6 weeks later, I’ve gotten around to finishing this post. Bad blogger, bad.

I returned safely from Connecticon, the second year I’ve gone. On our road trip was myself, Susan, and Jennifer, the latter being a new friend from the Cbus area. We go on the road at 10 PM Thursday night, and drove drove drove until reaching Hartford around 9 AM Friday morning. This year’s drive was much easier since we had three shifts each way, though it might be worthwhile next year to plan our travel times to be able to check in to our hotel right away.

We stayed in the Hartford Hilton this year, a very posh place a little under a mile from the convention center. While the actual walking distance to the con was even less than I’d first imagined, walking back and forth twice a day for three days eventually took its toll on us, and it eventually felt like someone had stuck a battery in the blade of my right foot. The registration line was actually inside this year, a huge improvement, moved pretty quickly, and I was only in it for about an hour. (At the end of the con, I found out the person who had redesigned registration is also going to be overhauling the Connecticon website, so I’m hopeful that I’ll one day be able to sign in to the forums again.)

Susan and I walked around the convention for a little while as we waited for 1 PM to come, which was when the Hilton told me I’d be able to check in for the rooms. Showering after a 12-hour car drive and 1.6 miles of walking is a wonderful thing. We rested up for a little while, then went back to the convention all fresh-faced!

The next thing I wanted to see at that point wasn’t going to start until 8, so we wandered around the Artist Alley and the Dealer’s Room. Last year, I was far too shy to actually talk to the webcomic people much, other than saying I was a fan and possibly asking for a quick sketch, but this year, I had an in.

I got a t-shirt from the CRL in May shortly after I started working there, and when I attended a Jeff Smith talk hosted by Scott McCloud at the Wexner Center, I stood in line afterwards and got both of them to autograph it. Then I somehow worked up the courage to hand my business card to Scott McCloud.

I figured if I could give my card to one of the top scholars in this entire field, then I could easily do so for 30 other practitioners in the middle of a convention full of webcomic guests. So, the CRL t-shirt traveled to Connecticut with me, and when the day was over, it was a LOT more marked than it had been before.  (I’d scanned a large version of it but now I can’t seem to find it. Blast.)

Most of the artists and writers saw Jeff’s prominent signature over the logo and promptly went, “JEFF SMITH? My god, I don’t belong on this shirt!” The little rush of anxiety I got passed after I managed to visit two or three booths, and I handed my card to each and every one of them. Even if nothing comes of it, I feel a little pride in accomplishing that much networking with strangers, many of whose success I hope to achieve.

My t-shirt quest took quite awhile, so by the time I was done, it was almost time to go to the panel. Defense Against Fanboys and Fangirls was quite entertaining, and the panelist had a very good sense of humor. Near the end of her slideshow, she had a list of numbers for the Rejection Hotline, a service you can use if there’s someone who wants your contact info, but you don’t want to actually give them your number. They call the number, and a recorded rejection plays, followed by an advertisement for ringtones. I took down the number for Chicago, since the panelist didn’t have any up for Ohio (and why would she?) but on the hotline’s website there are numbers for every state.

There was another panel afterwards that I was also interested in, but by that time, Susan and I were really hungry, so we ventured back into the city to get dinner.

One thing I have to mention now is crosswalks in Hartford. The first time we walked to the convention center, it seemed like none of the locals actually paid any attention to walk lights or the like, but we didn’t think much of it at first. Until we realized that crosswalks in downtown Hartford don’t appear to operate under any sort rhyme or reason. There’d be no walk light in one direction even though there should’ve been, and then when the walk lights did come on, they were on in both directions. And they didn’t appear to be under any sort of pattern that matched the timing of the lights, either. Truly baffling.

It also appears that the downtown area has been redeveloped a little bit, because I don’t remember the area being as nice last year, when Chris and I wandered around downtown on Saturday night looking for an open fast food place. Susan and I did find the Burger King that eluded us the first year, though, and there was rejoicing.

But anyways, on the walk to said BK, we bumped into Jennie Breeden of The Devil’s Panties, and it has to be said that she’s one of the coolest women I’ve ever met. She stopped and talked to us for about 15 minutes, even signing my shirt when I remembered that she’d been occupied during my rounds earlier and I hadn’t gotten her to autograph it.

When we actually made it to the Burger King, the line was almost to the door, and it appeared that there were only one or two people working behind the counter. We waited quite awhile, but eventually got our food ordered, and I noticed the back of my receipt had a phone number for one of those surveys. I figured I’d be waiting long enough to take the phone survey, so I called the number and gave the place some nice, high scores. They were doing their best, despite probably being very tired and weary after an all-day onslaught of cosplaying teenagers. The survey then spat out a confirmation code that would get me a free Whopper on my next visit, which I figured I’d probably get to use by the time I left Connecticut. A win-win situation.

That was the end of our first night, and sleep came quickly.

On Saturday, I woke far earlier than I would’ve liked, but I had to get back to the convention center by 9 so I could go to the Webcomic Auction, which would benefited Child’s Play. It was quite as awesome as last year, and I even made a couple bids that nevertheless were outbid very quickly. Once again, Mookie took his shirt off, and even put on a bra that had previously been auctioned off by a female comicker. The best part, however, was probably when Brian Wilson revealed in his loud, booming voice that he had stolen Chris Malone’s plane ticket back to Richmond, framed it, and auctioned it off for $200.

The rest of Saturday passed in a blur, but I also went to the Sluggy Freelance and Questionable Content panels. I was a faithful Sluggy reader from about 2002 to 2005, but like many who attended the panel, I was a reader he lost during Oceans Unmoving, and I just hadn’t gotten around to catching up with the archives. (This has been rectified in the last week and a half since the con.) Pete Abrams is a very personable guy, and I enjoyed listening him talk about Sluggy quite a bit.

Somewhere in there, I also ran into Robert Howard of Tangents, who turned out to be sitting two seats away from me. Surprise!

Right afterwards was the QC panel, which I missed last year. Jeph is also one of those guys who is just fun to listen to. I asked him about the relationship between Hannelore and Chiyo-chan, a character from Azumanga Daioh, which Jeph mentioned was one of his favorite shows awhile back on his blog. I just watched AzuDai recently, and noticed that it’s really funny when bad things happen to Chiyo-chan, just like Hannelore.

Anyways, after that I went to the Gaijin in Japan panel, which was led by two twentysomethings who had each spent some time living in Japan. It was full of very interesting travel tips for Americans in Japan, things like basic manners and etiquette, and even what kind of phone plan to get while you are there.

After that, Susan and I took another dinner break at the Burger King, where I cashed in on my free Whopper from the survey. That was the cheapest meal I ate all weekend, since I only have to pay about two dollars and some change for fries and a drink.

Later on, we went to Your Favorite Anime Sucks after seeing it in the program guide. Mike Beuerlein, creator of YAnSucks, is a friend of ours and since we’re both staff members of his convention, AP, we were really curious who was doing the panel and how they’d gotten the idea to do it.

The panelist turned out to be Corbin of SITACon, who had led the Gaijin panel earlier. After the panel, we got to talk to him and found out that he’d gotten the idea from Mike himself, and had invited him out to Utica, NY to do the panel at SITACon, though Mike couldn’t make it. He gave his blessing for SITACon to do its own version, so that’s how it got all the way to Connecticut.

That took us until closing time on Saturday, so we made the trek back to the hotel to collapse from exhaustion.

Sunday was pretty chill, and we went back to the convention to attend the Devil’s Panties panel, which got a little delayed and was moved down to the sitting area by the Artist Alley. Once again, Jennie Breeden is pretty awesome, so it was fun hanging out with her in a more intimate venue, as opposed to the scattered crowds that tend to be in panel rooms. We made a big circle of chairs and just did a sort of roundtable.

Around 4, we collected Jennifer and headed back out of town. I did the very last shift of driving, since I’d be dropping Susan and Jennifer off in succession, so many hours later I got home, and I rolled into bed around 7 AM.

And that’s how I went to Connecticon. :D  Here are my photos.