Having never done a college convention, either as a guest or as an attendee, I had no idea what to expect from such a con… and Tora-Con not only came through with flying colors, but it may have set the bar a bit higher for all conventions – not just college cons. Here’s the breakdown:
Friday: Con was only a Saturday-Sunday affair, but since it was a good drive (wound up being about 8 hours) away from the home territories, we set out early. Impy and Poe picked me up in their tiny clown car, in which I do not fit but tried valiantly, and we took off for an epic car ride.
In doing my pre-con prepwork, I saw that the Anime Hell-styled event “Tora Hell” on Saturday featured the MST3K silhouettes, and on this note we wound up with an extra unexpected passenger in the form of Mr. Hal Servo - poor Hal didn’t actually fit, and had to be dismantled in order to make the journey, but was a trooper throughout.
I took a nap on the way there, having had worked the entire night before, and awoke somewhere around the PA/NY border to the sound of a band called Nightwish, which Impy was listening to at full tilt. I believe my opening comments were “I think I just woke up in a cut scene.” Still, they’re really neat, so you might wanna check them out.
Got to the hotel. Very nice hotel, too. The Best Western in Rochester has fixed a lot of the issues hotels have wrong with them for con-goers like myself – free wifi, in-room fridge and microwave, actual breakfast that’s more than a stale muffin and a thing of prepackaged jam. Kudos to them. Finished w/the takeout Chinese we ordered and went to sleep.
Saturday: Set up my spot in the Artist’s Alley right next to Impy and Poe so we were all clustered in a protective huddle. AA was a bit cramped – I found out later that it had originally been elsewhere and had been forced to move at the last minute, which makes the close quarters (especially for the artists themselves) make a lot more sense. Saw a few familiar faces… er… comics, anyway, including Kez and Taka.
First panel was Intro to Webcomics. It’s a new one for me, but Impy came along and the two of us hammered it out. She and I have differing viewpoints and experiences, so it’s a good combination because we overlap – for instance, her first thought about the differnce between a web and a print comic was about publishing costs and threshhold for profitability, whereas mine was about the medium – not being restricted by formatting, being able to use full color or flash or interactivity in ways that print media prevented. Both were right, two parts of a whole. Panel went a little hectic towards the end, but was all-in-all a success.
I didn’t have any more panels myself on Saturday, so I mostly stayed put in the Artist’s Alley and tried to sell stuff, with varying degrees of success (read: failure). Still, a good time was had by all. All who count, anyway.
I had a panel planned for sunday which I called “A Brief History of Giant Robots” and was a little shocked to find that someone else was beating me to the punch, as there was another panel scheduled for Saturday night called “History of Mecha”… but I was also curious, so after failing to find out who was doing that panel, I resolved to go and check it out for myself.
We went out to eat after the alley closed, so I didn’t make it until about 15 minutes after the panel should’ve started… only to discover a steady stream of people leaving said panel. Went in and found that whoever’s panel it was didn’t show, and that they (the audience) were giving up and going home… sad.
Being the showman that I was, and hating to see a perfectly good panel go to waste, I offered my services and gave what may have been the panel performance of a lifetime. I didn’t have my presentation, my notes, and was a little out of breath from hiking the quarter mile uphill to get to the panel location in the first place, but I knocked that mother o-u-t. My original presentation was planned for less than an hour… we went almost two, and only ended because Tora Hell kicked us out. I explained the secret history behind Transformers and their illegitimate brothers, the Brave Series, told the story of how Marvel is responsible for creating the Power Rangers, and even explained the ending of Neon Genesis Evangellion.
I kid thee not.
One of the panel-goers was kind enough to write a stunning review of my performance, viewable here - which i was glad to see, because it went so well I wasn’t 100% sure it actually happened.
Following my show, Tora Hell started – typical, well done, “-Hell” style format. Impy and Poe came and brought Hal, and he got a little love from the crowd, which was always nice. Following some candy and some chuckles, I went to bed a very tired… but awesome… person.
Sunday: Did a stint back in Artist’s Alley, then it was off to the panel races. Did “How NOT To Make a Webcomic” first, and it went awesome as usual. Impy tagged along for the ride on this one, but I was well into familiar material and… aside from having to remember the order of my original 10 sins list… it went swimingly.
Next up, had the actual “Brief History of Giant Robots” panel, which was far more controlled and professional (but less awesome and frantic) than the one from the night before. This time I had my powerpoint and my projector and my notes, so there were pictures and names for all the robots and video of a few highlights, all of which I managed to wrap up in under an hour. It went well, but (as I said) will not ever beat the accidental Saturday night show, as it was one for the ages.
Maybe next time I do this I should offer to do two-hour-long “Not-So-Brief History of Giant Robots” and steal the best bits from both versions… still have the video and the pictures, but throw in the mad pictionary and the Getter Robo Math segments, as well as my “Explaination of NGE, as best as anyone can” that I had to resort to.
Following my panels I returned to the Artist encampment and rode my table to the end of the con. Lots of people stopped by to say hello… to Hal, the sneaky little bastard. Still, sold some stuff, didn’t go home poor, so yay me. Met some more awesome people, gave one of my apples to a very deserving candidate, and then packed up and retreated back to the hotel.
We opted to stay overnight on our dime because the prospect of driving the 8 hour trip back that late Sunday night did not thrill any of us. Impy and I indulged in a Leverage marathon (w/commentary) while Poe worked on his comic.
Monday: Bonus day. Drove home. Nothing significant happened aside from a monsoon rainstorm rolling in, on, and over us as we passed the Great Lakes. It was like driving through fog, if fog was wetter. More like driving through one of those stop motion shots where the rain drops were just hanging in the air… except it was ALSO RAINING in addition to the water just sort of flying about.
So… that was Tora-Con. Hopefully the fates will see to it that I can return next year, as it was an overall awesome experience.