So I’m back from Wizard World in Austin, and I thought I’d tell you a bit about how it went…
Friday, the first day of the convention, it was absolutely POURING down rain, and super windy. The staff actually let vendors park INSIDE the venue to download our supplies, because HOLY COW I don’t know how we would’ve done it otherwise. There would’ve been some soggy supplies!
After unloading my stuff, I had to go park my car in an actual parking garage a couple of blocks away and WALK BACK. In the rain. And wind. With a flimsy excuse for an umbrella. This resulted in a very soggy mockingbird. My shoes were soaked, as was my whole body, neck to toes.
They extended the opening time to noon, and although there were still quite a few people there, LOTS of people stayed home (presumably), because it was pretty slim that first day.
I was right across from the celebrity aisle, so I got to see glances of people as they came in. See that little speck? That’s Lou Ferrigno, the original Hulk. I felt really bad for him that first day, hardly anyone came to his booth. It’s a weird feeling, waiting around for people to come up to you. I felt a little bad for the guy.
But really, it was like that for everyone all day Friday. Pretty quiet, considering the weather. While I shivered in my soggy Converse, slowly trying to dry out, I had a chance to walk around a bit. The best part: since there weren’t many people there on Friday, I got to meet the fantastically magical Caroll Spinney, and talk with him quite a bit.
If you don’t know Caroll Spinney, and you’re at all interested in Jim Henson and the Muppets, maybe go right out and watch “I Am Big Bird” to hear all about his life. He’s played Big Bird and Oscar on Sesame Street since day ONE. I mean, Big Bird has ALWAYS been in my life! My mom attributes my learning to read at an early age partly to the fact that I watched a ton of Sesame Street. And as someone who has nearly been moved to tears upon seeing an original Kermit puppet in a DC museum, I was so happy to have spent some time with such an iconic character (I am in awe of everything Muppet).
(FLASHBACK: Here’s that photo of a MUCH-younger Me, staring in awe and fascination at that Kermit puppet in the Smithsonian, in awe of the stitches and the story behind him, and how much one little green guy and the guy who made him come to life could make so many people smile…)
But since it was so quiet on Friday, I was lucky enough to get to talk to Caroll and his wife Debra several times. I kept coming over to his booth, and he kept coming over to mine. At first I was giddy, but not like meeting an actor on a show–more like a meeting fellow artist, one that I admire, and I just wanted to talk and talk and talk to him. He was so polite and quiet and humble. He immediately noticed my little Dream Creepers and asked if I made them, and I told him the story of how I made one for Myla, and some girl told her it was creepy, and how Myla said they had to be a bit creepy to chase the bad dreams away. He said that was VERY insightful for a kid, and said he didn’t find them creepy at all, he thought they were adorable (a-thankyouverymuch).
I bought a signed copy of his book, with an Oscar drawing in it. I loved that when he accidentally spelled Myla’s name wrong, he wrote “Oscar made me do that.” I brought him a kid’s Sesame Street book like one I had as a kid, and he signed that for me.
And I even splurged, and bought an original from his little book of beautiful drawings he had for sale–finally finding a sweet one of Big Bird with a little baby bird on his beak, which seemed pretty fitting for me. It’s hanging now, framed and matted, by my bedside.
I was even able to give him the signed copy of our book, in which Myla had drawn a little Oscar and Big Bird for him. He absolutely LOVED it. I told them about our collaborations, and he and Debra were so kind and sweet, and just loved hearing how we worked together, and how the collaborations came about. He said, “She draws VERY well for such a young age!” He loved her creativity. He asked if I’d be sure to sign it too, and I was so distracted that I THINK I wrote something to the effect of “thank you for the years of inspiration.” (…At least, I hope so!)
We talked about the military, about art, about how I wrote to Jim Henson when I was 8 and I got a letter back, about Brian Froud (and how Debra is allergic to his cats), about caricatures and portraiture, about kids and creating, about living in Hawaii, about moving and traveling. Caroll started to tell me about how he and Debra met, when she giggled and said, “Oh, Caroll, she’s SEEN the movie!” (if you haven’t seen the documentary, the way they met was a very cute story) …In any case, I would’ve been just has happy not selling a thing, just to have spent the whole convention talking to the two of them. It was one of the things I really missed when the convention was over. He had been SO busy all day Saturday, but made a point to stop by before he left and said, “I REALLY wish I could stay and talk, but we have to go–we’re late to meet someone.” He said it was so nice to meet me and Myla, Debra said goodbye, and before he left for good, he turned around and said, “Please tell Myla I think she’s WONDERFUL!”
Sigh. A MUPPET, you guys. I made friends with a Muppet, and his wife. I miss them already. They were so kind that I suppose everyone feels like old friends when they meet them.
AAAAANYWAY. Another cool thing was that an old army buddy of mine that I hadn’t seen in YEARS (maybe 12 years?!?…holy cow..) stopped by, and we got to chat quite a bit. He had commissioned me to draw him a portrait of Ash from Evil Dead, and was going to get Bruce Campbell to sign it. So it was funny when he came back to show me this:
Hahah! He said he nearly gasped when he saw Bruce drawing all across the actual ARTWORK! I thought it would’ve been funny if he had gotten angry and thrown a big fit about it. “MY FRIEND drew that, dude!! WHat the HECK!??!” Heheheh! I’m not really an Evil Dead kinda girl, so it would’ve given me the giggles.
When Myla came on Saturday, we made some time to do our drawing of the day for Inktober. We didn’t miss a day! I’ll have to post all the drawings together, soon.
She also, in a little bit of down time, asked if she could draw on me, so I ended up with some new (temporary) ink.
I left the convention with only a handful of Dream Creepers, but one of the big hits were these little figures…at the last minute, the week before the con, I sculpted this little guy, and made resin copies of him, had my dad (who was visiting) help me pour and then sand them. I made about 15, and they completely sold out. I’ll have to do more, they were fun.
Anyway, Friday was so busy that I hardly got pics of anyone in costume, but it’s fun to go to conventions to see people come as characters. I love being surrounded by art, and meeting other artists. I’m not always sure I fit in these places, but it’s fun anyway. Might have to see if there are more I can handle doing…
So that’s it in a nutshell! We just sent my husband off to another deployment, so I’ll be sure to share any projects we do related to that. We’ll definitely send him packages. Mostly, we’ll just hold down the fort til he gets back. The only good thing about saying goodbye is that you know a homecoming is on the way (if that makes sense).
Hope you had a great Halloween!
(This picture is from the last homecoming…We’ll see you soon, Babe!)
I was okay until I actually saw the photo of you and the original Kermit. Tears. Tears of joy, nostalgia, and a little bit of envy. I can’t even imagine how it must have felt to meet Caroll and his lovely wife, but your description made it possible to feel the love and adoration. I too am a huge Henson fan in any and all regards. I cried almost every episode of the Henson Creature Shop challenge show. It’s hard to describe the love I feel for Jim and his Muppets. They are still such a huge part of who I am.
I am also in love with your new little resin figures. I’ll be stalking your etsy shop for those.
My older daughter was born one year after Sesame Street started, so she grew up with it. What a gift for you to have met such an icon, and for him to have been so wonderful. Great story!
The little creeper guys are so cute! Put them in your store, please!
I would’ve been mighty upset if that were my drawing that Bruce Campbell wrote across (in blue ink, yet)! Glad you weren’t — but how clueless and rude was that?!
Aaaaaargh! Writing across your artwork. Not cool. I would have been seething.
I love that you made friends with Mr and Mrs Big Bird! That’s so very cool. They sound like an absolutely charming couple.
Your little creepers are just too adorable. I’m not surprised they sold like hot cakes. I would have bought one too.
Ha. Now you can say you collaborated on art with Bruce Campbell.
I enjoy your convention stories. I’m so happy for you that you got to meet your hero in such a magnificent way–not just rushed through.
I’m sorry about the deployment. I’ve never had to go through it, but I have family who has, and I know it stinks. Stay strong.
I feel that way about Kermit and the Muppets too. Carol Spinney lived in a town next to mine when I was a kid (he may still live there… but I don’t) – and he brought his rolls of film to be developed at the camera store where I worked. I thought it was so cool to develop Big Birds’ travel pics! I don’t think I ever spoke to him.
I love that you find the awesome things in what others write off as “disasters”. 🙂
I hope to meet YOU at a comic com in New England someday. Maybe we’ll have tables near each other!
I love reading your blog. You got to meet “Big Bird” which is incredibly exciting! I see Bruce Campbell writing ‘Groovy’ on your drawing as a collaboration and I think it’s cool.
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