The BEST collectibles that I obtained at the cons didn't cost me a thing, for the most part. After a few years of attending I realized that a ton of people carried around blank sketchbooks and would get sketches done by their favorite artists. I did the same and for about five years I amassed a collection of sketches that, while not museum worthy, means a ton to me.
- A Harvey Kurtzman original.
- A two-piece "theme" of Batman by Jerry Ordway and Superman by Dan Jurgens
- A beautiful Dinosaur (and me I think) by Geoff Darrow
- A portrait of 'Rain' from the House of Secrets Vertigo series by Teddy Kristiansen (who had already done a Grendel for me in a previous year), that was actually the SECOND piece he did that day, asking if I could tear out and trash the first one he did because he didn't like it!
- No less than three different Matt Wagner sketches, and several Grendel pieces by other related artists, such as Tim Sale and the aforementioned Teddy K.
- A rockhopper by Tom Luth, that he HAND Water-colored
- Several different Usagi Yojimbo sketches by Stan Sakai
- A couple of Anime girls by the creator of Sailor Moon
- Several characters by Ben Dunn, Harrison Fong and Barry Blair, all 'underground' artists at the time.
- A Jim Lee Wolverine head
- A Kevin Eastman Donatello head
- A rare Hellblazer sketch by GRANT FREAKING MORRISON
- A beautiful Swamp Thing sketch that took over an hour by Rick Veitch
and the list could go on and on.
Yes, convention only editions of comics are nice, because they're exclusive, but very few of them are actually worth the added price you pay. Convention toys are obviously your best bang for your buck, especially if you turn them on eBay right away (speaking of which, anyone want to pick me up a GI Joe Destro 2 pack?).
For my money though, the best thing at any convention is the interaction with your favorite creators, who are all there at Con. I have stories about Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Michael Moorcock, Frank Miller, John Byrne, Steve Rude, and so many more.
I wish I could be in San Diego this weekend, but it's bittersweet for me too. I'd love to see old friends, but I can't afford to spend the money I'd really like to spend there.
Maybe next year.