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November 12th, 2008 - Walk Softly and Carry a Big Schtick — LiveJournal .

November 12th, 2008

November 12th, 2008
07:52 pm

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...I said I'd be your slave, follow wherever you go. That night we split a rattlesnake...

And a week after the picnic, I went to see what had become of Ani-Magic. Okay, this one's a long one. I'm going to break it up into chunks. Here's part 1. The other half is here.

Ani-Magic used to be a popular convention for costumers...Collapse )

I learned (in 2003) that costumers enjoyed having a relaxing cosplay weekend, but that Ani-Magic wasn't much of a highly-programmed convention -- it was just where cosplayers went between the major conventions to kick back. For the first few years of the decade, it had a strong reputation among the anime costuming fans.

I'd like to take a minute to talk about Cosplay.com...Collapse )

Richard Man and Karisu-sama. Ani-Magic peaked in 2004, attendance-wise, at least as far as the numbers they've reported to anime-cons.com. Ani-Magic's numbers in 2000-2004 were 412, 675, 767, 985, 1012. I was there in 2004, when they were in Valencia at the Hyatt (left). Did Ani-Magic jump the shark then? That's when I started hearing people say that it wasn't as good as the years before. I went back in 2005 and 2007, after animelosangeles was up and running, and people started telling me how much they enjoyed Animé Los Angeles -- and how Ani-Magic was declining. And I could see it myself, as fewer of the "usual suspects" showed up, the crowds were visibly smaller in 2007 than they were in 2005. Sarah Goldberg, as ''Tonks,'' with Wolfie as ''Remus Lupin.''

Of course, at every convention there's someone attending for the first time. After Ani-Magic in 2007, the last convention of that name, summoner_lenne9 (right) posted this message on Cosplay.com:

I would like to thank all the Ani Magic staff FOR THE MOST AMAZING CON EVER!Collapse )

What "closing down" is Sarah talking about, in her post quoted above? Ani-Magic 2007 had trouble making ends meet, and only covered their expenses through donations. Whether it would continue was uncertain. Eventually, in late January, ''AM Chair'' (Revell Walker) made this announcement on Cosplay.com...Collapse )

An analysis of Cosplay.com traffic...Collapse ) My conclusion: the Cosplay.com community doesn't care anymore.

To be continued. Next section: Why did I keep going to Ani-Magic?

Current Location: Santa Ana CA, USA
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Inoj - "Time After Time"
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TimeEvent
09:30 pm

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...and danced beneath the stars. You fell asleep, I stayed awake and watched the passing cars.

Part 2 of my Autumn Dream report. The other half is here.

Why did I keep going to Ani-Magic? To let the anime convention-going fans in the Antelope Valley know that our convention exists. To "wave the flag." To have another point of contact with Animé Los Angeles members and potential volunteers. To give away refreshments where the convention has no con suite, so that people can stay hydrated even when they're broke.

Antelope Valley Fairgrounds ''Poppy Pavilion.'' I've said this before, but it's worth repeating: Autumn Dream bears almost no resemblance to Ani-Magic. There's some continuity in staffing, a small number of diehard repeat attendees, and a completely different "feel" to the convention. It was held in the Poppy Pavilion at the new Antelope Valley Fairgrounds (left). I think they missed an opportunity to put up a big CK to change the name to Pocky Pavilion. Poppy Pavilion, at night. And I was mildly disappointed that there weren't any concessions offering food on a stick. I know they roll in and out for special events, like fairs and swap meets, but still I hoped they might show up.

Hampton Inn and Suites, Lancaster. The official hotels for the convention were the Hampton Inn & Suites (left) and its sister hotel next door, the Homewood Suites...Collapse )

On top of that, (almost) everything was in one huge barn-like room. Take a look at their Program Guide (PDF). Take a look at page 9. Saturday live program items are at 9:30 am, 11:00, 1:30 pm ("Meet Kyle Herbert"), and 4:00 pm. Sunday is similar. Four panels? One track, four timeslots on Saturday, that's it? No wonder people were wandering around, bored, with nothing to do.

Incidentally, the only way to get the 20-page program guide was to print out the PDF from the website...Collapse )

I've always paid my way at Ani-Magic...Collapse ) Grace Nua.

I attended the convention with library_lynn and several others. While we were there, some Ani-Magic/Autumn Dream staffers came to us to talk about volunteering for Animé Los Angeles, such as Grace Nua (right). We didn't go seeking out staffers -- we just set up our station and waited for them to come to us. We had one staffer stop by as late as 4:00 pm Sunday to talk about working for us. (She hadn't had a break before then.)

I made sure we didn't criticize the convention, even when someone (left) asked me point-blank whether Anime Los Angeles was better than Autumn Dream...Collapse )

So anyhow, about our Animé Los Angeles presence at Autumn Dream: Mostly we just kept to our area. The Dealers Room apparently didn't fill up, dealers-wise, which would explain why we were offered a free second space. I printed up some huge posters on the Bertha at the Tower to decorate our space...Collapse )

Willow 17, Sarah, Revell Walker on the phone, and Melissa De Mello. Revell even stopped by for a while on Sunday and talked to my minions (left)...Collapse )

This gave me an idea for a small program track: "Your Next Convention" which would be a bunch of half-hour timeslots, one for each convention that wanted to participate. Each convention could give a presentation, hear comments about "last time" and answer questions about "next time," and basically have a little fannish inquisition. The last day of the convention would be perfect, because people are thinking about where to go next, and it could be held at a table near Registration because generally Reg is pretty quiet on the last day.

I came away from the conversation with the distinct impression that he thinks because I've kept quiet for three or four months, everything's fine between us...Collapse )

And Autumn Dream this year had at least 750 attendees, based on what I heard Saturday night from either Jack or Revell. Most of them were families from the Antelope Valley who had never attended an anime convention...Collapse )

Melissa De Mello. But enough about what Revell had to say about this year's convention. What did I actually do at Autumn Dream? Well, I'd booked two rooms at the Hampton Inn. I had enough Hhilton Hhonors points to get a free room just for the Minions. Melissa De Mello (right) was in charge of that room, with Willow and summoner_lenne9 sharing the space. The room that Lynn and I shared had an extra bed (we had that in case selinawoman made it out), and we put Rachel Dorfman there.

Sarah Goldberg and Willow 17. Sarah and Willow (left) got in some "minion practice" during the weekend. The two of them, along with veterans Melissa and aramina, are the core of the Minion team for 2008. We'll be training up the rest of the proto-minions Thanksgiving weekend, at loscon, where (if all goes well) we'll give them phones or walkie-talkies or something and Melissa will sit back and watch them fly.

Jerry Shaw at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds. Lynn and I made it to Lancaster late Friday night, so we just turned in instead of seeing if anyone was still setting up at the fairgrounds. Saturday morning, we found some breakfast somewhere and stopped off at Vallarta Supermarket to get a couple of cheap bottle openers (and some Mexican orange sodas). As soon as we arrived at the fairgrounds we saw an old friend, Jerry Shaw (right).

Lenny Winkler, convention vice chairman. Heading in to figure out what the arrangement was for dealers setup, I ran into Lenny Winkler (left). Although we haven't interacted much before, he recognized me on sight and told me where to go.

When unpacking everything and setting it all up, we discovered a problem...Collapse )

Melissa, Willow and Sarah met us on-site Saturday morning, and we got to work setting up our space. Folding table and chairs, tablecloths on the tables, rearranging the other chairs to make a little conversational nook at the side of our space. Assembling the wire cubicles along the back wall, taping up posters on the high wall, putting out the snacks and water bottles neatly. Stamping the special coupon code on newsletters and postcards, arranging ribbons for sale. Easily 8 different tasks to accomplish. So we could have used more help! We got it done not long after the hall opened, though, and settled in.

Pirate in a Pocky box. Melissa teased this pirate by taking and wearing his hat, repeatedly. So, this is a rare photo where he actually has possession of his own hat (right). He also happens to be wearing a Pocky box, but I'm sure it made sense in context.

Jessica Gaona in pink loli dress, blonde wig. If you have the Animé Los Angeles 4 program book, there's a drawing of him in our Rum Party writeup. le_moose (left) has many friends... Jessica loved the giant enlargements of her art, so at the end of the convention I took down those posters and gave them to her. Konoe Suzumiya wasn't there, so the summer "postcard" went to someone else who fell in love with it, and the winter art poster went home with Melissa.

An interesting fact about our location...Collapse )

For dinner Saturday night, Athena recommended we go to Primo Cafe (44599 Valley Central Way, Lancaster CA 93536). It was delicious. I had the chorizo burrito, which probably doesn't come as a surprise to many of you who've been reading my recent escapades.

We missed the Masquerade. Sarah was in it (sorry for missing it!) and she was shocked that her group won "Best in Show." Autolooper has posted a complete set of videos on Youtube, look for "4of7 Ani-Magic 08 Cosplay Contest." I looked at the video. I didn't judge all of the entries critically, but I'm confident their thrown-together skit was in the top three. Most of the other presentations were very weak. The five-minute stand-up routine by the man whose "costume" was a black sweatshirt with "NINJA" in big block letters was particularly excruciating. (Part 1of7, from 2:58 through 7:48, when the tech crew took pity on the audience and cut his mic.) Have I mentioned, by the way, that animelosangeles is looking for a Masquerade Judges' Clerk/Timekeeper?

Rachel-Elizabeth as Elizabeth Swann in some other outfit getting a Pirate King tattoo done by Captain Jack's girlfriend and her lovely friend who has awesome penmanship skills with the brush. The ''Rum Party'' had such a lovely location in the AVI's restaurant the year before (right)....Collapse )
Mike Young(?) and Sheri Jordan.

And we had lunch delivered to us on Sunday!Collapse )

Sunday was about as slow as the last day is at many conventions.Collapse )

So we went home, and were in our own beds by midnight.

And as for next year? Revell's 21 October post on the Autumn Dream forums: 'On to Next Year'Collapse )

He talks about money and funding, and about an exciting program for the 10th year celebration -- which he calls the tenth anniversary. No, "10th Annual Convention" and "10th Anniversary" don't mean the same thing. If the convention started in 2000, then 2010 is the tenth anniversary. The second annual convention was the first anniversary of the first convention, i.e. one year after, right? So... oh, never mind. And as far as weddings and children go, his "any other con" claim is so weak it's hardly worth puncturing.

On the drive home, Sarah asked me if there was any anime convention that I didn't have some sort of criticism of. That stopped me for a bit, and I had to figure out how to say what I wanted to say. I mean, I'll cheerfully be critical of the mistakes I've made with our convention, so why should I hold back anywhere else?

I finally explained that my issue with most regional anime conventions has to do with my view that the Con Suite is the heart of a convention. You can have a convention that just has nametags and a Con Suite, and it's still a convention. (A "relaxacon.") Hospitality, and the fact that people like to hang out with each other and break bread together: these are important. You see at other anime conventions that people create socializing spaces, usually in the lobby. Why not have one of those socializing spaces have a few snacks?

We've done "mock con suites" at many local conventions, including Ani-Magic last year and pmx this month. Some people have started calling our Peanut Butter rooms "the con suite." (Another reason to not go to every convention every year: we're not providing a reliable service for XYZ-con, we're trying to promote our con at XYZ-con. XYZ-con attendees shouldn't end up confusing our operation with something official provided by the con, because then we lose the benefit of them associating the Peanut Butter Room with Animé Los Angeles.)

I'd like for other conventions to decide that a con suite is valuable, and worthwhile, and of benefit to their members. I think the fans have already discovered the value, we just have to wait for the convention staff to see it and work for it.

Current Location: Santa Ana CA, USA
Current Mood: chipperchipper
Current Music: Bill Joy - "How Long Are You Staying (Disco, Disco, Disco)"
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