Backstage with Stan Lee at MegaCon 2016

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Press Release:

Join MegaCon for an intimate and exclusive meet & greet event with legendary comic creator Stan Lee on Thursday May 26th at 9:00 PM! Includes, collectible badge and lanyard, autograph and the best selfie ever – bring your camera! NOTE: Admission to MegaCon is required to attend this special event. Tickets available at the link.

DISCLAIMER:
-Some Guests may charge additional fees for autographs and photo ops.
-Most Guests are available for the duration of the event, although some are only available for a portion i.e. a single day. Appearance day(s) will be posted on the website once confirmed by the Guest.
-Guest appearances subject to cancellation or schedule change, due to professional commitments.
-All events have a limited seating capacities and are offered on a first come, first served basis.
-All sales are final, no exchanges or refunds for any reason.

CA – Art of Angry Birds Signing

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Come hear the artists of The Angry Birds Movie share stories from behind the scenes and see their development work for the movie at Gallery Nucleus on Saturday, June 4, 2016. Bring your questions for the Q&A session and meet the artists one-on-one as they sign copies of the art book! Raffle giveaways by IDW will also be announced soon.

Featured Artists:

Pete Oswald – Production Designer
Travis Ruiz – Visual Development Artist
Francesca Natale – Character Art Director
Jeanie Chang – Visual Development Artist
Alger Tam – Visual Development Artist
Cindey Chiang – Visual Development Artist

more to be announced…

Event Schedule:
2:00 – 2:15 Artist Discussion Panel
3:00 – 3:30 Q & A (moderated by Ben)
3:40 – 4:00 Break
4:00 – 5:00 Book Signing

FREE ADMISSION with purchase of The Art of Angry Birds Movie (100 seats only, standing room also available).
$10 Admission at the door without book purchase

Outside books will be subject to a $10 fee.

Front Row VIP Reserved Seats available for $20 (does not guarantee availability of book for “seats only” option).

Waives admission fee.
Guaranteed seat in the first 2 rows, only 20 seats available.
No need to wait in line or get to the event early just to get a good seat.
Comes with a free bottle of water.
Guaranteed first in line during the artist signing time.

RSVP on Facebook!

Gallery Nucleus
210 East Main Street, Alhambra, CA 91801
626.458.7477

Anime Fan Fest 2016 Report (Including an Interview with Aaron Dismuke!)

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I mentioned in my last article that a girl drove all the way down from New Jersey to North Carolina to Ichibancon meet Vic Mignogna, the star of Fullmetal Alchemist (he voices the main character, Edward Elric). This time, Anthony Aycock and I went to New Jersey from North Carolina to meet Aaron Dismuke, where Vic was also present. Aaron voices Edward Elric’s iron giant little brother, Alphonse. Aaron doesn’t do many conventions–mainly due to not being invited, he said–so I thought I would see him while I had the chance.

It was called Anime Fan Fest. With both Vic and Aaron as guests, plus other actors from Fullmetal Alchemist, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh, I expected it to be pretty big. However, it never seemed terribly crowded, even on Saturday afternoon. Then one of the dealers told me that this was the convention’s first year. I was immediately impressed.

The convention was held in one massive room at the Garden State Exhibition Center. Dealers (about 30), artist alley (about 10), cosplay registration, autograph sessions, and panels all took place in that one room. This layout had pros and cons. Everything was easy to find, but not everything was easy to hear. During Aaron’s Q&A, noise from the dealer area kept hitting me like Izumi Curtis’s fists.

I did hear a couple of things, though. One was Aaron talking about how his voice cracked during filming of the movie Fullmetal Alchemist: Conqueror of Shamballa. He asked to do the scene again, but director Mike McFarland told him, “No, we’ll keep that one. It shows the emotion of the character”–probably while stifling a laugh. I also heard Aaron talk about being recognized in public. Once was by a cashier at Kroger, who took a selfie with Aaron and his groceries. Another was someone who kept calling for Aaron at his parents’ house (he says he now lives off the grid). Still another was the guy in college who waited at a men’s room for Aaron to emerge and shake his hand. “You know my hands are wet,” Aaron said he told the guy. “You watched me wash them.” (Not creepy at all.)

After the Q&A, we had the pleasure of getting an interview with Aaron..

I have heard Vic talk about you falling in the booth a few times during Fullmetal Alchemist. Can you tell the story in your perspective?

Yeah, sure. Okay I was eleven whenever I started and so I was very absent minded and kind of

ADD acting, like I actually had been diagnosed. So I would like move around a lot, I had a stool and so I’d be in the booth, leaning back and picking at the walls because there’s soft soundproofing material. I destroyed those walls honestly. Like who am I kidding? It was bad. I might have even written on them at one point.

“Aaron was here”?

Yeah, I think that’s exactly what I wrote, honestly! Anyway, so yeah I was a little turd. And so I was leaning back and what I got into was this mode where I’d be leaning back and I would hear the beeps. You have three beeps and on the fourth imaginary beep is when you’d start recording your line. I was leaning back, and Mike said [Mike McFarland, director of Fullmetal Alchemist], “Alright let’s do this line.” It would go beep beep beep, and I’d go up real fast and I’d be like “Brother.” ‘Kay. And so this time I was leaning back and beep beep and I tried to lean forward but the stool like gives out. It goes the wrong way. It goes forward instead of backwards and I go backwards and it pushes me against the wall and the stool props up in the front of the booth. And so like I just end up with my legs sandwiched against my chest. And the stool like pinning me there. And the only way for me to get out myself would have been to like twist out and fall straight to the ground. And so I didn’t want to do that but I also didn’t want to admit what had happened and they had heard the sound of the stool and all the crash. That’s recorded somewhere. And so there’s this pause where Mike says “Aaron?” He looks up trying to see me but he can’t because I’m too far down. And I was just like – all I could think of – I finally realized I was going to need help. So I asked for it. A little “Help me.” He had to pull me out.

And they’ve never let you live it down.

Never.

You have mentioned before that you got into voice acting because you were related to someone who was a voice actor. Could you talk a little bit more about that?

Yeah, okay. Justin Cook is currently a director of production at Funimation, but at the time he was acting and directing a bit and he basically got the impression that I was a good reader because I was reading Lord of the Rings. I wasn’t really understanding it all, but I was reading it. And you know, I was like in third grade, I was like nine. So I was a bit above my reading level, and as a result he decided, “Why don’t I try using an actual boy who I know who I have a rapport with so he won’t be nervous for this little part of a little boy instead of using a woman. It’ll sound more authentic.” And so he did, and it ended up turning out pretty good. I felt pretty good about it. And he felt pretty good about it and so he had me do a larger part from the same show and then ultimately I started auditioning for other stuff and Alphonse was the first or second character I landed actually. And I think part of the reason they gave me that part was because there were no flaps [mouth movements for animated characters] so I didn’t have to focus too much on the mouth movements and they were able to do what they needed to to adjust. So I just had to do the acting. And I think that’s a big part of what allowed me to do that at such a young age. It wasn’t as hard as what all the other actors were having to do. So it was nice. It was like having training wheels on for my first part.

What sort of shows do you like that aren’t anime?

I like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones. I read Game of Thrones before the series came out so I was super excited about it. I’m a big fan of Peaky Blinders, it’s a British crime show. It’s on Netflix right now. I also like westerns: Bonanza. I’m also a big fan of M*A*S*H which is so good. It has some of the best comedy ever. I have almost every episode memorized, I’ve watched it so many times. That’s what I grew up on.

Which actors would you actually ‘fangirl’ over?

Alan Alda. He plays Hawkeye [in M*A*S*H]. I forget her name, but I recently started watching Jessica Jones, and that actress is fantastic.

I love Jessica Jones. I’ve actually met David Tennant.

Oh cool, yeah! He plays Kilgrave [in Jessica Jones]. That guy’s awesome.

You said you did some directing for Funimation. What sort of skillset do you need to be a successful director?

I think that the acting and writing are both important because there comes a point where you have to know whether an actor could give you the read for a certain line or whether between the way the line was written and the flaps and their personal cadence, whether they’re capable of doing that line or whether or not it needs to be rewritten. And once you know it needs to be rewritten, it needs to be able to. So you need the writing skill to alter the line if need be. And you also need the acting experience and also the ability to describe how you need a certain read. So I found I was able to mostly harness my acting experience and be able to like use – and also my acting experience with like hearing the different directors and the way that they would direct me. So you can either give someone the read you want and see how they respond to that and you can say “No, say it like this” and then say it. Like I was a good parrot when I was an early actor. As Al I could easily say something back exactly how you had said it to me. That was a good training wheels thing. And then slowly I was able to predict what it was they were going to want and do it in the first round. Other than that, sometimes I use like little analogies. I’d say something like “Could you say that as more of a languid predator? You know, a leopard stalking its prey?” Or “Make it sound more like you dipped your hand in what you thought was a crate of berries, but instead it was acid.” Things like that. Colorful things. That sort of idea that they were pretending that happened and then get a little more of the nuance of what the line is than from just hearing where the character is coming from.

What do you do if the actor just can’t get the line right?

You either settle for what they can do or you say “Okay good, thanks,” and then you get someone else to do it. I have never had to do that. But I’ve also never had the authority to do that even on the show that I was directing. That was always Tyler’s call. He was my producer. He did the casting for me because it was my first show. So he took care of the hard parts.

How did you get started on doing conventions?

My first convention was before – okay so Anizona, which was a first year con, had me and the entire cast of – It was me, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Vic Mignogna, I think Caitlin Glass – everybody was there. It was a tiny con, maybe like eight hundred people. That was my first real con. I don’t know if it’s even going anymore but I did it and I was super nervous and I was like “What am I supposed to say?” Because we were going through opening ceremonies and we were going through and everyone was like  “Hey! I’m really glad to be here! My name is Travis Willingham and I play Roy Mustang.” And I didn’t even know what to say. They were all popping jokes and they were all like “What, you’re nervous?” And I was like “Yeah I’m nervous!” “Just tell them you’re nervous.” So I was like “Hey I’m Aaron, I play Al and I’m really nervous and there was a chorus of “Awwww” and uproarious applause. And I was like “That’s weird.”

Okay, one last question. What was your first experience with fangirls?

I ran from the first girl that tried to glomp [to pounce on and hug aggressively, often with a running start] me. I actually ran. She was a titan. She was really tall and she was wearing a Sailor Moon costume and I wasn’t familiar with Sailor Moon. I was only thirteen probably. Fourteen? Her friends met me first, and Vic said, “Do you know who this is? This guy is going to play Al.” And this was before Anizona. I was going to this con to get adjusted to it. It was a con in Fort Worth, my hometown. So I just went there for kicks to check out the scene and Vic happened to be there as a guest and he happened to recognize me and he told some other fans who I was and they were like, “We have to call our friend.” They called their friend and it was the 6’7 Amazon woman in a Sailor Moon outfit. She was like [bellows like a screaming fangirl]. People are like spilling to either side and it was an anime moment. I ran to the bathroom and then I slowly came back and hugged her calmly.

#Beaniebuds

#Beaniebuds

After the interview, Anthony and I went around the dealer room one last time when I noticed something very familiar. I am a yaoi fangirl, so I would recognize fan art from a fandom I am deeply involved in–in this case, Durarara!! What I saw was a wall scroll depicting the show’s most popular characters, Shizuo Heiwajima and Izaya Orihara, as they appeared in high school. They were embracing aggressively. The image was a popular piece of fan art. Someone had ripped it off, altered it slightly, and stuck it on a wall scroll that was now for sale.

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I spoke to a very close friend, Kawaiikisshu, who is also an artist. This particular image she had seen on Zerochan.net, and I found it in other places such as tumblr. She said there are a lot of these on eBay and it is sad that work gets robbed and turned into merchandise for money. I heard the same sentiment from Irene Y. Lee, who draws the Li’l Deadpool for Marvel Comics. We saw a picture at her booth of Li’l Deadpool looking through a box of comics, which I totally do not have a T-shirt of. No one obtained Irene’s permission to make the shirt, and she receives no payment from it. I wish now I had told some of the staff what I saw because I knew it was illegal. Artists deserve all the credit and the money their art is worth. I know how I would feel if someone copied and pasted this article into their own web site and pretended that they were me. If they were me, they can buy food for my eight cats. (Disclaimer: I am not a crazy cat lady.)

Aside from copyright infringement and the need for more than one room, Anime Fan Fest was a spectacular experience. It was organized, the guests were terrific, and the staff was superb. When I interviewed Vic at Ichibancon, the staff member who was supposed to handle his schedule told me to ask him myself. Aaron’s handler, however, worked with me to create a seamless interview process.

I guess the worst part about Anime Fan Fest was the drive. In North Carolina, it had already been raining for about a week, and it did not stop until we left New Jersey, which, by the way, is the capital of RUDE. In our 24 hours in the state, we were honked at fourteen times. I haven’t been honked at fourteen times in North Carolina in my nineteen years of living.

Just kidding. I HEART New Jersey.

Artist Alley

Artist Alley

Dealers' Room

Dealers’ Room

Even Shinra Kishitani needs his morning coffee.

Even Shinra Kishitani needs his morning coffee.

The wild Aaron Dismuke in his natural habitat.

The wild Aaron Dismuke in his natural habitat.

Got games?

Got games?

I didn't see any Harley Quinns, but I did see Harlequin (King) from The Seven Deadly Sins.

I didn’t see any Harley Quinns, but I did see Harlequin (King) from The Seven Deadly Sins.

Tokyo is so screwed.

Tokyo is so screwed.

Why so serious?

Why so serious?

This cosplayer knows how to get a-head in life.

This cosplayer knows how to get a-head in life.

Is it Huu (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Man-Thing, or my mom's ex boyfriend? You decide!

Is it Huu (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Man-Thing, or my mom’s ex boyfriend? You decide!

I wonder why the celebrities left?

I wonder why the celebrities left?

I'm furry tired.

I’m furry tired.

 

Gods & Monsters Celebrate 1 year!

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All ages are welcome and FREE admission for all!

We’ll have artists, authors, publishers and vendors set up all day signing and selling their books, art, and prints and doing commissioned sketch art… Workshops, tutorials & panels relating to all things nerd culture… A special art exhibition in the Transmetropolitan Gallery… Gaming demos & tournaments… Costumed character appearances for photo ops… Costume contest with prizes… Balloon artists, face-painters & magic shows… And free coffee tasting by Coffee Shop of Horrors! www.facebook.com/CoffeeShopofHorrors

And our popular D20 sale back again… Roll the die upon checkout to see what prizes you will win or how big of a discount you can get off all your items! Will you roll a 20 to get 40% OFF your purchase?

We’ll also be launching some new drink specials at our extensive craft beer/cider/mead/wine & soda bar in the Offworld L.O.U.N.G.E. And everyone in costume gets 20% OFF at the bar all day and night!

Raffle tickets being sold, with hourly prizes awarded, to raise money for Hero Initiative, a charity helping comic creators in need. www.heroinitiative.org

Interested in learning to play a new RPG? Pathfinder Society will be running demos throughout the day. https://warhorn.net/events/orc-gaming

Participating Artists:

Tim Proctor, local Artist and Actor will be on hand signing autographs and selling prints. Tim can be seen portraying Walkers in seasons 5 and 6 of the hit show The Walking Dead. Tim is also known for his sketch card work on such properties as Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, The Walking Dead, Mars Attacks, X-files and many more. He has also produced limited edition prints for both Disney and Lucasfilm.

Kate Carleton & Josh Dykstra www.facebook.com/katecarletonillustration
http://artofjoshd.com/ & http://ellastrange.com/

Jenni Gregory, creator of comics DreamWalker, Summoner, Abby’s Menagerie and Byrd, as well as sketch card artist for ChadPops and A1 Art Cards. www.jennigregory.com

Barry Gregory, creator of the John Aman series from Gallant Comics. www.gallantcomics.com

Mitch Hyman – Bubba The Redneck Werewolf

The Mohawk Crew www.mohawkcrew.com

DJ Clulow www.crabbysquiid.com

Ashley Lanni www.ashleylanni.com

Edmond Dansart Edbot5000.com

Chris Butler – Big Chris’ Gallery
www.facebook.com/thebigchrisgallery

Dennis Hansbury & Bonnie Wong: facebook.com/dennishansburyart & facebook.com/bonniewongart

Morgan Wilson, facebook.com/LuxNovaStudio

Warren Hart, aka famousafterdeath: Facebook.com/famousafterdeath

Stephen Wittmaak, MegaCon and Tampa Bay Comic Con regular, as well as a t-shirt artist. http://theSwitt.com/

Bianca Roman-Stumpff: http://biancaart.storenvy.com/

Sid Graves, Cemetery Prints: www.cemeteryprints.com

Josh Tyson, Mammoth Syndicate: www.mammothsyndicate.com

Ransom Designs, www.ransomdesigns.com

Gray Hollow, www.facebook.com/Grayswork

Thom Solo, facebook.com/Thomsoloart

Melissa’s Candle Bakery, facebook.com/MelissasCandleBakery

Nerd Improv by The Improvengers! facebook.com/TheImprovengers
“The Improvengers are an improvised comedy troupe that infuse all things geeky into their scenes. Everything is made up on the spot so no two shows are ever the same! Be sure to catch this hilarious show!”

Cosplay panel by Ðementia vön Grimm at 8pm: www.facebook.com/theconmother
“Join the CON-gregation at the holy church of Gods & Monsters for blessings, enlightenment, and cosplay commandments.

The ConMother Superior Ðementia vön Grimm, along with Father Inferior, will offer teachings from the CON-Bible, hear confessions, and provide penance with the Golden Rule(r), along with some surprises.

Come for the absolution. Stay for the cookies.”

Interested in volunteering at the event? Please contact info@godmonsters.com to find out how you can help.

Spooky Empire Tickets go on sale Friday!

SE_jasonTHIS FRIDAY! Tickets will go on sale for Spooky Empire!

We are headed to the Orange County Convention Center for one of the biggest horror conventions to date.

Join us on the dark side of comic con October 7-9, 2016!

Rooms are now available at our host hotel, The Hyatt Regency. Just mention “Spooky Empire” and get the special rate of $119/night. For reservations call 1-407-284-1234 or visit the site to reserve online.

For more information, tickets and hotel info visit us at www.spookyempire.com

Photo Ops Tickets Now Available for MegaCon 2016

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The Photo Op schedule with celebrities including Stan Lee, William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Ming-Na Wen, Hayley Atwell, John Barrowman, and many more at MegaCon‬ 2016 is now available. Tickets are now on sale via the website: www.MegaConvention.com/photo-ops

Individual Photo Ops Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Anthony Daniels 4:45pm
Billie Piper 3:45pm 12:15pm
Carlos Valdes 1:30pm 2:00pm
Christopher Lloyd 1:30pm 3:15pm
Curtis Armstrong 5:45pm 5:15pm 3:45pm
Daniel Logan 12:00pm 4:30pm
Elden Henson 2:15pm 3:30pm 1:15pm
George Takei 11:30am 2:45pm
Hayley Atwell 1:00pm
James Remar 6:30pm 4:00pm 11:15am
Jason David Frank 5:15pm 3:15pm 6:00pm
Jeremy Bulloch 5:45pm 3:45pm 11:30am 4:00pm
John Barrowman 3:00pm 11:30am
John Cusack 2:30pm
Jon Bernthal 6:30pm 1:30pm
Katie Cassidy 1:45pm 4:00pm 2:15pm
Lena Headey 2:15pm 12:15pm
Lennie James 4:30pm 3:45pm 12:45pm
Michelle Gomez 6:45pm 4:15pm 4:45pm 4:00pm
Ming-Na Wen 11:15am
Nichelle Nichols 2:45pm 5:30pm 1:15pm
Ralph Macchio 5:00pm 3:00pm 2:45pm 11:15am
Stan Lee 12:00pm
6:00pm
11:45am
6:00pm
11:00am
Tom Felton 2:00pm 2:30pm
Tom Payne 4:15pm 1:15pm
Vivica A. Fox 6:15pm 4:15pm 3:30pm
William Sadler 6:30pm 1:30pm 4:30pm 1:45pm
William Shatner 4:45pm
William Zabka 5:30pm 3:30pm 3:15pm 11:45am

 

Team Up Photo Ops Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Batman, Robin, & Batmobile (West & Ward) 5:45pm 12:45pm 2:45pm 12:30pm
Boba Fetts (Bulloch & Logan) 11:45am 4:15pm
Christopher Lloyd & Delorean (with Car) 12:30pm 4:00pm
Daredevil (Bernthal & Henson) 2:00pm
Jay & Silent Bob (Mewes & Smith) 5:00pm
Karate Kid (Macchio & Zabka) 5:15pm 3:15pm 3:00pm 11:30am
Weasley Twins (Phelps & Phelps) 12:30pm 3:30pm

Star Wars Celebration Comes to Orlando in 2017

Star Wars Celebration's photo.

 

May the 4th be with You! Star Wars Celebration comes to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL in 2017.

Tickets on sale May 25 at 12:00 PM PDT, 3:00 PM EDT, 8:00 PM GMT+1.

More info at the link…

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.

blah

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.

CA – FCBD: Stan Lee & More Signing

00000000_fcbd16-stan-leePress Release:

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!

RSVP on Facebook!

The Comic Bug
1807 Manhattan Beach Boulevard, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 372-6704

4267 Overland Ave. Culver City, CA 90230

CA – Spectrum #0 Signing

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Actor/writer Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Zootopia) and artist Shannon Eric Denton sign the comic Spectrum #0 from the web-series Con Man at Golden Apple Comics on Wednesday May 18th!

Golden Apple Comics
7018 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90038
323-658-6047

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