Mantis-Eye At Comic-Con 2011: That Time I Met Jackson and Doc (and accidentally ignored James Urbaniak)
In spite of having run this site for nearly as long as The Venture Bros. has been airing, I'd never actually met Jackson or Doc before. Mind you I've talked to both of them via email and various other messaging services a number of times, but never in person. The closest I had ever gotten was when I went to the Venture Bros. panel at New York Comic-Con 2008 as an extremely last minute thing. They were actually doing a signing right after that which I would have gone to had I not had to be somewhere immediately after (I pretty much paid for a Saturday pass at the door minutes before the panel solely to see the panel).
Aside from that my convention attendance has been lacking. Generally there are Venture panels at San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon*Con and New York Comic-Con every year, so you have three chances every year to be in an optimal position to meet Jackson and/or Doc. I managed to weasel my way into SDCC this year mainly because I wanted to see the Shallow Gravy special, though that ended up being only a Shallow Gravy music video (still worth it).
Regardless of all that, unless you happen to catch them wandering around the convention floor, your best chance to talk to Jackson and Doc (if not briefly) is when they're signing stuff, so get in line!
And so I did. Actually I was in the wrong line. There were two lines at the Entertainment Earth booth on Friday, one for buying toys and one for waiting to meet Jackson and Doc. Guess which one I got into? Oh yeah. Though fortunately for me Alma (specsocelot on the Twitter) had gotten into the correct line with Chandra Free (both of whom I had met earlier at the panel) and they were nice enough to let me sneak into line with them.
After a not-too-long wait we had finally made it! I plunked my brand-new, awesome Rusty Venture lunch box and season four Blu-Ray in front of Jackson and awkwardly proclaimed that I was the guy who made the Mantis-Eye Experiment. He seemed slightly surprised and then happily shook my hand and signed my stuff. He passed it over to Doc, who was busy talking to someone, and let him know who I was, which was kind of a weird moment but it did save me from having to introduce myself a second time.
Doc also seemed happy to meet me then Jackson noticed that my Astro-Base t-shirt (which they had sold to fans after season one had finished airing but before the show had been renewed) had an off-center logo. They both apologized for that noting that they thought they had removed all of the off-center ones before shipping them. Doc said that it was probably now a rare collector's item because of that. Jackson recalled that they had sold around 370 of those shirts, which at the time they thought was really successful. I mentioned shirt club since it seemed appropriate (and had been a runaway success that nearly defeated them) and Jackson seemed almost in pain from the memory of it. Moving on!
Oh also, since I am apparently a huge jerk I also got James Urbaniak (who was sitting right next to them) to sign my stuff but I barely said a word to him. Doc had not followed Jackson's lead and done the introducing of me to James, so there was a brief moment where I wondered if I should let Mr. Urbaniak know who I was or if he had been listening before and already knew! I apparently went with just not saying anything and then sort of edged behind him to get what I'm sure will be an uncomfortable looking photo with the three of them. After that I thanked them and we were off! Very exciting!
Really though the point of this article is, if you're reading this, James Urbaniak, I'm sorry that I didn't say anything to you! I think given the situation that he'll understand, maybe. Either way thanks to all three of the guys for signing stuff and chatting with some of their fans. It's all hugely appreciated.
Oh, and I have an awesome bonus story to end with.
Later that night at the Venture Bros. costume contest, which took place in a much darker venue containing people (including myself) who had been drinking and had changed their recognizable shirts, I was talking to someone when Jackson happened to walk by. Assuming that he knew who I was I joked, "Hey, Jackson Publick! I love The Venture Brothers!" and stuck out my hand. He shook it and looked sort of confused (because what the fuck, who would say that?) and I suddenly realized the amazing folly of my plan. Of course Jackson Publick, who had met and talked to literally hundreds of anonymous, (probably) goofy-looking nerdy dudes in the last eight hours, would not remember what I looked like. Of course. Still processing what exactly was going on in my alcohol-dulled brain I then said "Oh, you don't know who I am?" Yup, I said that. Smooth. I let him think about that for entirely too long (more than zero seconds) before saying "It's Mike!" (again, very helpful of me). Finally realizing who I was (somehow, seriously bless that man) he noted that I looked a lot younger when he was standing which is why he didn't recognize me at first. At that point I was about to attempt to save this worst of all moments by making him guess my age (seriously I was, what the hell) but he was thankfully offered a cigarette by an Adult Swim fellow (he had already been on the way to the smoking area) and we parted ways.
Thus, the second true point of this article is, Jackson, if you're reading this, holy crap I'm sorry. One thing I should apparently not do is drink a bunch of bourbon and then talk to a person. Any person really, but especially not the guy who created the show that I made an entire web site about. I'm sure for him it was just one strange beat in a sea of insanity, but I still feel the need to tell the story if for nothing else than for everyone else to learn from my amazing mistakes. Plus it's kind of funny, and comedy is what unites us all.