I almost didn't get to AnthroCon this year. Finances were not on my side at all! So, I expected to sit at home, and be impossible to live with until the holiday weekend was over. Thankfully though, I learned that sometimes, if you live right and eat your vegetables, things come back to surprise you sometimes!

Two years ago I went on a service call to fix a line printer, and met Mike Mullig, one of the IT directors at the company. Ad it turned out, we had a good bit in common and became fast friends. Within the last year I brought him into the furry world and hooked him on Sabrina Online and Sabrina the Story, and later Tabitha. I'd asked him some time ago if he was thinking about going to AnthroCon, and he said he'd like to, and that was pretty much the end of it. Well, Thursday before the AC Weekend I got an e-mail and I told him I probably couldn't go, and that I was hoping to sell the 3 used laser printers I had so I could have some revenue for the trip. From that, Mike not only took one off of my hands, but offered to work a portion of the purchase price into the trip to King Of Prussia, Pennsylvania, the room, and sandwich fixin's for the trip -- how the heck could I say "no"!

Well, we didn't get going until Saturday morning; he lives on one side of Pittsburgh, and I work on the other and live 72 miles north in the mudpuddle of Eau Claire. So, bright and/or early Saturday morning I left and drove to his house. With the time to look at his very impressive and tiny but powerful collection of swords, we got moving around 8:15 AM, and arrived at AnthroCon somewhere after 2 PM. Meaning we'd missed a good portion already, but there was more to see and do -- we were not bored in the slightest (at least I don't think we were!).

If you've never been to one of these things, find a way to go. Workshops run for a good portion of the con, and include all kinds of information for art and writing for the furry world, fursuit construction, all kinds of things. Artists abound, sketching and drawing new work, and all ready to accept commissions. Almost all of the ones I met had sample sketchbooks out of both tame and adult material, and it was very hard to find anything bad! The only complaint I had was that the time plain did not permit me to look at every print in every sketchbook, otherwise I'd still be in the hotel lobby with some very irate people who wanted to go home. The first artist I recognized that I met was Style Wager who draws Della the Hooda. Very talented guy, who took very great pride in reminding me he was the guy who knocked me out of 3rd place on the Global 100 for a week. But as a good friend and fellow fur, I reminded him it was all because of a two-day error with the voting system, so it was alright with me ::grin::

Mike and I wandered over to the Art Show, where almost everything there was up for bid. A lot of impressive work, too -- Mike was taken by two pieces; one of Pikachu from Pokemon called "Pica'chulu" (don't hold me to that spelling!); drawn with flaps of skin over his mouth ala an alien being I wish I could remember the name of (Mike'll let me know, worry not my friends)! And one other was by Jim Groat entitled "Oops!"; picture a male horse holding a shotgun with an "oops" look on his muzzle, holding a pump-action shotgun, and the upper right hand corner of the picture blown away by buckshot -- incredibly funny picture! Mike couldn't believe he was the only one who bid on it! Neither could I, it was pretty darned funny.

Well, you can imagine what I pretty much had on my mind when I came to AnthroCon: meeting the man who's responsible for me being where I am today, furry-wise. Hard to find him too, amongst all of the activity et al. Enroute however I did get to run into some people who actually read Sabrina the Story, and had some very nice things to say about it (ego boost, nothing like it). Met Michael Higgs, who if you don't know is Thomas Woolfe in Sabrina Online, and Eric's longtime friend. I've been a fan of his for almost as long as I've been a fan of Eric Schwartz', talent is incredible. Despite my very tight budget, I allowed myself the money to buy a color print from him.

In the main dealer room, just to the left, was someone I was expecting to meet, wanted to meet, was delivering a handshake for, and there he was, big as life, behind all of the ZigZag stuff -- Max the Black Rabbit himself! And he's obviously an old hand at conventioneering; to explain, the badges AC gives you have your name (or your character name) in veeeerrry small print at the bottom, and there's a large open spot for an artist to draw something for you, if you so desire. Mike and I causally looked over and I said "Max BlackRabbit, how are you?" Max looked up with a smile, and his eyes new right where to zero in on the badge! "Chris Foxx!" We shook hands, and had a very nice visit with him. The honor, however, was ours when he volunteered one of his private sketchbooks for us to peruse! Yeah, one or two drawings of Sabrina that made my eye twitch (nothing adult, mind you!), but it was a quiet privilege to be included like that.

Max also pointed me in the direction of where I wanted to go -- Mr. Eric W. Schwartz sat at the other end of the very large dealer's room, and we were guided over.

Now, how to describe Eric Schwartz. I'm hoping to be accurate. He struck me as a pretty quiet guy, well-mannered (in this day an age, when a man knows to stand up during an introduction, it's a sign of a gentleman). He didn't have much to say, either out of modesty or shyness, I couldn't tell. How someone can turn out the work he turns out and be that quiet is beyond me, but he carries it off; kind of like the writer who said, "I have a job to do. I don't have time to think about how good I am at it." Maybe that's the case. I dunno. I didn't bring my camera else I'd have hopefully had a picture taken of the two of us. I owe him a lot; he's why I'm known and popular.

Anyway, we each bought a Sabrina T-shirt (you really didn't think I'd leave without one, did you???), and as he started to get busy again I decided not to bother him and ask him to draw on my badge, sadly for me. I did, however, and I have to share this with everyone, take a peek at a character book he produces for Sabrina Online. It has full-page drawings of the major characters, and is apparently pretty new because it include RC_Tech as a regular ::siiiiigh:: . On the inside back cover is a collage drawing of the minor players in The Strip. In the lower left-hand corner was a drawing of a lady skunk who looked a very tiny bit like Sabrina, wearing a necklace (as I recall) and identified ... identified as "Sabrina's mother, Endora".

I have been again honored.

I love this man.

The rest of the con was visiting other furs and tables. Mike got a commission of his MUCK character "Tyler" (a Liger) from Jim Groat, and Mike told me after some of the stories this guy told while drawing and as he waited his turn. The man is a talented artist and humorist, and Mike I think absolutely loved the guy! Gave me a chance also to meet some of my other idols like John Barrett and Al Mackey who were around the corner. Seemed everyone knew who I was too, which gave me an incredible feeling; not euphoria maybe, but whatever it was, it felt good!

While Mike was waiting his turn, I managed to track down some people I'd been waiting to find: Packard (who's responsible for the Foxx Den's design), his girlfriend Toraneko (who writes the adult story Tender Bonds), and Iron Raptor, who you'll recognize from his appearances in Tabitha. Met two of their friends, "Angry Dave", and a gentleman who's name I'm embarrassed to admit I forgot. Tora had come in fursuit -- a spandex fursuit of her white tiger character complete with high-heel ankle boots and carrying a "cat" (read: cat-o-nine-tails!). Not that she needed it; the sheer height of Packard and the build of I.R. and Angry Dave would keep any unwanted paws away from her :)

Mike and I also got to attend a live performance of PawPets! This takes some explaining: Every Sunday night, there's a live G - PG13 - rated furry puppet show live on the Internet (please see the Links pages). These guys weren't all them them (although the guy who did the sheepdog had the exact same voice!), but no one would ever have known it. We were chatting with the sheepdog pawpeteer for a bit after the show, and I absolutely had to refuse to look at the dog -- he had that puppet talking with every word he spoke! And it was damned hard to not look at it, and he knew it, and he delighted it in! If you've never seen the show on Sunday night, get yourself the latest RealPlayer and tune in Sunday night! If you don't have mIRC, get it and log into and go to the room #pawpet, and you can be there with the rest of us goofballs and interact with us and them, and have some good, old-fashioned fun.

Mike and I returned to the hotel to drop off our stuff and went out for some Chinese food, came back, and found we'd missed the masquerade show. But we didn't miss the fursuits! There were more fursuits than I'd ever seen in my entire life! And as this was Mike's and my first con ever, that may not be saying a lot ::grin:: Someone dressed as Minerva Mink was getting a lot of attention from photographers! Tora was there of course, as was ... lessee ... all manner of foxes and canines, some impressive felines, a Teddy Ruxpin complete with logo, a dalmation wearing a fireman's coat and carrying a fire extinguisher, a Roxikat with two pink balloons that were ... let's just say she was dead on with the proportions of the character! I can't begin to rattle off every suit I saw, but it was impressive beyond compare. Two fursuits in character, male and female, went through a very animal-related "first meeting" ritual that was obviously rehearsed and very well done (although Mike did say that if one sniffed the other's butt, he was leaving!). Well, the con was winding down about this point. We didn't stay for the magic show workshop, we returned to the hotel for some well-deserved sleep.

After waking up insanely early for a weekend, we ate our complementary breakfast and met a few other fur fans in the lobby and had a very brief chat about Tom Lehrer; the former mathematics-professor-turned-satirical-musician. Not much to do at the con, but we met and chatted with some more furs, and watched the fursuit parade led by a fox striking a cymbal with a drumstick for cadence (which I managed to sing along to with They're Coming to Take Me Away Ha-Ha to the beat. I had also met Michele Light, who was very kind enough to draw a small picture on my badge. Another incredibly talented artiste! At the art show, Mike missed out on his Pika-thing, but he did get his "Oops!", and left a happy man.

All in all, we had a great time.

Only one thing could have made it better.

There is a young woman from the UK, someone who I was sincerely hoping to meet. She was turned on to furries thanks to a fan of Sabrina. She's a college student, and her name really is Sabrina!

And she has a baby sister.

And if I have to tell you her name ...

I am not making this up! I promise by all that's dear!

A real-life Sabrina with a real-life baby sister Tabitha! And until a few months ago, she'd never heard of Sabrina Online! She and a friend of hers made a special trip to the US just for AnthroCon (and I think to meet me, too), and they were plagued with car problems and a wrong turn that took them miles off course. They decided to just try again another time. The fan who had turned her on to Sabrina had even gone so far as to find a blue Ohio State Buckeye's T-shirt for her to wear so I could find her! And believe me, I looked! But I did hear she and her friend made it back to where they'd started safe and sound and will return to the UK this afternoon (July 3).

Other than that, I think a good time was had by all!