Archive for the ‘Conventions’ Category

Katsucon 2014

March 18, 2014

It’s been a few weeks and the dust from Katsucon 20 has startled to settle. This con had a lot of high, and some very low points. For the most part everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. After the madness of last year with a certain youth group, this year seemed to be more relaxed, given the awful weather. I got to the con around 1 on Friday and promptly went to pick up my badge. I did at the door registration and for good reason. The pre-reg line took something around 3 1/2 hours for most people while at the door took 30 minutes.

The programming was kind of lack luster. There were a few conventions about western comics (there was a DC New 52 panel), which is all fine and good, but if your focus is on Japanese culture and ONLY Japanese culture, there’s no place for a panel on western media (with exceptions of course).

Let’s talk about the gazebo, the all mighty white, wooden structure that cosplayers near and far apparently dream about. I won’t lie, it is a nice looking gazebo in a middle of a nice looking hotel. There was some drama before the con about Katsucon REQUIRING you to have a convention badge in order to gaze your eyes on the gazebo. Turns out you didn’t really need a badge. No one was checking badges anywhere near the gazebo. Badge check was still in full swing for the rave, the artists alley, and dealers room. What still gets me is that you have to pay $80 for a badge in order to go into another room and spend more money. But that’s not something that just happens at Katsucon; that happens at every con.

I didn’t attend a single panel. I went to the rave for around 30 minutes, and checked out the video game room. I want to desperately believe that every anime con I attend will have something for me, but unless it has something related to Sailor Moon, I fear I won’t be enjoying them at all anymore. But that’s life!

-Lauren

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Baltimore Comic Con 2012

September 9, 2012

The convention started off kind of rough. I was dropped off Friday afternoon to help with set up, and while there Pat’s car had been broken into. This in turn caused him to feel like crap, and therefore he didn’t join me this weekend. So I apologize for the lack of quality pictures. However because of this I wound up staying late on Friday, which gave me time to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. I even got to catch the first part of the Friday night Stan Lee event, but I left shortly before he arrived. Hearing about the failed “re-launch” oh Atlas many years back. Most of the comics failed after three issues since they switched writers so quickly in.

Saturday I rolled down to the convention with a friend. I promptly got to work, running food to volunteers and guests. This was a great way to meet artists at the con, and a chance to really see how conventions work. Baltimore Comic Con has in the past few years exploded with popularity. Up until a scant few years ago, the costume contest was held behind a curtain on the main floor. Last year we saw the real boom with this convention, due in part to Stan Lee being a guest. Baltimore Comic Con is also one of the few shows that is still really about comic books. You won’t see washed up wrestlers, reality starlets, and other such silly things here. The people who do run the show really put their all into it. The few hours I helped exhausted me (as did my cold). The lines were in control, everything seemed to move smoothly. Heck, I even met Stan Lee. I also got to make silly faces at Han.

Comic wise I didn’t really check anything else. Everything seemed so artist heavy this year that comics were a second thought. I picked up a ton of new art. I met some fantastic new artists, and harassed a few of my favorites. Everyone involved in this con really does put their heart into it and I love every minute of it. If you have yet to visit Baltimore Comic Con, I urge you to visit next year.

Stan Lee and friends.

-Lauren

 

In Defense Of The Cosplay Photographer…

April 9, 2012

Recently I’ve noticed a trend of cosplayers coming out of the wood work online crying about “rude” photographers not posting pictures, or photographers who only take pictures of girls. Most recently, the photographer I use for most of the posts here (Pat) came under fire for not posting a picture of two girls from Katsucon, but rather posting just one. The one he posted turned out better than the first. It has nothing to do with who was prettier. One picture turned out blurry, while the other didn’t. While this example is rather personal for me, I have seen this scenario played out countless times. I have been cosplaying for 10+ years. If I had a penny for every time a photographer I knew didn’t post a picture of me, I’d have enough pennies to pay one month of my car payments. There have been times where I have (very nicely) asked said photographer whatever happened to the picture. Since I happen to hang around photographers, I understand when they say “It didn’t turn out right.” That’s cool. I get it.

However, you can’t really take my word for it. Below is the reply Pat gave to a very angry cosplayer about not posting her picture.

“I was at Katsucon hanging out when I saw a Marceline from Adventure Time walk by. I walked after her and tapped her on the shoulder and asked if I could take her photo and of course she said yes. She was with someone else also dressed up as an A.T. character and they both got into their posing positions. I took 2 photos, one of both of them together, and one of the Marceline which is what I wanted in the first place. After that 30 second transaction I said thanks and walked back to catch up with my group. Not exactly an earth shattering event by any means. Anyway later that weekend I edited and posted the photos online. A couple of people in the photos found them on Flickr and were pleased with them and thanked me for taking the photo. Fast forward 2 weeks later and I get this nasty post on my Flickr page under the Marceline photo…

(Edited out)

I was quite taken back by this. I am not a portrait photographer, I do 99% landscapes, just me, my camera, and the streets. For the last maybe 8 years I have at times taken photos of “cosplayers” at various nerdy conventions. In all of that time I have never had anyone become upset at a photo I have taken, or didn’t take. I’m not Annie Liebovitz, this isn’t the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. This is some kids having fun and I am helping them out by taking their photo so they can show their friends online. That being said I do however have pride in what I do. I will not post photos and put my name on something that does not meet my standards. Every photo I post is sharp, focused, and composed. I’m sorry if this does not jive with the camera phone generation who finds taking blurry photos in their mirrors to be acceptable photography. Now since I’m aware these people don’t even know what aperture and shutter speed is I’ll try to dumb this down as much as possible. The shooting conditions in this place was (by photographic standards) was a poorly lit hallway in a hotel basement. I took the photo of the pair of them using a 50mm lens only, no flash, no additional lighting on my part, no image stabilizer. The exit data says the photo of the pair of them was taken at 1/30 of a second at f/4. For those who don’t know f/4 is not fast, f/2.8 or f/2 would have been a more ideal setting to use. So why not use it you ask? Because I need to take a shot with two people, two people who will not be standing on the exact same focal plane, thus I require more depth of field, thus I must use the slower f/4 to achieve this goal (the smaller the aperture the greater of the depth of field aka area in focus). This is simple physics, this is how light works, I cannot control it. The #1 rule of taking a photo of any living creature is to focus on the eyes. How many times have you seen a bad portrait shot that was focused on the nose of the person? So I took the photo of the pair of them doing my best to follow this rule. Then I took another this time just of the Marceline. This time the camera was set to 1/60 of a second shutter speed. For anyone who doesn’t know 1/30 is about the limit of what a person can do hand holding a camera with no image stabilizer. Shooting at 1/30 is taking a gamble, but this is digital so it’s not like I am wasting film if it doesn’t turn out and this isn’t exactly someone’s wedding photos. So now this 2nd photo was going twice as fast as the last one which means less chance of me shaking the camera and ruining the photo. Magically this means the 2nd photo turned out a lot better. And getting back to that whole taking pride in what I put my name on thing I chose not to post the first photo that turned out blurry but that doesn’t mean I didn’t take one. So claiming I only wanted to take a “pretty girl photo,” which for the record is certainly not a quote I ever said, is not accurate in the slightest. I take photos of whatever I want to, and if it is a person I ask their permission. I spent $3500 on that camera/lens combo I was using this day. So unless you are paying me money to take your photo you don’t really get much say in what I photograph or post online.

I know many cosplayers read this, so take what you can from these words. Almost every photographer you see at conventions does take pride in his and her work, so don’t get mad if a picture they took of you didn’t wind up online. It’s ok. And if you want more pictures, ask! Really! I’ve never had a photographer turn me down if I ask for a few more shots. It’s flattering for them to hear, especially if it’s someone you admire.

You can follow Pat Gavin on Flickr here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/patgavin/

-Lauren

 

Annapolis Comic Con 2012

March 28, 2012

This past weekend I got the chance to stop by Annapolis Comic Con. I didn’t get the chance to visit last year, but I’m glad I went this year. The convention was held in a gymnasium inside a rec center, and while it was a small show, it packed a ton in. There was a nice variety of dealers. I found pulps, Golden Age comics, Silver Age, modern, toys, books, art…You name it, you could probably find it. The dealers were terrific too. I love talking about comics and everyone here was willing to talk to you, even if you weren’t buying from them. This convention was also rather kid friendly. I saw many families walking through the convention. This is a great sign, as kids are the future of this (and any) hobby. On Saturday I heard around 1,500 people showed, with more expected for Sunday.

I did manage to catch the end of the cosplay panel featuring the lovely Han. In the end cosplay is about having fun, so go have fun. I feel the same can be applied to this hobby. Collect what you like, and have fun with it.

I’m excited for next year, and I wish this convention luck!

And now for the best part, pictures by Pat!

 

-Lauren

 

MAGFest 2012

January 12, 2012

The convention season started off great for me this year. MAGFest, my first convention of 2012, was nothing short of awesome. I have never been to MAGFest before, and I’m kicking myself for not going sooner. Everything from registration, to layout, to even the guests was perfect. According to Nick Marinelli, the PR guy for MAGFest, attendance was 6100 this year, which doubled from last year. Attendance doubled due to the larger space at the Gaylord National Harbor Hotel, and because their guest of honor was Nobu Uematsu. Word of mouth, an aggressive street team, and just being at other conventions promoting, also helped this convention grow so much. MAGFest will be at the Gaylord for two more years, with next years event already being worked on. Nick see’s the convention to grow steadily because “… MAGFest will always be a giant gaming party that rocks hard.” Frankly I couldn’t put it better myself. This was a great convention. It was a giant party where everyone got along. The real bonus was the color coded wrist bands you got at registration which indicated your age. Since I was over 21, I had a green wrist band. At last years Katsucon, there was an incident where a male in his 30s was charged with sexually molesting a 13-year-old female. Perhaps wrist bands aren’t the answer we all need, but it would help with (possibly) preventing issues like this.

The main events hall for MAGFest was the perfect size. It was broken up into two “rooms”. The first room was split between artists/dealers and tabletop gaming, while the other room was one big arcade. There was also a big room for concerts, an area for Nintendo DS players, and a few more rooms for panels. The hotel has ample room for this convention, and I’m sure it will only grow bigger here. The only downside is the surrounding area of National Harbor. Simply put, it’s an expensive area. While many con goers can afford the area, there were many underage con goers who simply can’t. For example, myself, Pat, and a friend of ours ate at a local restaurant across the street from the hotel. Between the three of us we spent over $100. That is pretty steep for lunch, but we also acknowledge the fact that we are in D.C and therefore it will be more expensive. The cheapest places we saw were a Subway (or some sub shop) and a CVS. If you’re like me, you’re not a fan of lines. And places that are reasonably priced will run out of food. Maybe it didn’t happen this year, but you never know. All that aside National Harbor is simply beautiful. If you’re lucky to have a car on hand you can just drive ten minutes into Virginia and eat there (which is what we did for dinner).

MAGFest is a great convention. If you haven’t been, I urge you to visit next year for a day. 2013 dates are January 3-6.

I ran into Nobu Uematsu 4 times. While slightly buzzed I asked for a picture. He was kind of impressed I spoke Japanese. I'm kind of impressed I kept my Unicorn hat on.

Uematsu no doubts that Pat and I are crazy stalkers.

The above photos were by Pat. The below ones were taken with my camera.

Little kids are always better cosplayers.

 

-Lauren

 

The Archie Panel At New York Comic Con

October 22, 2011

Just some tid bits from the Archie panel from New York Comic Con 2011:

What a great panel. I didn’t know there was going to be an Archie panel (cause I don’t read the program guides, ever) until Dan Parent told me about it. So, my friend and I got there 40 minutes early, and somehow got lucky to get seats in the panel. Yes. The panel had to turn people away because they were full to capacity. The audience was mixed, but older adults dominated the audience. That’s nothing short of impressive. Perhaps comic fans should start to take notice to Archie comics. They might just be outselling your Batman and Spider-Man comics in the near future.
 
The New Crusaders are going digital! While I still prefer holding physical comic books, there is no denying that comic companies need to embrace this new technology.
There will be a new Sabrina cartoon show. It should be out October of next year. And there will also be a new Little Archie cartoon series as well! We should see that next year too.
Kevin Keller gets married in life with Archie to a doctor he met in battle.
A Kevin Keller ongoing series starts next year!
 
Make sure to pick up Archie 625. 100% profits go to Ronald McDonald house in NYC.
There will be a revamp the teen superheroes, such as Pureheart the Powerful.
Dilton is going to do a back to the future type thing, so keep an eye on major development for him.
 
The Stan Lee Super 7 series is due out next Spring.
 
There will be a Best of Sonic The Hedgehog hard cover due out soon. There will also be a Sonic encyclopedia book due out fall 2012.
There will be an Archie Android app. This is great news for me as I am an Andriod user…but I also own an iPad.
The Black Hood will be back. 
 
There will be future Archie cartoons. Of course nothing is set in stone, but this is terrific news!
 
All in all I had a great time at the panel, even though I was really cold. It was an ice box in that room.
 
-Lauren

New York Comic Con 2011

October 16, 2011

I’m not sure where to begin. After last year of only being there for a scant 2 hours, I spent half of my day at the con yesterday. There was a lot to see, and a lot to do.

First things first, the layout this year was far better than last years. The anime festival was moved to another floor (yet there were anime dealers here and there in the dealers hall) which opened up a ton of space. The artists were moved into a much spacier part. The video games and other random industry people had a big hall to themselves. Yet despite this, I feel the show may have over sold tickets. Weekend passes and Saturday passes were sold out. Perhaps next year they can limit how many single day passes they sell. It might help if they also expand further into Javits, which is a HUGE convention center.

Because of the crowds, it took almost an hour to two hours to get from one side of the convention to the other. There needs to be better traffic control. Somehow Otakon can do this flawlessly, but NYCC has yet to figure this out. There was also a ton of confusion about where to get badges. Still I understand as this is a very popular convention. Hopefully within the next few years they can work through those problems and become a truly great con.

I myself enjoyed this convention a great deal. I went to an Archie panel (which I’ll post about in the next day or so), talked to lots of people, and picked up a signed Lenore comic. I’m upset I didn’t get to meet Roman Dirge, but it is what it is! Dealers I spoke too said they were doing really well–one was doing better than he had at San Diego. This is a great. Perhaps all of these comic book movies are finally paying off for the rest of the comic world.

Pictures to come later. I’m still tired from yesterday… zzz…

-Lauren

Baltimore Comic Con 2011

August 22, 2011

If you happen to be here from the CGC message boards, bad news. This is the same thing I wrote on there…just copy and pasted to here. If you are not here from the CGC boards, mazel tov! Enjoy the post.

And it was ~*fantastic*~!

My convention weekend started Friday morning when I went down to the con center to check in on a booth I was working at. I always love seeing cons as they are setting up, it’s such an exciting atmosphere. After hanging around and basically did nothing but watch for no real good reason, I rolled out. Went to the Ravens game that night, and then a birthday party, and since I didn’t hear of any forum dinner, I managed to go home and sleep for roughly 2-3 hours.

I got back to the con center SUPER early on Saturday with a guy I was working with that weekend. We opened up, fixed a few things, and I aimlessly walked around. It was actually pretty boring until people started showing up, so thank goodness for iPads. Once the con started, it got crowded. Quick. There were points where I couldn’t move at all, but that’s not a bad thing. The line to get into the show seemed to move fast. I changed into my costume and walked around with my friend L.J handing out flyers for the shop. Since he was dressed up as Thor, we didn’t move quickly through the con center.

I saw lots of people I knew, from all over.  There were a lot of nice books, and I know a few people who got pretty amazing deals on some pretty amazing books. I did see Stan Lee walk around with security a few times, so now I can say that I’ve seen Stan Lee walking. Fantastic. The artist alley was where I spent all of my money. There were some quality artists selling some amazing pieces of art. I picked up a few things on Sunday, and I plan to frame a few of them. I did buy an Owly book, and got Andy Runton to sign it, and he drew a quick sketch of Owly on the inside cover! I also got sketches from Dan Parent and Steve Conley, which all look fantastic! I got to meet Adam Hughes, and watch my friend Andrea fangirl over him. It was really cute, and I love her dearly.

After stalking Han, I ended the day by loitering by the booth I was working for. Once we were all closed up, I left with my friend Andrea and Pat. We got dinner, he left, and her and I and about 20 people I know all went to see KMFDM in another part in Baltimore. The show was fantastic, thanks for asking. I got home at 4:30 and went to sleep at 5am, only to wake up at 9 to go back to the show.

Sunday was MUCH slower, and not as crowded. This pleased me greatly. The booth was doing fantastic, so I only stayed for a few hours. I met a *ton* of new people, and I got to talk to a few of the artists since it was a slower day.

The show was overall great. The booth I was in did amazing in sales, and I’m super proud of them. Hopefully the convention will continue to grow more, and if that’s the case, I hope it gets moved into one of the bigger halls inside the con center, so we can all have a little bit more room. I got a few more pictures before calling it a day in order to go home and sleep.

It was a fantastic weekend. I got to see and hang out with tons of people I normally don’t see, and even though I feel like complete butt today, it was worth it. I can’t wait for next year!

And now, some pictures.

 

And now, some pictures from the amazing and awesome Pat!

 

-Lauren

Otakon becoming a downward spiral

August 3, 2011

I’ll agree with Lauren that this does bring in alot of money into Baltimore City. That is the only good thing about it. Even though I’m sure everyone in that area hates us…We bring you money. So you can’t really complain.

This year I actually stood in line for Johnny Yong Bosch’s autograph. It was a clusterfuck. I got there an hour and a half early. And I received a ticket and then told to come back at the time on my ticket. I come back for my time, thinking that oh hey, this will be real quick and we will be in and out. No. I was sitting there for another forty five minutes and then we were let into the room to line up for autographs. His bandmates were really nice and talked to people while in line. It looked like Bosch was probably really tired, he wasn’t that talkative. I heard his band at the Matsuri (the Matsuri itself was a joke), and they weren’t bad.

As Lauren said, crowd control was terrible. I went down to Artist Alley once and of course the escalators are off. I have no problem with that. What I had a problem with was this small, narrow staircase being the only way in. And they didn’t stop people from exiting the entrance and going up that narrow staircase. At this point I’m really irritated and I even said something to the staff person at the bottom that then didn’t seem to care. I know this is a volunteer position but still.

The Alley itself had a bunch of great artists this year. I saw alot of good stuff. Although alot of people say the organization of the Alley was a hot mess. Glad to see that hasn’t changed since I was last there.

This con used to be really great. I’ve been attending since 2002. And after it got so huge that it brings in 30K people, I have enjoyed my time less and less. Mainly because of the lack of organization and the crowds of people that don’t know to stop off on the side instead right in the way of everyone else.

Even though I’m not huge into anime/manga as I used to be, I didn’t find too much interesting except for Artist Alley.

Otakon 2011

August 3, 2011

Jokingly I call this FightCon 2011 since I had to verbally beat someone down almost every day. One guy told my friend to go fuck herself, another guy was bothering my photographer friend (not Pat), and one dealer was selling Nazi stuff. Not stuff from Hellsing or Hetalia, straight up Adolph Hitler-wore-that-shit Nazi stuff.

I worked in the dealer’s room for majority of the con. I went to no panels, rarely met up with people, and didn’t even get a program guide. From a dealers point of view, this is a great con to come and clear out old anime and manga, and make some money. From what I could tell however, there was not much in the ways of deals going on. The one thing anime convention dealers have never gotten the hang of, was actually giving out good deals. Comic dealers seem to have it down to a science, but anime dealers have no idea what that means.

The panels were pretty boring; I skipped out on the FUNimation one, and only caught a few minutes of a few other ones. Otakon also overlapped big events from what I was hearing. A concert, the masquerade, and the Full Metal Alchemist movie were all shown at the same time on Saturday. Whomever made the schedule dropped the ball on that. One big plus was that they used the Hilton as extra con space, but that still didn’t help with the crowds. Otakon needs to start capping attendance again. There were many points during the weekend where you could not walk anywhere because of the crowds.

The cosplay was both good and bad, but what do you expect. Overall, I had a great con. I can’t wait for next year.

And now, some pictures.

-Lauren