Convention Report: Anime Midwest 2019
I was a returning guest of honor at Anime Midwest.
I returned as a guest of honor at Anime Midwest this year, and I enjoyed seeing fans both new and old throughout the panels, events, and even who stopped by my table. I was joined by Nikita Rauba, my awesome volunteer who had previously helped me out at C2E2 earlier this year, and who continued to be a kick-ass table mate.
Nikita was often watching the table while I was doing my guest panels, opening ceremonies, or doing other things that took me away from the table. And I couldn’t have had as amazing a weekend without her help. Plus, she’s good company – so yay, bonus!
Friday we set up the table and I set off for Opening Ceremonies to see the other guests. The event started a bit late, and they had the comic guests so last, so it took me a good while to get back to the table.
Friday panels included Tabling at Conventions.
After a few hours of sales, I left my very capable volunteer to go run the Tabling at Conventions panel with my buddy, Russell. We’ve done this panel a few times before, but we switched up the format this time to be more interview-style, with us asking each other questions about tabling. The audience varied in the products they wished to sell (apparel, art, books, jewelry, etc), which kept the questions during the Q&A portion interesting and challenging for us. We always have a fun time during our panels, and this was no exception.
What kind of panels do you like to attend? What topics grab your interest? Do you have a preferred panel format?
Cards Against Humanity…
After artist alley closed, I went to grab dinner with Nikki, Russell, and Sean at the Hyatt Red Bar. They have some good food at the bar, even if it’s on the more expensive side. But we had a small window between the floor closing and my final panel for the evening, which was Cards Against Humanity.
Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian host this 18+ panel, which is now the only way I want to play this game. Essentially, they split the audience up into groups and have them play the white cards, while the guests up on the stage will read the answers and pick the ones we like best. We’re almost performing the cards, ensuring we make them as funny as they can possibly be. It’s a much more group effort, and everyone is entertained throughout because you go through SO MANY OPTIONS and all of them are hilarious, wrong (in all the right ways), and it just makes for a great time.
After the panel ended, it was time to head off to the green room for a few quick drinks before calling it a night.
Saturday we were back at it…
I swear that having kids has turned me into a morning person (much to my dismay), because I got up before my alarm went off and got ready for the day. I went to breakfast and chatted up plans for the day with Nikki. She had only been a attendee at these kinds of events before, and was seeing a whole other side to conventions being an official volunteer for a guest. After breakfast, we parted ways so she could get ready and I went to open the table.
Not too long after the show opened, it was already time to tag in Nikki while I went to attend my first panel of the day: Making Webcomics.
I was joined on the panel by my good friend, and self-described “Novembro” Brooke Stephenson (Fallen). We’ve known each other for years now, and she was brave enough to attend this con with her 1 year old in tow! Brooke does her own writing and art, and works out of her home in Japan (where she’s lived for over 15 years), so she brings a unique perspective into the conversation about modern webcomic making. We had a great turnout for the panel, and eventually closed down to head back to our tables for more selling.
And my final panel for the weekend: Writing for Comics and Manga!
Nikki stayed at the table with me for the bulk of the day, slipping out togo see a voice actor panel here and there, but we closed down the table early because she wanted to attend my final panel for the weekend on Writing for Comics and Manga.
I went to the assigned panel room, which was much better attended than I expected. I started to set up and was getting ready to start the panel, when someone in the audience asked me if I was now a voice actor for My Hero Academia.
Someone had switched the panel rooms and hadn’t informed me, and I suddenly had to dash to the correct panel room (thankfully only two doors down from this room), and opened with a story about how I almost started a voice actor panel about writing comics.
The room was packed, but as the panel room was smaller than the previous one, it felt more in line with the kind of attendance you tend to get on a writing panel at an anime convention. The attendees were very attentive, and asked great questions to get their stories going. I love doing this panel at cons, because comics are just so different from other writing. Video games, movies, prose novels – none of them have the same experience you need to create as sequential storytelling. And because I’m so passionate about storytelling in general, I throw in a lot of fun stories, references, and personal anecdotes to keep it fresh and interesting.
And then it was time for dinner…
With the panel ending around 8pm, it was finally time to get some food. I was met by April again, and we walked to the restaurant to meet up with April’s wife Bethany and their roommate. Dinner was a much needed break from the always-on nature of being at a con (which can get exhausting, as fun as it is), and it was nice to be able to relax and unwind with good friends.
The restaurant quickly turned into a night club, however, so we didn’t linger. Instead, we opted to head back to the green room for some drinks. We stayed up late into the night with some of the voice actors and band members (after their concerts had ended), and then headed back to our mutual rooms to sleep.
The last day…
I didn’t have any panels on my last day of the show, but it was time for a final push in sales and an opportunity to see people who had attended my panels earlier in the weekend and have them stop by to ask questions or check out my books. Sales were great, and we ended up selling out of volumes 1 and 2 of Albert the Alien entirely – and almost sold out of volume 3 – which is always how you like to attend a show: With less inventory than you arrived.
After the convention, I had to pack up and take off pretty quickly. I had been invited to have dinner with Crispin Freeman and his wife, but sadly I was missing my family and my wife (who had been kind enough to watch the kids all weekend) was needing a break. I made a rain check and took off for home after saying goodbyes to all my neighbors, friends, and volunteers.
We raised over $200 for RAINN
Anime Midwest was a lot of fun, and it was wonderful to get to hang out with such an awesome volunteer, Nikki, all weekend. I loved seeing my friends and fans, who I rarely get to see outside of the convention circuit. AND, because we donated a percentage of sales to charity, we raised over $200 to benefit a great cause.
Thanks so much to everyone who made this weekend so amazing.