Events

Sabakon!

 

Saturday (the 20th), we went to Sabakon, the anime, video gaming, and pop culture convention held this last weekend in Las Vegas.  The whole Vegas team was there, Lydon on camera, Ramsey doing PR, and I was doing a bit of photography and chatting with attendees and vendors.

I’ve been to a dozen-ish or so cons, and I definitely still feel like a stranger to the magically strangely wondrous land of conventions.  Despite this, I’m still surprised by how different each convention feels.  Sabakon was definitely even more different than other cons I’ve been to recently, but a good different.  While each convention seems to “feel” different, depending on the promoters, the organizers, the venue, etc, I’d gotten to the point that I sort of expected each convention to be a bit cookie cutter with 80% the same layout with 20% of “this is how we’re different!”.  Sabakon didn’t seem to be trying to copy the standard con format I’m used to, or if it’s copying a format, it isn’t one that I’ve been to.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the “anime” format, but if you’re reading this and you have only been to comic book/pop culture conventions, when you go here (you’re going to check it out, right?), you’ll get what I’m feeling.  At least for me, Sabakon will always be the convention other similarly formatted conventions will be copying, rather than the other way around. 😉

When I first walked into the con, there was a frenzy of activity.  People going everywhere; volunteers busily handing out badges, and plenty of people seemingly just hanging out.  The convention was spread throughout the hotel, so there wasn’t any single entryway that opened to the rest of the convention.  Instead, after getting your badge, you could go due West into a lounge, gaming area, back out and West to some sort of hangout area (we met with the cosplaying Kiba corgi for an interview there, later on, it’ll be up soon!), and finally you could head past the pool towards the main hall and meeting rooms.

Kiba the Cosplay Corgi, and yes, that is a master chief helmet that he wears sometimes too!

Kiba the Cosplay Corgi, and yes, that is a master chief helmet that he wears sometimes too!  He was pretty tuckered out.

For me, the chaos of rooms sprawling around the entrance along with signs and volunteers running around just made it more “homey” to me.  I talked to a few other visitors as well as some vendors, and they reiterated that feeling to me.  There is something magical about a smaller con that seems mostly run by volunteers but has still reached that critical mass so that there always seems like someone new around the corner.  Sabakon is at that point.  I really liked it immediately.

There was a lot of great content. There were great artists (we commissioned a squirrel girl, viewable below! check out his work here), all kinds of anime and pop culture themed toys, props, and cosplay items, and some really great cosplays on display here.

This booth stood out to us for 3 things. 1) The biggest sandwiches I've ever seen anyone ever eat! 2) The most patience for dealing with us filming right here 3) some super cute drawings, including a squirrel girl we bought for a very reasonable $10!!!!

This booth stood out to us for 3 things. 1) The biggest sandwiches I’ve ever seen anyone ever eat! 2) The most patience for dealing with us filming right here as they painted away! 3) some super cute drawings, including a squirrel girl we bought for a very reasonable $10!!!!  You can see a print in the stand of pics right there

There were AWESOME cosplayers.  Which is great, because that’s kinda what we do after all. 🙂  I love conventions, art, pop culture, etc, but cosplay is our focus at these conventions, and this convention delivered in spades.

Dustbunny here just before her interview with Squirrel Girl LV, coming to a YouTube channel near you! :)

Dustbunny here just before her interview with Squirrel Girl LV, coming to a YouTube channel near you! 🙂

Unfortunately, I didn’t go to any panels, but there were many panels covering all kinds of different things that I haven’t seen as much at other cons.  Ball dance lessons, a very skit-focused cosplay show (including people singing and doing dance routines!), and comedy shows!  The panels were diverse and interesting enough that I wished I had scheduled a bit of time to enjoy these panels (in the interest of reviewing them here of course! ;)) as opposed to just focused on our Squirrel Girl LV & Friends show.  Next time I’ll definitely bring enough crew that I can wander off and do, see, and report on everything!

The cosplay show I just talked about, the Masquerade, was very cool!  We originally were focused on interviewing cosplayers and taking pics of the con, but enough of the cosplayers talked about the Masquerade that we decided to try and record the show.  We recorded about an hour of the show before our equipment gave out.  We had started with about 5 hours of battery life starting out, which was expected to be enough for the interviews, but even with frequent charging from nearby wall sockets, we couldn’t quite stretch out to the full 8 hours required to film the rest of the show.

The masquerade really highlighted both how brave many of these young cosplayers are, and how welcoming and supportive the community can be.  From beginner skill to more advanced skills, everyone was welcomed, clapped for, and walked off the stage happy.

one of the many skits from the masquerade

one of the many skits from the masquerade

So in summary, I don’t know if all anime conventions are similar to this type of layout, but I think I’m hooked.   I really appreciate Momokun making us aware of Sabakon, and we appreciate the Sabakon organizers for being so welcoming! I’m looking forward to the next Sabakon and we’ll make sure to schedule some other anime conventions into our normal mix of pop culture, comic, and SciFi conventions.

Until next year, please share with us your experiences, maybe tell us about any panels you experienced or whatever else I should try and experience!

For more photos, go check out our FB! 

 

Las Vegas Amazing Comic Con Review & Photos

We went to the Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con this last weekend (June 17th through June 19th).  This is our third year going, and something big changed this year, the convention moved from SouthPoint to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

This big change was somewhat expected, because last year it felt like the convention had outgrown the available space in Southpoint.  On the flip side, this year it felt like LVCC had both a lot of space and was limited.  At the LVCC, there is no limit on space…probably ever.  I’m sure the San Diego comic con could fit inside the LVCC with room to spare, the area was so big that I think there were 2 other conventions and I saw no sign of them.

The main floor had huge swathes of space, more than enough room for the crowds to navigate easily.   On the other hand, the panel rooms were tiny and seemed like they had limited electronic support (it seemed like most panels didn’t have enough microphones) and the main room could have been bigger.  The main room did have a nice big display panel and did have a nice stage, it just felt smaller than I’d like.  At the Southpoint, the main show area had its own restroom, and here restrooms were either hidden or far away from the main floor.

The Main Floor

As always, whats really cool about ALVCC’s floor, in many ways most of the Las Vegas geek conventions, is the opportunity to really talk with people at their booths.  You can hang out with artists and it doesn’t feel “rushed” in the same way that the “mega” cons do.  Try to compare a con like this with any of the mega cons, and of course the mega cons have big names and cool reveals, but if you want to feel like you can interact with some of the coolest most down to earth people, you gotta be at a cozy con like this!

Cosplayers

The cosplay community seemed much better served by being at LVCC vs Southpoint because of the massive amount of air-conditioned space just outside the main room and no hotel security with ridiculous restrictions such as no face makeup (I understand that the Southpoint is a casino and has different restrictions because of it, I just don’t care).  If it was Wondercon, I’d imagine the cosplayers hanging out in that huge space, with photo ops and/or just really chatting and goofing around.  I would just wish it had some indoor fountains or something to act as backdrops.  If they were going to invite a cosplay hangout out there, I’d want to bring in some stage props or something so that people have better photography opportunities.

Parking

Parking was obviously worse than at the Southpoint.  You pay 10 bucks and you end up having to walk further.  Wondercon this year had quite the walk too (because the LA convention center straddles a street), but you could walk internally to the convention center, where-as at the Las Vegas convention center, everyone was walking in 100 degree temperatures “OUTSIDE” a nice conveniently cool building that is presumably all connected.  To be fair, the LVCC is like a small city, and they probably don’t want people lost inside the mega-complex, but I think they should have it open and encourage people to use it to navigate from where they paid “10 bucks!” to park.  This is especially true for cosplayers, fully body makeup and 100+ temperatures aren’t a good combination!

Food

The food was a mixed bag.  On one hand, a full Starbucks was just outside the doors, a Nathans and a s’borro pizza.  I thought that these were conveniently close and decent.  There was also a cafeteria that has food that “looked” decent, but in reality, is like eating airport food.  However, the cafe and the Starbucks closed on Saturday with still 5 hours left of the ComicCon. There was a wanna-be Starbucks concession inside the main floor, but it only had small snacks; which wouldn’t have made a meal. Due to the parking situation, we never “left” and came back.  I did think it might have been cool to take the monorail to the strip, eat, and come back, but we didn’t have time and it just never did worked out.

I think the only reasonable solution, is to get some food trucks in there.  Can’t leave, isn’t enough (actually any) fresh food there, they need to bring in healthy or at least fresh food in for us (that we’d pay for).

Panels

Ok, I’ll admit it, I wasn’t hyped for the panels.  There were only 2 meeting rooms, and they weren’t very well described.  Then Friday I ended up watching the video game fight, and that actually turned out to be a lot of fun. And of course I stayed and watched the Library Bards show, because I’m a super fanboy for them!  If not for them, I wouldn’t have ended up watching the video game fight, in the end I liked that they closed off both Friday and Saturday.Saturday I ended up spending the majority of the day sitting in panels.

Saturday I went in wondering what I was going to do all day, because surely the rooms wouldn’t be able to keep me entertained.  Then what happens? Saturday I ended up spending the majority of the day sitting in panels.  I was literally in panels from I think 2pm until 9pm (including the cosplay contest).  ALVCC won me over with the panels.  Xander was a great panelist, as was Alana (I don’t know how to spell her name or how to follow her writing online, please someone correct me, the pretty blonde with clever wordplay/puns who hosted the cosplay convention with Emma, I know she does something with DC news Thanks everyone, name corrected and I’ve added her now on twitter!), Michael Coleman (from Tales of the Extraordinary, dang, I hadn’t listened to them in a while, now I have to go back through and listen starting from the beginning) and others I saw were all awesome.

One of the panels,  I sat in a room with Brian Haberlin and learned more in 1 hour than I’d learned in the past few years about digital tools with comic design. Wow, I left so invigorated and excited about what I’d do with what I learned.

I want more panels, and I want them to be so exciting that the rooms are full.  But…I want cozy panels where I sit around listening to people like Xander, Alana, and Michael just talking about comic book movies.  It felt like sitting with friends, instead of sitting in a crowd of 100+ people like at Wondercon.  It was really cool.

Entertainment

Ok, I’m a total Library Bards fanboy, so you can’t really trust my opinion in this paragraph, but dang, Bonnie and Xander were GOOD this year.  Happy, relaxed, not losing their voice (sorry, but last year Bonnie was losing her voice a bit, not blaming, just was happy she was in top form this weekend!).  With some new songs that I thought was really good.  I’m counting any song that they didn’t sing at last year’s ALVCC, as “new” even if they had some of the “new” ones online or at other cons.  They had a booth, things for sale, and are so personable!  My wife and I have a major crush on them I think.  Our friend Kim commented “That Bonnie seems like a super fun person just to hang out with”.  Thats part of what makes them so cool!

They didn’t wear their traditional outfit on Saturday…which I thought was an improvement. I thought they were more relaxed and “themselves”, the cosplay outfit they were is neat (which they wore on Friday), but I think their shirts and matching jeans was great!

I really wanted one of their shirts, but I had spent my budget by the time I made it to their booth, and was trying to be “good” this year (we always go crazy spending at conventions).  Then overspent anyways at the food area because I underestimated exactly how much it would cost.  I would have gotten dramatically better value out of the shirt. :/

What I would do differently

Ok, here is just a few things in no particular order

  • Put up signs!  Dang, no one outside of the geek community seemed to know about it.  I kept trying to explain that it was happening, but people kept forgetting.  There were literally “no” signs outside of the convention, so no random driving by and getting interested in it.
  • Food trucks! We need fresh food!
  • Signs downstairs saying where the meeting rooms were with maybe what their schedule was (then again, with the rooms being so tiny, maybe they didn’t want people to know lol).
  • More details about the panels so we know if we want to do it or not.  Do it in a digital form (like eventbrite) or whatever so that you can update it whenever you want.  At one point I ended up in the Sailor Moon panel when I wanted to in the panel talking about comic book movies.
  • Line up the floor better!  We like to go up and down each lane so that we can guarantee that we’ve seen everything.  Here everything was wobbly so we had to keep circling.
  • Have a board game area!  I love being able to stop off and try a new board game.  I’d volunteer to help organize something here, this is one of my most serious areas.
  • if you can’t get food trucks, try to find a way to afford the Mandalay Bay, better food available.

And with that, here are some of the photos I took.  200 of them are below, but we took around 800, if anyone wants more, I can share some and/or the originals, just contact me and I’ll put them up in the cloud somewhere (or here).  This is our first mega gallery, so this was somewhat of an experiment and apparently, in no particular order (unfortunately).

 

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