As I sit behind my computer typing this, my eyes are barely open, my back and feet hurt a little, and I’m probably going to be a wreck at work tomorrow, but you know what?
IT WAS TOTALLY FARKING WORTH IT!
This was my first con outside of a familiar environment, and I have to say that I loved it, warts and all.
We had something of a ‘false start’ early Friday morning, as the first person that was coming along for the ride showed up a little late, but we weren’t in that big of a hurry, so it wasn’t a big deal. My fears of not being able to fit everyone’s luggage into the Reliant did not come to pass. This was partially thanks to my skills at arranging packages that have been honed by hours upon hours of playing Tetris.
The drive was fairly uneventful, save for a near-miss on the Sam Houston Tollway. I almost hit some of those plastic stick-things that divide the lanes as I swerved to get into the toll lane and not the EZ-Pass one, which elicited a “WHOAAA!” from everyone and then some compliments as everyone realized that we didn’t hit anything. Yeah, I totally meant to do that!
We eventually arrived (at about 11, I admittedly do drive slow), and met Naki, the head organizer of First Storm Manga, at the hotel. We got our passes for the event, and set up shop at our table.
Our goals were twofold: to distribute as many copies of our compilation and mini-mangas as possible, and to recruit for our group. On that level, I think it went very well; attendance was great, and we spoke with quite a few individuals who were interested in joining us in some form or another. The response to the promotional items we handed out (buttons and stickers) was very enthusiastic; I mean, hey, who doesn’t like free stuff?
I have to say, though, that I feel we got a little TOO carried away at times with the other freebies, and lost sight of the fact that we are supposed to be promoting our manga, art, and writing. That’s a discussion for another time, though.
In any event, we were succeeding a little too well; keeping up with button demand became something of a chore, and I had to run over to the FedEx Store to get fresh copies of our mini-mangas done on Saturday afternoon.
At this point I have to give a big THANK YOU to one of our Houston members: Shauna was very enthusiastic (if not just a bit too perky for the morning, but that’s just me being a cranky old poop) and helped out a bunch. I honestly don’t think it would have been as successful without her there. In addition, we got to meet some of the other great Houston folks as well: Akiru, Johnny, Charlie, and Angela. They were selling art at the table next to ours, and while the initial response was quite lackluster, things eventually picked up for them.
While things were going great con-wise, the hotel was a different story. Anime Matsuri was held at The Marriott Woodlands Waterway Hotel and Convention Center (what a mouthful) and there’s really no better way to say it, but we got shafted. We had reserved a double room with two queen beds and we got a single king, then had the nerve to try to make up for it by asking if we wanted a rollaway bed for an extra charge. Jerks. The TV had plugs for hooking things up (like game consoles or laptops) that didn’t work. There was no complimentary Wi-Fi, either. Luckily I recently purchased a Sprint portable hotspot, which worked very well. If its up to me, I will NOT be staying there next year, though.
Speaking of the neighborhood, The Woodlands is NICE. Heck, even the nearby Wal-Mart was nice. The trees had the unfortunate effect of obscuring pretty much everything else, but it was all still very wow, especially when I missed a turn and passed by a lake surrounded with million-dollar homes.
I can’t say much about the rest of the convention, because except for the couple of times when I snuck away, I spent most of it at our table. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, though. I heard from other First Storm Manga members that it great, too. I know of one person that was irked because a guest cancelled at the last minute, but I think for the most part we all had a great time, met some nice people, and had lots of fun.
I almost ran out of gas on the way back, though…the Reliant was fine, but I had to let someone take the wheel on the drive back because I was just so darned tired. I got back at Sunday at 10, but it was a great time, and I can’t wait to hit the road again. E3, here I come!!