Posts tagged InvaderCON
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!)
Did you know that I have a blog? True story. I started blogging in 2003 with no particular purpose in mind. I just liked the idea of writing for the sake of writing. Ars gratia artis and all the jazz. I figured the only folks who were reading were a dozen (or so) of my friends who are web savvy enough to know what a Livejournal was.
It seemed, though, that more and more people were paying attention over time. Someone recently reminded me of this golden nugget on teh webz: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tom%20Croom
Yup. That’s referring to me.
So yes: I have a blog and it seems I have been neglecting it lately. The reasons for this, though, are fairly well justified in my opinion. In any case, here’s the most recent thing I need to report/blog about: I’m going to be in Tokyo, Japan this time next month.
Let’s back up and fill in some blanks over the past few weeks first.
1. My hobby is acting more and more like a business.
I have a day job. I don’t talk about my day job for a myriad of reasons (most of which have to do with me wanting to keep that job,) but it’s there. It takes most of my time during the work week and pays the bills. Anything outside of that part of my life is considered my “fun” life. My hobbies. Etc.
When I started Wasabi Anime in 2001, it was as an excuse to help spread the word about the blossoming fandom of Japanese animation in Florida and to have a good time with my friends. Flash forward to a decade later and Wasabi Anime® is now a register trademark (note the snazzy “R” with the circle around it when I mentioned it this time) that is owned by Green Mustard Entertainment, Inc. This leads me to the large number of projects I’m now working on as a result of the hobby/business/evil-online-empire.
2. Florida Anime Experience
The first event designed out of the gate by my team and I to be an annual thing. We’re building an anime convention in Florida that is about pure distilled anime fandom. We constantly tout our “no Halo in the game room” policy as a guiding light for our theming. There’s also the fact that we’re the first convention in U.S. history to score the English voice of Sailor Moon as a guest. Since I started going to anime conventions because I was dating a girl (now my wife) who loved Sailor Moon, this reeks of “destiny.” You can (of course!) read more at www.FloridaAnime.com.
3. InvaderCON II: DOOMCON
InvaderCON (the Invader ZIM convention) was a great learning experience for the Wasabi Anime team on a number of levels. The first lesson was that we can build a family friendly convention experience around a single show. Those sort of conventions (akin to the classic Star Trek conventions of the late Eighties/early Nineties) just don’t seem to exist anymore in my eyes. Hence “we’re takin’ it back” to paraphrase Randall.
The second just as valuable lesson is that the team can run a convention outside our home base area of Orlando, Florida. This year, though, we’re pushing that ability to the limit by putting InvaderCON on the west coast.
No. Not Tampa. Los Angeles.
The convention is still five months out and we’ve already sold over one fifth if the total tickets for the event. The show is destined to be the stuff of geek legend… www.InvaderCON.com
I still have a ton of work to get done on this before the first weekend of July. This is literally me deciding to test a one day show based on everything the lovely ladies from the Mint Chocolate Chippies celebrate and represent.
And classic pinup style, rockabilly culture, and an art style from one of the most colorful times in our history. Cleavage jokes aside, I think Florida needs an event like PinUpalooza and I’m thrilled to see where it goes. www.PinUpalooza.com
5. Other Plans in the Wasabiverse
At any given time there is an imaginary dry erase board that holds concepts for other events and things that my team and I are talking about for later this year and 2013 and beyond. We’re looking at Jacksonville, Florida. We’re talking about anime and comic books and video games and ponies and times of adventure and British doctors and… Well. I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is we’re ALWAYS planning something. Just last week I bought www.WasabiCon.com – just in case.
6. Project Anime
This event is a shared credit with the folks at the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation… aka “the folks who run Anime Expo.” I was approached late last year about the idea of helping put together an event that gathers convention runners from across North America.
An “anime summit.”
A “convention convention.”
You get the idea. I liked the concept and signed on to bring the resources from the Wasabi Empire to help out. It’s been a rocky road convincing everyone of the noble intentions, but the more solidified the event becomes the more folks seem to “get it.” Of course there’s www.ProjectAnime.org.
Which leads me to the title of this post.
It seems our parallels in Japan are looking to walk towards the same path Project Anime is. The organizers at the Tokyo Anime International Fair have invited a number of convention promoters to a private event taking place during their convention next month.
In the interest of planning forward for Project Anime, I’ve decided to tag along with members of the Anime Expo team that are going.
That’s right, kids: I’m going to an anime convention on Tokyo, Japan next month.
Between that and trip back to California in a couple of weeks, I will spend approximately 44 hours on an airplane next month.
THUS, I have been hard at work getting the 1,000,000 other things in place before I disappear from the states for eight days.
Pending WiFi access when in Japan, expect to see lots of blogging/photos/goodness as I represent Wasabi Anime at “the source.”
Karma, though, will be here. Sleeping (like she is doing while I write this.)
UPDATE: As of 2:45 PM Eastern time, the Fake Richard Horvitz profile has been deleted by Facebook. Thanks to everyone who helped bring it to Facebook’s attention. Victory!
Being a ‘convention personality’ in the fan community has its ups and downs. I love meeting fans. I love talking to people who are excited about things in pop culture that I’m into (like anime and Transformers.) I love reading the Internet when folks post about how much they enjoy projects I work on.
Occasionally, though, I have to deal with the random idiot who tries to ruin it for everyone else. I usually just ignore the nuisance since (as we all know) you shouldn’t feed the trolls.
That said, I live in a fan culture the deals with thousands of people. I can’t even IMAGINE the headache of hundreds of thousands of fans and having to deal with the issues that can be caused by the occasional “one bad apple.”
Thus, I now segue into talking about my friend Richard Horvitz.
Richard is the voice of main character on a television show called Invader ZIM. Recently someone thought is would be funny to create a fake Facebook page and pretend to be him. Now, I’m a fan of parody and I read a number of “fake” people on Twitter. There is a difference, though, between PARODY and IMPERSONATION. The Fake Richard Horvitz Facebook profile is pretending to be him in real life. Not cool.
Richard has reported the offending page and has even made it public that someone is impersonating him. You can read the post on the InvaderCON Facebook wall here:
THIS IS THE PART WHERE I ASK FOR YOUR HELP.
It seems that Facebook is a little slow to react, so we need folks to report the Fake Richard Horvitz profile. Please follow my simple step by step instructions…
STEP 1: Go to the Fake Richard Horvitz profile on Facebook. It lookes like this:
Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003088142181
STEP 2: Scroll down to the bottom left of the page and find the link that says “Report/Block”
Click the “Report/Block” link and a pop up will appear.
STEP 3: Complete the “Report and/or Block This Person” form that appears.
Check off the box that says “Block Richard Horvitz.”
Select the option that says “This profile is pretending to be someone or is fake.” You will then be asked to “Choose a type.” Select “Pretending to be a celebrity.” Next you will be asked to put in the name of the celebrity. Type Richard Steven Horvitz.
The page should look like this:
STEP 4: Select “I confirm that this report is correct” and click Continue.
Afterwards, you’ll see a popup that says “Thanks For Your Report.”
Richard reported the fake profile a number of days ago. Facebook hasn’t done anything yet, but I think if we get a large number of people to report the profile (I’m talking to YOU InvaderCON Fans and OHP Fans!) then we should get this knocked out in no time.
Thanks for your help!
I’ve been swamped. Anime Weekend Atlanta. Planning InvaderCON. Finding Sailor Moon. Day job stuff. Family stuff.
I’m behind. I still have Man v. Food posts to make. I have paragraphs of epic awesome to type.
I’m just exhausted.
Next weekend… maybe. For now: I ate another one of these things this last weekend.
I occasionally update new photos (and old ones that I scan) on my Flickr account. Each Friday I post one on my blog from my collection that I think is so embarrassing that it must be shared.
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.