I’ve been MIA, I know. Lots going on lately. But I did have some time to write up reports from my experience at Anime Boston this past weekend.
So, Friday was the first day of Anime Boston. Because of Lucy, we were commuting, which takes about 2 1/2 hours between driving and the T. We got there just fine (though, man, wind), but our experience at the con started off with a thud, as we waited for over two hours in line to register after we got there. I have to say that I’m surprised they haven’t figured out a more efficient way to handle that after all this time. I know that long lines are part of the deal at cons, but it’s still a bit astounding to me that in a situation where they *know* they are going to be trying to register this huge number of people (from the looks of the pre-registration line we were in compared to the regular registration line, it was obvious that the vast majority of con-goers had pre-registered), they aren’t better prepared to handle it. The line was nearly as long, still, by nighttime when we were leaving, and Paul said he’d heard the people in the line being told, “We’re going to try to get you all in today.” Wow. Yes, it’s a huge con, but it’s not like that’s a surprise.
Anyway. Bitching done, the rest of the day was a lot of fun. As non-cosplayers, we were definitely in the minority, so there were lots of terrific (and, uh, other) costumes to look at all day, which was awesome. I’d say that Bleach was probably the greatest represented universe in terms of cosplay, though there was also a lot of Death Note and Naruto.
I did get one comment on my Mokona backpack, though the person who commented knew only that it was from a CLAMP series, and not exactly which one.I started out my day at 1 Hour Ninja, which was fun and informative (though the presenter was obviously distracted by the extremely loud music pounding from the next room). I had a bit of time off after that to scope out the Dealers Hall, and then met up with my cohorts for food.
Later, I went to “Planning Your Manga,” which I was really excited about, and I did get some really helpful information on how to structure something for publication. Tokyopop, for instance, will only ever start with three volumes, and may, in fact, discontinue a series after one, if it doesn’t sell well enough, so the presenter (whose name I wrote down as “Ed Sullivan,” but that can’t really be it, can it?) gave a lot of good advice on making sure your first and third volumes provide decent ending points, in case they really are the ending. The audience for that was not really what I’d expected, or I guess I should say that their questions were not what I expected. I asked one question, though it was directed more at the other (secondary?) panelist, Bettina Kurkoski, who is an OEL manga artist (she writes My Cat Loki) for Tokyopop, which was something like, “I know that Tokyopop accepts scripts for original manga, since they have a submission format for it on their website, but realistically, how much of an advantage is it for a writer to already have teamed up with an artist before submitting?” I was glad I asked it, because I got my answer, which was pretty much that it is a huge advantage, and that it is a lot harder for an unknown writer to get noticed than it is for a team. I did feel kind of insulted by the other presenter’s response, though, as he suggested that being the script writer for a comic basically boiled down to coming up with the idea for a story and then asking someone else to write it. I mean, I got the sense that as an artist/writer, it was hard for him to speak outside his own experience, but I still thought that it was pretty outrageous to suggest that writing the script for a comic was nothing more than “coming up with a concept” (which I think may have been his exact words). I mean, hell, I’m writing complete panel descriptions and dialogue for each page. How is that asking someone else to write my story? I need to collaborate, yeah, and the artist may have some ideas for panels and layout that will inspire changes in my ideas, but I am hardly asking someone else to write my story for me. Anyway. I was kind of insulted at that. I can see how, as an artist, it might be difficult to understand why someone who is only a writer wants to write for a medium that is so visual, but some stories just beg for that, and certainly there are plenty of writer/artist teams out there (as well as writers who work with multiple artists, and artists who work with multiple writers), so I was kind of surprised that he reacted in that way. Bettina Kurkoski is having another panel today regarding her creation process, and I’ll definitely attend that.
I went from “Planning Your Manga” over to the Fanfiction panel, which was a little disappointing, despite the fact that the panelists were all awesome. Probably it is my expectations that were the problem. From the description given, I expected a real discussion between the panel and the attendees, but they ran it as a simple question-and-answer, which meant what came out of it was entirely at the mercy of what questions people asked, and once the panelists had answered the questions, there was no further discussion on any one thing. I found myself frustrated throughout the panel, since there were a lot of things I would have liked to discuss with the panel (and the group), based on things that came up in the questions, but it really was not structured for that at all. There were a couple of questions that came up that I thought we probably could have talked about as a group for the entire hour all by themselves, and it would have been really exciting discussion, but in reality it was just: question. answer. the end. And so on.
We thought of staying for the AMV screening at 9:00, but the line was really long, and we’d had enough of that for one day, so instead we headed home in order to get some decent sleep for Saturday.
I started out the day with lunch and another trip through the Dealers Hall, which I admit never gets old for me. I love looking at everything there. While I was there, I picked up the new xxxHolic DVD at the Funimation booth (which officially goes on sale Tuesday, I think) for a very nice show-only price, and got it signed by Colleen Clinkenbeard, who voices Yuuko on the English version. Now, I generally don’t watch dubbed anime, so I don’t really know who she is, but she seemed pretty popular at the con.
The main event of my day was Bettina Kurkoski’s “Inside Manga” panel, and I am so happy I went to that. She’s funny and fun, and took us through the story of her career path, and then step-by-step through her writing process, from concept to finished manga volume, including details like what kind of template she uses for her thumbnails and pencil sketches, and what kind of pens she uses when she’s inking. She’s primarily an artist, and her process reflects that, which was really interesting for me to see, because it told me a lot about what an artist really needs to work with. It was also really informative in terms of what a company like Tokyopop expects both in initial submissions and final products from its artists. She also talked a bit about why she ended up writing OEL manga instead of trying to work in American comics, and her experiences in both worlds as a female artist. The audience from this panel was completely different from the previous day’s “Planning Your Manga,” in that it was mostly made up of people who were working seriously on their own comics projects, while “Planning Your Manga” seemed to be full of people who had come in only to rest their legs. I also got a bit of a softened answer to the question I asked on Friday. I didn’t ask again, but someone else asked almost the same thing, and I’m thinking that she didn’t really hear my question properly, because had no idea that Tokyopop even accepts scripts from writers, despite the fact that I’d prefaced my question with that fact when I asked it the day before. I piped up with the information this time (which hopefully was not annoying), and she was really surprised. I think she still believes that it is easier to get a foot in the door if you’re submitting as an artist/writer or an artist-writer team, which is really good to know, but she wasn’t as adamant about it once she heard that there is an actual submission form for scripts on the Tokyopop website. In any case, her panel was wonderful, and I’m considering buying the first volume of My Cat Loki, so that I can see her final product.
From there, I ran over to Funimation’s xxxHolic east coast premier (which thankfully was on the same floor), where I stood in a line roughly as long as the Amazon in order to get in. The premier was actually pretty fun, despite the fact that I had to watch three episodes of the series dubbed, and there were even things about the dub that I really enjoyed, though I doubt I’ll ever choose to watch it on my own. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period. Colleen Clinkenbeard was there, along with Todd Haberkorn who plays Watanuki, and a woman whose name I’ve forgotten (damn), who was definitely the most well-known of the three, and who directed most of the episodes of the dubbed series (though not the early ones we saw). They were a pretty fun group who obviously loved the work they were doing, though they were super-defensive of dubs in general. I was surprised to hear that Todd Haberkorn’s real voice sounded exactly like his work as Watanuki, since I had thought several times while watching that it sounded pretty contrived. Interestingly, he is at his best during the flailing bits, which is probably 50% of the role, so overall he came off better than he might have. Heh. I did love the moment in the Q & A where the Funimation guy blamed all the woes of American anime studios on illegal fansubs. As I’m looking at a box of four episodes of an anime that I just purchased on sale for $20 (it retails for $29.95), and that originally aired in Japan in 2005, I can’t help rolling my eyes at that logic. Anyway. The premier was a lot of fun, and I’m glad I went.
After that, there was dinner, and a romp through Artist’s Alley, which was filled with awesome, after which we decided we were tired enough to head home.
I spent most of the last day (which was a half-day) doing final sweeps of the Dealers Hall and Artist Alley, since there wasn’t all that much on the program for me that day. The main event was Cosplay Chess, which I decided to pass on in favor of walking around, failing to introduce myself to artists. Heh. If there is one thing that disappointed me about the weekend, it was me, and my total inability to be able to say anything resembling, “I’m writing a manga” or “I’m writing a graphic novel” or really anything to anyone, least of all any artists I might have wanted to meet. I did finally get up the nerve to ask one girl whose art I really liked (and, more importantly, reminded me of the kind of art I imagine for my own story) if she had a card, and she gave me a sticker with her deviant art page on it (though I see she’s already working on something with someone else, so I don’t know). I don’t know why I was so unable to talk to anyone. It was all much easier in my imagination. I imagined this world where I’d be in the room of some panel I was attending, and just fall automatically into conversation with like-minded artists. In reality, though, people in panels were not chatty with anyone besides whoever they were with, and there was no easy chit-chat that might lead to anything at all. I fail.
Anyway. The one panel I tried to attend yesterday turned out to be pretty lame, so I left after about 15 minutes, and ran back over to the Comicopia booth in the Dealers Hall to buy the first volume of Dramacon and have it signed by Svetlana Chmakova. It is the first volume of OEL manga I have read, and I really enjoyed it! It was very appropriate, too, since it takes place at an anime convention. :)
All in all, I had a wonderful experience this weekend, and have come out feeling more motivated than ever to work on my own project. As a side note, it turns out we were pretty lucky with our 2-hour + wait for registration. Apparently there were people who waited over nine hours to register on Saturday. Oh, and they still made them pay for that day. They have some serious organization problems over there. I feel really lucky that I had such a good experience.