Sunday, October 21, 2012

Anime: It's a Family Affair and Growing

Day 2 of Anime Bonsai's three day event is done and anime is on the brain. I am mesmerized and catching the fever that 4000 - yes 4000- people today so brilliantly portrayed at the Layton, UT Davis convention center. The attendance is up, there are more cosplayers, and the atmosphere is fantastic! 

Anime Banzai is officially in it's eighth year and is enjoying its  most successful event to date. Anime Banzai started as most cons do, as a simple idea for lovers of a hobby to "get together" and bond. The idea blossomed and took off. The convention now reaches not only into the corners of Utah and surrounding states, but boasts of attendees traveling from as far as Florida and California. 

Adam Bates, Jose Cruz-Rojas,Aaron Gordon
Half way into the cons growth spurt it was decided to move from Salt Lake City, UT  (SLC Community College Campus) to Layton UT Davis Convention Center to accommodate the growth.  Aaron Gordon, Convention Director, stated "[a] major spike in attendance occurred when we moved to the Layton Davis Convention Center. Approximately a 25% increase. Larger than we expected and it has grown every year. We attribute this to an excellent staff here at the Convention Center and of course to the crew that helps us make the con possible. We have volunteers every year who are dedicated. Very dedicated. It is 6 weeks of intense preparation right before the con and then 4 days of no sleep but in the end you know it was all worth it. It just feels great." 

As I mentioned before, the swag one receives for pre-registering is pretty nifty.
Adam Bates, Graphic Designer for the Con, and one of the founding members of the original con stated: "We treat our guests very good, and we want them to have the best experience. We want to go out of our way for them and make them feel special."

It is the little things that you notice at this con that  do make a difference! For example, the  3-day event schedule is printed on an impressive fold out and color coded program. The program book is loaded with volunteer art that is beautiful.
I was also introduced to Grant and Jeana Bradbury - The Guest Liaisons. I am currently unaware of another con having such a thing.  Basically their job is to help the special guests and make them feel more comfortable in the new environment and around the con.  In my opinion, this is fantastic PR! Way to go Anime Banzai! You win the PR award! 
I was also impressed with the amount of volunteers.  The attitude to help is phenomenal. I have yet to encounter one single person with an attitude that is unwilling to help or explain yet another character to me. 

So exactly who is the other half that makes the con possible? 
The loyal following of course. They come for the panels. They come for the exhibits. The interactions with other loyal fans. The cosplay. They come for the game room - a room dedicated purely for gaming! The dances - yes I said dances! Friday and Saturday night there are dances till 12:30 and 1:30 am. This con is serious about entertainment! They come for the chance to buy swag and art. They come to meet special guests. But most of all they come for the chance to interact. Aaron Gordon stated all ages are present at the con every year, however about 60% of attendees are female with the approximate age demographic in whole (male and female) being between 14-21. While we were chatting I laughed and said considering all the comic cons I have been to the higher percentage is male, it sounds as if we need to merge. 

Adam Bates stated: "There is not another con around here so about 1/3 of the cosplay is non manga [anime]" I was sincerely shocked to see this myself. Especially when a herd of Deadpools came running by! Avengers seemed to also be a popular theme this year as well as Dr. Who and GI JOE. Basically anything goes...I even got a picture of Mary Poppins and she was practically perfect in every way!

Japanese anime is made for all ages. It is ultimately a family affair.  It is a large part of their culture.  Anime Banzai in Utah is treated the same way.  It is family friendly.  It is volunteer run by loyal fans.  For three days from dawn until dusk and into early hours of morning again it is a culture where everyone is accepted and encouraged to give anime and manga a try.                                                 

"While we spend energy and imagination on new ways of cleaning the floors of our houses, the Japanese solve the problem by not dirtying them in the first place."

                                                             -Bernard Rudofsky 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I Think i'm Turning Japanese...Anime Banzai

What is Anime Banzai?
Anime Banzai is an educational convention focusing on Japanese anime (animation), manga (comics) and culture. Anime Banzai is sponsored by Utah Anime Promotions, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to bringing the culture, art and fun of Japan to Utah. In 2005, the first Anime Banzai was held and hosted 600 attendees, which was double what we had planned for. In 2011, we had around 3300+ fans join us, and we're looking to have another excellent year in 2012!
The goal of Anime Banzai is to bring an event to Utah where fans can come together to celebrate Japan and Japanese Culture in a fun, safe, family-friendly atmosphere. To that end, we hold our convention three days each year with panels, events, and contests that will let fans enjoy their favorite aspects of Anime and Japanese popular culture.

Day 1 - Friday 
I arrived with my stepdaughter who was donned in an amazing Korra cosplay.  We were quickly directed to the registration line.  

Registration - ahhh yes. That pesky thing you continually forget to do AHEAD of time - hence the name PRE-registration. Not only do you get to go in the shorter line, get to pay LESS cash, but you get EXTRA goodies and a NICE SWAG bag at this ANIME con to boot! After waiting in line for 2 hours and 20 minutes - I would advise all - pre register. It is so worth it. 

I would like to give a big round of applause to  all Utah Anime Banzai staff and committee.  
As with all Cons the wrath and powers that be - will and always do happen.  And the train wreck happens just when all believe that they can smile and breathe.

The darkest forces and foes begin to dance and party and cause chaos short ...the credit card machines ALWAYS go down and twice as many fans show up! 

Personally, I was actually thankful for the 2 hour line wait so I could be slowly introduced into the new worlds, regions, universes, fandoms, dimensions, of these characters that were so foreign to me. Just the colors and amount of time that goes into these costumes, WOW, add the unpronounceable names and tragically heroic yet feisty back stories and let me tell you - I was ready to buy every book in the expo hall!

After registering and getting our name badges, and coveting the pre-registration swag bags, (mental note PRE-REGISTER FOR EVERYTHING!!!!!!)  I  was told that last year, 2011 - on the Friday they had a total of 600 guests, this year 2012 - by noon they had 600 guests! It was 1 pm and their were still three lines out the door and around the building! I was impressed. 
I am excited to go back tomorrow and hear the final numbers for day one.

The rest of the day was a crazy blur of A LOT of hugging.  Probably, one of the biggest differences I noticed from my experiences at my Comic Cons verses my first Anime Con so far. Comic Cons there is more hand shaking. This hugging is called glomping. For a more intense description of what exactly a GLOMP is, be sure to read below.

I enjoyed Artist Alley, just sitting back and viewing the amazing COSPLAY - even though I had no idea who half of the characters were. (One major factor and trend in manga and anime - is animals. If it is an animal: you can bet it is a hot item. Especially if it is a cat, or a creation that has a cats ears, or a tail resembling a cat.)

I also enjoyed going to a couple of panels with special guests in the Anime journalist community, Voice talent, and film industry. I also got a peak at the expo area but then there is also two more days.

All ages were represented, and well I might add. There were full families in cosplay, and all ages of OATKU- a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly (but not limited to) anime, manga or Japanese video games.

Fans and cosplayers were full of smiles and enjoying GLOMPING - which I discovered was hugging another person out of shear excitement. For a further introduction to the GLOMP I did find this amazing tutorial:

Glomping 101
~By Shimegami-chan

Definition: A method of greeting or attack using hugging/tackling.
Word origin: Unknown, but has Japanese manga roots.
The Basic Glomp:
1) Approach your target from front, back, or side, usually at a running or jumping start.
2) Throw your arms around them, usually around the ribcage or surrounding area.
3) Squeeze.
Different Forms of Glomping:
1) Flying Glomp: Usually used as a surprise attack, this airborne glomp can be attained with a running start or by standing on a conveniently-placed high object such as a table or chair. This type of glomp is often found in Sailormoon or other shoujo manga.
2) Glomp of Death: Similar to the Flying Glomp, the Death-Glomp can easily injure someone. It is usually executed from behind and without the target's knowledge.
3) Tackle Glomp: As the name indicates, this glomp is meant to knock the target to the floor. Should not be performed on concrete floors or near sharp objects. This type of glomp is often found in fanfics.
4) Twirl-Glomp: Less dangerous than other types, this glomp usually has the target's prior knowledge or, at the very least, excellent aim. The target may glomp back and/or spin around in a circle with the assailant. For optimal effect, the assailant should be a lighter weight than the target, preferably by at least half.
1) Arm Glomp: Attach yourself to your victim - I mean, target's - arm They cannot escape. Sometimes called the Jun glomp by the author of this guide, having Digimon origins. Also employed frequently by Shampoo in Ranma 1/2.
2) Neck Glomp: Can be utilized as a choke hold. Encircle your target's neck. Use with care unless aiming to cease their respiration.
3) Jogress Glomp: Another glomp with Digimon origins, with the Jogress the target is glomped from two sides at once. An Arm or Neck glomp may be used simultaneously.
Other variations can easily be made using the placement of the arms, depending on the target's size/relationship to you/patience. The span of time before the glomp is released also depends on these factors.
Popular Glomping War Cries: Random Japanese phases are often the choice of glompers, and the most common (as this author knows) are:
'Ohayo!' ('Good Morning')
'KonbanWA!' ('Good Evening')
'Konnichiwaaaa!' ('Good Afternoon')
'Mou!' (Indignant noise)
The target's name may also be shouted, with the option of adding the suffix '-chan,' a term of endearment.
This concludes 'Glomping 101.' I hope that this has been an informative guide to the little-known tactics of the Glomp. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Marketing, Geeks, and Comic Books: OH MY!

"The people drawn to New York Comic Con "are people who are setting trends," said Dan Buckley, president and publisher of print, digital and TV at Marvel, in an interview. "They are the early adopters of technology. These are the people who start things and make them hot." Marketers Seeks Out Geeks Corporate Enthusiasm for Comic Con Matches Attendees' WSJ October 15, 2012, 7:27 p.m. ET

We are setting trends. 

Let this sentence soak in for a moment. The entire fabric of this sentence signifies great and miraculous changes in the geekdom we love. What is even more fascinating is that the world is noticing and realizing that as a whole our tastes do make a difference. 

Comic books, print and digital - are in one of the many categories that just can not be ignored any longer by retailers and manufactures.  What we buy, when we buy it, why we buy it, what influences us to buy it- is intriguing even the most renowned corporations. Everyone is wanting a piece of the pie that is obviously making money - The GEEK Craze. 

But what does this mean for Indie artists? The little guy? The artist or writer who just coming into his own or who has been trying to break into the business for a while now? Essentially, this is NOT the time to give up. More than anything it is the time to squash your fears and pull up your big boy, or girl, pants - fasten on that cape and get ready to face your fears, and dive in.

Basically, GAME ON! 

With marketing, magnetic is instant attraction. And the best magnetism is consistent. Comic Cons are essentially one of the best ways to socialize and beat the proverbial pavement with others in comic industry - this is possible because of consistency.  Every year Comic Cons have increased in attendance, in popularity, in recognition, in popularity, and in world wide acceptance of legitamite market value.  

Are you looking to market yourself in the comic book industry? Should you go to a comic con? YES!!! 

Marketing is not just about numbers and statistics about what is selling in stores. Although this is important.  It is also about trends, demographics, people, what people are buying, what is the hottest fiction, what is the gaming industry doing right now, what other cultures are buying, digital and print, technology, basically it is about finding your perfect little corner and making it golden. 

Choose to stand out. Accept orderly disorder at first. But choose to make your identity yours and know that in doing so you are setting a trend.  It is easy to market yourself as a trendsetter. 

Searching out your specific trends is a way to start. I like to use:
search for a particular subject or demographic. For fun look up comic books.

I will be writing more on marketing in the future, however, isn't nice knowing that the greater population is finally listening.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Reflections on NYCC 2012: The Fix YOU Need!

New York Comic Con 2012 - Is absolutely more than an event, it is an affair.  It is a time where everyone that everyone buys their tickets (and in advance I might add since it sold out this year months before) and puts on their best straight jackets for one heckuva crazy and wild time!

It just does not get better than this! 

While scanning the net for stats and numbers of the final count of attendees it looks as if NYCC is going to explode out at estimations around 115,000 in attendance.  And let me just say with a few times of having to travel and wait in line for broken escalators it felt that way.  However, I do live in denial, a happy place full of sunshine and rainbows so I decided that it was all good! 

When looking back - NYCC started in 2006 and boasted of an attendance of 33,000 the numbers this year choose to stand out at best.  In 2011, NYCC completed a successful year with 105,000 and many pats on the back.  This year as the booths were closing and fans were exiting there were rumors that NYCC might, just might, begin to rival its west coast foe SDCC! A style statement of the comic book world if there ever was one! 

The layout of the show was phenomenal in my opinion. However, I am a bit OCD and I like organization to a "T". Hence my intense love of reading within the gutter! (sorry taking a moment to laugh at my own jokes.) 
First and foremost, I want to address the placement of "Artist Alley".  The alley was a few 1000 square feet shy of an alley at best and was at the opposite end of the first floor of the of the convention center.  Professionally speaking, I believe this was a great decision. There was some hesitation in the air at first, however after the first full day (Friday) when the show floor was so packed that FLASH himself would just give up on speed, the separation was welcomed. 

Artist Alley was a breathe of fresh air - literally! The crowds still thronged however, and when they did, it was with purpose. It was nice to also have all artists and creators in one area. Because lets face it, less is better in what universe?

The show floor...The wonder of wonders. The area where crazy and "can it get any better than this" fall into the same category!  Booths from new literature, showcases for new games from Nintendo, Wii U, Saga, Playstation, Zombie U, New Super Mario Bros., and many more were available. Tomb Raider provided an amazing demo as well as Hitman and Sony provided demos for God of War.  Great comic book icons represented such as Marvel, DC, Vertigo, Image, Dark Horse, IDW and several up and coming.

Cosplay, professional and homemade were all welcome and enjoyed. This is a place were everyone celebrates and enjoys that everyone is insane and we love it!  From Sci-Fi, to gaming, to superheroes, to noir, to horror, to the LEGO's fanatics, to collectors, to action figures galore, there is just something for everyone and we celebrate our love of it.

Unfortunately, I did not get to as many panels as I wanted to, however the panels I did get to go to were fantastic well organized very informative.

All in all, I walked away knowing that cultivating and keeping my inner child alive for so many years has been a good thing.  Comic Cons are good for that.  There are too many serious topics that need immediate addressing on a day to day basis.  It is easy to forget that once in a while to set in the motion the FIX you NEED. To feed your inner child.

Up next...Marketing Tips in the Comic Book Industry - its multidimensional!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

X-Men:Always Taking 'GAME ON' to the Next Level

Some combinations are just meant to be together. Such is the case of X-Men and Comic Books. The mutant team was created and released in 1963 by creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with Marvel Comics publishing.  It was to be an unstoppable force that is still going strong to this day!  

So much has been written about X-Men.  I am what would be called an X-men novice.  I have dipped my hands in the amazing worlds, however, if I were to even begin to go into great depths of explanation or get on a soapbox...I would be squashed by any well knowledgeable X-Men expert.  So alas, I will refer for those who know more than I. 

What is an X-Men? Simply a mutant or rather a human born with superhuman ability due to a factor in their genetic code.  The transformation does not happen until puberty. A dividing factor has been established between mutants vs. humans, or distrust and fear due to mutant abilities.  An additional conflict is amplified in the story lines between the mutants. Good vs. Evil.  Rather, using the abilities for good or evil, and taking the mutations of human evolution to the next level through scientific experimentation.  

Charles Xavier and Magneto are usually the protagonists in the mutant community.  Charles the wealthy mutant who has founded a school to house and protect and train young children just coming into their abilities, showing them how to use their powers for good against evil and world threats. As well as his one time friend Magneto, who has also lifted up an army called the Brotherhood of Mutants, who inflicts and causes anarchy and destruction against the X-men and mankind.  This is a ridiculously small synopsis.  For further information check out: X-Men Marvel Wiki

Jumping into the world of X-men can be confusing at best.  There are X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, New X-Men, X-Men Legacy,Ultimate X-Men, X-Factor, plus secondary titles and spin off titles featuring solo characters (example Wolverine First Class.)

X-men has filtered into many medias since its debut in comic books.  Many films,video games, online games, and television shows have been successful.  Action figures have been made of many of the characters from each of the medias.  X-men has been a profitable name and business. 

So, the question must be asked what has made X-men and its characters so popular over the years?  Every decade new characters have been introduced, however the original tried and true have stayed the same.
Professor X
Kitty Pryde
Night Crawler
...just to name a few.  

X-men started off as a well rounded story.  Something just a little different. A bit extreme but different. The characters actually got to know each other.  There was storytelling.  Teams consisted off characters from different ethnic groups and nationalities and stations in life.  Personalities and difficult pasts HAD to be addressed in order to work together. 

The X-Men, in my opinion, began what appeared to me a legitimate Super-Hero throw down era.  They showed that just because you had abilities it was not all "have your cake and eat it too" -it took training and effort and team work, or have your HUZZAH handed to you on a silver platter!  Basically, the fighting rocked! You could see their life flash before your eyes in a blaze of comic book panel color. This leads me to my next thought - good ole Wolverine.

Ahhhh, the days of Wolverine when he would fly off the handle and threaten to just destroy everyone - even his own team. You know the "Is it all about you? Oh I thought it was all about me!" syndrome that only Wolverine can pull off so well.  Who could not resist pages of Wolverine attitude.

Decade after decade X-men has hit the bulls eye.  Grabbing the readers.  Confusing the heck out of us for what is next in line to read- lets face it - sometimes we are all confused. Giving us new characters that blow us away and new fights like AvX that is mind boggling in a delightful multi dimensional way.  X-men is a staple in my comic book life.  However I join the ranks of I wish I knew more. For now I leave you some of the greats:

Scott: "What do you think we should call me? When I'm in costume, I mean."
Logan: "It ain't a costume, kid, it's a uniform. And how bout we call you 'that ridiculous polite Pollyanna who won't last a week.'" 
X-Men Evolution issue 2 

Northstar: [about Gambit] "A spicy Cajun dish with some seriously hot buns."
Uncanny X-Men 425

Wolverine: "Deadpool ain't it? Sorta rhymes with Dead Fool?" 
Deadpool: "Yeah-- like Wolverine rhymes with... Louver Screen? ... Hoover Spleen? Hey what the heck does it rhyme with?" 
Wolverine #88

"Speaking of gettin' things, Cyke -- Yer gonna be gettin' me a new bike! I lend ya mine fer one day and ya leave it parked in another dimension. So start raiding the cookie jar, bub, 'cause the lod Canucklehead's gotta have a set o' wheels!" 
 Wolverine, the Adventures of the X-Men #4

"You always know where the X-Men have been, because it's always on fire."
Pete Wisdom, Excalibur

"Finally, anyone wishing to complain to Mr. Logan about injuries sustained during yesterday's field expedition will, I'm afraid, be waisting his or her time." 
White Queen

"I'm a patient woman, but sometimes I wish all children had a single neck and I was knotting a rope around it!"
White Queen