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Thursday, May 5, 2011

AM^2 Vs. AX

So plans were in the process for Armor-Geddon to have a booth at AX this year. Last year H4773r and I were sent on a scouting mission to see if it would be profitable to have booth there. As we were settling out the details for this year we learned about AM^2. The people we had talked to were tellings us the AX is going down the hill and that more people would be attending AM^2 would be the big thing for the future. Plus, AM^2 registration is free. Upon hearing this news, NBL decided to abandon going to AX. H4773r and I had a wonderful time last year and we have friends also going this year so we decided to go anyway.

I have had to do a little internet digging to learn more about AM^2 and it's "controversy" with AX. Initially someone told me AM^2 was started by former AX volunteers that were tired of how AX was being run. I managed to find an article on Anime News Network that addresses the quitting of several AX employees over disputes with the Board of Directors of the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the organization that oversees AX. Another post on Project 760 has a list of specific "greivances" against the CEO, Michale Lattanzio.

One thing that is specifically mentioned, that seems to lead up to the supposed creation of AM^2, is the dismissal of Chase Wang, founder of BAM! Marketing, Publicity
and Promotions, who had served as AX's Publicity Director. Chase Wang is now the creator of AM^2. From several articles I've read that interview Wang he seems to want to cater this con towards fans, creating allowing them "to have control and choose, a la carte style, which activities they wanted to participate in." Ref

I completely respect what Wang is attempting to do and it will be amazing if he pulls it off, especially attempting to maintain badge-free registration and going up the same weekend as AX. Part of me is disappointed that Wang is choosing to do up on July 4th weekend. I am hoping to visit both cons, but plan on staying mostly at AX. I hope in the future Wang reconsiders putting up the con a different weekend.

I also wonder how Wang expects to keep things badge-free and run the con nearly 24 hours for 3 days straight. Perhaps through the Passport badges they're selling? AM^2 is offering "Passport badges" for the price of $25 for one day, $35 for two days, and $45 for all 3 days. These badges apparently serve as VIP passes. You can supposedly get into all events for free, but the Passport badges get you perks like priority seating and some discounts. Personally, as a first-time attendee I would probably pass on the Passport badge.

Also this isn't the first time Wang has attempted to set up such an event. Internet research reveals that AM^2 was actually created last year as a one day event known as Club 2 the MAX. It was held at Club Nokia and featured Tales from Earthsea US trailer. Based on the success of Club 2 the MAX, Wang decided to re-create it as an actual 3 day con.

Again, I very much hope I'll be able to check out AM^2 over the weekend and that in future it won't be held on the same weekend as AX.

Cons I Wish I Was Going To: TCAF

Sometimes I like to pretend I'm a webcomic artist. So, even though I rarely update my site, I still enjoy cons like TCAF. Not to mention a bunch of my favorite webcomic artists also attend this event. I'm pretty damn jealous.

Of course, I had never heard of TCAF until I started reading webcomics and learned many of artists exhibit there. TCAF seems like an interesting concept of a con. I've been to APE before, but this seems like a cross between APE and a generic comic festival. Mostly a place to celebrate comics and other types of press without the Hollywood movie factor you find at most comic cons. I appreciate "cons" of this type because I really have chance to chat with some of my favorite artists and support their work directly. Typically, it seems, that all transactions made between you and an artist directly supports the artist and cuts out the middleman. Another thing that's wonderful about this con is all the events they have for children. It's very much a family friendly con.

Artists I would've love to say hi to that will be at TCAF
Evan Dahm - Creator of Rice Boy
Jess Fink - Creator of Chester 5000 XYV
KC Green -Creator of Gun Show
Jeph Jacques - Creator of Questionable Content
Lucy Knisley - Creator of Stop Paying Attention
Dylan Meconis - Creator of Bite Me
Erika Moen - Creator of Dar
Kel McDonald - Creator of Sorcery 101
Angela Melik - Creator of Wasted Talent
James O'Barr - Creator of The Crow
Aaron Diaz - Creator of Dresden Codak
Meredith Gran - Creator of Octopus Pie
Sam Logan - Creator of Sam and Fuzzy
Dave Kellett - Creator of Sheldon
Faith Erin Hicks - Creator of Zombies Calling
Michael Jonathan - Creator of Eros Inc.
Vera Bee - An amazing illustrator
Kt Shy - Creator of Shrub Monkeys
Danielle Corsetto - Creator of Girls with Slingshots

Programming that I would've liked to see
Saturday, May 7th
A19 Ask a Freelancer Learning Centre 2:30-3:15 (hosted by two of my favorite ladies from Periscope Studios and the wonderful Lucy Knisley)
A20 Design Learning Centre 3:20-4:10
A21 This Comic Isn't About Me: Gender, Sexuality and Race in Comics Learning Centre 4:15-5 (one of my illustrator inspirations, Erika Moen, will be a host on this panel as well)

Sunday, May 8th
U2 Illustration The Pilot 12:30-1:30
U4 Studio Tour The Pilot 3-4 (I am always curious about artists studios and Jeph Jaques is a panelist)
U10 Comics Storytelling Beeton Room 4:05-5 (I have a huge crush on James O'Barr)

I do hope sometime in the near future to be able to attend this con and report back on it. Til then I hope everyone who went had a great time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

And I'm home

7 hours later and we made it. And I made it with very little motion sickness. I was able to get some reading and other work done on the long ride home.

So re-cap

Con: Anaheim Comic Con hosted by Wizard World
Previous comic con experience includes SDCC and Wondercon. WWACC is fairly well organized, especially considering they put on CC's throughout the year. I was a bit disappointed in the programming schedule. I didn't put any effort into catching any of the panels. Albeit, I was working most of the con, but if I needed to I could've have left to watch a panel. Of course, I worked on the costume contest "panel" and thought we did a decent job and had a lot of fun doing it. I heard the panel with Dan Fogler was pretty good. I did NOT like the layout of this con, but I don't know if that Wizard World's fault or the convention center. I missed not getting a badge. Instead wristbands were used.

Venue: Anaheim Convention Center
WWACC was only held in Hall A of the con center. So it felt kind of small. The initial dealings with the staff put them in high regard. We arrived late and they stayed open later to let us unload. However dealing with them during the set up of the booth and breaking down the booth left much to be desired. Basically it felt like they had forgotten about us.
Wifi: there is a "free" wifi channel however it's impossible to get on. Otherwise it's $99.95 per day if you're an exhibitor or $12.95 per day as an attendee.
Food: is what you'd expect. Drinks from $2.50 (coffee) - $3.75 (large fountain drink soda). Food available hot dogs, pizza, salad, and wraps $4.50-$9 ($11 for combos). Snacks available bagels, chips, candy average price $3.
Don't count on outlets being available. I couldn't find any to just use.
Parking-we paid $12 a day for parking, no in/out privileges unless you were an exhibitor and it was a load/unload day.
Disneyland! It's within walking distance. If you need a break from the con and have extra cash or year passes it's awesome.

Hotel: Crowne Plaza Hotel-Irvine
A decent hotel with comfy beds. It's about a 20-30 minute drive away from the con. Usually traffic was in our favor. Parking is $15 a day for guests. While I checked out the gym and pool I didn't have a chance to utilize them, but they seemed nice enough. Don't ask me about rates and I didn't pay for the hotel. While a coffee maker is provided I was disappointed with not having some sort of fridge unit. Also the room was kind of small, the California King size bed pretty much took up the entire room. Finding the hotel was tricky as Google maps was wrong and the highways are a little wonky.

Food in general
By the Crowne Plaza Hotel-lots of nice restaurants in and around the hotel we didn't visit. I did however take note that there is an IHOP right across from the airport. And for fast food there was a Carl's Jr. (which we did eat at), a McDonald's, and a Starbucks pretty close by.
By Anaheim Convention Center-there is a Coco's and Tiffy's with just outside the con. There is also a food court (Baja Fresh, Submarina, Starbucks, S'Barro, and Just Grillin) inside the Hilton. The Marriott has a Pizza Hut and Starbucks inside their hotel.
Dowtown Disney and nearby: there are a ton of places to eat along the S. Harbor strip. This year we ate at La Brea Bakery Cafe and Rainforest in Downtown Disney and McDonald's and Denny's along Harbor Ave. I did see that there was a 24-hour Subway on the strip as well.
As a vegetarian I'm actually pretty easy going and could've easily lived off of bread and cheese. However I try to get in protein/veggies when I can. On that note I definitely recommend burritos from Baja Fresh. I did notice the Just Grillin offered a vegetarian burger and the Submarina offered a veggie sandwich, although I didn't try them. At La Brea I had the Rosemary Vegetable grilled panini and at Rainforest I ate the Rainforest Natural Burger. At the convention center I was able to find a portabello mushroom wrap for a meal.
As per usual I recommend packing snacks and food. This particular con didn't seem to bag check.

We were able to get discount Disney passes at the Hilton since we were con attendees. The single day passes weren't much cheaper but I did like the "Twilight" discount.
There is a UPS store in the Hilton and a FEDEx store in the Marriott. I love the Target on S. Harbor. Downtown Disney is a nice way to experience some Disney-ness for "free." Parking is free for the first 3 hours and then if you go to a sit down restaurant or the AMC downtown you get a validation for another 2 hours. Otherwise it's $6 an hour.
The best place I was able to find "free" Wifi was the McDonald's on S. Harbor right across from Disneyland.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Anaheim Comic-Con: Day 3

Last day...we finally got to sleep in. Again, H4773r didn't have to be at the Armor-Geddon booth til 1pm. We grabbed "brunch" at the Carl's Jr. by the hotel. As a note, they don't serve "grilled cheese" when you ask for it. They will however, serve a Famous Star with cheese, sans burger. Same damn thing in my opinion, but whatevs.We made it to the con and I was...confused. All the fan tables were pretty much devoid of fans. For a moment I thought maybe everyone had packed up early and went home. Turns out since a bunch of the celebrities weren't going to be there on Sunday, the fan tables were allowed to move to the celebrity tables.

I couldn't find Kryssie anywhere. I was told by the Orange County Star Wars Society that she was out on the floor networking. So while I waiting I finally did some shopping. New microns from Blick, Creepy Susie & 13 Other Tragic Tales for Troubled Children by Angus Oblong, a copy of The Maxx vol. 4 by Sam Keith, a copy of Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman, and a copy of The Devil's Panties vol. 4 by Jennie Breeden. I really wanted Nigel Sade to sign by his strip, but I just ran out of time to find him.

When I finally found Kryssie she mentioned that she was going to spend the rest of the con networking and since we no longer had a booth I just took the day off. I hung out a
round the Armor-Geddon booth serving as back up when people kept coming by to take photos of H4773r's co-worker C.J. (she was dressed as Morrigan, sans wings). I think we've decided
that for future cons we're all going to try and co-ordinate cosplay outfits.

"Lunch" was procured from the Baja Fresh (I love burritos!).

As the con wound down I was able to help Armor-Geddon break down the booth. And here's where I get annoyed. Armor-Geddon paid to have people help us load. So we start breaking down the booth and are going through it pretty fast and we have no sign of the boxes that were supposed to have been saved. I go looking for someone to ask about what's going on. There was no one around for about 10 minutes. I finally find a guy who tells me that they're delivering the boxes right now. I go back and finish help breaking everything down. We're nearly done and still haven't seen any sign of our boxes. So N.B.L. goes to talk to someone. And, of course, our boxes were thrown away. So now what? They eventually let N.B.L. drive her van into the con hall and we loaded everything ourselves. So not complete bullshit, but definitely annoying. We really could've been done about 1-2 hours earlier.

When we finally got everything loaded out H4773r and I decided to spend one last night at Downtown Disney. We had dinner at the Rainforest Cafe and saw Rio at the Disney AMC theaters.

Tomorrow we get to sleep in a bit before hitting the long road home. I had quite a bit of fun at this con and wouldn't mind coming again in the future.