Sunday, June 3, 2007

Looking To The Stars - A-KON 2007

A rousing tale of adventure, in which our hero goes to an Anime/Manga Con - as a guest and a media member.

Last year, I went to A-KON (The longest-running annual Anime/Manga convention in the USA) for the first time as a member of the press.

This year, I came as a guest.

As some of you know, in addition to my writing for ComicsNexus, I am also a member of Los Bastardos - Dallas/Fort Worth’s only professional Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast. And before anyone panics, don’t worry - I am far too considerate of my fellow humans to dance in my own underwear in public – much less ladies’ undergarments. My own station within the cast is Master of Ceremonies and Floorwalker, which is basically the fancy way of saying I’m the guy with the loud voice who tells people what to do, tells jokes and yells things at the screen.

Now, we’ve performed at conventions before but never one quite as big and long-lasting as A-KON. It was held this year, as it is every year for as long as I know, at the Adams Mark in downtown Dallas.

Sadly, I didn’t get very many pictures of the show and what ones I did were terrible. Sadly, our staging area was so big that the flash on my camera couldn’t quite light things up enough for anything to come out that night.

Thankfully, the show went very well. The ballroom we performed in seated nearly 800 people, so I’m told. We had it filled at least ¾ of the way by my rough estimate and all the responses I heard from people afterwards were uniformly positive. There is one bit of praise I remember the best though.

One of my duties during the pre-show ceremony is to explain the various rules of whatever venue we are playing in to the audience. No Smoking, No Throwing Things At The Actors and so on. I was asked by one of the head honchos to make particular care to note not to throw things at the chandeliers.

You’d think this is something people would be careful not to do anyway. But I was told that in the past three years, when another group of actors had performed Rocky Horror at the convention, they had always had someone throw something into the ceiling and that they had always had someone get injured by falling glass. It was a regular enough problem that they had a team of paramedics on-call “just in case”.

I’m glad to note that nothing like this happened on our watch. And afterwards, I talked to this same head-honcho and asked what he thought of the show.

“You’re great. Nothing got broken. Nobody’s been hurt. And you’re cleaning up the theater!” He grinned the smile of a nine-year-old on their tenth birthday.

“Well, we always do that after the show. Cast policy,” I explained.

“Yes, but we’ve never had the actors do that before. We’re going to get out by 3 am!”

“Well, that’s typical for us.”

“Not here! The other actors didn’t get out until 6 am and they only had the room booked until 5! And they didn’t clean! You guys are the greatest!”

Now, as a former theatre technician, I can appreciate this attitude. It’s not that theatre technicians have no appreciation of the aesthetics of a performance – our concerns are just more practical. It’s not a matter of how well the performance was received so much as it is what didn’t go wrong.

That being said, I think this was the most back-handed complement I ever heard. Being considered good actors for getting done on-time and helping clean up the mess you made is a bit like being told that you’re a good boyfriend because you don’t beat your girlfriend or steal from her.

As for the rest of my time at the convention... well, I doubt anyone would be that excited by my accounts of wandering around, talking to various professionals and vendors and hanging out with my friends who were also at the convention. Rest assured you’ll be enjoying the fruits of my labors over the coming months. I’ve arranged a few interviews with some of those professionals I spoke with. Those will be coming out on an “as they have time” basis.

And since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ve decided to close with some of my pictures that DID turn out and some brief words behind each picture.

My friends Jeri and Napoleon, dressed as characters from Chobits and Deathnote, respectively.

Emily, one of our actresses from Rocky, as a very fetching bunny girl. Yes, I know cat-girls at an Anime Con are more traditional – but we Rocky folk aren’t much for tradition.

A knight of some sort, in a costumed made mostly of duct-tape cloth or duct-tape covered-cloth. I took this one mostly for my students at the library, whom will be learning about how to make things from duct-tape cloth this week.

Cammy from Street Fighter - a good example of how proper costuming to your body-type can really make a Cos-Player shine in the crowd even if your costume is relatively simple.

Ken and Ryu from Street Fighter - a good example of how a good costume can make up for your not looking exactly like your character as a cos-player.

A group of X-Men. From left to right – Rogue, Jubilee, Dark Phoenix, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Colossus, Gambit and White Queen. I find it mildly ironic that with all the young Asian girls running around this convention, it is a dorky white guy I see cos-playing Jubilee. Ironic AND mildly disturbing.

I’m not sure why Elmo is in armor. I’m not sure I want to know.

Black Mage from 8-Bit Theater agrees to pose for a picture. Later, he slit the throats of numerous children in an effort to win the favors of the man dressed as Cthulhu.

Two Sailor Scouts. Because it’s not an Anime Convention report if you don’t have pictures of a Sailor Moon or two! Geek law!

Princess Zelda, as seen in the short-lived Legend of Zelda animated series. No funny comments. I just thought she looked cool and she was one of the few characters I recognized without help.

I dunno who they are but they do look cute, don’t they?

Despite Joe Quesada’s best efforts, Captain America lives!

Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law, looks for survivors of Black Mage’s rampage that he may get their information for a class-action law-suit.

Lady Lara Croft, fallen on hard times, is forced to pose for fanboy pictures in an effort to get her guns out of hock.


  1. One minor nitpick. In the first picture Jeri isn't dressed as Chi from Chobits. The costume is one of Sakura Kinomoto's outfits from Cardcaptor Sakura.

  2. I was SURE she said Chobits.
    Thank you. It's early enough I can still correct it on the Nexus site. Please help yourself to one Starman No Prize.

  3. Don't feel too bad Matt. Both Chobits and CCS are both properties created by CLAMP and the ears may make her a little easy to mistake for Chi, but I'd recognize Sakura's magic wand anywhere. :p
    - Paul Sebert

  4. Look at it this way...compliments by head honcho types, even if it was potentially backhanded, is still good press for your group. More than likely will get you invited back that much easier, ya know??
    Sounds like a good time, may check it out next year.

  5. Nice con report. I'm sorry I missed you there too! Grr.

  6. Oh, the invite was already offered before the show even started. :)

  7. Paul,
    You frighten me, sometimes. ;)

  8. Ah. So you DID show up. Randy, Vagabond and I did have a bit of a laugh Saturday night about how hard it is to get you out of your lair. ;)

  9. Well, it's always on my birthday weekend. And the first free moment I get, I show up and the punk had cleared his table out early and left. Pfft!
    But it does take a lot to lure me out. ;)

  10. I still have people who want you to come to a Rocky show, for the record.
    You missed topless dancing goth girls this weekend... ;)

  11. I think that Elmo is trying to create interest in a Sesame Street/Tron crossover franchise...

  12. What can I say I'm a geek of many hats.

  13. And yet, you can't seem to master the art of replying to the proper post. ;)
    I keed, I keed.

  14. See, I thought they were going to create a Muppets/Final Fantasy crossover for Kingdom Hearts 3...