Posts tagged GIR
Good morning from sunny and humid South Florida. Spare time has NOT been a luxury I have had lately, so my blog posts have been few and far between. The good news, though, is that my blogging has slowed down because my active life in the fan community has been busier that is has ever been in my thirty-some-odd years alive. So far this year: Florida Anime Experience, Project Anime, Anime Expo, InvaderCON, and Anime Festival Orlando. Still to come: Gen Con, DragonCon, UmiCon, PinUpalooza, and WasabiCon.
November and December are looking like the “take a damn break” months.
I could easily spend hours upon hours telling the amazing tales of InvaderCON and the past week spent in California. To make sure I get my other work done, though, I’m going to cheat and use my Instagram photos as the storytelling tool to share the gist of it all. Here goes:
This is a Gir backpack clip thingy that Shannon bought about ten years ago. She found it and put it on her carry on luggage so I took a photo of it while we were waiting for our flight at the Orlando International Airport. This was only her second time ever to California.
When I told the flight attendant on Virgin America that this was Shannon’s first time flying Virgin, he found an empty row to put her and I together in with more space. Since we didn’t want the third seat to be wasted, we put her Blue pillow (from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) in the other seat with my hipster hat. It SEEMED like a good idea, but then I realized how sorta creepy this photo looks.
I usually take an isle seat when I fly, so having all three seats allowed me to look out the window during the flight. As expected, we saw mountains and stuff.
We got to the hotel in Torrance, California and immediately got to work. One of the things we do at conventions ahead of time is sort the prizes for all the forthcoming contests. This is a photo of a throw rug donated by Nickelodeon.
Things were BUSY once we got started, so I didn’t take as many photos personally as I would have liked. That said, here’s a shot I got of the Ultimate Panel of DOOM. From left to right: Wally Wingert, Richard Horvitz, Jhonen Vasquez, RIkki Simons, Ian Graham, Melissa Fahn, Rodger Bumpass, Eric Trueheart, and Jason Stiff.
The InvaderCON costume contest was A. MA. ZIIIIIING. I walked in and hosted on stage while the judges were picking the winners. While there, I made all the entries stand on stage and sorted them by ZIMs, GIRs, and OTHERS. Here are the three photos I took (’cause the stage was SO BIG!)
It was hard to keep it quiet, but Wally Wingert contacted us a week before InvaderCON and agreed to come out for the convention. He even surprised some attendees by attending The Dinner of DOOM! with “Cardboard Jhonen” – his own creation.
Rumor has it that anime fans tend to like Invader ZIM. Here’s some proof:
This is during Jhonen’s panel on Sunday. I tried to take it at a distance to make it look like the famous Bigfoot sighting photos. (He wouldn’t walk outside with me and take long strides through the trees.)
Speaking of Jhonen, here’s a photo of the coveted signed print that was offered with the JVP ticket at the convention. Each one was signed by Jhonen personally.
Want to know the definition of TALENT? You’re looking at it in this photo below. Half these folks flew out from Florida and half were folks I worked with at Anime Expo. THEY MADE INVADERCON HAPPEN AND THEY ARE AWESOME. This was taken at the group dinner Sunday night after the con.
This was on the wall in the barbecue restaurant we were it. It was not the MOST disturbing thing written on a wall there… but close.
After InvaderCON wrapped, I spent Monday playing tourist and taking Shannon around Los Angeles (with Lyn and John.) We, of course, drove up into the hills and scored a nice view of the city.
From that same vantage point, we managed to see the Hollywood sign, too.
The vantage point from where the last two photos were taken? The Griffith Observatory… WHICH IS CLOSED ON MONDAY. (At least we got a nice view.)
This is me standing on a ledge overlooking a cliff at the observatory. It was dangerous, stupid, and made for a great photo. The longer version is the header on my Facebook. (I love this picture.)
After that, we drove around near Hollywood. I took the group up to Mulholland Drive and saw the houses owned by all the poor people.
While tooling around town playing tourist, I heard from Wally Wingert who was leaving work and wanted to know if I could stop by his house since we were nearby. THE MAN’S HOUSE IS A GEEK MECCA. Wally’s the best type of voice actor – he respects his own craft by being a bona fide nerd to his passion. An entire reality serious could be filmed about the amount of stuff in his place… collectibles celebrating cartoons and pop culture like you wouldn’t believe. He even had a couple of costumes laying around that fit Shannon and Lyn. Check it out:
Yup. Cosplay in Hollywood. You betcha.
After Wally’s we headed to downtown Hollywood to walk around (since Shannon had never been.) We found the star on the Walk of Fame for the largest movie star of all time:
We walked around the Chinese Theater.
This next one is another of my favorite photos. I love the Muppets. Repeat: I LOVE THE MUPPETS.
We walked down the road and took a pit stop at Mel’s Diner. Since it was after midnight, it had become Shannon’s birthday and she opted to celebrate by having a massive milkshake full of chocolate and sugar and more sugar. Lyn was stunned.
Strangely enough, Shannon has never seen American Graffiti – but she HAS seen The Muppets. Thus, while at Mel’s, she took time for a “Me Party.”
We got in the car at o’dark thirty and started heading back to the hotel. Along the way, we drove through Beverly Hills. I made an Axel Foley reference. Shannon, instead, made a Shelly Long one. Go figure.
Late the next morning (for Shannon’s birthday) we went to Disneyland. We were joined by Daric, Megan, Allison, Rikki, Tavisha, Jo, and Jo’s family. I don’t Instagram too much in theme parks (to keep my battery life intact) but I did snap this next photo INSIDE Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Up until this trip, we didn’t know that you could do a walking tour of the inside. It was pretty cool.
This was the last photo of the trip – taken after mindnight in the park. Rikki, Tavisha, and Shannon all wanted snacks. I just wanted to die of exhaustion. We didn’t leave the park until AFTER 1:00 AM.
From there, we drove a hotel I reserved (right next to LAX) and slept for a couple of hours before catching a plane back to Florida.
All of it – InvaderCON, California, time with friends – made for an astounding adventure that I’ll never forget.
For you Instagrammy folks – my username is TomCroom (I know, original) if you want to find/add me.
(Now I have to get back to work. Thanks for reading!)
When I was in Miami a couple of weeks ago I walked into a Hot Topic at some local mall. (We were there, believe it or not, looking for Alice in Wonderland Vinylmation figures. My wife collects them.)
Today marks seven months until InvaderCON II: DOOMCON kicks off. This photo stands proof that over ten years later, folks still love the cartoon.
Yes… I know it’s all Gir, but it’s still better than nothing! Now if we can only convince Hot Topic that we need more merchandise with ZIM on it. :)
Working InvaderCON was, quite simply, the greatest convention experience of my life.
I went to my first “geek” convention over twenty years ago. It was a Star Trek festival in South Florida where I won an award for dressing up like an abused Enterprise security guard. It is also where I met my first celebrity: Mr. George Takei. I still remember that weekend and how amazing it was… a gathering of people, just like me, who liked the same TV show I did and weren’t trying to hide it from classmates or co-workers.
In the land of geeks, the normal guy is the weird one.
The whole experience has been something hard to recapture over the years. There really is nothing quite like your first time.
[pause for obvious sexual innuendo]
Which leads me back to InvaderCON. My partner Joey Snackpants and the team at Wasabi Anime built the event following the format behind the classic seventies and eighties Star Trek conventions: a popular science fiction series is cut down before it’s prime and gained a cult following; fans kept it alive through other means (then: clubs/now: the Internet); someone creates a convention where fans can meet each other and also meet a number of creative people from the short lived series.
(NOTE: For those of you completely unfamiliar with Invader ZIM, please allow me to translate the InvaderCON guest list into Star Wars jargon for you: We booked “Luke Skywalker,” “Han Solo,” “Darth Vader,” and “Princess Leia.” ”George Lucas” couldn’t make it, but he sent his well wishes.)
Most conventions today have become such mega-mall events catering to a myriad of fandoms at once. I love going to many of them, like Dragon*Con, but the concept of a convention solely focused on one specific show is a rare bird. These events exist, but practically none of them take place in the Southeast United States.
Thus, InvaderCON happened.
- Since meeting for the first time at Assimilation in 2007, I’ve slowly gained the privilege of calling Richard Horvitz a friend. He’s a good person with a good heart and he “gets it” when it comes to the fan experience. People don’t just want to meet the voice of Invader ZIM – they want to enjoy doing so. Richard busts his ass at every show I’ve done with him to make sure that happens. In my book, he’s a class act and a number of convention personalities could take a note or two from him.
- I had met Rikki Simons and his wife Tavisha a couple of times before, but he and I got to know each other more and more through our long phone conversations leading up to InvaderCON. Rikki’s a kind and gentle soul and his dedication to his fans is unmatched. He experienced a personal tragedy one week before InvaderCON, but he still made it to the show and met every fan there. He’s incredible.
- Methinks Andy Berman experienced a culture shock. This was his first convention appearance as a guest, and I’m not sure he was expecting the overwhelming love for him and his character that he received. He was a true professional and a pleasure to work with. By Sunday night, after hours and hours of dodging ZADR enthusiasts and meeting random Psych fans, that man was exhausted. The dozens of Dib cosplayers (who were, strangely, all female) showed that people do, in fact, love Dib.
- The last voice talent we added to the roster when building InvaderCON was Melissa Fahn. Melissa’s accomplishments also extend outside of ZIM fandom and much of the Green Mustard Entertainment team was thrilled to meet her for that reason. She performed in Wicked on Broadway (many of the Wasabi Anime team love musicals; hello? Animusical!) and her work on Cowboy Bebop as Ed made her a joy to meet from the team. Melissa has that infectious energy that just makes you happy to be around her and she was still smiling at the end of the weekend. She had to leave early on Sunday due to other commitments, but I was sad the she missed the emotional experience and standing ovation at closing ceremonies. I hope she knows how much the fans loved having her there.
- Who’d have thought a writer could be a funny speaker? Eric Trueheart was a writer of some of the best episodes of Invader ZIM, and we were lucky enough to have him join us at InvaderCON. He’s the type of person that when you meet him, you hope you continue to know him or (at best) he continues to remember at least your first name. I could write a long post about what an awesome cat this guy was – but everyone who met him already knows that. You should check out his blog post about his experience at the convention. It’s a great insight into the emotion of the event and he conveys it much better that I ever could.
- My partner, Joey Snackpants, made sure the ship kept running. Our talents balance each other perfect – as illustrated during the charity auction on Sunday. I started it, sucked at it, and he took over. We work that way… it’s that strange being able to finish each other’s sentences or have the same train of thought. All of it, of course, in a strictly heterosexual way.
- Speaking of charity, did I mention that InvaderCON raised almost $2000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation? Epic. Geek. Convention. WIN.
- My wife Shannon is the person at each convention that keeps me sane. I could go on for hours about how amazing she his, but I’ve made it a habit to tell her every day we’re together. This has, of course, resulted in her developing an ego almost as outrageous as mine which just makes her THAT MUCH MORE AWESOME.
- InvaderCON did not operate on volunteers; we ran it with staff. The team from Wasabi Anime (Green Mustard Entertainment) took years of convention experiences and distilled it down to a pure form of energy that fueled our “little convention that could.” Thank you (in no particular order) Katie, Angie, Chris, the other Chris, the other other Chris, Jingoro, Tom, Janice, Ryan, Annie, Tracy aka “Trace-Wrangler,” Kaleb, Jessica, the other Jessica, J.T., Ray, & Diane. (If I am forgetting someone it is entirely unintentional; I just suck with names which is why everyone will wear name tags at The Florida Anime Experience. LOL)
InvaderCON turned out to be more than just a convention. It was a personal experience not only for myself and my team, but also for the lives of hundreds of people who traveled across the world for a weekend celebrating a cartoon that ran only twenty six episodes.
From the bottom of my heart: thank you everyone that made it happen.
For those of you that missed it here and here – Richard Horvitz was a guest at Florida Supercon the weekend before last. He stopped by the Wasabi Anime Otaku Insomnia Rave dance party to say hi, and I brought him on stage with a cosplayer dressed as GIR. Zaniness ensued.
I thought the little girl dressed as GIR was going to explode from excitement when she got off stage and realized who she had just danced with. Pure convention awesome.