by J. Parker Adair, special to The Beat

[commentary by Torsten Adair]

The Virgin Experience

Day Three: The Cautionary Tale

Day Two saw me ignore my schedule, but Day Three saw me ignore even the concept of schedule. This was a pure, unadulterated sprint to see/buy as much stuff as possible in hopes of completely destroying my bank account and creating the possibility of a need to hitchhike home. [Hey, I wouldn’t have let him hitchhike home.  I would have guided him to the nearest blood bank to sell some blood.]

A few years ago, I went to Las Vegas twice in a six-month span. I lost a mere $1 at the casinos largely due to the fact that I only gambled $1 at the casinos. I’d heard horror stories of people not being able to pay their way back home due to their losses or not having enough to stay their last night in the hotel or … well, I have a blood oath not to talk about the rest.

I saw no signs that said “What happens at C2E2 stays at C2E2” so I feel obligated to share my experience as a warning to others … and comedy to many more.

There were three FREE panels in the first hour that I could have used to start the day, boost my intelligence, and ensure a ride home that would not be made into a low budget thriller. Nope. I went back to the dealer room, armed with my debit card and horrible decision making skills. Within the first 45 minutes, I was down $75. Even at the slots, that’s impressive.

I was able to sign up for “The Graphic Textbook” Kickstarter, ensuring my copy of the book and PDF when it comes out as well as a paperback of “Reading with Pictures.” Forty bucks well spent.  [Technically, it is not spent, just pledged.]

After leaving that table, I made it literally ONE BOOTH before I got sold something I was not anticipating buying or had the money for. As a salesman, I take great pride in not being “sold” anything. My powers failed me, and I dropped $35 on a single issue, a novel and a poster. Will enjoy reading, but I still had many other places to go. [I was at that booth, but I guess as a New Yorker, I am able to deflect the charm of people trying to get my attention.  I will converse and even brainstorm enthusiastically, but I have many ways to avoid salesmanship.  But our hero must learn these lessons for himself, for the path of enlightenment is filled with potholes and pebbles.]

Like Jack Bauer, I’m a man of my word. Saturday afternoon I told multiple people I would be back to buy their book/art, but I also needed to stop by Dick Blick to get a tube and some art supplies, since I am a terrible artist. (Seriously, I can’t draw stick figures with a ruler.) That set me back another fifty bones, and I still hadn’t even gotten to the places I needed to go.

One of the guys at Blick mentioned artist Jeff Balke to learn about coloring. He was great, giving me some free tips, and I repaid him by buying two of his posters. (I got another Captain America piece for my wall –bringing the total to seven– and a Green Lantern poster for my spoiled hamsters.) He directed my to Jason Metcalf (who sketched and inked the Green Lantern piece) and KO! [Tony Kordos](who inked the Cap piece) for their autographs. I’ve lost count of the money, but I got some good stuff. [And he unlocked the “double up” badge by getting one item signed by two or more creators, a useful technique at major conventions.]

I made my way to Lora Innes for a copy of her book “The Dreamer” and got another Cap poster as well as one of her character. I turned around to grab a copy of “Every Waking Moment.” There were still a few other artists to visit before I ventured over to pick up DVDs of Captain America’s 1966 cartoon series as well as the 1990 film.

That’s when intervention came in. I had already gone to the cash box for $100 that morning and had some left, but I knew I had more than $100 still in the bank so I went to use my card instead. It was declined so I paid cash, depleting my resources and still needing to buy one more gift. I was still able to pick up the Quidditch World Cup t-shirt I had chosen for my fiancee, and I really needed to bring that gift home considering I had to have her buy my bus ticket back home.  Ugh.  [Yes, she is awesome.]

We had a little time to make it back to the hotel, pack and rest. With all the excitement, sleep deprivation and unhealthy food, my stomach had grown to hate me and insisted I got find something to soothe it. I made the pathetic journey to a drug store, picking up a salad, a bottle of Pepto and a Giant Sized Gatorade (sadly, no variant cover).  [The bright pink Pepto serves as a nice dressing, contrasting with the green lettuce.]

We said our goodbyes at the hotel, not wanting to prolong the inevitable (plus my uncle didn’t see the point in getting drenched).  [And I was tired.] After the taxi nearly ran over a MegaBus employee, I gave the last of my money to the cab driver and waited in the monsoon for my bus to appear.

It was nice to get some vegetables in my system, and the Pepto did wonders. As I clocked in for work Monday, I knew my life would never be the same.


And this concludes the Virgin Diaries of J. Parker Adair.  Was it good for you?


  1. Matt,
    I wish I was like Ace of Base and “saw the sign.”

    The cover of “Every Waking Moment” was drawn by one of my favorites Phil Hester, and I was able to get that signed and tell him how much “Irredeemable Antman” changed my life.

  2. Oh my goodness! I always spend too much money at cons too.

    Thanks for this. I really wanted to go, and this series of articles has let me live the con vicariously through you.

  3. Not a Surmfs fan -but i love the Smurfs cover -I remember when Smurfs were big in Europe before the cartoon here in the US, which if nothing else had some excellent backgrounds….but before then there were toys and even albums in Europe, which sounded sorta like the Chipmunks -all which were very popular. I was on the cusp agewise, but still bought an occasional album for Peyo’s art alone. And the recent film wasn’t as bad as expected, pretty fun actually.

  4. The use of “album” wasn’t confusing, but what are “cassettes/LPs”? Some sort of European iTunes thing? ;-)

  5. You HAVE to bring and SPEND lots of money at the bigger cons because: A. They have alot of hard to find stuff not in stores (sure, you can always buy online, but it’s not the same). B. They have stuff you never existed, or never knew you had to have. C. The shopping experience and convience of everything being there. And D. You’re not likely to spend that kind of money anywhere else. At smaller cons, you can get away with not spending any money because they might only have comics and comic art for sale (comics are easy to find at many stores) or not have anything of interest for you to buy. Examples of smaller cons: the Long Beach Comic Expo, the Yorba Linda California Comic Con, and the Oceanside SoCal Con have lots of comics for sale but not much else (toys/action figures, statues, trading cards, etc.).