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!

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!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Mizuumi-Con 2011

UPDATE: The president of the Mizuumi-con sponsoring organization “Patrick “Enzan” Lloyd” replied below, and apparently the empty tables were the result of no-shows.

Mizuumi-Con is special for me because it is where this crazy trip called “creativity” began.  I first attended Mizuumi-Con back in 2009, where I attended two panels.  The first was with Kevin M. Connolly, who discussed voice acting.  The second was Chris Holm’s panel which talked about ‘inspiring artists.’  Kevin provided insight on doing voiceovers, and the message of Chris’ panel was…well, “get off your ass and do something.

A few days later, I was flipping through old notes, trying to figure out what old ideas might be worth dusting off.  A few weeks later, I would meet with Chris and a couple of other guys to form what would eventually become First Storm Manga.

This would actually be my second Mizuumi-Con behind the First Storm Manga table in the dealer/artist area.  Unlike other cons, Mizuumi puts both artists and dealers in the same space.  Last year, it was a madhouse; the space was packed to the gills with artists, dealers, and more importantly, customers.  In an effort to ease the congestion, and I presume, get more dealers and artists involved, it was decided that a second room, dubbed the “Annex,” would contain the spillover.

It was a good idea on paper, but a few things kept it from working as well as it should have:

  1. Distance – The two artist/dealer areas were at opposite ends of the OLLU campus from each other, so if you wanted to check both of them out, it was a decent hike.
  2. Layout – The layout of the tables at the Annex was awful.  They had the tables start at the walls and go in towards the middle of the room.  This is great if you get a good spot in the middle of the room, but sucks if you are by the wall.  Even if you are an attendee, having to constantly double-back is annoying and it didn’t take very many people to make things crowded.
  3. Planning – In the main artist/dealer area we had at least a dozen tables that went unused.
  4. Organization – Some of those people in the Annex could have been moved over to those empty tables but nobody in charge figured it out.

I went by the Annex a few times to say hi to friends and check up on them.  It was crowded, hot and quite a few of my artist friends did not do as well sales-wise as they would have liked to.  In contrast, the artists I knew that were in the original location did fairly well and things never got too hot or too crowded there.

Despite the Annex goof-up, I had fun talking to people about First Storm Manga and our own upcoming September event, the Mezasu mini-con. Mizuumi appeared to draw a good crowd and it looked like folks were having a good time.    Mizuumi is a fun one-day event, and I try to encourage folks new to the anime scene to attend it as a starting point.  I look forward to coming back next year; hopefully they will have worked out the kinks in the artist/dealer area.

A final note: If it sounds like I’m harping about the artist/dealer room thing it’s because I personally know just over half a dozen people that had tables there and I feel bad for the ones that got shafted.  Hopefully things will be better next time.