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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A Name On Paper

I do put BBQ sauce on my burgers…it’s like HE KNEW

I am old enough to remember when seeing your name in the newspaper was kind of a big deal.  I think it has something to do with the idea that lots of people are seeing your name, even if it is alongside a bunch of other kids’ names on the honor roll or the perfect attendance list of your small-town newspaper.  Or it could just be a small-town thing, who knows?

I still get a kick out of seeing my name in the newspaper and it has happened a few times since then.  I submitted an idea to the “Pluggers” newspaper comic that was used (at right), and made a ‘guest appearance’ in the “My Cage” newspaper comic strip after winning a writing contest on MySpace (remember them?) and was mentioned in an article about First Storm Manga that appeared in the San Antonio Express-News.

My Cage by Melissa DeJesus and Ed Power
We’re the ‘cool’ office

Every time it happened, I would buy a copy of the newspaper and cut out the article or comic in which my name appeared.  I even have the My Cage strip hanging in my living room.  I admit that it is a bit odd and probably the kind of thing that future generations won’t care much about as newspapers become less relevant in our increasingly connected world, but doggone it, its special to me.

I wrote a story named “San Japanic!” that became First Storm Manga’s first self-printed comic book.  I remember smiling when I opened up a copy for the first time and saw “Lead Writer/Editor: Eduardo Soliz” at the bottom of the inside cover.  While they weren’t my pictures, and not even many of my words, it was my story.

Furry Fiesta 2012 Conbook Cover
Art by Mary Mouse of micecomics.com

These days, as I try to get exposure as a writer, I have decided to send stories out to furry conventions in order to get my name out there.  I think its a good deal: they want the content for their conbooks, I like writing short stories, and unlike my usual lackadaisical writing schedule of finishing stuff whenever I feel like it, I have a set topic or theme and a deadline to work around.

The first one I wrote was “Bedtime” for SonicCon 2010, but I never heard back from them, so to this day I have no idea if it ever made it into the book…or if there even was a book for that matter.  The first one that I know was published was “All’s Well That Ends Well,” a short I wrote for Furry Fiesta that featured their mascot jackalopes. 

I remember being at Furry Fiesta and eagerly opening my copy of the conbook after receiving it.  I got that warm fuzzy feeling again as I saw my name near the top of page 28 in glorious black and white ink.  More recently, “The Hunter” made its way into the AnthroCon conbook, and I once again smiled as I saw my story in print.

It is impossible for me to know exactly how many of the folks that received those books actually opened them up and read my story, but knowing that thousands of folks have it in their possession feels much more real to me than anything I’ve ever put on a computer screen.

There’s just something about seeing your name on paper.

Second Storm

I believe that every creative person has, in their head somewhere, their masterpiece.  The Big One, the Magnum Opus, that one work that they believe will knock everyone’s socks off and change the world, or at the least, make them rich and/or famous.  One concept that we always preached in First Storm Manga was the idea that your Big One should never, ever, be your first project.

Why not?  As eager as you may be to unleash your book, song or artwork onto an unsuspecting world, the fact of the matter is that when you undertake your first major project, you are more than likely going to make mistakes. Thus, you should undertake a similar smaller project that you aren’t quite as emotionally invested in, so when things go wrong, you won’t be discouraged from having borked up your masterpiece.

Thus, “The Rules of Tech Support” is actually my second ebook.  My first one was “One Sheet Stories” which was a collection of five of my one-page stories.  Nobody bought it, and I also encountered a few slip-ups along the way.  I tried using a service called Smashwords which ended up not working as well as I had hoped.  Their touted ‘Meatgrinder’ conversion program didn’t quite spit out my e-book the way that I wanted it to look, which was frustrating.  I did some research and found a spiffy program called eCub that I could use to convert my text properly to e-book format then upload it directly to Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

That was just one of the lessons I learned while working on “One Sheet Stories” that I was able to apply to the production of “The Rules of Tech Support.”  The process went much smoother because I was doing it the second time around and I didn’t make as many mistakes.  Time will tell whether it “The Rules of Tech Support” will be successful or not, but on a technical level, I am happy with the result.

Its not that you can’t strike gold on your first try, but the unfortunate reality is that most folks will not, and who knows, that small project just could be the one that makes it big!

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!

RealmsCon 2011 : Can Less Be More?

As far as I know, RealmsCon is the only anime event that goes on in Corpus Christi.  I remember going to the first one way back when, and have had tables there these last two years.  With First Storm Manga done with, I was now free to just enjoy the show.  Having been underwhelmed with RealmsCon in the past, I decided to drive down and check it out for one day as opposed to the whole weekend.

I got to the American Bank Center at about one in the afternoon, and the setup was very similar to what they had last year; artists and panels were on the first floor and big events and guests were on the second.  It was different in that the number of artists and dealers had been reduced from 2010.  The same amount of space was being used, but things were a little more spread out.  They did things like use only one side of a hallway instead of both.  While it made the space looked a little more empty (particularly the dealer’s room) I think it was the right thing to do.  Here’s why:

I don’t know what the attendance numbers are for RealmsCon, but it would appear that they overdid it last year when they held their first show at the American Bank Center last year.  Back then, they packed as many artists and dealers as they could into the space, but it appears that they didn’t have the numbers to support all those attendees.  I overheard that both attendees and artists were pretty unhappy with that situation.

It looks like they found the sweet spot this year, because nearly all of the folks that I spoke with said that things were going well for them, sales-wise, at least.  Ideally, fewer artists and dealers meant more money for the ones that were there.

I really didn’t do much there beyond hang out with friends so I attend any of the events.  While they do have just a little bit of repetition in terms of their guests, it is nice to see familiar faces.  Of course, I have to mention that their big guest Tom Felton cancelled, which was unfortunate.

I didn’t attend any of the panels, so I don’t have anything to say about them except that Airship Isabella appeared to be running a significant chunk of them, according to the schedule.  That makes me wonder about the anime community in Corpus Christi, are there not enough folks down there that want to do panels?  Realms always seems to have issues getting enough panels to fill the event’s three days.  Last year, each presenter was given two hours, and this year there were 15-30 minute gaps in between events.

That minor quibble aside, I had a fun time at RealmsCon and there was a good crowd there.  While they had to take a step back in some ways, it was a step forward for the most part, and I look forward to coming back next year, maybe for the whole weekend instead.

Twelve Mezasu mini-con 2 Observations

As Hannibal would say, “I love it when a plan comes together.”  Our second Mezasu mini-con is over, and despite feeling really really tired, I’m feeling pretty good about how the whole thing went.  Some things I noticed:

  1. The old “can’t have fun when you work at a con” rule isn’t that big of a deal when you see everyone having a good time and have the opportunity to occasionally walk around and talk to people.
  2. I guess it was easier to notice this because this was a smaller event, but serious cosplayers tend to travel in packs…I don’t think I’ve ever just seen just ONE wandering about.
  3. The art auction was a huge bust, I think we need to do a better job of explaining how it works next time.  😦
  4. I believe you should always give your all whether 3, 30 or 300 people show up to your gig, which is fortunate for the 3 people that showed up to my podcasting panel.
  5. I am just not used to hearing my voice amplified; when making announcements or announcing raffle numbers over the PA speakers, I was worried about blowing out the speakers whenever I raised my voice.
  6. From the “beware of what you wish for” department: we asked, prayed and begged for rain,  got it…and a brief power outage.
  7. Thanks to Madame Jaqueline’s Apothecary, I now know what a ‘bath bomb’ is and does. Freaky.
  8. I bought an Android mascot figure in a “blind box,” from Bean Pot Toiz but I have yet to actually OPEN it to see which one is in there.  The anticipation is eating at me yet I don’t want it to end!!
  9. Considering how many times I was asked “How did you find this place?” I’m glad that we were able to make people aware of the nice facility and folks at Tripoint.
  10. At the same time, how can one not notice a building the size of a grocery store with a YMCA and a coffee shop?
  11. I forgot to pack cough drops and now my voice is a little hoarse.  Hopefully it recovers by the time work starts on Monday.
  12. I don’t want to go back to work on Monday…then again, do I ever?

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.

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