Category Archives: Conventions

Fanime Con 2017

Fanime Con, is a popular anime convention in Northern California. It has found a home at the San Jose Convention Center, as well as the Fairmont & Hilton hotels nearby. It is a huge event that doesn’t just cater to those who are fans of Japanese animation and manga, but has events for people who appreciate video games, podcasts, karaoke, and even has a few rooms for people looking for love. The Con is all about the fans, as one can see in it’s motto? “By Fans, For Fans.”

The sheer variety of things to do at this convention are what set it apart from most of the comic book and pop culture conventions I’ve attended and written about about in the past. This is not your senpai’s convention. (yeah, I winced at that reference too) There is a whole different feel at Fanime Con, with a vibe and atmosphere that’s hard to articulate, but easy to feel when you’re there. You quickly realize, it’s a whole new world. A dazzling place, I never knew.

For instance, the cosplay is important at a convention like this, and I’m not going to lie, I had NO idea who half of those people were. “What makes this different from other conventions?” you may ask. I just know there are a lot of school uniforms and dancing at this convention compared to the others I’ve been to. A lot of choreographed, cute dancing.

Anime is just a geek sub-culture that I know little about. I’ve watched my fair share of anime and read my fair share of manga, but these folk eat, drink, and breathe the genre. This show is tailor made for the fans, and that’s what Fanime Con prides itself in. It tries hard to bring a little of the Japanese culture & fandom to California. Which means that despite the gaming room with its array of console, PC, arcade, and board games, you may not get much out of this convention if you don’t love Japanese Animation. You may not understand why you’d want a body pillow of a scantily clad anime girl, or know what hentai is, and why they’d have late night showings in their screening rooms…

The adult content at this convention is interesting. Panels have age restrictions, and as I mentioned, they show some anime at night, that…I’m not sure what you’re supposed to do with. I don’t know how to feel about it, but they do relegate a lot of the adult content for the night time and overnight crowd. Yes, there is an overnight crowd, as this convention, technically doesn’t close. There is always something going on, 24 hours a day, for all four days of the convention. I have no idea what goes on after 8pm. I’m an old man, I need my sleep.

There is so much to this convention, that it’s hard to put it all in one concise little write up. There’s a maid cafe, where women dress up as maids to eat and play games with patrons. The line for this maid cafe? Up to 4 hours. All for a bite to eat and to sit with a maid.

At the convention center, one of the main attractions was a stage where dance troupes and groups would dance to music, or lip sync to popular tunes. There were rooms where folk taught weapons and self defense classes and ballroom dancing classes for the convention’s big black and white formal, where you had to dress very proper. There was a karaoke room where you could sing your heart out, and yet another room for speed dating. So much to do for four days, so little time.

I suppose I should also mention why I even attended Fanime Con in the first place. The folks over at the No Ordinary Nerd podcast, who were kind enough to adopt me into their fold, asked that I be a part of their panel on mental health and mental illness. As someone who is familiar with both, I had to jump at the opportunity, and what a worthwhile experience it was. Despite it being the last panel on the last day of the convention, on a holiday no less, people were kind enough to come by. Connecting with those who attended, of which there were quite a few, and sharing our stories of struggles and healing, was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a long while. We wanted to help people who fight with these demons every day, and I feel like they may have helped me, more than I helped them. The No Ordinary Nerd crew were incredible, telling their heart wrenching stories, and giving of themselves, in hopes to show that those who attended, were not alone, and that there was light and love at the end of the tunnel.

Fanime Con. A convention even for us geeks who aren’t all that familiar with Anime, but especially made for those who are. It’s an event worth checking out, with welcoming fans, talented artists, and, of course, worthwhile panels.

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The Great Philadelphia Comic Con 2017

It’s really difficult to give a top five or any kind of review, for a convention that you actually put work into. At the Great Philadelphia Comic Con, I was not just Press, I was also part of the staff, as this Con was officially hosted by the Points of Interest Podcast Network, in which I am a proud member of. As a result, I helped set up, I helped moderate panels, and I helped guests find their way around the Convention and answered all of their questions. That means, I can’t help but love this Con, like I would my own child, if I had one. Which I don’t.

Let me preface this top 5 by saying that I loved my experience at GPCC. It was the best experience I’ve had at a convention, because of how involved I was. Anyone following me on social media would have seen pictures of my panel with LeVar Burton and Colin Baker. Maybe you also saw my selfies with John Wesley Shipp, Brianna Hildebrand, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite, & Veronica Taylor. Yes. I realize I’m dropping names like they’re dollar bills, and I was tasked to make it rain in the club. It also shows that I’m ill equipped to talk about this convention without gushing over this show, but I’ll do my best.

The Great Philadelphia Comic Con is in it’s third year, after having been transformed from it’s original form of the Great Allentown Comic Con. This show is but a mere fledgling, and I hope to help it grow up to be a majestic bird. So here is my attempt at giving the top five things that I loved (and didn’t love) about GPCC.

5. The Layout

Apparently the Great Philadelphia Comic Con grows a little bigger every year, and this year was no exception. The show had a decent sized Artist Alley, with a couple dozen artists in attendance, and a Cosplay Corner with a good number of known cosplayers, and a dedicated celebrity area, that didn’t crowd the stars. Unfortunately they crammed all this, and more, into one big expo hall.

This meant that if you were in a panel, you got to hear everything. From the over loud announcements, which I admit to being a party to, to the sounds of cosplayers cheering for one thing or another, the personable nature of the panel room was gone. It’s a big deal, especially if you paid a lot of money to hear your favorite star talk about your fandom.

The GPCC is a small convention, and I understand that the staff had to work with what they got. I also know that each year the organizers will just get better and better at what they do, and I can’t wait. Here’s to a bigger and brighter future.

4. The Comic Book Artists & Writers

The best thing about a small convention is the intimacy. You get to meet your favorite artists and writers without much hassle and actually have some time to spend with them. You can wax poetic about their work, get some original sketches, and buy the books, without the nagging fear that someone behind you was breathing down your neck. And because you get all manner of artist and comic book creator, from the independent to the big two, you were certain to find someone who’s work you loved.

At least, that’s what I heard from the attendees. Being a part of a convention can be really fun, but it doesn’t leave much time or wiggle room for…fun.

3. Cosplay Corner

I still haven’t decided on what I would want to cosplay as. I see people of all shapes and sizes dressed up as their favorite character, and I feel of tinge of envy. There’s no body shaming, no fear, and a lot of encouragement from the cosplay community, and it showed at this convention. Lead by a man named “Smoke”, cosplayers were in force for a Con of this size. GPCC even had enough cosplayers for a good ole fashioned Conga Line and an annual Cosplay contest. It was great to see that no matter how big a convention was, the cosplayers made sure to meet up, show off their skill and talent to the attendees, and share their experiences with themselves and others. Maybe I’ll go as The Turtle.

2. The Celebrities

From what I’ve read in the reviews of this convention, the celebrities were the highlight of the show. They were kind, accommodating, and let the fans stay awhile to share their stories. The celebrities I met were kind, more than willing to take a picture with you, and a joy to work with. You forget how genuine a lot of these people are. Not a cynical one in the bunch. And they all looked to be having a good time.

I did not hear a single negative comment or remark from any of the actors who attended. Everyone was welcoming. Alan Tudyk even had a bunch of collectibles and swag to give away to the audience, for anyone who asked questions in his panels.

Word on the street, during the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Was that the person you needed to meet was Margaret Kerry, who was known for being the model for Tinkerbell in the Disney Cartoon, Peter Pan. She was very sweet, kind, and had so many stories to tell. I had the good fortune of speaking with her briefly, and she was a delight.

Just a couple of celebrity highlights. LeVar Burton busted my chops when I interviewed him for his panel. It was all in good fun, and he spoke to me, by name, so often, that I couldn’t help but feel like we were old friends. Alan Tudyk did impressions behind the curtain before making his way on stage for his panels. Colin Baker apologized to the great Odin, when one of the announcements drowned out some of his story. And Veronica Taylor, voice of Ash Ketchum, was kind enough to do all of her impressions for the fans.

If there was ever a reason to go to GPCC, it would be for the quality and caliber of the celebrities that attend.

1. The People

I don’t write as much as I used to on the Geekly Planet, or anywhere for that matter. Half of me blames laziness. The other half blames the stuff I was diagnosed with, that the other half of my brain likes to nickname, excuses. Sorry, not used to talking about my mental health. But in this case, it’s relevant, because I was forced to step out of my comfort zone during the entirety of the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I had to interact with people, meet new people, and in general, be entertaining and funny, which was hard enough without the anxiety.

That’s where the people come in. My social media was a “twitter” with how I was feeling over the weekend, as I overshared what was going on in my head. I was very fortunate have friends who were encouraging and thoughtful and funny. It’s strange how a few words in black and white text, could actually help a person feel better. I won’t name names, but you know who you are, and I just wanted to say thank you.

BECAUSE of these people, I was able to muster the courage to make new friends, have conversations with celebrities, talk to the attendees, and break a little bit more out of my shell. To the friends I finally met in person from the Points of Interest Podcast Network, to the new friends I made from Nemesis Studios, to those friends encouraging me online, they all were the biggest reason why I enjoyed the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. I was part of an extended family, that continued to grow. This was my first year attending, and I promise you, this will not be my last.

LINK: The Great Philadelphia Comic Con

Wondercon 2017

I’ve been covering Wondercon for the past five years, and I never seem to get bored talking about it. Each year its something new and something different. So before I get to my five favorite things about Wondercon 2017, let me wax poetic about the Wondercon of yesteryear.

In 2016, Wondercon relocated to the grand city of Los Angeles, at the LA Convention Center. It was an attempt to accommodate it’s ever growing attendance, and Anaheim was getting a face lift. It only lasted the single year, but if Los Angeles had it’s way, Wondercon would grace it’s streets again. But, personally, I have a problem with that.

The Los Angeles Convention Center is located in the heart of one of the busiest sources of entertainment in the city. Right by the convention center is the Staple Center, home of the Lakers, the Clippers, the Sparks, and the Kings. Across the street from the Staple Center is LA Live, and the Microsoft Theater, where a bevy of concerts are held, along with various clubs and restaurants. This all adds up to a tsunami of attendees from all these events congregating into the cold, metallic melting pot of the city, therefore removing that…je ne sais quoi.

So I am happy that Wondercon is back in Anaheim. I mean, it’s across the street from Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth! There is an atmosphere of joy and mischief that is uniquely Wondercon. Now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk the best of what this year had to offer.

5. The Panels

With Wondercon being the little brother of the San Diego Comic Con, you can believe that there is a level of clout that brings the celebrities to this event. The panels throughout the day give way to your favorite stars from shows like Agents of SHIELD and The Magicians. Though I’ve only attended a few panels this time around, for a reason I’ll talk about later, the panels I did see, did not disappoint. The cast of the upcoming show Midnight Texas were on hand, not only to give us a sneak peak at the first episode, but also giving us a chance to know the cast, before the show premieres this summer. Midnight Texas also seemed to be sponsoring on the Con, and though I may be biased, it looks like a show worth looking into.

Other panels thought to go a different route, and delve into the societal issues that were ripped from today’s headlines, while keeping it light hearted. APB, a show I’ve never heard of, had Ernie Hudson on hand with his costars and show creators to talk about the real life challenges being faced within Chicago communities and their relationship with the police. There was the Anti-Bullying panel who had the likes of Anne Wheaton & Brandon Routh, sharing stories of inspiration and calls to action to help curb and prevent bullying online and in real life.

Whatever corner of the geek world you reside, there’s always a panel for you. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the annual Dr Horrible Sing Along that usually caps the weekend with some frivolity.

4. The Lines

I hate lines. Lines were invented by people who liked to torture other people, with boredom. Luckily, I only had to stand in one, and it was hidden away from the world, which is why I loved it and think it’s worth mentioning. A room dedicated to the lines for other panels, was a breath of fresh air, because you don’t have to rub up against people when you just wanted to get to one side of the convention center to the other! So thank you Wondercon for making the lines a tolerable experience.

3. RFID badges

It’s hard to avoid riffraff and rabble rousers at a convention. Not everyone agrees with what a comic book and pop culture convention is all about. But ever since they added the RFID badges to enter and exit the Con, those nuisances that would normally hound you as a heathen for taking part in this event, are far enough away not to notice. Whew.

2. You’re right by Disneyland

If Anaheim gets to keep Wondercon, you get the pleasure of being just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Magic Kingdom. Even if you don’t go into the parks, you have Downtown Disney, a worthy substitute for anyone, who may be exhausted after a long day of walking through Artist Alley and buying all the Funko Pops that can fit into your backpack. There’s food, live entertainment, and more Disney branded products than you can shake a mouse ear at. You can’t help but find a little joy when you’re that close to Disneyland.

1. The People

This is where I’m most biased, because the quality of the convention experience can be swayed by the quality of your company, or lack thereof. I normally attend conventions alone, which means I spend less time taking pictures of cosplayers and wandering the exhibit floor, and more time absorbing what I can from the many wonderful panels. Lately, for some out of this world reason, I’ve been actually attending conventions with other people, that I know or sort of know. So Wondercon for me, was amazing, because I had the opportunity to make new friends. A huge shout out to the crew of No Ordinary Nerd (Danielle, Daniel, Chris, Nico, JD, Kali), for not only tolerating my presence during the time we all spent together, but for also being some of the nicest, friendliest people, I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Check out their podcast all about geek and pop culture and using that to break the stigma of mental illness, on their show No Ordinary Nerd.

I would be a terrible friend and co-host (of Back When We Were Interesting) if I didn’t thank Shelley Rossell, for hanging out and doing the panels, and just being grand. She even donated the rest of her lasagna which I promptly (almost) spilled all over myself. She is, without a doubt, cool beans.

It was another successful and memorable year of Wondercon. Great cosplay abound, friendly and helpful staff everywhere, and a great place to have your first, or continued convention experience. This has begun my convention season, as next week, I’m off to Oaks Pennsylvania for the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Hope to see you there.

Wondercon – wondercon.org

Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con 2016

This year, the convention formerly known as Comikaze, gets a name change, and becomes the Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con, a Comikaze Expo Presented by POW! Entertainment. I love long titles for things. Despite the new name, this convention continues to be the one that seems to fly under the radar of most people. This is my fourth year going to this event, and it’s probably one of my favorites. It has the right amount of everything that I love, from celebrities, to panels, artists, and vendors. And it’s probably the biggest convention where there aren’t any reveals from the big studios or any exclusive videos or clips from upcoming movies. It’s just a place to go and enjoy being a fan. One sad change, was the absence of Cassandra Peterson. It looks like Elvira is no longer associated with the Halloween timed Comikaze/LA Comic Con. She will be missed.

Personally, I love panels at any convention and LA Comic Con continues to deliver a great variety of panels to sit in and enjoy. I’m always impressed with the variety, as they try to cater to every geek, not just the cosplayer or the comic book aficionado. This year, I went to mostly voice acting and podcast panels. Speaking of which, another plus on the side of LACC is the friendliness towards podcasts and allowing them to host said panels. They’re a variety of lesser known podcasts, but none of them are amateurs. Quite often they’re sponsored by someone, but it’s still cool to see the next generation of talk radio getting some lime light.

I’d be remiss not to mention some of the more notable panels, like the Darkwing Duck anniversary panel. Here, some of the surviving voice actors got to reminisce about their time working on the show and sharing stories of those voices who are no longer with us. There was even an impressive Darkwing Duck cosplay that had me thinking of my own ideas of dressing up as the Terror who Flaps in the Night. Voice acting panels got me excited in finding new ways to get my voice out there and I really enjoy hearing the stories from those in the industry.

The final panel of the night was one I love going to every time it’s available at this convention. LACC is the only con I know of that actually provides this opportunity to the single geek. It was, the Super Single Geeks Mixer. After four years of not participating, and having had no sleep throughout the week leading up to LACC, I decided to participate. I found myself in a situation where I was outgoing and trying to help people find connections, friendly or otherwise. I had, what I now call, a “Meet Up” moment, where I tried to take on a weird leadership role. This was made easier as one of the moderators of the panel didn’t show up, and the people looking to interact were left to play a game on their own and also fend for themselves.

It was an interesting experience as I encouraged people to exchange social media contacts, and to not leave the event without making one new friend. I hope I wasn’t forceful, but I was excited to help people. And for those who know me, my biggest accomplishment of the night, was that I actually made some new acquaintances and connections on my own. A rare situation that I’m relieved happened, as it proves to me that I may not be as socially inept as I think I am.

From my understanding, most conventions have after parties. I don’t really know much about those, as I’m normally told to avoid them because they’re lame. The Los Angeles Comic Con had an after party that I figured I’d at least take a look at. It was totally for journalistic reasons. Despite just standing around watching performers on stage and the people on the dance floor and listening to the DJ, I had a good time. There was impressive live music, some lovely dancing by the dancers on stage, and the people who attended were having such a great time, that you can’t help but feed off that energy. I was there for three hours just taking in all the sights, sounds, and music. The highlight of the evening had to be the guy who sang the original Pokemon theme song coming out on stage, getting the entire club to sing along, and then listening to the sound engineers behind me mutter, “Wow. That sucked.”

I won’t harp on about Sunday, but know that there were still quality panels and events to go to on the last day of the convention. The ones I went to were so good, it left me feeling positive about my own aspirations of making my dreams a reality. There were also plenty of photo opportunities and chances to admire the outstanding cosplay.

It’s difficult to grade a convention, despite me trying to do so all year long. It’s really the experiences you have when you go to a con that truly defines it’s quality. It’s getting to meet that actor you love, or finding that cool Ironman helmet you’ve been pining for, for ages, or connecting with your fellow con-goers in a panel or two, that shapes how great a convention is. And for me, Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con is one of the best conventions I’ve been to in 2016, and a great way to end the year long, convention season.

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LINKS: Stan Lee’s Los Angeles Comic Con

Long Beach Comic Con 2016

This has been the third year I’ve covered Long Beach Comic Con, and it just keeps getting better each time. Much like it’s sister convention, the Long Beach Comic Expo, this event celebrates the comic book artists and writers and shows a lot of love for the cosplayers. A Comic Book Convention of Yesteryear, LBCC sticks to the comic con roots and shows it through the panels and it’s show floor.

I have to give a brief disclaimer before I continue. I was only able to attend 75% of the first day of this two day convention. This means that I may have missed out on some amazing events or experiences that you feel were worth talking about. If I did, please let me know in the comments below. I don’t want to leave out any of the awesome that happened at the LBCC.

The Long Beach Comic Con could be considered a medium sized convention that’s big enough to house some fun activities for the kids, and a whole section on OUTER SPACE! The Columbia Memorial Space Center had a great presence on the show floor this year, where they had Virtual Reality demonstrations, space suits on display, and a whole interactive area to keep your brain plugged into science.

For a second year, the LBCC hosted the Girl Scouts, as they got to take over part of the Panel floor. The Girl Scouts were en masse earning badges in various creative fields, from writing to art to cosplay creation. They attended panels, like the cosplay one I was at that morning, and had the opportunity to speak with creators and professionals all about the comic book industry.

The show floor this year was all about Artist Alley, which may need to be renamed. It took up the entire center of the convention floor, which made it impossible to miss. This was a great layout for the creators, because attendees who were browsing the vendors and the comic book retailers would have easy access to the writers, artists, and actors that they love. Though, if there is one complaint about the show floor this year, it would have to be the Celebrity Signing Area. Sure it let fans get up close and personal with the celebrities, but it also meant being up close and personal with everyone else.

If you’re hitting the convention solo, I think panels are the way to go. Still trying to muster up the courage to create cosplay and actually wear it, I attended a panel all about cosplay for all sizes, which was both entertaining and informative. The thing I learned, which applies to most things in life, is that it’s all about confidence.

When you have a chance, I would recommend a panel from the big 2 (DC & Marvel), because hearing about the industry from the perspective of those creators are just fascinating. The one I attended had Nick Spencer lamenting his experience with the internet and Hydra Cap. Brandon Easton shared his frustration with fandom when the fans didn’t come out to support Agent Carter until after it’s cancellation. Craig Kyle spoke longingly of how he wanted to please everyone, but told of the pains of creating and keeping a shared universe on TV, film and Netflix. And Andy Park gave his tales of visually creating the costumes of the MCU, but not being able to give Hawkeye his favorite West Coast Avengers mask. These are stories that are amazing to hear from the mouths of the people in the industry and a great reason to go to a panel like this.

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My last panel of my short day was with Batman himself, Kevin Conroy and his sidekick Robin, Loren Lester. The attendance was amazing as we heard stories behind the scenes and had a chance to celebrate all things Batman: The Animated Series.

There were so many more amazing events that I know I missed out on, like the Con Man panel with Nathan Fillion to the Firefly reunion with Summer Glau, Jewel Staite, Adam Baldwin and Sean Maher. There was apparently a “special guest” on that bill as well, and I’m going to assume it was Nathan Fillion.

I can’t help but feel I short changed this year’s Long Beach Comic Con. I had a good excuse though. In the end, I highly recommend this convention for anyone who really appreciates the creator side of comic books and cosplay, because you will get your fill and thensome, at this amazing convention.

LINKS: Long Beach Comic Con

San Diego Comic-Con 2016

Through a series of fortunate events, I found myself at the San Diego Comic Con, and I learned very quickly, that the hype was real. Considered to be one of the largest, if not THE largest convention in the world, SDCC 2016, despite not having any huge reveals, was still the largest, most exciting convention I have ever been to. And, there is no doubt in my mind, that if you have the opportunity to go, I would tell you to GO, with the fury of a hundred suns, GO!
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