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!

RANDOM REACTION: Furry Fiesta Day 1

When in Rome...
When in Rome…

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my first day at Furry Fiesta 2012.  As mentioned during my pre-game podcast with artist Chris Holm, we really didn’t expect it to be that much different from other cons that we have been to before.  So far, that has held up.  Sure, the “Dealer Room” is called a ‘Dealer’s Den’ and fursuiters play the role that cosplayers would play at an anime con, but for the most part it’s the same song, it only goes to a furry beat.

The first thing that really impressed me about Furry Fiesta were the freebies that I received upon registering: a hard plastic badge that was of much better quality than the laminated ones one usualy gets at these things, and a 8.5 x 11-sized con book with a nice glossy cover, which made me even more happy to have my short story included in it.  The inclusion of a bar of soap felt a bit like a tongue-in-cheek joke, but it is honestly something that more cons should probably do.  There was also a furry survey that is apparently taken every year as part of a study on the fandom, I’ll need to fill that out and return it.

Aside from badges, the main way to identify someone is an attendee is by the wearing of a tail. Sometimes ears (the headband kind, not the ‘hat’ kind like I’m wearing in the picture) and fuzzy gloves are worn as well, but tails are pretty common.

While the panels I have been to have not all been as good as I initially had hoped for, I was still pleased that there are more panels that I was actually interested in. The five panels I attended on Friday easily equaled the number of panels I might attend during the three days of an anime or comic book convention.

There seems to be more of an emphasis at Furry Fiesta on the creation of art rather than the consumption of it. Instead of attending a panel where a voice actor answers questions from fans about the shows he or she has worked on, I. can attend a panel where I can learn about voice acting, writing, and art.

There are quite a few things to do here at Furry Fiesta for someone who is interested in creating. The vast majority of the costumes are of original characters; instead of pretending to be something that is the product of another person’s imagination, attendees create their own ‘fursonas.’  Oftentimes, they only exist on paper or in artwork, but a few take the extra step of bringing their creation to life in the real world.  They are known as ‘fursuiters’ and there are some REALLY good costumes out there.

The only horsefly (ba-doom, tissh) in the ointment has been the jerkasses that are staying in the room above the one I am in.  I have been hearing nothing but stomping around and horseplaying last night and into the morning. Two calls to the front desk and a chat with the Furry Fiesta security guy have proven to be pretty fruitless in getting anything accomplished.  To be fair, though, that is something that one experiences at all of these things, so I can’t really hold it against them.  That said, I think the fact that something hasn’t been done about this reflects poorly on both the hotel and the convention.  I will speak with the folks at the front desk again (and maybe even FF security) today and see if anything can be done.  I got a five-hour drive tomorrow back home and I need more sleep.

But yeah, that’s a problem one comes across at any convention.  Its only been the first day, but I have already had a lot of fun and even learned a new thing or two at Furry Fiesta 2012. I look forward to the remainder of the con.  At this rate, I will be attending Furry Fiesta 2013 without any hesitation.  If that isn’t the best compliment I can give, I don’t know what is.

20 Things I Noticed During Ikkicon VI

Since the last Ikkicon, I actually have helped run an event (two even, the Mezasu mini-cons) so my checklist of “things I have done at a con” is pretty darn close to complete.  This time, the band I drum for, named NeRiMa ねりま, was scheduled to play Saturday night, so Friday was pretty much a ‘free day.’  Because of my involvement with the event, I don’t feel right ‘reviewing’ it so without further ado, here’s another list of things I noticed:

  1. I am not going to bring up the drum thing. I am not going to bring up the drum thing. I am not going to bring up the drum thing.  I think the drum thing was our fault, anyway.
  2. Okay, the drum thing: I need to invest in an acoustic drum set…once I’m sure there is space for it in my apartment, I’m sure it’ll fit in my car, and I won’t get thrown out of my apartment from the noise…so yeah.
  3. So Band 1 plays before Band 2, but Band 2 does their sound check after Band 1 does theirs and immediately before Band 1 performs…granted, I’m fairly new to the whole “rock band” thing, but am I the only one that finds that weird?
  4. I’d heard there were three versions of the schedule floating around, which probably why nobody minded that we started playing late.
  5. I was a little distressed at seeing such a small crowd at first, but it turns out Safety was checking bags for alcohol at the door, so we waited and it slowly grew.
  6. I think I like playing on Friday better, because we can practice the night before and having the show constantly on my mind for most of the con took a little bit of the fun out of it.
  7. I had a fun time at the concert itself, it was also nice of them to remember the fog machines were there about 2/3 of the way through. :/
  8. I totally forgot to check out the game room, perhaps the memories of last year are way too fresh.
  9. I’m guessing a lot of folks got the Nintendo 3DS for Christmas.  Either that or System Settings is much more engaging than I remember.
  10. I finished 4 Streetpass panels during the event and almost finished Find Mii a second time, w00t!
  11. According to my 3DS’ pedometer, I averaged 6,000+ steps a day, and my legs feel like it today.
  12. Once again, no microwave in the room.  I guess if you can afford to stay at a place like the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center you aren’t going to be nuking popcorn and noodles for sustenance.
  13. Luckily, the venue was near the University of Texas, so there was plenty of pizza and burger jonts within walking distance.
  14. I love how the layout was prioritized: artists and dealers in the mezzanine, panels and some artists on the first floor, and con alley in steerage, er, I mean, the basement.  They aren’t the only ones to do this, BTW.
  15. The AT&T Executive yadda yadda is split in two between the hotel and the conference center, which is probably why there weren’t too many insane elevator wait times.  That, and it only has seven floors.
  16. I was afraid of that the venue was going to be too small for the number of attendees, but it didn’t seem to get too packed.
  17. I attended the My Little Pony panel to see if I could somehow finish the blog entry I’d been working on for the last two WEEKS. Mission Accomplished.
  18. In spite of my friend Chris’ best efforts, I was not tied down to a chair and forced to watch My Little Pony like the guy in “A Clockwork Orange.”  Jerk.
  19. What is it with badges?  Guest badges, even??  Once again I got a temp badge to start off, but they found the band’s real ones halfway through.
  20. I can’t claim this one (credit goes to my friend Justin of Nine Tails) but I have to include it: while looking at the Sunday schedule, a friend wondered “How come they never have Steampunk 102?”

For me, at least, Ikkicon VI was fun: a good-sized crowd showed up, the location was better in quite a few aspects, and our concert went well.  While there were a few wrinkles here and there, the problems that did come up got taken care of and a good time was had by all.

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.

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.

19 Things I Learned During Ikkicon V

So far at cons, I’ve been an attendee, worked at tables in Artist Alley, been part of a few panels and even played in a concert.  After volunteering to help run the game room at Ikkicon V this past weekend as part of the Alamo Gaming / Original-Gamer.com group, I’m wondering what there is left to do at a con short of being a big guest or actually running one.

In any event, I learned quite a few things over Ikkicon’s three days, some of which I’m not sure I wanted to, but that’s life.  So without further ado:

  1. If a member of your group has B.O. issues, your time in the hotel room will SUCK.  We had a guy that stunk up the hotel room on the first night and it remained funky for the duration, which made going back a VERY unpleasant affair.  I think my nose said “no mas” sometime Saturday night and went on strike.
  2. Unless you are in charge of something or a guest, don’t expect to get a badge with your name on it, I was given someone ELSE’S badge, so I tore off part of a sticky note and put my name over it. Bleh.
  3. Always pre-register and get your badge on Thursday night if you can, because if things go wrong during registration they go HORRIBLY WRONG. Luckily I didn’t have to wait in it, but the reg line was INSANE.
  4. Plan all you want, but something will always throw you a curve ball. I packed some microwaveable food to chow on so as to avoid overpriced hotel food and unnecessary excursions, and you guessed it, there was no microwave in the room.
  5. If there is a food that you enjoy to the point where you think could live off of it, then pack plenty of it along.  You will discover whether you really CAN live off of it.  Lucky for me, I still find Kashi granola bars and peanut butter crackers to be tasty.
  6. I am a Coke fiend.  I was dying for a soda on Saturday, so I said ‘heck with it’ and dropped $2.50 for a 20 oz bottle of sweet, sweet caffeine at the coffee shop in the lobby.  I wouldn’t have minded the price too much, but it wasn’t even that cold, if I’m gonna pay twice as much for a soda there should be some frost on the bottle…just sayin’
  7. The optimist in me says that we ran out of hand sanitizer Saturday night, the pessimist in me says that people will steal ANYTHING no matter how trivial.
  8. If you plan on running something at a con, expect that it is all you are going to do at the con.  I spent most of the weekend making sure no one hogged the Rock Band 3 station.  I took a few trips away to say hi to friends and grab some food on Saturday morning but as far as panels and events…nada.
  9. If you plan on running something at a con and doing it fairly, expect that jerks are going to think you are a jerk for doing so.  I repeatedly told people that I did not want them camping at the Rock Band 3 just waiting to play again. I got a lot of ugly looks in return, but I also got compliments from people who appreciated that I was doing my best to be fair.
  10. Geeks love “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Still Alive” and will sing along if they are played loud enough.
  11. They also really like “Du Hast.” For the life of me, I don’t get it, and frankly, I think it’s the German thing. Heck, I still like “99 Luftbaloons” from back in the day but unlike “Du Hast” it actually has lyrics.
  12. “Freebird” is just too cotton-pickin’ long.  My Xbox 360 locked up during it, and at another event, a guitar controller’s batteries gave out while it was playing.
  13. Having a 24-hour videogame room is a BAD IDEA. The problem with a 24-hour videogame room is that you need to have people in there all the time to keep stuff from walking out the door and to assist with the occasional system lock-up and dead controller batteries.
  14. If you are in charge of something, GET ALL THE DETAILS IN WRITING and have it signed by whomever is in charge.  We had some behind-the-scenes drama go down that could have been avoided if everyone had been on the same page from the start.  None of this ‘he said, she said’ business, just a signed piece of paper that says what has been decided on so there are no questions.
  15. Sometimes you must go down to go up.  If you find yourself waiting forever and a day to get on an ‘up’ elevator to get back to your room, go into one that is going down…it’ll come back up soon enough.
  16. If you don’t want to be harassed by the valets for your keys, park about 2 carlengths away from the hotel entrance.
  17. Owning your own dolly or hand truck rocks, if you are going to be working cons frequently, GET ONE.  Heck, even if you aren’t, get one anyway.
  18. When its all over and you go home, you will feel like crap, collapse onto your bed Sunday night, sleep like a rock, and will probably will not be back to normal until Tuesday.
  19. Despite all of the above, you will get to hang out with lots of cool people, have lots of fun and it will be totally worth it.

Ikkicon was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun.  If the group I was involved in gets invited back, then I would be happy to come back next year…packing a microwave.