Turtle Power in Lansing!
Sorry for being so late on this post, but if you follow me on social media, you're likely aware of the craziness I've been dealing with.
A couple weeks ago, I attended Get Geek'd Expo in Lansing, Michigan as a vendor. This was only my second time in Michigan, the first being a New Year's Eve Metallica concert in 1999. Speaking of that concert, one of the ladies vending at the next booth attended the same show! As Michelangelo would say, "Spookular!"
As a Ninja Turtles fan since I received a Rocksteady action figure for my ninth birthday, this convention was just too damn good to pass up! The guests of honor included Renae Jacobs (voice of the original cartoon April O'Neil), and four actors from the first live-action 1990 film: Josh Pais (Raphael), Michelan Sisti (Michelangelo), Brian Toschi (Leonardo) and the Shredder himself... James Saito!
What!? James Saito!? The Shredder? In his first ever fan convention appearance? How could any serious Turtles fan pass up this opportunity? I had to go.
Back in high school, I had the opportunity to meet Toshishiro Obata, who played Tatsu in the first two films. And while my friends and I did get a photo with him, I was too chicken to ask for his autograph. Well, I vowed not to let that happen again, and if I ever get a second chance, I'll be sure to add his scribble to my growing collection!
So I packed up my books and went to Michigan with my lovely assistant Ash, and we set up shop in the vendor room, selling books and War of the Worlds: Goliath merchandise. The first day's sales were so-so, but I wasn't really here for business... I was here for turtles!
Sunday morning, the con chair Alex asked me if I'd like a personal introduction to James Saito and Brian Toschi. Uh... duh! Alex and I walked over to James' and Brian's hotel and ran into James partway. Alex asked if I'd be kind enough to escort James to the convention while he waited for Brian.
Me? Escort the Shredder? Does a turtle eat marshmallow and gumdrop pizza!? Radical!
James and I took the skywalk from the Radisson to the Lansing Center and discussed TMNT, writing, science fiction, and his role in the upcoming second season of Altered Carbon. I told him I'm a huge fan of the show and the first novel, and I can't wait to see him onscreen again in the new season. After making sure he made it safely to the show floor, James was gracious enough to sign my TMNT 1990 movie poster and pose for a photo. Mr. Saito is an amazing, humble gentleman, and I hope our paths cross again. I enjoyed our visit so much that I gave him a signed copy of my novel Birthright, which he was honored to receive, especially after I told him his portrayal of the Shredder was a major inspiration for Temujin, the villain in Birthright.
While I didn't get to spend as much time with the other actors, every one of them were kind, funny, and accommodating. All of the guys signed my poster. I did let Josh Pais know that Raphael is my favorite, which made Michelan Sisti pout a little, but we all got a good laugh out of it. Sadly Leif Tilden (Donatello) had to cancel due to a professional commitment, but maybe one day I'll get another chance to meet him.
And of course, let's not forget about the lovely Renae Jacobs who signed my original carded April O'Neil action figure.
The card and plastic are a little beat up, but that's okay. I have no intentions of ever selling it, which is why I had her personalize it to me. As soon as I'm able, I'm going to get a protective clamshell case for it. Hopefully I can keep it from getting any more yellowed.
Renae was very sweet, and I chatted with her the most aside from James Saito. She was the first one I got a signature from. You'd think with all of the events I've done and the celebrities I've met, I'd be over the jitters, but no. I'm still a little kid at heart, and meeting my heroes scares the bejeezus out of me. But again, Renae was sweet and a joy to chat with.
Things got a little crazy after I returned home, which I'll probably talk about in another post, but after the dust settled a bit I finally found time to frame my poster and protect the signatures. Now the big question is where to hang it!? Hmm... I wonder if Jess will let me hang it in the living room.
My undying thanks to Alex Westcot for putting on such an amazing show and giving me and other Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans this tubular opportunity. I can't wait to see what Alex comes up with for next year's show, nor can I wait to return to Lansing for the next party. COWABUNGA!!!