A few years ago, when I was still in high school, a person who liked anime was made fun of for it. My school had a manga/book club, and the entire group was often ridiculed by jocks who wouldn’t know good writing if it were mixed in their protein shakes. Despite this, I grew to love the art form, and when I learned that there were whole conventions devoted to it, I begged my dad to take me to one. Surprisingly, he agreed.
Anime conventions were smaller then, including my first, Ichibancon 2012, which was held at a tiny hotel in Charlotte, NC. I originally went with two friends to meet none other than Vic Mignogna, who was–and remains to this day–my favorite voice actor. We stood in his autograph line for about 30 minutes, and when I finally got to his table, I said “Hi” in a talking-to-your-crush-for-the-first-time voice.
Now, five years later, I’m still going to that same convention. It was held this year over New Year’s Day weekend at Embassy Suites Hotel in Concord. Comparing this year’s Ichibancon to the one in 2012 is like comparing the inside of the TARDIS to the inside of my closet. Over 5,000 attendees pre-registered this year, which doesn’t include those who bought a badge on-site. I don’t think 5,000 people even knew about it in in 2012. The cosplayers were awesome. I saw anime, Marvel, and DC characters, plus assorted Pokemon and pop culture figures (the guy dressed as John Cena was meme-tastic). One group of cosplayers was from Undertale, a video game that just came out, which was impressive in its immediacy and quality. Dozens of panels were scheduled on just about any nerdy topic you could imagine, even for Homestuck, the webcomic created in 2009 by Andrew Hussie. The gamers had their own room: dozens of PlayStations and Nintendos (and I don’t mean Nintendogs) projected onto the walls. There was even a TARDIS bouncy house for all the children. I didn’t see the cosplay contest, but I’m sure it was fabulous, especially since, for the first year, a $500 prize was available for first place (this would probably cover the cost of half an automail leg).
Speaking of automail, I got a chance to talk to my five-years-ago idol, Vic Mignogna. Vic is the Johnny Depp of anime. Other voice actors were there, including several members of the cast of Durarara!! (Saki Mikajima, Kasuka Heiwajima, Seiji Yagiri, and Saburo Togusa), whom you don’t see often. But Vic was clearly the biggest draw: one girl came all the way from New Jersey to meet him.
After seeing him a dozen or more times over the years, I felt more relaxed than that initial time. Here is what we discussed.
Me: As Edward Elric, you’re very emotional and over the top. Then you recently switched to playing Kasuka on Durarara!! who is emotionless with a very emotional brother. What was that like?
Vic: You know, I have to tell you, I’m kind of naturally emotional and expressive with my voice. Then, when I was doing Durarara!!, started, and they asked me, can you take the emotion out of it? Can you make it flatter? I’m thinking, it’s pretty flat already. So, yeah, that was a big change.
Me: How long have you been doing conventions?
Vic: Wow. Honestly, maybe a total of thirteen years.
Me: How did you get started?
Vic: Well, I got started in voice acting sixteen or seventeen years ago, and I didn’t know anything about conventions. In fact, there weren’t any at the time. Then, a few years into my career, I saw Monica Rial, and she said to me, “Hey, do you want to go to an anime convention?” I was like, “A what? They have conventions?” I went to Star Trek conventions when I was a little boy, but I had never been to an anime convention. So I went as a guest to one in Ohio, in Columbus, and I was just blown away. I couldn’t believe that there were these wall scrolls with my characters on it and pencil boards and plushies. I had no idea this stuff existed. That was the first one I went to, and of course it ramped up since then.
Me: I’ve also seen you at conventions like DragonCon that are not strictly anime conventions. Talk about the difference between those.
Vic: Anime conventions are very special in and of themselves. There is a real strong sense of community because everybody is there because they love this one specific genre of entertainment. Multicultural, pop culture conventions are more of something for everyone. It’s nice to have an anime presence there, but they don’t typically have the same feeling, a sense of family that you get at an anime convention. I suppose it would probably be the same for any convention that pertains to one thing. If you went to a Supernatural convention, it’s a little more focused. But I enjoy pop culture conventions, mostly because I’m a big sci-fi fan myself, so it’s a real pleasure to get to meet other sci-fi actors that I’m a fan of.
Me: Who is your favorite celebrity you’ve ever met?
Vic: Oh, Bill Shatner, of course. I’ve loved Captain Kirk since I was a little boy. [Want to see Vic as a little boy? Click here.] And you know, when I was young, I used to go to Star Trek conventions, and he is the only one of the original cast I never got to meet. Now, to literally be represented by the same manager who represents Bill, we get booked into conventions together, and we’ve gotten to have dinner together and travel a little bit and hang out, so it’s a real privilege.
Me: Have you had to suppress the urge to squeal like a fangirl?
Vic: All the time. All the time. [Laughs.] I want to respect him and not turn into one of those fanboys he’s dealt with for forty years.
Me: I read on your Wikipedia page that you were once a law enforcement officer.
Vic: I was. Right after college, my mom, who lives on the eastern shore of Maryland, was very good friends with the chief of police in the city where she lived. She always used to brag to him about her son who was a moral, ethical, upstanding member of the community. And so he said, well, I’d like to have someone like that on the police force. I didn’t have any plans right after college, so I went back there and went through the police training and became a cop for two years. It was never a career move. I enjoyed it a lot, but it isn’t something I want to do forever.
Me: It takes a special person to do that job.
Vic: It does. And to deal with the darker side of humanity so much of your life, always having to enforce the laws and deal with people breaking the rules can make a person very cynical and depressed.
Me: I have a copy of your Gospel of John CD. What was the genesis [see what I did there?] of that project?
Vic: Actually, it’s kind of interesting. I was at a convention, and a mother came up to me and said, “My daughter loves your work. She could sit and listen to you for hours. She loves your voice. You could read the phone book and she would listen to it.” I thought, what a nice thing to say. Then I thought, maybe not the phone book, but what if I were to record something of more importance and give it away. So I went home and recorded the Gospel of John and used a contemporary translation and played the piano underneath it to make it easy to listen to. I put a lot of money into it myself to get all the discs pressed, and now I give it away at conventions because what better thing to give to fans of my work than something that is very precious to me?
Me: Do you have plans to do more books?
Vic: I would love to, but it takes a lot of time, and to be honest, I don’t know what book I would do. There aren’t a lot of books of the Bible that stand by themselves, that tell the whole story. If you’re gonna get one chance to tell someone the story of Jesus, why he came, what he did, his ministry, his rising again, all of that, it’s all pretty self-contained in the Gospel of John. So I don’t know what book I would do, and it’s very time-consuming. I don’t have a lot of time, especially now with the Star Trek series I’m doing.
Me: So the Star Trek series is still going well?
Vic: Oh yeah. Bigger than ever. We just finished shooting episode six. Popularity is growing, and viewership is growing. At the risk of sounding partial, it’s fantastic. It looks and feels and sounds exactly like the original series. We have managed to continue the original series in every way, so you feel like you’re watching episodes that were never broadcast.
Me: But they’re all original stories.
Vic: Oh yes. From the recreation of the sets to the lighting, costumes, make-up, story, music, editing, characters—everything. No amount of description can prepare you for the quality. And it’s free. Just go to startrekcontinues.com. The first episode is wonderful, and the second is better than the first, and the third is better than the second. They just get better and better
Me: Last question. What is it like dealing with all the fangirls who are much younger than you?
Vic: Well, it’s kind of funny because, if I were half my age, I would be flattered. But I really look at it more like a father looking at younger people and going, Man, if I can give some joy to this person, if I can make them feel special about themselves, because so many of these kids are struggling with who they are and their place in the world and their security and self-esteem. I feel as if I have been given an opportunity to be an encouragement, somebody that they look up to and notices them and compliments them and puts his arms around them and gives them a big hug and engages with them. I think that’s very important. I didn’t used to realize how important that is, and over the years, with all the emails and letters I’ve gotten and interactions I’ve had at conventions, I’ve come to realize that God has put me here for a very specific purpose, and that is to bring encouragement and love and kindness and support to a lot of people who are at a very sensitive crossroads in their lives.
Of course, everyone has their criticisms no matter how much they enjoy something, and Ichibancon was not without flaws. For one thing, it needs a larger venue. There were lines to get into the dealer room and artist alley, and some of the panels were standing room only. Parking was ridiculous. I squeezed my car in next to a dumpster, and I saw people walking over from car dealerships and other hotels. According to one staff member, however, the only place large enough to expand to is the Charlotte Convention Center, whose surrounding hotels are much more expensive–$240 a night or more. Anime conventions are largely attended by teenagers, who don’t have much money (and spend what they do have on Call of Duty).
It was clear from artist alley and the dealer room that neither of them was “juried.” Some conventions judge vendors’ merchandise ahead of time and then make decisions on who gets a slot. This is done to make sure there is enough variety and quality in the room. Ichibancon, it seems, didn’t do this because there was a lot of repetition in both areas. Merchandise was mostly plushies, posters, and wall scrolls. There was no manga, and I saw only one dealer selling comic-related stuff (usually, there are more).
Even with all these negative things going on in the convention, that is no reason for the muggles to boycott this convention (I saw a picketer in the parking lot). In fact, I believe that this convention is the perfect one for any anime convention newbies.
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|This convention will take place:|
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|About This Convention|
|He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, and She-Ra: Princess of Power: the two powerful toy and comic book properties focused on by Power-Con! Toys, cartoons, comics, collectibles, voice actors, artists, cosplay, panels, contests and more, this is one incredible weekend you don’t want to miss!|
|Venue Name and Address|
|Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach
3635 Fashion Way
Torrance, CA 90503
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|Alan Oppenheimer, Melendy Britt, Brian Dobson, Gabe Khouth, Mattel, Four Horsemen, Axel Gimenez, Pop Mhan, Erika Scheimer, Dave Wilkins, Evilyn13, Freddie Nova, Johnny Bilson, Spence Valliant, Martin Arriola, Nate Baertsch, Rob David, Djordje Djokovic, James Eatock, Jeff Etter, Eddy Mosqueda, Scott Neitlich, Rudy Obrero, Mark Roberts, Gunnar Sadlowski, Val Staples, Dean Stefan, Michael Swanigan, Tony Washington|
Golden Apple Comics celebrates Free Comic Book Day on Saturday May 7, 2016 with several creator signings.
SHANNON LEE (Series Creator & Writer)
BERNARD CHANG (Cover Artist, Wonder Woman, etc.)
Signing copies of Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises
CHRISTOS GAGE (Daredevil TV, Buffy, Avengers, etc.)
Signing copies of ROM: Space Knight #0
2PM: Wonder Woman 77′ Crew:
*Free Batman/Superman Comic
Golden Apple Comics
7018 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
Cartoonist Gene Luen Yang appears at the Wexner Center for the Arts for a free lecture on Friday, June 10, 2016 from 7:00 – 8:30 PM!
Asian Americans represent one of the largest demographics working in today’s US comic book world. How did they come to be so involved in this medium, and what does their work as writers, artists, editors, and publishers mean for the industry? At this free lecture, award-winning cartoonist Gene Luen Yang will explore these issues by discussing prominent Asian American cartoonists, the historical portrayals of Asians and Asian Americans in American comics, commonalities between modern comics and traditional Asian art, and how being an Asian American has shaped his own work in comics.
The creator of American Born Chinese (2006), Boxers and Saints (2013), Secret Coders (2015), Dark Horse’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, and DC’s Superman among many other acclaimed comics, Yang was recently appointed the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Library of Congress. Teens interested in comics are invited to register for a free workshop with Yang; space is limited, so register now at the link. A book signing will follow the event.
Copresented by Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum in conjunction with its exhibition Good Grief!: Children and Comics (opening June 10) and the Children’s Literature Association’s national conference (at Ohio State June 9–11; visit childlitassn.org/2016 for details).
Wexner Center for the Arts
1871 N High St, Columbus, OH 43210
Beginning in 2016, Kids Read Comics’ annual two-day comics celebration, hosted by the wonderful Ann Arbor District Library, will have a new name: Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival (A2CAF for short).
The Festival will still feature dozens of comics artists along with workshops, demonstrations and interactive drawing games. It will still be as kid- and family-friendly as ever. And attending the event will be free as always.
What we hope the new name makes clear is that young children aren’t the only ones who can enjoy a fun-packed Ann Arbor weekend filled with comics and creativity. We welcome teens and adults (always have) and offer a slate of guests and activities to meet a wide range of comics-related interests (ditto).
So join us as Kids Read Comics celebrates eight years of bringing comics excitement to Michigan libraries, when we inaugurate the Ann Arbor Comic Arts Festival on June 18 & 19, 2016 at the Ann Arbor District Library.
Keynote speakers at A2CAF 2016 will be Cece Bell, whose comics memoir El Deafo was named a Newbery Honor Book, and the children’s author Tom Angleberger, writer and illustrator of the bestselling Origami Yoda series.
Other guests include Kazu Kibuishi (Amulet), Rafael Rosado (Dragons Beware), Ruth McNally Barshaw (The Ellie McDoodle Diaries), Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales), Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl), Zack Giallongo (Broxo), J. Torres (Alison Dare), Katie Shanahan (Silly Kingdom), Carolyn Nowak (Lumberjanes), Kean Soo (March Grand Prix), Lucy Bellwood (Baggywrinkles), and many more!
Please go to the website for full details: a2caf.com
Writer/artist Gene Ha (Top Ten, JLA, Forty-Niners) appears at Alleycat Comics on Wednesday, May 18, 2016 from 5:00 – 8:00 PM to sign the first issue his new Dark Horse series MAE!
Once upon a time in Indiana… a 13 year-old girl named Abbie Fortell disappeared. Her younger sister, Mae was left behind to finish school, take care of her ailing father, and build a life without her sister. Eight years later Abbie has returned, claiming she’s found a doorway to a world of adventure and monsters. These tales are hard to believe — at least until the monsters show up too…
5304 N. Clark Street Rear, Chicago, IL 60640
Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill will talk about and sign copies of his new book, The Fireman, at the Coralville Public Library on Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 PM.
The Fireman is a novel about a terrifying worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes. The pandemic is caused by Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that tattoos its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Joe Hill is the author of NOS4A2, Horns, and Heart-Shaped Box. He is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a past recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and Year’s Best collections. He lives in New England.
A reception will follow the reading and signing. Books available from Prairie Lights Bookstore.
Coralville Public Library
1401 5th St, Coralville, Iowa 52241
Kevin Eastman, co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, appears at the San Diego Comic Art Gallery on Friday May 6, 2016 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM to sign the BRAND NEW Fistful of Blood TPB and all your favorite TMNT comics and trades!!
San Diego Comic Art Gallery – Barracks 3 First Floor
2765 Truxtun Road, San Diego, CA 92106
April 28, 2016 by Colin Solan
Filed under Animation, California, Comic Books, Free Comic Book Day, Movies, Other, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Signing and Appearance Profiles, Television, Top Stories, Video Games, Webcomics
This year, THE COMIC BUG isn’t “doubling down” on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, it’s TRIPLING DOWN with free comics, artists and activities happening on THREE stages to scratch your geek itch throughout the day!
STAN LEE is coming to The Comic Bug courtesy of his convention Stan Lee’s Comikaze for Free Comic Book Day! Comikaze has arranged with Stan to give 100 lucky Comic Bug fans a FREE autograph!! Raffles to be held on Free Comic Book Day! To enter to win, you must come to Free Comic Book Day at either our Culver City shop, Culver City Teen Center or our Manhattan Beach location. Winners announced at 2:00! Stan Lee will be signing at our Culver City shop at 4:00 PM.
At the CULVER CITY TEEN CENTER just a few doors down from The Comic Bug’s Culver City location, The Con Man creator/star ALAN TUDYK, PJ HAARSMA and SHANNON ERIC DENTON will be signing FREE copies of SPECTRUM #0 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. SPECTRUM is a Free Comic Book release based on the fictional TV show that actors Tudyk and Nathan Fillion starred on prior to their stint on the con circuit on CON MAN.
SHANNON LEE, daughter of Bruce Lee, will be signing copies of BRUCE LEE: THE DRAGON RISES FCBD EDITION along with writer JEFF KLINE later in the afternoon (exact time TBD) at the Culver City event.
Back by popular demand, LOLA XOXO creator SIYA OUM will be on hand to sign copies of THE COMIC BUG’s EXCLUSIVE SIYA OUM EDITION of MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK #1.
Also appearing at the Culver City Teen Center are BRANDON EASTON, JOSHUA FIALKOV, DAN WICKLINE, MEGAN HUTCHISON, J.T. KRUL, BARBARA KESEL and many, many others. There will also be a cosplay/fantasy backdrop photo booth courtesy of PIXELBOOTH, geek speed dating games and opportunities by CUDDLI, Power Ranger photo ops courtesy of POWER MORPHICON and a chance to meet and join the two creator groups currently running at The Comic Bug, THE SKETCHY BUGS and the female-run LADYBUGS.
Meanwhile, at The Manhattan Beach locations (The Comic Bug Manhattan Beach and The Game Hub), DEADPOOL artist SCOTT KOBLISH headlines, drawing free sketches of everyone’s favorite Merc with Mouth. Koblish will be joined by ELEPHANTMEN creator and Comic Bug store logo designer RICHARD STARKINGS, D.J. KIRKBRIDE, BRIAN HABERLIN, Eisner-Award winner ANDREW ROBINSON, ERIKA ALEXANDER, TONY PURYEAR and many others. There will also be an exciting game of SKETCH FIGHTER with professional comic artists and stand-up comedians. Pictures will be auctioned off and all proceeds benefit THE HERO INITIATIVE.
KOTOBUKIYA will be on-hand at both locations with a slew of raffles and fun giveaways.
Live coverage of all three events will be handled by THAT HASHTAG SHOW. The Comic Bug is also promising food trucks, cosplayers and fun games for the entire family. In addition to the exclusive MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK RANGER exclusive by Siya Oum, The Comic Bug is releasing an exclusive BLACK PANTHER #1 with a cover by Mike McKone.
Here’s an alphabetical listing of many of the creators who will be attending our Free Comic Book Day events on May 7th! See you there!
Agnes Garbowska (My Little Pony)
Alan Tudyk (Con Man)
Alicia Hollinger (Heavy Metal Magazine)
Andrew Robinson (The Fifth Beatle)
Barbara Kesel (My Little Pony, Wonder Woman)
Brad Rader (Bob’s Burgers)
Brandon Easton (Transformers Deviations, Agent Carter)
Brian Haberlin (Faster Than Light)
Chris Brandt (Bainst)
Chris Kawagiwa (TeeFury)
Christine Hipp (LadyBugs)
Dan Wickline (Tales of Honor)
Daniel Ramirez (Repo Thief for Hire)
Dave Baker (Suicide Forest)
Dave Crosland (Invader Zim)
David Blake Lucarelli (Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade)
DJ Kirkbride (Amelia Cole, The Bigger Bang)
Don Walker (Agent Wild)
Ethan Castillo (11 year old artist supreme!)
Erika Alexander (Concrete Park)
Flobo Boyce (Silver Streek)
Frank Mastromauro (Overtaken, Shrugged)
Hannibal Tabu (Fathom Sourcebook)
Jodi Tong (Chubbah Bunneh and the Bunny Man)
John Ercek (Justice League)
Joshua Fialkov (The Life After)
JT Krul (Green Arrow, Fathom)
Karl Altstaetter (Emerald City Blues)
Kevin Altieri (Batman: The Animated Series)
Lak Lim (Superhero artist)
Lord Mesa (Chibi artist)
Matt Jacobs (The Arcs, Faith No More)
Michael O’Hare (Flak Riot)
Michael Tanner (Junior Braves of the Apocalypse)
MOM (The LadyBugs Anthology)
Norm Rapmund (Teen Titans)
Peter Steigerwald (Zoo Hunters)
Rafael Navarro (Guns A’ Blazin’!, Sonambulo)
Ralph Miranda (Man Fighting Street)
Ray Anthony-Height (Midnight Tiger)
Richard Starkings (Elephantmen)
Ruben Gerard (Penny Strikes!)
Shannon Eric Denton (Con Man, The Revenant)
Siya Oum (Lola XOXO)
TJ Troy (Run Downhill)
Tony Puryear (Concrete Park)
Vince Hernandez (Lola XOXO, Fathom)
Coolhaus, Dogtown dogs & Burnt To A Crisp Texas Smokehouse food trucks will also be joining us to keep bellies fed! Tee No Evil – Zany Zombie Shirts, The Hero Initiative, Defective Geeks, That Hashtag Show, Cuddli, The Official Power Morphicon Convention, Sketch Fighter and many more vendors will be joining us to bring exclusive products and activities to every location! Fun for the entire family, indeed!
The Comic Bug
1807 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
4267 Overland Ave. Culver City, CA 90230
|Jersey Shore Comic Book Show – Flemington Comic Fest|
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|It’s all happening on Sunday, May 15, 2016 at the Flemington Elks Lodge, Route 31 S. in Flemington, New Jersey. Join us from 10am to 4pm for the Best Little Comic Con on the East Coast, sponsored by the folks of the Jersey Shore Comic Book Show.
Our guest line – up includes Tony DiGerolamo screenwriter and writer of the comic book, Bart Simpson. Also on hand will be child star and actress, Sharon Smyth Lentz better known as “Little Sarah” (Barnaby Collins Sister) from the Dark Shadows T.V. soap oprea. Appearing as well will be Christopher Weite from the hit series, “The Walking Dead,” “Gotham,” and oscar nominated film, “Creed,” as well as many horror films. Joining him will be the Zombie Queen herself, Carolyn Seibert star of many horror films such as, “6 Degrees of Hell,” “Forever Yours,” “Zombie Killers Elephants Graveyard, ” and many more.
We will be featuring over 10+ guest Artists, Writers and Creators of your favorite comics and graphic novels. Also on hand will be more than 20+ vendors with everything from golden age comics to present day comics, non-sport cards, toys, collectibles and so much more!! We will also have cosplayers on hand as well.
Admission to the show is $3.00 and kids under 12 are Free. For more information please call: (609) 242-7756 or visit our website: http://www.
|Venue Name and Address|
|Flemington Elks Lodge
165 Route 31 South
Flemington, New Jersey 08824
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|Please select the Category that best describes the convention|