Ichibancon 2016 Convention Report (With Vic Mignogna Interview!)

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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.

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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 was only part of the line to get into the dealer’s room.

I hope this doesn't mean what I think it means.

I hope this doesn’t mean what I think it means.

Even broken up bands come to conventions.

Even broken up bands come to conventions.

Don't be upsetti, have some spaghetti!

Don’t be upsetti, have some spaghetti!

My dad stole my brand new beanie.

My dad stole my brand new beanie.

Cosplaying is a lot of work!

Cosplaying is a lot of hard work!

A consequence of a growing convention is more rules.

A consequence of a growing convention is more rules.

Some cosplayers really know how to get a-head.

Some cosplayers really know how to get a-head.

Let me tell you about Homestuck.

Let me tell you about Homestuck.

Even wizards need to eat.

Even wizards need to eat.

I don't think these guys are cosplayers.

I don’t think these guys are cosplayers.

The gaming room is always packed.

The gaming room is always packed.

Wow! My TV isn't this big!

Wow! My TV isn’t this big!

Don't take "friendliness pellets" from strangers.

Don’t take “friendliness pellets” from strangers.

Every year, The Chalk Twins have something new for the silent auction.

Every year, The Chalk Twins have something new for the silent auction.

The sign said "pets are not allowed" but an exception was made for these two.

The sign said “pets are not allowed” but an exception was made for these two.

And this is why pets are not allowed.

And this is why pets are not allowed.

Who invited this guy?

Who invited this guy?

Memes. Memes everywhere.

Memes. Memes everywhere.

Wizard World Cruise – Exhibitors & Artists – Last Call!

AHOY THERE, EXHIBITORS AND ARTISTS!

Thar be a Wizard World Cruise Coming This December!

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Don’t miss a chance to enjoy a cruise from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas and sell your booty on the high seas! The cruise will happen this December 2nd-5th. Click here for general information about the journey.
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The details are almost finalized, but before we can send information and pricing to you, we need to know if you’re interested!
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If you would like to know more about being an Exhibitor or Artist on board the ship and have not already inquired, please fill out THIS FORM by Sunday, April 17th and we will reach out to you shortly with more specific information including pricing.

For more information on the cruise visit HERE!

Stan Lee’s FINAL New England Appearance at Rhode Island Comic Con

RHODE ISLAND COMIC CON IS HONORED TO WELCOME “MR.EXCELSIOR” HIMSELF

STAN LEE 

TO THE SHOW FOR HIS FINAL NEW ENGLAND APPEARANCE!
THAT’S RIGHT TRUE BELIEVERS 
THE LEGEND HIMSELF WILL BE HEADED TO RHODE ISLAND COMIC CON
RICC_StanLee
ATTENTION TRUE BELIEVERS
Be part of history at this years Rhode Island Comic Con where the man behind some of comic books most iconic characters…
Stan Lee will make his FINAL New England appearance.
 
Tickets are now available for a special Stan Lee VIP event on Friday night,get yours now!
 Very limited passes available.

Get Stan VIP Tickets HERE!

www.ricomiccon.com

DragonCon & MomoCon Announce Partnership

00000000_DC-MCPress Release:

Dragon Con, Inc., parent company of the internationally known Dragon Con pop culture convention, and MomoCon LLC, parent of the fastest growing all ages fan convention in the country, have formed an unprecedented strategic partnership to share resources, knowledge and experience to ensure that Atlanta continues to have the strongest fan conventions in the country.

Importantly, Dragon Con, Inc. will provide MomoCon with back office and administrative support while the current MomoCon leadership, including founders Chris Stuckey and Jessica Merriman, will continue to organize the convention and serve as its co-chairs. Stuckey and Merriman will also take expanded roles with Dragon Con, Inc. and the Dragon Con convention.

Founded in 2005, MomoCon began as an outgrowth of Georgia Tech’s anime club. Its first convention attracted about 700 people to a free event on the school’s campus. Ten years later, MomoCon attracted some 22,000 total attendees (more than 60,000 at the turnstile) to a four-day convention held in the Georgia World Congress Center.

“In today’s competitive convention landscape, having Dragon Con and its founder Pat Henry on our side is an incredible advantage,” Stuckey said. “This partnership gives Jess and I the ability to pursue our vision for MomoCon while continuing to provide our fans with the high quality event they expect from us year after year.”

“We believe deeply in home-grown, well-run fan conventions that bring real value to the community,” said Henry, who was one of several Dragon Con founders in 1986 and serves as the company’s president today. “I am excited to be working with these two enormously creative entrepreneurs. I believe that their leadership will also help keep Dragon Con on the cutting edge of the convention scene.”

MomoCon 2016, which brings together fans of Japanese anime, American animation, comics and gaming, will be held May 26 through May 29 at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Dragon Con will celebrate its 30th year as the internationally known pop culture, sci fi, fantasy and gaming convention on Labor Day, September 2 through September 5 at five host hotels and the AmericasMart in downtown Atlanta. More than 70,000 people from every state in the union plus a few foreign countries attended Dragon Con in 2015.

About Dragon Con

Dragon Con is the internationally known pop culture convention held each Labor Day in Atlanta. Organized for fans by fans, Dragon Con features more than about 3,000 hours of comics, film, television, costuming, art, music and gaming over four days. For more information, please visit www.dragoncon.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About MomoCon

Founded in 2004 by Jessica Merriman and Chris Stuckey, then students at Georgia Tech, MomoCon has grown from a 700 person on campus event to one of the largest conventions in the southeast United States for fans of video games, animation, cosplay, comics and tabletop games. More information about MomoCon is available at www.momocon.com.

Daytona Beach Comic Convention washes in this Sunday!

daytonabeachccThis Sunday, March 20, 2016 will be the Daytona Beach Comic Convention. It will be held at the ICI Center Embry-Riddle, 601 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, Florida 32114.
Admission is $5.00 (pay at the door).
Convention starts at 10 AM and runs till 4 PM.

 

Over 120 tables with vendors from all parts of Florida, SC., NC., and GA.
Vintage comics from the golden age to the present will be for sale. Toys, action figures, records, trade paperbacks, magazines and other collectibles will be available for purchase.
Random door prizes all day long. There will be a costume contest for all ages with $300.00 in prizes.

 

Have comics you want to get graded? CBCS will be set up at to take submissions.

 

Pod cast by Riley and Kimmy Show also The Super Radio Bros will be there.

 

Meet actor Joel Wynkoop(King of the B movies), actress Cathy Wynkoop, actor Tom Antalek , also Eric and Patty Woller of Vicious Collectibles.

 

Meet artist and writers. Marvel/DC artist Jim Fern, Captain Cartoon Dick Kulpa, artist Tim Tyler, artist Jeff Whiting, writer Roland Mann, writer/creator Barry Gregory, author Joe Lovece, artist/designer George Moss, Illustrator Humphrey Ching, writer John Crowther, artist Josh Rudloff, creator/artist Martin Dunn and the guys from Monster Kid Studios.

 

More info at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daytona-Beach-Comic-Book-Convention/109085789161874
Web site is http://daytonabeachcomicconvention.com

Frank Miller and The Dark Knight III Team to Appear at MegaCon 2016

Frank Miller at MegaConFRANK MILLER AND THE DARK KNIGHT III TEAM
DESCEND UPON ORLANDO

Frank Miller, in a very rare appearance, and the team behind Dark Knight III are appearing at MegaCon™ Orlando. Whether you see them at the general fan panel, autograph session or at an exclusive special event, this unique opportunity to meet  Frank Miller, Andy Kubert, Brian Azzarello, and Klaus Janson is not to be missed.

Special packages available here!

Walking Dead roams into MegaCon!

mega_walkingdead
Look who just wandered into camp!

Meet The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Lennie James, & Tom Payne at MegaCon!

For more information on MegaCon visit http://megaconvention.com

MegaCon celebrates 50 years of Star Trek

Star Trek 50_MegaconJoin us in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek with a Captain & his crew!

William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, & George Takei join the MegaCon lineup!

For more information on MegaCon site the website!

Spooky Empire Retro gets Weird!

Spooky empire Hall and SmithMichael Anthony Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith Reunite for Weird Science!

Iconic actor ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL may best be remembered for some of the our favorite John Hughes films including “Sixteen Candles”, “Breakfast Club” and “Weird Science”, but his career continued on with unending list of memorable roles and films including “National Lampoons Vacation”, Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands”, “The Dark Knight”, “Johnny Be Good” with Robert Downey Jr, who also joined him in the cast of “Saturday Night Live”. More recently he starred in the Stephen King reboot series “The Dead Zone”, “Warehouse 13” and “Z Nation”.
He has starred in the film “Foxcatcher” with Steve Carell and is currently working on the film “War Machine” with costar Brad Pitt.

ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH co-starred alongside Hall “Gary” in the hit 80’s John Hughes film “Weird Science” as “Wyatt”. He also appeared in the Cameron Crowe film “The Wild Life”, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”, “The Chocolate War” and the TV series “Superboy”.

Don’t miss out on your chance to meet ILAN MITCHELL-SMITH and ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL together!! at Spooky Empire this April 1-3rd at the Wyndham Orlando Resort.

Tickets, VIP packages and hotel rooms are available but moving fast! Get ’em while you can. Rooms are almost sold out, and our special rate ends March 8th, so book now, no deposit necessary!

For more info visit us at www.spookyempire.com

 

CGC Returns to Baltimore Comic-Con in 2016 for On-Site Grading

Baltimore Comic ConCGC Returns to Baltimore Comic-Con in 2016 for On-Site Gradin

The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Baltimore Convention Center on September 2-4, 2016. We are thrilled to announce that one of our most popular exhibitors, Certified Guaranty Company, LLC (CGC), will return again to the show to conduct on-site grading.

As they did last year, CGC will be accepting submission for all tiers of service (with the exception of magazines) on a first-come, first-serve basis for the entire weekend.
“We have had an extremely positive response to our exhibition in Baltimore over the past two years,” said Harshen Patel, Director of Operations for CGC. “We look forward to our return in 2016, and expect another banner year.”

“There is obviously great demand for CGC’s services at the show,” said Marc Nathan, show promoter of the Baltimore Comic-Con. “The collectible community relies on their unique skill set, and our attendees leverage them throughout the weekend.”

About CGC

Founded in 2000, CGC is the first independent, impartial, third-party comic book grading service. A proven and respected commitment to integrity, accuracy, consistency and impartiality has made CGC the leader in its field. In fact, in 2007, CGC crossed the million-book mark and has now graded over 2 million comic books.

Because we value our relationship with collectors who share our passion for comics, the hobby’s vibrant history and its exciting future, we offer membership in the CGC Collectors Society. Paid membership starts at $39 per year, and includes direct submission privileges, access to expert tools and resources like the Comics Registry, and dynamic interaction with fellow collectors.To learn more about Certified Guaranty Company and its many offerings, including magazines, lobby cards, and photos, visit www.certifiedguaranty.com.For tickets and more information on Baltimore Comic-Con, visit their site at baltimorecomiccon.com.

In the coming weeks, look for more announcements from the Baltimore Comic-Con. We are looking forward to highlighting our guests, the Harvey Awards, industry exclusives, and programming. The latest developments can always be found on our websiteTwitter, and Facebook pages.

Contact Information

Please use the following e-mail addresses to contact the Baltimore Comic-Con:

press@baltimorecomiccon.com – for any general press inquiries or to be added to our PR distribution

promoter@baltimorecomiccon.com – for requesting exhibitor, publisher, and Artist Alley applications

registrar@baltimorecomiccon.com – for inquiries about submitted registrations

harveys@baltimorecomiccon.com– for the Harvey Awards ceremony and banquet

general@baltimorecomiccon.com– for general Baltimore Comic-Con inquiries

 

About The Baltimore Comic-Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con is celebrating its 17th year of bringing the comic book industry to the Baltimore and Washington D.C. area. For more information, please visit www.baltimorecomiccon.com.

About The Harvey Awards
The Harvey Awards are one of the comic book industry’s oldest and most respected awards. With a history of over 20 years, the last 11 in conjunction with the Baltimore Comic-Con, the Harveys recognize outstanding achievements in over 20 categories. They are the only industry awards nominated and selected by the full body of comic book professionals. For more information, please visit www.harveyawards.org.

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