GalaxyCon Columbus 2022 Photos, Part 3 of 4: Who Else We Met, What Else We Did

Books I bought at the show.

My latest loot pile. Thanks, GalaxyCon!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Each year when there isn’t a pandemic fully raging, my wife Anne and I love attending entertainment and comic conventions throughout the Midwest and occasionally a bit beyond. We’re fascinated by the spectacle of each and every in-person nexus of geek cultures that presents a confluence of comics, artists, cosplayers, hobby artifacts, rare collectibles, IP-inspired handicrafts, talented performers and celebrity guests with fandom connections of varying levels of dedication and/or awesomeness.

This past weekend’s inaugural GalaxyCon Columbus (the one in Ohio) set out more than enough bait within reasonable road-trip range that the two of us were lured out of the house once more after previous 2022 outings to Star Trek: Mission Chicago, Indiana Comic Con, and Fan Expo Chicago. We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Usually the concluding chapter of every MCC comic-con miniseries is the overlong recap of our experience in chronological order. This time the final chapter is more of an epilogue covering sights off the Convention Center grounds, while the recap novelette is this very entry. Welcome to storytime, in which we meet actors, attend panels, buy stuff, walk miles, and note how this con, more than any other we’ve ever attended, pointed time and again to the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.

GCC (if I may acronymize it thusly) was our third stop in Columbus this year, following the occasion of my birthday weekend in May and the first day of our road trip to Vermont back in June. Prior to 2022 we’d previously visited the city for its As Seen on TV burgers and two installments of the phenomenal Cartoon Crossroads Columbus, in 2015 and in 2017. CXC’s creator lineups are absolutely unparalleled, but they’re a much smaller endeavor. Before 2022 we’d never attended a large-scale Columbus entertainment con before. I’m sure they’ve had them, but throughout the weekend we ultimately didn’t meet any fans who shared memories of one with us.

A three-hour drive from Indianapolis got us into town shortly before 11:30. We parked in the Vine Street Garage across the street from the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The garage entrance took two laps to reach because a construction project on that block convinced me it was closed on our first approach. Warm but weighed down in our jackets, we exited into the nippy air and walked north on High Street for lunch at Brassica, the same Mediterranean-themed sandwich shop where we’d eaten on vacation. On our previous visit Anne had noticed they sell enamel pins, her collectible con souvenir of choice throughout 2022. Along with our food, this time Anne bought a pin shaped like a googly-eyed cup of pink lemonade to complement the other con-specific pins on her lanyard.

We doubled back to the Convention Center, entered shortly before 12:30, and joined the long line leading to the registration area. Not until we’d been in line for a while did we learn registration wasn’t scheduled to open till 1:00, an hour before showtime. We cursed our ignorance, but we coped. Once the line began moving a few minutes after 1, badge pickup went as smoothly as the average Dragon Con at a fraction of the volume. With 50 minutes to kill before showtime, I indulged in a quick pet project to learn whether there was a way to walk back and forth between the Convention Center and the Vine Street Garage. I really, really didn’t want to wear my jacket around the show all day long and add to my sweat production, but also didn’t want to freeze on the streets without it.

With some wandering and the assistance of two blessed Hilton employees who were divinely placed in our path at exactly the right juncture (older ladies who correctly read our lost expressions), we figured out the walkthrough from Center to Vine Street Garage:

  1. Escalate or elevate up to the second floor on the Center’s west side, across from Exhibit Halls A and B. There are two places to do this.
  2. From either place you should find a north-south path that leads to a T-intersection. Turn down the central leg, which leads through a skybridge over High Street and into the second floor of the Hilton.
  3. Take an immediate left, an immediate right, and a few steps toward the elevators.
  4. Ride an elevator down to the Lower Level (“LL”).
  5. Walk out of the elevator bank and turn right. Some dozen feet ahead is an exit into a narrow alley.
  6. Cross the alley to the parking garage door staring back at you. This three-second leg of the journey is the only weak point where you could be exposed to rain, snow, or meteors.
  7. Find your car; ditch your jackets and other ballast.
  8. Retrace your steps; enjoy the con more while carrying far fewer pounds.

We hundreds of General Admission attendees were allowed inside at 2:00 sharp, and thus did the party begin. Shockingly, several actors were already in position with markers uncapped and poised for action. For a while most of them had no lines because no one expects actors to be ready immediately when the doors open. Our first stop was at the table of Amanda Pays, star of the original Flash and onetime guest star in the current version. With no lines formed yet, we enjoyed a few minutes’ chitchat with her and her handler, regarding old castmate John Wesley Shipp, whose table was next to hers and who was generally awesome both on his own show as well as in his multiple roles in the current one. We already met him five years ago at a con in Knoxville, but he’s absolutely worth meeting. As is Ms. Pays, I hasten to add.

Next stop was at the table of John de Lancie, best known as Q from the Star Trek universe. This was Anne’s seventh (!) time meeting him in person as an avowed superfan, her third time this year alone after Indiana Comic Con and Fan Expo Chicago. Though she won’t confess to it, my theory is all these encore meet-ups are part of a secret project to create her own Q photo flipbook.

John de Lancie at his table and being cordial with Anne.

Their chat this time was a follow-up to their Fan Expo discussion about a particular historical podcast he recommended to her.

As it happens, we recognized de Lancie’s assigned table handler, a young guy named Mark we met at HorrorHound Indianapolis 2019. He’s a fellow con fan who had hung out with us in Patrick Wilson’s long, slow line and who was now a certified GalaxyCon volunteer. It was fun saying hi again in this rather small world of ours.

Our next guest a few tables down was none other than Academy Award Winner Richard Dreyfuss, among the most famous actors to hit the convention circuit lately. With each step we took toward his table, we were told time again how he’s funny and hilarious and a pleasure to meet and so forth. He’s older now and happy to take his time talking with each and every individual. No one complained about this — same as for de Lancie’s table, it was early and the line was a manageable length. His chattiness gave us time to shoot the breeze with his agent, who likewise attends the occasional con in a fan capacity and had his own stories to tell from our side of the table. He and his son were survivors of the fiasco that was Star Wars Celebration Orlando, about which we heard more than a few horror stories at the time. We respect anyone who made it through that one alive.

For autographing I’d brought along my copy of American Graffiti, which I recently watched for my first time as an adult (after years of childhood weekend reruns) and, viewed from my altered perspective as a certified 50-year-old, is now my favorite George Lucas film. However, I kept that DVD in my backpack when I noticed Dreyfuss’ items for sale included copies of his new book, whose full title is One Thought Scares Me…: We Teach Our Children What We Wish Them to Know; We Don’t Teach Our Children What We Don’t Wish Them to Know. His premise is that the removal of civics classes from our schools fifty years ago was part of a deliberate effort by The Powers That Be to promote ignorance of the Constitution, to dumb down entire generations who were expected one day to take over the governing reins, and to usher in America’s current era of uninformed self-destruction. I’m a big fan of buying books at autograph tables that were written by the guest themselves, so I went for it.

When it was my turn to meet him, he took one look at the book, shoved Funny Richard Dreyfuss into a gym locker, and Deadly Serious Richard Dreyfuss held forth for a few minutes on his premise and the ultimately catastrophic fate that awaits the American public if we keep withholding necessary teachings from our kids on how to keep America running and pull it out of its ongoing slow-motion plane wreck. His very, very, very passionate speech necessarily ended with a plea to “read the book” rather than summarize all his bullet points here and now. I promise it’s next on my reading pile, but in the moment…Anne and I listened politely, intently and sincerely to Dreyfuss’ full-force intensity, forthrightly shared with us at an emotional level that we generally don’t encounter at comic-con autograph tables.

As you can imagine, following that up with a photo and a meek request for jazz hands felt super awkward. We appreciate that he didn’t just chase us off or throw my new book at my head.

Richard Dreyfuss lecturing intensely, which Anne shot at surreptitious worm's-eye view.

Dreyfuss holding court.

From there we wandered the autograph area a bit to get a sense of the layout for other stops later in the weekend and to note which actors were already in the house. We were delighted to say hi to a friend named Tony, whom I’d first met in person at Fan Expo Chicago, waiting his turn for Clerks star Jason Mewes, who was among the early-birds and whose line was one-thousandth the size of his Fan Expo Chicago mob. (Again: the weekend was young.)

We then headed over to Artists Alley, starting with the pro comics-creator subdivision. Comics makers we met this weekend included the following:

comics artist Tula Lotay

Tula Lotay! Artist of the wondrously multiversal Supreme: Blue Rose and numerous variant covers.

Me with artist Denys Cowan.

Denys Cowan! Co-founder of Milestone Media, co-creator of Static, and a Marvel/DC artist whose work dates back to my childhood on titles such as Power Man & Iron Fist and especially The Question.

I was excited to have him sign my copy of The Question #1, which I’d previously had autographed by writer Dennis O’Neil at Indiana Comic Con 2015 before his passing in 2020. While I watched him finish a Batman sketch for another fan, Anne chatted with one of his lovely assistants and somehow wound up sharing the story of how she and I first met. That was not a segue I’d expected.

Zoe Thorogood at her table.

Zoe Thorogood was among the contributing artists to a demented Image Comics clown-horror miniseries I liked called Haha, and a graphic novelist in her own right whose works I need to check out more closely.

Artist Chris Bachalo, presenting himself with arms wide.

Chris Bachalo! Artist of multiple X-Men books, Shade the Changing Man, Neil Gaiman’s two Death miniseries, and countless other off-kilter books.

I’m old enough to remember that time in the early ’90s when Bachalo guest-starred on the TV game-show version of Pictionary alongside comic-strip legend Mell Lazarus. I’m pretty sure I still have one of his episodes on a beaten-up VHS.

Victor Dandridge at his table.

Victor Dandridge! We’ve known him as a host of such panels as the tear-jerking Carl Weathers Q&A at Fan Expo Chicago and the Fabian Nicieza talk at Louisville Supercon 2018 that was a challenge to locate on the desolate farthest end of that convention center.

(Full disclosure: we actually stopped at his table Saturday rather than Friday, but I’ve moved him ahead in the chronology for the sake of a united comics mini-gallery.)

As we moved deeper into the exhibit hall, the comics lineup made way for dealers, craftspeople, organizations, and other tablers. Anne may have spent a few more dimes than she usually does.

Anne with her new Q pillow

Anne swears she doesn’t have a Q problem, but couldn’t resist this pillow from the well-intended enablers at Exolansis. I’m just grateful it isn’t life-sized.

Janeway ornament!

Apropos of her previous experiences with Kate Mulgrew this year at Star Trek: Mission Chicago and in Bloomington, she finally picked up a Captain Janeway ornament for her Trek ornament collection, which she’s also just so happened to make our Christmas tree theme this year.

While on our long walk we once again ran into pal Tony, this time accompanied by his wife Kathy. We said hi some more, and Anne rewarded them with hugs. Hugs are her thing, which she’s been denied in public over the past few years for understandable reasons.

Once we reached the end of the show floor that led into a separate esports section (not our thing), we crossed back to the other side and traipsed around the autograph area one more time. That’s when we found Andy Merrill, voice of TV’s Brak from The Brak Show. Merrill showed off the Brak puppet that was among his pandemic-era craft projects and proceeded to doodle all over my Brak Show season-1 set.

Andy Merrill and his Brak puppet!

Ladies and gentlemen, once more with feeling: it’s the Brak puppet!

By this time we were dead on our feet and ready to relax with some panels. First up at 5:00 was voice actor James Arnold Taylor, whom I’ve heard in numerous cartoons and games, including but not limited to the Ratchet & Clank series as Our Hero. For our purposes here he was most crucially the voice of Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

James Arnold Taylor sitting on stage with his laptop of sound samples.

The man, the myth, the mouth.

Whereas some voice actors require a bit of warmup to jump from one voice to the next, Taylor swiftly switched gears throughout the panel and gave us samples of his many roles, which have included his own starring roles as well as ADR-looping for big-name actors. His tones have popped up in films such as Christopher Robin, Pieces of April, and the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Voices he performed in brief for us here included Obi-Wan, Tidus from Final Fantasy X, Johnny Test, Fred Flintstone, Johnny Carson, Dana Carvey’s Carson impression (not the same thing, as he demonstrated), Christopher Walken, Jay Baruchel’s Hiccup in the How to Train Your Dragon ancillary spinoffs, Christian Bale’s Batman, the old Moviefone.com trailer guy (not to be confused with Mr. Moviefone himself), Marty McFly, Doc Brown, Gilbert Gottfried, David Spade, the Ron Howard Narrator, Andre the Giant, the Fox Animation Domination bumper guy, Captain Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, Plo Koon, Clone Wars head honcho Dave Filoni, and more.

Other fun tidbits:

  • He called fellow voice-pro Dee Bradley Baker and asked him to say hi and maybe come do a con for us Midwesterners someday.
  • Voices that too closely resemble his are the hardest to perform, as are some stars such as Tom Cruise and Tobey Maguire.
  • Off our screens, he’s the voice of some of Bumblebee’s movie quotes on the Transformers ride at Universal Studios Orlando.
  • He has a YouTube channel and a podcast called “Talking to Myself” in which he performs every voice.
  • Characters he hasn’t been paid to do yet, but would love to, include Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the Joker.
  • His latest gigs, all of them Christian, include animated projects The Garden (with Fairly OddParents creator Butch Hartman) and Dead Sea Squirrels (with VeggieTales co-creator Mike Nawrocki), as well as a live-action film he’s co-directing called Hidden Blessings.
  • Anne felt so emboldened by her very good day that she even got into the mic line and asked him a question, regarding how he takes care of his voice.

We also need to award bonus points to his Q&A moderator, who noted the long mic line with only a few minutes left on the clock and hereby announced it was time for “the lightning round”, in which all remaining questioners (including Anne) were instructed to shorten their questions, and Taylor in turn would shorten his answers, thus ensuring that every single fan who wanted a turn at the mic got one. I’ve never seen this done, and it worked surprisingly well. Very cool idea.

In the same room at 6:00 came a Q&A with the aforementioned Mr. de Lancie, because of course Anne wanted to see him yet again. She was ecstatic to learn this con apparently didn’t establish a VIP-only seating section, which meant anyone could sit in the front row. Guess who ran up to grab seats the minute Taylor’s panel ended.

Ironically, moments after the Q&A began, Anne then ran back to join his mic line with a question, leaving me to enjoy the prime view alone for over half the run-time, cozily seated next to a stranger with no elbow room.

John de Lancie on stage answering a question.

Our man Q.

Some of the questions were standard newcomer fare, which we understand. He recalled being flabbergasted after doing his first episode of My Little Pony, in which he played a nemesis named Discord who was invited back for further adventures after he received hundreds of notes from happy Bronies. When his first episode aired months after recording, he couldn’t remember what “MLP” meant in their email subject lines. His wife would only confirm it was “a cartoon for little girls” and that the paycheck had cleared. He assured her these messages were not from little girls.

When he decided to join Star Trek: Picard in its second season for Q’s farewell tour, he did so with the understanding that they would be doing something different with the character. In terms of acting and reprising roles, he sees a firm line between creating and re-creating — i.e., between making New Art versus rehashing what’s been done before. As one example of the latter, he recalled the time he had a supporting role in the 1989 TV-movie Get Smart, Again!, which brought back Don Adams and Barbara Feldon for a retread of the same old Get Smart hi-jinks. Watching the two much older stars attempt to recapture the glories of their past, by repeating them note for note, did not leave a positive impression on him. (As you might expect, Anne has this on VHS.)

Anne can tell you more about the question she asked him at the mic:

I asked if there was anything he wished he’d done differently in his life.

He explained how he wished that there had been more understanding about learning disabilities when he was young. He was dyslexic and it wasn’t discovered until he was in sixth grade when his teachers realized he couldn’t read. Until then, his parents had been told, “Johnny is slow,” “He is mildly retarded,” “He doesn’t apply himself” and “He’s lazy”…

Once his teachers realized what he needed and helped him address it, the first book he read all the way through was Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island. He was excited when the 1961 film version was released, but was so distraught about how radically it diverged from the book (among other changes, there was the insertion of, shall we say, buxom broads) that his loud protests got him kicked out of the theater.

Other topics of note:

  • His short recurring role on Breaking Bad as the father of Jesse’s addict girlfriend Jane, which he’s found has touched a nerve in viewers who share Jane’s issues and who saw, through his performances as well as Krysten Ritter’s, what the consequences of their addiction did to their own parents.
  • His audio drama series Alien Voices, which included the classic Spock Vs. Q.
  • That time he forgot he was one of the letter-readers in Saving Private Ryan until a residual check came in, the first in a while.
  • One later question amounted to a variation on, “How does it feel to have done something so totally cool?” His succinct, jokey response was, “When I pass a mirror at my house, I am in AWE.”
  • Upcoming projects include narrator performances for two different symphonies — Grieg’s Peer Gynt for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra on January 21, 2023; and Stravinsky’s L’Histoire du soldat for the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia on March 21, 2023 (the day after his birthday), where his late father taught and was the musical director.

At the end of every Q&A, GalaxyCon made a practice of taking a group photo with the guest panelist. (We understand the results may be shared on their Flickr account someday, possibly weeks from now. Updates as they occur.) They’d done that with James Arnold Taylor, and the same occurred here with de Lancie…though he advised everyone in the hall that if they decided to do Q’s finger-snapping gesture, in a still photo it basically looks like you’re giving the photographer the middle finger.

Thus endeth our panel experiences. We returned to the exhibit hall once more to kill time before our 8:30 dinner reservations offsite. As the day’s last purchase I grabbed a discount hardcover from Gem City Books, a Dayton shop that’s long been among my favorite comic-con vendors, always bringing a great selection of bargains I don’t already have. The problem with buying hardcovers at a con is the part where you then have to lug those heavy, book-shaped bludgeons around for the rest of the day, which is even tougher on me now that I’m old. The omnibus I bought was a collection of contents from the old comics want-list I used to keep until The Great Hard Drive Crash of 2015. The writer of said comics has since been canceled, so pretend I didn’t mention this. The Gem City guy nonetheless thanked me for the purchase.

At 7:30 we successfully retraced the walkthrough back to my car at the Vine Street Garage, dropped off our bags and acquisitions, grabbed our jackets, and made the long walk to dinner several blocks north on High Street. The evening was less chilly than the city had been at noontime, but this time we were also more fatigued. Dinner was fine as we enjoyed watching a weird, comical rivalry between our waiter and the hostess who had “warned” us up front that he was The Worst. We then made the long, long walk back to the garage and drove away to our hotel a few minutes north, up on the campus of Ohio State University.

By this time it was nearly 10 p.m. I could tell we were the last guests to check in because we were in an ADA-equipped room, which has happened to us before despite neither requesting nor needing one. We had hoped for some quiet time far away from the con hotels, but instead found ourselves surrounded by sports fans of all ages, including numerous children gathered for some special, equally loud occasion.

When the hotel clerk — a clean-cut young gent who was probably taking college courses for this very career track — made the usual small talk about “what have you guys been doing today?” we told him about GCC with much praise.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to do one of those!” he said. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see him at one of these someday.

We fell asleep within minutes of adjourning to our room, just barely long enough to check up on the con’s unofficial Facebook discussion group (as opposed to the showrunners’ own official page). We were dismayed at one particular thread started by a depressed fan who’d felt so despondent and overlooked at the end of this day that he’d decided to skip the rest of the con and sell off his badge, apparently with his heart broken by the expectation that the courageous act of merely showing up would translate into instant new connections. To this moment I still have no idea how to respond to that, though I wish could do so from any real position of authority.

Geekdom can be fun, but it isn’t a cure-all. In all pop culture’s history the geek world has never been more accepting of new geeks than it is today. But it can’t necessarily unwind your personal problems, paper over your mental health issues, or make you the Hero of the Story. If not for Anne’s 35-year presence in my life, I would…well, there but for the grace of God, and all that. Even at age 50, meeting people hasn’t gotten any easier for this clunky introvert, either.

All I can tell you is give it time. Keep trying. When you can, reach out and be a friend. Sometimes you’ll get it wrong and things will get intensely awkward. Sometimes you won’t. You can’t just close your eyes and wish for friendships to sprout from imaginary beans. With time and effort and maybe just a bit of luck, those connections can happen. Sometimes you’ll have to meet others more than halfway, which might feel unfair to you. But maybe, just maybe, sometimes they’ll reach back.

A gray hotel view of the nearest interstate and dead autumn trees.

Our crappy hotel window view the next morning.

We kicked off Saturday with the hotel’s unremarkable free breakfast, a cost-cutting concession after the previous day’s spending spree. We checked out shortly after 8 and headed over to the Convention Center, this time opting for the Goodale Street Garage on its north end. The walkthrough to enter the con jacket-free was far simpler this time:

  1. Park in garage; go to 3rd floor.
  2. Take skybridge over to Convention Center.
  3. Victory!

At the exhibit hall line for general-admission fans, we were fourth and fifth in line, behind one non-exhibiting dealer and two Doctor Who fans, all of whom had brought tons of objects for Jodie Whittaker to sign. We talked about the show, about the other Doctors and Companions we’ve met, and so on. In between subject changes, we occasionally had to ward off dealers who kept approaching the nearest doors only to find them all locked, contrary to instructions they’d been given. Each face scrunched in annoyance as they had to walk farther down to the VIP doors instead.

An Exhibit Hall sign looming overheard.

Gateway to Fun Part 2.

When the doors opened promptly at 10, we made a beeline to the table of Kristin Kreuk, among the few Smallville cast members we hadn’t met. We found ourselves first in her general-admission line but well behind several VIP-badged fans who’d paid extra for the privilege of going first, which we understand. We’ve done VIP badges exactly once for the perks, and we respect the rules of the comic-con game.

Meanwhile, several other actors were already in position sharply at 10, including the esteemed Ms. Whittaker, an exceedingly rare gesture from a con headliner. Within seconds, word spread and her line multiplied in size more quickly than a bag of Tribbles.

While Kreuk’s agent trained a GalaxyCon newbie volunteer how table-handling works, we talked with a fellow fan named Bill, who used to be in the convention biz himself until his employers took cost-cutting measures that didn’t involve him. He’d enjoyed years of inside access to Smallville stuff and brought several souvenirs for signing, such as an entire wall fragment from young Clark’s Fortress of Solitude and a custom-made poster comprising dozens of in-person set photos from the show.

Though Kreuk’s signage declared a start time of 11:00, she joined the floor around 10:40, shortly after costars Michael Rosenbaum and Tom Welling had taken to their own booths. Rosenbaum in particular was his usual hyper self, nimbly taking multiple selfies with fans and exuding a joie de vivre you can feel from miles away.

Don’t get me wrong: Kreuk was also nice. Before she could even sit down and begin signing, a cheery voice yelled, “KRISTIN!” That was the table-neighbor on her other side, the great John Glover. He doesn’t do as many Smallville joint appearances as the rest of the cast, so she doesn’t see him quite so often. The two old friends appreciated the quick reunion, no matter how short.

Anne holding her new Kristin Kreuk autograph!

Anne’s autograph results, on an 8-x-10 shot from The CW’s Beauty and the Beast.

Kreuk was the only signer on our Saturday to-do list. Mostly all we had left to do was to kill time between our three photo ops. Their unevenly spaced schedule effectively precluded us from doing any of that day’s panels unless we were okay with arriving late or leaving them early. We were not. Instead we grabbed a snack at the Convention Center’s non-branded coffee shop that retroactively turned out to be our unhealthy lunch. While Anne grabbed a table, I watched as the drink-making went on and on, at one point noticing a barista making two chocolate drinks, only to spill one and have to start over. Once completed, she called my name and handed both to me, along with Anne’s mango peach smoothie. She’d worked so hard on them that I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d only ordered one.

I gave the surplus hot chocolate freeze to Anne, which she tried first before her own drink. Her eyes lit up like Bart and Milhouse on a Squishie bender. She quickly drank it entirely before moving on to her own drink.

Anne sucking down a hot chocolate freeze.

This kept her going for hours and hours, and also hours.

Bonus points are awarded to the cashier who took our order, who was the only person that entire day to compliment my new Grogu Hawaiian shirt. As we sat and drank ourselves into a sugar high, we got a brief follow-up cameo from Amanda Pays’ handler, who remembered us yesterday and paused to say hi to us as she went on her way. Very nice of her.

We’d briefly considered attending Ms. Whittaker’s 11:30 panel until we headed over to the Main Stage ballroom and found hundreds of fans already in line. Though I wouldn’t have minded back-row seats, we also had to consider that her panel ended at 12:20 and her photo op was at 12:50. Timing would be crucial for us because the Smallville cast op was scheduled at 1:20. Ultimately it was my judgment call to skip the panel in hopes that we’d beat all its attendees to her op line and thereby increase our chances of getting to the Smallville op afterward in a timely, comfortable manner.

As we loitered around the photo-op area entrance prior to line-up, we soon had many of those same hundreds standing behind us, all waiting for permission to cram inside. My plan worked and we found ourselves close enough to the front of her general-admission queue that I could stop worrying about the timing. We could hear some fans behind us getting yelled at when they jostled management’s table on their stampede in.

As we waited, we found ourselves standing next to the family of nine Doctors who starred in Part 2’s lead photo. For their part, all seven children were quite well-behaved even though some of them were definitely bored with the waiting.

A few minutes after 12:50, we all rolled forward and everything went smoothly. Whittaker was game for jazz hands and commented to us afterward, “See how I committed to that?” Yes, she did!

We joined the Smallville line around 1:10, only to have a longer wait on our hands as ops inevitably began to pile up and the snowball effect pushed start times back. We’re used to this, though it’s never fun in the moment. To GalaxyCon’s credit, the muscular man overseeing line assignments did an outstanding job of keeping things relatively organized and, most importantly, of projecting at top volume with his stentorian voice so the entire crowd could hear him and understand what was going on at any given moment, with or without a microphone.

Though delayed, the photo went off without a hitch and had us freed up by 1:45. We killed the remaining time before the Clone Wars trio op the only way we could think of: we walked the exhibit hall again. Y’know, just in case. Among other highlights, Anne stopped by the Exolansis booth a third time, where they now recognized her on sight. She searched every enamel pin carrier she could find, but had a hard time finding exactly what she wanted. (This late in the weekend, no one had any specifically Clone Wars pins left, only Star Wars pins.) From artist Jaime Coker I bought a “The More You Know” button for my convention bag, which came attached to a small grab bag of “goodies” that included a Strawberry Shortcake button, which I promptly gifted to Anne.

Over in the faraway esports section, we ventured beyond its wall and discovered that’s also where all the fan groups (the 501st, Ghostbusters, et al.) had been sequestered.

Anne exits a fan-made TARDIS.

Not the first time I’ve photographed Anne emerging from a fan-built TARDIS, but who can resist?

A selfie of us.

We paused for a selfie in front of one of their backdrops. Don’t be surprised if I reuse this in some future entry.

three-headed dragon statue on a top shelf.

Random sights on this second walkaround included a three-headed dragon statue in the first aisle after the esports section.

purple Santa astromech!

Purple astromech Santa decides which kids are BEEP and which kids are BOOP.

rainbow-wigged skeleton towering over a booth.

Rainbow-wigged skeleton judges all from above.

As we finished our very, very last walk across the entire show floor toward the photo op area one last time, we heard a voice calling my name behind us. We turned and stood face-to-face with an old friend named Brian, whom I’d known back in junior high but hadn’t seen in person since Graduation Day 1990. We’ve been Facebook friends for years, so I knew his face and was aware that he’s been fortunate to keep enjoying the prodigious musical talents that kept him employed even in childhood, but we live in different states today. As it happens, each of us had been posting photos from the con but somehow hadn’t seen each other’s. A mutual acquaintance — a fellow junior-high alumna and to-this-day BFF of my sister-in-law — had seen our respective posts, done the math, and alerted Brian to our presence. Somehow in all the crowds he tracked us down. It helps that Anne and I are rather distinctive-looking as a couple. The odds of this happening were nevertheless ludicrous.

So we compared notes for a bit, as much as we could under the time constraints at hand, and naturally posed for a selfie as proof of reunion.

Us with old classmate Brian!

Just three Gen-X-ers against a backdrop of thousands in this small, small world.

Meanwhile at the photo op area, the snowball effect hadn’t quite turned into a snow boulder yet, but things were definitely running behind. We were surprised to be allowed to line up early, only to have all forward motion brought to a standstill for some 20+ minutes while a security team had to come inside one booth and assist with one fan’s medical event. This is one of those exceedingly rare occurrences about which no sane, civil person should complain, and we prayed for their speedy recovery from whatever had happened.

Service dog with costume wings walking through a crowd of legs.

Winged service doggie walks purposefully through the photo-op crowd.

During that extra half-hour or so, our nearby Clone Wars compatriots included a few Star Wars cosplayers, one (non-costumed) first-time con attendee, and two ladies who agreed with us that the muscular line manager with the stentorian voice was doing a stellar job under the circumstances. Eventually we got our pic with the three voice actors, which ended with James Arnold Taylor wishing us well in Obi-Wan’s voice, “May the Force be with you, everyone!”

As the day’s last purchase I grabbed yet another discount hardcover from Gem City Books, where their guy now recognized me on sight. A fancy, heavy Deluxe Edition of Blade of the Immortal Vol. 1 was now mine. We exited the exhibit hall, got a few more cosplay pics along the way, and by chance ran into the same pair of Doctor Who fans we’d stood in line with at the start of the day. We compared Jodie Whittaker photos and quick, positive impressions of this very fine weekend overall.

We returned to the parking garage, missed the occluded exit turnoff, went up five floors, went back down, drove the wrong way through a mercifully short one-way section, and eventually made our way out. Thus ended our GalaxyCon Columbus 2022 experience, a grade-A event in our book.

Anne's new pins on her lanyard.

Anne’s latest lanyard with pins bought for and at this show.

Anne's loot!

For the sake of parallel structure, we close with Anne’s loot, including her new pillow and rival for my affections.

We stopped only once on the three-hour drive home, at a Wendy’s within city limits attached to an unkempt gas station, where several loiterers sat in the lobby and watched basketball on TV. The cashier — a grizzle-faced guy half my age but about my size, who reminded me of my post-college-dropout days at McDonald’s — was rather nice even when he had to tell us that they’d been out of lettuce for weeks. When he made the usual small talk about “what have you guys been doing today?” we told him about GCC with much praise.

“Oh, I’ve always wanted to do one of those!” he said. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see him at one of these someday.

To be concluded! Other chapters in this very special miniseries:

Part 1: The Stars in Our Galaxy
Part 2: A Cosplay Sampler
Part 4: Columbus Is Our New Chicago

2 responses

  1. I must not be on that unofficial GalaxyCon Columbus Facebook group. I could’ve pointed out that I saw they had something called Speed Friending which is like Speed Dating, listed early on in at least 2 of the 3 days.
    Or he could recognize you on the con floor from the con reports you do, and geek out when he sees you. Pathetic I know, but that’s how I became friends with you.
    It’s hard out there for an introvert.

    Like

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