Valley Con 2021 – My First Convention (with a table)

When I started this adventure into my comic book series, I knew that I would have to look at going to conventions and getting exposure. What I didn’t expect is having the time of my life. Allow me tell you all about what happened this weekend.

Thursday, October 14th was the first night and really the opening to Valley Con and I pretty much went there to check it out. I checked in around 6 pm at the Fargo Theatre. This was my first time ever in the building. I didn’t explore it much because I didn’t know if I could or not. I did strike up a conversation with some of the people before going in to take a seat. I waited there and it was about 7:10 pm when I ran into a surprise. Ivy saw me as she came in and said “Hi.”

Allow me to give you some context. It was in 2020, nearly a year before Valley Con 2021 when I first made contact with Ivy online, (I had followed her work for a few years before this) she was opening up a chance for people to do commissions with her to do original characters. I saw her first one and I just had to make contact and see what it would take for her to cosplay as Bianca Bordeaux. It was very easy to talk with her over notes and she was (and still is) very patient and kind. She took the job and made the costume for Bianca and then did the shoot. It turned out amazing. From there I asked for another and another. Each time I was hiring her, we started growing a friendship between each other. It grew so much that I told her that in the spring of 2021 when Fargo held its Comic Con, I was asking her all about it and what to expect, what to ask, and what to look into so that I could get my own booth for the convention. I got her advice and ran with it. 

I got there on a Sunday, the last day of the event, and I was able to speak with the head organizer, Tony. I was walking to him after a speaking event and showing him my portfolio of what I had done so far and asking him about getting a booth. He suggested getting a table, which I eventually did, and said he would be excited to have me. I also talked with him on this day about finding a way to get Ivy up to Fargo for Valley Con 2021 as a guest. He told me that he wasn’t sure and that I should get back to him within a week or so. I did just that and he was asking for Ivy’s contact information. I then asked Ivy if it was okay after I told her about the Convention Coming up and that Tony wanted to talk with her. She gave me the okay and I gave that information to Tony. A few weeks later, Ivy Cosplay was announced as a guest to Valley Con 2021. I was so happy that I was finally going to meet one of my teammates with my comic books and a friend. 

Cut to the first night and I finally got to see her for the first time. I was so nervous and it turned to being scared. Reason being is that when we had our first hug, her chin hit my shoulder. Now I am a big guy so I know a light tapping on me might not be that way for someone else. I was worried that Ivy might have hurt herself a little and I became scared. I thought I might have hurt Ivy. I knew that didn’t happen from her reaction but I still had that going in my mind. I shook her husband’s hand, Mike, and he was an awesome guy too. It was just with my social awkwardness with that light tapping I was worried that I just ruined my first impression with my friend. Neither of us were there that long as a movie that was being shown, I had seen, (but I knew that as it was advertised) and I was leaving embarrassed and worried that I ruined any first impressions that could have been made. I just left wondering how I was going to recover.

Friday, October 15th was when the venue, the Ramada hotel, opened its doors for us to set up the table as well as open up the convention. I took pictures, which you might have seen on Facebook or Twitter, and was ready to go. I did eventually have my dad, Bob, come with me to help me at the table as he was a salesman and knew how to do accounting books. We were place in a position where the hallway to the hotel that would also go to the main area for artist alley/writer alley. It was a good spot in terms of foot traffic as I was the first that people could see coming in that direction. We were just sitting down when I saw Ivy come up in her Harley Quinn Cosplay from the Birds of Prey movie, and she saw me first. My dad was kinda hidden off on the edge of the door and I told him that Ivy was coming. It was at that point, and I attribute this to the angle from the hall, I saw Mike again too and relayed that to him as well. Ivy hugged me again and this time it was much better. (I am sure at this point she is wondering why I am doing one armed hug but that is because of working at a boarding school for thirteen years before working where I am at now just in case you were wondering Ivy.) My dad, who never could see the end result of where I was trying to go with thirteen years of development into Bianca Bordeaux and Vampire Bloodlines until just recently, also got a hug and handshake from them respectively. He gave them a big thank you for all their help in helping me. He also joked with Ivy about it being cold and how she was freezing her butt off. Ivy made mention that yeah it was and that the people they were with were apologizing for it being that cold. It was really that moment where the ice broke and I was allowed to be myself with both Ivy and Mike. Our friendship grew more from that moment. I made some sales and some new friends that were next to me. When the day ended, we got to chat just for a moment with Mike and Ivy before we had to take off for home to avoid the deer that would be roaming the area. As a side note, when the night hit, it was the reason why I had to leave because the deer around here are very high in numbers.

Saturday, October 16th was the day that really got me excited. Right away when everything started opening up, I had gotten some feedback from those who bought my comic on the previous day. All were praising comments and one of them gave me the best comment that I could have ever gotten. I had someone compare my comic to the Laurell K Hamilton series of books, Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series. I love this series and that comment was the best compliment I could have ever gotten. Then the moment that took my breath away. Ivy was coming down to make her way to her table…and she is in Bianca’s Armor. Mind you I knew she was going to wear it eventually but she wore it for the morning and it was going to be all day. My mind was totally blown just seeing her in that for the first time. I did everything in my power not to geek out. I knew Ivy had other obligations with her being a guest at the Convention so I was able to get a nod in with her. We did get to do some talking between slow moments and I was able to talk with Mike more too. The more we talked, the more awesome I found them both to be. It was even more of a dream come true when Ivy and Mike came to my table and we took photos together with me and Ivy together while I was holding the statue I had made of Bianca. I also was at this time able to meet someone who was following my Facebook page, Tom Nguyen, an artist that has done work for DC. I talked with him and thanked him for his follow before giving him issues 1, 2, and 3. He in return gave me a print of his and I picked out the one of Vampirella because, vampire theme. This whole event I realized was the happiest that I have been in a long time. I continued to ride this high into the evening. I didn’t eat with them as I didn’t get a banquet ticket but I was able to talk with Mike more before and during the judging of the cosplay contest. It was here that Mike told me that it was the best convention they ever went to because of all the friendly people that were involved. With how many conventions they have been to, that is saying a lot and I felt so happy that I played a role, a very small one, in getting them up here. It just sucked that this was going to be the moment when we said goodbye as I had to take off so I wouldn’t worry about roaming deer and I wouldn’t see them before they took off for the airport. I also said I hope in some way shape or form that we get to meet in person again since we are still doing work together with Bianca Bordeaux and Vampire Bloodlines.

Sunday, October 17th was the last day and while I had a little hope of maybe catching a glimpse of Ivy and Mike as they were leaving, sadly it didn’t happen. I didn’t get my hopes up because I knew that was the biggest possibility of happening because, air travel. I did get to talk with Tom more about doing a commission and hopefully being allowed to do a cover with it. We agreed to contact each other in the future when some time have passed. I also talked with Noel Anderson, around here he is known at Scotch thanks to a morning radio show. (I met him at the spring Fargo Comic Con thanks to my dad introducing him to me) I gave them shirts and they were thankful. They both were awesome. Before the event closed, I found Tony while he wasn’t so busy and told him thank you for having me. He told me thank you for coming and also thanked me for getting him in contact with Ivy and he told me how everyone was impressed and how they loved her. It was then time to go home and I knew that the greatest high I ever got, (I have never done drugs thank you) this was it. It was better than any time I was out on the field for football either in high school or college and those were really fun times for me.

This was my time at Valley Con and I am really hoping that next year will be better…as well as I can get the time off. Thank you to everyone who was able to make this one of, if not, the best moment in my life.