October 2, 2015 by T. Gregory Argall
London Comic Con.
It was my first convention on that side of the table. I’ve been to many conventions, but always as an attendee, a fan, never as a way to showcase my own creations.
It was both liberating and limiting at the same time. I didn’t have much freedom to wander the convention floor or see any special events, film screenings, Q & A panels, etc., because I was tending to my table (the reason I was there). However, on the few occasions that I managed to break away from the table check out what the convention had to offer, I had a subtly stronger connection with the other vendors; I was one of them this time.
The weekend wasn’t without some minor problems, but they aren’t worth dwelling upon. When organizing something as large and complex as a fan convention, there are bound to be issues. It just happens.
Many cool things happened.
I played tennis with Dr. Evil. Sort of.
Okay, it was Dr. Stevil, but that’s close enough. He was watching the table across the aisle from me for a friend while that guy was at a panel on comic artists. Our tables were facing each other, about fifteen feet apart. At one point, when there was a gap in the crowds milling past, I mimed bouncing a tennis ball and then served it to him. He hit the “ball” back to me and we continued volleying back and forth for a few minutes.
People stopped walking, afraid to interrupt the game or, worse, get hit by the “ball.”
So that was fun.
The table next to mine was occupied by a very talented artist named Matt Rowe. He’s a really nice guy and I sort of tapped into the crowd he was attracting and showed them my wares. That’s allowed, right?
I met the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man while wearing a Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man t-shirt. So, that was kind of meta.
All of that, and many other things that I don’t have room to ramble on about, were very cool and fun and exciting.
But the coolest thing that happened to me all weekend was when two young ladies came up to my table and said they’d seen my name in the program and came to find me. They were wearing buttons and badges for Doctor Who, Dungeons & Dragons, and various other types of random fandom. They were full-on nerds, living brain-deep in the geekery, and I thought, “These are my people.”
I assumed they had sought me out because the liked the webcomic, but no, it was something even better than that.
“We’re Argalls, too,” they said.
I should explain something about Argalls. There are only about a thousand of us in the whole world, mainly scattered around England, North America, Australia, and Brazil. That’s it. One thousand out of seven and a half billion. Argalls are pretty rare so when an Argall meets another Argall for the first time, it’s an Event. (Yes, with a capital E.)
So, yeah, when I thought, “These are my people,” technically I was right but for the wrong reason.
Later, when I got home I went to Ian Argall’s extensive and well-researched website detailing the branches of the family tree. I went back 8-10 generations and found the connection three centuries ago.
In 1698 John and Elizabeth Argall were married in Cornwall, England. Over the next ten years or so they had four children. The family line of one of their sons leads directly to me. The family line from another of their sons wandered off to Australia for a couple of hundred years before eventually landing in London, Ontario and producing the two sisters who found me at the Comic Con (along with two other sisters and a brother).
I’ll leave it to greater minds than mine to calculate the likelihood of that actually happening. It’s enough to say that I’m somewhat in awe at the thought of two branches of a family diverging to opposite sides of the planet over a three hundred year period before reconnecting with homes less than two hundred kilometres apart.
That’s why it’s an Event when Argalls meet.
This is something that the Smiths and Joneses of the world will never experience.
Wherever your tree may branch, try to be nice to each other.