the obligatory comic-con post (that’s mostly about the guild panel)

I didn't see enough of Comic-Con to give a comprehensive report. What I
experienced was a miserably hot and insanely crowded main vendor floor
that was more difficult to navigate than I ever remember it being
before – especially on Friday.  My highlights were visiting with the
friends I could get within 100 feet of and replacing my my Green
Lantern T-shirt. My regrets were not getting to go to any panels, not
being able to introduce Ryan to my friends who we couldn't get anywhere
near, and not having the time to do the usual exploring that always
results in discovering wonderful new books and artists, (hopefully,
I'll be able to spend lots of time at the small press booths I love so
much in October at Long Beach Comicon.)

What I can do, though, is talk a bit more about The Guild panel, which is what I remember most clearly, anway.

I almost skipped Comic-Con entirely this year. Without any new books (the release of Memories of the Future has been pushed back three times because I was working on Leverage and The Guild, and went to Seattle for a D&D session with Acquisitions, Inc.) and without a lot of stock on hand, it just didn't make sense to try and get booth space, invest in a pass and a hotel, and spend four days down there that I really needed to spend up here writing and publishing.

When Felicia asked me to come to The Guild panel on Friday, though, it was pretty easy to commit to one day of Nerd Promery, especially since I was going to be in Escondido the night before.

Incidentally, knowing that you have to get up at 7am the following day and plan to spend all of it getting your geek on gives +10 to all saves vs. Yeah, I Think I Will Have Another Beer. (Well, at least it does for me. I saw a few people at Comic-con who clearly rolled poorly the night before.)

So Friday morning, I met up with the cast of The Guild, and secretly rode to Comic-Con in a limobus that had been provided by Xbox. Did I mention that the limo had multi-colored pulsating lights, lasers, numerous video screens and a stripper pole? For those of you keeping score at home, a stripper pole is not as sexy as you'd think at 9 in the morning. Unless, I guess, it's the end of the previous night for you and your buddies.

There was a discussion about the stripper pole, and we all wondered if there were strippers who specialized in on-the-road dancing, and if so, did they log their experience by hours or miles? These are the things we wonder about, up here in the rarefied air of Xbox-provided-stripper-pole-limobus riding.

When we got to the convention center, they drove us into this loading dock that was down a ramp and through some security that wasn't nearly as tight as I was expecting. When we got out of the stripper-pole bus (as it came to be called) I felt like I was in a rock band. A few moments later, when all of us were walking down the hallway toward the elevator that would grant us access to the convention hall, I felt like I was a rock star – and I wasn't even in an awesome costume!

Fun fact: I was the only member of our entire party who not only thought the crates marked FREEMAN were hilarious, but stopped to take a picture of them that isn't nearly as awesome as I thought it would be. Oh well, I couldn't find a crowbar, anyway.

We went into the green room, where all of us tried – and failed – to keep our cool when the likes of Keith David, Dominic Monaghan, John Cho, Amanda Fucking Palmer, and Neil Gaiman walked in.

I could tell you stories, but what happens in the green room stays in the green room, except for this picture that I captioned Best. Tweetup. Ever. and posted with the explicit permission of all involved.

After a 20 minute wait, we headed down the hall to the stage entrance. I walked a little bit behind the rest of the cast, so I could plausibly claim that I was just there watching my friends. Yes, I'm crafty like that, so you'd better watch yourself, if you know what's good for you.

We listened through the door while they played the music video — which is hilarious and perfect and must be seen by everyone in the world or I'll unleash the Doomsday Device* — and then the cast walked in, to thunderous applause. It was pretty awesome to hear them get such a wonderful reception, from what I'd soon find out was a standing-room-only crowd. I heard the familiar theme music a moment later, and I knew that the screening of season three's first episode had begun.

I pressed my ear to the door, and listened. As the reveal of me and the rest of my guild grew closer, my heart began to pound. I'm not going to lie to you, Marge, for the first time in years, the
terrifying knot of nerves that usually sits in my chest before I go
onstage wasn't just cut, it was obliterated by excitement.

I heard my voice, and the audience gasped — they gasped! Then, there was a moment of silence, followed by a roar of cheering and applause.

Kim Evey (who most people know as the producer of The Guild, but I know as my friend and former ACME castmate) took the podium and said, in a sad voice, "We really wanted Wil Wheaton to be here today . . ." in a happy voice she continued, ". . . so he is!"

I walked into the room, did my best not to trip over anything, tried not to be intimidated by the size of the audience and their enthusiasm, and took my seat on the panel.

I was feeling pretty good about myself. I hadn't done anything stupid, I kept my hands where people couldn't see that they were trembling, I hadn't crapped my pants … and that's when I saw that Joss Whedon was sitting in the front row. About ten feet from me.

Let's take a look inside Wil's head, shall we:

Me: OMG OMG OMG

Brain: What?

Me: JOSS WHEDON IS RIGHT THERE! HE CAME TO THE PANEL AND HE'S RIGHT THERE!

Brain: Okay, just be cool.

Me: OKAY I'M BEING COOL.

Brain: No, you're staring.

Me: What?

Brain: You're staring. Stop staring.

Me: Shit. Okay. I'm not staring now. [pause] HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT JOSS WHEDON IS RIGHT THERE IN THE FRONT ROW?!

Brain: Yes, you mentioned that. Also, you're staring again.

Eventually, I broke out of the loop, which in WhetonIX looks like: (if near.joss=1, do {stare.like.idiot} fi;), and I enjoyed the rest of the panel. As I said in my post a few days ago, "I've known, written, and performed with a lot of these guys for
years, and I'm not surprised in the least that everyone loves them so
much. It rules to see so many people in the world (millions per
episode, I guess) finding out for themselves what I've known for years.Season 3 is going to kick thirteen different kinds of ass, and I'm thrilled to be a small part of part of it."

When the panel was over, we walked back to the green room and convinced each other that, yes, it was all real and they really did like us. The cast went to do all their booth-related duties, and I went out to explore Comic-con as just a civilian with my son for the first time in years.

Overall, though, I enjoyed myself. When we got home, I told Anne about the panel. "It was so weird to
feel like all these people were excited and happy when they saw me
in The Guild," I said. "I'd gotten to used to people automatically deciding that
I was lame and they hated me because of a character I played when I was
14, I didn't really know how to react to them, well, liking me."

"How did you react?"

"I was happy, and I may have done a little dance."

"You danced?"

"Okay, I jumped. Once. I had to maintain my composure, you know."

"Obviously."

"But it's weird, you know? On the one hand, it felt good — heh. 'I feel weird, but also good!' Um, that's …"

"Wesley when he's drunk. I know."

"How d—"

"I live with you. I pick things up."

*Not really. Oh, it needs to be seen, but I'm saving my Doomsday Device for something else. Besides, it's more fun to actually threaten to use the Doomsday Device than it is to actually use it.

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Wil

I'm just this guy, you know?

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