. Okay, so, I've been on there a while, but now I'm actually on it and actually using it, and I'm no longer declining friends requests from people I don't actually know. I may not follow you back, but I will accept all friends requests and will be updating that whenever I post new pages or new artwork, news, etc. Someone kind made me a FaLLEN fan page but I haven't decided when I'll start updating that, so for now if you want to follow FaLLEN on Facebook, follow me. I do sometimes post photos of my dog molesting me and the occasional food porn, but other than that I don't post as actively as other people do.
The only thing I ask, though, is that you don't private message me if I don't know you in real life. I really try to keep the PMs down to just my real life friends, so if you send me a PM and I ignore it, or I post very short messages... please get the hint? This has become a big problem lately for some reason. I use PMs as I would a phone, so getting PMs from strangers or people I met for only two seconds at a con makes me uncomfortable. Messages on public posts and such though are totally fine (and encouraged!).
Anyway, on to the main point of this post.
Sometime in February I decided I needed to give con hopping a go in the US. I have been selling my books for a few years now in Japan at comic events locally, but I had only done one convention in the US before, and I was spectacularly unprepared for that one.
So, how did I do?
Anime Midwest in Chicago, IL
This was my first stop, and I like to call this the convention of coincidences! My parents kind of surprised me by coming up before the con started instead of after like I originally had expected (they didn't even have a hotel room... on a 4th of July weekend at a fairly large con, eh heh...), so I didn't get a chance to do a lot of networking at this convention. I had done the official booklet artwork for the show and had a table at the Artist Alley, but I was totally surprised when I got there to find my table had no number. Anime Midwest had their artists choose their own table, but I didn't know that until I got there the day it started Friday morning! So a lot of the so-called good spots were taken, though I saw a corner table across from the artist guests and near one of the side entrances. Honestly, I think it was a pretty good table, and it got better when just before the con started a latecomer had come in and set up his table by mine. His name was Gabo and he was with his friend Ali who draws pugs and wears adorable dresses. On the first day we didn't really talk, but on the second and third day we had more of a chance to speak. I also noticed a very tall, lanky, bald guy would keep walking up to him and then back to the guest tables, and I wondered who he was. Turns out Gabo was the artist for an adorable kids' comic called Albert the Alien, and that was his writer coming by to check on him. Remember how this is the coincidence con? Keep this in mind for later.
There was one other person I met that I decided I had to become buds with. I had asked this nice girl if I could borrow tape and that led to us chatting, which led to us becoming friends, which led to the super amazing realization that she was the person who had used the one and only convention guide I had bookmarked! She is
on DeviantART and runs the blog Sweet Apple Tea
, and I kind of freaked out and showed her that she was the only How To site I had bookmarked, and she squealed. We even talked about going to a few other cons together that month, but that unfortunately didn't work out mostly because of me (maybe next year, right?). But she was awesome.
I really only stayed in the AA section, so other than sales I've got very little to say. The hotel was super accommodating to the anime crowd and even had really cute room card keys made up! My happily married father accidentally made a weird pass at the girl at the front desk (I'm sorry, girl with the fake name tag) and the bar played the America vs Japan women's soccer match where Japan lost, boo. I had a little trouble finding my way around the AA at first, so once I got set up I pretty much just stayed in the AA until it closed. And let me just say... Chicago people are AWESOME.
Sales were great for my book! I had brought seventy books for the whole tour thinking that was enough, but I sold out of all I had allotted for Chicago and ended up selling everything I had specifically brought to that con (around 40 books). I heard so many warm comments from people regarding the fact that the main character was a woman who looked and behaved more like a man, and I think Chicago was the one place where sales were split fairly evenly between men and women. I met a few people from DeviantART, too. Lots of cool artists there!
The absolutely crazy part was that at the end of the third day my parents asked me how far I was from reaching my first goal. They nearly flipped when I told them $78. Hell, I nearly flipped. And I was just getting started!
In short, I really loved the attendees at the con. I am definitely DEFINITELY going to be back next year...
Anime Fest in Wichita in Kansas
This was the smallest con I attended, and at this convention I was the lone artist guest. There were a few problems with the schedule that had to be fixed kind of last minute, but the people who ran the con were friendly. I knew Peter Pixie from my test drive convention in 2012, and he said he remembered me (but I don't think he did!) and I met David Vincent, voice actor extraordinaire, who was fairly elusive but friendly when I did manage to see him (I think the first thing I asked him was how old he was, because I felt very very old at this convention). I then met Rachael Messer, a young voice actress who hails from my home town Tulsa and has amazing hair! She was super sweet and super pretty and all the boys were eyeballing her. She was with her then-manager Craig Musser who I think also does some voice work, and he joined us for an 18+ panel. He was nice too but I don't think we're going to end up getting to do that amazing game we talked about making about the Revolutionary War. He was also quite pretty, but I didn't know that at the time because he had a lumberjack beard for a project he was working on. Argh, so many attractive actors! It led me to drink. And who did I drink with?
I drank with guys I befriended because I could tell they were metalheads, or at least music appreciators. JJ and Ian were two guys (also younger than me, argh) who... what were they at the con? Staff? I never really figured out what their job was but they were awesome. JJ kept sneaking me alcohol at the 18+ panel where I got absurdly drunk, and we ended up singing Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" at the top of our lungs. Ian was quieter than JJ and I, but he would tell me some of his conspiracy theories and kept me interested in that. I love hearing theories, even if I don't believe in them (sorry, I believe in the moon landing). Ian also looked a little like Scott Ian, but apparently his beard and his name were all mere coincidences. They were awesome, I wanted to take them both home with me. I also briefly met a guy named Bradford who seemed too cool for words but we ONLY TALKED FOR TEN MINUTES. He apparently was working with David Vincent as his handler, so that's why he wasn't around as much. But I'd love to talk more about bands with him!
Sales were not as good as the other cons due to the size of the con (smallest of the bunch) but I had several people come up to me later and tell me that they read my book, loved it, they told me what characters they were shipping, etc etc. So they made me feel really good and like it was totally worth going.
I probably won't be back next year, unfortunately, since I already have other cons planned, but I made some great new friends here and the people who did stop by were so so friendly! Though, to my surprise, I heard more than a handful of people tell me "Sorry you had to come to Wichita." Aww. Show some more pride in your town, you guys! You had a cute downtown area, too!
Tokyo In Tulsa in Oklahoma
AAAAHHHH! I love this con so much AHHH!!!! This is the con of my hometown, Tulsa, Oklahoma. It wasn't around when I was living there and into anime, so it was surreal in 2012 when I went and saw it for the first time. Well, a lot has changed since 2012. I was much better prepared this time around! My sales were outstanding and thank god I had sent word back to Japan for more books, because I sold a TON of books! Best AA sales of the whole convention. My buyers were mostly guys and all of them were awesome. I just stood around and talked to a whole bunch of people for way too long, haha, because people were just too cool. They all recommended to me the best YouTube channels and American cartoons and games (watching Steven Universe now, will play Five Nights at Freddy's next) and it was great. Really cool group of people, and my table location was awesome!
I had a hotel room this time around and was able to hang around with the staff. My handlers were Tami and Phillip, and they were super super friendly and more than accommodating. I talked to iMac enthusiast Clyde again who wants to make a Neiva cosplay costume for me! I'm still debating that one, but we shall see! Jon Fowler was running the AA and was super cool and friendly, and every single staffer made sure I knew about the snack room upstairs. Great because this was the only hotel room I had without a fridge (sadness). I also got carded here, which was... wow. So great. I'm 31 you guys! Way to make an old lady feel young again.
There was a lot of drinking with the staff, including fellow metalhead Caleb who did his rendition of Drunk History, but he totally had notes, which is kind of like cheating. I didn't get to talk to James Fowler much, but he as always was such a nice guy (sorry I missed the dinner!). There was a mini reunion from Wichita with Peter Pixie was back as MC and was great as always, and David Vincent was there again with his room next door to mine (if you heard me singing "Part Of Your World" in the shower, I am so, so, sorry...). Rachael and Craig were there with their friend Chris "Beefcake" Brummet, who you all should keep an eye on because he is going to be a voice actor too someday, and he's really good. I called him Beefcake because I met a ton of Chrises that month, but he was the most muscular. I also talked to another voice actor, Cory Phillips, who you all also need to look out for in a few Funimation projects! He joined me with a few other awesome people while I was totally sloshed and discussing super deep issues like gender culture, queer culture, identity in general, and accepting people. We did not all share the same opinions, but we sat down and discussed these issues with open minds and hearts and nobody attacked anyone because that's not what it was about. It was about sharing ideas, and that is why it was amazing. I learned a lot, thank you for talking with me, guys. I'm sorry I got drunk from Craig's fireball attack in my Angry Orchard and sang Spice Girls "Wannabe" at karaoke at the top of my lungs and lost my voice for the remainder of the con. Ahaha...
I also did a bunch of panels that were really really fun. I did another 18+ panel, but I was sober this time and drew a lot of very inappropriate things for Iron Artist, which was led by Amelie Belcher
who is crazy fun and loves her some Jurassic World. If you come to this con next year and I am there, COME TO THIS PANEL, it was a blast. I taught a workshop on making manga (ordered way too many supplies, though... if we do that again, let's keep it simple, yes?) and met some fellow DeviantART artists, such as
I am a big fan of this con now. I would be sad if I was unable to attend next year. I know I am leaving out some other cool people, but as with before, if I left you out feel free to deck me in the face. It is nice to see my hometown has such a great convention that is apparently growing like crazy!
AnimeIowa in Coralville, IA
Oh man. I was super looking forward to this con. This con was really well organized and there were several other comic artists on the guest list I was dying to get to know! There was Xero Reynolds
), who introduced me to a cool book series and was very unlucky in that none of his books arrived to the con on time (next year I want to see your books, kind sir!), Chris "Surfer Dude" Malone
, who works on the series Archer and surprised me by being a fellow SCAD alumni (wait, am I alumni even if I didn't graduate?), and a certain lanky bald guy I'd seen before. Trevor Mueller
was Gabo from Anime Midwest's writer, and when I realized where I'd seen him I mentioned I knew his artist. It was crazy! Surfer Chris and Trevor and I were all placed together in Artist Alley, and when we found out we were all in our early thirties and born in November, we dubbed ourselves the Novembros. We even had a secret head nod! I think we pretty much became BFFs that weekend.
The hotel was great-- nice beds, really pretty wetlands in the back I got to check out with Surfer Chris (we found a tiny dragon creature, aka the prettiest mayfly ever, we saw fish chewing noisily on reeds and a family of adorable duckies!), and the three of us all ate at a restaurant my buddy
had recommended to me called Vesta. Yep! Vesta! I had the most amazing lamb burger there, and when Surfer Chris and I went there that night for drinks the bartender gave me, like, all the whiskey. So did a nice guy named... uh... it started with a C, but he was just some cool dude who bought us drinks and stopped by our tables the next day. Cheap Trick was even there playing a show, and a cycling festival or something was also in the area. It was awesome! Surfer Chris and I even saw a Mellow Mushroom food truck. That pizza is what SCAD students lived off of, basically, so it was crazy to see one from Georgia. After we got drunk (mostly me, aha!) we went back to Surfer Chris's room for Drink and Draw with a voice actor who had the most amazing voice, Paul St. Peter
. He was there more for the drink and less for the draw.
I played my very first game of Cards Against Humanity (and tied for first place!) and hosted panels with Trevor, Xero, and Surfer Chris. I have definitely decided I prefer to co-host panels, since I get bored of hearing myself talk. Peter Pixie was there (again! We decided I was stalking him... which maybe I was...) and I got to meet Carli Mosier and Andrew J Love, who both seemed super cool. I was really shocked to hear that Carli, who I was going to hang out with at San Japan the following week, ended up going to the hospital for some crazy stuff that left her with a zipper stomach (her words)! I was bummed that I didn't get to talk more with her. Caitlynn French was adorable but other than the first day when staffer Mel picked us up we didn't talk much. Mel was pretty great and became the official Novembro cantina girl and fetched Trevor water for his insatiable thirst, and she had the prettiest hair color ever!
But I cannot leave out a certain guest from Japan, can I? I was excited to be able to meet Nabeshin, aka Shinichi Watanabe, who was the director for the series Excel Saga. That was one of my favorite anime series when I was in college, so I was dying to meet him. Let me just tell you, friends, he is exactly as his character is in Excel Saga. That is not a character, that is just him. He really does have an afro, he really does wear those jackets and smoke and make perverted jokes constantly. When his interpreter couldn't be there for the first night, Jen Sample, who organized much of the con (and bless her, she did a great job), had me step in and translate for him. He was excited to have someone to talk to, so we grabbed a few drinks at the bar and had surprisingly heavy conversations about the anime industry's current state, marital issues, and every once in a while he'd throw in something about a whips and chains because, you know, he's Nabeshin. I couldn't tell if he was a louse or a great guy to be friends with, haha, and it was not uncommon for us to be seen bickering in the VIP room's kitchen while his interpreter Miyuki guffawed, and everyone else just stared at us because they had no idea what we were saying. It was fun. He said I sounded like a drag queen, though. Boo. We've talked a little since the con and if we get a chance we want to grab a couple more beers together sometime.
At the Artist Alley, I was next to Trevor and Micah Solusod
, who was a voice actor talent who is also an artist, and he was helped by Apphia Yu
, rhymes with "mafia". What was crazy, and I mean craaaaazy, about Apphia was that it turned out I totally knew her! In fact, I've known her for over a decade! She actually played Maris in an early radio drama I did for FaLLEN, which is why when she introduced herself I thought her voice sounded familiar. But she used a different handle at the time so I had no idea it was her (and now she goes by
). That was nuts. She was really cool and let me have some of her yummy pizza
Micah was cool too, but he was never at his booth so I didn't get to talk to him much. All I know is that Trevor and I are apparently his birth parents. I would say it was a long story, but I don't even remember what started it.
Trevor was awesome. He taught me a lot about selling books and is a total professional. Whether he likes it or not, he is basically my new BFF and if we don't see each other next year at other cons I will cry. Check out his adorable webcomic Albert the Alien
, guys! It is up for a Harvey Award, which is the second highest honor in comics! And so as to not leave out my other Novembro, Surfer Chris this website
with his art and animation. He has the most amazing business card, I wish I could show you all!
The artist alley at AnimeIowa was easily the best organized of the whole tour. Plenty of space for everyone, privacy for artists, visibly marked tables, easy to follow layout... and there were snacks and drinks for artists!! Seriously, more people need to come to this show. It was fantastic. This was definitely a great show for artists-- probably helps that the organizer is one herself! Wild horses couldn't hold me back from this show next year. NOVEMBROS UNITE!!
San Japan in San Antonio
This was the only con where I was not affiliated with anything to do with the con whatsoever. I wasn't a guest, I didn't do art, etc. So I just had my remaining books at the Artist Alley and hung around the town with a buddy that came down to tag along (thanks brah!). I also got to hang out with Frank V
), a guy I have known since I was only 14 and still working the furry scene, haha. We bonded over Tiny Toon Adventures and our love for animation, so being able to finally meet him and his lovely family was great. He's just as awesome in person as he is online, though he is hilariously excitable, haha. His friend was cool, too. Thanks for taking me out to dinner! You and your family are so awesome.
The con itself was big, but it had some unusual rules. Despite there being tens of thousands of people attending (I think I heard 18,000?) there wasn't a lot of foot traffic in the AA. I heard from the girls next to me (who, OMG, I don't think I ever got their business cards!!) that they were only letting so many people in at a time, which was... I don't know. Friday was a slow day, and I remember worrying that such a big con wasn't going to live up to my expectations. Well, it was just slow to catch on. Saturday was huge for me! I had a lot of big spenders that day, and I think San Antonio may have actually had the most supportive group of people there. I had so many nice people come by Friday and then come by Saturday to buy merchandise featuring their favorite character from FaLLEN, and I even met a reader who had the coolest name! CASTLEMAN. I love that name and will remember it always. I totally forgot his dA ID, but if he tells me I will post it here
I ended up completely selling out of books on Saturday, as well as many merchandise items (particularly the charms... now only Maris remains). I had people coming up saying "My friend told me you were selling this really cool graphic novel..." and I had to tell them I sold out, which was sad. Since that kept happening, I just decided not to even show up Sunday (since I was low on everything else anyway) and instead toured the downtown area, saw the Alamo, etc with my friend.
Normally I wouldn't do this, but the AA here had INSANE hours. We would get there at 8 am, it would start at 9 am, and it went until 11 pm!! So sleeping in Sunday was a real treat. I was pooped. I couldn't sleep in for too long because it was time to checkout, and the hotel forgot to tell everyone that they moved it back from 11 am to 1 pm. Boo on them! And boo on those wristbands! And boo on their ice cream costing $8 a scoop! I would like to do San Japan again but the hotel was super pricey. Cool atmosphere, though. Amazing cosplays!
And best of all? I got carded AGAIN! Thank you, Elmer Fuddruckers, for making me feel young again!
All in all, I did much MUCH better than I had set out to do. I met amazing artists and new friends, I got to meet some longtime readers and supporters, and I even got to see some areas of the US I had never been to before. It was really fun and I am actually going to be doing another con tour in March, I've decided. My biggest regret this time around was that I did not have enough books!
Thank you everyone who came up to my tables and panels and talked to me! There were so many cool people I met and, to be honest, this July was pretty life changing for me in more ways than I can really say. Next year will be a big year for me, that's all I can really tell you guys right now. I'm glad to be back in Japan and back to working on FaLLEN and finishing up the last of the Kickstarter orders, but this was probably the first time I've been to America in a long time where I did not want to go back to Japan. I was welcomed and treated so kindly by so many people, and I was sad every time I had to say goodbye to all my new friends. We shall meet again! Next year. NEXT YEAR. I'll be back. (quoting old Terminator, not Genysis or whatever the hell it is called now)
Next post will be discussing Comic Market and comparing it to US cons... and will have an entirely different tone.