In the first two hours of Penguicon, I watched them make ice cream with liquid nitrogen, at which point it was explained that because of the extreme temperature differential, you can pour liquid nitrogen on your hands and body without harm. (In small doses, anyway.)
Of course I had to ask: “Can you pour some on me?” And so they splashed liquid nitrogen on my arm, pants, and shoes, where it immediately billowed out in clouds of chilly gas.
Immediately after that, someone came up to me and said, “You’re the Ferrett? I am going to blow your mind.” And the she did, when she revealed herself to be a professional contortionist by literally bending herself over backwards, and then proceeded to do some contact juggling.
With a start like that, it’s going to be hard to top the rest of it.
The pleasant thing about being here is meeting personal heroes of mine who recognize me. I had a great twenty-minute conversation with Howard Tayler, creator of Schlock Mercenary, and we discussed comic techniques and profitability over the Guest dinner on Thursday night. (He’s one heck of a nice guy, and very forthcoming about what it takes to run a comic that isn’t just a total timesink.) Then I ran into Rob Balder, creator of one of the funniest comics on earth (PartiallyClips), and it turned out that he had not only read Home on the Strange but now links to it from PC.
I am grateful and astonished whenever anyone’s heard of me, let alone people I really respect.
I also met Eric Millikin, who does a strip called Fetus-X I hadn’t heard of before, but am glad I saw. Warren Ellis says that Fetus-X “made him laugh out loud,” and it’s a riotously wrong, experimental, heavily-liberal tale of a fetus in a jar. When you have comics with headlines like “Elder Gods Stole My Fetus!” and “I Explained Pro-Lifers To The Dead!” you certainly have my attention.
That said, it’s a little weird to be on the same panel with him. He’s really trying to break new boundaries in political cartooning, and I’m basically going for a classic approach with HotS, so it feels weird to be compared with what he’s doing in any way.
He also, I should add, sells small buttons with the word </lj-drama> on them, which everyone here wants to buy. They are only $2.00, and available in the dealers’ room.
Speaking of exclusive deals, I made color copies of several of the best HotS strips and have plastered them around the convention – which sent me straight into a panic attack. I’m insecure enough about my own work, but the seventh time you see your own gag just before you put it up for a crowd of hundreds, it loses all funniness. I called up Gin-Gin in a panic, saying, “You’d tell me if it was completely not funny, right? Because I’m going to be totally humiliated here if you’re humoring me!”
If you find HotS far funnier than I do, though, I should add that there is a “secret sixth” comic at Penguicon, wherein I’ve posted a great strip that won’t be running for two weeks. Consider that an incentive to get down here.
The con is awash in adorably cute women. Treebones is a total babe, and the I-already-knew-she-was-a-knockout Okuninushii arrived in a corset and a backpack with a laminated sign that says, “TheFerrett knows good sex.” I went out to dinner with she and her boyfriend, and traded many good stories, and then watched in horror as child after child snuck up behind her at the mall to read her sign about how I knew great sex.
A very cute blonde pointed at me as I was walking by and said, “It’s The Ferrett!” I introduced myself to her and her I-think-a-squeeze, at which point she seemed weirded out that I had responded. It was kind of like a nature tour, I guess, where you just point at passing animals and shout out their name. “Look! A sea turtle!”
The con folks are, to a man and woman, really really cool people. I am having many funny conversations, and enjoying myself muchly.
I met the Tron Guy, who you’ll know if you’ve heard of him, and Eric Raymond, the guy who kick-started the open source movement. I’ve also chatted briefly with Chris DiBona, the open-source project manager for, um, Google, and I cameoed as The Minister Who Spike Attacks in the Buffy Musical sing-along.
I also had a moment of brief embarrassment when I met a woman who was in charge of developing artificial intelligence models for the Department of Defense to help model Baghdad in some way that would predict attacks. Unfortunately, it was a noisy restaurant, and when she said it I had to clarify: “You do that?”
I have been hoping for the rest of the weekend that she took it as what I meant it, as in, “What?” as opposed to “You? Silly woman do program-stuff? That’s unpossible!”
Today, I’m on three panels – the 1:00 Web Comics panel, the 6:00 “Geeks and Flirting” panel, and I’m helping to judge the masquerade. Should be interesting. Show up if y’like.