A quick-ish round up of my entirely splendid trip to Botcon 2012 in Dallas, TX:
Thursday 26th – no official duties today, so some welcome space and time to get over the previous day’s 10-hour flight and see some of the sights of Dallas. Which pretty much amounted to the JFK assassination spots and the 6th floor museum in the former Book Depository (highly recommended, by the way). You do get a real tingly sense of history walking from Houston St onto Elm Street, past the ‘grassy knoll’, and I found it all quite affecting, if in a sombre sort of way. Though I have to say, the ‘X’ on the road that marks where the presidential limousine was when the fatal shot was fired is a tad on the ghoulish side.
Friday 27th – the first day of the convention proper, and I spent some of the morning setting up my fixed spot in Artist’s Alley, between Dan Khanna and Matt Frank, excellent artists both. I had with me original scripts, commemorative Hall Of Fame 2012 author photos and multiple copies of War Within #1 (the lenticular cover variant), all ready for signing. That done, and a quick once round the Dealer Room (which also featured stands for Hasbro, IDW, Activision and Jagex), I grabbed some lunch across the road and then headed back for 2PM, the time the pre-registrants come into the main dealer room and my first autograph session (alongside voice artists David Kaye and Garry Chalk). Then back to my table for the rest of the afternoon. It was busy and buzzy the whole time, and I was mightily pleased with the level of anticipation/excitement that Regeneration One seems to have generated. Later, all the invited guests (myself, Peter Cullen, Buster Jones, Dan Gilvezan, Derrick J. Wyatt, Garry Chalk and David Kaye) gathered for a Golden Ticket reception party, where we mixed and chatted with the fans over drinks and buffet food. Altogether, a highly pleasant and sociable way to kick things off!
Saturday 28th – it begins in earnest! My scheduled events were the IDW panel at 11 and another autograph session at noon (this time alongside Dan Gilvezan and Buster Jones – Bumblebee and Perceptor respectively from the original animated TV show), and in between spells at my Artist’s Alley table. I was pretty much signing, talking and meeting & greeting from start to finish as more and more people packed into the dealer room. Exhausting, but exhilarating. The IDW panel was led by IDW editor (and writer of the excellent Robots in Disguise) John Barber, and (other than myself) featured colourist Josh Perez, Autocracy scribe Chris Metzen (head honcho and creative force behind Blizzard Entertainment [World of WarCraft & StarCraft]), artist Livio Ramondeli and Jim Sorenson (co-author of the Ark books and many more fine Transformers reference guides). John steered us (via Powerpoint slides) through all IDW’s upcoming Transformers titles, including of course Regeneration One. And then we fielded audience questions, which flew in from all directions. It seems that whatever that arcane and elusive formula is that keeps the most TF fans happy for the longest time, IDW seem to have stumbled across it with their current crop of titles. Long may it continue!
The convention closed its doors at 5PM and I pretty much had time just to dash back to my hotel room, change, and practice my speech before the Hall of Fame dinner/event kicked off. To be honest, I was a little nervous. It’s the first time I’ve been inducted into anything, and the giant ballroom was packed – must have been at least 1,000 people in there! After Abigail Collins poignantly picked up the posthumous award for her father, the late, great voice talent Chris Latta (who memorably voiced Starscream in the 80s animated TV show), Hasbro’s Aaron Archer introduced me and they played a video put together by the immensely talented Rik Alvarez, which highlighted the many and varied Transformers series I’ve worked on over the last nearly 27 years. Then came time to step up onto the stage, collect my award and deliver my speech. I was genuinely moved by the whole experience, from the incredible cheers of the fans to the many people from Hasbro who spoke so flatteringly of my work. It was an amazing, humbling and memorable night. Wow. Just… wow!
Sunday 29th – was a lot less frantic and packed than the Saturday, but I still signed a whole lot of stuff and shook a Hydra-ish horde of hands. My solo panel went down really well. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to fill my 50 minutes with, and had tentatively named it ‘The Road to Regeneration One’ without exactly knowing what that meant. I started by showing my own Powerpoint display of rare/unseen Transformers artwork (much of it unpublished pages from the demise of Dreamwave era), and then launched into a kind of 27 year retrospective which flagged up what I saw as the key career landmarks that have now built to Regeneration One. In the end, I talked for too long and didn’t leave enough Q&A time, but the people I spoke to afterwards seemed to really enjoy the talk. The doors to Botcon 2012 closed at 3.30 in the afternoon, by which time practically everything I’d brought with me had been snapped up. From where I was standing, the convention had been a huge success, and that seemed to be most everyone’s take on the weekend. Well organized, packed with dealers and full of things to do and see. I’d be surprised if anyone went away unhappy/unsatisfied from the weekend.
And then of course, there was the whole social side of Botcon 2012, which was just relentlessly epic. Fans, dealers and pros mingled in and around the bar at the Hyatt, and I was in their midst, loving every moment of it. I got to meet the likes of Casey Coller and Robby Musso, artists I’d worked with but had never met in person, which was a big plus point for me, and hang out with the likes of Aaron Archer, Rik Alvarez, Josh Perez, John Barber (who I also hadn’t met before in person) and Chris Mowry. I had an absolute blast. Of all the many Botcons I’ve been to, this one will probably stick in my memory most of all. Verdict: outstanding!