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24 Things I Noticed While Helping at San Japan 6

My home for San Japan 6

My home for San Japan 6

I have attended every single San Japan.  I went to the first out of curiosity and found myself helping out with tables for First Storm Manga and original-gamer.com for the next four.  As FSM is no more and I have resigned my post from original-gamer.com, I found myself with nothing to do at San Japan Sinister Six.  I suppose I could have gone as an attendee and enjoyed myself, but instead I decided to help out the fine folks of RegIT with processing the 11,000+ attendees.

  1. You either have fun or work at a convention, and I worked at this one…a LOT
  2. That said, the people I worked with were very cool.
  3. It was neat to experience how much work goes on behind the scenes in registration.
  4. Think about it: about 20 people had to process over 11,000.  That’s pretty nuts.
  5. There were a few glitches, but the overwhelming majority of people were very understanding.  Nerds is good people.
  6. I was right about the customers being cooler at San Japan, there were only had a handful of genuine jerkasses to deal with.
  7. Goof-up #1-Not having good sneakers. I put gel insoles inside my casual shoes, which hepled, but my dogs were barking by the evenings.
  8. Holy cats, some of those cosplayers…Good Lord, I thought blood was going to shoot out of my nose!
  9. I’m old enough to have fathered a teenager, so I guess that makes me a dirty old man now.
  10. A friend guessed my age and was off by a decade, so I guess I’m not doing that bad.
  11. If you are going to give something to someone at a con , be sure you have it on you AT ALL TIMES. Sorry, friend of mine…can I mail you that t-shirt?
  12. Cardboard, if applied correctly, can be pretty awesome, as demonstrated by Tall Cardboard Robot Guy.
  13. I found myself shifting into my ‘announcer voice’ on occasion, that hasn’t happened in awhile.
  14. I don’t think I’ve ever done that at my regular job…which probably says something.
  15. Goof-up #2-Not taking Monday off from work. It would have been nice to do more stuff after the show, but I had to be at work on Monday and do laundry.  Stupid responsibilities!
  16. I wore my Wreck-It Ralph cloth pin and got lots of compliments, which makes me feel bad that I don’t remember the name of the artist who MADE it.  Sorry!
  17. The artists I know seemed to be happier this year and the layout appeared to be MUCH improved this time
  18. That is, the few times I was able to get away and see stuff…see #1
  19. Goof-up #3-Not by me, but for those who would ask me where things were…I AM SORRY BUT I HAVE BEEN HERE THE WHOLE TIME. AND I DON’T KNOW WHERE ANYTHING IS 😦
  20. I think the highlight of the whole thing was when my furiends showed up on Saturday to say hi.  The fuzzies gave me the warm fuzzies.
  21. Which is more than I can say for the jerkass who texted me ‘Are you even here?” despite knowing very well where I was the whole time. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
  22. Goof-up #4-Not getting a picture of the gal dressed up as the Ancient Aliens guy…she even had a sign that said ‘ALIENS,’ too!
  23. I seem to be doing a lot of apologizing in this list.  Sorry about that!
  24. Now that I can scratch ‘volunteered at a convention’ off my bucket list, I simply have no choice but to have fun at next year’s San Japan Samurai Seven…maybe!
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2013 Convention Schedule

Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com

Photobomb by Amanda Rogers of mural-magic.com

Another year means another bunch of conventions to attend and enjoy!  Unlike previous years, where I was either just an attendee or assisting with other folks’ tables, I will be peddling my wares at some of these events.  Buy or die!

While this isn’t a convention per se, I plan on showing up and selling my books at the St. Phillip’s Anime Club Anime Show held every weekend at Bubblehead Tea just south of downtown San Antonio on the first Friday of nearly every month.  I don’t know that I’ll have a table every month, but its a fun free event to go to and hang out at.

Ushicon, Feb 8-10, Round Rock, TX – Ushicon is an 18+ only anime convention, this will be the first time that I am attending, so I’ll be curious to see how different it will be without the usual Pocky and Ramune-fueled teenagers running around everywhere.

Furry Fiesta 2013, Feb 22-24, Addison, TX – After gushing over Furry Fiesta last year, coming back is a no-brainer, but this time I’m hoping to do a panel on e-book publishing, maybe sit around in Artist Alley for a day or so and have fun.

Mizuumi-Con 6, March 23, San Antonio, TX – San Antonio’s second biggest anime con should be loads of fun again, hopefully the gym won’t become a sauna like it did last year.  I plan on having a table at this one also.

Wild Nights, April 25-29, Robber’s Cave State Park – Despite Oklacon being an ‘okay’ event and not a ‘knock my socks off’ one, I am eager to try another outdoor convention.  Wild Nights takes place in a different part of Oklahoma and as there aren’t very many other furcons near Texas, let’s give it a shot!

Texas ComicCon 2013 June 21-23, San Antonio, TX – I like Texas Comic-Con, and I want to like it more, but its venue is a dump and the show has become the ‘same thing every year’ for me, so I’ll probably go just for a day to hang out with friends.

Anthrocon 2013, July 4-7, Pittsburgh PA – Anthrocon is the world’s largest furcon, and something I’d really like to go to, but I’m on the fence on making the trip because of the money involved.  Stupid car payment and rent going up.

San Japan 6, Aug 16-18, San Antonio, TX – The 500-lb gorilla in San Antonio, San Japan is a blast.  I’m not 100% sure of my plans for it right now, but I’m fairly certain I won’t have a table so I’ll get to actually have fun.

As most of these conventions take place in the first half of 2013, I may add another event late in the year, money permitting of course.  Hope to see you somewhere!

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26 Things I Noticed During San Japan Mach 5

What strange planet and time is this?

Another year, another San Japan.  I’ve been going since the beginning and its been getting bigger and better ever since.  This year, I helped out at the Original-Gamer.com table handing out flyers and helping out with Video Game Jeopardy, which was another rousing success.  Of course, I noticed a few things along the way:

  1. The Valero on I-37 near the Beeville exit makes bacon and egg breakfast tacos with the bacon MIXED IN…I think I just found my new place to stop for a bite when traveling to and from  Corpus Christi.
  2. The convention center is FREAKING HUGE…and they’re using less than 20% of it.  Wow.
  3. This is probably the first time I’ve ever felt COLD at a convention, and that is AWESOME.
  4. Those complaining about having to go back and forth between the hotel and convention center don’t remember the 1-block walk between the Municipal Auditorium and El Tropicana hotel the first 2 years.
  5. After a two-year layoff, Water Ninjas are now re-employed.
  6. Idea that sounded good on paper that didn’t quite work out as well as it could have: “Late Night Artist’s Alley”
  7. Found it hilarious that the “Mu Epsilon Kappa” table was next to the “Ushicon” table.  The Ushicon mascot is an anthropomorphic cow girl.  Mu, indeed.
  8. I don’t know if it was the Alamo Drafthouse or the Doctor Who Fans Unite group that bought the TARDIS along, but whomever it was, YOU ROCK.  UPDATE: It was the Doctor Who fan group.
  9. Wacky Japanese thing I saw there: Nekomimi ears or “mood ears” as I like to call them.
  10. Sign that people have too much money: Nekomimi ears.
  11. You knew how important you were based on how ‘finished’ the art on your badge was; I’m sure the art on my Con Alley badge looks awesome once its inked and colored.
  12. You can never have too many flyers.  Unfortunately, we didn’t.
  13. Raffling off videogames is a good way to get people to come to your videogame website table.
  14. If you’ve been advertising the fact that you’re also giving away videogames at Video Game Jeopardy, expect a packed panel room.
  15. Is it wrong that I take evil delight when people don’t know the questions to our Video Game Jeopardy answers?
  16. Surprisingly, the site’s review copy of the latest Naruto game was NOT the first one to go when we let the winner pick her prizes.
  17. The main area was fairly spaced out, which is a good thing because it means they have room to grow.
  18. Okay, maybe a little too spaced out, it looked a little empty initially.
  19. Next time I should NOT take the camera out of the camera bag…I bought the bag with me on Sunday but left the camera on my desk.
  20. Bought a pair of Chinese iron balls in the dealer’s area, I’ve always wanted some.
  21. I found it hard to resist saying “I’ve got balls of steel” in Duke Nukem’s voice to several friends after acquiring them.
  22. Does Egoraptor have a street team? I was randomly asked by someone, “Do you like Egoraptor? He’s over there.”  Unfortunately, I had to be somewhere at the time.
  23. For the record, I said “He’s okay.”  I’ve never met him but I do find his work entertaining and insightful at times.
  24. The parking lot behind the Rivercenter Mall sucks and I am never parking there again.
  25. Even though I missed the first day of SJ due to a family gathering, I am still tired as all heck after the fact.
  26. The attendance was over 9,400 so we can expect to hear lots of lame jokes for the next year.
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My 2012 Con Schedule!

Doing my thing at San Japan 4TW

Never forget your sanitizer!

Here is my con schedule for 2012.  Frankly, I’m surprised I never did this here before.  Unlike previous years, I won’t be ‘working’ at very many of these.

Ikkicon, Dec 30-Jan 1, Austin, Texas

Technically, this New Year’s Eve con is the first con of the year as well as the last one of last year, so there.  I’ve already done a writeup on it, so there isn’t much else.

Furry Fiesta, Feb 24-26, Dallas, Texas

Going to try something new this year.  Furry Fiesta will be my first-ever furry convention.  It will be interesting to see how similar and different this will be from all the other cons I’ve ever attended.

Mizuumi-con, March 31, San Antonio, Texas

Mizuumi con was one of the first anime cons I ever attended, and is a great place for newbies to dip their toes into the multicolored pool that is anime and manga.  At $15, its inexpensive to go to and the kids out at Our Lady of the Lake University make for a pretty enthusiastic crowd.

Aetherfest, May 4-6, San Antonio, Texas

Set in the beautiful St. Anthony hotel in downtown San Antonio and put together by the San Antonio Neo-Victorian Association, Aetherfest is a three-day steampunk convention that truly stands out with its costumes.  Steampunk attracts a slightly older crowd, so those looking for an alternative to the manic pace of other cons will find plenty to like here. Dress-up is encouraged, but not necessary, or to borrow the words of a certain Mr. Collins, there is ‘no jacket required.’

Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), June 5-7, Los Angeles, California

Of all the cons on this list, this will be one of the few that I will be ‘working’ at.  E3 is the Big One as far as videogame conventions are concerned, and I will be going there in my capacity as Editor of Original-Gamer.com to check out new games and talk to people and write.  It is an industry-only event, so not everyone can go.

Texas Comic Con, June 22-24, San Antonio, Texas

If anime isn’t quite your thing and you want to get your hero on, Texas Comic Con is the place to do it.  In addition to the loads of comic book, action figure and pop culture dealers there are a host of artists, independent publishers, and fan groups ranging from Whovians to Sith to Ghostbusters.  Guest of Honor Larry Hama and Lou Ferrigno are but a few of the names showing up to this one.

San Japan, August 10-12, San Antonio, Texas

Easily and consistently one of the best conventions I have been too, San Japan Mach 5 is upping the ante this year as they are moving into the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center this year.  The already-biggest fan con in San Antonio is about to get bigger, which should mean even MORE fun stuff to do.  Sadly, I may be ‘working’ at this one as well for Original-Gamer.com, but we shall see.

RealmsCon, Oct 12-14, Corpus Christi. Texas

RealmsCon is currently (as far as I know) Corpus Christi’s only anime and pop culture convention.  While it is a 3-day affair, my experience is that you can go and see everything in one day.  That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad convention, just a smaller one.

There may be a few other events I go to, but this is what I have planned for so far for the year.  ‘Working’ or not, this year should be fun on a bun!

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4TW!

San Japan 4TW was this past weekend and it was a BLAST.  Except for some technical issues at the concert and the general lunacy that went on in Con Alley before the rave, I had a great time.

Check out my Facebook photo album

Tell the San Japan guys how awesomesauce it was here!

Got lots to say? Post it in their feedback forum

The Loliholix are no more, we are now NeRiMa ねりま

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RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComiCon 2011

Two Supermen and Lex Luthor in his powersuit

Looking SUPER!

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon (TCC) this year. At the 2010 event (see my write-up here) I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well.

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my 2010 write up, you can see lots of empty space in the background. This was not the case this year; the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also some bigger issues. Nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, though, so if you were at TCC 2011 as an attendee, then it rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If TCC is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt that they will) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at TCC.  I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the WalMart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, so yeah, it hasn’t gotten much better since last year. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the event.  I can only imagine they would have raised a pretty big stink  if I hadn’t.  According to the TCC webpage, WiFi was supposed to be available.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at these events (see also: Mizuumi-Con). I don’t mind paying for juice (if the cost is reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring a 25-foot cord just to get access.

The second electrical problem had to do with the video game tournament. The Original-Gamer.com guys bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated.  Even the game tournament guys should have known that many machines was too much.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time because smokers were constantly running out to get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Except for perhaps the staff issue, the stuff I mentioned are mostly minor nitpicks, because Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like lots of other folks did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and look forward to seeing it come back even bigger and better.  Great job, guys!

 

RANDOM REVIEW: Texas ComicCon 2011

 

TCC 2010 Review: http://www.randomizer9.com/?p=342

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

 

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

 

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

 

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

 

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

 

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

 

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

 

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

 

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

 

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

 

I need to begin by mentioning that I had a different role at Texas ComicCon this year. At the 2010 event I was an attendee like most folks, but this year, I was an exhibitor. I manned the First Storm Manga table in order to get the word out about our second Mezasu Mini-con coming in September. I also helped out some with the game tournament, so I was aware of their issues as well. So, here we go:

If I had to pick one word to describe the difference between the 2010 and 2011 Texas ComicCons it would be ‘bigger.’ They had bigger guests, such as: Brent Spiner, Cindy Morgan, Margot Kidder, and some pretty notable comic guests as well.

There was a bigger selection of artists and dealers. The San Antonio Event Center was jam-packed with dealers and artists. If you look at the picture of the Ghostbusters from my write up of the 2010 event, you can see a big wide space in the background. This was not the case this year, the organizers packed as much as they could into the building without it being too crowded. There was plenty of room for people, stormtroopers and the occasional Dalek to get around.

Sadly, there were also bigger issues. That said, nearly all of them only affected exhibitors, so if you didn’t have a table, then yeah, ComicCon 2011 rocked pretty hard.

Once again, there were problems with badges. Last year, the badges sucked. This year, we didn’t have any at ALL until Saturday (or at least that’s how long it was until I got mine). At this point, I have to wonder if it’s a problem that just happens to follow me around…so look out, San Japan!

I am a little shocked at the size of the staff working the event; if it was more than half a dozen people, I’d be surprised. If ComicCon is going to get bigger next year (and I have no reason to doubt they can) then they are going to need to have some volunteers helping out. To the best of my knowledge, there is no safety staff and nobody helping out with Artist Alley. Other cons have volunteers that are available to keep an eye on a dealer’s tables for a few minutes if they need a bathroom break or somesuch, but this was not the case at ComicCon. I saw one of the guys running the event at my table maybe four times the entire weekend.

The remainder of the issues I am going to discuss all involve the location. As I said last time, the Wal-Mart San Antonio Event Center’s glory days are way behind it, and well, it hasn’t gotten much better since. It is what it is and so I can’t place too much of the blame on the organizers. That said, there were a few things that could have been anticipated:

The facility was supposed to have WiFi, but sadly, the signal did not extend to the back right corner where I was situated. It didn’t affect me much, because I didn’t really need it and I have a hotspot device for when I want it, but the guys in the booth next to me needed it and were pretty miffed that they couldn’t get a signal. I gave them the password to my device and it was good enough to keep them going for the duration.

Electricity was an issue on two fronts. For starters, unless you brought your own extension cord, you couldn’t get squat. Luckily, the guys I had lent WiFi to were kind enough to let me run a power strip off their extension, which was nice. I was later able to borrow an extension cord from the San Japan table, which allowed me to set up a monitor so that I could play a video from our first event (thanks, Proz!). I’m willing to concede that okay, I should have bought my own cord, but considering how many folks use laptops and cell phones, it shocks me (ba-doom, tish!) that electricity keeps being considered an afterthought at cons (see also: MizuumiCon). I don’t mind paying for it (if it’s reasonable) but let me know ahead of time if I need to bring my own cords and stuff.

The second problem had to do with the video game tournament. They bought along eight Xboxes, eight monitors, four television sets, and four Playstation 3s to use for their tournaments. Unfortunately, there were only two outlets within reach, and when all that stuff got turned on, the breaker tripped. This was eventually resolved by moving some of the equipment to another outlet, but I’m a little surprised that this wasn’t anticipated, heck, even the game tournament guys should have known that it wasn’t going to work.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

There were some doors near the back corner where I was at. With no staff around to keep the doors closed, it got a little warm in the afternoons. Unfortunately, at least one door was open nearly all the time so that smokers could run out and get their fix. Before you think I’m being nitpicky, keep in mind that there was also nothing to stop people from sneaking in without paying. I don’t know if anybody actually did, but with no security staff around to check badges it’s a strong possibility.

 

Despite the nitpicks I just mentioned, I felt that Texas ComicCon 2011 was a great event. I had a lot of fun, and judging from the reactions I’ve gotten from friends and seen online, it looked like everybody else did, too. I look forward to coming back next year, and hope that it comes back even bigger and better next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Aetherfest I

Some Aetherfest attendees in their Sunday best

Quite dashing, really!

I almost felt obligated to attend the new Steampunk con “AetherFest” after giving them crap on this very blog a few weeks ago. Honestly, though, I would have attended regardless just to satisfy my curiosity.  When my friend Chris Holm asked me to help him out at his table and with his panel (as the “guest editor” of his new comic “Steam Pets”), it was an easy “yes.”

Unfortunately, “help out” also means “don’t get to see much of anything,” so I know there was lots of cool stuff I didn’t get to experience.  I spent most of the event at Chris’ table over in the game room along with a few other vendors.  Mutual friend Jackie Naehrig joined us on Saturday and we had a fun time hanging around and marveling at the attendees, many wearing appropriate attire and accoutrements.

Chris and Jackie dressed up, so I felt just a little bit embarrassed sitting next to them sporting a T-shirt and blue jean shorts on Saturday.  I improvised a little something on Sunday, though.  I put on some slacks, a button down shirt, dusted off a flat cap and stopped to get a set of suspenders on the way back to the St. Anthony Hotel.  I have to admit, it felt neat, like I should have also been carrying a giant wrench or an oil can or something.  I thought looked like the guy in the boiler room as opposed to all the captains, pilots and proper ladies walking about.  Upon seeing my outfit, though, Chris said I looked like “Professor Layton’s hat boy.” Jerk.

The only panel I attended was one that I was a part of.  I sat with Chris on his “Intro to Drawing and Comic-Making” panel where we talked about making “Steam Pets” and our experiences with First Storm Manga with a small spirited group.  I wandered around for a bit and checked out the other dealer area and the “museum,” where they had quite a few neat items on display and for sale.  It was all very nice and being at the historic St. Anthony Hotel (built in 1909) added greatly to the ambiance.  Judging from the pictures I’ve seen on Facebook, the events they held on the evenings of Friday and Saturday appear to have been very entertaining.  The misgivings I had previously about “steam-snobs” were unfounded, and I must say that looking the part does add to the fun of being there.

While I had fun at Aetherfest and have been hearing good things from people that were there, there are some things that they need to work on.  Let me start by acknowledging that some of these things cannot be helped (particularly where the hotel is concerned) but you have to take the bad with the good, so here we go.

Split Vendor Area Is a Bother – Having two separate areas for vendors is never a good thing (see also: MizuumiCon 2011) and it would benefit all involved if the organizers could try to have all them in one area next time.  I’m not familiar enough with the layout of the St. Anthony to know if that is possible, but if it is, it should be considered.

“Third Floor: Hosiery, Lingerie, and Panels!” – The majority of the panels were held on the third floor, which was kind of lousy, but I have to let it slide because it is a consequence of the way the St. Anthony was built.  The fact that the program sometimes said “Third Floor” and “Third Room,” however, was not.

Needs Improvement, See Me After Class – Now that I have had an opportunity to look it over a bit closer, I’d say whomever edited the program was asleep at the airship wheel.

Promotion – I think the organizers missed out on prime opportunities to promote their event at either Mizuumi-con (which may or may not have been full) or at ChimaeraCon. I did see flyers at ChimaeraCon, but they did not have a lot of information about the event.  I would strongly recommend the Aetherfest folks consider requesting a Con Alley table at San Japan 4TW in August.

Website – For the love of Tesla, lads, get a webhost or something. It’s not that expensive, and you can even get a free one from Google. Not everyone is on Facebook (yet) and while Tumblr does look nice, I shouldn’t have to go to some skeevy download site with pop-up ads just to see your schedule and program.  In addition, if you have your own host, you can put up picture galleries, forums and other things to attract interest.

Despite the quibbles I just mentioned, I thought AetherFest was a good con.  As was expected for a first-time event, the crowd was small, but those who made it out had a good time.  Those of us who are “steam-newbies” got to check out some cool stuff and learn a little something about this fascinating world called “Steampunk.”  I am confident that I will be returning next year.  Who knows, I may even sport a waist coat or a bowler hat or maybe just a really big wrench.

Good show, fellows!

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CONS, SAN JAPAN, THE LOLIHOLIX

Yeah, I’m The Drummer!

San Japan :3

Drumming is Serious Business!

I learned how to play drums in grade/high school. I was a band geek through and through, but after school was over, I didn’t pursue it much, though I never lost the desire to maintain a beat, tapping my hands on any available surface whenever the opportunity presented itself.

Eventually, Rock Band came around and I rediscovered my love of playing music, albeit in virtual form. Despite what the naysayers believe, it is possible to learn some drumming basics with the game. If nothing else, learning how to keep a beat is a skill that can be applied to any instrument or form of music.

Earlier in the year, I was asked by my friend and guitarist Eagle-Bear to join The Loliholix, a band in which he played.  They had lost their original drummer and needed a new one.  I warned him that while I did know the basics, I was not accustomed to playing on a full set. He said that we had plenty of time to prepare, and had the utmost confidence in me.  Awww.

After acquiring an electric drum kit (ah, the joys of apartment life) and several months of practice later, I played in my first two gigs.  The first was at the San Antonio Chinese Society Family Fun Day on July 3, it was fun and a good way for us to get our feet wet before San Japan.  It was lots of fun playing to a small crowd, and while it seemed a little odd to be playing J-rock at a Chinese event, they enjoyed the show.

San Japan was The Big One that we had been getting ready for.  I had two big concerns: the occasionally dropped drumstick and also, just what to wear. It sounds funny, but I knew that Kiwi (bass) and Jamie (singer) were going to be all decked out and I wanted to have something different.  I found an elegant solution to both problems: I bought a pair of batting gloves which give me a better grip on the sticks, and when combined with a Superman shirt worn over my Loliholix t-shirt, looks like a half-assed costume. Maybe I’ll add the fox-ears (which look like bat-ears on my huge melon) next time.

Performing at San Japan was awesome.  The stage, the energy of the crowd, the loudness of our music, everything blew me away.  Granted, it wasn’t perfect (I whiffed a few cymbal crashes but thankfully didn’t drop my sticks) but we got lots of compliments and I even signed a few buttons.  We are hoping that San Japan serves as a springboard to playing at more cons, and I really hope we get to play at RealmsCon in a few months as Corpus Christi is near my hometown.

At the minimum, though, we will be playing at Mizuumi-con 4 and San Japan 4TW next year though and I can’t wait!

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RANDOM REVIEW, SAN JAPAN, Video

RANDOM REVIEW: Gold Digger: The Movie

INTRODUCTION

Fred Perry’s Gold Digger comic book is one of the oldest examples of what some  call “Amerimanga,” where an American comic artist adopts the style and conventions used in Japanese comics, or “manga” as they are known in Japan.

It is also one of those comics that I repeatedly saw on the shelf of the comic shop but just wasn’t intrigued enough to actually buy.  At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.  Recently my friend Chris Holm (who is apparently creator Fred Perry’s biggest fan/stalker) told me that Gold Digger was Tomb Raider before Tomb Raider came along.  After sheepishly admitting to Mr. Perry that I had never read his work at the South Texas Comic-Con, I bought a copy of “Gold Digger Max” to see what it was all about.

I like what I have seen of Gold Digger so far, Fred Perry has created a fascinating world that is filled with exotic locales and lots of interesting characters and adventure.  He does a good job of tightrope-walking between world-ending seriousness and comedy.  It is a shame that it took me so long to discover it.  Comparing it to Tomb Raider is something of a disservice because it is so much better than Tomb Raider.

Fast-forward to the third day of San Japan :3 and as dealers are oft to do on the last day of a con, the Antarctic Press table is having a sale.  I figured I would give the Deluxe Edition of “Gold Digger: The Movie” a try.  According to the box text the movie “retells the very first Gold Digger adventure” so I figured it might serve as a nice little introduction to the GD universe.  After having a bite to eat for dinner and doing laundry for the week, I fired it up.

SOUND PROBLEMS

As the top menu appeared, I heard a blast of music.  I quickly reached for my receiver’s remote and immediately turned down the sound.  I figured I had left the sound up from listening to the radio earlier but that is not the case.  The DVD is just loud.  I normally have the sound adjustment on my PS3 maxed out, because DVDs tend to be relatively quiet, but in this case I ended up turning it down to zero to make sure I don’t end up with angry neighbors or blown speakers.  After making the adjustments, I shrugged my shoulders and started the movie.

THE MOVIE

My initial impression is that Gold Digger: The Movie is intended for fans of the comic: it is assumed that the viewer already knows certain things.  As an example, there is no explanation given as to why Gina and Brittany refer to each other as sisters until near the end of the second act.  We also never find out just why the Digger sisters are looking for the Time Raft, and wouldn’t a 7-foot tall were-cheetah prove that some myths are valid?  That is my inner anal-retentive nerd talking, but a viewer unfamiliar with the series might be a bit puzzled at certain aspects of the movie.  I need to show it to someone unfamiliar with GD to see if my inner nerd should just be quiet and enjoy the show.  Actually that’s probably true, anyway.

The story is fairly straightforward: The first third of the movie establishes the adversarial yet good-natured relationship the Diggers have with each other and showcases their bad-assery in two Big Fights.  The middle of the movie features plenty of exposition and of course, we have the Climactic Battle at the end.  In truth, though, the movie is really all Gina and Brittany, and we gradually learn more and more about them as their adventure unfolds.  The sisterly bickering between the two survives the transition from comic to animation quite well and provides some of the movie’s funnier moments.  The other characters aren’t quite as well developed, and the villain does his duty,

SUMMARY

Much to my chagrin, sound issues persist throughout the DVD.  There is an odd echo whenever Gina Diggers speaks and Dreadwing’s voice sounds overprocessed.  This effect seems to lessen over the course of the feature but it never goes away completely.  The audio mix also gets a bit weird in the second act.  The music becomes too soft, and there appeared to be one or two ‘dead air’ moments.  In one scene Brittany is on the ground struggling to escape and while she appears to be growling or grunting we don’t hear anything at all.

As I watched the 3rd episode again to hear Fred Perry’s commentary, the audio completely turned to crap in the last few minutes.  This combined with Gina’s echo and the loud volume at the start make me wonder if something happened during the process of making the DVDs or if the audio was just poorly done to begin with.  I also thought it might have have been my Playstation 3, but the same thing happens when I play it on my iMac.

The animation gradually improves form episode to episode and really shines in the action sequences.  It is fascinating to see Fred Perry progress as an animator throughout the adventure and I look forward to seeing what he does next.

Gold Digger: The Movie doesn’t quite do as good a job at being “Gold Digger 101” as I had hoped, though.  As I mentioned near the start, there seems to be an assumption that the viewer already knows certain things.

The voiceover work ranges from good (Gina Diggers) to adequate (Dreadwing appears to be trying to channel Tony Jay but doesn’t quite pull it off) to annoying (I quickly found Brittany Diggers’ voice grating but I think that’s more a reflection on me than anything else) to inconsistent (Elves).  Overall, it does the job, though.

Technical issues aside, fans of Gold Digger will be excited to see it come to life.  Strangers and neophytes to Fred Perry’s fantastic world might find themselves scratching their heads now and again, but nevertheless, Gold Digger: The Movie provides an hour of action-packed fun and I recommend it.

NOTE: The author received no compensation for this review.

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