Saturday, September 3, 2022

One Perfect Day

Even though I had publicly committed to the idea of attending Motor City Comic Con this year, in private I was still apprehensive. The live shows I was attending were private events with familiar folks, but Motor City was… huge. And unlike a live show, it would be utterly anonymous and (essentially) alone.

Not only did I feel unprepared, I could think of so many other things that were better uses of my time that weekend: my garden, working on a Diorama Contest entry, listing my mountain of unsold stuff on the Internet…

But then I got news of Liz Bouras’s passing a couple days before the convention, and that’s when I knew I had to go. Although it was purely a coincidence, it didn’t feel like one.

As many of you may have surmised by now, I have had an… interesting life, to say the least. And some of the more interesting stories have involved me in comic book fandom. One of those stories has me at a Motor City Comic Con in the early 1990s with my fandom friends Ken and Mercy. 

This might have been the first time we met in person; that I cannot remember. What I do remember was that one of the first things they told me when I met up with them was: Liz and Paula are here.

That would be Liz Bouras, and Paula O’Keefe. It’s a long story, but they had been friends for a while, but through the comic book side of things. It was something I only found out about after I “met” Ken and Mercy through the pages of the APA Interlac a short time before.

I never did get to see Liz or Paula that day, but it was strangely comforting to know that other model horse people were present.

You see, when I first entered the hobby in the late 1970s, I was concerned I wouldn’t fit in. I felt that I wasn’t your average horse girl: I like other, more nerdier stuff too, and most of the horse girls in my area balked when I started talking about comic books, old movies, cartoons and Star Wars.

But when I opened up my first issue of The Model Horse Shower’s Journal – the September 1978 issue, to be specific – I learned that I had nothing to worry about. There were lots of people in the hobby just like me. That I found this place was no coincidence: it is where I belonged. 

Although I wouldn’t consider Liz a close friend, our paths crossed many times, and we had several friends in common. I entered the hobby just as she was coming into her own in it, as the hobby was transitioning from its earliest, wildest days to something a little more formalized and organized. 

It wasn’t until early last year that I was able to acquire a custom of hers – a vintage piece from that very era – in a body box lot. She was able to confirm it was hers on [this very] blog, and needless to say, he will be with me always. 

Through a different mutual acquaintance, I also ended up becoming the caretaker of a portion of her hobby papers a while back. It was not long after I made a commitment to collecting not just the history of model horse manufacturers, but of the hobby in general. I had no idea that she had been doing much the same. After her passing, I felt I like I was now carrying a part of her katra.

But anyway, back to the Comic Con. I hesitated to buy tickets ahead of time, so I found myself standing in the shorter line to buy tickets at the opposite end of the building. I was minding my own business when someone who had just picked up their prepaid wristbands walked up to me.

“Would you like a free wristband? Someone in our party couldn’t make it, and we have an extra.” 

I was verklempt. Of course I would. In the not-very-short walk to the other side of the building, he asked me what brought me to the convention this year. I told him a little about Liz, and of course about the Breyer Lafayette I had stuffed in my messenger bag. William Shatner was one of the marquee guests this year, and I got the crazy notion several months earlier of having him sign it for me. 

When I got to the end of wristband line, I parted ways with my unknown benefactor. After a moment or two to compose myself, I struck up a casual conversation with the very talkative gentleman in front of me. (As one does at any convention, really.) 

After a few minutes of talking, I realized that… I knew who he was.

I won’t go into the details, because even though some of you are nerds of the highest order, I suspect most of you won’t know who Kim Metzger is or what he’s famous for. He actually apologized for it (he didn’t need to!) 

And again, it felt like kismet: I doubt anybody else in that line that day would have known who he was. At many comic book conventions nowadays comic books have become almost secondary, so the fact that two “old school” fans could find each other, and talk about comic book things at what was ostensibly a comic book convention was… all that I could ask for.

Even if the convention offered up no other delights, the experience had already been totally worth it. 

While I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do that day (I didn’t get a signed copy of Danny Trejo’s cookbook, or meet Freddie Stroma), I did see what I wanted to see, and attend most of the panels I wanted to attend. And I did get Shatner to sign my Lafayette!

That was when I believe I reached Peak Nerd. There I was at my first Motor City Comic Con in years, wearing a Kingdom Come Superman shirt, waiting in line to have Shatner sign the Breyer Lafayette I had stuffed in my Hello Kitty messenger bag. The only thing that could possibly be missing was a lightsaber or sword. (Though to be honest, I did briefly shop for one!)

(He smiled and said “Thank you”, by the way. I’m pretty sure I was the only person who actually brought him a horse to sign that weekend. I wish I could have said something in return, but like always, I found myself speechless.)

I walked out of the building that day and marveled at how everything had fallen into place to make this experience a reality: I could not have asked for a more perfect day. I was so glad I said yes to what the Universe had in store for me.

People always tell me that I’m brave to do some of the things that I do, like traveling cross-country alone. I don’t necessarily see it as a matter of bravery, but necessity. Life is meant to lived, for as long as you have it: when an adventure offers itself, sometimes you have no choice but to take it.


Leslie R. said...

I love this post Andrea!

Corky said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time!

Corky said...

By the way, are all the photos in this post supposed to be in black-and-white?

ANDREA said...

I decided to publish them all in black and white to (a) distinguish it as a reprint/republish and (b) some of the photos had been converted to black and white for the Sampler and I didn't want to hunt down the originated raw images.

Michelle said...

Hi Andrea, I feel like we have SO much in common. You are the only other person in the world (who i am aware of) who likes Breyers AND the Legion of Super-Heroes! I have been collecting Breyers since I was 9 and LSH comics since I was 12! I was wondering if Mercy was the same Mercy from Interlac and you confirmed it was. I hope you're having a great time at the con! Can't wait to hear all about it.

bubbasmom said...

I got Shatner to sign my All Glory at a Dallas Comic Con one year :D Needless to say, it's still in the box, and will stay there! It's so exciting, isn't it, to get something signed while meeting amazing people in line!