I hadn’t planned on attending Wondercon. I wasn’t even entirely sure what it was. Then, a few weeks ago, I received a note from my friend Paul telling me he was coming to SF for said festival and had a free pass for me, if I wanted it.
Of course I want it. I’m not sure what I’m in for, but I’ll just go and find out.
It’s funny how I met Paul. Paul’s an artist. In fact, Paul was my favorite illustrator immediately upon discovering his work in 2006. I’d see his work up in galleries around Raleigh, and fantasize about the day I would have it hanging on my walls.
So one day in 2008, I was bartending at Sitti in downtown Raleigh, and a trio of folks come in. They’re my only customers, and one of them is quite talkative, so I engage them, as a bartender (or me, for that matter) does. They introduce themselves as Neil, ____ (who I never saw again and will henceforth refer to as Lou), and Paul.
Over the course of our conversation, I notice that
1) Lou mentions that Paul is an artist.
2) The owner of my restaurant (who is quite a man of status and owns most of Raleigh) approaches paul. Knows Paul. This means Paul may be important to this city or have special skills.
Then it hits me. I may be serving drinks to Paul Friedrich.
So I approach the trio. I ask – “Paul, what is your last name.”
I mention that I was recently looking at some of his prints to put up in my house. He tells me I can have prints for free (I still refuse to take him up on that offer). I sell them some more drinks. Neil leads most of the conversation for the rest of the night (which I now know is totally normal). Neil leaves me a 3 cent tip (he told me he was going to, I thought he was joking). We’ve all been friends ever since. Seriously.
Anyway, I arrived at Wondercon on the 2nd day. I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is what I found.
Thanks Paul. You rule.