davemerrill: (harvey)
the 22nd annual Anime Weekend Atlanta is over! Overall I think it went a little smoother than last year; the weather was nicer, my events ran smoother, and people seemed a little more ready to have a good time. My flights were on time and untroubled. Smyrna is bustling and chafing under the renewed construction concomitant to the Braves stadium. We're finally getting that Publix in the empty lot where Jonquil Plaza used to be, and Spring Road is getting a makeover from 41 westwards.

The final numbers for AWA were 28,871. People are starting to talk about membership caps. I mean 'upper level staff people', not just goofballs walking around on the street.

I got up early Thursday, borrowed the Dad Van, grabbed Neil and Ryan at the airport, made a Target run, got some Fellini's for lunch, and started setting up the Super Happy Fun Sell at 3.



Gatchaman showed up to protect the show, only he didn't answer to "Hey, Ken The Eagle!" and he didn't answer to "Hey Gatchaman!" and he only turned around when I remembered that he was "Mark from Battle Of The Planets!" Nice costume, though.

Some fellows showed up with their "itashi" cars all tricked out, parked nicely in the Galleria lobby parking area. Much better than sticking them in the vendors hall.






Jason ran a new event called "Kigurumi Rampage" where people in kigurumi pajamas battled their way through an obstacle course made up of a city's worth of cardboard buildings. Meanwhile on Friday afternoon Neil entertained a 4pm Totally Lame Anime crowd with ZERO TECHNICAL GLITCHES, and you can say the same for the packed house Anime Hell later Friday night. This is because Thursday night we spent some time working through those glitches beforehand.



Also Thursday was the SHFS, which went very well and was crowded and fun. The line went out the door, down the hall, and into the Galleria, who was very confused.


We gave sellers 2 hours to set up and that is a great idea, we had time to rearrange things that needed to be rearranged and make changes on the fly. Most of the changes were either totally my fault or the fault of me and Ardyn (Reg) not being on the same page on a few tables that needed special arrangement. We had one seller that didn't know tables were assigned (gotta fix that) and three no-shows (we sold those tables again) and one table selling hand-made merchandise that we stopped from selling hand-made merchandise, and that is about all the probs we had with THAT event.

The rest of my events went well. I, and others, had some issues with events staff being shorthanded due to scheduling issues, and to a flu bug that hit some upper level staffers pretty hard. The 'Red Room' old people's hangout suite (everybody seems to think "red room" is a Twin Peaks reference, and it is not, it is a Shining reference) was a terrific idea thanks to Elizabeth and Melanie who worked hard to make it happen - we had somewhere to hang out and get a drink and a snack and chill out between panels, and to host BBQ and Chinese food and get loud and drunk on Saturday night.

I spoke to two separate new conventions who wanted advice on panels and events, and I think one of those events is going to do OK, and the other one is going to crash and burn in spite of all the advice everyone in earshot could and did give.

The Saturday night mixer - well, we made some changes and these changes were all for the better, with amazing decorations in the room and lower prices on the cash bar and room layout that encouraged mingling and whooping and the pushing of all the tables together to create a 'mega table' and eventually crazy dancing thanks to the DJ. It was the event I always knew it could be.



The construction of the new stadium continues, and here you can see the spectacular weather we had, and the pillars of the new pedestrian bridge that's being built across 285.

Mary Kinnard and her "anime garage sale" didn't return, which is sad, but good for my wallet. There were no cel dealers. Two dealers were selling cheesy 3D pictures of wolves and landscapes and Jesus. I bought a manga volume and some Urusei Yatsura house socks for Shain and Tim brought me two Adventure King magazines from the early 80s and I got a Rascal The Raccoon commemorative plate at the SHFS. Everything I brought to sell at the SHFS sold, everything Neil brought sold, the sellers seemed happy, the fans seemed happy, overall a successful con, except for the girl who broke her leg on Friday morning, I imagine her con was not so great.
davemerrill: (harvey)
If you're reading this Livejournal I think it's safe to assume that you know about Anime Weekend Atlanta, the anime convention I helped start back in 1995 that is, this year, going to hold its 22nd consecutive gathering at the Cobb Galleria Convention Center and the Renaissance Waverly Hotel. If you do NOT know about AWA then I have failed in my task and will duly chastise myself.


What you might not know is that registration for the Super Happy Fun Sell is open
and waiting for you and your reservation and your table full of pre-loved anime and manga merchandise!



So, if you've got a closet full of anime DVDs you no longer watch or manga you no longer read or games you no longer play or toys you no longer play with, why not get a SHFS table and pass 'em on to new loving homes - and put a little folding money in your pocket at the same time? Huh?
davemerrill: (milky)
Somebody in the SHFS bought some fabric for $5 using Square, got billed $55, realized it around midnight, went to Public Safety (which is what they're calling Security now). Not much we can do about that. Take it up with your credit card company, I think.

Public Safety told my brother, who texted me twice at midnight. I have the cheapest cell phone in the world with a pay-as-you-go plan that's cheap for Canada but stupid expensive for use outside Canada, and I leave it off most of the time because roaming costs $$$ and texts cost $$$. Texting me is pretty much useless.

Next year AWA will likely get me some kind of cheap burner phone I can use during the con to stay in touch. Which will be great because people will be able to get in touch with me, but terrible because people will be able to bother me all the time with ridiculous questions and "problems" that are not mine.

Seriously, I get dumb questions about how much dealers room tables cost, do I need a badge to get in here, all kinds of stuff that the con has built an informational infrastructure at great expense for you to utilize and educate yourself. But no, let's ask Dave. To be fair, this year was a great improvement over last year, which was amazingly packed with me being First Stop on the Information AWA Superhighway. But seriously fellas, it's AWA, I am really busy, read your program book or check the AWA website on your smart phone you're always staring at before bugging me. I'm busy.

Actually, come to think of it, this year was kind of awesome in that regard. I was not asked for rides to or from the airport, I was not bugged for free passes, nobody made sad puppy eyes at me in an attempt to get a pass to the green room. I was not asked for free Wi-Fi in the SHFS, nobody begged me to show their video in Hell, I didn't have to last-minute panic arrange three carloads of tourism, I didn't miss Sunday dinner while taking down Maid Cafe decorations. Everybody who showed up for a SHFS table was actually on the list for SHFS tables, and was not "promised a free table" by "somebody".

We did have some people who showed up thinking they could sell stuff from tables for free ("because every con I've ever been to let people sell for free") and other people who thought they could sell their new lolita cosplay tiny hats, and some people that just camped out on tables they hadn't paid for, and some people that took over the table next to them because it was empty for five minutes. But that's normal, normal confused fan behavior. I blame air pollution and poor parenting.
davemerrill: (milky)
And we're back! Another one in the can. Some old problems solved, some new problems rise up, a little price gouging, some bargains, old friends met, new friends made, friends no longer with us remembered. A fully packed Corn Pone Flicks Bad American Dubbing panel, some pizza, an airport run, candy, costumers, and it rained every single day. That's AWA this year.








davemerrill: (milky)
so in a week I'll be at the Waverly/CGCC in the middle of Anime Weekend Atlanta! As I have done around this time of year for the past....21 years. Yeah. That's a long time. Can't stop to think about it. Just keep moving.



Thursday night is the SuperHappyFunSell, the yard sale garage sale swap meet thing we've been doing for a few years now. It's starting earlier and ending earlier and I'm not scheduled for anything else that night, which is a pleasant change.



Friday Darius roped me into a "Year One" panel where we'll talk about AWA's first year and how it went. He's got a lot of video footage and I have some photos and it ought to be a fun trip down memory lane.



Friday night at 10 it's time for Anime Hell! Preceded by Totally Lame Anime, followed by Midnight Madness!



Saturday Matt and CB and I are going to be taking everyone back in time to the 90s when we put together a series of "documentaries" about how Americans were dubbing anime badly. We were outraged way out of proportion, it seems.



Saturday night I'll be at the Mixer - we did it last year and it went really well so we're doing it again, an over-21 cash bar social time for the grownups to chat like grownups.

And Sunday it's time for Class of '85, a frank discussion of what the anime fandom scene was like 30 (!!) years back. We're old.

It occurs to me now that with the exception of Anime Hell, most of my events are "what it was like in the old daze" events. At one point I swore off doing these kinds of things, but now it seems it's my fate.

BTW if you feel so inclined, you can get onto your computer and visit Crunchyroll and check out their live stream from AWA - I'll be on it Saturday at 12:30 and 4:30, talking about Anime Hell and Class Of '85!

I still have lots of things to do to get ready for the show, though most of the heavy lifting is done. As always I'm looking forward to the show, but I'll be glad when it's over and I can get back to drawing. Shain got me a pen-tablet for my birthday that I haven't even used yet!
davemerrill: (milky)
IF you're coming to AWA next month then naturally you're all-a flutter about the SUPER HAPPY FUN SELL, our garage-sale used merchandise blowout whereby fans sell their old stuff to other fans and everybody walks away happy. Registration for SHFS tables is now LIVE and waiting for you to reserve YOUR table!

The SHFS takes place on Thursday evening as one of our inaugural events, and this year it starts two hours earlier, at 5pm. So don't be late!
davemerrill: (milky)
And we're back from AWA. Bottom line is that it was a good show, with a big jump in attendance, and attendees that seemed to be having a good time, and staffers that wound up having to deal with a lot of last minute problems, some of which were avoidable and some of which weren't, some of which were absolute nonsense. But for all the crazy and the drama behind the scenes, the attendee on the street or on the walkway between Cumberland and the Galleria seemed to be having a great time. I did not take a lot of pix.

Over at my folks' house the hummingbirds were out in full force. It had been raining on Wednesday but the sun came out on Thursday and weather was great all weekend long.

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We had the largest crowd for opening ceremonies ever.
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SHFS had fewer hitches than last year - we did have a few goofs, one of which we caused, another of which we caused, and another of which was the hotel's fault, and we had one guest show up and ask where her table was because she's a guest and she always gets a table, where is her table. Not that she bothered to actually take any steps to make sure she had a table, it's just assumed that since it's happened in the past it's going to happen this year. A recurring theme of this year's AWA, you might say.

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I did a few panels, they were all well attended, here's people learning about Knack Animation.

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Here's a goose dressed as my brother.

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Tina Belcher took time off from her job at Bob's Burgers to make a rare public appearance!

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As did Cyborg 004. The appearance part, not the burgers part.

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As per usual I spend most of the con running around doing stuff. This year there seemed to be a lot of me making sure people had stuff and people were found and people had places to sleep. If I'm going to be doing this stuff I need a personal assistant or somebody needs to buy me a smart phone that works in Atlanta at less than $2 a minute roaming charges. My hotel room was over in the Sheraton which is not convenient in any way for pretty much anything. It was a transitional year, let's just say, but the staff sucked it up and put on their big boy pants and in my opinion, knocked this one out of the park.
davemerrill: (Default)
jeez, been 18 years of these things. The con went really well. I mean, no ambulance calls, no flipouts, people were generally well behaved. Staff was on top of things and performing at top capacity. Guests and panellists had a lot of fun and seemed to enjoy themselves. Bought a little stuff in the dealers room, got to see a lot of friends and catch up, held a few panels that seemed to go well. We may have reached that happy medium between "horrifying disaster" and "transcendentally awesome life-altering experience" - the highs might not have been as mind blowing but the lows weren't as depth-dredgingly low.

for me personally I flew into Atlanta on Wednesday night and got to spend the night at my folks, catching up on family news and enjoying the new shed in the back yard.

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Thursday I borrowed the family van and did a little pre-con shopping, picked up Gavigan at the airport, and visited the site of AWA 7 and 8, which is still a Sheraton attached to a convention center. The convention center is now totally empty and OFF LIMITS.

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We hustled it back up to civilization and got settled just in time for me to get cracking on the SUPER HAPPY FUN SELL, the yard sale event. We had sold every table before the show, but that didn't stop a few very persistent people from deciding they could haul all their junk to AWA and just be handed a table. "I was told there would be tables for walk-ins." Not by me, you weren't.

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Of course we did have some no-shows, so eventually everybody got to sit down and sell their junk. The SHFS setup might have been the most frustrating part of the show for me, if only because of the no-shows, the people insisting I give them a table, the people who were told they had a table when they did not, etc. Next year there will be some changes.

Then I went and did Old School Classroom for a while, screening MAKEN LINER 0011 and some of the Unico pilot film and the World Of Leiji Matsumoto and SUE CAT, all about an idol singing cat. Then it was bedtime.

Friday, we had a pre-show panellists orientation meeting at 11, which is a fantastic idea that I wish I'd come up with 18 years ago. Then it was time for Opening Ceremonies. Here's Lloyd and Stan working the crowd.

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Then I went off and did a panel about Prince Planet, sat in on Fred Schodt's panel, had some lunch, wandered the show, bought some junk, saw some friends, had dinner at Maggianos with CB and Elizabeth and Parker.

On the way out to dinner we passed the Formal Ball, which is run by my brother Jason who's the events director. It's a formal ball, you need to be in formalwear. Fans being who fans are this means Jason spends the entire year explaining to people what 'formal' means, and wasting his time listening to the idiotic debating strategies of time-wasting morons who feel that the Rules Do Not Apply To Me I Am A Special Snowflake My Mommy Said So. Two of these goof-balls were attempting to talk their way into the formal ball dressed as Thing One and Thing Two. You know, from that well known Japanese anime manga artist Dr. Seuss. They were wearing nice jackets, but also red tights and Chuck Taylor sneakers. Jason was getting all het up so I stepped in and let them work their rhetorical magic on me, which consisted of them explaining that some other people were getting into the ball dressed less than formally (we're not talking about them, we're talking about you), how they could put on nicer pants (then go and do so, why don't you) and how they could put on dress shoes (if you had done so, we wouldn't be having this conversation)and where do we go to get our refunds (the table with the cash box on it, stupid). Seriously, these weren't even clean sneakers. "You're really hung up on the shoes!" one said. Well, basketball shoes are a deal-killer when it comes to a formal dance. Even *I* know that, and I wear shorts half the year and most of my wardrobe is T-shirts with Rory Hayes drawings or cereal box characters.

I heard later they lodged a complaint against us with some kind of AWA complaint-lodging organization I was previously unaware of. Lodging a complaint against the Merrill boys at AWA? Good luck with that one guys.

ANYWAYS we had some dinner and then it was time for Hell. I ran a bunch of old clips and new clips and people seemed to like it. I dunno, I got lots of compliments, I guess I'm doing something right. Ryan cranked up Midnight Madness, I retreated to Carl Horn's party for some post Hell libations, and got to bed at, I dunno, 3?

Saturday I did Greggo's Anime Match Game in the Betty White seat next to Vic. I haven't done one of these game shows in a long time, but I managed to come up with some amusing stuff to make the audience laugh and I was instrumental in allowing our final contestant to get some decent prizes. I hitched a ride with Rich Anderson to the Vortex down in Little Five Points to get a burger and reminisce about my youthful days buying REM LPs in Wax 'N' Facts. We got back to the con in time for me and Drew and Richard H. to do the Kokusai Eiga panel, which went well in spite of technical issues. Then it was time for the old peoples party up in the old peoples suite for the old peoples.

I'm of two minds about this. I like having a private party up away from the hubbub, but at the same time I feel really cut off from the rest of the show, at a crucial Saturday night time when people should be milling around and socializing in a larger pool than the pool we have to swim in, in a small hotel room. I am kicking around the idea of getting a Waverly function room, having the hotel set up a cash bar and some snacks, and having a reception/party for the over-21 set where the over-21 set can find it, open to anybody who can prove they're over 21. In conversations with AWA attendees over the weekend I did hear from people who would like something of this nature - one guy visited the Bebop Lounge and was disappointed that he couldn't get anything stronger than coffee.

The benefits of having a Waverly cash-bar event are that we could set up a sound system and have somebody DJ old school music, we could have a screen and be showing old videos and images, it would be someplace people could wander into, have a drink, wander out of to experience the rest of the con, wander back into.

Anyway it's just an idea at this stage. Stay tuned.

Speaking of events, Ed did the karaoke out in the food court of the Galleria and it seemed like a good use of the space. The food court is surrounded by CGCC function space on the upper level, giving performers a balcony to play to.

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I did the Atlanta Anime Con Roundtable panel on Sunday at noon, at 3 I did the Tezuka panel, at 5 we did closing ceremonies, and at 6:30 Jason and I were on our way to Scalini's for the post-con dose of garlic and family. We spent the rest of the evening putting the con to bed and watching crazy videos on Neil's little media computer. Monday AM I got up later than expected, packed, got downstairs, said bye to the people I could find, and before I knew it I was at the airport. The flight was a little bumpy, but I finally made it home to Toronto, and now I'm sitting here typing this.

This year I got to reconnect with a lot of people I hadn't seen in years and years - Meri Davis from A-Kon, Jeff Bullock, Jay Finch - and catch up with locals whom I see more regularly, and make some new friends, and spend more time talking to people whom I only spend a little time talking to. Got to see a lot of babies and toddlers and teenagers, got to see some folks from my generation who are dealing with health issues and life issues, we got to do some events that I think went beyond just stupid cartoons and managed to make a difference in people's lives. That's a bonus, I think. Usually I get done with a convention and I feel wiped out and exhausted, but this is one of those years where instead my head is filled with plans for next year. I guess that means it was a good show.
davemerrill: (Default)
Here's a handy guide!

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I'll also be on a panel about Atlanta anime conventions on Sunday at noon but I didn't make a graphic for it. And of course Opening Ceremonies. And I will sit in on Carl Horn's Dark Horse panel and exhort people to buy KUROSAGI CORPSE DELIVERY SERVICE, and generally otherwise be rambling around the place all weekend. See ya there!!
davemerrill: (Default)
I'm back from AWA. Show went really smoothly from what I could see - last year was smooth, but this year we missed out on some of last year's hiccups, which is cool. Of course there were other hiccups and there's always sweeping undercurrents of change and development that cause sparks. I will have pix and a full report laters. Right now am just getting back into something resembling normalcy.

here's a tip - if you want to do panels at AWA next year, have your act together (this means being in direct touch with the Events Director of AWA, which Is Not Me) by July 1 at the latest. Hotel rooms at the Waverly go on sale in early Feb and sell out in two weeks. Information on getting a SHFS table is on the AWA website and you should nail one down when you nail down your badge, don't walk in Thursday night expecting a table.

Also my review of OH! EDO ROCKET is up at Otaku Collection DX!

http://otaku.collectiondx.com/moviereview/review-oh-edo-rocket
davemerrill: (Default)
Next Thursday is AWA setup day, and traditionally it's the day that I borrow the car from my folks and do some pre-convention grocery shopping, and get Ryan from the airport. And maybe Chick-Fil-A. But my folks need their cars on Thursday so I'm SOL! So who wants to drive me around from my parents to the hotel to the airport to Kroger and back to the hotel on Thursday? I'll pay gas!

Edited to add, my brother says I can borrow his wheels on Thursday! DONUTS IN THE WAVERLY PARKING LOT
davemerrill: (Default)
Every year for the past, oh, 17 years, I have the same excuse as to why I can’t get much of anything done in the late August-September time frame. It’s all because I helped start an anime convention in Atlanta back in 1995, and AWA has been such a blast every year that I continue to be involved.




What’s happening this year at AWA 2011? Thursday night at 7 we do this thing called the SUPER HAPPY FUN SELL, where anime fans dig through their closets and bring out their pre-loved manga, DVDs, old VHS and laserdiscs, toys, games, plushies, model kits, prints, cassette tapes, fans, kimono, record albums, and other less identifiable items to sell to you at bargain prices. I find neat stuff at this sale every year and I predict this one will not be any different. Bring money!



Then later on Thursday it’s Dave’s Old School Classroom. I wasn’t going to do it this year, mainly because at previous shows it’s always been this late night Saturday thing and I was tired of spending my Saturday night catching-up-with-friends time in a video room showing “Legend Of Marine Snow”. So this year it’s moved to Thursday at 10pm in the Kennesaw room and I’m going to take the audience through the anime work of Shotaro Ishinomori, including little-seen gems like Sabu & Ichi’s Detective Stories and 30,000 Miles Under The Sea. You’ll need your AWA badge for these events so show up early Thursday to get squared away!



Friday night is of course Japanese Anime Hell; I’ve been doing it at AWA since 1997, a two-hour compilation of entertaining and inexplicable found video that works within the themes of Japan or animation or both. Or neither. To be honest I never thought it would become as popular as it has, but I could say that about AWA in general, which will have more than 12,000 attendees this year.



There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on at the show on Saturday but all I’m responsible for (other than a certain gathering for fans of a certain show) is a panel at 7pm titled “Stone Age Mecha”, anime and manga robots of the pre-Mazinger Z era. Expect some Mitsuteru Yokoyama action in this one.

On Sunday at 1pm I’m on a panel with representatives from other Atlanta anime conventions, and we compare and contrast our various shows, talk about dealing with hotels and vendors, and generally swap trade secrets. I don’t live in Atlanta any more, so my eligibility as an AWA representative is dubious at best, but this gives me a chance to catch up on all the gossip. And that’s important.

At 3:30 there’s a talk entitled “My Life On The Super Robot D-List”, where experts like Richard Hoelsher and Drew Sutton and me discuss various robot anime shows that never quite caught on with the public. And there were a surprising number of these near-misses, some entertaining, some terrible. Then I have to run over next door at 4pm and do a panel on “Spooky Classic Anime”, all about Shigeru Mizuki’s Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro and Akuma-Kun, other shows like Yokai Ningen Bem, Obake Q-Taro and Kaibutsu-Kun, and even some Dororon Enma-Kun thrown in for good measure. And then before you know it the con is over for another year!



Of course AWA’s packed with attractions besides my humble involvement; guests include seiyu Naoko Matsui (Dream Hunter Rem, Katsumi Liqueur in Silent Mobius), artist Yoshitoshi “Serial Experiments Lain” Abe, voice actors Todd Haberkorn, Vic Mignogna, Amy “Nova” Howard-Wilson and Brina Palencia, industry figures like Carl Horn, Neil “Totally Lame Anime” Nadelman and David Williams, animation director Tim Eldred, artist Bob DeJesus, musical acts MOON STREAM and The Suzan, among others. There’s a formal ball, the famous AMV awards, a giant artists alley, classy costume contest, karaoke, maid cafes, video games, a manga library, a huge dealers hall, RPG games, three 24 hour anime video rooms showing damn near everything, a whole programming track dealing with cosplay, Midnight anime parody Madness, several loud dances, and this year a skit event, so you can shut up about your damn skits.

AWA 2011 happens September 29-October 2 at the Cobb Galleria Convention Center/Renaissance Waverly Hotel in what’s technically Atlanta GA! See you there!
davemerrill: (Default)
And here's the con report, with pix! So you have to go behind the jump here. Because it's big and I don't want to kill everybody's FL. Go there now! )
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