How does it feel?

So this hilarious picture was posted on Reddit yesterday.

We all made lots of jokes about how paying attention to the wife in each picture was the right decision, but eventually this discussion happened:

Screen Shot 2013-05-17 at 3.03.30 PMIf you can’t see that image clearly, here’s the important parts:

thatgengirl: At least he looks happy in your photo–we walked away from our photo op with a completely different opinion of Wil Wheaton.

me: Uh-oh. What happened?

thatgengirl then PM’d me, and gave permission to repost our exchange. It’s important to me, and I wanted to share it here, as well as at Reddit.

She wrote:

Hey Wil.

First off, I want to say that even thought we were a little soured by the experience–I still follow you on Twitter and read your blog. I started with WIL WHEATON dot NET years and years ago. (Your post about your son trying to communicate that he was kidnapped via bizarre text shorthand is my all-time fave.)

When we saw you were going to the Calgary Expo (2012), my husband and I were stoked! We bought a weekend pass for ourselves to celebrate our anniversary there.

The Calgary Expo is probably where it all went wrong. They were ridiculously unorganized, as was clearly demonstrated on the Saturday that everything was shut down. (My husband had to miss his photo op with Adam West because we were refused re-entry after the Fringe panel).

Luckily, our photo op was for the Friday evening, before others had arrived en masse. We stood in line for a very long time, crazy excited about getting to meet you. We knew from reading the Penny Arcade blog that you never touch people during photos to avoid the flu. We were cool with that.

When we were there, we saw how rushed people were being, and that sort of set us back, but we decided we could make the most of our 5 secs by just simply getting to say hi to an idol.

We were called, you didn’t make eye contact. I tried desperately by grinning a big grin, but you wouldn’t even look at us. My husband said he was a big fan, you didn’t even turn your head to acknowledge him. We were told to stand behind you–we did. You forced a smile (In the photo it looks like you secretly hate us) and the took the picture. My husband blinked, so they had to take it again–you seemed annoyed (But that’s probably projecting). Then you turned to someone who worked there and made a comment about the crying baby hating you. We told to leave, and that was it.

We were a little heartbroken. The whole experience felt like we were forcing you to meet us–forcing you to be somewhere you didn’t want to be. And I bet that’s probably true. You had probably just flown in, were tired, hungry, annoyed that the Calgary Expo spelled your name wrong…. You’re a human, and we get that. But gone was the impression that you were the fan’s fan.

The next day, we decided to get your autograph on the photo. Perhaps you were in a better mood? The line for your booth was insane, but it was what I saw when I got there that annoyed me. You had always affirmed that you never charge for autographs, and yet there was a sign at the front of the line that said “Autographs $30.” We could have afforded it, but it was just icing on the cake. We skipped your line and went to see Aaron Douglas instead. Great guy, I can see why you’re friends.

I’m really sorry I said what I did. I needed this reminder that we’re all humans doing a job and our words can make impressions and last forever online.

I love Tabletop, btw. After season 1 we went out and bought Catan, Smallworld, Ticket to Ride and Zombie Dice. We spend more time together as family now as a result. We would LOVE to see Zombicide on there sometime. We got in with the first Kickstarter and damn that’s a great game! Also, have you considered a children’s episode? My 6 year old loves Catan Jr. and I think it would be adorable if you guys got your kids to play it together (especially if most of the kids are under 10, but you made Ryan join too.)

p.s. Please don’t let them lynch me

I replied:

I’m so sorry you had a bad experience. Last year (2012) at Calgary Expo, I had the flu (Aaron and I went out for dinner one night and I ended up puking it all over a street on the way back to the hotel — good times) and was coming off of a three week performance tour of Australia. I wasn’t 100%, and probably was forcing things to a certain extent, because I felt an obligation to be there and entertain everyone. It was also incredibly emotional for me to be around the TNG cast for the first time in over a decade, so I was a little messed up on top of being sick and exhausted.

That con was the most overly-packed and unprepared for the mass of people I’ve ever been at, and I think that poor planning was most painfully experienced by fans during the photos. I hated that everyone was rushed through like you were, and I made sure that everyone involved knew that I wouldn’t be doing them in the future if they were going to rush people like that. This year, it was organized much better, and everyone was much happier.

I’ve always tried to keep autograph fees minimal or eliminate them entirely, but the reality is time I spend at a con is time I can’t spend working on Tabletop, my books, or any of the other projects I have in development. I give away tons of stuff to people at every con (I never charge volunteers for anything), and I’m never going to be one of those “give me $60 and get out” people cough Shatner cough. That said, it is work for me to be there, and though I’m uncomfortable even talking about it, I want you to know that I do my very best to be fair and reasonable. If someone gave you the impression that it was somehow required to fork over money just to visit and say hello and geek out about stuff, that person was wrong and I apologize for that.

I’m very sorry you had a disappointing time, and I hope that it hasn’t soured you on cons in the future. In the end, we’re all human, and though I make every effort to be as awesome to every single person I meet, when I’m meeting thousands of people I’m going to fall short at least once. I am sincerely sorry that I didn’t give you and your husband the awesome time you wanted and deserved.

I don’t think anyone is going to lynch you, and I honestly wish this exchange had been public; I imagine that you speak for a non-zero number of convention attendees who have had similar experiences. Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I wish you all the best.

Like I said, I believe you speak for a non-zero number of people — especially where the photo-ops are concerned — and convention organizers, the people who shoot the photo-ops, and the media guests who participate in them need to hear this and change the way we do them.

Redditor DireTaco added:

The photo ops are a kind of disillusioning experience in themselves, and not necessarily because of the celebrity; there’s just so many people, and while each fan wants to be able to talk 1-on-1 with you, they only get 5 seconds of a posed shoot and then they’re gone. If everyone got to spend the time they’d like to with you, you’d be there for a week.

And you as the celebrity have only so much time to squeeze in several hundred people, so you want to make the best of each shoot, but then efficiency gets mistaken for coldness. The no-touching rule is an entirely sensible and proper precaution when you have hundreds of people who want to enter your personal space, but it also adds to the perceived coldness.

Honestly, it’s a tough situation to be in for you and other celebs, and I sure as hell don’t envy you.

I replied:

I also have a certain amount of anxiety, and if lots of people are putting their arms around me, I start to freak out. If I reach out to a person, I can handle it, but when someone I don’t know tries to hug me or grabs me, I freak out, because that’s the way my brain is broken.

A general consensus emerged that the photo-ops at conventions are imperfect, but they’re probably the best any of us can hope for, considering the sheer volume of people who want to participate in them and the limited amount of time and energy that we all have to give.

I know “how does it feel” was asked in jest, and it was a really great joke, but I hope this gives a little insight into how it actually does feel, for both someone like me who appears at a con, and someone like thatgengirl, who attends a con.

I was attending cons long before I appeared at them (and even these days I still attend in ways — visiting artists’ alley, poking my head in on panels, jumping into photo-ops if I can) and I clearly recall how I wanted to feel when I went home, so now that I’m appearing at them, I keep that in mind and do my very best to treat people the way I’d like to be treated.

 

90 thoughts on “How does it feel?”

  1. Unfortunately I feel that a lot of people come away from meeting celebrities at conventions a little disappointed, through no fault of the celebrity. It’s just the medium.

    1. The thing about meeting someone in real life who is an actor is that we forget they are human. They have needs, they need to eat, sleep, burp, visit the bathroom. They have BO and bad breath. They get tired and cranky and upset. Not to mention people, like Wil having issues with anxiety (which he is brave enough to share with the public like it is any of our business.) Yet, we as the general public forget that they are people, because we only view them through a screen. They are primped and polished and saying words that most of the time were written for them. They play characters that are not real so its sometimes hard to remember that the person acting IS real. We need to always remember they are just like us, with the same wants and needs as we have. I think it is awesome that he apologized and I think it is awesome that this conversation was civil. He shows class that most people would not, not just celebrities, PEOPLE. Thanks Wil for being you.

      1. Also difficult to remember, though I try very hard, is that to the celebrity I am one stranger among hundreds and thousands. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it only took a few words to connect with them, and they instantly realized how cool I am and they should want to be friends? I have seen them act in my favorite shows, followed them on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media. I know so much about them and everything I know makes them wonderful. But there isn’t any time or real opportunity for them to get to know me at all in that way.
        And even though, rationally, I know all of this – emotionally there are still those feelings. And although I still treasure the opportunities to stand face-to-face with Wil and other celebrities, and have my photo taken with them, it is still a bit of a letdown to prove to the emotional me that we are not instant BFFs.

        1. See, quarkwright2000, this is you being human. We all have expectations, hopes, dreams, that “hey, I would be cool enough to hang with *said celebrity* because from what I know about them we have SO MUCH in common!” I completely agree. Trust me when I say that I have had these emotions as well. I cannot tell you how many times my husband and I have said after watching Table Top how wonderfully awesome it would be to get to hang with Wil and play a game. But My point isn’t the wishing and emotions; its the fact that at situations like these, we really need to force ourselves to remember that we are all humans having human experiences. If we keep that in mind, we get to treasure the gift of the small amount of time we would get when we do get a meet and greet or photo op.

  2. I think it’s awesome that you were able to explain, and apologize for the situation. I honestly don’t know how you could handle an hour with fans (not to naysay us but we can be very demanding) let alone a cons worth.

  3. The fact that you respond to someone having a bad experience with such class and dignaty is part of why I follow on Twitter and rear WWdN. You’re a good man Wil. Thanks for being awesome, even to apologize for not being awesome!

    1. I’ve met Wil twice now (at both Montreal and Ottawa ComicCon’s) and I have to say, considering the sheer volume of people waiting to meet him, he’s always tried to be as accommodating as possible to everyone (fans, volunteers, other guests). Since he’s often a fan of the other guests cons have, I think he understands how frustrating it can be.
      He really is a classy guest to meet

  4. When my wife and I met you at PAX (not in Bandland, but in the wild), you were sincerely awesome. Even though I probably startled the hell out of you by yelling your name from half a block away in the dark. But you fulfilled my wife’s wish of a photo op with you, on the street (even though you were on your way to the concerts), and even violated your own “no touching” rule when you shook my hand. And I got no sense of you feeling forced or uncomfortable, nor of us being rushed or “just another body”.

    tl;dr: You were not a Dick.

    It was a great experience and I truly wish more fans could/will enjoy the same.

  5. In the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151569432365214&l=eeffbd8fcc&quot; target="_blank"photo I took with you @ Calgary 2012, you look more than a little like you’re forcing it, but I remembered you’d just been to Australia and had to have been exhausted. I was smiling enough for the both of us, I suspect, and just joked that you looked constipated for everyone *grin*.

    At your table, though, and the TNG photo op next day, I thought you were lovely (and that one was *RIDICULOUSLY* rushed – you still commented on my ‘Gordie, Wesley, Fawkes…” shirt from Hijinks Ensue). Though I was surprised by the $30, too, that’s the same as all the other non-Stewart TNG’ers were charging, so I felt it fair, especially for a Con so far from home.

    Anyway – this is all to say that I thoroughly appreciated that you were in Calgary in 2012 at all. Despite the organization snafus, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and you were a huge, HUGE part of it. Thanks so much.

  6. So looking through this… you’re kind of a Reddit ninja, aren’t you? Sneaking up on trolls and stabbing them in the heart. Y’know, upward and through the ribs, like any half-decent assassin.

    1. I … guess? But none of the people I interacted with in that thread were trolls, IMHO. There were a few, but I tagged them in RES and moved on.

  7. I thought I’d chime in positively, and let you know my experience meeting you at Columbus, Ohio’s origins con was most excellent (Not sure if you remember, but I was the guy who brought his Prop Man Uncle’s “The Big Goodbye” script and shooting schedule for you to sign). I’ve met a lot of actors at shows over the years, some nicer than others, and believe me, you are were one of the best!

    As to the photo booth thing, I have avoided that because it kind of bugs me to have to pay $40-60 or more for the picture and then pay a second fee to get the pic signed, not to mention the time spent standing in two sometimes very long lines. While I’d love to get the photo, I’m quite happy to meet the guests and just get a pic or a book signed. Anyway, didn’t mean to write a novel here, just wanted to say thanks for being cooler to me than you are to Sheldon!

  8. I used to collect autographs, mostly of science fiction writers, although I do have Walter Koenig’s. But I stopped, and haven’t collected any in over 25 years, because it was the way it has to be when the many want something from the one, just as this post makes clear.

    I made an exception the other day, but that was because it was John Scalzi, who used to call the BBS I ran back in the 1980s. We lost track of each other after that, until he became famous. This was the first time since the late 1980s that we had been in the same city at the same time, so far as I know. We spent perhaps a total of 90 seconds talking before and after his talk. He was kind, witty, and gracious, and I knew any more than that would have been an imposition on John, and on the bazillion people behind me in line.

    Best wishes, Wil!

  9. My wife and I were lucky enough to meet Wil the day before PAX East ’10 (twice). I can honestly say that, in the wild, if approached like a normal guy, he’s totally awesome. Both he and his wife treated us like we were old friends. It was honestly my #1 memory from the weekend.

  10. I’ve never met a celebrity, nor conversed with one. They are people just like me and my friends. They are merely well known people. That fact I think causes a blurring of the lines between stranger and acquaintance. These people (artists, writers, and television personalities) have an impact through their work on who we are. More than that they help define how we think of ourselves. These people move us, change us, and make us think. As such it is strange for us as humans to realize that these other humans who have so changed us have no idea of who we are nor the impact they have had on us. It is disillusioning to realize the people who shaped us do not know us nor care about us. I prefer my idols where they are, removed from my life. I prefer to have them at arm’s length, unaware of who I am. It is much harder to shake my foundations if the architects of my imagination or not standing in the same room with me.

  11. Kudos to you AND the disheartened fan for discussing the situation calmly and rationally. It’s easy to let defensiveness get the better of you, but I hope this exchange shows everyone that the people we’re fans of are people just like us, and have good days & bad days. Same with fans – we have good days & bad days. Sometimes we forget how to appropriately handle a situation when we get overwhelmed with the feels.

    I now consider myself a million times lucky to have met you at ECCC ’12 in a more casual setting, although I ALSO now understand that I might have accidentally pissed off A LOT of people patiently waiting in line to see you. It probably wasn’t cool at all but Joel Watson was so eager to have you see the thing I made (a hand-knitted Don’t-Be-A-Dick dice bag) and I was so excited at the prospect of Meeting! Wil! Wheaton! it didn’t even occur to me that it really wasn’t kosher. But you were so, so gracious, and if it wasn’t cool with you, you certainly didn’t let on. It was the single coolest experience of the entire convention. Thanks again for being awesome. :)

  12. I had the chance to meet you last year in Toronto, and chickened out. You see, I’m severely socially phobic, and generally have my husband with me for conventions so that I’m encouraged to go up to photo ops and autograph lines to ensure I don’t leave without meeting everyone I wanted to meet. Unfortunately, he had to work that day and I was left on my own. Gotta say, I missed a lot of stuff at that con, spent a lot of time outside waiting for particular events to come around so that I didn’t have to be in the crowds of people during the in between times. I found the strength to go to only one photo op and one autograph line, but at least I did that much, I suppose. I got a bunch of pictures of you, however, and was very happy with it, especially since at one point you caught me taking your picture and smiled for it. I hate to say it, but that’s good enough for me. I left very happy (the absolute second I was able to ditch without missing any talks!) as a result. So, thanks for being you, and thanks for smiling for a picture you could have blown off without a second thought. Maybe next time I’ll have a touch more courage, or at the very least my husband standing there pushing me up through the line ups. :) Just saying, so that you know even when we’re not handing over money to you, you’ve managed to make someone’s day. :)

    1. Shout out to another Toronto fan! I did the Ottawacomiccon this year and although I don’t remember it, I’m told that the Toronto crowds are WAY worse. Although Toronto is way cooler! ;)

      I deal with anxiety too, especially in crowds – more than happy to meet a friend to be anxious with together!!

      1. I had a really great time at the Polaris con in Toronto last year. It felt like a classic “take over a hotel for a weekend, play games, watch movies, geek out, and make friends” con, which was a very nice break from the massive theme park cons that have cropped up in the last few years. (Those massive cons are great in their own way, but you just can’t beat a classic fan-run convention for making friends and really feeling special.)

        1. Perhaps that’s why my experience in the autograph line at Polaris last summer was so awesome… seeing that you were having a good time. My parents used to take me to a country music extravaganza every summer when I was young (Fan Fair in Nashville) and I have met many famous country music singers, but always found that the majority just signed their names, carried on conversations with others around you, and passed you through the line like cattle. I was hesitant about the $30 at Polaris, but, like thatgengirl, have been reading your blog for over a decade and wanted the chance to meet you. I have mentioned on this blog before (and will avoid the details again) but I was needlessly prepared to make the most of my 5 seconds, because you were so attentive, gracious and kind (you took a photo of my first print Dancing Barefoot).
          But, in response to what Alex Perez said above, it is a weird dynamic, because yes, you are human and yes we know you through your art. But, as I tried to express (very badly) that day in Toronto, it is like looking at you as an investment. That sounds oddly cold, but you and I are very close in age, so I grew up with Stand By Me, and decided that you were a decent actor and I was going to make a point of paying to go to movies that you were in. And I watched STTNG and invested in that. And I followed your blog and you were a decent writer, so I re-invested in that aspect of your career, by purchasing your books. So now that Big Bang Theory and other projects have restored you as a household name I (and the rest of us here) feel like our investment has paid off, and there is a sense of pride in having supported those efforts. So, while we don’t KNOW you and you don’t KNOW us, we the fans tend to feel like we have been through all this together with you. And I am sorry that thatgengirls experience wasn’t awesome, as mine was, for that one, and probably only, moment where our lives are in parallel.
          The best part of my awesome experience…. I’m a high school teacher and whenever any of my students overhear other kids talk about Big Bang Theory they always says “Go ask Mrs. Lacey about the time she met Wil Wheaton”… and I am always happy to oblige in re-telling the story. :)

  13. “I told Pierce a thousand times, i never wanted to meet Levar Burton. I just wanted a picture. You can’t disappoint a picture!”

  14. From what I have seen with guests of cons or signings at special events (Stone brewery, w00tst0ck, etc) Is that when folks are doing these they are working. It is a different mindset. Not a bad one but one where you there too perform a service or function. Last year I got to spend a bunch of time at Geek and Sundry during comic con. It was a blast you and Felicia were laid back and fun to chat too. At the end of W00tst0ck after performing for a few hours then having to sign stuff you were polite but curt. After all you had a hundred folks wanting things signed. Even in that short time you did take the time to talk to each person. It is nice to see that. I know it is work and can be draining.

    I think most folks don’t seem to see that. When they do they feel sad not because you are being a dick but because they had the expectation that you could take time for them that you don’t have. It is that odd balance between a fan meeting their idol and them wanting a real connection with them.

    Anyways Wil if I see you in the wild and you and Ann want a drink. It is on me. Also I don’t think I can sneak any Stone into the Balboa theater this year. How can they only server yellow fizzy beers and be in San Diego!? Bastards keeping the hops down.

  15. I had the supream pleasure of meeting you at MegaCon (Orlando) a few months back and while the experience was a mixture of emotions while it happened, I have nothing but fond memories of it now.
    I did not know about your “no touching” policy, and I know you have no control over the people who take the photos rushing everyone out (though they could be a little nicer about it instead of acting like a drill sargeant). And I’m glad that I got to tell you how I had so looked forward to meeting you/getting my photo taken since I had seen you and Jonathon Frakes at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Missouri all those years ago. And I feel kind of bad cause I was with two friends (only one got in the photo with me) and like the photo posted with this blog, my friend kind of got the brush off. But I don’t really blame you for that considering I kind of took all your attention and you might not have even known she was there!

    So thank you so much Wil for just being you and being awesome and for coming to Cons and being avaible for photo ops and autographs and for not charging outrageous amounts (cause seriously $90 is A LOT of money), and for generally not being a dick!

  16. Thanks for writing this. The whole setup of a con seems fraught with disappointment. SO many people wanting to have an authentic moment with a person of whom they’re a fan. I’ve never gone as only a fan, but I just went to C2E2 as an exhibitor. Wow! I was there selling stuff (granted, selling markers to comic book artists was fun), and I was at times overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who came into our booth just to ask questions. It’s tiring. Compound that by, like, 1000 and I can see it from both perspectives.

    Fandom is a tricky thing. It became a joke in our booth that I was pining for Felicia Day (she was at C2E2). And, while I did hope to meet her and just say, “Hey. I’m a big fan of Dr. Horrible’s and just started watching the Guild. Love your work,” because I was working, I never got a chance to get over to her autograph line. I’ll be damned if I wasn’t a little disappointed!

    Not to go on and on, but it’s even weirder with things like forums, blog comment (ahem), and Twitter. I literally follow the LA Kings through your @wilw Twitter account. I feel like I know you. I feel like I know Felicia and Nathan and John Scalzi. So then, you go to something like C2E2 with that little illusion in your head . . . easy to see where disappointment can sneak up on you. The fact is, I don’t know you. Or Ms. Day. Or Nathan Fillion. But, you go to a convention with a mindset of, “of course I’m special to them, I FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER!” (Erm . . . along with 2 million other people.) When I stop to think about what it would be like to have that many people putting expectations on you . . . it makes me want to stay in my house just thinking about it.

    Anyway, all that rambling to say, thank you for your thoughts. I think you’re awesome for simply acknowledging @thegengirl’s disappointment and apologizing to her personally. Class act in my book. And, someday I may actually be able to meet you or Felicia or Nathan at a convention, but . . . it’s almost more fun to simply want to than to get to for a rushed 5 seconds before the next person in line gets to too.

    All the best! Keep writing, you’re too good at it not to.

    ~John

  17. Great post – Although this is going to come off as weird and may sound stupid, this post humanized you in my eyes. Often times I think mistake the actor with the characters they play and expect you to be this person all the time. I suffer from anxiety and I can’t even imagine how meeting tons of people over a half hour period can feel. I will say that when I did my photo opp with you at Ottawa Comiccon, although it was brief, I thought it was awesome. Even though I hate posting photos of me online, here is it so you get an idea how happy I was!

    I always wondered how much money guests brought home from autographs and trust me, I really appreciate your fee being low. Nathan Fillion seems nice, but $70 for an autograph seems excessive.

    I think you do a great job being you and that’s who we are fans of! Bottom line, you’re a guy like us, except you travel more and people know your face! <3

  18. I must say that I am part of the non-zero number of people who had awesome experiences with you every time I’ve entered your realm of influence at a con (all two of them). ECCC 2012 happened to start the day after my grandmother passed away. I had celeb encounters prior to with you that sucked, but when I went to get an autograph from you, as I was walking away you told me that I was awesome, and that seriously made my memories of the whole con much brighter.

    So, thanks for being you, and doing your best to attempt to give people experiences like mine, or make experiences like DireTaco’s better when you find out they were not like mine.

  19. I met Wil at ECCC 2013, and I feel that Wil and I totally formed a lifetime connection in our five seconds together! (Yeah, right!) I found him to be personable and as friendly as called for in meeting a total stranger amongst a crowd of thousands. He greeted me when we posed for the picture and said ‘Thanks’ or ‘Goodbye’ or some such when it was over. Then when I had the picture autographed we exchanged a few pleasantries. What more would you expect? Honestly, I feel I got more interaction with him than I would have with many other celebrity guests. I think anyone who goes to a con expecting to have a transformative experience with their fan crush is kidding themselves. However, there are lots of other fascinating, less famous panelists and guests with whom you CAN interact to your heart’s desire and they are happy to entertain your thoughts and questions, and I recommend that anyone who attends a con spend the bulk of their time meeting these people. It’s great to get that souvenir photo with your favorite celebrity, but if you make that the whole focus of your con attendance, the odds are greatly in favor of you coming away feeling cheated.

  20. I adore the discussion thread this all generated on Reddit. Shines an interesting light on the celebrity/fan relationship in our culture.

  21. Fracking hilarious! That being said I can only but sympathize with how you feel being crowded by the many women who want to have your baby, the men who want to best buds so they could sot down and game with you and I suppose a few others who claim they knew ypu back in the day. My wife wanted to goto tthe Kansas City con and I kept thinking how crowded it would be and how uncomfortable you would have to be to shake all those hands and shoulders you would pat.

  22. I can guarantee I’d be much more standoffish and freaked if I were forced to interact with strangers the way you do, so the fact that you manage to maintain as positive an attitude as you do on what seems like a pretty consistent basis is impressive in my eyes.

  23. This is one of the reasons I really like Twitter, blogs, etc, as mediums for fan/entertainer (<– that feels like the wrong word) interaction. It reminds me of cons in the 80s and early 90s, when they were smaller and more intimate, and getting stuck in an elevator with the likes of Dorn and de Lancie was actually possible (true story, they sang to entertain us while the elevator was repaired) and interactions in the dealers room, or even panel Q&A, was more organic.

    Fandom has changed. Cons are crazy insane – and I mostly skip them because of that. But Twitter and blogs? It gives back a lot of that artist-alley-esque interaction, of being able to have a small conversation or meaningful exchange, and works really well to return the humanity to the artist in question – something that seems stripped, somewhat, from contemporary con experiences. (Not, mind, that I begrudge anyone that experience or the talent that goes to them. More power to those of you who can handle the crowds; you'd find me weeping and rocking in a corner.)

    Anyhow, thanks for being a decent guy, Wil, and for living by your rule.

  24. Wil, what you said here really resonated with me:

    “I also have a certain amount of anxiety, and if lots of people are putting their arms around me, I start to freak out. If I reach out to a person, I can handle it, but when someone I don’t know tries to hug me or grabs me, I freak out, because that’s the way my brain is broken.”

    I had multiple reactions to this. First, I also have problems with anxiety, so I very much understand what you mean, even if my anxiety (OCD) is of a different type than yours.

    But my next reaction was feeling somewhat heartbroken at the phrase “that’s the way my brain is broken.” Because I’ve felt broken too, and I know what it’s like to feel like you’re broken (in my case, to feel so broken that you’re beyond fixing).

    And this is the reaction that brought me to comment, because I’m hoping that you’ll read this, and maybe it’ll help you. I’m going to give some unsolicited advice about anxiety, and I hope you’ll forgive me for doing so. I highly recommend trying cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). I really believe in it, because it changed my life. I spent nearly 30 days in treatment in an intensive outpatient program, and it made a huge difference in the severity of my symptoms. I was able to do things I hadn’t done in years, with less or even no anxiety. I don’t want to make any assumptions about your anxiety or how you manage it; I just want to share a bit of my experience because I hope that you might get something out of it.

    Anyway, I wish you all the best with your anxiety. I know it’s a difficult problem to have that is often invisible to others. And I think it’s really amazing and brave of you to be willing to talk about it publicly. I think that shows a lot of strength.

  25. The solution is obvious. We must clone Wheaton!
    But I do totally get the asymmetry between what people want and what you can reasonably give them, and what we get is (when done properly) the best we can really hope for.

    I remember cons from years ago, when they were much smaller, and the panels were in rooms so small that it was almost like a much more intimate pow-wow with the fans, and you could practically have a dialogue with the stars. (Specifically remember one where Brent Spiner got asked a whole bunch of Night Court related questions randomly, and did his Wheeler character).

  26. I went to my first ever con specifically because I wanted to meet you, Wil, and you were such a class act. There were at least 2 extremely awkward individuals directly in front of me in line and you were just plain kind and decent in the way you connected with them and helped them have a positive fan experience in spite of themselves.

    Of course, I needed ~none~ of that guidance to stop me from being a goofy fangirl. You even tried to rescue me from myself as I started babbling inanely when it was time to move on, and I’m grateful for that heroic (if unsuccessful) effort. First-ever celebrity meeting and I came away feeling happy and of course thoroughly in love with my hand-numbered, autographed chapbook. You’ll always be my fave, even with your terrible taste in hockey teams (Go Sharks!!) ;-)

  27. I got the photo op with the TNG cast last year at Phoenix ComiCon and they definitely herd you through the process quickly and efficiently. I remember trying to come up with something to say while I was in line and being so nervous I couldn’t even think. I was actually relieved that I wasn’t given the opportunity to make an idiot of myself since it was over so fast. I will say that Wil smiled at me and said something… I was just so thrilled to get that picture. Thanks for doing these things that mean so much to us. Hopefully I can get up the nerve to have you sign my Star Trek Catan game this year!

  28. My girlfriend and I are gearing up for Phoenix Comicon and I’d like to say that you are one of the primary reasons we choose to attend annually. When we’ve met, however brief, you’ve been very kind and genuine. We can’t wait for Story Hour, and hope you’ll read Scalzi’s review of ‘Toy Soldiers’.

    People rarely leave room for others to make mistakes anymore. And even then, this wasn’t a mistake, so much as a huge shitstorm. Nobody comes out that unscathed.

    You’ve demonstrated a lot of class in the way you handled the conversation. Bravo! :)

  29. Reminds me a bit of when I had a moment with my uber-hero, William Gibson; first in line at a signing for Zero History at a Chicago Borders, but he was so preoccupied making the transition from speaking/reading to book-signing mode, that I don’t actually recall him looking at me. There was a store employee there whose purpose was to take pictures with whatever photosensitive device we supplied, so I gave her my phone, but it’s just this weird photo of Gibson looking down and me being very mildly dazed. I don’t like it much.

    Not at all surprised that you followed up with that Redditor, though – just the kind of non-dick move that makes you who you are! Well played.

  30. I think most of us reading this blog belong to the club of people who would like to hang out with Wil Wheaton but realize that will never happen. I think what’s important is that we think about all of the people we know who would ALSO like to hang with the Wil and realize how lucky we are. It’s been my experience that people who are like Wil (sans the fame) belong in the category of people deemed “awesome.” I like to think of Mr. Wheaton as the face of my particular niche. If I were to meet him, I would thank him for being the face of that niche, but I really should be thanking all of the people I’ve never met or never will meet who are equally awesome. Perhaps I’ve had one Bronx Pale Ale too many, but the sentimentality in me is ecstatic for Wil’s success in that in means that people of a similar ilk can be valued in our society. As much as I’d like to be his best buddy, it’s enough for me to be happy that he is who he is.

    I’m rambling.

  31. I just wanted to let you know that you are the reason I love Phoenix Comicon. You were so wonderful to me, my first Con, and signed my badge. I kept it in my car forever. I work to see you each time and even when I didn’t get to say hello last year I was glad to see you there. Looking forward to seeing you next week. I was so thrilled when you were announced as attending. At least for me you have been just awesome.

  32. Hi Wil
    I had an art table at the aforementioned 2012 show in Calgary and I have to agree that the show was rather overwhelming. I don’t suffer from social anxieties but even I was getting a bit twitchy by the end of the Saturday from the crush of people, and I can only imagine how much worse it was for you.
    During your last signing on the Sunday, however, my assistant and I did go to get your autograph – I found you to be very personable, very charming, and not at all showing the stress you must have been going through at that point. You even remembered meeting my assistant a couple of days before (she had given you a copy of Cthulhu Gloom), which made her incredibly happy, as you signed her Friendship Algorithm t-shirt (she was dressed as Dark Phoenix at the time – as I recall, she was the only Dark Phoenix during the entire show), and I’ve always wanted to thank you for how welcome you made us both feel there.
    By the by, and I doubt you’ll remember this, as it was over a year ago, I’m writing this reply on my laptop that I got you to sign at that same time.

    No real content to add to this, I suppose, except to see how I can understand a lot of the complaints people had about that show, as they really didn’t seem to be prepared for the sort of crowd that showed up. I didn’t attend it this year (I’m planning on doing it every two years), but it sounds like they were able to handle it much better this time around.

  33. As others have already stated, your polite exchange with the disappointed Reddit fan was a credit to you both. If asked about your behavior in such a situation, I wouldn’t have expected any less of you, which I do acknowledge is an unfair expectation in some senses. However, it’s that same impression of your character that allows me to understand how deeply disappointed the fan must have initially been.

    You see, as the duly-elected Secretary of Geek Affairs and the host of Tabletop, to name a couple of your roles, you’re a person with whom many of us would love to have as a friend. In our minds, we want to sit on the loser’s couch with you after a rousing Tabletop session or discuss ways to properly sanitize a carboy before brewing. It’s not hard to imagine.

    Now, of course I know it’s not even a remotely possible or practical idea. It’s not meant to be an uncomfortable thought and I especially don’t mean it to sound like some sort of weird, stalker-y thing. We’re geeks with varying levels of social anxiety or awkwardness, or at least I am, and I very much live in my head. I would be surprised to find that I’m alone in this.

    At any rate, I suspect that having such good imaginations can add somewhat unfairly to expectations people have of you, fair or not. It’s impressive that from what I can tell, you actually meet most of them. And even when you don’t, as in this case, when made aware of it, you react with a grace, honesty, and humility that’s typical of your behavior.

    You play the games we love, write things we enjoy reading, and appear at cons we want to attend. Your hobbies match ours, your humor is appealing, and you go to great lengths to share things with us from your Twitter, Tumblr, and WWDN. While doing all of this, you come across as a genuinely good person, and rather importantly, you don’t hide that you have flaws just like the rest of us. I would like to think that there are many like you out in geek-land. Any unlike perhaps many of us, you can get up in front of people and speak without freaking out, among your other talents. Your use of your abilities and talents along with your interests have definitely made you a spokesgeek. This pleases me and I think you do wonders as such, quite honorably.

    I apologize for this being so long, but I can get caught up in trying to phrase things exactly so. In closing, I will quickly add that in attending my first PAX in Boston, I was disappointed not to see you. Happily, I have obtained a front row ticket for Wil Wheaton vs. Paul and Storm in Philly. It will be awesome both to see Paul and Storm again and to see you in person for the first time. I will be gleefully looking forward to this for the next several months.

  34. I thought I’d just chime in since I’ve run across Mr. Wheaton a few times in the last year or so at a couple of cons and, since I cover these things for my website, I’ve seen Wil both closer up and from afar. So just give a quick rundown of my experiences and toss a summation out there for people to chew over…

    Last year at the Phoenix Comic-Con Wil was holding one of his “Story Times” and I was at the show, with my media credentials, so I figured I’d tackle it. I approached the volunteers who were supervising the entrance to the hall where the story time was being held, flashed my badge, and asked if it was ok to go in to cover the event. The young woman said it was alright since I had the press badge. So I grab a seat and the hall starts filling up when a few minutes later a couple of volunteers approach me and tell me I have to leave. I mention I don’t have a ticket since I’m media but they explain to me Wil doesn’t want any press at the event and that’s why I have to leave. No problem, as I don’t cause a fuss about it, and I get escorted out of the practically full hall while sort of looking like a doofus since they decide to use the flanking maneuver to escort me out; as if I’m going to make a break for the podium or something.
    I just chalk it up to Wil no doubt wanting to let his hair down and probably not wanting to be quoted or some such. I have no issue with that and it’s certainly not Wil’s fault as the girl who let me in obviously made a mistake. Yet I still feel like a bit of an idiot since people were staring at me as I was escorted out of the hall in a way which would imply to the viewer they were kicking me out of the con.

    Flash forward to Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH a few weeks later. I’m there with my co-host of the podcast we did at the time, Elliott, and Mr. Wheaton is a guest of honor along with his pal Felicia Day and actress Adrienne Wilkinson. Time has been set aside with each of them for a question and answer session for the media in attendance. Keep in mind our website in mainly focused on tabletop gaming – that’s our bread and butter – so we love TableTop and all things Geek & Sundry. Granted, we’re not MTVGeek but last year we pulled well over a million visitors and this year we’re on pace for around three million so people in that industry really know who we are and we’re right in our element at Origins. So we’ve staked out a great spot in the interview area for Wil’s Q&A, along with other folks with gaming websites and such, when about five minutes before the scheduled start time everyone is informed Wil won’t be coming down but he’ll show up alongside Felicia for her Q&A.

    There’s a bunch of grumbling from the other folks but I just look at Elliott, he looks at me and we both shrug. Then someone else in the group calls out, “Hey Wil just tweeted a minute ago he just woke up from a nap and he’s ready for more gaming!” or some such and that’s followed by more grumbling. I tell Elliott I really don’t think Wil cares much for the fourth estate and Elliott laughs and follows up with, “But I don’t get it. We cover games. We’re on his side.” To that I just shrug again. Needless to say, Felecia came down for her Q&A but Mr. Wheaton wasn’t in attendance. That led to more grumbling and complaining from the gaming press but I once again just shrugged since I already had the impression Wil isn’t too gung ho about the press no matter what outlet you represent.

    Now before you get the impression this is just another rant from some peon who has a gaming blog whining about their sense of entitlement and how they should get exclusive access to wherever they want let me point out my attitude, as well as anyone who contributes to the site, is we have the LEAST right to be at any particular con or show; we didn’t pay to get in and we get to go into areas and talk to people which the ticket buying public don’t have access. We say “Thank you,” and “Please,” and do everything in our power to make sure the smallest interaction we have with anyone we encounter is positive. Even if that means originally holding a door open for a father pushing a stroller and then spending an extra two or three minutes at the door for other people passing through. That’s just good manners and our moms raised us right.

    So flip the coin to the other side of Wil we see at Origins. The guests of honor were holding autograph sessions and while Origins is a big show in the gaming community it pales in comparison to many other the SF and Comic cons out there so the lines weren’t filled with hundreds of people. Elliott and I are in Wil’s line and we notice he’s taking a few minutes with everyone to chat a bit and people are taking pictures with him and so on. It comes our turn and Elliott gets a signed photo, has me take a photo of the two of them together and then hands Wil one of our cards and asks if he wouldn’t mind quickly recording an intro bumper for our podcast. Wil says “Sure!” and records the bumper and we thank him and go on our merry way. Mr. Wheaton surely didn’t have to do that for us nor did he have to take time to chat with folks or take pictures either.

    Later during the show we ran across Wil strolling down one of the hallways, wearing his ever present kilt, and watched people come up to him to say hi and/or take pics and Wil was sweeter than pie. Elliott and I were tempted to stroll over but we thought better of it since we figured Wil was probably on his way back to his room or out to eat so we didn’t want to bother him.

    As someone who can see what goes on at a lot of the shows and cons around the country from a little different perspective I can opine about how I can understand why Mr. Wheaton may not always “be on” whenever someone runs across him at a con. First of all, at the bigger shows there’s much larger crowds and a whole lot of people paying to get an autograph or have a photo taken within a set period of time; the gaming shows are a bit different and I think Wil and Felicia are there more to have fun with their buddies and play new games. At the larger events the organizers also get their cut of the signings and pics take so they want to keep that line moving along at a brisk pace because it means more dough in the coffers; I’ve seen handlers tell celebs they need to pick it up and stop spending so much time chatting since it’s putting a cramp in the profits. I get that since the organizers are there to make money so they can afford to put on a show next year too. Yes, there are a few con guests who don’t budge to even acknowledge your existence during the photos ops which may lead you to believe you’re hanging at Madame Tussauds but Wil doesn’t strike me as that sort. The whole “we’ve got to move this along” thing comes into play here as well though. Plus, I’d take a stab having a handler – effectively a complete stranger – steer you around nearly every minute you’re on the floor of every show must get a bit grating.

    Then toss on top of this the “media” covering a show pushing and prodding to get access to the special guests at every turn has to be a real pain too. Outside of the monster cons like SDCC, NYCC, and the like it isn’t all too difficult to get a press pass to a lot of events. I’ll be the first to say I’ve been practically mortified by the behavior of some “press” members toward not only con-goers but the featured guests of a show. If someone doesn’t want to talk to you or get in front of the mic or camera that’s their prerogative; they’re there for the fans and the paying public. Yet I’ve seen loads of special guests get hounded by people sporting press passes and that has to be irritating as hell especially when they’re on their way to catch a quick catnap, or a bite to eat, or a nice refreshing adult beverage.

    I think people tend to forget the reason we dig Wil Wheaton is because in a lot of ways he’s one of us; Wil likes the sorts of things we do and tweets about them and shoots video about them and gets to access celebs in the same geeky way we wish we could. Mr. Wheaton puts his pants on one leg at a time (or at least I’m guessing he does) just as we do but he also deals with a lot of things we don’t on a daily basis too or at least not when he’s hitting the con scene. You and I go to a show and we’re free to do nearly anything we please and schedule our time seeing whatever we’d like practically whenever we’d like. And, when we head out to relax with dinner or a drink, we don’t have anyone popping out of the woodwork to suddenly be standing two feet away in mid-bite or sip. Sure that’s the price of fame someone would chime but we also say that because we’re not paying that price ourselves.

    All in all I give Wil a lot of credit for achieving the level of popularity he has by effectively being himself. We see an interesting photo or thought he posts and we’re entertained. Wil drops a crank pants comment or article and we’re still entertained because overall we’re seeing someone we like, and consider a celebrity, being unfiltered. So, if you’re at a convention and you’ve plunked down your hard earned ducats for an autograph or photo op and Mr. Wheaton doesn’t have five minutes to chat about why you feel XYZ should be featured on the next TableTop or what it may be like to really navigate a star cluster, cut him some slack. You want to remember as much as you’d love to chew the fat with Wil so do the other thousand people in line. BTW… If Mr. Wheaton were ever actually read this comment, or get this far without getting tired of my rambling, may I suggest giving Twilight Struggle a play if you haven’t. although I can’t see the game translating to TT very well it’s an awesome two player game I think you’d enjoy!

    I never did learn why Wil didn’t want press at “Story Time” or why he wasn’t available for the Origins Q&A. I didn’t find out because it didn’t matter (although at Origins I’ll take a stab it was mainly because he was tired from gaming all through the night before) and it wasn’t my business to find out but it didn’t change my impression of him. Everyone has a bad day or minute or millisecond. We don’t always jump right up and explain why we’re off simply because we’re human and we’re allowed to be cranky once in a while. If the main reason we like Wil is because he’s one of us then we should also be understanding he may not always be “on his game” every second of every day… Just like all of us.

  35. I know I’m a bit different but I had a slightly similar experience with the Penny Arcade guys. I get the situation (I can’t even imagine sitting at a table for an hour or more while a like of humanity streams by…different personalities, faces, in some cases smells…it’s like sensory overload times a million). I generally don’t really care about signatures that much (I live in LA and see celebrities often enough) since it’s more about the value of the experience than the physical results. In the end, the best experiences with the most value are ones where you have the time to enjoy them. I get 100% that that’s likely completely infeasible for most situations.

    My PA experience was minor: I stayed in line on a whim because I really liked what they were doing and wanted to tell them while also getting a hard cover book signed. By the time I got up there, they were both distracted by other people and it was sign and go. That was the first time in decades that I’d bothered to stay in a line to get a signature from someone (basically the first time as an adult). I was disappointed (plus I was emotional because it was early in my PAX and PA experience…finally finding like-minded people after so many years).

    In the end, there was a chance for me to rectify the situation. The Child’s Play golf tourney. I had the money and it was in LA (so disappointed with the move this year but hey, it’s not my gig). Got to play golf with Mike while Jerry tagged along (first time) and got to play with Jerry (well, he was really uncomfortable with playing so we did a lot of talking while the rest of us played). It was great.

    These days, I have a short list of people I’d love to shake hands with and buy a coffee for if only to sit for 15 minutes to chat. I know that list will likely never be checked off but so be it. I understand the realities (you’re talking about a single person that millions of people probably want to also shake hands and sit down for 15 minutes with as well). I had an opportunity to do something like that years ago when I was at a play that Leonard Nimoy also attended. During the intermissions, I’d wanted to wade through the crowd to say hello to him but I also tend to be courteous to a fault (I suspect some people I know think I’m a douche or don’t care because if I see them engrossed in a conversation with someone else, I won’t bother them and would continue on because I didn’t want to disturb them). Instead, I just let him be since he had friends with him and there was no way I was going to ruin his playgoing experience with a “fan” visit.

    In the end, Wil, you’re well loved by many but you’re a single person (well, a married, single…a single person who’s…nevermind). Do the best you can and PR a bit like you’re doing here (I don’t mean PR as in corporate style PR, I mean getting in touch with people when a situation arises). It’s the best you can do. I think if you get the word out and barring anyone who wants to just ignore things and do whatever, people will understand…just like they understand about the no-touch rule, and the unspoken “don’t try the awkward hello while Wil’s running by you at PAX with a cape of dicks on…just don’t”. :)

  36. Thank you for sharing such an honest, civil exchange between two people. It does the heart good to see such discourse happening on the Internet. :)
    Personally, I have to say that 2010 was probably a highlight year for me. Not only was my second son born that September, but I was able to meet you in person–twice. The first time was in Chicago at w00tstock. I live over four hours away from the city in southern Indiana, and I managed to convince my husband to allow me to fly up for the day and meet some friends who were already there, so we could go to the show. I figured it was the only time I’d ever see you perform live, and the only time I’d be able to do something like that before becoming the mother of two children. The show was great, although my pregnant body didn’t like the time change and late hour (and forgetting to get dinner beforehand). And, even though we were all exhausted (fans and performers alike), you were still a treat to meet in the signing line afterward. (You won’t remember, but I gave you a picture I took of your book on the beach–the same picture that sort of started your “Books in the Wild” series; you posted it and linked to my blog way back in 2008, I think.)
    So, I had the best time that summer in Chicago. Then, it got better when I found out you were going to be the special media guest of honor at Gen Con. I was looking forward to seeing you perform again and having something autographed by you. When the Thursday of the con arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find you walking the exhibit hall floor late in the afternoon. I almost didn’t come up to say hi, because I was afraid to invade your personal space while you were enjoy the con floor. My husband convinced me, though, since other people were already coming up to you to say hi and give you dice. It was THE highlight of the con that year for me, because I gave you a die, and my husband took a great picture of you thoroughly happy to receive it. We had a short exchange about my very pregnant belly (underneath a Tweet of Cthulhu T-shirt) and that was that. You went on your way, and I spent the rest of the con happy that I had met you in the most informal way possible–and totally spontaneously. I was glad I had, too, because your autograph line was super long the entire con, and I was unable to stand in it for very long. You were even more kind when some friends of mine took my copy of “Stand by Me” up with them and you signed it for me.
    So, I guess this long post is to say thanks for the memories, thanks for being you, and for sharing your human experience with the rest of us.

  37. I bought tickets to Calgary Comicon 2012 as soon as you were announced as a guest. I ended up being sick that weekend too.

    I am pretty shy, so I kind of botched my chance to talk to you. While you were signing your autograph I asked if I could take your picture and you said “No.” I felt kind of flustered after that, figuring I’d made a huge faux pas. I’ve been wondering since then though, was it a legal thing or do you just hate flashes going off all day in your face? :)

    1. Lorene – always ask the handlers if possible. I felt the same way with a bunch of people, so I asked the person collecting money, they are very nice and helped me out! :)

      1. Do you mean I should have asked the handlers if I could take his photo? I was also buying a photo and having it signed, and I saw other people taking pictures of him while they were in line and nobody was stopping them. So I was just curious why he said No when asked.

    2. Maybe it’s because they are seeking pics too, you can’t ask for an autograph while getting a pic either I’m sure. My friend paid for an autograph and got pics with people too, but I don’t think they were doing paid pics.

      1. I didn’t mean a picture of me with him, just a picture of him sitting at the table. I know it was a stupid question because everyone else was just taking pictures, and I got plenty of pics during his presentations, but I was kind of surprised at the answer.

  38. The only way I’ve found to actually get to meet someone at a convention or other event is to buy ‘em dinner. So, standing invite Wil.. if you find yourself in Seattle without plans for any meal, shout.

  39. I wasn’t 100%, and probably was forcing things to a certain extent, because I felt an obligation to be there and entertain everyone.
    You went to DixieTrek ’95? Oh, dude, I’m sorry…

  40. People are people. Both fans and actors and everyone else for that matter. We all have our ups and downs and sometimes things are misunderstood and feelings are hurt. This is inevitable. What we do after it happens is what shows our character. Open discussion of such things, particularly in a public forum, is nothing but classy and kind when done respectfully, which all parties here have done. Kudos to Wil and thatgengirl and everyone else involved here. *salutes*

    thatgengirl? I’m sorry you had a bad con. We’ve all been there, and it really sucks. But there will be another con, and it will be as amazing as another was disappointing. That is the way of the world. Hang in there, and wait for the good one. It’ll come.

    Wil? Duct tape Sparks McGee thanks you for a wonderful interaction at Austin Comic Con last fall.

    And now, good night, sweet daywalkers, this night worker has been up far too long.

  41. I’ll add my two cents in as a former con-runner (albeit more on the literary fiction side of things).

    Nowadays its way too easy for cons to over-promise and under-deliver and that often reflects poorly on the wrong people, namely the guests. Photo ops and sponsored autograph sessions are probably the most egregious examples of that (guests who charge their own fees at their tables have the right to control their own pace – any issues with them at that point is with them). The marketing pitch is often something like ‘Come meet your favorite stars and get to know them, get up and personal with them”. I’m sure someone can find a current example.

    But then the financial side kicks in. Guests, hotels, photographers, etc cost money. The natural impulse is to pack as many of those secondary sales in as possible, which results in an assembly line process (‘Next!’). Very often, cons are also unwilling to limit attendance for the same reason until the fire code kicks in (which results in overcrowded main rooms and people asked to leave, which again often reflects wrongly on the performer). All of this results in a fairly high pressure evnironment, and if con management isn’t up to handling it, it can go bad quickly. Given that many cons are volunteer run, and well..

    Cons need to set clear expectations of what people, especially new or infrequent attendees, should expect as far as autographs, photo shoots, etc. To do otherwise is a disservice to the fans AND the guests.

    Wil – I will have to gently ding on you for one point. If in fact you did have the flu or another virus, you really should have (if possible) stepped back and either cancelled or rescheduled the shoots. Even with copious amounts of hand sanitizer, that may have been con crud central. At the very least a no-contact rule should have been implemented. Beleive me I am all in favor of your attitude that you didn’t want to disappoint the fans, but this falls under the pet peeve where people come to work sick and 3 days later the office sounds like a hospital ward :)

    As noted, guests are human. If a guest is not up to par, its up to the con staff and them to come to a reasonable accommodation as opposed to just ‘powering through’ which seems to be the default setting.

  42. Secondary note – for those people who want to get a chance to actually MEET guests? Volunteer. Cons often need staff, and there is often a green room or ops room wherein staff (when not on duty) can hang out (different cons have different rules, always check) and it is not uncommon to see the guests hang out in there as well (since its voluntary, they are usually much more open and laid back).

    Of course, the usual social interaction rules apply – basically ‘Don’t be a dick’ :)

  43. Maybe an idea to make photo ops a bit more personal without having to let people in your personal space: have some props available? You can have your box of stuff and the fans can choose from another: think crossing lightsabers or swords, pointing a ray gun/sonic screwdriver/crossbow/wand at them, putting on silly and/or geeky hats. That way there’s is bound to be some interaction.

    But then again, I haven’t had my photo taken at a con, so I have no idea what the maximum time per photo is and props are probably going to slow things down.

  44. I just wanted to leave a little message about my own experience meeting Wil at the Emerald City Comicon in 2011. As in, I could not have walked away happier and I was so impressed! We waited in line for a long time, and not knowing that he would have copies of his books with him, we brought copies of his books with us for him to sign. I was expecting a short “hello” and just for him to sign the books and for us to leave, but Wil actually surprised me by asking me questions and taking what seemed like a genuine interest! I was so taken aback that I didn’t even know how to respond and so probably looked a little idiotic, but I really did not expect Wil to have a conversation with me. On top of that, we got our books signed at no charge. It was a really awesome five minutes! It was the highlight of the Con and I could not have walked away happier that I took the time to stand in line to meet Wil and get his autograph!

  45. This is so funny that you posted this. I just had my picture taken with Glen and Dean from Toad the Wet Sprocket after a show: it was my third or fourth time meeting them, but last time was 10 years ago, so of course they didn’t remember me, but it was awkward and humiliating. On the other hand, I didn’t look that bad in the pictures.

    My husband often asks why I never want photos at cons. The reason is twofold:

    1) Years ago, we went to a con where Brad Dourif and Walter Koenig were the big draws. Also appearing was Herbert Jefferson, Jr., Boomer from the original 70s Battlestar Galactica. Friends of mine were in line to meet someone or the other, who was in the booth next to Jefferson. I didn’t know who the hell anyone was, so I was sort of hanging in the middle of the aisle getting in everyone’s way. The thing I will never forget as long as I live was that there was nobody at Jefferson’s table, NOBODY. And the whole time I was standing there, no one came to visit him. He was reading legal text books. It probably sounds silly to admit this, but I felt sorry for him. Cons make me sad, thinking there are people there who are like the odd ones at school, spending hours sitting there, watching the popular kids’ lines snake out the door. I hurt inside for the unpopular sci fi actors. (Admitting this now, I think I may need to bring this up with my therapist).

    2) Basically, I’ve never gotten con photos because I feel like it’s spending $50 I don’t really have to get a picture of myself looking gross and fat and petrified next to a celebrity who looks like he’d rather be beating small children to death with the mummified corpse of a cute puppy. I am much wittier and things always go much cooler in my head when I’m planning what I’m going to say while in the bathroom peeing before getting in line, and it never lives up to the fantasy I’ve concocted. So I have to remain content with the thought that at least I was in the same building.

    1. I specifically seek out less popular guests at cons and talk to them. Usually on the last day of the con. It’s not nearly so crowded, and though I’m always out of money and never get an autograph or photo, I’ve had some really interesting conversations with lesser known or older actors.

      Because I too feel sorry for them. That’s not odd at all. Next time, go say hi!

    2. Kelmeister, I agree that if your expectations are too high, it’s better to not attempt meeting your idols. I used to “suffer” from that myself when meeting bands/actors/artists I admired. I was spoiled by a few really awesome experiences early on, and then had a few less favorable ones (none of these were Wil, whom I have not met at a con yet). Eventually I was able to get to the point where I would mentally “hose myself off” right before meeting them with a mantra of “They’re only people, they’re doing a job, and they meet hundreds of fans every day. They’re happy you’re there and you’re a fan, but you will NOT become their new best friend. Calm your @ss down.”

      I will say that voiceover actors generally SEEM (this is just me) to be more personable than onscreen actors or musicians. Billy West and Scott McNeil were hilarious and cool, and chatted with most of the people they were signing things for. And happily, I have never had any kind of celebrity meeting truly go “south” where they started yelling for people to leave them alone or anything nightmarish like that.

  46. I met Wil at Pax twice. Got a pic with Wil with Paul from Paul and Storm photobombing us, so Wil had us take another jokingly giving Paul the finger. I still enjoy that photo when looking at it and consider that to be one of my favourite Pax photos because it seemed quite unique. My two meetings with Wil left me with a really good impression as he seemed quite genuine and happy to meet the people that lined up to meet him. He even had a staring contest with someone just ahead of me.

    I had other pics from Pax where the celebrity poses with you by leaning towards you over a table and those are no where near as cool as that photo. Everyone I had photos with at Pax seemed generally pretty nice though I appreciated the fact that Wil stepped away from the table for the photo with me(that was photobombed, and the follow up picture)

    Go Kings btw!! I have been a fan since before they made their first Stanley Cup run with Gretzky.

  47. Your opting for an elbow bump instead of a handshake after an autograph makes sense when trying to avoid getting sick at a con, especially when it’s happened before. I can understand the issue with personal space as well, and completely respect that.

    As for things being rushed at pro photo ops, yes, that’s often the case. The only one I’ve done so far was with Felicia Day a few years ago at Dragon*Con, and not only did it feel rushed to me but also to her as well (at least that was my perception). It was nice to have a better chance to talk with her later on.

    I share your impression of Shatner in that setting. $75 (what it was at the time in my case) did seem expensive for both him and Nimoy after the fact for nothing more than *scribble* *scribble* move along. It was actually surprising to me that what you were asking for one was so low.

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