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Gen Con 2009, Part 1 of several: The Road to Viridian City

This convention writeup is fairly long-winded, even for me, so I am breaking it up into several posts over the next several days.

The best four days in blog posts.

For those of you either too young or too old to remember Pokemon, its central human protagonist, Ash Ketchum, leaves his comfortable home to embark on a mystical journey filled with friendly monsters, intense training, and lots of overland travel, all leading to his ultimate goal- becoming a Pokemon Master, a worthy career choice if there ever was one in that particular universe.

When you caught the original 150, you got a really sweet dental package.

When you caught the original 150, you got a really sweet dental package.

In the anime, Viridian City is Ash’s first stop on his journey, hence the title of this post. My journey to Gen Con was similar, except I don’t have any Pokeballs, and I’m not trying to get anyone to learn special attacks. Okay, so it’s not the best of metaphors, (I originally came up with it while half-asleep en route to the airport, and it sort of stuck in my head,) but I made a long (albeit significantly less perilous) journey in the interests of advancing my career, which up until this point has also featured imaginary monsters, too.

“I’m on the road to Viridian City
Meet my friends along the way (I’m on the road!)
I’m on the road to Viridian City
I got a badge and the power to play

-From “The Road to Viridian City,” a track on “2BA Master

Leg 1: Subway to Grand Central Station
Aside from a crowded 4 train platform, there was little to report. It was typical New York City rush hour subway congestion. I left on time, and arrived at Grand Central Station with time to spare.

Leg 2: Metro-North to White Plains
I picked up a lemon poppy seed muffin at Junior’s, and ate it on the train. The train went express, so there was not much opportunity to take photos of the scenery as it raced past. The train out to White Plains was surprisingly crowded for a 9AM-ish train out of Manhattan, but nowhere near the density of the subway. There was little to do but sit and start typing this, but before I knew it, I was at White Plains.

Leg 3: Bus from Metro-North Station to Airport
While waiting for the bus, I ended up meting a man named Cyrus, who told me about how he is working to establish a chapter of Water Keepers in his locale of South Carolina. We talked about the trials and tribulations of building a non-profit presence, the horrors of over-development, and the evils of Large Corporations while we rode the bus, then went our separate ways upon reaching the airport.

Leg 4: White Plains to Detroit
After paying $1.50 for a candy bar, (and refusing to pay $9 for a sandwich) I got on the plane. There was a little delay with the takeoff, then a fair amount of turbulence from heavy cloud cover that the pilots skillfully navigated through and above, but I managed to doze off while reading my way through Digital Character Design and Painting, by Don Seegmiller.

To my credit, I managed to wake up just in time for juice and peanuts, as well as catching the eye of the fellow next to me, one John Velonis, who asked if I were an artist, and conversation ensued. He told me of the games that he had designed (like “Venus Needs Men!” which sounds like a fun time) and was in the process of designing, and I told him of the work that I’d done. Noticing his “Gamer For Life” shirt, explained that I was going to the con to meet and greet publishers and so on, and that I had a space in the Art Show. We talked of the games that we played, and he mentioned that he would be helping out at the Z-Man Games booth, and I said that I would stop by and demo with him. I did go looking for him, but we were apparently not meant to demo, as I kept missing him.

Leg 5: Detroit to Indianapolis:
While walking up to John to explain that my flight was “the later flight to Indiana,” I found myself introduced to Rone Barton of Atomic Array, RPG Countdown, and Open Design Podcast, along with another fellow whose name I can’t remember for the life of me, but he was an adventure writer. We talked for awhile, and as fate would have it, he was in the process of collecting artists for representation. I gave him my card. The four of us talked for awhile until it was time for them to board, and then I busied myself with finding my plane’s gate.

En route to the gate, I stopped in at the Online Cafe, and bought an imposing plate of nachos, along with some wireless access to while away the layover.

Nachos: $10, Internet: $7. Not a bad deal.

Nachos: $10, Internet: $7. Not a bad deal.

I also fielded some calls, most notably some mildly frantic calls from Jason Thompson of King of RPGs fame. Nothing major, but there was a definite sense of urgency.

Long story short: Through seven degrees of separation, I ended up being his go-to guy for postcard distribution at Gen Con. The only problem was that our mutual 7th-degree friend contacted me while I was about 20,000 feet in the air, and unable to receive calls, much less packages. Between the time difference and the last-minuteness of it all, it was pretty tight.

After this initial confusion was cleared up, Jason and I got things straightened out, and he rush-ordered a stack of postcards to the address I was staying at to arrive on Friday, so I could put them out on Saturday.

I hung around the airport until it was time to board, and arrived in Indy without further incident. My host picked me up without a hitch, and we went to the local art and craft stores in search of mats, so I could hang my artwork in the Art Show.

Despite the density of stores, there was little selection- or inventory of what I needed. It took trips to three separate stores to acquire a total of ten mats, and they didn’t even all match because they were different brands. The colors were close enough, so I did not complain. I picked up some Velcro dots as well, and we went home. We had a light dinner, and I spent the night listening to Three Days Grace and gluing my prints to mats, with a fair amount of success. Finally, I toddled off to bed.


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