After appearing in the Dragonbored 5th year movie with Doug Walker, Doug found another role I could help him on: being the tolken bald guy in the Last Airbender review. It was a small role (I show up at 37:40, and only for a few lines), but was still a lot of fun to do. Although, he and I still joke about how terrible I was at memorizing my lines. Which, at only 2-3 lines, it’s a little embarrassing. Because no matter what I did, I couldn’t remember my lines.
It’s a story that, to this day, Doug still teases me about.
A while back, I was approached by Doug Walker (the Nostalgia Critic) to appear in his 5th year movie. He had moved on from the NC, and started doing a series called Demo Reel, and he wanted to take the new skills and techniques he had learned in film making and apply them to a new flick that wouldn’t involve all of the Channel Awesome reviewers. Co-written by his brother, Rob Walker, this movie was about an office employee who obsessed over playing a video game called Dragonbored. However, one day the character he created comes into our world and starts throwing a wrench into his life!
I played the game company CEO, appearing at the very beginning of the film in an interview, as well as in a post-credit scene. It was a lot of fun to do, and we did a lot of improv during that filming session. Doug had a few important talking points for me to hit, but otherwise said I could say basically whatever I wanted to keep the energy high and make people want to play this game. I did just that – and did a lot of swearing – which you can see some of the outtakes in the blooper reel, below!
2016 was not a huge year in comics for me, but it was a huge year for life events. Beth and I bought a house and moved to the suburbs, found out we were pregnant, and then had a beautiful baby girl. I also traveled the world for work, visiting countries like Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, and China.
If that wasn’t enough, I also did a bunch of awesome stuff for comics:
2016 COMICS (and other) PROJECTS COMPLETED:
– LOS OJOS (Pop! Goes the Icon)
– OMEGA COMICS PRESENTS vol 2 (Pop! Goes the Icon)
– Albert the Alien webcomic updated every Wed and Fri without missing a single update; and also, that Harvey Awards nomination (www.AlbertTheAlien.com)
– Over 16 convention appearances
– Zootopia prequel comic (unpublished)
– 5-7 pitches for publishers (unpublished)
– Like 12 other unpublished projects
– Several Nostalgia Critic videos, including Batman V Superman
– Several Awesome Comics episodes, including hosting the Batman ’66 debate
– Reprising my role as Lex Luther in the Channel Awesome Christmas Snydering production
2017 COMICS GOALS:
– ALBERT THE ALIEN vol 3: HOME LIFE (Kickstarter will launch in February)
– More episodes of the NC and Awesome Comics, I’m sure
– Starting a video series for my Patreons, maybe syndicated on my YouTube page
– 1-2 untitled self-published graphic novels
– 3-5 pitches for publishers, minimum
– 5 convention appearances (and maybe a few panels and single-day library shows)
– I’m cutting back on cons in 2017 because of the baby, but will kick it back up again in 2018
– Maybe start a prose novel…just because
We had a blast at Anime Iowa this year. It’s a fun show in the middle of Iowa, with a killer guest lineup, and one that I continue to enjoy attending. Want to hear all about it (including the adventure I had to endure that almost prevented me from attending?), check out the links below:
– PART 1: Where the weather kept myself, and most of the other guests, at bay. In fact, one guest wasn’t able to make it BECAUSE the weather was so bad.
– PART 2: Where the guests and I got rowdy, had fun, went to the pub, and played Cards Against Humanity.
– PART 3: Despite being tired, I lead a 9am panel and sold for an entire day. How did I make it through? Click here to find out.
– PART 4: The final day of the con is always the most exhausting. But despite all that, Steve Blum bought me dinner and kept me company at the airport. Really nice guy.
My second convention (in a row) in March was in my own backyard of Chicago, C2E2! Typically for this show, I run the Reading with Pictures booth (this year the table was across from the Jelly Belly booth, for free jelly beans all weekend!) and only sell my all-ages books. Additionally, the proceeds from the sales go back to benefit the non-profit – so buying from me at C2E2 you get great content AND support a great charity. Bonus!
Friday morning, my buddy Phil Chan (Digital Pimp Online) and I drove into the city with our stuff in tow, and dropped off at the McCormick Convention Center in downtown Chicago. I stopped into the Airbnb I was going to be staying in, to grab the key, and then headed to the show floor to get my badges and set up the table.
The Reading with Picture booth, hidden behind Neal Adams
Reading with Pictures was set up right by the Marvel booth, behind Neal Adams, and across from the Jelly Belly booth. This was nice, because they kept us full of sugar all weekend – necessary after the late nights and early mornings. Since I arrived earlier than anticipated, I had a chance to walk around a bit and see some familiar faces. I took a stroll through artist alley to see who all was in already, said hi to some buddies, and then went back to the table in anticipation of the flood of attendees piling into the place.
Russell Lissau and Trevor Mueller – brothers in comics
Comic book creators, and good friends. From left to right: Russell Lissau, Ashley Erickson, me, and Gabo
After the doors opened, our volunteers showed up for the day. Helping us promote our latest initiatives (including a charity event we were hosting Saturday night), as well as helping us to sell some books, our volunteers were invaluable to our efforts and successes that weekend. Also, I got to reunite with Garrett, who helped us out last year and has been a big part of RWP’s efforts in the last several years.
Hanging out with Garrett Hill
As the day continued and books kept flying off the table, several friends started to stop by the table. Mark Waid stopped by to say hi, and to check out the Albert the Alien trades (he had yet to see volume 2). I was also visited by several of the cast of the Nostalgia Critic, who are always a blast to hang out with. And also some cosplay friends of mine stopped by to say hi, and to hopefully schedule a hangout for later in the weekend.
Special celebrity guest appearances by Tamara Chambers!
Good cosplay friends showed up, dressed as Captain America and Agent 13
After the floor closed and sales ended, I regrouped with my buddies and tried to figure out our dinner plans. My buddy Phil needed to eat, and we were joined by Channel Awesome stars Doug Walker, Brad Jones and Fard Mohummad as we walked to China Town for a quick bite. We stopped into a little place (that was not crowded, thankfully), and sitting down felt amazing. The food was also delicious, spicy (the way I like it), and plentiful. We ordered family style, and just shared everything together, while chatting about comics, cons, and movies.
Dinner out in China Town with Doug Walker, Brad Jones, Fard Muhammad, and Phil Chan
By the end of dinner, we were all pretty exhausted, but I made a quick stop back at the Hyatt bar to say hi to some friends. Gene Ha was there, sketching, and I got to meet some of his friends. I was also introduced to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (who were really just saying hi to Gene Ha, but at least shook my hand). I hung out for a bit with friends Justin Jordan, John Bivens, and several others before it was time to call it a night.
I got up early at the condo I was staying in, took a shower (their bathroom was immaculately clean), and headed down the street to the corner shop, which had breakfast sandwiches. I headed to the show, ate, and set up the table for another day of incredible sales. We had another volunteer coming in on Saturday, too, who was cosplaying as Batgirl – so the kids could take pictures with her.
Reading with Pictures booth, day 2…now with significantly less inventory
Batgirl was volunteering at the Reading with Pictures booth on Saturday!
More cosplay friends came by to say hi, dressed as the 5th Evil Ex and Poison Ivy, respectively
Warrior Princess Peach!
More awesome cosplay from some good friends
Monty Python cosplayers are probably my favorites…that rabbit is just so vicious!
As sales winded down for the day, we broke down the table and headed off to my favorite sushi place in the city, Niu! With a reservation of 20+ people, this restaurant has never had an issue accommodating the lot of us. And we took up 3 rather large tables. I sat with my friends Russell Lissau (Old Wounds), Bryan Glass (Mice Templar), and Robin Dale. We talked about comics, comic movies, and the state and evolution of conventions.
After dinner, we returned to the hotel and I had a quick drink with some friends, and then headed back to the condo for some much needed sleep.
The final morning of the show is always a rough time. You’re tired, but you’re also energized to sell through the last of your stock and see your friends for a final time before returning to the real world. This morning was no different. We had very little stock left on the table to sell through, however we also had no volunteers coming in on Sunday to provide any coverage – so I was at the table for the bulk of the day. I did have to shut down, briefly, in order to attend a panel on Self-Publishing (moderated by my buddy, Jim McClain).
Come buy the last of my comics!
The Secrets of Sustainable Self-Publishing with Jim McClain, Jim McClain, Scott Bachmann, Tom Stillwell, Trevor Mueller, and Kelly Heying
More friends stopped by, in even more amazing costumes!
By the end of the panel, and the weekend, we were beat. I broke down the table, helped Phil pack up his inventory and take it to the cab, and then we hopped into separate cars and took off – he to his flight, and me to my condo so my wife could give me a ride back home.
C2E2 was nothing shy of amazing this year (as it is every year). The staff and volunteers are incredible, the attendees are great, the sales are amazing, and I love hanging out with everyone after the show ends. I can’t wait for next year!
I do a lot of local conventions, and many of them happen in the same place: Rosemont. This isn’t a problem – this is a convenience. For both me and the convention. Because I do so many shows there as a guest, I know my way around – and therefore don’t require a liaison to help me get from place to place. This saves the convention money, and also piece of mind. I’m a professional. I don’t need a babysitter. I just need a table (to sell), a room (to sleep), and some water (because, you know…to live).
Anime Midwest is a show that’s growing by leaps and bounds year over year, and it’s a ton of fun to boot! I was a guest last year along with fellow creators Russell Lissau (Batman Strikes, Aw Yeah Comics), Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade), Gabo (Albert the Alien, The Life After), and Sean Lindsay (Spinnerette). And we had fun. So much so, we were invited back again this year!
Check out these handsome guests
Thursday before the show I went over to Russell’s after work to hang out with him and the Steve’s (I will now refer to them as Horton and Wallace), and it was nice to catch up and relax outside of the convention experience. Much food and adult beverages were had. It was great because I hadn’t seen Wallace since my wedding (back in October), and Horton and I had primarily been communicating via e-mail. We went to bed with visions of sales dancing in our heads.
After a quick breakfast we headed off to the show to check in and set up. We stopped off in con ops to get our badges, and then high tailed it to the floor to find our tables. We had a terrific position – right in the front of the artist alley, on the way to the signing area.
The table set up. Notice that fancy new vertical stand on the right?
We set up our booths and started selling. And sales were good. We premiered one of the new books at the show, and fans both loyal and new were eating it up. But what really made the show for me were commissions!
After a day of selling and making commissions, the group headed to a quick dinner at the hotel bar and then went to our panels. I had a Making Webcomics panel at 7:30, which had a terrific turn out! Lots of engaging questions and lots of good laughs were had.
After the panel I went to Doug Walker’s panel about comedy (which was going on during mine), and then after we all headed to the green room. Johnny Young Bosch and the band showed up, but I was mostly talking to one of their good friends who I met at Anime Central years before when Johnny and his band were guests there. We chatted the night away, catching up on trips, vacations, and our latest creative projects. After a while everyone went their separate ways and off to bed.
Morning came early, and the group all met downstairs for breakfast. The Hyatt has a fantastic buffet breakfast, and the sales from the previous day had been enough to justify the expense. After breakfast, we all headed over to the floor for another day of sales.
During selling on the floor, I got to meet several of the Channel Awesome people including Tamara and Brad for the first time (great people), and then got to see Rob, Erin, and Robin again. We had just hung out a few weeks ago, which seemed like too long ago. We decided to play a prank and see if we could convince Doug to come to my Evening with Trevor Mueller panel later that night. I was going to tell a story about my first time meeting Doug – a story he’s never heard me tell before. The plot was set, now we just had to get through the rest of the day.
Commission sketch card for a fan – Joker’s brother
Commission sketch card for a fan – Adam West as Batman
Commission sketch card for a fan – one of their original characters
After the con floor closed, the group headed over to the panel rooms for a Writing Comics panel. We decided to turn it into a moderated panel, with Russell moderating, since the panel consisted of so many people: myself, Sean Lindsay, Steve Wallace and Steve Horton. It was a another great panel with lots of fantastic questions from the audience. After the panel, we all headed to the hotel bar for a quick bite – and then I had to run off to make my Evening with Trevor Mueller panel.
This panel is an hour of me telling goofy stories (embarrassing both myself, as well as some of the people who attend cons with me on a regular basis). I was a little off my game since I was suffering through some allergies, but everyone had a blast – especially when I told the story about my first encounter with Doug at Anime Milwaukee several years ago. I won’t recount the story here – but it’s a fantastic story about first impressions and misconceptions.
After the panel we all headed to the Cards Against Humanity panel hosted by Samurai Dan and Lady Jillian, which is always a good time. I can’t get into details, but essentially we play Cards Against Humanity with the attendees – well, they play and we read the cards. It’s a hilarious night of inappropriate jokes and goofing around.
After the final panel, we all headed back to the Green Room to hang out with more of the guests. Johnny showed up with the band and I got to finally connect with them, chatting until late into the night. Around 3am I decided it was time for bed, and headed off to my room for some much needed sleep.
The final day of the show was pretty short for me. I wasn’t able to set up because I had family obligations (my wife’s grandma’s 90th birthday party), so I broke down the table and walked around the floor for a bit. It was fun to just walk around and see other people’s stuff. Artist alley filled with prints, art, trinkets, and more. The dealer’s area filled with manga, anime, toys, and so many more things. And then a chance to just talk to the other guests and attendees. It was a lot of fun.
Anime Midwest is a ton of fun, and a growing show. It’s not so large that you get lost in the crowd like an ACEN, but it’s large enough to bring in some big name guests and let everyone have a chance to connect and talk to each other. I highly recommended attending this awesome show!
Handsome man selling books
This past weekend I was a guest at a first year show called Con Alt Delete, along with fellow comic creators Russell Lissau and Gabriel Bautista; and such awesome celebrity friends as Vic Mignogna, LittleKuriboh, Doug Walker and the whole Channel Awesome crew. While the show was small (it was a first year show, after all) it was still a ton of fun. Below is the convention report for the weekend.
Got up early in the morning (earlier, I must say, than when I go into the office…about as early as when I go to the gym during the week) and hopped a train over to my good friend Russell’s so we could share breakfast and relax a bit before the show weekend. We went to his favorite diner in Arlington Heights, and then headed over to the convention to set up our tables.
Despite the fact it was a Friday (and school’s in session), the place surprisingly had quite a few attendees already at the convention. After we all set up next to each other, the commerce (and hilarity) of the weekend began. I attended opening ceremonies on behalf of the comic group, had a few hilarious interactions with the other guests of the show (some of who I was meeting for the first time, like Richard Epcar and his wife, Ellyn Stern), and then headed back to the floor to sell.
The booth is ready for commerce!
Gabriel Bautista and friends make silly faces
Lori is the new Russell Lissau
We also had some panels on the first day. At 4pm, Russell and I hosted a “Writing Comics” panel. We had some great attendance, and some excellent questions from fans who were truly interested in honing their craft and learning to be a student of comics. Russ and I do a great panel, playing off each other’s experiences (which vary quite a bit), and appealing to the mainstream lovers (his area of expertise), as well as the independent press and webcomic crowds (my area of focus).
After that, Gabe and I hosted a “Making Webcomics” panel that also had some strong attendance, and some great questions about finding an artist, building an audience, and managing all of your other responsibilities (school, work, social life) on top of creating serialized content.
After the panels we returned to the floor for a bit, and then took off for a quite bite of dinner. I had quite a few commissions and sketch card sales during the weekend, which was nice because I had just redrawn about 50-60 sketch cards, and designed another round of 12+ new sketch cards for the weekend. With the commissions, too, I had a unique challenge to draw some characters I’d otherwise never get an opportunity to draw.
Commission sketch card for Beta Ray Bill
At the end of the night, Russell and I retired to the hotel bar for some adult beverages and a few rounds of pool, and then we went to sleep.
Saturday started early in the morning for us, with Russell wanting to hit up the pool and me wanting to get in an hour of working out at the gym (a great way to get some energy for the day). Russell cut out early because the pool was cold, and after my workout we headed to get some breakfast at the hotel cafeteria. They had a nice breakfast bar, and a good omelet station, and we had ourselves a protein filled feast to start our day off right.
The day started earlier on the floor, too, with the show opening at 10am (as opposed to noon, when the previous day had started). I had a few sales right off the bat, and a few commissions I had to knock out.
Elektra sketch card
Things slowed down after a few hours, as many of the attendees were going to panels and getting autographs from the other guests, so I ducked out for a bit to hang out with the Channel Awesome gang. I sat with Doug Walker and his family, along with Malcolm Ray, Brian Heinz, Orlando Belisle, and a few late stragglers who were a little under the weather. We went to a local Chinese restaurant, which had generous portions and some delicious food.
Brian drinks his fu-fu drink, at lunch with the Channel Awesome gang
After lunch ended, I rushed back to the hotel to attend a panel with Gabe on time management and helping to maximize productivity for young creators – and we spouted off some of the funniest examples of productivity killers (cough cough Candy Crush), and some ways to help find time for doing creative things.
After the panel, it was time to return to the floor and sell for a few more hours being heading off to dinner (which I really wasn’t hungry for, since lunch had only been a few hours earlier).
Ren Bautista has some stylish hair accessories, and makes them look good!
Dinner with some of the greatest people I know!
Immediately following dinner, I had to bum rush back to the convention for the 18+ improv panel, which turned out a bit different than I had experienced in the past. Previously I had done the improv as a series of games with the other guests who were there. But this time, they opened the improv as a workshop to the attendees as well – and split us up into groups and had us do a single game, which is called “freeze.”
Essentially, 2-3 people play out a scenario until someone else in the group says “freeze!,” and then you go in, replace one of the players, and start a new scene in the same poses everyone is stuck in. It’s a really fun exercise, which got a little chaotic towards the end – but everyone had a blast, and ultimately that’s what counts. Even my artist, Gabe, joined in on the fun – and he did a great job!
After that panel we went to the Green Room and hung out with the other guests, having a few drinks and generally relaxing. Around 11pm we all headed over to my final panel of the convention – the 18+ Cards Against Humanity Panel. It’s a really fun time where you play the game with the entire room – which was filled to capacity – and points are given to people who present the most relevant (and usually the more inappropriate) card.
It’s a fun game, but definitely not for kids. We all had a great time on the panel, which ran late into the night, and then afterwards we all went our separate ways.
Dan and Jillian’s 18+ Cards Against Humanity panel was standing room only!
The final day of the show is always the most difficult. You’ve been having a fun time all weekend, and you know this is the end. However, I try to channel that energy in positive ways, and focus on ending the con strong – and that’s exactly what happened.
Sales were super strong on the final day of the show, with commissions and book sales and returning fans coming back to buy comics and art. After a few hours, my wife showed up and we grabbed a quick bite before breaking down and taking off for home. Before we knew it, the weekend had ended, and it was time for us to go back to the real world.
Miku commission for an excited fan!
Overall, Con Alt Delete was a fun weekend filled with great attendees, awesome fans, fun guests, and good friends. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year – and will definitely have new books on the table for fans to buy and enjoy!
I was a guest of honor at Anime Midwest this past weekend, along with friends and fellow comic creators Russell Lissau (Strawberry Shortcake, Shrek), Steve Horton (Amala’s Blade), Alan Evans (Rival Angels), and Sean Lindsay (Spinnerette). It was a newer show, in it’s third year, but the attendance was great and everyone had a really fun time. And amazingly enough, sales were through the roof.
In the morning we drove out to Rosemont after breakfast, to get our badges and set up our tables. Unfortunately the show floor opened at the same time as opening ceremonies, so I wasn’t able to attend, but the floor was quickly crowded with people — all of whom were interested in buying!
Trevor standing in front of his booth, showing off the books.
I was visited by Doug Walker and his family, as well as some of his co-stars, and chatted them up for a bit before returning to sales. Friday was my highest sales day by far (a trend I’m noticing at a lot of shows this year), and the fans were rabid for more. This is where the panels kicked in.
Alan invited me to join him for Making Webcomics Part 1, where he, Sean, and I talked about why we made our webcomics and how we went about doing it. The audience had some great engaging questions, and immediately after I went to my next panel: An Evening with Trevor Mueller. I mixed up the panel by introducing a few new stories, but also keeping some fan favorite classics, and at the end opened it up for sales. And boy did the sales come. I smoked my weekend goal by the end of the day, and returned to the room for bed.
The group got up around 6:30am to hit the gym. Joined by Alan and Steve, who went straight for the cardio machines, I started a heavy circuit of arms and shoulders (I wasn’t going to work my legs at the show, since I would be standing for the rest of the weekend). After working out and showering, the group went to breakfast at O – the Hyatt restaurant – and then headed to the floor for another day of sales.
Attendees seemed more tired on Saturday than they did on Friday, but the floor opened earlier and it’s likely many of them stayed up late with the fun and excitement of the first day. Sales were slower for me than a usual Saturday, but this too is a trend I’ve been noticing lately at conventions overall.
Making a sale.
After a solid day of selling, the group went to the Red Bar for a quick bite before our panels. We were joined by Doug and his friends, and all had a fun time talking about the convention and some of the crazy stories we had experienced so far. After dinner, we rushed off to Making Webcomics Part 2 panel, where we were joined by my artist Gabriel Bautista. The discussion took a surprisingly detailed turn when questions about production set up and DPI dominated the panel for a good 20 minutes. Clearly these attendees were very interested in making their own comics – and that’s awesome!
After the panel we dropped off our stuff and headed out to the local theater to catch a late screening of This is the End. The group had a few drinks and went in, knowing the movie would be cheesy and our significant others would likely never want to watch it with us. And boy were we right – but the movie was still hilarious, all the same. It was the perfect kind of movie to watch with your buddies, and we found ourselves quoting the movie for the remainder of the weekend.
After the movie we headed back to the convention to say hi to some people in the green room, and then headed off to bed.
The final day of the show opened with breakfast, and then we all went to the floor for a final day of selling. And the sales continued to roll in. The group sold out of most of what we had brought for the weekend, having some record sales for the year so far. We skipped closing ceremonies to try to squeeze in a few more last minute sales, and then started packing for home.
Overall, Anime Midwest was a very fun show with an impressive attendance and amazing guest lineup. Sales were strong throughout the weekend, far exceeding my expectations for the show, and good times were had by all. I encourage you to attend this show in 2014, and hope to be invited back as a guest again next year.
Special thanks to all of the staff, volunteers, and attendees for making this such an awesome and amazing weekend! You guys rock!
Got a slew of conventions remaining this year, and a lot of books / merch to sell during them. So if you’ve missed me at the plethora of cons and signings / events I’ve been doing this year, there are still some more opportunities to swing by and buy some great books!
My remaining conventions are below:
CONVENTION: Wizard World Chicago
LOCATION: Rosemont, IL
DATES: August 9-12
DESCRIPTION: Probably my highest sales show of the year, and a ton of fun. There are TV actors, sure, but you should stop by artist alley (where I’ll be) and check out the awesome art work and books available for sale.
I’ll be in artist alley with fellow creator Russell Lissau, who may have his daughter coming in to sign some copies of their new Strawberry Shortcake books!
CONVENTION: Mid-Ohio Con
LOCATION: Columbus, OH
DATES: September 29-30
DESCRIPTION: A seriously fun all-ages show in Ohio (but we won’t hold that against the show). I usually stay with Lora Innes and travel with Alan Evans, plus there will be some other awesome creators in our party including Paul D. Storrie and Thom Zahler. Also, even more TV actors and comic celebrities.
It’s a fun show for the whole family, so be sure to stop by!
LOCATION: New York, NY
DATES: October 11-14
DESCRIPTION: The second largest comic convention in the country, and a fun (but crazy) time in the Big Apple. I’ll be running the Reading with Pictures booth, along with doing a few educational and read-along panels for the kids.
I may even be premiering a new book at the show – you never know. So be sure to swing by and say hi, see what’s new, buy some stuff, and attend the panels! Going to be a great time.
CONVENTION: Kollision Con
LOCATION: St Charles, IL
DATES: November 23-25
DESCRIPTION: Thanksgiving weekend (but after all the Turkey is done being eaten) is my final show of the year, and a fun one to boot. I’ll be attending along with my Albert the Alien artist, Gabriel Bautista, and fellow creator Russell Lissau.
Gabe and I will be putting on our first ever joint panel about Albert the Alien, as well as some comedic evening panels for the older attendees.
Additionally, there will be some awesome anime and internet guests including Chris Patton, Doug Walker, and many more!
You want to finish this year off right (and burn off some calories from Turkey Day by attending a con), then you need to be at this show!
2012 convention season started off with a bang, as Anime Milwaukee always sets the benchmark and sets it high for the rest of the shows I’m going to attend for the year. This year was no exception, as they set the bar even higher than ever before! So without further delay, below is the full convention report for the awesome weekend at Anime Milwaukee!
Thursday was mostly spent at the office (and we were having a team celebration / competition, too), but I had to duck out early to make my train. Despite not being listed on the e-ticket, apparently AMTRAK won’t let anyone board less than 10 minutes before departure. So despite getting there while the train was still on the platform, AMTRAK refused to let me board.
Upon going to a supervisor to complain (I would have left earlier if it was on the e-ticket), I was informed that the train had already left by the time I arrived (a lie) and then the supervisor proceeded to walk away without actually addressing my concern.
A 3 hour wait later, and I was on the next available train to Milwaukee. Not the way I wanted to start my weekend, mind you, especially since I was missing an all-guest dinner at the show. AMTRAK owes me free food (and or a free train ticket) and an apology, damn it.
Anyway, I eventually arrived at the show and was taken up to the guest suite where Spike Spencer (Neon Genesis) and Alan Evans (Rival Angels) were hanging out with many of the volunteers, staffers, and awesome people that make the show possible.
I can’t stress this enough: having cool people running the show is essential to making a fun weekend. Another important component: awesome attendees.
I’ve met Spike at several shows last year, but we’ve never actually hung out. He invited me back to his room for some red wine and good conversation, but I was so exhausted (and still a little ticked off about AMTRAK) so I took a pass.
Since I was staying with Alan, we piled into the car and headed home to catch some z’s before officially starting the show the next morning.
An early morning found Alan and myself heading to our favorite breakfast place, this little local bagel sandwich spot. After acquiring our morning sustenance, we headed for the convention hall.
This year the show was in the Frontier Center, across the street from the Hyatt Hotel downtown. This was nice, as the space was larger than last year. And it was needed, because the volume of attendees had grown quite a bit since last year as well.
Alan and I started setting up at the show, and found out that we were both on corner spots – which meant we both had two tables each! Now, I’m never going to complain about free tables, but I do admit that I was pleasantly surprised. It was a bit of a challenge, however, since I didn’t have two-tables worth of stuff with me at the show. I improvised as best as possible, and came up with a solid display.
My booth set up at Anime Milwaukee. Yes, that is my stuff spread out over two tables!
A little ways into the day, guest relations came and asked me if I would mind giving up one of my tables for another one of their guests – Robert Axelrod (Power Rangers). Now, normally this would warrant a “no” on my part, however there were a few factors to consider here:
1) I wasn’t planning on having two tables anyway, so as I sold out of books I would look spread thin
2) I could easily get away with a single table, and having a neighbor might be good company
3) Robert is a draw at the show, so worst case scenario he would bring people to the table I could sell to. And that’s not a bad thing at all
4) And not to overlook this important part – dude, it’s Robert Axelrod! The dude voiced Lord Zedd!
Suffice it to say, I said yes to having Robert as a neighbor and we had a blast all weekend. I had met Robert several years earlier at other anime shows – in fact, he and I saw the Star Trek movie together at ACEN, and sat next to each other high-fiving every time Kirk did something awesome. Which, let’s be honest, was most of the movie.
I did my sales thing throughout the day, and by noon had actually outsold my entire Friday the year previous. Suffice it to say, sales this year far exceeded what I did last year at the show. And Robert was a great table mate.
At one point, an attendees gave me a free un-opened box of pocky (Japanese candy) and eventually Robert became wise to it’s existence. “Oh, can I have some of that pocky?” he asked in a non-Lord Zedd voice. “Absolutely,” I replied, and we tore through that box in minutes.
At the end of the day we closed down the floor, then headed over to opening ceremonies with the other guests. Several voice actors were there including the very talented Wendy Powell (Full Metal Alchemist), Chris Cason (Full Metal Alchemist), Uncle Yo (web celebrity), and Doug Walker (www.thatguywiththeglasses.com).
Opening ceremonies started off with some entertaining actrs, and meanwhile behind stage all of the guests were hanging out and catching up. I hadn’t seen Doug since Kollision Con the previous year, and Uncle Yo I hadn’t seen since the previous year’s Anime Milwaukee. Good people, all of them. Eventually the time for the guests to shine came about, and individually we all went out onto the stage to entertain the attendees for a few minutes. Having nothing prepped, I just pitched my panels for the weekend. Doug, on the other hand, addressed the troops and made them do exercises. Why didn’t I think of that?
Right after Opening Ceremonies we (Alan, Doug and his family, and Uncle Yo) grabbed dinner real quick, and then had to head back to the show for my first panel of the weekend, An Evening with Trevor Mueller. Everyone we went to dinner with was there, along with some awesome attendees who wanted to hear funny stories about conventions, my life, and comics. A good time was had by all.
After the panel ended, we all went our separate ways and went to bed. The next day I had an 8am panel (closing the show Friday, opening the show on Saturday) about writing comics, so I was curious what the turn-out would look like.
8am was an early panel to get up for, but Alan got me there on time (and then left to go home and “work on comics” – which I took as code for “take a nap”). Surprisingly, the room was not empty. However, it also wasn’t full like our making webcomics panel was last year. As the hour progressed, the room continued to fill up and by the end of the panel I would say there were 30-40 people in the room.
After the panel ended, Uncle Yo met me out in the hallway and Alan eventually joined us. We continued conversations from the previous night, had a few laughs, and then went our separate ways so Alan and I could man our tables.
Anime Milwaukee brand root beer. You can’t see, but behind the bottle is a vendor selling a mountain of pocky. Delicious!
Sales on Saturday started off much slower than the previous day, but there were also 2,000 people queued up outside trying to get a one-day pass. Sales were still plenty strong, and I eventually sold out of the new book (@$$hole!: Volume 1).
Saturday night we hooked up with Doug and his family again for dinner, then went to Spike’s panel “Don’t Kill your Date (and Other Cooking Tips”), which was a riot. Uncle Yo joined us after finishing the judging for the Masquerade, and the group of us were laughing and enjoying the hijinx of the audience, and the entertaining answers from Spike.
At the end of the panel we all headed down to the bar and mingled with fans and friends alike. Some of the other guests eventually joined us, and we closed the place down and then headed home. Alan and I had another early morning panel the next day, and our beauty sleep would be needed.
9am, Making Webcomics. Last year Alan and I were greeted to a room filled with people – which was a pleasant surprise beyond my wildest expectations. This year, it was Sunday, so the crowd was a little lighter. However, the people who were there were in high spirits and eager to learn.
Alan and I did a fantastic panel, then packed up and headed back out to the floor. Robert showed up after this panels, and turned to me to say “This time I’m supplying the pocky,” and produced a box of milk chocolate / almond pocky.
If 10 years ago you had told me I would be sharing a box of pocky with the voice of Lord Zedd, I would have called you a liar. And I would have been wrong.
Sunday was pretty slow sales wise, so I spent most of the time chatting up friends and fans I had met throughout the weekend. One friend came up with her boyfriend and requested a commission sketch.
A commission I did at Anime Milwaukee on the final day.
Around 4pm the floor closed up. Robert packed up his things and asked if I would be attending closing ceremonies. Since I had a train to catch (and didn’t want to miss again), I told him probably not and we parted ways.
Alan and I went to a local burger place and downded some delicious / greasy burgers and seasoned fries, and then went to the train station. We said our goodbyes (I’ll see him again in April at both C2E2 and ACEN), and then I hopped on the train and headed home.
Anime Milwaukee continues to set the bar high for all conventions in the year. In the three years I’ve been a guest there I’ve seen the show grow by leaps and bounds, and every year gets bigger and better. The fans are great, the attendees are awesome, and the volunteers / staffers putting the show on put their all into the show. And it shows.
Thanks so much to Anime Milwaukee for having me out as a guest again this year, and hopefully I’ll be back again next year as a guest as well. You continue to put together an excellent show that keeps expanding, and it’s been an honor to be a part of that growth.
If you love anime (or even kind of like anime) and haven’t been to Anime Milwaukee, shame on you. Buy tickets for next year as soon as they go on sale. Pre-reg. You’ll have a great time.