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Buried treasures

August 30, 2001|By JASON ZARA, Staff Writer

I think my favorite episode of "The Simpsons" is the one featuring "The Collector."

This mad genius abducts Lucy Lawless to add to his collection, despite her protests that she is not "Xena." Of course, no villain could ever hold Xena (Lucy?) for long, and she leaves quite a bit of destruction in her wake when she escapes.

I recently attended the Gen Con game convention in Milwaukee and the spirit of the collector was alive and well. While it wasn't Lucy Lawless, the actresses who played Aphrodite and Callisto from the "Xena" series were signing autographs. Foolishly believing that I should show up a few minutes before 1 p.m. for a signing session that started at 1 p.m., I was met with a line that wound the entire length of the convention center.

Having underestimated the rabidity of their fans, I missed out on the chance to meet the Goddess of Love and Xena's nemesis.

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What was interesting to me was that even without flashing swords and battle cries, Hudson Lieck still looked like Callisto. To become her character all

she has to do is trade a smile for a snarl and don battle gear.

Aphrodite (Alexandra Tydings), however, is created entirely in the studio. She apparently stayed late to sign autographs and my wife managed to get one — after almost walking right by not realizing this was anyone important. My wife wanted to ask if her hair on the show was a wig but thought that would be rude — we'll have to find a fan Web site and find out.

While television and movie stars who play favorite characters draw the biggest crowds, it is sometimes even more interesting to meet the people behind the scenes. Between the San Diego Comic Con, Gen Con and other trade shows, I have met quite a range of artists, authors and designers.

Monte Cook has his name splashed across the cover of quite a few Dungeons and

Dragons books, and he offered a seminar on how to get published in the game industry.

While his information wasn't profound, it was encouraging — he said he got his start by submitting pieces to magazines in the industry. Once he had published a few he used those as the basis for a resume that got him some freelance work for a company, and a few years later he's a big name in the game world. So watch for my work in Dragon Magazine in coming years — it's where he started, and I hope to follow.

Sometimes you just don't realize who people are. I met an interesting fellow at a convention in Las Vegas and we talked about Steve Jackson Games. I talked about what I liked and what I didn't. He talked about how some of the games had changed over the years. When he said something about his favorite version being an unpublished prototype that was changed before it went to press I checked his name tag — sure enough, "Steve Jackson."

Fortunately I had mostly said nice things about his games. I guess a handshake, an autograph or an anecdote is just as much a part of any real fan's collection as the products that go with it.

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