18 December 2010

10.12.2010 - Singapore Toy Game Comic Convention (STGCC) Day 1

The biggest event in the pop culture addict's calendar - The 3rd Singapre Toy Game Comic Convention (or STGCC for short) was held over three days from 10-12 December 2010 at Suntec City. This is an account of my journey wandering the great hall of wonder. I had wanted to organize my thoughts into categories but preferring to be spontaneous, this turned out to be too much of a mental hassle. So what you're about to read would be a blow-by-blow account of my experience, mixed with thoughts, reactions, enthusiastic sharing of my loot from the three days of trawling the convention.

I had been looking forward to this event for months since the dates were announced and ticket had been pre-purchased. I spent the few evenings prior to the event digging up the comics that I envisioned getting signed by the largest line-up of comics creators to ever grace our shores. The hype was built by the STGCC Facebook page's announcements at various junctures leading up to the big day.

Needless to say, I took leave for the first day of STGCC and arrived at Suntec approximately 30 minutes prior to the time it was to open. I headed to the ticketing counter and collected my ticket easy-peasy as well as browsed through the event guide that was provided. I had a brief outline of the convention schedule beforehand but just wanted to refresh in my mind who I was going to meet first and how to get about as many autographs as I could. That probably meant skipping some of the comics discussion panels unfortunately as the schedule was so packed that many of the events that interested me were clashing.

I noticed that those who bought tickets on the spot were charged $5 more per ticket but the first 500 who bought tickets that day were treated to complimentary items such as a free Kalkitos set on the first day. There had also been rumbles leading up to the actual event that patrons who pre-ordered tickets early like me did not get any freebies with their purchase. In fact, those who bought later benefited more from free giveaways such as a Star Trek Captain Kirk action figure. Oh well...not too hard up for that. I do appreciate paying an admission fee if only for crowd control by discouraging the riff-raff muggles and the ability to attract big-name talent such as those in this year's Walk of Fame.

Anyway, I headed upstairs and discovered that a windy queue had already been formed 20 minutes before opening. I glanced around at the crowd looking out for familiar faces and recognized some familiar geeky people. The clock struck 12noon and the first batch of people in line were let in. Eventually, I managed to head up the escalator to level 4 and was given a redemption slip numbered 456, which meant that I had been in the first 500 people for a free gift that day. Yay!

Once I entered the main convention door, I made a straight dash for the Walk of Fame, where all autograph sessions and meet-and-greets took place. First up was Gail Simone who was reading while waiting for fans to step up. Seems like a slow day for her so far but it was still early and people in line were still streaming slowly into the convention hall. I whipped out my copy of Liberty Annual 2010 and Sexy Chix, both anthologies which features Gail Simone-penned stories for her autograph. I also told her about how I missed meeting her at the Singapore Writer's Festival in 2007 but had a friend help me get her autograph for my copy of Simpsons Comics #50. She smiled, signed my books and got off her seat so that she could come around and pose for a picture with me. What a pro!

Next up was Ivan Brandon beside her. I have to admit I don't have many books that he wrote. In fact, I had to do a search for his bibliography before realising that he had created the NYC Mech series which led on to two great 24Seven anthologies which I loved. I presented them to him and he gamely signed them before reminding me that some of the artists were also here for STGCC and that I should get their autographs too. He asked if I had read NYC Mech, to which I replied sheepishly that I did not. Unfaltered, he invited me to browse through the copy of the trade he had brought along at his table along with other assorted floppy magazines. If only I had more money in my wallet then, I would have bought the trade directly off him. A queue had begun to form behind me and I thanked Ivan for his time.

I caught a glipse of fellow fan (Wern.U) and we exchanged a few words and did a little catch-up. He told me that Matt Fraction was signing at the Marvel booth. Aargh! Simply meant that I had to rush back to the car to grab his books and come back again.

Meanwhile, the DevilRobots gang and Simone Legno (Toki Doki) were getting a briefing in one corner.

The Gilamon Studios booth was just beside the Hall of Fame. I had brought along my copy of the Gilamon Studios art book from the previous STGCC for the remaining members' autographs (having only Michael Chuah's from the previous year). Lefty had still not arrived but Sau Lim kindly added his sketch and autograph to Michael's.

On the way back to the car to grab Matt Fraction's books, I spotted a team of cosplayers being interviewed by the media as well as a couple of cool costumes (Predator and Iron Man).

So, this year, Marvel actually has a booth at STGCC. I was disappointed to discover it was nothing more than a couple of tables for the Marvel creators to meet their fans. Oh, and they have a meet-and-greet schedule at the booth too. Just what I need - more clashes with the Walk of Fame and panel sessions. Kudos to Marvel for distributing free double-sided posters for autograph hunters who may not have the actual books to sign. So yeah, meeting Matt Fraction was a pleasure and I complimented him on his work for Invincible Iron Man, which I love. There's a huge omnibus of that series which compiles issues 1-19. He also signed a freebie copy of Invincible Iron Man #1 for me. I didn't really exchange much conversation with Matt at this point as there was a huge line forming and nobody really stopped to talk.

This was followed by another dash to the Walk of Fame where Alex Maleev was signing. I had the most books of his work for this convention which I brought along but didn't expect him to sign everything. This included his seminal run with Brian Michael Bendis on Daredevil as well as James O'Barr's The Crow #0. I stuck the signing limit of two each time and queued about three times for six of his autographs. Thankfully, fellow fan, Alvin had arrived and kept me company throughout the waiting. Alex was curious about my new camera that I was using and I gave him a quick sales pitch of how good it is and advised him to get the same model. Somewhere in there, Alvin reminded me that Alex had also done art honours on The Crow: Dead Time mini-series. Darn, I forgot all about that. Throughout it all, Alex was signing, posing, sketching, talking mostly while standing. An all-round jolly good fellow.

Stuff I observed while waiting in line...Stage right, some cosplayer was preparing his Gundam costume. He must have taken over an hour to do so.

Some Indonesian Gothic Lolita fashion line had a team of models posing with Predator and Iron Man.

Alex Maleev was finishing up his autograph session but his partner that slot Harvey Tolibao was still busy sketching for his fans. I made a quick dash to the G&B Comics booth and asked for anything with Harvey's work in it. There were a couple but it was the sexy Psylocke TPB that caught my attention. So I joined the queue after the purchase and requested for his autograph, which he gamely provided.

The dash to back to the car to grab more stuff for the next signing session was on, but I paused at several points along the way to snap some pictures of the cosplayers.

Back at the Walk of Fame, big burly but really gentle giant, Esad Ribic, signed my copy of Shoot! and Moon Knight Saga. Alvin had rejoined me in the queue and reminded me that Esad also did the covers for House of M... which I didn't manage to locate among my collection.

Ah, the Gundam guy finally managed to get into his costume and was ambling about gingerly with the assistance of a couple of friends of his.

Esad's partner at the Walk of Fame was Giuseppe Camuncoli. I only had one comic of his for his autograph - An issue of Dark Wolverine. We took a picture together where he admitted he wasn't sure why he was looking off-camera (must be some hot cosplayer walking past) but gamely posed for another photo. Camuncoli also sketched for me in my Wolverine/Weapon X 100 project book... a sketch of Wolverine done in 1.5 minutes flat.

The line for Leinil Francis Yu was considerably longer. He must have garndered lots of fans from the Secret Invasion series from Marvel. I asked for his autograph on my copy of the Wolverine/Weapon X 100 charity project to which he contributed two pieces of art, signing both and blowing for the ink to dry. He also told me to be careful with squeeshing the pages together too soon, but oh well, some ink did get transferred to the opposite page.

I had a few minutes to look around before the next autograph session. There's a 501st Garrison SG booth which was trying to raise money for their adopted charity - the Children's Cancer Society, by offering a chance to pose with folk dressed up in Star Wars costumes for $5 (own camera) or $6 (their camera + print). They even had a fully functional remote-controlled R2-D2 with lights and sounds. Alongside were a couple of dioramas of a Star Wars hangar and the Battle of Hoth in Lego. I regretted not poring over the huge scene before me as the builders actually inserted various easter eggs to the diorama displays (such as a Santa Claus figure, ET and Indiana Jones). Furthermore, the mass of troopers in the Lego diorama spell out the group responsible - our local SW community (Starwars.sg).

Ardian Syaf of Blackest Night:Batman among others made an unannounced appearance at the Liquid City booth and was signing and sketching. A future superstar artist in the making. Some lady was hogging Sonny Liew's time while I was waiting quietly for Sonny to sign my Sense and Sensibility graphic novel which he illustrated. She made up for that by offering to take a picture of Sonny and me together.

The Liquid City booth was just beside the Indonesian Gothic Lolita fashion booth.

Last signing for the day - Marvel's international talent scount, C.B. Cebulski. I asked him to sign on my copy of 24Seven Vol.2 where he had a story. He fumbled a little looking for his name in the contents page. I pointed it out to him and he drew an arrow to it indicating "Me". I also told him that I had another story of his in the Tori Amos Songbook but that tome was simply too massive to lug around, even with a car. He agreed readily.

There was a huge crowd screaming and cheering for AKB48 - some Jpop group which consists of a huge bunch of members. At that time, only 3 were on stage creating a din. Aargh! My ears are still bleeding...

Salvador Larocca was supposed to make an appearance that day but his flight from Europe had been cancelled due to inclement weather. I looked forward to meeting him the next day. That means I was pretty much done for the day and I took a break from waiting in line for autographs to doing a quick walk through the various booths to see what I could spot before I called it a day.

Visited Ken Foo's booth at Wayland Smith Publications and asked for his autograph for his graphic novel - Free Love Forever. Talented artist with a dark side and a little socially uncomfortable.

Finally managed to spot Lefty making his way through the convention hall and hollered a greeting to him as he walked past. Back at the Gilamon booth, he completed my trio of autographs for the Gilamon Studios art book. At the same time, I added his autograph to my copy of Liquid City Vol.2, to which he contributed. We both lamented the fall of StormLion and I browsed through the new Gilamon releases on display.

Various designer toys were on display at the Play Imaginative booth and PlayArts booth.

Even Singpost got in on the action with a Toki Doki designed booth and launch of Toki Doki Mystamps set.

Cosplayers continue to throng the convention hall and its surroundings.

Left the convention to fetch the significant other. Back home, I was satisfied with the day's loot and was looking forward to Days 2 and 3. This included some freebie comics from G&B Comics at the door.

My freebie redemption package included a copy of Playworks magazine...

and a Ghostbusters minimates.

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