Okay, so maybe traveling all the way to San Diego was a bit much just to put myself in the mood for Tampa Bay Comic Con, which runs today through Sunday at the Tampa Convention Center. But I did, and I'm still trying to process the awesomeness I experienced last week on the West Coast. Here are five of the moments from SDCC that still have me pinching myself, and wondering how any other Comic Con will measure up.
5. Getting all dolled up (sort of) by professional make-up artists
"Oh my god! What have you done to her?" said Greg Nicotero, the god of gruesome special effects, with a gasp. My face is a blank slate, yet to be slathered in latex and fake blood, but he affects a look of horror when he spots me sitting in the makeup chair on stage at Courtyard's Super Hero HQ Cosplay lab in a San Diego parking lot. "She's hideous!" Having met me the day before, he decides we're already good enough friends to make fun of each other, score!
"You have such pretty cheeks, " my makeup man says, examining my face, "I just want to tear one up."
He coats the right side of my face in liquid latex and gets to work.
"So here's what I'm thinking happened to you," he says as he mixes mystery substances on an artist's palette. "You were making out with your boyfriend after prom when all of a sudden he turned into a zombie and took a giant bite out of your face."
He begins scraping away at the latex and folding it onto itself with a metal tool to give my cheek a truly nasty texture. Before he finishes, Nicotero strolls back by and suggests a burn instead.
"A kind of Freddie Krueger look," he suggests.
Nicotero knows best, so the artist starts dabbing at my face with a sponge, to alter the appearance of the latex.
About 15 minutes and many hues of red paint later, I appear to have been whacked in the face with a searing hot shovel.
I walk around the Gaslamp District, turning heads with each step I take — I'm truly hideous. And I love it.
4. Getting writing advice from Jane Espenson
Three minutes before the convention closed, I stumbled upon an unpopulated row of booths in Artist's Alley and saw a familiar nameplate atop one of the tables. The legendary writer and producer behind many epic episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jane Espenson, was sitting nonchalantly before me. Promoting her latest project, Husbands, she offered to sign a poster and pose for a photo. Signing and posing over, I walked away but did an about-face when I had almost made it out of the convention center. Power-walking back to her booth, I asked her for her best advice for someone who wanted to write for TV. Her tips: 1) Don't go to school to study screen writing — anything you need to know you can learn as you go. 2) Watch TV critically and make outlines of your favorite episodes. 3) Look into the Disney/ABC writing fellowship program. 4) Read and study as many scripts as you can get your hands on. 5) Check out the SAG library, if you're ever in LA.
3. Being swept off my feet by Seth Green
Candid selfies are more my style than paid-for posing, but I on the last day I decide to swing by Nerd HQ to drop some dollars at the Smiles for Smiles photo booth. A picture with geek royalty is $20, with all the money going to Operation Smile, a non-profit that performs cleft pallet surgeries for people in need. Seth Green is the man of the hour and as I introduce myself to the former teenage-werewolf, I panic, not knowing how to pose.
"What do you want to do?" he asks.
"I have no clue ... Can we do something that makes people jeal — AHHH!!!"
Before I could finish my question, the 5'4" actor scoops me off the ground and into his arms, making for one Jackson well spent.
2. Running into an Avenger while wearing Avengers PJs
It was well after 1 a.m. when I bail on my friends waiting in the Hall H line; I sleepily step into the elevator at the Marriott Marquis and punch the button to head up to my room. I raise my head as another guest gets on, and my jaw visibly drops, drawing a laugh from a familiar face.
"This is the weirdest moment of my life," I can't stop myself from whispering as I lock eyes with Clark Gregg, aka Phil Coulson of the MCU.
He laughs again.
Then he notices my attire — Avengers pajama bottoms, Captain America costume hoodie and an Avengers blanket. Another laugh.
For the next 21 floors we make pleasant small talk about the convention. I am as giddy as Coulson meeting Captain America.
1. Awkward hand-holding with the world's coolest zombie-killer
Anyone who watches The Walking Dead knows that Daryl Dixon is the apocalypse's most unlikely heartthrob; first a repulsive redneck, he has grown to be the show's most lovable character.
I initially thought Norman Reedus, the actor who portrays Daryl, was also a gross, dirty, creepy old dude, until I watched Boondock Saints this Valentine's Day and fell inexplicably and irrevocably in love with him. After finding out that Normsky was a silly and sensitive artist (and a self-described "weird old cat lady") I thought I couldn't possibly love the man anymore.
But then I meet him.
As I'm on assignment to interview the cast of Walking Dead, Norman is the first person up. He sits next to me, shakes my hand, and said in his distinctive, sexiness-distilled-into-audio voice that he likes the hearts on my shirt. I stop myself from swooning.
Despite his enchanting, off-kilter charm, I play it cool throughout our 15-minute roundtable conversation — only minimally giggle-blushing when he mentions a ménage a trois — and am a poised professional.
As he gets up to leave, he reaches out and for a crazy long amount of time (I'm talking "had-it-been-anybody-other-than-Norman-Reedus-it-would've-been-exceedingly-strange-and-creepy" long), he simply holds my hand in his. Little cartoon birds are fluttering around my head.
I still can't figure out what prompted him to initiate our little hand-holding sesh, but it is definitely the most exhillirating fangirl moment of the weekend.
Okay, of my life.
Liz Tsourakis, a freshman at Barnard College, is a former student editor of tb-two*.