Thursday, February 28, 2008

ConNooga '08: The Con, The Experience

Well, I was going to try to write this when I wasn't tired, but with work, school, and the busy busy convention I guess I can't help but be a bit sluggish. So hopefully this is mostly congruent, but I don't promise much more than that.

Day 1

Welcome ConNooga Sign

I got off work around 1 o'clock and decided I'd head to the con about 2, which is approximately when the con started moving along. Perhaps because I was ridiculously early, or maybe because everyone else was so late, I had very little to do early on. This is why I walked all around the con area (excluding the dealers room) about 3 or 4 times before I ever even went to a presentation. Sadly, by the time I did get to where my first planned event was, a panel called Con-it is!, I saw that a sign had been placed saying that the session had been cancelled. Seeing as how this was supposed to have a variety of individuals from visiting cons I wasn't too surprised since they probably hadn't had time to get settled into the hotel yet. Additionally, the room where the event was supposed to be held is called "Town Hall" which, for future reference, is one of the more troublesome locations to find.

So during the hour I now had I decided to head over to the Console Gaming room to find that there had been some late setup there too, so it might be awhile before they got that going. I didn't mind since this allowed me more time to take pictures of the grounds and get situated with the area. By the time I made it to an event, which was MAW Productions Panel, I found that the panel was, sadly and once again due to probably the early timing of the event, low attended. This was the start of what would become a cool series of panels hosted by MAW Productions, the rest of which I'll discuss later. This panel was more of an introduction to first, Jetta: Tales of Toshigawa, and then Muley, the loveable puppet. Jetta: Tales of Toshigawa is an independently produced and created comic by Martheus Wade, with the help of his wife Janet Wade and his editor Kevin Williams. Martheus described how the idea of Jetta first came to be and mentioned that the story and art comes from both an American comic and Japanese anime/manga background, which is of course particularly cool to me liking both myself. Writing this after the con I can say that I did pick up Vol. 1 through 3 and I promise to write a review later, so forgive me for not providing more details on the story.

MAW Productions Booth (feat. Jetta & Muley)

Muley the mule, who actually also has a comic produced about him, is Kevin Williams creation solely and, as he put it, represents a cross between "Charlie Schulz's Peanuts and Jim Henson's Muppets." Indeed Muley, while perhaps not whom one would expect to see at a con, was a nice addition and led me to see a later puppet panel of Williams, which I will get to later.

As I left their panel, I still saw little else going on that I wanted to see for awhile, with some of the key panels duplicated the next day; thus, and with great foresight apparently, I went to visit some friends and rest some for the next day. So while I had enjoyed the panel I saw, at this point in the convention I hadn't truly found my own spirit at ConNooga yet. Thankfully though Saturday was the day when I did.

Day 2

After a good nights rest, with sweet Advent Children dreams on my mind I rose up and headed out for a hopefully exciting day of ConNooga. Okay, well actually I went to work for a couple of hours, but by 11:50 I was at the con and getting prepared to watch some exciting AMV's. Thankfully this is exactly what happened, however trouble started off (and sadly continued) through the AMV viewings, primarily being the bad sound (which was due to the room's setup, and little could be done except a location change) and regular glitches that were seen about every 2mins 40secs of video. Initially I thought these video problems were caused by the submitters to the contest; however, every video was affected, so obviously there was a greater dilemma. Considering even that though I did thoroughly enjoy what I saw and was impressed by the great pool of talent that I witnessed. Having been to AWA I've seen some awesome AMV's, and I do believe a couple of these could be taken to that level of competition. So I definitely had a hard time choosing who to vote for, and now I'm still waiting excitedly for the results (which I must have missed).

Sometime during the latter part of the AMV contest, I ran into my friend Brian, whom I met recently at Anime @ the Library here at the Hamilton-County Library. I actually hung out with Brian a majority of the con, and I'm certainly glad I did because Brian is much more of a con pro than me, not to mention much more social (which my DJing still hasn't completely fixed :P.) So after the AMV contest, I suggested we head over to the Dealer's Room so we waited for the hotel shuttle bus and rode it over to the Dealer's Room, which while nice and sizeable is still quite far away. As we walked around we found ourselves surrounded by a variety of booths, covering all sorts of genres, events, celebrities, and artists as well. Brian truly showed his conversational abilities as we, ok he and I standing by, pleasantly chatted with many of the vendors there. I was recognized by Joshua, who runs a local online store called Anime Pub, and we chatted about the con thus far and sales and just generally had a good time.

Dealers Room Corridor

In fact, that's kind of a nice summary for especially my 1st Dealer's Room experience, when I wasn't just shopping, We met a lot of nice people and got to look at potential wares, which is great especially since I had set aside a little bit of money for later purchases. I did actually make one purchase though during this visit where I purchased a drawing of Urahara for my brother from Liana of MangaNaise, who is a 13-yr old artist. I ended up coming back to get a couple pieces from her, but I'll mention that as with everything else in the future when I come to it.

At this point in the day, the time was about 2:10 and so we headed over to try to catch the majority of the Anime 101 panel. After some brief confusion about the room, we finally settled in just in time to hear some insightful discussion on the anime industry and much of the process involved in distributing dubs into anime. The panel was hosted by two veteran MTAC staffers and perhaps for the better we seemed to jump in after the introduction to "What is anime?", since we clearly know that already. During the rest of the panel was discussed fandom, the industry, and secrets to buying anime among many other exciting topics. Brian and I actually hung around a bit to talk to them afterwards before heading off to grab some lunch at Quizno's.

Anime 101 Panel @ ConNooga

After lunch we decided to check out what was going on in the Console Gaming room, which was beginning to look as it did for the rest of the con, which was busy, and then we headed to the Finley Lecture Hall where we caught the 2nd half to the "Sci-Fi Quiz Show!". Let me at this point mention that while I can probably blend in with Sci-Fi fans, due to my demeanor and look, if you were to actually set me down and try to hold a discussion about the intricacies of the Star Trek universe I'd crumble or melt or both. So needless to say the Jeopardy game was completely over my head. However, I still had a fun time watching the contestants, skilled and decently skilled, try their best to conjure up all the knowledge they had gained in their lives. All I have to say is too bad this wasn't a game where you could ask the audience, because they seemed quite skilled as well (minus me of course).

Sci-fi Quiz Show (Final Round) @ ConNooga

Afterwards Brian and I walked around a bit and checked out some of the contestants preparing for Saber Idol before I went to the "Jetta: Tales of the Toshigawa" panel and Brian went to Saber Idol. To say that this panel was much of the same would be untrue, since we were able to watch part of a documentary on Jetta and MAW Productions; however, I do feel at this time there is little more that I could say, and instead suggest waiting for the video itself to be released. I was happy that there were more people this time around, and the question and answer session, as many do, added some additional goodness to the panel. Also Martheus was kind enough to give me a poster of Jetta and Shi, a character by William Tucci. The poster is in support of a new release featuring the two characters in a crossover comic and one that, gathering from my readings thus far of Jetta, I'll have to definitely check out. Even with all the many happenings in that panel, I still was out early from the panel and got a chance to head over to the Saber Idol panel.

Preview of Maw Productions/Jetta Documentary

Saber Idol, for those who probably do not know, is basically an American Idol version of solo-light saber fights, i.e. the infamous Star Wars kid. Pretty much the contestant stylistically swings and slices with the saber to music and the celebrity judges rate the performers and decide who gets to go on. For better or worse, I entered in when they had narrowed down the competition to two contestants, so I watched the final half of those two and saw that the guy, who I had actually been watching practice in the lobby, won the show. Apparently, and I know I missed this, the host who would go on to be crowned Mr. ConNooga was himself a skilled saberist and had won a competition out in California. So when prompted to "put up or shut up" as one judge put it, he frankly left everyone quiet as he put on a dazzlingly skilled show of light saber ability (a sentence I never knew I'd write.) Seriously though, I'll post up a little video (if there's not one below already) showing how good this guy was, because wow…

Then, as the packed theatre let out for Saber Idol, I found Brian again and we trekked out in the cold to the Dealers Room. Apparently, as opposed to my schedule given to me, the Dealers Room had been closed so we trekked back and sat back in the theatre for about the first half of a movie titled "Chain Saw Sally". Chain Saw Sally is the story, or so I gathered from what I watched, of a lady, now the town's librarian, who was traumatized by her parent's murder which see witnessed at a young age and who has since become a serial killer with a preference for Chainsaws. The plot indeed has more to it than that, but that's the premise which can obviously paint a picture of at least a large part of the action. Perhaps needless to say this is basically a modern B-movie, and had all the qualities that a B-movie should, or so I'm told. While horror's not my thing, I will say that I was able to watch this film a lot more easily than I imagined, and I do kind of wished I'd been able to see how the story wrapped up. However, at this point I had to move back to the puppetry.

Yes, it was time for one of the panels I had missed previously which was "Them F*$& Puppets." Basically the show was about as crude as the name suggests; however, seeing puppets with drinking habits, regular seizures, and troubled inadequacies due to, of all things, a devotion to Sci-Fi and comics can be quite funny. Much of the show was actually pre-recorded which allowed for some on location filming, particularly in a segment titled "Great Places in America to Take A Dump." However, there was definitely a fair share of live puppetry as well, culminating in the revealing of the puppet masters, including Kevin Williams, and they discussed the inspiration for their characters and where they were taking the show, which basically will be web shows. All in all, that was quite enjoyable and, perhaps aside from "Chainsaw Sally" the only adult programming I took part in.

Them #&$!Puppets (TFP) @ ConNooga

With that over, and the realization that I was going to wake up early to hit the dealer's room and get around to the radio work I needed to do, I decided against hanging out at the dances or parties and instead went home and dreamt of a galaxy far far away.

Day 3

On Sunday I did indeed wake up early and head straight to the con where I was able to get some early pictures of the vendors final set-ups. Sadly I had missed my opportunity to see some of the vendors, as I'm sure they had a long drive ahead; however most were still there and I was definitely able to shop as I wanted. First, I stopped by MAW Productions booth and finally picked up my three copies of Jetta: Tales of Toshigawa, which Martheus and Janet kindly signed for me, and for picking up all three volumes there I was also given another poster, this time of the character Turra, also done by Martheus' in the Toshigawa realm. I then discussed the possibility of a radio drop and they agreed; however, with Kevin away I walked around a bit till his return to take care of the drop.

So then, while in the Artist Alley part of the dealer's room, I decided to grab "Misfire" a comic by Chris Hazelton, and I got a print from him as well. Then I proceeded to one booth where I struck up a conversation with the guy there about J-Pop & Anime soundtracks and before I knew it left with the soundtracks for Shakugan no Shana, Howl's Moving Castle, and Akira symphony style. Meandering around I also returned to one store I'd seen before which had some cool magazines imported from Japan so I bought one of them, which was a late 2006 edition of the J-Rock/Visual Kei magazine "Cure". Then I went back to Liana's booth and picked up two more of her artwork, one with Rukia and one with Kakashi. Of course, during all of this I also stopped a couple times at Anime Pub to chat with Joshua, and eventually I made sure to pick up some Bleach playing cards there.

Goodies/Purchases from ConNooga

During the time that had passed I was also able to get a 'drop' for Tokyo Tower from one of the MTAC guys (thanks!), and I also did return to get some rather lengthy, and quite funny, drops from Martheus, Jade, and Kevin representing first Jetta: Tales of Toshigawa and then Kevin and Muley did a drop of their own, both of which I greatly appreciate!

Riding off of my excitement with getting all my radio needs done, I then went to a panel I had been looking forward to the whole weekend, which was the Podcasting 101 panel. Indeed, being in "Town Hall" and on the last day I wasn't too surprised by the low attendance, but even so I found the panel itself quite cool. There were 4 hosts, with a total of probably 6 podcasts combined (including Guild Cast, Southern Pagans, SEPS), so they had plenty of experience. What was comforting to me, as someone who'd leaned towards podcast creating, is that unlike many of the people I listen to they had little to no initial audio experience. Instead they learned as they went and to their credit continued improving. Of course, having been a podcast listener for about 2 and a half years I indeed have a great familiarity with the medium, so some of the information was old for me, but even so I had an enjoyable time.

Podcast Panel @ ConNooga

Having finished the panel, my shopping, and my radio drops I essentially had little to do left, so Brian and I went and ate some lunch at Panera's and then came back for the ConNooga Closing and Q&A hosted by Todd, Con Chair of ConNooga. This was a good event to see because one you can see how much the people did love the con, myself among them, and two a lot of good questions came about, and suggestions too, which will hopefully make the con better next year. I'd say the only issue I had, aside from perhaps trying to get the AMV set-up better, would be to as some suggested put more signs up announcing the events going on in all of the rooms. This helps particularly if there's a schedule change and also, while I thought this was done alright, any 18+ programming that people may be trying to avoid.

Todd, Con Chair of ConNooga '08

All in all though, I definitely had a great time at ConNooga! Since I was on my own the first day everything started a bit slow, but from Saturday on especially I found myself enjoying the whole experience quite extensively. Even as an anime fan who knows little about Sci-Fi, Fantasy, or Horror I definitely plan on returning next year!


Maria said...

I had a blast at the con! Great blog. :) The room parties & the rave on Sat night were fantastic! You should try to catch atleast part of the Radio Cult show next year. They're awesome & NOT your typical band. My hubby's not all into concerts or music, but he thought they were great! ..very entertaining. :) See ya next year!

smile said...

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Vesper2112 said...

Although I don't know what the submissions for the AMV's look like for this year, I can tel you that the sound will be much better this time as we're bringing in a complete A/V setup and not relying on the "house sound". Hope to see you there in '09!

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