cataclysm before opening" is fascinatingly show-dependent. Sometimes, a single piece of "shipping material" (now refuse) weighs over a ton. Otherwise it is exactly as you describe: housekeeping with snow shovels before the carpenters lay the aisle carpet. And the "Elephant Doors" make for a lovely breeze.

Nice story though, thanks, it brought back memories.
Dot Lin
3. fangirl
I missed Neal Adams, but was amused to watch the Jim Lee signing at the booth directly across from us. Front row seats!

BenHM3, I have no idea how you guys keep track of all the pieces shipping to different booths. I saw the interior of one of those typical big wooden crates (a terrifying mass of poles, stands, boards, cogs, and other hardware) and have never been the same since.

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