As with every Anime North convention, there's a report and now it's time for that long overdue, patiently anticipated
Some highlights of this year include:
o1. The weather was really cloudy and rainy in the mornings!
o2. I didn't have anyone to tag along with. spleen, steaklunch I missed you guys D:!!
So let's start that report shall we?About Anime North's Artist Alley(the Comic Market)
Since about 2005, I had a little idea forming, in the back of my head. And in 2007
I actually had the courage to write about it and discuss that idea. In 2008 I said by 2010 I would try to make this happen. What is this idea you ask? I want to try my hand at selling prints at a convention's artist alley, that's what! Funny thing is, I'm not so much motivated by making money from this. Don't get me wrong, it would be awesome if I could make a couple dollars doing this, but for me, it's just knowing that I had set my mind
to do something and I succeeded
. Also(like many people on the internet), I'm a shy person, really shy. I'd say 99% of the friendships I've made on and offline have been a result of people coming up to me and asking why I'm so quiet. Recently people would sneak up behind me, to find out what on earth I was doodling
and if porn was involved
. That combined with my parents always telling me I need to go outside more, loving the way people on deviantArt and elsewhere would talk about how excited they are to see so-and-so's work, or meet up with members of a certain doujin circle...I figured:
o1. Known to make friends while doodling.
o2. Go to weekend event where products people drew are sold.
But I will admit every now and again, while working on some fanart, I'll start thinking, can I really
handle all these people staring at my stuff(and by stuff I don't mean my chesticles) and asking me questions and having to engage people in conversation and hope to not sound all derpy, then I remember after all this time at Wally world I've met all kinds of savory and very unsavory characters and managed to be alright, so
I have to do this. I've been steadily improving my drawing/colouring/photoshoping/inking/..
.animu-ing skills with this in mind for the last 6 years. While it's all well and good to draw for yourself, I find it relaxing to do this, at some point in time I think it's good to see where your hobbies can take you and what they can do for you in a positive way. If only I knew about anime and comic conventions earlier when I was just starting to learn about anime and wanting to draw more than just the cartoony doodles that I did when I was a kid, I would have worked to improve myself a lot earlier and got into photoshop eariler to. But better late than never they say. So another year of Anime North has come and gone, two attempts at getting into their Artist Alley(that they call the Comic Market, have eluded me. Though I try to take each year that I'm not in the market as another chance to walk around, take in all the panels(I just love the ones where they poke fun at problems with animation quality and scenes that don't make sense) and look at what sort of things people are drawing(and what products are popular to sell). There are certain aspects of the Comic Market that leave me less than thrilled, and it's making me reconsider if AN is necessarily the place for me to make that artist alley "debut". Though I hope to appear there one day behind a table, surrounded by some of the artists who's work I've admired for years:
o1. There seems to be organizational problems.
o2. I don't think there are enough tables to accommodate the number of people genuinely interested in being in the alley.
o3. I question the fairness of their hole table lottery system.
o4. How many people are really serious about this?
So going through my concerns one by one, the first one on the list is the organizational problems. Now I totally get, admire and understand that by nature, conventions like Anime North, Fan Expo Canada, Animaritime and all the ones in the US are fan run
events. I get that unlike an event that's put together by an actual organization, I can't expect everything to run like clockwork, not even companies can expect that. With all of that in mind, in the 2 years I've been trying to get into the alley, I've noticed that it takes a long, long time for AN's staff to get back to people get back to alley applicants to let them know that their application email was received. Some people finally getting a response the day after
the deadline for sending in their application. Now trying to get your email on time, combined with figuring out what to make and draw is stressful enough, but imagine checking your email every couple of minutes to find out if you were even considered(they'll ignore emails if they are sent earlier than the expected time). This year, I had a mini melt down thinking that my email wasn't received or got bounced back. I sent my application email on the Saturday night that the registration opened and finally got a response...on Sunday the next day. Now I'm thinking for something like that, convention staff should get as many people to respond to emails as possible, because I'm sure I wasn't the only person to send my email on the dot of 11 Saturday night, and wasn't the only one, who was really worried.
Secondly it's the number of tables Anime North offers to their artists. They have 100
tables, each table is made to fit 2 people. The thing is, according to the 2010 convention registration number, about 2000
people were trying to get a table. I'm not sure if this is 2000 people in and around Toronto or if this is 2000 people in/around Toronto and outside of the province of Ontario, but either way, that's a lot of bloody people! Obviously not everyone is going to get a
table, that's the whole idea behind their lottery(as opposed to some conventions where they want 60-200+ dollars to secure a spot), but something tells me, if such a large number of people are seemingly interested in this, and the population of convention attendees keeps growing(it was 16.5 thousand in 2010), someone would say "hey, let's get more tables!" after all, if 2000 people want a table, and each person pays 55 bucks for the whole convention weekend, and another 70 for the table...AN's staff is bringing in a cool $250 000 that they can use to pay the fees for renting out the Toronto Congress Centre and the Hilton Doubletree Hotel and I'm sure they'd have plenty of cash left to use to start up new events, invite new special guests and all that other stuff. Even if they increased the table amount to say, 300, depending how many tables are occupied by single artists and partnered groups, AN would get nearly 40 grand from the sale of all the tables. I've heard it said that for conventions(US ones mostly) 100 tables, is a good number based on the venue, the amount of people attending and making room for the dealer's hall where all the comic shops, art supply stores, weapon dealers and anime goods are sold. Yet when you look at Anime North's forums, year after year there's people begging for an increase in the table amount and AN's response is that they don't have enough staff to run and organize the alley alone. That and if they were to make concessions to the artists, they'd have to make concessions to the dealer's and the arts and crafts people. I don't know, feels like they could do more. To the US livejournalers who have been to anime conventions like AX, Otakon and others, did you noticed a lot of space dedicated to their artist alley? Was the alley a big attraction? Please chime in!
Thirdly is the lottery system itself. I remember seeing seasoned artist alley people like finnimon
and others getting really concerned that a convention they go to would be switching over from paying for a table to having a lottery for a spot and after 2 years of trying, I understand why. It feels like you either have to poses an inordinate amount of luck or possibly be an artist alley regular in order to be in Anime North's comic market. I really hope this isn't the case, and I don't want to sound like an embittered person on deviantArt who feels everyone should love my work and I should be e-famous, not at all. Somehow, year after year, no matter how many people are applying, I always manage to see the same people in the ally without fail. Yeah it's great that I see my personal favourites but what about giving new people a chance? I've wanted to send an email to their Comic Market director asking how they go about determining who will get their first-come-first-served tables and then the final 50 tables. The only thing that keeps me from sending that email is, like I said I don't want to appear like some angry person who's jealous of all the people out there who draw better than me, always get a table and I want to be e-famous. In 2010 I tried and managed to be on the waiting list, by sending my email, a second(supposedly) the registration opened(and lost my waiting list spot because they claim I took too long to reply to their offer email). This year I sent my email the very moment registration opened and couldn't get into their 50 guaranteed spots, let alone their waiting list. I've heard it said that the problem is which email account that the applicant uses. AN's staff go with gmail, I go with Rogers and the timestamps for when email has been received can be off with client to client. Either way, there's been something a little off about this and I'm not the only one to feel this way. I'd use the argument of AN picking people who are internet famous but then this year, a couple of the regulars didn't make it this year and those who did had to manage to get on the waiting list, or bribe someone with a table to share a spot with them. I guess it's just luck on some people's part, but I'm still curious how people are selected and rejected!
Lastly about the tables, I've heard it said that when it comes to the check-in day, when artists get their badges and confirm that they're still interested in their tables, there's a huge chunk of unaccounted for tables(without any word what happened to the people who were meant to claim them). Makes you wonder how many of the 2000+ people who apply don't just do so to say that they did it? Like how the art newbie owl
points out that many of us used to believe that having wacom tablet and photoshop was the be all and end all of being a good artist, or that our work didn't mean much unless there were hundreds on deviantArt/SheezyArt/Mangabullet/Gaiaonl
ine to give us all kinds of praise. Perhaps there are some who maybe don't know what all is involved in being in the alley, but they know some artist(s) they like will be there. Perhaps...just perhaps...they apply for these tables because they want to hang out with people they like? Or maybe they apply, get intimidated by the wide array of talent and drop out, I don't know. Either way, I think the staff needs to implement something to weed out the serious people from those who are applying because they want somewhere to hang out or something. The best idea I can think of, is throwing out the whole lottery business, and raising the table fee. For one, if it was closer to 100-200+, if people(like me), really, really want to do this, they'd start saving from now. Saving for their table fees, saving to get stuff printed(unless you have an awesome printer and glossy painter at home), figuring out what they plan to make, the whole 9 yards. Would you believe that right now, on this very computer that I'm typing out this entry on, I have a 3 page word document with everything I've learned and needed to know about preparing psd files for printing? That I have two copies of my psd's in case the Photoshop gods decide to crap on my head and my files get corrupted(PLEASE DON'T!!!). In that list, I have all the currently popular mangas and animes from 2009, various anime themes(like shounen, shoujo, seinen, slice of life, sports, sentai...not to be confused with hentai...yaoi is welcome though!), locations of printing services, which one is the best and on it goes. I even have a word file with a timeline of what image I finished and when, so that I don't lose track of what I've finished. This might seem like a little much for some but remember this would be my first time
I'm doing this and unlike a virgin on her wedding night(or in the backseat of some guy's car), I'd like to know what I'm doing, do it right and have it all go as perfectly as possible. So right now, I have 11 psd files in a folder called AN artist alley. They consist of 2 business card designs(with a link to my site
debating about adding my twitter
page or facebook
fan page), 8 psd's of jrpg themed fanart, 1 psd for a horizontal table banner that I'm thinking of redrawing and then investing in one of those banner stands
, because I keep seeing people getting pipes from Home Depot and pasting samples of their prints to that and I have nightmares of someone stealing my prints and me going all ignorant trini girl on them if I catch them in the act...and I want my table display and print presentation to be different than the usual stuff you see. I have 2 sketches left to ink and colour then I'd be done! All that would be left would be to print out everything as 8x10 and 11x17" poster prints like I planned, put them in the little clear files with a business card in each one and wait. With all the abandoned tables that I see year after year, I can't help but wonder if all the people who apply and drop out at the last minute would be willing and dedicated to this as I've done my best to be? But I guess all that matters is that I do this one day. You must be saying "Cool story bro! But what happens if you apply for Anime North 2012 and still don't get in?" and to that I would say, in my fake trini accent, "AH GOH SHOW DEM HOW IGNORANT AH DOES GET WHEN TINGS DOH GO MEH WAY!!"...okay, not really...but I do get ignorant, it's genetically coded into my DNA. Sooo...I've found a couple of options that shall be written out shortly. For one, I found a couple of other conventions I could go to that do not have artist alley table lotteries and still are pretty big! And they are:
o1. Wizard World Convention: Toronto Comicon-March 2012
o2. Northern Anime Festival-July 2012
o3. Dot-con-November 2012(tempted to try for this year though)
Toronto Comicon is pretty big, and gets a lot of media coverage. In terms of space, it's held down at one of the buildings in Exhibition place
, and the sad thing is, I wouldn't have learned anything about it unless a guy at the art supply store I bought my clear files mentioned it. And best thing yet, NO TABLE LOTTERY! All they want is 225
for their table fee and of course admission fees. Also I've heard the alley people are really welcoming of newbies
there goes my plans of hiding under the table and asking people to leave their money in my hand
:D! Northern Anime Festival is special. It's all the way out in Oshawa in the boonies of Durham region! For those of you who don't know, if Toronto is like New York(lite), Durham would be like a small set of towns in their own county. Oshawa is beside this little town called Whitby where I spent the first 9 years of my life before my parents split up. This convention has a 60 dollar table fee, it's on the University of Ontario Institute of Technology campus and is kinda small, a nice place to start the new artist alley vendor life I'd think. But there's a problem, and that problem is nearly 6 feet tall, 200 pounds and looks like me...my father! What's wrong with my dad? Nothing really, except that...he's the irl Mayes Hughs of dads! And since this is taking place really close to where he teaches(at Durham college), I can totally see him sneaking away from work to come and
embarrass me to the point of wanting to say I have no father
shower me with love. This is how it would go: "Thank you for your purchase and please enjoy the convention! Welcome to my humble table sir! Can I interest you in one of these lovely prints...dad? Go away! Don't you have work now? I don't care if classes are done for the year! No you can't have one! Fool let go of me! I don't know you! No I don't want to meet your friend who teaches third year economics! PUT DOWN THE CAMERA! NOOOOOOOO!" I have reason to believe he does this just to see me upset as many parents do but, I don't know. Though, since I mentioned NAF to him, he did say not to bother looking for a hotel room to stay for the weekend(because no daughter of his will stay in a hotel room!), and he'd drive me over each day, and only give bear hugs when people aren't looking and pack me a lunch and not be goofy in public, so I'll take him up on his offer :P ♥! Lastly there's Dot-con that's held somewhere out in Mississaugua , I have to find their fees. But at least AN isn't the only thing out there, but I still want to try. And as always, wish me luck! I'll let everyone know where I'll be and stop by and visit, so you can see my attempts at not being shy :P!About the actual convention!
Wow I've spent more time talking about the alley than the actual convention! This year for one, the weather wasn't all that great, like I said already, it was all cloudy and rainy in the morning. I think there needs to be a rule where conventions are held in the best weather possible. Sunny, bright and not too hot. If memory serves me well, the last time the weather was cloudy was back in 2004 when I cosplayed as Utena. After that, ever weekend without fail felt like it was early summer. I believe it when people say that 16 500 people attend, because it felt that there were that many people and more. Perhaps it is the hormones but I noticed a surge in very attractive males in cosplay this year...but I wasn't ogling them or anything, not me! I'm a good catholic girl, practically have a halo over my head *whistles*! As always, there are a million Naruto and Bleach cosplayers, tons of Vocaloid people, the K-ON girls and cosplays of whatever was popular in the last 3 years. For some reason, I saw a lot of women dressing as the basic female Tame Rocket grunts
. I wonder why? Well it is a pretty easy outfit to make, just a cabby hat, long sleeved top, miniskirt, gloves, boots, big red R and BAM...you're hunting down Pikachu. I want to dress like one and get back into cosplaying D:! I guess I should add that to my convention to-do list! Sadly my funds for this convention were...spent on Harvey's hamburgers since I didn't have much to begin with. So I spent most of my time walking around and looking at stuff. One thing that made this year's convention a little different was I was walking around with my iPad. Originally I wanted a iPad to
look like a sexy business woman
conduct e-business at a job better than walmart. Also, I had the idea that at an alley, I'd continuously play youtube
videos where I show my colouring and inking processes as a way to attract people to my table
as opposed to flashing the girls and getting arrested
. So far I haven't seen anyone else doing something like this, even showing off little videos on a smart phone, but it didn't happen this year. This year, I downloaded any manga titles that piqued my interest and read them on the bus to and from AN and as a bonus all the hot guy cosplayers would come around to see what I was reading...it was a good convention. I tweeted a lot this year with said iPad and got a few questions from people about the iPad. It also great for making quick references to anime titles they showed in the different viewing rooms. One thing I learned this year is that I really need to try and get a hotel room for this. For one the commuting sucks because it takes me 2 hours to get there, two I had to leave early each day so that I didn't get stranded like last year and 3
where will I invite a lost cosplay guy to spend quality time with me during the evening?
I need my sleep! Next year, the very day that the Doubletree start's booking for AN I am getting a room come hell or high water. I hear getting rooms for that is as competitive as getting an artist alley table and they sell out of rooms within DAYS o_O! Another thing I learned or more like another thing I'm reminded of, is to never eat hotel food, but do I ever learn? Of course not! Why? Because I feel my stomach is made of steel and I can eat any crap I want...and then I get sick! The major food fails of Anime North include me eating a tuna sandwich and spending a week with diarrhea and this year, eating a beef onigiri
and well...getting very gassy. My mom drums into my head all the time to not eat food from strange places because you don't know how fresh everything is. But it's a hotel! You'd think they'd do better, especially a hotel with the Hilton name! And after all, I love burgers and everything, Harvey's and Licks are the best burger joints in Toronto , but you get tired of it after a while. Maybe I should bring some non-japanese
food from home that won't cause all hell to break lose on my stomach. But then I'd need a microwave...Also this year, I just didn't feel the drive to take as many photos as in past years, maybe because of the weather or not having people to wander around with and not having actually bought anything. Either way, I only took about 24 photos, which all all uploaded. As always I ran into a couple regulars from deviantArt, like kaze-hime, budgie and lone-momo, zanazac, minjii. Surprisingly I saw dA's ippus! Wanted to say hello and got all nervous and didn't *facepalm*! On the finaly Sunday of AN since I spent most of my time walking around and felt really tired, I had meant to stay home that day and rest. But upon checking my twitter I got a direct message from this girl, augest
telling me to look for her in the dealer's room, saying she had something for me. Curiosity overrode tiredness and there I was! First of all, everyone needs to look through her gallery, she has some of the most gorgeous marker art I've seen! Been looking at her stuff for quite some time now, way back when I wanted to know about the mystical, magical world of Copic markers. Secondly everyone needs to take a moment to read her sci-fi comic The End
because it's awesome and I'm asking you nicely to do so :D! So I come out and look for miss augest and when I finally find her, she gives me one of those little artist trading cards
! As always I asked how much she'd want for it and she said take it as a gift...so sweet T__T! So we got to talking and I asked what she was doing in the dealer room if she was selling prints and stuff. Apparently she had also tried getting into the alley and didn't make it this year, so I guess it really is a luck thing. I'm almost thinking of trying to wiggle my way into the dealer room too. Though I'm thinking that I'd need to actually have anime stuff to sell, books or something to make my being in the dealer room "legit"...I'll have to take a trip to the Pacific Mall then. So we ended with wishing each other good luck with next years AN and I keep only looking at stuff
and trying to find the most perfect, most handsome Zack Fair cosplayer
! All in all, I'd say it was a nice, quiet weekend!
Now this guy was adorable! I think his female friend dragged him to this at the last minute because the way he spoke, it sounded like this was his first convention. He kept asking me why there were a "bunch of girls half naked and not dressed like anything" XD. Makes a good Brock!
THE HAIR ALONE MAKES THIS GARTERBELT PERFECT! Really! All of who have seen Panty and Stocking know Garterbelt has that huuuuuge afro, this guy was awesome, and the scowl, right in character!
Perfect Kuroshitsuji group cosplay...but look at that Grell! She managed to capture the FABULOUSNESS THAT IS GRELL SUTHCLIFF! If I ever were to dress like Grell(which I'd love to), I'd remember the need for fabulousity as was shown in this photo!
What's special about these guys? Besides dancing outside in the rain...they were dancing to Bad. The black guy nailed Mike's moves to a T!
Best Onion knight ever.
Always liked Taokaka's design, Hazama is supposed to be based of of Mike in the Smooth Criminal music video, either way, this picture needed to be taken!
The rest can be found here
I dedicate this entry to all the lovely guys who looked lovely in their costumes, I have so much love for you...I really do. And I mean innocent and pure love...no really!