Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Tribbles and Klingons and Borg, OH MY!

Andorians make the best
drinking buddies.
It may surprise you to find out I am a bit of a sci-fi geek. No, no, please hold back your astonishment. I realize I come off as sophisticated and mature, but believe it or not I squeeeeeeeee from time to time.

Well, July is usually my "play around month," as for the past few years I've managed to attend both The Amazing Meeting in early July (not really sci-fi, but still geeky fun with brainy skeptics) and then the San Diego Comic Con in late July. This year it has not just rained, it has poured fun sci-fi stuff in July. In fact, this week, almost as a harbinger of the geek celebrations to come, I finished up a Star Wars themed digital commission.

The recipient was a past client who wanted to gift it to a like-minded person who was leaving their company. The photo references were pretty awful, but I could tell the outfits, poses, and private "in" jokes were important enough to forgive a few lackluster likenesses on the background jedi. So these faces felt pretty generic, but the finished piece was a hit. I got a delighted email this morning from the client saying he had incorporated the caricature into a powerpoint presentation with Star Wars music and narration for the guy's going-away party, and it was met with rave reviews. It really is fun hearing that my work wasn't just presented to the person in a frame but also used in such a creative way for a wonderful, memorable celebration. Warms my heart.

Now, to keep with the genre but switch canons, I have been a huge Star Trek fan my entire life. I watched the series daily as a kid and own far too many Trek-related apparel and gizmos. And yes, I am putting together a fun Trek-related costume for SDCC. Just you wait. It probably won't hold a candle to Lar deSouza's epic Sailor Bacon costume, but what could?

I and fellow artists JW and Jay weren't excited at ALL
to work at the Star Trek experience. Nope, this was just a
ho-hum day at the booth. Yawn. 
Anyway, Star Trek conventions are the grandaddy of fan get-togethers. They are the gold standard (uh--gold-pressed latinum standard?) in sci-fi geekdom, and to my shame I have never actually attended one . . . I have, however, orbited on the outskirts and plied my trade. Several years back, Doug was able to get his merry band of facemakers a temporary booth at Quark's Bar in the famous Star Trek Experience during the week of the convention. I met a few celebrities, including Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang, and Bobby Clark--the dude who played the Gorn. Yep, I met the Gorn. And I got to draw him. He described the experience as simply a day's work for a day's pay, in a rubber suit. He had handlers with him and was clearly enjoying the convention experience--so nice to see that a day in a rubber suit can lead to fame among a whole culture of people decades afterward!

We had fun times drawing trekkers as green slave women, or with Borg implants (make up your own joke), Klingon forehead ridges, or with a particular class starship in the background. We named our short-lived enterprise "Facial Anomalies" (get it? enterprise? facial anomalies? Wokka wokka!) And we got to draw there for a couple years in a row, at least, before the fun all had to end.
Yes, I engaged in Ferengi foreplay in public. I do what I WANT!

Alas, the awesome Star Trek Experience closed up after ten years serving fans (1998-2008), and now even the Las Vegas Hilton has been bought and rebranded. This year, the annual Star Trek convention will be on the other side of Las Vegas, at the Rio Hotel & Casino.

And I'll be there, drawing!!!! SQUEEEEEEE!!!!!! 

I like fan conventions. I get the fan mentality. I'm a fan of quite a few shows and I have, over the years, tried to get into various conventions with the caricature angle. In college I thought I had a brilliant Mystery Science Theater 3000-inspired idea: I could draw folks on paper printed with that iconic silhouette of Tom Servo, Crow, and Joel/Mike. Alas, I sent some samples and a promo kit to MST3K, hoping to draw at the 1994 or 95 ConventioCon ExpoFest-a-Rama but never heard back. Similarly, I had inquired about working the Stargate conventions, which I happily attended as a fan in Vancouver three times. Looking back though, I was kind of glad not to be working it--I would have missed out hanging with my friends and going to all the awesome activities and meet & greets! 

But aaaaah, Star Trek. It's the first sci-fi show I really became a huge fan of, and yet technically I remain a Star Trek convention virgin. Until July 31st, anyway! The company that puts on the Stargate cons and the Trek cons, Creation Entertainment, contacted me a few months back and asked about having caricature entertainment for the main hall this year. First I listened to the voicemail about three times and danced around my bedroom like a little girl making squeaky sounds and hyperventilating. Then, after composing myself, and rationalizing why it wasn't a dastardly deed to undercut everyone else in my market, just this one time, I called them back and quoted their rep an insanely low price--and I told him why. In 2008, when I unexpectedly had to cancel my plans to go to the Vancouver Stargate con due to a death in the family, I emailed Creation Entertainment seeing if any refund was possible. It CLEARLY states on the tickets that there are no refunds, so I figured it was a lost cause. But it was a large chunk o' change, and I figured I'd try. The company emailed condolances and immediately refunded both tickets I'd bought on my credit card. It was a gesture of good will that stuck with me, at a time when every kindness really helped. They could have kept my money, legally they had every right to. But they didn't. They were awesome.  
See? Trekkies and wookies CAN get along.

Sci-fi people are good people, in my experience. 

And, so fast-forward six years to the present . . . Yeah, I booked that gig at a steep discount. Because personally doling out good karma feels GREAT, not to mention the perks! I'll be getting to draw in the main hall and hopefully rub elbows with Trek luminaries while getting a glimpse of all the fans dressed up. I might even get a chance to collect some autographs and add to my bat'leth collection. 

If you're going, let me know! I'll squeeeeeeeee you there! 

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