Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Hell Hotel and The Central PA Comic Con

The following blog entry is a collaboration between Bad Grey Matter and Tight Rope Noose.  Together, we are Team Manticore! 

We'll go back and forth a bit to tell bits of the story, and the illustrations from each of us will go...wherever they make sense to go.  Not necessarily by the person who said it.  Ready?  Go!

What a weekend!

RP: We started by attending an event at Bard College. Neil Gaiman and Art Spiegelman had a conversation on stage in front of the audience, and if you don’t know why that was awesome then you don’t know the people I’m talking about.  Neil Gaiman read from his version of Hansel and Gretel.  They talked about the history of comics as it related to their lives.  And MAD magazine.  Very awesome.

RG: It was nice to see some similarities between my own background and theirs.  Hearing talk of that grim relation that you don't have as many family members in your tree as you would have pre- WWII because your family is Jewish, the fact that the first thing I read in its entirety by myself was a Batman comic, and, like Rob said, MAD magazine, was all incredibly uplifting for me. 

RP: Then we headed out to Pennsylvania from there.  It was a dark and rainy night, so that was fun to drive in.  The best part was an hour away from our destination, when a fog straight out of a horror movie surrounded everything in sight.  It was like The Mist plus The Fog plus Silent Hill.  This slowed us down considerably, and 20 minutes into it we saw our first “Warning: Heavy Fog” sign.  That was super helpful because before that I had thought I had driven into the smoking section of America.  No wait, I knew it was fog.  The sign didn’t help at all.

RG: Rob started making siren noises like Silent Hill.  It actually creeped me out, which is silly.  We couldn't see ANYTHING on either side, so I kept wondering if we were going to fall off an edge and die in a ditch somewhere, but Rob was pretty skillful about not doing so. 

RP: It was about 2:30 AM when I started having the sleep deprived hallucinations.  The combination of being up since 7am Friday, plus the fog, plus the discomfort of lengthy stretches on the road started to take its toll.  I was so glad when we got off of the highway and pulled into our hotel.

RG: See, I'm used to MY sleep deprived hallucinations.  Faces in the trees?  Wave at them like old friends.  Little white creatures in the distance?  Just don't look right at them.  They hate that.

RP:….Until we go into the hotel.  The man on duty was laying on the lobby couch with his shoes off.  After opening the door he checked us in, asking if we were part of the dance crew (We were not) and started to show us to our room.  

RG: Technically speaking, he looked at ME and said, "Oh, you're with the dancing group.  One of the dancers."  It felt like he was telling me I was a stripper.  Turns out there WAS a dancing group at the con, but they were a small part of it.  I guess they were the only other people who bothered to check into this Hell hole.

RP: Along the way we marveled at the general disrepair of the  facilities.  The yellow grime on the door hinges, the chipped paint at the corners, the dinginess of the rug, the dead plants in the hallway.  But so far it was shared space, so if the room was nice we could deal with it.

RG: No, no.  You don't understand.  It's not like there was one dead hanging plant in a bucket or something.  There was a giant row of dead plants along a wall on the floor.  Someone had taken the time to set this whole thing up to look EXTRA fancy, so when no one took care of it, it was extra horrible. 

RP: NOPE.  We opened the door to the room to find out it wasn’t even put together.  The bed was disassembled against the wall. 

RG: He made me stand there with the door open.  Just… stand there like a doorstop.  Like, of course that was my purpose.  I'm just a dancing girl.  I hold doors.

RP: The man looked at us and said “You can’t sleep here, right?”  This was said as an earnest question.  As if we were OK with a room without a bed.  We were not.

RG: On the way to figuring out if there was a room ready at all, he had asked us to follow him and leave our bags.  We declined.  While he was gone, we took the time to murmur to each other about possibly waking up in a bathtub of ice with no kidneys and how grimy that tub would probably be.  We started planning our escape.  

RP: He went and swapped the keys and then took us outside and around the building to a somehow even shadier motel-looking section of the supposed hotel.  

RG: Oh...  Oh so shady.

RP: We entered the room.  Again, chaos.  Exposed wires came out of the floor and wall, the gunk built up on the surfaces of the furniture.  It looked like a drug motel, and probably was.
RG: Like Rob said, the journey when the man came back took us outside the building, up and down a bunch of steps.  He kept asking where we were parked, as though our answer would magically change.  I began to panic, then stifle the panic, back and forth.  I assumed that this was actually fine, and that my crazy-ass was just blowing it out of proportion.  My brain is so wrong that I honestly have trouble telling what is really bad versus just my head.  This is why I have Rob. 

RP: We closed the door and used the room phone to call the Hotel where the Convention was actually taking place.  We had hoped to save a few dollars by getting a cheaper room, but not at this price!  Luckily they still had rooms available and we quickly threw our bags back in the car, turned in the room key and left.  

RG: Even just waiting for Rob to get back to the room, I looked every lock and sat on the bed, half afraid to touch anything.  Dear god.  What if it was covered in jizz or something??  I was so thankful when he returned for me.  We ran to the car and I debated if we had just escaped from another King novel.  

RP: The man tried to ask what was wrong, why were we leaving and I simply stated I would send them a list.  I am still considering writing the chain office, since previously I have had good luck with that company's line of hotels, but after this location, I will probably not frequent them again.

RG: I had furiously texted my mother, much to her chagrin.  On some level, I just wanted her to know what had happened, just in case she never heard from me again.  

RP: We get to the hotel (again) and luckily it is a very nice building, high windows with well cleaned treatments and a giant brass fireplace.  A man who was dressed like the sun checked us in, and surprisingly (and despite what was told to us by the convention earlier in the planning stages) the cost for this nice hotel was the same price as the fleabag shit-hole we had just come from!  Score.

RG: There were chandeliers and real wallpaper, and yes, the largest of men in the brightest of yellow shirts greeted us with open doors. 

RP: We essentially collapse immediately after setting our alarms, we had to setup our booth to be ready by 10am, and at this point it is 4am.  We will have to man that booth until 7pm on however much sleep we can get.

RG: *cry* After awkwardly fighting panic just to sleep, I slept rather well. 

RP: Except for being moved over a space (and losing the critical corner-zone) everything went smoothly on day one.  

RG: So many people had beards and baseball caps!  Is that a PA thing or something? 

RP:  We were seated next to Red Adept Publishing, cool authors all competing to see who could get the most votes for their genre.  They also ran a great panel about it. 
RG: The writers were a lot of fun.  We're all internet friends now. :) 

RP: People.  Love.  Cats.  Rowyn’s stuffed cats are a huge hit and we pretty much immediately sell out of the large ones. 

RG: My guess is that because I had a niche there, that was why they sold so quickly?  I don't even know.  Earrings and pins weren't bad either, but we went to sell prints.  Rob's free comic went like hot cakes though, I will say.  

And here are some shots of what our table actually looked like: 

All in all, we had a great time!

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