Motor City Comic Con Returns on May 19th-21st

Press Release:

Comic fans and pop culture enthusiasts from all over are gearing up for what is set to be one of the best Motor City Comic Con events yet with exciting panels and several recently added guests unveiled to the public today (follow this link to see the panel schedule). Stars from Weird Science, Guardians of the Galaxy, Arrow, Freaks and Geeks, American Pie, among others will be featured in panel discussions. Several media guests have also been added to this year’s lineup including Rob Schneider, Ron Perlman, Barbara Eden, Sean Astin, Herbert Jefferson Jr., Robin Lord Taylor, Ross Marquand, Kristy Swanson, James Remar, Marky Ramone, Ani-Mia and many more. For the first time at Motor City Comic Con, the Michigan premiere of a full-length feature film, The Space Between, by Amy Jo Johnson, who played the pink Power Ranger in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, will be featured. This year’s Motor City Comic Con will take place Friday, May 19 (12:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.), Saturday, May 20 (10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday, May 21 (10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at the Suburban Collection Showplace, located at 46100 Grand River Avenue in Novi. Complete information about the event, tickets, panels and VIP passes is available at www.motorcitycomiccon.com.

The weekend event features more than 300 creators, writers, illustrators and actors who will greet the fans, sign autographs, take pictures, and provide panels and Q & A discussions, while many super fans are dressed in their pop culture best. A popular event is Saturday’s cosplay contest where a mix of celebrity judges determine the best costume winners, presenting prizes and gift packages. Motor City Comic Con’s annual Saturday night bash celebrates comic con weekend with entertainment, refreshments, and light hors d’oeuvres for the public. Sunday is Kid’s Day featuring kid-friendly activities. In addition to the previously announced guests, newly added Motor City Comic Con guests feature:

Aly Michalka: Actor and musician known for her film appearances in Easy A, Bandslam, Sequoia, and Weepah Way for Now. Television appearances include: iZombie, Hellcats and Two and a Half Men.

Ani-Mia: An International Cosplayer who writes for Otaku USA Magazine – the premier anime and manga magazine in the U.S., makes appearances at conventions and judges costume contests.

Amy Dumas: An American professional wrestler and singer, better known as Lita, is currently a WWE analyst. She performed as a WWE wrestler from 2000 to 2006 and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2014.

Austin Amelio: An actor and writer best known as Dwight on The Walking Dead, Nesbit in Everybody Wants Some!!, Thomas in Putting the Dog to Sleep, and David in Over Again.

Billie Piper: The UK singer, dancer and television star is best known for her role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who. Piper can also be seen on Penny Dreadful. Other television film roles include: The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

Dennis Rodman: A retired NBA basketball star who played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. Nicknamed “The Worm”, Rodman is recognized as a Detroit Pistons’ Bad Boy and as one of the best rebounding forwards in NBA history. Rodman was a New World Order wrestler in the 1990s and appeared in the television show The Rodman World Tour, and in the action films Double Team and Simon Sez.

Frank Cho: An American comic strip creator, writer and illustrator best known for his work on the professionally syndicated strip Liberty Meadows. Cho was also the writer and illustrator of the first story in the Marvel NOW! Savage Wolverine series.

Hannah Kasulak: Known as Casey Rance in FOX Network’s The Exorcist, Kasulak has appeared in Filthy Preppy Teens, The Fosters, How to Get Away with Murder, True Blood and Nashville.

James Remar: Known for his various film and television roles from over the last four decades, Remar has appeared in The Warriors, 48 Hours, The Cotton Club, Django Unchained, Dexter, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, Tales from the Darkside, Sex And the City, 2 Fast 2 Furious, among many others. He can also be seen in the upcoming second season of Hulu’s The Path.

Jason Douglas: Known for his role as Tobin in seasons five and six of The Walking Dead and for his recurring appearances on Breaking Bad, Nashville, and Revolution, among others. Douglas has voice lead nearly 200 characters like, Beerus in the Dragon Ball Z films as well as Krieg the Psycho in Borderlands 2.

John E.L. Tenney: A Michigan native, Tenney is an author and one of the most recognized investigators of UFO, paranormal and occult phenomena in the U.S. Tenney is co-host on the paranormal reality show Ghost Stalkers and has appeared in Unsolved Mysteries, Paranormal State: The New Class, Ghost Adventures and Paranormal Lockdown.

John Francis Daley: An actor, screenwriter, film director and musician best known for his role as Sam Weir on Freaks and Geeks and as Dr. Lance Sweets on Bones. Daley plays keyboards and sings for the band Dayplayer, and he co-wrote Horrible Bosses and will be a co-writer for the upcoming Spider Man: Homecoming film.

Jordan Trovillion: An actor, singer and Michigan native known as the host of the comic book and nerd culture TV show Comics Continuum. She has also appeared in Comedy Central’s Detroiters, Lifetime’s Secrets in the Walls, among others. Upcoming projects include The Life and Death of John Gotti and Mercy.

Joseph Gatt: A U.K. native known for his roles in Pulse, Chuck, Eagleheart, Game of Thrones, From Dusk Till Dawn, The 100, Banshee, Second Chance, Teen Wolf, True Detective, Star Trek Into Darkness and Thor. Gatt can currently be seen as The Man in Z Nation.

LeVar Burton: Best known as Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Nemesis; host for PBS’s Reading Rainbow, and as Kunta Kinte in Roots. Burton is also an accomplished director and has directed episodes for Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise.

Martin Starr: Known for his role as Bill Haverchuck on Freaks and Geeks, Starr has appeared in Knocked Up, This is The End, King of The Hill, among others. He is currently reprising his roles as Gilfoyle on the third season of Silicon Valley.

Nicola Scott: An Australian comic book artist who has worked exclusively for DC Comics. Her work has appeared in titles such as Wonder Woman, Batman, Teen Titans, Superman, Birds of Prey and Secret Six, among others.

Ross Marquand: Known for his breakout roles as Aaron on The Walking Dead and as Paul Newman on Mad Men. He is also an accomplished voice over actor and has worked on productions such as Phineas & Ferb, Conan, among others.

Scott Wilson: An American actor known for his appearances in nearly 50 films such as Harvey Oberst in the 1967 film In the Heat of the Night, and Dick Hickok in the 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, among many others. Wilson is also known for his role as Dr. Hershel Greene on The Walking Dead.

Tim Bradstreet: Known as Marvel’s go-to cover artist, Bradstreet is an Inkpot Award-Winning artist and is known for his work in Vampire: The Masquerade, The Punisher, The Punisher MAX, John Constantine: Hellblazer, among many others.

Tom Payne: A U.K. native known for his roles as Paul “Jesus” Rovia on The Walking Dead, Leon Micheaux in Luck, and Rob Cole in The Physician. Payne has also appeared in several U.K. television series such as Skins, Casualty and Waterloo Road.

Tony Todd: A horror and sci-fi film icon best known for his roles in The Candyman, Sleepwalk and Platoon as well as roles in the Hatchet and Final Destination franchises. Todd can also be seen in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, The Rock, The Crow, Lean on Me, Bird, Night of The Living Dead, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, among many others.

Vic Mignogna: Best known for his prolific voice over work in the anime industry involving Japanese anime characters and video games. Mignogna’s most notable character is Edward Elric from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, and he was the voice role of Broly in the Dragon Ball Z films.

Wil Wheaton: An actor, writer and voice actor known for his roles in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Flubber, The Guild, Eureka, and The Big Bang Theory. He also appeared in Stand by Me, Toy Soldiers and Criminal Minds, among others.

Amy Jo Johnson: A film maker, musician and actor most known for her role as Kimberly Hart in the series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Julie Emrick on the series Felicity, and Jules Callaghan on the award-winning series Flashpoint. Johnson recently launched her debut feature film The Space Between.

Anthony Michael Hall: Known for his roles as Farmer Ted in Sixteen Candles and Brian Johnson in The Breakfast Club, Hall went on to become the youngest cast member in history on Saturday Night Live.

Barbara Eden: Named one of America’s 200 Greatest Pop Icons of the 20th Century, Eden is best known for her role as Jeannie on NBC’s I Dream of Jeannie television series which ran for five seasons. Eden’s memoir Jeannie Out of The Bottle was recently published and debuted as No. 14 on the New York Times Best Seller List.

Big Van Vader: Known for his early wrestling career in Japan, Big Van Vader went on to also beat competitors throughout Europe and Mexico and eventually, leading him to three World Heavyweight Championships. Following his WWE career, Big Van Vader returned to All Japan Pro Wrestling to form a tag team with Stan Hansen.

Dave Gibbons: A British comic book drawer and writer who has worked with comic publishers around the world. Some of his work includes: Doctor Who, Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Predator and Aliens.

Herbert Jefferson Jr.: An American film, television and stage actor best known for his role as Lieutenant Boomer on the original Battlestar Galactica TV series. Jefferson also appeared as Roy Dwyer in Rich Man, Poor Man and its sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, Maxwell Fall in Emmy Award winning series The Law, Muntzy in Knight Rider (1982), among others.

Ilan Mitchell Smith: An American academic and former actor best known as the co-star in Weird Science, Smith has also appeared in The Wild Life, The Chocolate War and Superboy. For the past 35 years, Smith has been a role-player/Dungeon Master, Miniatures gamer and Indie/Board gamer.

John Barrowman: Singer, dancer, host and actor best known for his role as Malcolm Merlyn in the series Arrow. Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn character has made guest appearances in The Flash as well as on the CW’s Reign. He has hosted ABC’s Sing Your Face Off, among other major events.

Josh McDermitt: Comedian and star of AMC’s The Walking Dead, McDermitt made his television debut on NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2006. He was casted in TV movie Rehab for Rejects and as Brandon on Retired at 35. McDermitt can also be seen in Middle Man and Odious.

Karolyn Grimes: As a child actor, Grimes became best known for her role as Zuzu on the film It’s A Wonderful Life. Grimes currently serves as the unofficial ambassador for the film, traveling the world and speaking at screenings, benefits, conventions, etc.

Kelly Le Brock: An American actress and model known for her acting debut in The Woman in Red. She also appeared in Weird Science, Hard to Kill, Betrayal of the Dove, Tracks of a Killer and Hard Bounty.

Khary Payton: Known as King Ezekiel on AMC’s The Walking Dead and Aqualad in Young Justice. Payton has been a voice actor for characters such as DC comic book hero Cyborg, Specialist Wasabi from Big Hero 6: The Series, Grimlock from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, Azrael & Killer Croc in the Batman: Arkham franchise, among others.

Kristy Swanson: Known for her appearances in Pretty in Pink, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Big Daddy, Knots Landing (1987-1988), Nightingales (1989) and B.L. Stryker (1989), among others.

Lou Ferrigno: Ferrigno is most known as playing the “Hulk” in the CBS series The Incredible Hulk. He has also appeared in other television shows, such as the CBS series The King of Queens and the film I Love You, Man.

Marky Ramone: Best known as the drummer (and last living member) of the legendary punk rock band the Ramones. In 2002, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and since then has been featured in the comic book TV series Killogy and appears in Killogy: The Animated Series.

Mena Suvari: Dubbed by People Weekly as an “All-American Girl,” Suvari is known for her film debuts in Nowhere, the American Pie film series and American Beauty. She also appeared in Loser, Spun, Rumor Has It, Domino, American Horror Story (2011), among others.

Michael Rooker: Best known as the blue-skinned alien Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy, a role he will reprise in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; and his role as Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead.

Rob Schneider: An American actor, comedian, screenwriter and director known for his sketch comedy series on Saturday Night Live as well as his starring comedy roles in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, The Hot Chick, The Benchwarmers and Grown Ups, among many others.

Robin Lord Taylor: Dubbed as “favorite breakout star of television,” Taylor is best known as Oswald Cobblepot or The Penguin on Gotham. Known for his role as Sam on The Walking Dead, and as Abernathy Darwin Dunlap in Accepted.

Ron Perlman: With a career spanning over three decades, Perlman has worked alongside diverse actors like Marlon Brando, Sean Connery, Dominique Pinon, Brad Dourif, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Jude Law, Christina Ricci, Federico Luppi, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Wincott and Elijah Wood. He is also known for his roles in Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army; biker chief Clarence Morrow on Sons of Anarchy, Norman Arbuthnot in The Last Supper and vampire leader Reinhardt in Blade II, among others.

Sean Astin: An actor and author known for his film debut as Mikey in The Goonies, Astin held the title role in the Rudy film and as Sam Gamgee in the Academy Award winning trilogy The Lord of the Rings.

Sean Gunn: Best known for his role on Gilmore Girls as Kirk Gleason, Gunn can also be found reprising his role as Kraglin (Yondu’s right hand man) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Shannon Elizabeth: An American actress and former fashion model who is known for her comedy roles in American Pie, Scary Movie and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. She appeared in the horror films such as Thirteen Ghosts, Cursed and Night of the Demons.

STING: An American retired professional wrestler, actor, author, former bodybuilder and WWE Hall of Famer, he is regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. Sting earned 25 championships during his 30+ year career, including 21 between WCE and TNA.

Thomas Ian Nicholas: An American film actor, singer, musician, producer, director and writer best known for playing Kevin Myers in the American Pie series, Henry Rowengartner in Rookie of the Year and Walt Disney in Walt Before Mickey.

Zack McGowan: Known for his role as Roan on the CW’s The 100 and as Captain Charles Vane in the Black Sails series. McGowan’s character is planned to recur on Agents of Shield and as Shkelgim in Universal’s Dracula Untold.

For more information regarding Motor City Comic Con guests and events, visit the website.

Triad Anime Con 2017 Report (including Interview with Johnny Yong Bosch)!

Greensboro. Third-largest city in North Carolina. Named for Major General Nathanael Greene, commander of the American rebel forces at the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781. Two centuries later, a Greensboro resident, Orson Scott Card, set war at the heart of his novel Ender’s Game. Speaking of war, Greensboro is home to the Atlantic Coast Conference and often the site of its annual men’s basketball tournament, the last conference tourney before March Madness. Syracuse University coach Jim Boeheim told the world what he thinks of the city, and I forgive him his Gotham grouchiness. Perhaps if he spent more time there, he would have a softer opinion. Perhaps if his team had gone to this year’s Triad Anime Con, held March 3-5 at the Koury Convention Center, they wouldn’t have lost their first tournament game three days later.

Triad Anime is done by the same team that puts on Ichibancon in Charlotte (I wrote about this year’s Ichibancon here). It is normally held in Winston-Salem but moved to Greensboro this year and a larger venue. A much larger venue. Here was the view Friday morning.

Bueller? Bueller?

Things heated up throughout the day, and of course Saturday brought in a great crowd, but the whole weekend felt less cozy that I was accustomed to. I expect that to change, however, as the con grows into its new digs. The on-site Starbucks was a welcome sight, and next door was Four Seasons Mall, with plenty of lunchtime options. And for perhaps the first time in my convention-going career, I didn’t have trouble finding a parking spot.

When I first attended Triad back in 2014, there were only two or three guests. This year had three times that number. Vic Mignogna has been every year (read our 2016 interview with him here), and I always enjoy seeing him. I was eager to see Brian Beacock, but he had to cancel (hey, Triad: get a phone app like Ichibancon so you can update us on changes like that). The person I was most excited to see was Johnny Yong Bosch. Power Ranger, voice actor, rock star, Johnny has done a little of everything. Whereas Vic has the personality to fill a lecture hall, Johnny is more reserved. I caught up with him on Friday after his autograph session.

What’s it like going from a character like Ichigo (Bleach) to someone like Izaya Orihara (Durarara!!) or Saruhiko (K – Project)?

Well the thing is, I didn’t work on those at the same time. There’s a lot of separation in time. So things I worked on while I was doing Bleach was Code Geass. And I think that overlapped a little bit with Eureka Seven. They’re different characters in different shows, but once you know your character, you just go in and do it.

How did you get into voice acting after doing live action?

Well, basically I was working on an independent film with the Japanese stunt team from Power Rangers, and the audio got screwed up. So I had to dub myself. As I was dubbing myself for the movie, the producer walked in and heard my voice and he thought I had a decent hero voice and asked me to come audition for some animation. And when I auditioned for that animation, I got the role for Vash from Trigun.

Why do you think Power Rangers has stayed popular for over twenty years?

Well, that’s a good question. A majority of the fans have stayed pretty loyal. I know there have been different actors over the years. I really don’t know. Basically, I think that it’s something that people grew up with and that they want to keep watching.

What has been your favorite role thus far in your career?

It’s very hard to pick one. It’s like picking your favorite child. For me, they’ve all been really great moments in my life, from Vash in Trigun to Bleach, Code Geass. I think one of my most favorites would be Nero from Devil May Cry 4, because I got to do the motion capture. I got to go to Japan for the first time. And I wasn’t limited to the animation. I was creating the character and then they animated it. And it was more of me. That would be one of my favorites.

What is it like doing motion capture?

Motion capture is weird at first. Your motions have to be overdone a bit and you have to overact your body language so that the computer can read your motions. But your face and your voice have to be very natural because they pick up every little detail.

What do you think of all of the fanfiction of Shizuo and Izaya?

I don’t read those. I know they exist. People have brought me books that looked interesting at first and I’m like “Huh, what is this?” So no, I don’t read those, but I did a long time ago with Power Rangers. I was like “Oh, there’s fan fiction?” And I read one. It was a little weird for me, so I stayed away from it.

I thought it was cool that Narita, the creator of Durarara!!, made a fiction of Shizuo and Izaya for April Fools’ Day.

[What Johnny said here was, “Oh my goodness.” But what I heard was this.]

Let’s switch gears a little. How did you get started doing conventions?

In 2001 or 2002, a director of Trigun, whatsherface, went to Sakura Con and said that she had an awesome time and it was really cool and a lot of fun. She recommended to me to go and took me with her the following year. And it was cool. Over the years, little by little, the convention scene (nice shout out) started growing. It wasn’t every weekend then like it is now. I started getting more invites. And now I have a few booking agents that handle me and my appearances.

How many conventions a year do you do?

I think last year it was fifteen or twenty, this year I’m already doing far too many. It’s neat to come out and meet fans. If I’m in the booth working on a project, nobody is saying “great job”. The director might say “Okay, next one. Okay next one.” It’s not like in theatre where everyone cheers. You don’t get to see the reward. Coming to a con, is seeing that reward. Seeing whether it was a success or not. The only drawback for me is my family. My family is back home. My kids are little. My son, for the first six months of his life, didn’t know me and was afraid of me. That’s where I had to pull the brakes a little and make some changes.

How did you start your band, Eyeshine?

Basically I couldn’t get a job to save my life after Power Rangers. There weren’t a whole lot of half-Asian roles at the time. I was very depressed, and I was near homeless. I had two trash bags full of clothes and a guitar. And in that time, I started teaching myself to play the guitar. Out of all that, I formed the band.

How many concerts a year do you do?

I have no idea. There are so many. We have quite a few this year. We have a lot of albums now. Got a new one coming out this April.

Between conventions and your band, when do you find the time to do acting?

I do that as well! Every day. My weeks are usually booked a couple of weeks in advance. Sometimes more than that. For voiceover work especially because they know their schedule and when things are coming along. The end of this month and going into next month, I already have bookings for voice over.

Are you able to record at home?

Sometimes I record at home. I do have a studio at home. But sometimes they like you to be there, but on occasion, they’ll ask for pickups or something to be done at home.

Okay, last question. What are some of your favorite TV shows?

I am watching Walking Dead at the moment. Breaking Bad was a really good one. Sons of Anarchy was a very interesting show. I watch a lot of terrible shows. Not terrible as in inappropriate, but terrible as in really bad.

Do you ever think, when you’re watching a bad show, “I could do better”?

I may have thought that. The thing about bad TV shows is they stay with you forever.

Fellow Convention Scene writer Michaela McPherson and I pose with Johnny.

Another thing I enjoy about Triad and Ichibancon is the Otaku Flea Market. Held all day Sunday, the flea market is a chance for any convention goer to sell merchandise. It is a feature I have seen at no other convention. The intent is for people to sell their own used stuff–manga, costumes, DVDs, toys, cards, etc.–but sometimes vendors who couldn’t get into the dealer room will grab a table. I have also seen people selling original art, which is against the rules: art belongs in artist alley. It is a good rule though hard to enforce in the first-come-first-served madness of getting flea market tables. Besides, who says the person made the art they are selling? I had trouble finding this year’s flea market because it wasn’t in the room designated on the convention map, which probably explains why all the sellers had their wares on the floor instead of on tables. One of the hiccoughs of being in a new venue, I guess. Again, however, a phone app would have made the room switch easy to announce.

To all my readers, I’ll say this: come out next year and check out Triad Anime Con. It is terrific value–the weekend pass was only $42!–and I guarantee you’ll have fun. Don’t let Jim Boeheim have the last word on Greensboro. And before you go, enjoy these photos.

A view of the dealers room

Security was pretty tight at this convention.

“Near, far, wherever you are . . .”

The long and short of it

Not your typical cosplay car

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made, especially an old guy picketing an anime convention.

Ballers

Nice tat-Tardis!

Was she trying to tell me I need more Right Guard?

I guess only MOST exits are an entry somewhere else.

The family that cosplays together stays together.

So sad when a convention ends. I’m looking forward to next year already!

Ichibancon 8 Con Report (with Interview with Quinton Flynn)!

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In 2014, I began my career at Convention Scene with an article about Ichibancon, the Concord, NC anime convention that is now a staple of my family schedule. “Ichiban” means “number 1” in Japanese, a fitting appellation for a convention held over New Year’s Eve weekend.

We have attended since 2012, when my daughter was fourteen and stayed up all night in her bedroom watching one anime after another. Now she is nineteen, and she stays up all night in her bedroom watching one anime after another. She does have a job as a Pizza Hut deliverer, which is why she couldn’t go to the convention. This year was her first time missing Ichibancon, and I hated that for her.

I wrote in 2014 that the convention had grown. After spending its first three years at the Blake Hotel in Charlotte—which, after pissing off more Democrats than Donald Trump, was split into two hotels in 2013—Ichibancon moved to the larger, family-friendlier Embassy Suites in nearby Concord. It needs to move again. Fridays are usually the slowest days at conventions, but by 5:00pm on that Friday, this is where people were parking.

ichiban 037

I stuck my head into Vic Mignogna’s Q&A on Saturday, and it was less than standing-room only. A con staffer asked me to “choose another place to enjoy the presentation.” That sounds feng shui and all, but it was like telling a sardine, “You might be more comfortable at that end of the tin.” Managing growth is a problem all conventions face, and it is a good problem. Means you’re doing something right.

Ichibancon’s sister convention, Triad Anime Con, is moving this year from a hotel to the roomier Greensboro Coliseum. Ichibancon could step up to the Charlotte Convention Center, but that might be cost-prohibitive. Still, more space should be a priority in the next year or two.

Another consideration of managing growth is figuring out ways to smooth the experience for attendees. For that, Ichibancon developed its first mobile device app.

Screenshot_2017-01-07-11-21-59[1]

The app was great for updates. Throughout the weekend, I got announcements for session delays and cancellations, price changes, and other things. The app was also a repository for policies and maps, relieving attendees of having to carry a program. Here, for instance, is the autograph policy.

Screenshot_2017-01-07-11-22-29[1]

One criticism of the app is that I couldn’t find a master list of changes and updates. Once, I saw an update pop up, but it vanished before I could read it all, so I still didn’t know what was going on. This left me to dig through the calendar to find the change.

The best part of Ichibancon has always been its guests. We have seen Vic Mignogna there every year, and I still marvel at his star power. For a 5:00pm autograph session, his line started forming at 3:30. By 4:15, it stretched out of the room, around the corner, and down the hall. My colleague, Michaela McPherson, interviewed Vic last year, and I recommend the read.

I got a chance this year to talk to Quinton Flynn, a veteran of video game and anime voice work.

How did you get started doing voice acting?

Well, the long story short is, I got a voiceover agent in Los Angeles, and he started providing me with copy to audition. I started auditioning in a recording booth at their offices, or I would go to outside casting director offices to record me in a booth reading from copy, making it come alive on the page. Eventually, I started booking work for commercials on radio, some on TV, and then I started doing animation, where I voiced the Human Torch and Johnny in The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest. And then I replaced Nathan Lane in the role of Timon in The Adventures of Timon and Pumba.

The longer answer is that I started doing impressions as a little boy. All through school, I did theater. I was also into rock and roll, so I had rock bands, and in college, I studied radio, television, and film. Once I got out of the university, I took some local voiceover workshop classes in Cleveland. Eventually, I knew I had to bounce to one of the major cities. That city became L.A. I took some animation voiceover workshops, and in that process, made a proper demo to go around knocking on doors in Hollywood that eventually yielded me an agent who got me to that place where I started answering your question.

You also do video games. What are the differences in voicing for a video game as opposed to a TV show?

Well, in video games, it is nonlinear recording. You might show up to a session and be jumping around in the script to different time lines, and you have to kind of turn on a dime. It’s great if one has an improvisational background, which I do, and if one is easily flexible in terms of taking direction and interpretation and using their mind in the way we always did as children: pure imagination.

That is different from an animated series in that, more often than not, we record alone for a video game. It’s just me in the booth. On the other side of the glass is the engineer who is working the knobs and the buttons and the faders. There is a director and sometimes a writer and producer.

In an animated series, if it is an original one, like when I did Johnny Quest or Timon and Pumba, or when I guested on Scooby-Doo or Animaniacs, the whole cast would be in there, and we would start the script from beginning to end, so you’d have the whole story in linear fashion. We would often get the script beforehand, and we’d get to read it and know it, and we’d also have the opportunity to work off one another. So you’d have some fun organic things happening in the moment. Sometimes, we’d be allowed to improvise, and then you’d have some kind of camaraderie.

Interestingly enough, in the video game world, depending on the writers and producers and actors, but largely those in charge of the cutting and editing, they have to be very sharp and clear about the scenes they are recording separately, so that when they bring the characters together, such as Axel and Roxas in the Kingdom Hearts series, they actually sound like they are talking to one another in the same scene, and I can tell you that, listening to the playthrough on YouTube, I was even blown away. It sounded like Jesse McCartney [who voices Roxas] and I were in the same room.

But you weren’t? You recorded separately, perhaps not on the same day?

No, never. In fact, I met Jesse at a release party the first time we had done Kingdom Hearts. We had said hello in passing, but we didn’t really know who we were to each other in the game. I’ve never seen him since. And yet, the relationship and the end result is very heartwarming, and I love it.

When I was growing up, video games didn’t have voice actors, and I’m always surprised at the number of video game fans who show up at conventions.

Oh, it’s true. I’ve done a huge body of work in animation, and some like it. Then I’ve done anime, which I have a bigger fan base for. And then, as you said, I’ve done video games, and the fan base is crazy. The way these things are released nowadays, they’re making major motion picture money, topping some of the biggest films that are coming out.

I once heard that the video game industry is bigger than the motion picture industry and the music industry combined.

Yeah, they’re making money hand over fist.

When you are preparing to voice a character, how do you get into the role?

Usually, I’m given a breakdown of the character, which tells me where the character is from, the character’s age, the tone and register of the character’s voice, what his position or role is, or title, what his background is. Based on that information, I then create and develop one character for them that I believe they are asking for, and I give it my Quinton Flynn take or spin. And then I might provide them with an alternate second or third read, just to give them something different, maybe something they hadn’t thought of, something that I think does apply to the character. I might sound older or add a different dialect, just to think outside the box. It’s kind of like painting or drawing, except I do it with my voice.

How did you get started doing conventions?

About ten years ago, my friend Jeff Nimoy, who was directing me in a show called Digimon Data Squad, was invited to a convention, and I believe another actor bowed out. He and I had done lots of improv together, and we had a fantastic relationship. He asked if I’d like to go, and I said sure, I’d love to go. I didn’t know anything about these conventions, and I didn’t know if anyone was going to know me. We showed up, and the attention, the adoration, the appreciation, the gratitude, the love, the interest, and the knowledge of the fans was immense. I had no idea. So over the last ten years, I’ve gotten to go many places in the U.S., Canada, England, and Ireland, and I’ve met people from all over the world. Recently, when I was in New York City for the New York Comic Con, I met people from Egypt, Scotland, Bangkok, Dubai, and Paris. I’ve had fans from Belize and Italy contact me on the Internet. It’s mind-blowing.

Switching gears a little, I love impressionists, which I know you are. Your YouTube video in which you tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood using 30 different impressions is terrific.

How did you develop your skills as an impressionist?

That is something I started when I was a little kid. My boyhood pal Billy Russ and I used to do impressions of impressionists’ impressions. At the time on TV, we were watching Frank Gorshin, Fred Travalena, John Byner, and Rich Little. Those were the four biggies. We started doing impressions of their impressions, and I was obsessed with entertainment, so I watched the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and I would do Johnny. I also watched Dinah Shore, Merv Griffin, and Mike Douglas, who would provide us with hours of entertainment, impressionists, actors, and characters that I would kind of sponge off and recreate with my voice. Then in 1975, when Saturday Night Live hit, I watched it until the 90s solidly, and I did impressions of those characters. It’s just been a skill I’ve had and developed since I was a kid, and I have found a method by which I’ve been able to do it. Some things take work. Other things just kind of fall into place. As I tell people, the characters talk for me; I don’t talk for them.

I always wonder whether impressionists ever get feedback from the people they do. Has anyone ever commented on your impressions?

I haven’t met any face-to-face, but I once did an impression of Paul McCartney on a morning radio show, and someone close to the McCartney camp called the radio station and said, “How did you get Paul’s private number, and why did you wake him up on tour?” Then they had to tell the truth: that this was an impressionist. That did get back to Paul, and he was actually impressed.

There was another convention I was attending, and I had been on a panel doing impressions of Christopher Walken and Christopher Lloyd. I found myself on a break speaking with Christopher Lloyd. His handler had been at the panel, and he said to me, “God, I loved your panel and all your impressions. Which was your favorite?” My Christopher Lloyd/Doc Brown impression went over like gangbusters and was by far the most fun. But there I was, as close to Christopher Lloyd as I am to you, and I was thinking, Do I tell him he was my favorite? If I do, will he be honored? Or will he be upset? What if he asks me to do it? I didn’t know him well, and I was afraid he would think I was mocking him. So I didn’t tell him. But I promise you this: if I see Christopher Lloyd again, I’m gonna flat out tell him.

Okay, last question. What’s the next convention you’re going to, and acting-wise, what are you working on now?

I will be in London for their anime convention [London Anime and Gaming Convention, February 3-5]. That is my next convention. I am currently working on an animated series on the Internet called Cartoon Hook-ups, in which I voice the role of Deadpool.

I saw a picture of that series on your table, and I wasn’t familiar with it.

Right. Not a lot of people are. It is put together by a gentleman named Jared Winkler, who is a terrific writer, and he has a fantastic artist with him. These are adult-themed, sitcom-type animated episodes where different cartoon characters and sometimes video game or anime characters end up hooking up in hotel rooms. They are cliffhangers in a way because the question is, are they going to hook up? Will they be accepted, or will they be rejected? It’s a lot of fun, and I got to do Deadpool, which was a thrill for me.

Who does Deadpool hook up with?

The closest he came to hooking up was with Harley Quinn. It is one of the best, and the actress who plays Harley Quinn [Lauren Taler] is spot-on. I encourage anyone to look that up. You’ll get a big laugh.

What else are you working on?

I’m a character named Jhin on League of Legends, which is a platform game you can sign up for online. I’m also creating a show called The Snozzberries, which is about three brothers who have the same mother who was a groupie, so they all have different fathers. They were latchkey kids who ended up living in front of the TV set, and their whole life is seen through a veil or prism of popular culture. They do a musical thing that is akin to Spinal Tap meets Hedwig and the Angry Inch. It will be a combination of animation themes, sitcom themes, movie themes, and original songs along with comedy interspersed. We may start out in the clubs playing it as a show, or we may do it into a little theater venue that tours. We’re not sure yet, but we will start out shooting episodes to post online, so look out for The Snozzberries starring Quinton Flynn, Scott Vaughn, and a third brother as yet to be determined.

Quinton and me

Quinton and me

Another area of Ichibancon that has grown is artist alley. In a world that increasingly devalues the fine arts, a convention artist alley is still a place where painters, sculptors, jewelers, and other artisans can make a living. I remember when the Ichibancon artist alley had only three or four members. This year, over a dozen artists were there, offering something for everyone.

An artist at work

An artist at work

Ichibancon was one of my first conventions, and it remains one of my favorites. The venue is posh (if a little crowded), the staff is among the best I’ve worked with, and North Carolina in January is not the deep freeze that other parts of the country are. Check out Ichibancon next year. Maybe I’ll see you there!

It was great seeing Vic Mignogna again.

It was great seeing Vic Mignogna again.

This couple decided not to leave the kids in the hotel room. Understandable.

This couple decided not to leave the kids in the hotel room. Understandable.

This couple decided not to have kids. Totally understandable.

This couple decided not to have kids. Totally understandable.

A look at the Ichibancon video game room.

A look at the Ichibancon video game room.

Artist alley can be a little cozy.

Artist alley can be a little cozy.

This Cruella is a fella.

This Cruella is a fella.

Coffee, tea, or LSD?

Coffee, tea, or LSD?

I thought I was coming down with something, so I asked to see the nurse. Then I really came down with something.

I thought I was coming down with something, so I asked to see the nurse. Then I really came down with something.

Spellcheck, where are you when I need you?

Spellcheck, where are you when I need you?

Boston Comic Con Returns This Weekend

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Press Release:

Boston Comic Con kicks off the three-day comic book convention on Friday, August 12 to Sunday August 14!

Boston Comic Con Celebrity Guest list includes William Shatner, the original Captain James T. Kirk, whose appearance, along with Vic Mignogna, marks the celebration of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary. Also appearing are leading stars from top current TV shows including John Barrowman, Caity Lotz, Ciara Renee, Danielle Panabaker and Robbie Amell from CW’s Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, Ben Mckenzie from Gotham, Elizabeth Henstridge from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gillian Anderson from the X-Files and featuring special appearances from Doctor Who companions Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan.

Frank Miller, the most celebrated creators in comic book history, headlines a stellar line-up of over 90 world class comic book artists and writers, including notable appearances by Sam Kieth and John Cassaday. Kieth is best known for his creator-owned titles The Maxx and Zero Girl and as co-creator of The Sandman. Cassady is a fan favorite artist with acclaimed runs on Planetary, Captain America, Astonishing X-Men and Marvel’s new Star Wars series. They join other famed artists such as Arthur Adams, Mike and Laura Allred, Greg Capullo, Amanda Conner, Terry Dodson, Phil Jimenez, Erik Larsen, Jae Lee, David Lloyd, Jimmy Palmiotti, Scott Snyder, Mark Waid, Marv Wolfman, Bernie Wrightson and many more.

On Friday, August 12, it’s Family Day where kids age 10 and under will receive free admission to the show featuring a variety of family friendly activities.

On Saturday, August 13, Mayor Marty Walsh will greet William Shatner and deliver a proclamation to the Star Trek legend. This will take place at 9:45 AM in the Harborview Ballroom at the Seaport World Trade Center. Also participating are Nick Kanieff and Jim Talbot, co-founders of Boston Comic Con.

On Sunday, August 14, the convention continues and includes one of the most anticipated events of the weekend, the annual Costume Contest on Sunday, August 14 from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM in the Plaza Ballroom.

WHERE: Seaport World Trade Center
200 Seaport Boulevard
Boston, MA

WHEN: Friday, August 12: 12:00PM – 8:00PM
Saturday, August 13: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Sunday, August 14: 10:00AM – 6:00PM

Tickets and information available at the link: www.bostoncomiccon.com

Florida Supercon 2016 is Next Weekend

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Press Release:

Florida Supercon is the LARGEST Comic Con in Miami. Supercon takes place JULY 1-4, 2016 at THE MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER and FILLMORE MIAMI BEACH AT THE JACKIE GLEASON THEATER!

Find the best in Comic Books, Media Guests, Anime, Animation, Video Games, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Pop Culture in South Florida. Florida Supercon is 4 days of fun featuring celebrity guests, comic book creators, voice actors, industry guests, cosplayers, artists, writers, panels, Q&A’s, films & shorts, costume & cosplay contests, vendors, parties, anime, workshops, video gaming and more!

Some of the highlights for Florida Supercon 2016 include:

  • Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration: William Shatner “Captain Kirk”, Walter Koenig “Pavel Chekov”, Michael Dorn “Worf”, Denise Crosby “Tasha Yar”, Robert Picardo “The Doctor”, René Auberjonois “Odo”, Robert Duncan McNeill “Tom Paris”,  David Warner “Chancellor Gorkon & St. John Talbot”, Chase Masterson “Leeta the Bajoran”, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture Cinematographer Bruce Logan.
  • DC’s Legends of Tomorrow star: Casper Crump “Vandal Savage”.
  • FOX’S Gotham star: Ben McKenzie “Jim Gordon”.
  • Doctor Who star: Alex Kingston “River Song.”
  • The Walking Dead Cast Members: Michael Cudlitz “Abraham Ford”, and Denise Crosby “Mary”.
  • Star Wars Cast Members: Jeremy Bulloch “Boba Fett”, Tim Rose “Admiral Ackbar”, Jessica Henwick “Jessika Pava”, Chris Parsons “4-Lom”, and Star Wars: A New Hope special effects co-ordinator Bruce Logan.
  • First Time Ever TRON ReunionBruce Boxleitner “TRON”, David Warner “Sark”, Cindy Morgan “Yori”, and TRON Cinematographer Bruce Logan.
  • Game of Thrones cast members: Natalia Tena “Osha” and Jessica Henwick “Nymeria Sand”.
  • Harry Potter stars: Natalia Tena “Tonks”, and Devon Murray “Seamus Finnigan”.
  • Sesame Street cast members: Emilio Delgado “Luis” and Bob McGrath “Bob Johnson”.
  • Steven Universe stars: Zach Callison “Steven”, Michaela Dietz “Amethyst”, and Grace Rolek “Connie”.
  • Wrestling Superstars: Mick Foley, Diamond Dallas Page, Mickie James, The Godfather, Road Warrior Animal, and Demolition.
  • Pokémon 20th Anniversary Celebration: Veronica Taylor “Ash Ketchum”, Michael Liscio Jr. “Clemont and Inkay”, Tara Sands “Bulbasaur, Richie, Sammy, Oddish and Jasmine”, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld “Bonnie, Nurse Joy, Jasmine and Audino”, and Haven Paschall “Serena, Concordia, and Ellie”.
  • Anime Stars: Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist, Dragon Ball Z, Ouran High School Host Club), Caitlin Glass (Fullmetal Alchemist, Attack on Titan, Ouran High School), Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo), Trina Nishimura (Attack on Titan, Witchblade, Claymore), and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Ghost In The Shell, Sailor Moon).
  • Animation Stars: Tara Strong (Teen Titans Go), Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time), Dana Snyder (Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Squidbillies), Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Darkwing Duck), Larry Kenney (Thundercats, Count Chocula), Charles Martinet (Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Toadsworth, Baby Mario, and Baby Luigi for Nintendo), Steve Blum (Transformers: Prime, Wolverine and the X-Men, Legend of Korra), and Andy Sipes (Triptank, Code Monkeys, and Archer).
  • Dozens of Comic Book Artists and Writers: Keith Giffen, Greg Capullo, Fabian Nicieza, Joe Keatinge, Leila del Duca, Neal Adams, José Luis Garcia-Lopez, Jorge Molina, Ramón Pérez, Jill Thompson, Colleen Doran, Scott Kolins, Allen Bellman, Scott Hepburn, Trevor Von Eeden, Elliot S! Maggin, Brad Walker, Khary Randolph, John Beatty, Shawn Crystal, Brent Schoonover, Cory Smith, Tony Bedard, Mateus Santolouco, Tony Bedard, Jose Delbo, Greg Horn, Andy Kuhn, and many more!
  • Power Ranger Cast Members: Austin St. John, Christopher Khayman Lee, Steve Cardenas, and Dan Southworth.
  • More celebrities including: Henry Winkler (Happy Days, Children’s Hospital, The Waterboy), Kel Mitchell (Kenan & Kel, Good Burger, Mystery Men), Lisa Corrao (Every Witch Way), and many more to be announced!
  • Multiple costume and cosplay events each day of the show, with thousands of dollars in cash and prizes on the line!
  • Over 500,000 square feet of convention space featuring 700 booths and tables with vendors, celebrity guests, artists, filmmakers, and exhibits. 3 stages of entertainment, video games, plus a dozen rooms for panels, tabletop gaming and screenings.

Click here to get tickets.

FSC is JULY 1-4, 2016
THE MIAMI BEACH CONVENTION CENTER & FILLMORE MIAMI BEACH AT THE JACKIE GLEASON THEATER
1901 Convention Center Dr. • Miami Beach, FL 33139 • 305.673.7311
SUPERCON PHONE: 954.399.1330 info@superconventions.com

Photo Ops Tickets Now On-Sale for Boston Comic Con 2016

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Press Release:

Photo Ops tickets are now available for Boston Comic Con 2016 with media guests William Shatner (Star Trek’s original Captain Kirk), Karl Urban (Star Trek Beyond, Pete’s Dragon), Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who, Me Before You), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who), John Barrowman (Torchwood, Arrow), Ben McKenzie (Gotham, Southland), Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of SHIELD), Caity Lotz (Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow), Robbie Amell (The Flash, X-Files), Ciara Renée (Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash), Seth Gilliam (The Walking Dead, Teen Wolf), and Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist, Star Trek Continues).

Get tickets from Epic Photo Ops at the link…!

Boston Comic Con 2016 tickets are on-sale now at the link!

RSVP on Facebook!

About Boston Comic Con:
The Boston Comic Con is a 100% independently run comic book show committed to bringing the biggest and best comic creators to New England. Run by fans for fans, Boston Comic Con is not affiliated with any other convention tour or corporate interests. Hosting over 120,000 square feet of vendors selling comic books, toys, posters, trading cards, and other pop culture memorabilia, this is a destination event for geeks of any stripe. This year’s convention will be held Friday August 12th, Saturday August 13th, and Sunday August 14th at the Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA 02210. For more information please go to our website at www.bostoncomiccon.com and follow us on Twitter (@BostonComicCon) and Facebook!

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.

 

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.

Vic Mignogna Beams Down to Boston Comic Con 2016

vic-mignogna-star-trekPress Release:

Boston Comic Con is happy to welcome actor Vic Mignogna, best known for his voice acting work on the anime Fullmetal Alchemist, to the media guest lineup this year as part of our Star Trek 50th Anniversary Celebration! Vic plays Captain Kirk in the webseries Star Trek Continues, which is a direct continuation of the Enterprise’s five-year mission. He joins a guest list that includes Karl Urban, Dr. McCoy in the new series of Star Trek films including this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, and the original Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner! Check out the full list of celebrity guests at the link!

Victor Mignogna is an American actor known for his prolific voice-over work in the English dubs of Japanese anime shows and for his role as Captain Kirk in the immensely popular fan-created sci fi series Star Trek Continues. Vic’s most notable voice role is that of Edward Elric for the Fullmetal Alchemist series, for which he earned the American Anime Award for Best Actor in 2007. Other notable roles in anime include his work in the Dragon Ball Z films, Ouran High School Host Club, Tubas: Reservoir Chronicle, D.N. Angel, and Vampire Knight. His video game credits include Sonic the Hedgehog series and Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3.

Victor will be appearing all three days of the event.

Tickets are on-sale now at the link!

RSVP on Facebook!

About Boston Comic Con:
The Boston Comic Con is a 100% independently run comic book show committed to bringing the biggest and best comic creators to New England. Run by fans for fans, Boston Comic Con is not affiliated with any other convention tour or corporate interests. Hosting over 120,000 square feet of vendors selling comic books, toys, posters, trading cards, and other pop culture memorabilia, this is a destination event for geeks of any stripe. This year’s convention will be held Friday August 12th, Saturday August 13th, and Sunday August 14th at the Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston, MA 02210. For more information please go to our website at www.bostoncomiccon.com and follow us on Twitter (@BostonComicCon) and Facebook!

RocCon (September 2016)

RocCon

Convention Name
RocCon! Rochester’s ComicCon & Pop Culture Convention
Convention Website Address
http://www.roccon.net
This convention will take place:
  • over multiple days.
Start Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
09/09/2016
End Date (Format mm/dd/yyyy)
09/11/2016
About This Convention
RocCon is a multi Genre Con featuring Comic Books, Sci Fi, Anime, Gaming and some Horror.

This year’s Guests: Naomi Grossman/Pepper in American Horror Story, Ming Chen & Michael Zapcic From “The Comic Book Men”!, Vic Mignogna/Dragon Ball Z/Full Metal Alchemist/ Star Trek Continues, Veronica Taylor the voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokemon & April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 and Susan Gibney/Dr. Leah Abrams Star Trek Next Generation! Many other Stars to be announced!

Guest artists include(But are not limited to): Ken Lashley (Extrodinary XMen, Superman, He-Man, Justice League and more!, Mark Sparacio (Wolverine,XMen & More), Ken Hunt (Batman & Many others), Laura Inglis (Comic Artist who’s work has appeared on over 40 popular trading card sets) and Dan Curto (Star Wars Topps Collector Card Series Artist!)

Fun for ages 6 and Up
Video Gaming, Card & Board Gaming & Demos, Cosplay Contests all 3 days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday), 6 event rooms with tons of fun Guest Star and Fan Run Panels!, The Food Truck Rodeo is back! Camp RocCon is back for ages 5 and under (a quiet room for parents and small kids)! So much to do all weekend at RocCon! Rochester’s ComicCon & Pop Culture Convention!

Venue Name and Address
Kodak Event Center/Theatre on the Ridge
200 West Ridge Rd
Rochester, NY 14615
United States
Map It
Number of Dealer/Exhibitor Tables
130
Projected Attendance
4,000
Please select the Category that best describes the convention
Comic Books
Additional Categories
  • Anime
  • Gaming
  • Horror
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • Collectibles
Guests
Naomi Grossman/Pepper in American Horror Story, Ming Chen & Michael Zapcic From “The Comic Book Men”!, Vic Mignogna/Dragon Ball Z/Full Metal Alchemist/ Star Trek Continues, Veronica Taylor the voice of Ash Ketchum in Pokemon & April O’Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 and Susan Gibney/Dr. Leah Abrams Star Trek Next Generation! Many other Stars to be announced! Guest artists include(But are not limited to): Ken Lashley (Extrodinary XMen, Superman, He-Man, Justice League and more!, Mark Sparacio (Wolverine,XMen & More), Ken Hunt (Batman & Many others), Laura Inglis (Comic Artist who’s work has appeared on over 40 popular trading card sets) and Dan Curto (Star Wars Topps Collector Card Series Artist!)

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