As convention highlight goes the Phoenix Comicon was Excellent, with the “Promise panel” where Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) told the story of Michael O’Hare’s illness leading to his departure from Babylon 5 after the first season. That was the absolute highlight of any convention for me and probably for the few hundred other fans attending the panel.
The other highlight was, of course the Reunion Panel with 14 people involved in creating Babylon 5, including JMS.
Come Space City Con in the beginning of January in Galveston, Texas.
One of the guests, Marshall Teague, was probably the most approachable of the guests from the Babylon 5 cast – with Jason Carter as a close second. Mind you, essentially all the Babylon 5 cast is very appreciative of the fans
First of all, on Friday evening, just having met with Jan (Schroeder), we entered the lift. He was in the lift already, and immediately started greeting every one of the fans there – personally – handshake and all. It gave us all the sense of a very gentle man.
He had also brought the sword of Ta’Lon and displayed it in public for the first time. At the “Narn” Panel he told that JMS had asked for some input for the character. This sword was his input to JMS for creating the character of Ta’Lon (aptly named after a talon, this sounds very much like JMS) .
At the last hour of the con I took time to go to all the B5 cast still present at their tables, and thank them for coming to see us fans.
I walked up to his table and did just that, when he asked “Have you seen the sword ?” “No, not really”. It was hanging on the wall behind him, but I had not seen it close-up.
He then invited me behind the table and took it down from the wall and handed it to me. I took and held sheathed sword carefully, studying it, knowing that is is a personal treasure for him.
I was standing there holding the sword of Ta’Lon in my hands.
I then was startled that he asked me to “Draw it !” I looked at him in the “Really ?” questioning look, and he repeated. Carefully I drew the sword and held it, felt the weight and balance, carefully moved it a bit around, then re-sheathed it.
I was stunned when he told me “Apart from me, you are the first person I allowed to draw the sword.”
I have no idea why this honour was bestowed on me, and I am pretty sure that my face looked absolutely ridiculous at that moment.
The morning after the con I talked to some of the people who accompanied him during the con, and they already knew the story, *he* had told *them*. They also told me that he was very particular about who could handle the sword.
When they heard that no pictures of the situation were taken, they kindly arranged for a picture to be taken, so on Monday evening I was holding the sword once again, this time for a picture with Marshall Teague.
A most extraordinary experience. I doubt that I will reach that level of excitement again at a convention, but then again, I thought that about the JMS “Promise Panel” at Phoenix CC. But The sword of Ta’Lon was a personal experience, and not shared with a few hundred people.
When thinking a bit about it, I realized that this is the first time that I have been recognized as a martial artist by another martial artist – without doing or saying anything consciously.
Another update :
A few months after this happened, Marshall Teague entered a fan conversation a few fans had on Twitter. Since he did not know my Twitter name I told him that I was the one with the sword story. He just came back with : “Ah ! the virgin draw”, and when I mentioned that I must have had quite a stunned facial expression, he just said “Priceless!!
Yet another update :
A year or two after the event I was told that someone went to Houston for another con, and talked to Marshall about this, and was told that this is never going to happen again.
Also, during the panel discussion it turne out that Marshall Teague tells this story at conventions.
I have not just had a convention experience of a life time, I have also *become* a convention story. Again, not something I ever expected.
I was working that con and worked with Bruce Boxleitner all weekend. As you may remember Bruce was situated with Tracy on one side and Marshall on the other side. Marshall and his lovely wife are two super great people. He also told me he has not done to many cons really and has only recently started to do some. He did manage to make an earlier Space City Con the year before and had such a good time he agreed to come back for this con (and because it was a B5 reunion) and this time brought the sword. I could be mistaken but I believe this was the first and to date only time he has brought the sword along. You received a IMO big honor from one heck of a actor and person. I thoroughly loved both Space City Cons that I was able to interact with them. Hopefully I shall have the luck and pleasure to run into them again at yet another con.
Brian, as a martial artist I very much appreciate the honor I received. I am working to get some B5 guests, and, for me especially, Marshall Teague to a big convention in Germany. Just as a participant, I have very little influence, but nothing comes from doing nothing.
You may be aware that Marshall regularly drops in at Twitter chats between fans. He is indeed a champ among actors and B5 cast.
As you can imagine, this is a convention experience I can not imagine being surpassed – for me, at least.
I do love other people’s great convention stories and, due to this one, I can appreciate what it means to people.
You are right, we were told that this is indeed the first time he has brought the sword to a convention. Since rules for weapons are different in European countries, this should probably not be done over here.