Tuesday, June 7, 2022

NakaKon 2022 - Almost back to "normal"

It's Thursday evening, I've got my badge, and found my table, so now it's time to get set up!

Thursday Set-Up

I am a sucker for that feeling before a show, especially if it's for a longer three day show, that I'll get during set up. That feeling of mixed anticipation, hope, and excitement. Some of it, because of course, there's the whole, "I'm here to show off my artwork and make some money", but also because, at least for me, it's always been the whole, I'm working for myself aspect.

Before you get too far into reading, here's the roughly ten minute podcast episode I did if you're interested in a quick listen. It's a condensed overview of my thoughts about the show.
Last year I had just started really utilizing TikTok [@theartisanrogue] for promotion, and this year, I was recording media content for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, this blog post, and Twitter, which, was by far the most challenging thing I had to do. I know that sounds a bit silly, but to try and create content that isn't just replayed across the various platforms is very time consuming, and requires me to be able to also edit video and photos when I have time at the show, so the content is put out in a timely fashion. 

It isn't easy, but it has proven to be challenging fun to pull off. I also feel a bit like a news reporter. But without the microphone.
Setup almost always ends up the same in the end, but I added some new things to the display this year.
It took about two hours, of my slowly assembling my setup together, which was fine. It gives me time to think, to go over things and make sure I'd not forgotten anything. And quite to the contrary, I'd brought TOO much to set up. I think things looked pretty visible and orderly, but like any show, and every crowd, you just never know until the crowd comes in, how well it will work.
There were only a handful of people left about 10:25pm or so. I just sat for a while and took in the moment.

Friday - Day One

Friday morning, I got there about an hour early. The showroom floor opens to VIP access thirty minutes before the main crowd gets in, which is around 3:30pm, and then the show is open until 8pm. 

I spent a lot of time before the attendees got in, just walking around, and thinking, looking at displays for ideas, and visiting with a few people I knew. I wanted to approach this year with a more relaxed mentality, and as I mentioned earlier, to allot time for me to be able to get photos and footage as I wanted them.
I was on a tight budget this year, but there is ALWAYS something I end up buying when I do shows...
I play a kind of game every single year I've ever done NakaKon, or for that matter any larger show with vendors in it. I always wonder what the new trend, collectible, or "hot new thing" will be, that grabs everyone's attention and desires. In years past, I've seen it be cute squids, which is the one that really sticks out in my mind, but this year I ended up not really noticing that happening.
Some new things I debuted at the show, the Epic Battle Vest Relics Button Pack 2, and Ardor Issue #1
I have a lot of admiration for anyone that comes to shows in cosplay, and every single time I've done this show, I can count on seeing some incredibly cool creations walking around.
I have no idea who any of these characters are, but I really want to know!
It did really seem like there were far more cosplays of complex and intricate natures this year, and I've heard in passing and seen on some online posts, that during the downtime of no shows, many people really refined cosplays they had been working on to finish levels they may not have normally.
Love all three, but UP's Carl is such a great effort!
Even though I got here early, Friday really seemed to fly by. I made a few sales, but was a bit worried on how the rest of the weekend was going to go. That's a normal thing for me, and I'm sure anyone that tables at a show. It also doesn't help that I got very little sleep the days leading up to the show, as comics, printer ink, and a lot of other things were coming together last minute.

Saturday - Day Two

Show startup is at 9:30 for VIP, and then 10am till 6pm, although, I really wish the vendor room stayed open till 8pm on Saturday. It's something I think I've brought up in years past, but I think I may be in the minority on wanting this. It does make it difficult to find dinner easily after 8pm by the time the booth is closed down for the evening.
I used to cover my stuff at my booth, I still do, but I used to as well. That's a Mitch Hedberg reference.
The day went pretty well, attendees seemed to be in good spirits, and sales started picking up. It was nice to have one or two members of the convention staff stop by to see how things were going. It reminded me of when my friend Beth oversaw the vendor room (it's still not the same without you being there Beth!). But from the get go, from setup till the end of the show, the crew working the show did appear to be making every effort to have things run as smoothly as possible.
Tell me these three cosplays aren't just the most awesome works of art! 
I didn't get a chance this year to play in the arcade area, but man was it nice to see it filled up with people playing and some nice Sega Astro City cabinets with various games on them!.
This room always makes me miss Token Joe's Arcade from my younger days...
Once again, the day came to a close, and tired and fairly satisfied, I hurried to get some posts online, run over to look to see what cool import games one of my favorite vendors had on hand, closed down my table, rearranged a few things, and headed home.

Sunday - Day Three

The last day of any three day show is the one where I do all I can to center myself and remind myself to self promote, engage with everyone, and enjoy myself. Sunday, kicked, ASS. I did the best on this day, and finally got enough perkiness mixed back in to my outlook that I had some fantastic conversations about art, game development, archery, teaching, history, language, SO MANY things. It drove home why I love conventions so much.
Naka had a lot of cool stuff back here to help support the show. I forgot to buy a shirt this year.
I had rearranged my display to showcase some of the original sketches I didn't have on display the first two days, and those began selling quickly. Many thanks to those of you that picked up original art, issues of Ardor and Pagan Zoetrope, and some of the limited large art reproductions I had on hand. I really appreciated it!
Twenty five minutes before the show opened Sunday
There were a few lulls where I had a chance to catch cosplayers that didn't pass my booth, but I wanted to get photos of. I also kept window shopping for just the right import game.
I want to say that the one on the left is inspired by Beauty and the Beast, but I'm not sure.
For those of you that asked me about my shirt featuring Kablam that I wore Sunday, it's the rad awesome company that prints up my comic books. I was running super close on getting my latest issue of Ardor in on time before NakaKon, and Kablam got it to me in plenty of time to board and back each issue for this show. If you want to self publish, even in these times when paper shortages are happening, I highly recommend them. You can find out more at the Kablam website!
[Left] Sitting at the booth attempting to look focused, instead looking tired. [Right] I chose this game.
To the staff at NakaKon, thank you for putting on another great show. I'm over the moon happy that your next show is a go and will be May 26th - 28th. Looking forward to it! For anyone wondering if you should attend this show, it's seriously a great show, and every single person I spoke to this weekend was having a great time.

If you want to see some other clips from NakaKon, you can find them on my TikTok account.
I cover a lot of KC art related things as well as showcase my art on here.
Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Planet Comicon 2022 - What's new in view.

Came in just a bit early with many thanks to a buddy of mine (BEN!) for the badges!
I'll lead this off with my latest podcast, which covers some of my thoughts on Planet, but as usual I manage to derail myself throughout it. If you want to bypass that, I've got the more detailed lowdown below.
I went this year, once again as an attendee, and didn't manage to get nearly as many photos or videos as I had hoped I would have. I've found myself to be in an odd place mentally, especially because life in general seems to still be off in some ways. Not just because of the years of shutdown, or because I'm still a bit off on social setting interactions. Some of it is from an over stimulation of both pop culture, and how I'm looking to approach show attendance/participation for the remainder of this year, and especially into 2023. But before I broach that subject, let's cover what Planet Comicon was like from a Saturday perspective this year.
First stop as the crowd started to come in, was to stop by my buddy Terry's booth, 1313 Mockingbird Lane, to get some collections filled out more in the studio.
First off, just like the last time I came to Planet, the feeling of not having a table at the show that I need to be stuck to, is both a weird feeling, and also incredibly freeing. Most of the times that I am anywhere near a convention, I feel like I should be trying to make money and sell my artwork. It's akin to how I can't go to any nightclubs/bars anymore without automatically having almost 20 years of security experience fire up in me and I get all weird feeling. 
It isn't a show until you see these Iron Man suits walking about. [Right] The Tron Arcade machine is a super weakness of mine. I'm not that good at it, but man do I love this cabinet!
In the last year, I've grown rather fond of pushing stuff on social media onto my TikTok account, and for anyone following me on there, they got some good stuff, one of my videos that had Adam Savage onstage even got a few thousand views, which was nice!

I made it distinct point that not only was I going to visit as many people as possible that I knew, I was also going to pick up as many books, artworks, etc., as possible. All that, while also shopping around, getting footage, and attending at least two panels I and my brother had figured out we wanted to get to.
The crowd started getting pretty heavy back by the Ghostbusters cosplay group area, so we admired some of the things on display...
There was also another purpose that I had at the forefront of my mind, one that required a fair amount of research while I was at the show. I took active care to note age groups, group flow, tried my best to work out cosplayers to non coplayers on the floor, what kind of vendors there were, the variance in creators. There is a reason to all of that, but that will have to wait for a future post until I am a bit more sure of what I want to introduce later this year, and moving onwards with for future shows. 

So back to the show.
including this pretty awesome Terror Dog.
I hit the normal vendors I frequent, including 1313 Mockingbird Lane, which it's always a pleasure to catch up with the awesome Terry Taylor and see what he'd brought to the show for sale. I picked up a few things there and we made our way onwards to the back area of the show floor to attempt to get to all the people I wanted to visit, and to make sure we'd get to panels and so on.

Cosplay and prop building fascinates the heck out of me. Like I imagine a great many people would agree, making time to create, hell, just GET INTO doing any sort of aspect to these hobbies would strain my schedule more. Droid building is something I do want to do in the next three years. 
I seriously have no room for something like this, but to BUILD one?! I think it would be worth the experience and later struggle to find a place for it.
I remember the earliest conventions I would attend rarely had large displays or set like works, and seeing things like this Predator one is wild. I don't know if Planet ever thought about sponsoring the builds of these, but I think for photos and for just additional memorable experiences, having some environments set up like this would be amazing for attendees.
I'm not up on my lore for this particular universe, so I have no idea what is going on here, but the craftsmanship is undeniable.
My brother and I were there also to as I'd mentioned earlier to fill out sections of our vintage and modern collections. Along with 1313 Mockingbird Lane, there were a few other vendors that had some impressive things out for sale.
Anytime I see product boxes for vintage toys, I am in awe of both the fantastic art direction and illustration works on them, never mind wondering how long things like can last. We are well nearing 40 years and more for some of these items!
For anyone that knows me, you know robots of any kind are a bit thing for me, so let me lay some photos of some big bots on you...
As a collector, I'm starting to see something interesting and inevitable happening. I'm seeing an uptick in large collections making it to the convention floor for sale. If any of you follow Toy Galaxy or Pixel Dan, the subject of hobbies and collecting, and growing older has become a unique and more immediate source of conversation in recent years. 
Okay, okay, let me back it up. There, is this better?
Whether for financial reasons, space, or whatever, I have seen comic, toy, statue, art, and book collections showing up more and more en masse at shows. Vendors having bought massive collections over the winter months from people who've either decided to downgrade, leave the hobby, or sadly, in some cases, passed on.
LOVED these LotR and Dark Crystal cosplays. The Chamberlain one was rad as heck.
In my case, I've certainly decided to donate a few items in the past to a toy museum, and moving forward I've also decided to focus on specific characters or in the case of buying things from people, supporting the creators I have met and known.
I'm always surprised and a bit impressed when I see any jars of "80s slime" [at the bottom of this pic] still out there and sealed. Surely, SURELY they have solidified by now? Right? RIGHT?!
Even if I don't end up picking up a lot of the stuff I see at shows, it helps my mental state, to see some old familiar things that maybe I never owned but my friends growing up, did. There's another idea, Planet Comicon, what about a special display put on by toy and pop culture collectors, where they would be encouraged to set up environments, like the play ones we would dream of as kids? Like the ones we saw in commercials. 
The AT-AT knows where it's AT! ... I'll show myself out.
This next image has on one side [Left] a really rare Bullet Man Joe figure which is hilariously odd and super cool at the same time, and then on the [Right], a whole bunch of amazing work from my friend Jake Angell, make sure you look him up on Instagram to see even more awesome stuff!

One of the main things I'd missed from the absence of shows, is catching up with people, meeting new people, and talking shop as working creators, no matter the medium or outlet.
For anyone that has no idea what that figure is all about, it's a late release addition to the original GI Joe series from around 1976. Seriously rare, and honestly an amazing part of toy history in that case.
As it got later on in the day I had some good moments and some awkward ones, which included finally meeting Ed Lavalee of Crash Comics whose book Revere, was one I'd been wanting to pick up. I asked to buy his book and in a moment of stupid, FORGOT TO PAY THE MAN, and started to walk off! 

You know when you can't find a seat on a bus and it's about to start moving when you were in 2nd grade? Or when you miss a word in a school viewed spelling bee and your fly is down? Or you tell the hotel clerk "You Too!" when you let them know what you're about to do as they have to stay behind the desk waiting for your dim self to return? 

Yeah, that level of shame. LOL!

Thankfully I did pay, and all is well, and his book is freaking awesome!
About that time, it was time to hit up some panels [Tommy the Green Ranger's and Adam Savage's] and find the Liberty Bell, where this great Thor cosplay was as well. 
Getting to sit down and watch some panels has rarely been a part of my experience over the last 15 years of doing shows, but man do I enjoy it more and more. Adam Savage's panel was an absolute stand out.
This thing is amazing, and it's insides looked incredibly claustrophobic.
When I was younger, my mother was, and well still is, a person that talks about space exploration and NASA a lot. So I was pretty stoked to see the bell here at the convention. What I didn't know was that it had been over in Hutchison Kansas at the Cosmosphere. It warrants another visit for sure!

Winding down this update, it's with feelings of wanting to discuss how expensive it can be to go to conventions, and no small part of that is in affording food that is sold at convention prices. I had budgeted $20 for food at the show, and walking/carrying a lot of stuff finally got me with a mighty hunger worked up.
This is the shape of the circles I drew when I was 2 years old... and cost me around $10 with a $4 bottle of water.
As the show started to wind down, the crowd's energy was coming to a slower beat, and my brother and I made the rounds to try and get a few more things for him, but my feet were ready to go.
The show haul: Some items from 1313, new Revere, Fowl Language books, an art pin from Matthew made Art, artwork from Cam Kieffer, and a Tron prequel novel. 
Moving forward, I need to make better plans on how to capture more footage and photos for social media, and promotional stuff. It's so nuts because when I am at a table trying to sell stuff, I'm stationary, so when cosplays come by, I have a better chance to chase them down and get photos. 

It's interesting to me how different it is, and how much more it's made being at shows more enjoyable again, because I'm more relaxed and I can take my time. 

I hope you all enjoyed this light look at Planet Comicon for 2022, I'll be back with more updates on some upcoming events over the next few weeks!

Until next time, remember to support artists and local businesses. Be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

It's 2/22/22

If you're ever in Independence Missouri, go to Winner Road, and you'll find La Plaza Restaurant.
I thought I would be updating in the early part of the year, perhaps getting into the flow in January. But that's not the case as you can see. But I DID want to make a quick post now, because of the date. 
This is the main area of the restaurant. It's also connected to a great little market that sells all sorts of items from Mexico and Central America.
So aside from enjoying some great food today (which was a nice mood booster), I also got an email saying that I was accepted into NakaKon 2022! So that's two shows confirmed so far for this year, the other being Fountain City Con.

I've been busy for the last few weeks with freelance and pulling stuff together for possible upcoming shows. I'm about halfway through getting Ardor issue #1 completed. 
Some of the warm up sketches I'll do while working on the comic book pages. 
Paper shortage and shipping times these days do have me a bit nervous as I want to make sure whatever I am creating will get here in time.

I'll end this entry now, and get into a longer one before the end of the month. It's been challenging to keep up with things like this blog, my social media sites, and keep trying to work on self promotion so I can keep my freelance and personal projects growing. 

Until next time, be kind to your fellow beings and always take the path less traveled. We all may live in times uncertain, but kindness, understanding, and believing in the good that is in most each and every one of us is what can bring about better days!

Mario, the Artisan Rogue
Illustrator, Voice Actor, Writer, Animal Rights Activist