The book: BICS isn't about books, but my American Flagg collection is stashed overseas. As a fallback, I had found a copy of Howard Chaykin's early Sword of Sorcery work (starring Fafhrd & the Gray Mouser).
My subconscious, however, saved the day. Without thinking, I carried an Ace printing of Swords in the Mist with me to read on the train. It was still in my pocket, so I had Chaykin draw the Mouser inside the front cover of my favorite Fritz Leiber book.
[I realize that paragraph was utter gibberish to 98% of the world. Fortunately, I think Pornokitsch readers are drawn from the other 2%...]
The stars: Chaykin was one of many, many creators at BICS - although probably the biggest name of the lot. He doesn't show up overseas very often, so I took the time to queue for him. He was extremely friendly and very outgoing - happy to carry the conversation with shy fans. (He even sang to himself on occasion - good voice!). He wasn't shy with his opinions ("Thanos!? You want me to draw a Jim Starlin character? Why?!"), but also accommodating, polite and very funny (he did, for the record, oblige by drawing Thanos...).
The crowd: In a not-really-that-weird twist of fate, I wound up in line with the same guys that I met last year at BICS, which was great. Everyone was happy to show off their collections and make small talk (which is good, given the wait). One man had a small girl who amused herself by running in circles screaming. That was less great.
The setting: The BICS venue (The ThinkTank) is a great place for a convention - easy to get to, lots of facilities, well-run, clean, etc. The only flaw was a broken cash machine on Day 2, which must have cost exhibitors a fortune. This particular signing was held in the lobby of the main auditorium - there was plenty of space and, to my shock, a polite/forceful/skilled line wrangler there to keep everything sorted. Well done, BICS.
Suggestions: Not much. BICS even had their wrangler ready 45 minutes before the event, in case of early arrivals. There were a few last minute changes for stars & locations, but I suppose that's unavoidable (Chaykin wasn't moved. Were I waiting for Andy Diggle, I imagine I'd have more to say....)
I wish there were some way to separate events for 'signings' and 'sketches'. Those waiting for drawings have a tendency to resent (rightfully) people with stacks of comics, just looking for eBay-worthy signatures. On the other hand, those with an issue or two aren't pleased having to wait 20 minutes per-person as the art is finished up... I'm not sure how this would be done, possibly separate signing occasions?