This is the first in a couple of blogs I am going to write that give a glimpse of what it means to be Zombie Joe. A little peek of what is going on in my head, if you will. And yes, it can be a rather dark and scary place in there. Don’t worry, I keep the bits that hold all the intimate knowledge of the undead behind locked doors for everyone’s safety. It is kind of like The Forest of Hands and Teeth in there – minus the teenage girl… and the breaks in the fences from time to time.
See what I mean? A little dark and scary? But all that aside, let’s start the look inside my noggin with the events from this past weekend at C2E2, shall we?
Cons for me are some of the best times but also some of the worst. Cons are when I am in my element. Gaming and comic conventions are things I have been working for over 15 years. I know how they work. Ironically, I am also not comfortable around large groups of people normally. It is sort of like being claustrophobic, but it is the crush of people that gets me. At the same time, even when I am there as a fan I feel a need to act like I did when I was working there – professional and nearly invisible. At least until such time as I was needed and then I would become visible. This also explains why I do not have the autographs or photos with people like Adrian Paul or James Doohan. Confused yet? Welcome to the first view of the hurricane that is my thought process.
An example would be at C2E2 this weekend. I was standing and waiting to talk to Ben Templesmith. I had spent a lot of time hanging out with him when I was working for a friend at the last Wizard World Texas. Partially this was due to the fact that he is a social guy and likes to talk while he works. More so though, he has a very similar personality to mine and paid me for filming the Art Jam that weekend in tequila shots. I was not sure if I had facial hair at that con, so I was not sure if he would recognize me. Thus, I had to swallow the socially awkward feeling of walking up and saying, “Hey Ben, remember me at all?” Comically the fact that I wasn’t wearing a baseball cap is what threw him. I think he may have believed I was balding since I never really took it off.
A bit more along the lines of being invisible though was during the chunk of time when I had arranged to meet up with Marjorie M Liu at the Marvel booth. I follow her on Twitter and “grandfathered” her in as a local author due to the fact she studied her undergrad in Appleton and law school at the UW Madison. She offered to let me bug her between seminars and get my books signed since she was not doing a formal signing on Saturday. When I walked up she was talking with some people. My wife didn’t understand why I was standing there quietly waiting for them to be done. I had noticed that all of them were wearing either guest passes, exhibitor or press passes. My instincts told me to be invisible until the professionals were done talking. Again, I had to press back the socially awkward thoughts when she was no longer around other people and introduce myself. Worse yet, try introducing yourself to a published author with, “Hi, Zombie Joe.” (Remind me to thank Aaron for introducing me to everyone at Wizard World Texas as Zombie Joe…)
Speaking of Texas, anyone remember the story that ended with me telling a security guy with “the wand” at Midway airport, “Sir, I am a gamer. I could carry this tub over to the x-ray machine singing zipadeedoodah and not be embarassed.” Here is a touch of irony for you. I totally could do that. And yet still live in fear of making an ass of myself in front of published authors and artists. Welcome to the duality of being Zombie Joe – the freedom to stand in the middle of a busy exhibit hall at GenCon yelling “Scooby Doobie Doo” at the top of my lungs three times, but the hindsight to think, “Don’t fuck up your chances at becoming published.”
I really should end this with giving a word of thanks to a few people. Ben Templesmith for being snarky as hell to me once he recognized me reminding me why I liked him in the first place and for personalizing a couple of prints for me. That made a friend of mine very happy this week. Marjorie Liu for agreeing to take a chunk of time in between panels to meet with someone named Zombie Joe she had never met in person to sign some books at chat – and for saying I would do just fine at Romantic Times. Also for saying, “You’re Zombie Joe, everyone knows Zombie Joe” while we were talking. That alone gives me ammo to make my wife roll her eyes at me for at least a week! And finally to the aforementioned wife – Mrs. Zombie (or Robin if you prefer). She took the trip with me to C2E2 even though she is not into comic books and is always trying to convince me to stop being that guy sitting on the sidelines pretending to be invisible. As if I guy my size can be missed – ignored, yes – missed, hardly.