Phoenix Comicon 2012

Posted May 29th, 2012 (6:09 pm) || 3 Comments

I have attended my first Comicon.

I’ve been attending several local game and sci-fi conventions, most notably Hexacon (which unfortunately seems to have died), but I’ve never attended a “real” convention. That is to say one which is too large to remain contained within a single hotel and must be held at a dedicated convention center. Phoenix Comicon was HUGE. I’m sure it may not be as large as GenCon are similar large national conventions, but I’ve never been lost upon entering the door of a con before. Fortunately I was able to get my bearings by the end of the the first day.

DeAnna and I were able to attend due to the generosity of a friend of ours who has also attending the con. We’ve been short on money since my unemployment ran out, and while donating plasma is keeping us in gas and groceries, things are tight. So I from both DeAnna and myself, thank you, Wade, for take us with you!

I’ll note now that I don’t have any pictures. This sucks. There is a camera on my phone, and I did take many pictures, but as I discovered my phone’s camera is made of fail. So I have several dozen blurry, out of focus, dark, or otherwise useless photos of all the fun things I did. So with this lack of evidence, you’ll just have to take my word. This should be no problem as nothing really spectacular happened, other than maybe when Wil Wheaton dropped by the gaming tables in the Hyatt to chat for a bit. But that wasn’t until until Saturday so I’m getting ahead of myself.

Day One: Thursday

I’m used to attending cons on only the core Friday through Sunday schedule, as nothing usually is happening on a Thursday. For Comicon, I wasn’t going to miss anything. Registration started around noon-ish, but due to donating plasma around that time we didn’t arrive until closer to 4pm. We didn’t miss much. After meeting up with Wade, we headed straight for the convention center, grabbed some schedules and then headed for the Exhibitor Hall to check out some of our favorite webcomic artists.

The artist(s) we had in common were the authors/artists of Looking For Group, so we stopped there first. The artists were cool, though I’m never sure what to say after “wow, I love your work!” because everyone just says “wow, thanks!” and I’m left looking at their stuff to buy, which I don’t. Wade and DeAnna seemed to figure out how to talk to the artists though. I wanted to buy a t-shirt but they didn’t have any I felt were my size. They were nice and offed to let me try one on, but it was late in the afternoon on a hot a sweaty Phoenix so I opted not to.

Other artists we stopped by, that I recall were those of Templar Arizona, Bean and Peter S. Beagle. I’ve read Templar Arizona on and off, and Spike was probably the most personable artist we came across the entire con. Bean I had never heard of, and only stopped because the artwork caught my eye. Not too sure if the story will keep my interest but I’ll give it a shot. For those of you who don’t know, Peter S. Beagle is the author of The Last Unicorn, of which there is probably more popular animated film. We didn’t get to meet Mr. Beagle at his exhibition booth due to schedule conflicts,  but we did get to meet him on Friday during a panel.

In the evening we attended our first panel, titles “How to Survive Comicon.” Though convention veterans we all are, we thought it would be a good idea to attend this even if only for the entertainment value. Turns out there was a huge amount of useful information to be had, though we found out Friday about half of it was total crap. Most notably was the absence of any kind of bag check-in at the convention center. The idea is that at a convention, you should expect to receive a lot of “SWAG” (something we all get), not to mention it is very easy to forget other bills and go nuts buying stuff in the Exhibitor Hall, and you’ll not want to make half a dozen trips across downtown Phoenix to your car throughout the day. So check in a bag or two with the convention staff, attend that last panel or meet and greet with the TV star you want to autograph of, and pick up your bad when you are ready to leave. This would have been awesome if the convention staff actually did that. Certainly the hotel staff of the Hyatt and Renaissance do, but Exhibitor Hall wasn’t at the Hyatt or Renaissance, and you kinda have to be a guest of either to use that service.

After a break for food and some random wandering around Exhibitor Hall, we attended the “Steampunk on a Budget” panel. Steampunk is ultimately more of a style than any sort of official setting, and it’s almost always found in cosplay rather than in fiction (though there are a few). It’s basically a Victorian (or alternately Old American West) look, combined with industrial themed accoutrements consisting of lots of copper and brass, gears, clocks and various bits which attempt to recreate an anachronistic technology using what appears to be period science and materials. Another way to look at it is to think “cyberpunk” set in the 1800s. The panel itself was very useful, emphasizing the use of discount and second hand stores such as the Goodwill and other thrift stores, though it always helps to know people you can get things from for free.

Day Two: Friday

Friday we got an early start but ended up running late anyway due to traffic, then found the cost of parking had doubled. Despite this, we parked and attended anyway. :p

We missed our first panel, which was Cosplay 101, but since there were several of these throughout the con we weren’t that upset. At noon was the How to Be a Voice Actor panel, where non of the panelist bothered to show up. At least none of them were there during the first half hour, so DeAnna and I crossed the floor to How to Dress Like a Doctor just in time to here advice on Peter Davidson’s outfit on up through Mat Smith.

Despite missing out on the Cosplay panel, I did manage to pick up some cat ears and a tail in the Exhibitor Hall. Not exactly the perfect cosplay outfit, and certainly more of a furry thing, but I love cats. I guess all I need now are some pointy teeth, which some vampire teeth will probably work. DeAnna says I need a cat nose, but I think I’ll settle for the teeth when I find them.

Next up was “Worldbuilding”, which had a number of web artists I’d never heard of, but also Peter S. Beagle. This one was fun, especially the panelist’s views on the Tolkien copies and those who try to break free from it, and those who manage not to have any elves and dwarves at all.

“How To: Writing Fantasy Comics” came next, though at the same time was the Steampunk Ball. I have in interest in steampunk, but not enough to attend a ball I had no outfit for, but DeAnna wanted to go. As the ball continues for several hours, we both attended the panel and she went to the ball after. This panel turned out to be not as informative as I thought it would be, as it concentrated on the function of writing/drawing rather than on the industry and how to go from written/drawn story to having a published website with recurring updates.

“Webcomics: Building Believable Characters” was next in line. This was fun, despite having only a single panelist. The panelist was Sarrah Wilkinson of Red Nebula Studios, artist and co-author of the webcomic “Planes of Eldlor”. I’d never heard of her, but got to like her as the panel went on. It was a cross between a simply discussion on the various traits which go into creating a character which is more than a bundle of dialog and a few descriptive words, and a cooperative building exercise in which the audience collaborated to create an entirely new character.

At 6pm would have been “Spotlight on Colin Ferguson”  but as much as I love Eureka, I’m not going to stand in a line that wraps around the convention center to meet the star. Sorry Mr. Ferguson. At the same time was the Party Like a Time Lord party, which I had an interest in but had already dedicated my time to Ferguson. DeAnna and Wade had already gone, so this left me with pretty much the rest of the day and evening with nothing to do. So, I grabbed something to eat and heading over to the Hyatt to check out what the gaming was like.

I was not disappointing by the gaming. Apparently the Pathfinder system by Paizo has an organized play option called the Pathfinder Society which I knew about, but didn’t realized how popular it was in Phoenix. I spend the next hour rolling up a new character and the rest of the evening playing Pathfinder.

Day Three: Saturday

I also spent all of Saturday playing Pathfinder. I imagine I missed out on some really fantastic panels, but I didn’t care because I got to play a game I love and with one exception, had never got to actually play. During the day there were three events, and I played in all three, eventually advancing my human bard up to 2nd level. The character is Reindeer Rothslinger, who is a human raised by gnomes, and thus shares there whimsical and playful nature, as well as their magic.

DeAnna and Wade joined in on Saturday as well, though we didn’t get to play the first few sessions together. Seems the event organizer had a number of other new to Pathfinder Society players and placed them all at the same table for a bit. By the evening we were all together though.

Many of the scenarios we played were very nice, though a few seemed a bit clunky or forced. This may have been a necessity for time they are intended to play in, or just that they were somewhat rushed due to the convention and its distractions. They all were fun enough to keep my interest, and DeAnna and I intend to continue play with the local chapter of the Pathfinder Society which meets at Imperial Outpost several times each month.

Day Four: Sunday

Sunday was the Iron GM competition. If you’ve heard of Iron Chef, it’s like that only with table-top role-playing. Wade, after hearing of it, immediately signed me up as a GM, and him and DeAnna as players. I like to think I’m the stuff which a fine GM is made, but I’ve never considered it a competition. I discovered as the event started the default system would be 4th Edition D&D, which I knew, but hated. I figured I’d give it a shot, especially since there was a chance I could convince my table to play using Pathfinder instead.

I did not convince them, so was stuck with 4th. As it turns out, only one person at my table was familiar with 4th Edition, and he ended up leaving do to some unknown emergency about a half hour into the competition. This did leave me with the ability to fly loose with the rules a bit as no one would know the difference. Overall, it was a bit of a frustration and I had pretty much keep a pile of book open in front of me, but I had a blast and my players seemed to do the same.

I didn’t win, which came as no surprise really. This was my first competition of this sort, and I had no idea what I was doing. I’m just happy I had fun. Simply by participating I received a huge pile of prizes, including a brick of Pathfinder minis and other Pathfinder supplements, which I found ironic since I was ultimately prevented from using Pathfinder rules at the table.

Home

After the con, there was a few hours wind down and then an early sleep. Normally I’d have been up early to donate plasma, but I’m thinking I’m skipping my first donation this week due to exhaustion and dehydration (at least as much as donating plasma requires). I should be fine by Thursday.

So that was Phoenix Comicon. I am now not an Iron GM, but I am a cat furry, and I have plans on putting together a Colin Baker cosplay outfit (God help me) and some sort of Western themed steampunk outfit which I intend to include my cat ears in.

Wish me luck!

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Happy 2012!!!

Posted January 1st, 2012 (5:31 pm) || 5 Comments

Well, we now have less than 12 months before the end of the world. Even now rumors of apocalyptic destruction are flying about the delusional half of the new age crowd. If such foretellings are true, the Earth shall be consumed by a black hole, annihilated (somehow) by the solar maximum, or collide with Nibiru. Some also believe 2012 will actually issue in an age of enlightenment and peace in some kind of “Age of Aquarius”. But if you believe all the futurist sci-fi literature, all we can really expect is the total economic collapse America and a possible religious takeover of the government.

2011 was an… interesting year. This has been my first year since becoming unemployed from a full-time permanent job that I’ve not worked or earned any money at all. None. I’ve gotten a few interviews but nothing that’s actually progressed all the up to a pay check. I’ve also received no freelance work. Fortunately DeAnna is still gainfully employed and her job alone can cover the majority of our expenses. I know I can’t expect to receive unemployment benefits forever, and they are really dwindling now, but the supplemental income is helping to make ends meet. Seeing as how I can expect them to run out sometime in February I’m going to expand my job search to part-time and minimum wage positions, as any wage is better than no wage.

Back in October I receive a new smartphone for my birthday. It’s a Samsung T-499, which is kinda low-end, but function and does all those things I want a smartphone to do. I’m actually quite impressed with it. Even without installing any apps it was capable of just about everything I was looking for in a phone. A few apps later and it can now do things I never expected a phone to do (such as roll dice and look up rules for RPGs). I’m gonna have to get DeAnna one of these for her birthday, provided we have the income to afford the extra $35/month T-Mobile wants for 3G service.

Our cat Ember is now over a year old and has spent a full year with us. She is still so tiny. Here is a (blurry) photo of her:

ember3

We lost Jared this year. He was old, but not ancient, but very sick. I’ve had Jared since he was a kitten. I adopted him from the Humane Society, almost by accident. I had given a friend a ride so she could adopt a cat of her own, and I had asked to see a black kitten only a month or so old while I was waiting. As it turned out, she could not adopt as her apartment management could not be contacted to confirm they allowed pets, but rather than leaving empty handed she paid for my adoption of the kitten, which I named Jared. That was so long ago. I miss you Jared.

With our loss of Jared, we’ve considered getting a new kitten to keep Ember company, though we wanted to wait until after the new year to look. I’m not sure what we’ll be looking for but as with Ember, I’m sure something will come up and just the right time and will be perfect.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my cousin Mark moved in. His job is going well, though I’m not sure if it’s paying him enough to give him any independence. This coming year I’m hoping he’ll look into getting financial aid and get into school for something better. Any amount of independence won’t happen until after college, but he’ll be working in that direction and will be expanding his network of people he knows here in Phoenix. I’m worried he doesn’t get out enough, but who am I to talk?

Another one of our friends moved up to Seattle just prior to Thanksgiving. It seems that’s really the place to go, as we now know more people living up there than we do locally. Kinda weird since a long time ago DeAnna and I had decided if we were going to move anywhere but here, it’d be to Seattle. It’s comforting to know what once we make the move we’ll already know so many people there.

In the gaming world, my MMO of choice, City of Heroes, went free to play. This thrills me to no end. There are still plenty of perks to having a paid subscription, but it’s good to know if I can’t make the subscription payment for a month or two I can still play. My other MMO of choice (Lord of the Rings Online) went free to play last year, and I’m loving that as well. My new D&D campaign is going surprisingly well, though I’m still aching to actually play something rather than be the GM all the time. One of my players has offered to run, and is interested in taking over as GM for my campaign. I’ve never handed over the reins of my own campaign world before, so I’m a little scared and a lot excited over the idea. Best of all I’ll have a chance to play. I just hope I don’t try to back-seat GM or criticize too much.

Christmas has come and gone, and despite not having a lot of money to go around we managed to get gifts for everyone. Mom was thrilled to get Cowboys & Aliens, and we got Jacob a remote control helicopter (which I immediately broke after opening, but I’ll get him a new one come payday). We got mark an iTunes gift card for use with his iPhone and a 6-pack of Lucky Buddha beer (the bottles are shaped like a Buddha and the beer tastes great!). We did a gift exchange with our D&D group as well, which was awesome. I got Bruno, who is new to the game and who I don’t know that well, a 6-pack of Lucky Buddha beer. DeAnna got Marianne a set of spooky shot glasses. Rob made us an ornament made of copper wire which bears our name (we might keep this up year ’round). Shane got me a t-shirt (Sarcasm: the body’s natural defense against stupid) which actually fits. I’m of a large size and impossible to buy clothing for, and this is the first time anyone has bought me a piece of clothing that fit since I was 12. (Not entirely true, but I’m not counting the t-shirt gifts from my friend who already knew my size because he was the same).

Christmas Eve DeAnna and I took a drive around the neighborhood to take a look at all the decorations once more. Right around midnight some had decorated an entire neighborhood with luminaries. It was incredible! Many of them were still lit and they made the night more magical. I have no idea who was responsible for it, but I thank them for such a grand effort, despite the lateness of the hour it did not go unappreciated.

Well, it’s now the new year, and it’s time to pack up our decorations, and hopefully pack up a few things for a potential move in a few years. Provided the world doesn’t come to an end before then of course.

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Totally Lost

Posted May 24th, 2010 (7:41 pm) || 2 Comments

So Lost is over. I watched the finale on Hulu today. While I wish there would have been more, I was satisfied with the ending. I really would have liked to discover more about the island and its history, but I guess the show was really more about the people who ended up there rather than the island itself. I can deal with that.

Of course, that means I’m free to make it all up on my own and use it as part of my D&D setting. My main dilemma is determining why that statue only had four toes on a foot. My previous theory was that the builders watched too much Family Guy, but I don’t think that will translate well into an RPG.

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CASFS Is Using My Logo

Posted April 11th, 2010 (2:51 pm) || Comments Off

A few years ago the Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society held a contest for armature graphic designers to produce a new logo for their organization. Mine (pictured below) was the winning entry. I didn’t get much for it, just an announcement in the next issue of Connotations and a couple of tickets into the next convention of my choice. But that’s cool, as I just wanted something I designed in print, on websites and such with credit to me for doing it.  Unfortunately at the time CASFS was kinda taking blow after blow from within and from without and was slowly falling apart, while those who really cared tried like hell to keep it all together. In the chaos no one managed to locate the paperwork I needed to sign at the same time they managed to locate me. Eventually I just sent in a number of emails (and posted elsewhere publicly) giving CASFS permission to use the logo I had created (I’d received my payment after all).

Well, after all these years, they are finally using it on their website: http://www.casfs.org/index.shtml

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One of These Days…

Posted October 4th, 2009 (6:22 pm) || Comments Off

… I’ll actually update this blog in some sort of regular fashion.

Maybe.

As it is, I just have so much to do I don’t seem to have the time to talk about it unless you happen to be right next to me when it happens. I did sell my calculator at any rate, and I found a job. I’m not so happy with the job, but it’s money until I find something else. I’m a salesman again. The part I hate the most is that I’m good at it, but I don’t like it. It makes me feel oily and slimy like one of those swindling snake-oil salesmen of old. Figures I had to go and get fired from a job I really like right in the middle of an economic depression where there isn’t a white-collar job to be found. At least not in my town.

Right now I’m playing Space Empires IV with DeAnna and Jacob. I think Jacob’s really getting into it. He’s designed his own empire, which is modeled a bit after the Neo-Canadians which came with an expansion pack. He’s given them ice planets as a default “cuz iz code up der ya know”. DeAnna’s playing her version of the Kassan people, who are based on an alien race in Aliens Unlimited (Palladium Books). I’m playing a unique race I made up with I found a cute anime/manga pic from somewhere. So far we’re still searching the galaxy for each other, but also so far none of us are at war with anyone worth mentioning.

The Onnanoko Imperium

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