June, 2010. Jeni, CT and I are in Philadelphia for Jeni's cousin's wedding. Kind of a big deal, and her cousin didn't have a lot of family, so he wanted us to come. He married into money, so to speak, so the family sprung for us to come. Airfare, hotel, tuxedo's for CT and I. Just get on the plane and come to Philly. So we did.
Not that we've traveled alot, but we started a thing of going to the Hard Rock Cafe to eat if we get to a new city. Philly was the farthest we'd been as a family, and we decided to find the Hard Rock and go. Turns out, it was about a five block walk from our hotel. Pretty June day, so we ventured out on foot, saw a few historic sites, and made it to the Hard Rock for lunch.
So, we're enjoying the ambiance of being surrounded by cool rock stuff, but we notice people coming in with wristbands on. And a few random movie and comic related tee shirts. Then a few more people with wristbands and shirts. And then, costumes. At that point we decide that something's up that we need to know about. None of us had "smart" phones at that point, so I text my buddy Steve back home to have him see if something is going on in Philly. He says yes...a little thing called COMIC CON!
Wizard World Comic Con 2010.
I text back asking where. He tells me, then asks where we are. Google maps to the rescue, he tells me it is literally NEXT DOOR to the Hard Rock Cafe. As if there were a decision to be made, off we went to our first Comic Con. We purchased out tickets; only a single day pass. We were in town for a wedding, and only had a few hours to kill. But, little did we know, that day would give us our first steps into a larger world.
I had never been to anything remotely like that before. As we walk in, the first characters that weren't immediately recognizable turned out to be a bit of a tribute to a friend of a friend. Said friend who told us what was up with the people in the Hard Rock (Steve) is also good friends with a comic writer who was starting to make it big. He'd had several indie comics become popular, and had recently reimagined many of the DC Universe's staple heroes and villains as.....
We bumped into a zombie Spiderman as we walked in the door. Perhaps that should have been a hint of things to come. Robert Kirkman had only recently (at that point) began turning well known figures into the walking dead. Prior to that, and continuing to this day, he had a comic about a zombie apocalypse. I think we all know what popular incarnation that has become now. But, back to the Star Wars portion of the story.
Shortly after we made our way in, we bumped into some familiar figures. Boba Fett and a Sandtrooper. I had assumed they were with a Lucasfilm booth or group or something, knowing nothing of the 501st Legion. As I stopped to take a picture OF them, they stopped and posed for me. Then offered a picture with Jeni, CT and I. How cool was THAT?!?!
As we wandered further, marveling at the toys for sale, the artists row, the Batmobile sitting there like it was right where it was supposed to be...just geek stuff everywhere. And actors from your favorite movies galore.
Adam frickin' West.
Adrienne Curry with issues of her Playboy for signing.
The Iron Sheik.
Raven of the WCW at that time, stopped ME to help him hang a banner.
Spike. Yes, James Marsters sitting RIGHT THERE.
And.....I had my picture take with Lord Darth Vader. The biggest, baddest villain in any movie, ever, as far as I was concerned. On screen, he towered over everyone, took sh*t from NO ONE, and ruled the galaxy. And here he was, in all his blackness. I had to have my picture taken with him.
We enjoyed our day at Comic Con, but had to make our way back to hotel to prepare for the wedding. Once back, I downloaded the pictures from the day, and noticed something terribly wrong.
Darth Vader didn't tower.
In fact, the top of his dome came up to about my eyes. This wasn't right. How could Darth Vader be shorter than a mere mortal from the South?
This was about the time my destiny was sealed, and I know that now. It was that picture that would nudge me towards where I am today. It was that day at Comic Con when I discovered what the 501st Legion was, and what they did. I thought it was very cool, but I never thought I could actually be one of them. I mean, this is a world wide organization. How could something so massive exist anywhere near Lexington, Kentucky?
How I found the 501st at home is another story. And it happened totally by accident.