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Are there still gargoyles fan gatherings? And how do I get involved in it. I know it been along time, and it come out when I was born ., so I never got to be apart of any of it
I'm sorry. The last official Gathering of the Gargoyles was in 2009. Though in 2014 at CONvergence we had a reunion of sorts. Hoping to do something similar in 2019 for the 25th anniversary of the show. Keep an eye on ASK GREG. If we put something together, I'll announce it here.
I've seen other con journals in the past, so I thought I could take the time to write my own. This summarizes my experience at Convergence 2016 and meeting Greg Weisman, Christopher Jones and Khary Payton.
I caught a 6am flight from Oklahoma, changed planes in St. Louis and arrived in Minneapolis around 1pm. I unfortunately missed the "Why Gargoyles is Still Relevant" panel, but my plane ticket and hotel had been reserved months beforehand, so that's life…
My friend picked me up from the airport and we had lunch and checked into the hotel. I made my way to the con and got my bearings. I attended one panel and then attended the opening ceremony. It was so funny. The emcee was Paul Cornell, a novelist/comic book writer/screenwriter. The mascots of the ceremony were Connie the Convergence Robot and Connie Mark II, her evil younger sister. You had to be there, but there was something enduring and hilarious about the way Connie Mark II kept calling Paul by his last name, "Corrnnneelllll." The guests of honor were also introduced, Greg Weisman and Christopher Jones being among them. Khary Payton hadn't arrived yet, but they played a pre-recorded message of him.
After the ceremony, there was the Fancy Bastard Pie Competition. It was my chance to finally meet Greg. Greg arrived and stood behind a table and sampled the pies. He was very thorough and made his decision. The prize was that he would give someone an exclusive spoiler. Wish I had contributed a pie…. I waited around and I finally got to meet Greg, which was awesome. I also got some pie as well.
For Greg to come to Convergence, there was a crowdfunder on Genorosity and those who contributed were rewarded with prizes. In my case, I contributed enough to have breakfast with Greg and Christopher Jones. The breakfast was nice. I got to chat with two men I admire and they were gracious enough to sign my stuff and take a picture with me. Towards the end of breakfast Greg had to take a call and Paul Cornell walked up and asked if he could join us for breakfast. Chris told him regretfully that we had just asked for the checks. Oh drat, if Paul had come just a little earlier, I could have had a bonus breakfast mate.
I went to the Mall of America with my Minnesota friend (I'm such a tourist!) and returned in the early afternoon to attend several panels. A panel on teenage superheroes with Greg, Chris and Khary was the highlight. After the panel, I was able to get Khary to confirm that he was on General Hospital as Dr. Terrell Jackson. He seemed to be flattered I knew that. Several other panels later, I returned to the hotel.
Saturday was a long day. I arrived at the Double Tree Hotel area around 8:30am and didn't go home till about 1am that night. The day pretty much consisted of attending panels and being a Greg-head.
I attended "Building Worlds for Fiction" panel with Greg as one of the panelists. Then I attended "Why We Need Representation in Superheroes" with Greg, Chris and Khary as panelists. Then the Radio Play, "The Cosmos" with Greg, Chris and Khary as actors along with 20 other fans who had auditioned. The play was the thing. It totally pandered to Greg's fans and was so funny. A rich, rewarding experience.
Later I attended a panel "Superficially Strong Female Characters" with Greg as one of the panelists. Then I attended a one on one with Christopher Jones and Greg Weisman, with Greg interviewing Chris about his career. Something I noticed that Greg and Chris have in common is that they were good at anticipating things when they wanted to break into the comics business. After seeing a Marvel talent search, Greg prepared a packet for DC, knowing that they would have a similar talent search and was one of the first ones to apply. In Chris' case, he knew that when The Batman and Young Justice premiered, there would undoubtedly be a tie-in comic and threw his hat into the ring early on.
Late, at 11:30, I attended the "Animation Blue" panel, with Greg, Chris and Khary as panelists. It was based on the Gargoyles Blue Mug which I have read about where the panelists and audience get into the sex lives of cartoon characters. It was interesting.
I got up and attended a "Young Justice" panel with Greg, Chris and Khary as the panelists. Then I went to a signing that Greg, Chris and Khary were having. I left the con with many signed art prints of Chris Jones. I bought a Young Justice script and Spirits of Ash and Foam from Greg. I also got a signed picture of Aqualad from Khary. Then I decided it was time to get back to my hotel and get to the airport. It was sad that I had to miss Greg's Rain of the Ghosts panel, a one on one panel in which Greg would have been interviewed about his career, and the closing ceremonies.
This was my first real vacation in over two years and it was a blast. Convergence was such a nice event, emphasizing the stereotype of "Minnesota nice." Most of the people at the con seemed to be local fans. Many were surprised that I had come all the way from Oklahoma. It was as if I had journeyed halfway around the world for them. Although I mainly attended because of Greg, Chris, and Khary, I got the chance to encounter many other talented and intelligent individuals, such as Paul Cornell, Ytasha Womack, Max Gladstone, Mark Oshiro, "Duck" Washington and many more. I definitely want to come back to Convergence and make it a yearly vacation if possible.
I'm glad you have fun. CONvergence is pretty much my favorite convention. I always have a blast there. Love the people. Do a lot of panels. It's great!
It was also great meeting you! Hope to see you again sometime soon.
Good afternoon. My name is Brian Josephs and I'm a reporter working for VICE. I hope this message finds you in good spirits.
I'm writing you because I'm working on an article examining the furry community. A historian told me that Gargoyles has been a point of interest, and the 2014 CONvergence convention honored the 20th anniversary of the show by featuring a panel.
Are you available briefly for a phone conversation tomorrow about the experience? If so, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.
You posted this in March, so I'm assuming that I'm getting to it a bit too late to be of any use. And though I welcome fandom of any fur, I must admit I don't know much about the furry community. CONvergence, for example, is not a specifically furry con. Though I'm sure some furries attend.
If you're still interested in talking with me, shoot me a tweet at @Greg_Weisman, and we'll go from there.
I leave tomorrow for CONvergence 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Okay, really Bloomington, MN, but close enough.) CONvergence is one of my favorite cons. And I have the honor of being their first fan-funded guest. Here's my schedule for the long weekend:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 29, 2016
GUEST RECEPTION 07:00pm - 09:00pm
THURSDAY, JUNE 30, 2016
"Why Gargoyles is Still Relevant" 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Atrium 6 w/Christopher Jones, Patrick Fisher, Alana Profit, Chandra Reyer.
RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Plaza 3 w/Christopher Jones.
"Physics of Time Travel" 03:30pm - 04:30pm
Edina w/Renate Fiora (m), Dan Berliner, Melanie Galloway, Jim Kakalios.
"Fancy Bastard Pie Competition" 08:30pm - 09:30pm
Garden Court - Southwest w/GPS.
FRIDAY, JULY 01, 2016
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:00pm
Autograph Table B.
RADIO PLAY AUDITIONS 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Plaza 3 w/Christopher Jones, Khary Payton.
"Writing by Ear" 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Bloomington w/Patrick Marsh (m), Emma Bull, Aimee Kuzenski, Jim McDoniel.
"Don't Call Them Sidekicks: The Enduring Power of Teenage Superheroes" 03:30pm - 04:30pm
Bloomington w/ Christopher Jones, Jessa Markert, Khary Payton, Sylus Rademacher.
"Drawing with the Masters" 07:00pm - 08:00pm
Plaza 2 w/Christopher Jones, Ruth Thompson.
"Why Diversity Needs to be Deeper than Marketing" 08:30pm - 09:30pm
Edina w/ Trisha Lynn (m), Kate Norlander, Jonathan Palmer, Dirk Ykema.
"Xanadu Cinema Pleasure Dome Live Podcast" 10:00pm - 11:00pm
Edina w/Windy Bowlsby, Melissa Kaercher.
SATURDAY, JULY 02, 2016
"Building Worlds for Fiction" 09:30am - 10:30am
Plaza 1 w/Michael Carus (m), J.M. Lee, Melissa Olson, Lynne M. Thomas.
"Why We Need Representation in Superheroes" 11:00am - 12:00pm
Edina w/ Christopher Jones, Bri Lopez Donovan, Khary Payton, Lynne M. Thomas.
RADIO PLAY REHEARSAL 12:30pm - 01:30pm
Atrium 6 w/ Christopher Jones, Jim Kakalios, Khary Payton and a cast of tens.
RADIO PLAY PERFORMANCE 02:00pm - 03:00pm
Atrium 6 w/ Christopher Jones, Jim Kakalios, Khary Payton and a cast of tens.
"Superficially Strong Female Characters" 05:00pm - 06:00pm
Edina w/ Crystal Huff (m), Kathryn Sullivan, Chrysoula Tzavelas, Joan Marie Verba.
"One on One with Christopher Jones" 07:00pm - 08:00pm
Edina (m) w/Christopher Jones.
ANIMATION BLUE 07:00pm - 08:00pm
Atrium 6 w/Christopher Jones, Lyda Morehouse, Khary Payton, Jenna Powers, Edmund Tsabard.
SUNDAY, JULY 03, 2016
YOUNG JUSTICE 09:30am - 10:30am
Atrium 6 w/Christopher Jones, Khary Payton.
SIGNING 11:00am - 12:00pm
Autograph Table B.
RAIN OF THE GHOSTS 12:30pm - 01:30pm
READING 02:00pm - 03:00pm
ONE ON ONE 07:00pm - 08:00pm
Atrium 6 w/Melissa Kaercher.
Greg---I LOVED Gargoyles like you have NO idea.
I was in my late 20's when this was out, and watched it religiously like a little kid. Somehow though, when it switched networks, I think I missed (and still haven't seen) the last season "The Gargoyle Chronicles."
What I would like to know is, when is your next convention appearance? Do you still do signings?
I have many convention appearances still remaining this year (2016), and I do signings at all of them:
June 17 - 19: Wizard World Sacramento Comic Con (http://wizardworld.com/comiccon/sacramento)
June 30 - July 3: CONvergence in Minneapolis (http://www.convergence-con.org)
August 18 - 21: Wizard World Chicago Comic Con (http://wizardworld.com/comiccon/chicago)
August 26 - 28: Comic Con Palm Springs (http://www.comicconpalmsprings.com)
September 17 - 18: Long Beach Comic Con (http://longbeachcomiccon.com)
October 21 - 23: Grand Rapids Comic-Con (http://www.grcomiccon.com)
November 4: BlizzCon (https://blizzcon.com/en-us/)
That's seven convention appearances left this year, after having already done Gallifrey-One, Long Beach Comic Expo and Midwest Media Expo.
Wait! Ten conventions total?! What, am I nuts?!!
I've read the synopsis of the radio play crossover you made for "Gargoyles", "The Spectacular Spider-Man", and "Young Justice" (it'd be neat if you could put up the script for it at "Ask Greg" as you did for "Religious Studies 101", and noted that, near the end, you had Batman asking Goliath to join the Justice League. Now, the obvious reason why you had Batman be the one approaching Goliath was for the joke about Xanatos trying to get both Batman and Iron Man to join his club for rich guys with fancy equipment. But I remember how, back when you were making "Gargoyles", you were concerned that people might see it as a rip-off of "Batman: TAS" (to the point where you even drew up a list of differences between the two series); did you choose Batman for that role as a sort of callback to that?
I can't believe it's been 20 years since Gargoyles have aired on television! Hard to believe! Thanks for the great memories and storytelling, Mr. Weisman! I want to know if there is going to be a Gathering of the Gargoyles for this year? I never knew that has been one in Los Angeles in the past.
No, sadly, the Gathering of the Gargoyles is a thing of the past. We did have a kind of Gathering Reunion (with new fans always welcome) at CONvergence 2014. And we'd like to do that sort of thing again sometime. Maybe for the 25th anniversary in 2019. Can't say what city it will be in. (The Gathering was in many different cities over the years.) But we'll be back somewhere someday in one form or another.
CONVERGENCE 2014 CON REPORT
DAY 5 AND DAY 6
SUNDAY, JULY 6
11:00 AM CDT
A few things happened in this hour, all of which I tried to get done as quickly as possible to make it in time for most of Greg's first panel of the day: "Protofeminists in Shakespeare."
The main thing was picking up my one successful acquisition from the charity auction: a coffee cup that Chris Jones had used at CONvergence 2013, with the caption…well, I'll just let the image speak for itself:
I had, naturally, bid on the thing as a lark - more or less solely for the reason of being able to say I did. But apparently nobody else at the con shared my particular sens d'humour, because I was the only one who bid. So while I lost out on all the posters and plushies and whatnot that I actually WANTED…Chris Jones' residual DNA was mine.
Which should make the reason for my hurrying clear, I think. Because Chris was doing his final signing of the weekend right at that moment…and if I was gonna be known as the guy who paid $5 for his coffee cup, then I figured I might as well MILK it.
So in addition to getting my "Recruits" print signed, I asked Chris to go ahead and personalize the cup; perhaps, with something that'd commemorate just how crazy I was to pay ANY amount of money for a used coffee cup.
And that is how the cup signed to "Krazy Kevin" that can be seen in the Flickr photos I linked in my first post came to be.
Anyway, with all that out of the way and my farewells said to Chris, I headed back into the Edina room for the aforementioned panel. I'd caught the first ten minutes or so while I was waiting for Chris' line to shorten, and overall I managed not to miss more than about 5-6 minutes, thankfully.
The conversation itself was really quite fascinating - an intelligent, scintillating discussion on some of my favorite of the Bard's plays and characters. It reminded me of being back in college, actually…y'know, in a good way.
This was also where I first learned, through Greg's discussion of the strong women in Will's life and the influence that might've had in how he wrote female characters, what the premise of "Doc Shakespeare" would've been. I'd heard the name bandied about on Ask Greg for years, but I never knew what it was ABOUT.
But now I do. And I want it to exist so very badly. Damn you, Greg Weisman.
I asked one question myself, though as it was at the tail-end of the panel there wasn't much time to really go into depth with it. My question was whether the backlash that "The Merchant of Venice" receives - rightfully - in the modern day over issues of race diminishes Portia's status as a "protofeminist" character (seriously, she spends pretty much the entirety of the final act making everyone else in the play her bitch). The answer Greg gave was that being a feminist character is not mutually exclusive with being a terrible person…and considering he's written for Demona, Nerissa, and Queen Bee, he certainly can say he knows what he's talking about.
A fun discussion, overall, that gave me a lot to think about - something that's been increasingly rare for me since I graduated last May, unfortunately.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
12:30 PM CDT
The last of the numerous, numerous events dedicated to Gargoyles that weekend was this "Gargoyles Fan Panel," composed of a mix of creators, long-time fans, and newer ones.
This one felt a lot more like the Harry Potter "panel" that'd started my weekend than anything else: an intensely, unabashedly geeky outpouring of gushing about how awesome the show was and still is, except with Greg Weisman happening to also be there.
I mean, Jennifer and Karine were up on the panel as well, but it was clearly in more of the capacity of "promoted fans" than as industry professionals. As Karine's epic Hunter cosplay made evident. :)
Favorite moments, episodes, characters; moments that made us laugh, and moments that made us cry; two decades' worth of stories of people discovering, falling in love with, and continuing to enjoy the series, even years after the last piece of canon material was published. All of it was shared, compared, and squeed upon in short order, in a space that felt perfectly safe to fans of all stripes.
Nothing new really came up, but it didn't have to. After a full weekend of bombshells and revelations, it felt good to kick back with the rest of the fandom and just CELEBRATE this show that has meant so much to all of us.
It's been a fantastic 20 years. And this mini-gathering was a great way to welcome many more to come.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
2:00 PM CDT
This was the last space open for walking around that was really available before the end of the con, and I took advantage of it for one final walk around Artist's Alley and the Dealer's Room. And for the first time since Thursday, I did indeed find some art I felt was worth spending my money on: a couple of prints based on Vinyl Scratch from "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic," and a collage of various villains from the same.
Heading back upstairs, I wandered over for the final Gargoyles-themed signing to make my last rounds. Ironically, despite getting over a dozen items signed across the course of the con by him, I had nothing left for Greg Weisman (indeed, all I ended up getting at that time were Greg Guler's and Frank Paur's autographs to complete my radio play script).
But I said goodbye to all of them, and wished them well on their flights back home. Though ironically, it actually WOULDN'T end up being my last time speaking with one of them that weekend (but I'll leave that little nugget until the end).
Anyway, most of the rest of this time was spent waiting in line for the next panel, as it was taking place on the Main Stage and we wanted to be sure to grab good seats. Which we definitely did.
I spent most of it chatting with Brainiac, Chip, and Bookwyrm on numerous topics, from Yu-Gi-Oh! to classic video games to various anime.
But eventually, it was time for one last chance to grill the Wise Man for details. And oh, did we take advantage it.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
3:30 PM CDT
This was the last actual "panel" of the day, but was certainly a great one to go out on: "Young Justice Q&A," with Greg, Chris, and Marina.
There were lots of details big and small dropped here, though there were just as many spoiler requests denied with the now memetic line. This naturally came full-circle when someone asked if Stephanie Brown would be showing up again; I mean c'mon, dude, what'd you EXPECT in response to that question? ;)
Of course, I got largely the same response when asking about the circumstances of Ocean-Master's disgrace, banking - obviously unsuccessfully - that he might be willing to share more about events that occurred during the timeskip by this point.
Still, he did at least share one little tidbit: that the reason Orm never got an episode to himself to be the Big Bad was because the "Under the Surface…Here There Be Monsters" two-parter from the tie-in comics was originally meant to be the A-plot of "Downtime," but the executives nixed it for some reason.
It worked out well enough, since subbing in Black Manta allowed them to build on that appearance in Season 2. But I still would've loved to hear Roger Craig Smith belting out Ocean-Master's great lines from those issues, which remain my favorite story from the comics run.
Other "SPOILER REQUEST; NO COMMENT" earners included Shining Knight (considering that one version in the original comics was married to Firebrand, AKA Red Inferno) and the aforementioned Steph. After a few of these, Chris was quick to re-term the panel "Young Justice Q, no A."
All kidding aside, though, there were a number of interesting details presented. When asked about the process of selecting the members of the Light, for example, Greg noted that he was tired of villain team-ups that essentially "defeated themselves" through infighting. As such, he wanted the Light's leaders to be characters whose temperaments would allow them to genuinely collude and work together toward a singular vision, without the constant mistrust and backstabbing previous comics/adaptations have taught us to expect.
Well…maybe except Klarion. But he can at least be kept in line with shiny new toys, LOL.
Speaking of Klarion, Greg also mentioned - in response to a very nice cosplayer of the Witch-Boy, stuffed Teekl included - that the reason he chose Klarion as a member of the Light was because he felt the main villains of "Young" Justice really should be composed of at least one kid (in appearance and disposition, if not literally.
Greg also dropped the bomb that he'd slipped a rather major YJ spoiler into the radio play, which he was EXTREMELY surprised nobody had asked him about to that point. Cue us all jumping to our scripts and flipping through without success…proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am selectively blind.
It wasn't until a few days after I'd returned home and reread the script that it became insanely, excruciatingly obvious; the spoiler was clearly in Tigress' line, "I left Roy at home alone watching Lian and J.W." Which I'd noted as a little odd every single time I read it, and then somehow promptly forgot about (several times in a row!) in the midst of all the action.
Not that it would've helped me much, of course, had I figured it out while I was still there. Because if my theory about the identity of "J.W." is accurate, then there is NO WAY IN HELL Greg would ever comment one way or the other on it.
At least, not without some serious pie-making skillz that I, unfortunately, sorely lack. ;)
Marina was (as always) an enormous hoot at this panel, butting into various topics to note that we were "the quietest and best behaved" audience of fans she'd ever seen…as well as that we tended to ask much more intelligent questions than she is used to. As she put it:
"If I get asked 'What's it like to work with Sir Patrick?' one more time…"
She also mentioned, when asked about her thought process in approaching the character of Queen Bee, that when she was initially cast she looked up the wrong reference image and actually thought she'd be playing a…well, a bee-person. So she asked during recording whether they wanted her to add a buzzing sound to her voice. XD
And finally, at one point she ended up going off on a random tangent involving comparing David Xanatos to Donald Trump (context has long since eluded me, though it didn't take much for Marina to go off-topic in the most delightful way). Greg took mock-offense to that, and she quickly noted:
"Of course not. Xanatos is much smarter. And he has better hair."
Since the topic we'd started at was the Light, I then couldn't help but shout from the crowd:
"SO DOES LEX LUTHOR!"
That got a lot of laughs. It was definitely one of my favorite exchanges of the con, and a great way to move toward finally wrapping it up.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
5:00 PM CDT
This was it. The final hurrah. One last celebration of everything this weekend had meant to us, with a chance for the "actors" to take their bows before the "curtains" came down.
After we filtered out of the Main Stage, Chip and his brothers elected to return to the hotel room, while Brainiac and I got back in line to await the Closing Ceremonies.
There really wasn't any more reason to walk around - the artists and dealers were packing up, the panels were over and done with, and we'd run all the errands we needed to (such as grabbing a couple items we'd picked up for Station 8's Algernon, who lives in Ireland and as such couldn't be with us that weekend). So we mostly just stood around and continued to chatter on about video games.
Brainiac was the only one of us who'd attended the Opening Ceremonies (I was busy watching Madoka at the time), so he had a bit more of an idea what to expect than I did.
The festivities started with a sort of elaborate skit involving superheroes, hobbits, and Time Lords…little of which I understood, and almost none of which I found particularly interesting. But there were some good lines here and there, and I certainly didn't begrudge the con's organizers the chance to take a victory lap and enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
The guests would each be individually presented and celebrated at a later point, but as Marina had to catch an early flight she came on shortly after the skit to say her goodbyes. And to my surprise, after seeing her in all her frankness and bluntness (meant only in the best possible way, I assure you!) all throughout that weekend, she was…overwhelmed.
With not even the slightest trace of snark, she thanked us from the bottom of her heart for making her feel so welcome. And she made it clear that, while she wouldn't have considered coming to CONvergence without Greg recommending it, she was extremely glad that she did.
Okay…so there was a LITTLE snark. Namely that when saying goodbye to Connie, she actually started to tear up, and blamed our favorite robotic mascot for making her makeup run. But it was all in good humor, and I won't lie - it warmed my own heart to see it unfold.
Speaking of Connie, I really came to fall in love with that cute little gynoid as the Ceremonies unfolded, as she interrupted the ongoing presentation repeatedly to complain about traffic laws and the DMV; it WAS her Sweet Sixteen, after all. Her material was pretty much all pure gold, and it made me kind of regret not attending Opening Ceremonies, if only to see what she might've come up with.
Anyway, while every Guest of Honor got thanked and applauded by name - complete with Chris Jones-created logos for each one - Greg's was a bit more…involved.
One of the con organizers mentioned that Greg had shattered their record for total numbers of panels sat at a single con, with a whopping 26! A clearly exhausted but excited Greg then took the stage to give a great speech about how grateful he was that CONvergence had so graciously opened itself up to the Gargoyles fandom for our little "con within a con"…going so far as to say that, with the Gatherings retired for the foreseeable future, CONvergence was without question his favorite con to attend.
Then, in what can only be described as a grand exercise in good-natured humiliation, said organizer had Greg play a very weird game to guess the total attendance number for the weekend. Various people were holding up signs with various digits, and Greg had to determine which four to use and what order to put them in.
Obviously, the odds were pretty strongly against him getting it with only one shot, and indeed he did not. But it was certainly entertaining - if more than a little bit strange - to watch him make his best attempt.
And for the most part, that was it. There was lots more applause, both for the guests and for the numerous, wonderful volunteers. There were slide shows and videos from the con, including both the rather unfortunate picture of "the role of Lexington will henceforth be played by PILLAR" and the much nicer one of me "on stage" with Marina. There was more Connie, interviewing various congoers in her uniquely cheerful style.
And finally, there was the announcement of CONvergence 2015's theme, which will apparently be run by Connie's totally trustworthy "little sister" Connie Mk. II on account of good behavior. The maniacal laughter and crowd-chanting of "All hail Mk. II!" that followed were only mildly disconcerting.
I haven't yet made up my mind about whether I'm going to try to attend again; I had an unbelievably amazing time, and 2015's "dystopia" theme is right up my alley ("1984" is my favorite book of all time). But scrounging the money for even this year was difficult enough, so I'm not counting anything as a guarantee yet.
Still…I'm thinking about it. And that definitely means they did SOMETHING right.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
6:00 PM CDT
We were informed during Closing Ceremonies that free pizza would be coming shortly, so Brainiac elected to stick around and wait for that. I, on the other hand, was absolutely starving after four days of eating basically only one meal of substance each, and so decided to return to TGI Friday's and splurge a bit.
This was a mistake.
I'll spare the gory details and just say that I had a wonderful ribeye steak that just so happened to give me severe food poisoning, which took me nearly two weeks to fully recover from.
Not that I realized it at the time, of course. After my dinner, I returned to the con to meet up with the rest of the gang - Chip and Dragonlord having returned due to the promise of pizza. We had a last round of chatting with other congoers and saying goodbye to the Doubletree as we waited, before finally driving back to spend our final evening together.
With all the action over with, we occupied ourselves with more Yu-Gi-Oh!, a few rounds of "Super Smash Bros. Brawl" (all of which I won handily, suck it Brainiac), and general geeking out about our various hauls.
Those still hungry ended up ordering in calzones for delivery, while I headed to the Crowne Plaza's business center so I could check my e-mail and Skype one time before takeoff.
I got most of my packing done once the games were over with - not that I really had all that much to pack - since I would be the one leaving first in the morning. Then at around 1:00 AM, we finally all turned in.
Not that I could fall asleep, myself, given what was beginning to happen with my stomach. Yeah, I'll leave out the details, but…let's just say I didn't end up getting to sleep until a couple hours later.
MONDAY, JULY 7
6:00 AM CDT
Unfortunately, since my flight was at 8:48 AM, I needed to get up fairly early to be sure the hotel shuttle would get me there in time to board. Skimping on sleep didn't exactly do wonders for my already precarious health, and by the end I was pretty much limping out of there, hoping my stomach would hold for the journey ahead.
The trip held no surprises - good or bad - until I finally made it to the gate, where I was extremely shocked to run into Susan and Karine. Both proceeded to point out the Wise Man himself, whom they were dropping off there and whom I had somehow utterly failed to notice, despite sitting only a few meters away.
For in the strange but happy coincidence to end all strange but happy coincidences, we were going to be heading back on the same flight to Los Angeles; only a couple rows apart, in fact.
Despite feeling utterly like death by that point, this one last chance to speak one-on-one with the man gave me the energy to keep going. It was, to be sure, utterly surreal - only a few years ago, meeting Greg Weisman was this mystical, unattainable thing. And now we were just holding a friendly chat as we awaited our (naturally, delayed) plane.
It was, I suppose, one last opportunity to wrangle answers to the countless questions that I hadn't gotten a chance to ask that weekend…though I didn't really take advantage of it. Mostly because I was WAY too out of it to remember any of the questions I still had burning within me, but also because that really wasn't how the encounter "felt."
Instead, we talked about his kids. About his rather grueling con-schedule that summer. About how Rain was doing, with encouragement that I was excited as all hell for Spirits. About "Young Justice: Legacy," Scooby-Doo, and our impressions of how the radio play had gone.
Not nearly for the first time that weekend, I also reiterated my interest in having him as a guest at Kawaii Kon 2015, and he reiterated his interest in coming. So far, not much has come of my attempts to push the organizers I know on the issue, but it's an ongoing process and I hope to have something more concrete to report soon.
It was an extremely low-key conversation, not the least because we were both pretty exhausted (he, Chris, and co. had made a run on Denny's at 3:00 AM the previous night, which "seemed like a good idea at the time, not so much now"). But it was exactly what I needed at the time.
The entire exchange truly underscored what I loved most about that weekend: that Greg and the rest of the Gathering alums had seen fit to really make me feel like one of their own, rewarding all the effort I've tried to put into Ask Greg with kindness and acknowledgement.
I initially volunteered to help out when Todd reached out in the Comment Room because I so appreciated everything that Greg's work, and Ask Greg itself, had done for me over the years. But no matter how grueling dealing with the umpteenth "Where is Season 3?" or angry rant about Wally can be, I absolutely feel that I've gotten ten times more out of it than I've ever put in.
And that means the world to me.
I said as much to Greg, at least to the degree that I had the energy to articulate it. But all good things must come to an end, and eventually the plane arrived and it was time to board.
We wished each other safe travels, and said our farewells.
And with that…CONvergence 2014 truly came to a close.
MONDAY, JULY 7
9:00 AM CDT
I'll be brief here, just to give an idea of what the aftermath of the con was like.
I flew to LA feeling like hell. I had an hour layover there, in which I felt like hell. I had another, longer flight back to Honolulu, if anything feeling worse than hell (since I hadn't eaten anything I'd kept down for well over 24 hours).
Eventually, though, I made it back home and was able to get the long rest and digestible foods I needed. I managed to make it back to work by Wednesday, though I'd be at least mildly off my game for the next couple weeks.
I called the Friday's in question to let them know about my situation, and calmly requested a full or partial refund; they called back at 6:00 AM two days later to tell me their investigation into the matter showed that they "did everything right that night" and so they wouldn't be able to accommodate my request.
I was too sick to really be willing to argue the point, but rest assured that I won't be visiting that particular restaurant again, should I ever return to CONvergence. And I urge any fellow attendees to do the same.
On a more positive note, Spirits arrived just a couple days after I got back, so once I was sufficiently recovered I got to reading. Once again, I'll be putting together a detailed review for Amazon/Ask Greg as soon as this report is finished and edited….but suffice to say, I dug the hell out of it.
Algernon got his package soon after as well, and was very happy with what we'd managed to find (a figure of Irish deity Brigid, a signed "Recruits" print, and a cuddly pink plushie of Cthulhu). And everyone else managed to get home with their own hauls without too much issue, thankfully.
Overall, despite the rather crappy end, I have little but positive things to say about the whole experience. I'm very proud of what I got to do, who I got to meet, and what I got to bring home…and it's definitely something I'd love the chance to do again.
It was my first "Gathering," such as it was, and it exceeded each and every one of my expectations.
Here's hoping it won't be anywhere close to the last.
NEVER THE END!
For the record: It was Brandon Vietti who wanted Klarion in the Light. Not that I disagreed, but my initial choice had been Wotan. But Brandon pointed out we needed a "kid" on our villain team, and as usual, Brandon was right.
Md - Thanks for this. And for all the work you do, here, at ASK GREG!
CONVERGENCE 2014 CON REPORT
SATURDAY, JULY 5
11:00 AM CDT
We'd actually gotten to the Doubletree a fair bit earlier than this, as the others had other panels they wanted to attend. But for Brainiac and I, beyond a quick breakfast I grabbed first-thing, we largely spent that time waiting it out in Atrium 6.
I wasn't going to risk being even a single second late to one of the most awesome events of my life.
Thankfully, most everyone got there without too much issue, and we were able to start rehearsal more or less on-time. Angela's player, Dawn Krosnowski, was running a little late…but given that she also serves as CONvergence mascot Connie's "personal assistant," she can probably be forgiven for that.
As it turned out, over 80 people had auditioned and a total of 31 were cast, after Greg made the late-game decision to split up a few roles that were originally combined together. Unfortunately, this decision had come too late to print and highlight new scripts, so those of us who were originally going to play two roles had to share the pages.
In any event, there were lots of whoops and hollers of excitement as the roles were slowly announced, and it became immediately clear that this would be a true sight to behold - especially after BATMAN and IRON MAN were called out in quick succession.
After not too long, I was called up alongside a pretty awesome guy named Tron Howard, who took over what would've been my secondary role: Fu-Dog. But I was perfectly happy with that, because I was close to melting into some sort of orgasmic goo when I got my own casting: Lexington.
When I was a young lad, Lex had always been my favorite of the main cast. He was the most "kid-relatable" to me, if for no other reason than because of his size. Combined with his intelligence, his wide-eyed idealism, and Thom Adcox's wonderfully unique voice, and I really couldn't have asked for a more exciting role.
Tron and I sat together studying the script as the rest of the names were called. There wasn't enough time to read it from start-to-finish, but I skimmed enough to make it clear that this three-way crossover was very similar to "A Handful of Thorns" - an absolutely delightful mix of silly meta-humor and serious hints as to where the trio of shows might next be going, should Greg get a chance to work on them again.
I didn't get a chance to speak with most of the other players face-to-face, though I did have a rather amusing conversation with Vandal's player…the amusing part being that he didn't know who Vandal Savage WAS, and was asking around to see if anyone could give him something to go on.
Fortunately, I was in earshot and gave him a brief description of the character. He asked what the voice sounded like, to which I responded, "Do you know who Miguel Ferrer is?" When he responded in the negative, I tried a different tact: "Have you seen Mulan?" Thankfully, he had (though is there a single person of our general age range who hasn't?), so "same voice as Shan Yu" was enough to put him in the right place for the role. And he ended up turning in a great performance, so I was quite happy to help.
Rehearsal went very well, all things considered, and it goes without saying that I had an absolute blast. It was especially gratifying to learn that (narration and recaps aside) I and Batgirl's player were actually OPENING and CLOSING the action - an unbelievable honor for a newbie like me.
Now as I mentioned before, Thom's voice is one of the most unique I've ever heard out of an actor, and so I didn't even attempt to emulate it. Without much time to practice, what ended up coming out of me was mostly my own voice, if a smidge higher. It seemed to work well, though - Greg's only note of correction to me was to add a yawn to the line "Time for this guy to get some shuteye."
Overall the first run-through of the play was an absolute blast, and while I remained a bit nervous that I'd flub something, it all went pretty smoothly. By the end, I couldn't wait to run it by a live audience.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
12:30 PM CDT
During the short break between rehearsal and the actual performance, Tron, Brainiac (who'd been cast as Bronx), Broadway's player (who was sharing with Brainiac), and I all went down to the Doubletree's front desk to ask if we could get our scripts copied. Thankfully, they were happy to do so, meaning that we wouldn't have to keep passing the pages back and forth.
By the time we got back, the room was already starting to fill up. Oddly, though, I think the increasingly packed house only made me feel more comfortable and confident. Probably has something to do with my enormous ego and how it would soon be able to feast.
Now, as to the play itself…I'll assume that anybody reading this has had a chance to watch it on YouTube (and if they haven't, a link can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ggu7lSMXOnM). So I won't dwell too much on the script itself, but rather on the experience.
And as experiences go? My God, did it not disappoint. Participating in "Recruits" was easily one of the biggest highlights, not just of CONvergence, but of this entire year of my life.
There was something…ELECTRIFYING about being "on stage," particularly at those points when I was up there alongside Marina freaking Sirtis. I really felt at the top of my game, and I think that showed through in my performance. It was everything I'd been hoping for, and so much more; really, my only complaint is that I wish it could've gone on even longer.
When it comes to favorite moments from the play, I scarcely know where to begin. By and large, the cast turned in a phenomenal performance, and I have positive things to say about pretty much each and every one of them.
Goliath's player had a wonderfully natural baritone; Angela's proved just why Connie "relies" on her so much, with a perfectly nuanced and emotional take that played off Marina like sweet honey.
We had a delightfully cocksure and quip-tossing Spidey, a brilliantly snarky Tigress, and a Doc Ock whose voice was so naturally "supervillainy" that it defied words.
An Iron Man who could steal the show with just a couple of lines; a Blue Beetle who absolutely NAILED one-side arguing with his Scarab; a Katana and Nashville who imbued some of their first spoken lines in ANYTHING with great spirit.
Not to mention Jackal and Black Cat, who were pretty much pitch-perfect imitations.
Really, though, I have little else but praise to pass about all-around, and if there's someone I didn't mention in the above list it really only means that I'd be sitting here typing all day if I mentioned everything.
The crowd seemed to eat it all up - unsurprising, since the script was balls-to-the-wall hilarious and LADEN with fanservice. I'm proud to say that I got one of the biggest laughs of the play (TIGRESS: "It's Queen Bee. Angela, get Broadway and Lexington out of here before she takes control of them!" LEXINGTON: "How's she gonna do that?" TIGRESS: "You're not affected? Then that means you're…" *lengthy pause* LEXINGTON: "What?") but the delivery of nearly all the jokes was nailed.
It was fantastic to hear the applause of both the crowd and my fellow actors, amateur and otherwise. My one minor regret is that I was seated directly behind a pillar, so most of the pictures from that performance don't capture me. But there's one I like a lot that's made its rounds on Twitter, with myself alongside Angela's player, Static's player, and Marina herself…and hell, it's all on video, so there's not much to complain about on that front.
One thing that surprised me greatly after the performance was that Marina started grabbing at people's scripts and signing them. Okay, "surprised me greatly" really isn't the right term…it FLOORED me.
I'd already accepted that I wouldn't be getting Marina's autograph that con; much as I love her work, $40 is just plain more than I'm willing to pay for ANY actor's signature, especially when I was already overbudget. And then suddenly, without warning…I was just HANDED it.
Needless to say, I was incredibly gratified. It seemed to indicate to me that, in that brief moment, Marina didn't just consider us fans…but colleagues. Fellow actors, worthy of respect. There were no words to how honored that made me feel.
Because of this, over the last two days of CONvergence that script would become essentially my autograph book, and I tried to make it as complete a record of my time at the con as possible. Greg Weisman, Greg Guler, Frank Paur (complete with an impromptu little doodle of a gargoyle body outline!), Chris Jones, Karine Charlebrois, and Jennifer Anderson all signed the front page, while Rachael Sterling - Batgirl's player - signed by her cast listing at my request. It seemed only fitting, since most of our scenes were spent playing off each other.
All in all…there was NOTHING like this experience, either before or after. But the con was far from done, so after congratulations were offered and words of gratitude exchanged, we were off to the next panel.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
2:00 PM CDT
Next up was another Gathering mainstay brought back to life: the "Gargoyles Biology and Culture" panel. This is the kind of stuff my friends from Station 8 and I are constantly discussing anyway, so while I didn't have much to add myself I was looking forward to hearing what fresh thoughts others might bring to the table.
I was sitting next to Brainiac during this one, and being a bio major and self-proclaimed emulator of Anton Sevarius (…why was I going anywhere near him, again?) he very much DID have some points to add.
Seriously though, I did appreciate hearing his insights - in particular, there was a fascinating discussion about the coloration of gargoyle eggs, and whether they might differ between clans. Apparently…well, to put it in his words:
"My contribution was pointing out how amongst humans, paternal contribution leads to the trophectoderm (fetal placenta and umbilicus) while maternal leads to the inner cell mass (what becomes the embryo). Thus leading to the possibility of egg coloration being determined more by the male (specifically Brooklyn in the discussion)."
I am, of course, just directly quoting to emphasize the "I have no idea what any of this means but it sure sounds cool" factor.
Gargoyle biorhythms, divergent wing shapes, and possible other (earlier) gargate species were other topics that I can recall being discussed, though I'm drawing a blank on too many details.
But in general I had a ton of fun hearing Brainiac and other scientifically minded fans debate this stuff back and forth - even if I myself was far too out of my element to do more than smile and nod politely.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
3:30 PM CDT
Nearly this entire day was spent attending Greg Weisman panels, and this one was no exception - though it was the only one that in no way involved Gargoyles. Rather, an intimate group (admittedly, largely the SAME fans who were following him through the various Gargoyles panels that day…but still) gathered within Atrium 3 to discuss a certain ghost-whispering girl by the name of Rain Cacique.
"Rain of the Ghosts" was a fun little gem, and one that I saw a lot of potential in; as of the writing of this sentence, I finally finished "Spirits of Ash and Foam" a few days ago, and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
I'll be uploading a lengthier review to both Amazon and Ask Greg once this entire report is finally done with, but in the meantime…
Lots was covered in this brief hour. Greg started out with pitching the basic premise and explaining the history of the project, which at this point is a speech I can probably recite in my sleep after all the interviews I've watched/listened to. But hey, if he can pick up a few more curious fans to this wonderfully promising novel series…it's not like I'M gonna complain.
He also did a reading of Chapter 7, "A Wake": the scene depicting 'Bastian's funeral. Then - to my surprise but also great delight, considering it wasn't to come out until the following week - he spiced things up with a reading from Chapter 5 of Spirits, "The Pale Tourist" - the scene depicting Constable Thibideaux discussing the discovery of Cash's body, fresh from being murdered by the *SPOILERS*
It was an interesting pick for a preview chapter, especially considering Rain and co. don't appear in it at all. But it definitely got me intrigued to learn just what'd caused the mystery death, and in hindsight it makes a lot of sense as a way to demonstrate that, like Gargoyles, the mystic fantasy tropes were going to lay side-by-side with the modern day.
After the two readings, he turned things over to Q&A. I asked whether 'Bastian/The Dark Man had originally had a smaller role that'd expanded because he's just so enjoyable to read about, considering that "ghost of protagonist's grandfather who looks like he's in his 20s" isn't a very common description of a main character in young adult fiction. But Greg said that 'Bastian was always intended as a lead from the beginning, which I thought was pretty interesting.
Other questions concerned racial diversity in the series; what changed between the original draft of the first book that Greg wrote in the 90s, and the final version that was published (answer: not all that much, actually, apart from needing to update the technology in-story to 2013 standards); why Greg chose to explore Taino mythology specifically; whether other Caribbean folklore - voodoo in particular - will eventually be covered (answer: yes); and the sorts of sources he uses for his research, especially the music.
He also spoke at length about his tentative plans for an audiobook. St. Martin's Press has right of first refusal to make one, but if they decide not to the rights pass to Greg.
If so, he has a rather ambitious plan to do it "radio play style," by hiring professional voice actors to play at least the major parts - under the rather sound logic that the narrator for absolutely everything is the masculine Opie, despite the main character being a thirteen-year-old girl. And in order to cover the costs, he intends to try his hand at Kickstarter…just as soon as he learns how to use Kickstarter.
On a similar note, Greg also made it clear that regardless of how things turn out, he WILL be finishing the Rain series…even if he has to resort to self-publishing to do so. That being said, he's very much hoping it won't have to come to that.
While he obviously wasn't going to share too many details, he did admit that St. Martin's could be sadder about the first book's sales, but most DEFINITELY could be happier. Their desire is that Spirits both outsells its predecessor AND spurs some new purchases of Rain…and whether or not that desire is realistic, I very much HOPE that it'll be the case.
Because Spirits is amazing, and it damn well deserves it.
Oh, and when the conversation turned briefly to Ask Greg, the Wise Man mentioned that we had a moderator for the site in the audience. And I got a spontaneous round of applause.
So…that was neat.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
4:30 PM CDT
After the Rain panel, Greg and his various acquaintances planned to head over to TGI Friday's for dinner…and since there were so few people left in the room at that point, pretty much tossed out an open invitation to join to everyone within earshot. Including me.
Needless to say, I jumped at the chance.
Thankfully, this was probably the best meal of the weekend (for the worst…well, see Sunday's report). A very tasty chicken BLT with fries, plus some strawberry lemonade. I do love me some strawberry lemonade.
There were WAY too many of us to sit at one table, so we ended up (after some reasoning with the management) spread out over five tables of varying size - meaning this was less "dinner with Greg Weisman" than "dinner in the immediate vicinity of Greg Weisman, close enough to hear Chris Jones' jokes and occasionally butt in." Which was still pretty fun.
By the time we were done eating, Greg's table had already taken off. After paying the check myself, I still had about half a plate of fries left…and since I'm kinda crazy about not wasting food, I went around to see if anyone wanted to partake.
Chip, who I was sitting across from, declined; as did Brainiac and Dragonlord at the next table. The Bishanskys had left as well, so I offered it to Aaron, Mara, and Lynati - the only ones also left in our general seating area. And I'm very glad they said yes.
I'd had an extremely fun conversation with all three after the radio play, thanks to the Twilight Sparkle t-shirt I was wearing during it. As a general rule, if someone is both a Gargoyles fan AND a brony/pegasister, I'm probably going to get along with them swimmingly.
And in this case, that DEFINITELY held up, as my small overture of French fries led to what I like to call an "evening of instant friendship." I'm not usually great at that sort of thing, but we really clicked and had loads of fun hanging with each other that day, chatting about ponies and Magical Girls and previous Gatherings and all sorts of other lovely things.
As a total newbie to the classic "Gathering crowd," they really helped me feel welcome and at home. I definitely hope that it won't be the last time we see each other.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
7:00 PM CDT
After dinner, we all headed back to Plaza 2 for the next stop on the "Greg Weisman CONvergence World Tour" as I have just now decided to call it, oh how clever I am.
In this case, the event was a "One on One with Greg Weisman," hosted by CONvergence mainstay Hal Bichel. This was a fun little interview that stretched across pretty much the entirety of Greg's career, with questions ranging from his inspirations to his early breaks into the business, from Gargoyles to Spectacular Spidey, and from Young Justice to Rain.
CONvergence itself was also a big topic - Greg's past experiences with the convention, and how he was enjoying his weekend so far. Despite his tiredness (and really, if I were him I'd be SO "conned out" by that point), it was clear that we was truly having a blast, and said as much.
Really, it ended up being less an interview than Greg telling stories with Hal occasionally nudging him toward various subjects…and since Greg is such a wonderfully FUN storyteller, I certainly didn't mind that.
One particularly amusing tale involved the origins of the "Fancy Bastard" competition, which in a nutshell began because Greg ONCE Tweeted about pie and Chris Jones decided to be a colossal troll about it.
Which I mean in only the most absolutely positive way, I assure you. ;)
SATURDAY, JULY 5
8:30 PM CDT
Once the panel was over, we immediately headed back to CONvergence Central to get in line for Greg's next signing.
Everything that I'd actually brought FOR signing had already been taken care of on Friday, but now there was a new item absolutely none of us could resist: an exclusive print by Chris Jones to commemorate "Recruits," featuring its diverse roster of villains (Demona, Jackal, Hyena, Doc Ock, Electro, Vandal Savage, and Queen Bee).
Accounts differed between who you listened to, as to whether Chris goaded Greg into writing such an ambitious radio play script, or whether Chris merely made a suggestion and Greg imagined the rest. Regardless, though, Greg used his version of the events to strong-arm Chris into the print…with so little notice that the thing ended up being put together in about five hours.
Which just makes its jaw-dropping awesomeness all the sweeter, LOL.
Chris wasn't there at this particular signing, but I paid for the print and got Greg's signature (and on my radio play script as well) as quick as I could, before heading back to the Theater Nippon for one final round of anime goodness.
Somehow not content with screening only one of my favorite shows of all time, the Theater was playing the first four episodes of "Baccano!" - Narita Ryohgo's rip-roaring tale of immortal alchemists, eccentric thieves, and surprisingly amiable gangsters clashing in Prohibition-era Chicago and New York.
I'd only finished the anime for the first time a few months prior, but its effect on me was immediate and profound. As such, I was very much looking forward to watching it for the fifth time, but this time (in the unrelentingly entertaining dub, one of the best I've EVER heard put together) with an audience.
I was especially glad that Bookwyrm, who like me is a burgeoning anime fan trying desperately to play catch-up with all the stuff we've missed, decided to join me and see what all my raving was about. And I was even gladder that he clearly enjoyed the heck out of it.
Unfortunately, we only had time for three of the episodes before we had to head off to our next panel. Meaning that catching up with episode four ("Ladd Russo Enjoys Talking a Lot and Slaughtering a Lot") would have to wait until we got back to our respective homes.
Aw. Sad face.
SATURDAY, JULY 5
10:00 PM CDT
Of course, I can't really be TOO depressed about where we needed to head off to next. Considering that it was, without question…
One of the funniest things I have EVER experienced.
Of the various panels that took place over the course of the CONvergence weekend, the Blue Mug was definitely the one most widely shared and Tweeted about on the interwebs. So I won't be going into TOO much detail about the finer ins and outs of what was shared.
Suffice it to say, though, that it was one of those "Gathering mainstays" that I was most looking forward to…and it in NO WAY disappointed me.
The room was packed, which was quite an accomplishment considering the lateness of the hour and the fact that the party rooms were all back open. Still, I'm proud - if somewhat dubiously so - to have been the one to offer the first question of the night…and the reaction of the Wise Man was beyond priceless.
Anticipating (correctly, as it turned out) that the vast majority of the questions asked would be related to Gargoyles or Young Justice, I stood up and said, "I figure you're going to get plenty of questions based on some of your more popular shows. But in honor of my friend Kyubey here, I'd like to ask about your own foray into the Magical Girl genre…"
It's here that I held up my plushie so everyone else in the audience could see, eliciting groans and shudders from those in the audience familiar with the character. It's ALSO here that Greg Weisman interrupted me, with what Chip and I agree to be the best single moment of the entire convention:
"PUT THAT THING AWAY, IT GIVES ME THE CREEPS!"
Given all that I have ever known or learned about him, to be good-naturedly shouted down by Greg Weisman was pretty much the highest honor I could've received…and I took it as such. ;)
What followed was my only mildly successful attempt to actually get to my question, while avoiding simply breaking down into raucous laughter.
This ended up resulting in Greg going off on a tangent as soon as I mentioned W.I.T.C.H. about how often and how brazenly the show got crap past the radar, both before and after he joined the creative team. The pilot episode's exchange on the girls'…ahem…improved figures (HAY LIN: "What do we have behind us?" CORNELIA: "What do we have in FRONT of us?") got special mention.
Greg went on to share that all five of the main girls are virgins as of the end of Season 2, as well as reiterate his suspicions that Irma is a lesbian (personally, I've always thought of her as a lesbian-leaning bisexual, even before Greg said anything on the subject…but that's neither here nor there).
Which was all well and good…but was also not what I wanted to ask about. When I told Greg this, his mock-exasperation either crossed the line into genuineness, or else he was doing a remarkably good imitation. Perhaps it wasn't wise to keep pressing…but dammit, inquiring minds NEED to know!
Following the intensely revealing "You have no IDEA what she meant to me!" line Nerissa tosses off in "K is for Knowledge," I was aware that Greg had mentioned at past cons that there were in fact feelings beyond the platonic involved between them.
But being a total pervert, I specifically wanted to know how many bases they'd gotten through before Cassidy caught a terrible case of deadness. Greg answered that they were indeed "lovers"…which I'm going to take to mean "all of the above, buckaroo" and no one can stop me!
Anyway, most of the other revelations from the panel - and they are myriad - are covered in the following post: http://archive.moe/co/thread/63412521/. Please note that I do NOT recommend scrolling down through the entire comment thread, not the least because Ask Greg is at least nominally PG. Read at your own risk…of uproarious laughter.
A couple things I recall coming up that aren't mentioned there, however:
- I asked one other question that evening, regarding Lex Luthor and Mercy Graves on Earth-16. Greg cut in to basically say "Duh," about their relationship, which indeed seemed fairly obvious but was nice to have confirmation on. My particular question, however, was actually about whether she is…ahem…"enhanced" anywhere apart from her arm. Greg's answer was essentially a shrug and a "Sure, why not," which satisfied me.
- Electro is gay. 'Nuff said.
- To clarify the Conner/M'gann thing: shifting into porn stars or other superheroines was COMPLETELY her idea, and while she assumed it would please him (because, well…he's a GUY), in truth all he really cared about was being with her. He knew that he wasn't with her "true" form the whole time, after all.
- Artemis and Wally had sex A LOT during the time skip. And in response to an almost disturbingly specific question…yes, eventually that did involve "butt-stuff." Incidentally, I'm only including this in the rundown because hearing Greg Weisman say "butt-stuff" was amazing.
- Lexington's alias from the radio play, "Tin Man," would indeed have been his canon handle during his online chats with Amp.
As the linked report indicates, Edmund Tsabard did indeed make his very unfancy appearance about half an hour into the panel, though he only stayed for about five minutes before storming out furiously because people repeatedly insisted on asking him about Gargoyles.
Quite a shame, really. I think he and Kyubey would've gotten along super-well.
Anyway, there was some amusing less-meta discussion of "Last Tengu" afterward, given that both Mara and Greg were panelists - mostly about the peculiar circumstance of learning that one CAN lose money on pornography. Now, when I'd met Mara earlier I had no idea she was involved with "Last Tengu," so it was a bit of a pleasant shock to make that connection; realizing that the Blue Mug Productions artist is also a pegasister put…interesting images into my brain, LOL.
Finally, I'd just like to note that while I'd never been to a Blue Mug before, retroactively I feel compelled to say that all the previous ones were poorer for their lack of Christopher Jones. Sitting off to the side and snarking through it all, he provided the perfect capstones to some absolutely glorious moments.
One that stands out was when Greg was mentioning that he didn't think Conner would've had much sexualization prior to his relationship with M'gann; it wouldn't really have come up in his Cadmus education. Chris then countered by saying that Conner would've been taught only "the sexual knowledge needed to destroy Superman."
And then there was the one-liner "blood from a stone," which I will not explain because it is absolutely impossible to do justice to it in text. Suffice to say that with those words, Greg declared Chris the winner of CONvergence.
AND IT WAS SO.
SUNDAY, JULY 6
12:45 AM CDT
I'm debating with myself whether to include this last "panel" in this post or the next, since TECHNICALLY it took place on Sunday. But I guess it makes most sense here.
Anyway, when I asked about the classic Gathering videos during our drink on Friday, he said that he'd been petitioning CONvergence for a time and place to screen them…if at basically one day's notice.
Finally, right after the radio play, he announced that he'd managed to procure such a location: the Bloomington room at 12:45 AM. Like my "Recruits" character, I am as nocturnal as a flying squirrel, so this didn't bother me…but it did mean a couple hours of killing time following the Blue Mug.
Thankfully, between the Brainiac/Chip/Bookwyrm/Dragonlord group and the Aaron/Mara/Lynati group, there were plenty of ways to enjoy myself while we waited for everything to get set up.
Mostly I chatted with various people about the numerous revelations that'd come out of the previous panel, as well as on the subjects of fanfiction, ponies, and why everyone should totally watch W.I.T.C.H. and Madoka Magica.
Although Lynati and I did take a quick break to run to the Aperture Science party room when I informed her that there was cake there. ;)
Anyway, by the time the doors reopened and Greg arrived with the Sacred DVD of Sacredness (TM), he was clearly in a bit of a punk-drunk mood given the lateness of the hour and the fullness of his schedule…which just made him even MORE entertaining.
It was basically just the truly hardcore fans left by that point, and the rather tight-knit and intimate atmosphere as he regaled us with tales of Gargoyles' inception, both grand and dire, was exactly what I'd always dreamed of experiencing were I able to afford to go to a Gathering.
He started out with a couple early promotional videos, including the press one that ended up resulting in the infamous "better than Barney" remark - and getting to join in that synchronized shout was a ton of fun. The one geared toward sci-fi fans (and particularly Trekkies) was especially interesting, in terms of the optics it chose to emphasize, and it was made all the more fascinating when someone from the audience mentioned actually learning about the show for the first time THROUGH that video's screening at an early 90s sci-fi con.
Next came the pitches: Dark Ages and New Olympians. I was familiar with most all of the information, and through the GargWiki I'd even already seen many of the images. But witnessing them all strung together, playing out before me, was an entirely different experience.
And I was even MORE enthralled by the Bad Guys leica reel. Sure, I pretty much knew how the entire thing would play out, beat-for-beat, thanks to the comics. Sure, there was nothing technically "new" in it.
But Bad Guys has always been my favorite of the proposed Gargoyles spinoffs (and its unfairly short-lived miniseries, my favorite part of the SLG comics run), and the sheer JOY of hearing the voices of the Redemption Squad once more - some of them, including William Devane and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, for the first time ever - was more than enough to satisfy me.
And then, finally, the main attraction. "The Last."
While I'd had the script for "The Last" in my backpack for over a day by that point, I hadn't done more than skim through it, in hopes that my first experience with the unproduced episode would be seeing it in person. And I am very glad for my restraint.
While the fan-completed art and animation varied in quality (although some of it, especially Sweet's and Fiona's reunion, was VERY impressive for volunteer work), the true gem was hearing all the voices coming to life for the first time since I'd watched "Milo's Return" many years ago.
Never before have I been sadder that "Team Atlantis" never got to come to air. The promise, fun, and adventurous spirit of the show is quite evident from the script, and I particularly enjoyed getting to hear Demona play up the "noble gorlois" image to Kida's group.
Overall, I enjoyed the entire "after-hours panel" immensely. It was the perfect capstone to the perfect day - one which had reminded me just why I fell in love with this fandom in the first place.
It's a family…and from start to finish, it made me feel welcome as a clan member.
And the fun wasn't even over yet.
Of course, we've since DONE the Rain AudioPlay, available now at www.Gumroad.com/RainoftheGhosts!
CONVERGENCE 2014 CON REPORT
FRIDAY, JULY 4
9:00 AM CDT
The previous night, Greg had advised me that to be on the safe side, I should make sure to arrive for the 11:00 AM auditions AT LEAST half an hour early. Being my usual self, I took this as a cue to get in line (well…start a line) two hours prior.
To be fair, I did everything I could to kill some time once I realized I'd gone a little overboard with punctuality. I sampled the con's "free food" room for the first time, grabbing a blueberry muffin and some fruit for breakfast. I walked around a bit more, saw Bookwyrm off to a 9:30 AM "Adventure Time" panel, and played a little bit of "Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon" on my 3DS. Still, I was there outside Atrium 7 for…well, let's just say a while.
Funnily enough, though, I didn't end up being first into the actual auditions. At around 10:15 AM or so, Greg himself showed up, along with Jennifer Anderson, Susan Leonard, Greg Bishansky, and a few others. As no one had gotten behind me in the past hour or so, I got out of line to chat with them for a little while.
Mr. Bishansky gave me a few tips on how to conduct a good audition, which was definitely appreciated. Though outwardly I was quite eager and chipper, inwardly I was nervous as all hell that I was gonna screw up somehow.
Bar none, the radio play was the part of the con I was most looking forward to. To not only be watching the performance of new Gargoyles material, but to actually be PART of it all - to be "on stage" with Marina Sirtis herself - it was kind of a dream come true, and I'd resolved that any and all headaches my role as Station 8 moderator has ever given me would be worth it, if only I could snag even a small part.
Once other people finally started to line up outside the audition room, I got back behind them…overall, about fifth to go that day. This didn't give me a lot of time to go through the audition packet once I was given it, what with its several dozen characters from Gargoyles, SpecSpidey, and Young Justice.
It took me until the very moment before I was called in to choose. I needed a part where I could distinguish myself, show a little range, and demonstrate that I could really get into a role if called upon. David Xanatos, Green Goblin, and Aqualad were all considered. But the role that jumped out to me the most was Eddie Brock…except I didn't think his lines gave me much to do with once I opened to them.
So I turned the page, and looked at VENOM'S lines instead. And said, "Yeah…I think I can work with this."
It was a gamble, to be sure. I've practiced my Spec!Venom impression pretty much ever since "Intervention" aired, but I'd never tried it out to other people; I couldn't guarantee the voice wouldn't come out sounding forced or just plain off the mark.
But ultimately, I didn't see a better choice available to me. So I used the remaining minute or so to run the lines over in my head, testing for the right places to enunciate to make it sound as natural as possible. And with that in mind, I walked in.
The room was, I will admit, just a little bit intimidating. A whole mess of empty chairs, made for seating about a hundred, with only Greg and Jennifer seated at the far side of the room and Susan seated near the mic. But I swallowed hard, held my head high, and told them I'd be doing Venom.
Jennifer noted that I was the first Venom audition they'd heard, which gave me some hope in terms of standing out from the crowd. And so, with that…I began.
I hope it doesn't sound too immodest to say that I think it turned out quite well. I kept up a good flow throughout, emphasizing the right words and never flubbing a line. My years of randomly reciting the "WE have one enemy! The Spider-Parker tried to destroy Us, too!" speech for no particular reason had clearly paid off, as Susan called my performance "epic" and Greg told me that "Ben Diskin would be proud."
After that, he had me run the lines a second time without affecting the Venom impression, so they could get a better idea of my natural speaking voice. I'd also checked off the "bark like a dog" box on the audition sheet, though I think the one I gave when requested was kind of weak.
Still, I had a big fat grin on my face as I left the audition room. While I'm not one to count my chickens before they hatch, I was PRETTY sure I'd just nailed my audition.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
12:30 PM CDT
Since I'd been so close to the front of the line, I had a decent amount of time to kill until the next panel once the audition was completed.
The charity auction was open for bidding by that point, so I spent some time making my rounds there and putting down bids for a few items that caught my eye. Suffice it to say that I checked back in there whenever I had some downtime across the next couple days, and I was summarily outbid on all the items I actually WANTED - including a talking doll of Sumomo from the "Chobits" anime, a wall scroll with the cast of "Cowboy Bebop," and a little plushie of Radical Edward and Ein from the same.
Rest assured, however, that I did NOT end up leaving the auction empty-handed. But I'll discuss that in more detail in Sunday's report.
During this break time, I also ran into Chip and Greg Bishansky again; they asked me to demonstrate my Venom voice once I'd related the details of the audition, and both seemed suitably impressed with the result. We spent some time speculating about the possible subject matter of the radio play script, before heading off to catch the Wise Man's next panel appearance: "From TV to Comics."
Obviously, between Gargoyles and Young Justice, there was quite a bit for Greg, Chris, and Karine (rocking an awesome Power Girl cosplay) to expound upon on this topic. Unfortunately, this is also one of several panels to come where my memories, over a month later, have grown somewhat hazy and blended together…and as such, I'm having difficulty coming up with many specifics.
There was, I recall, a decent amount of interesting discussion about the difference between writing a comic continuation of an existing property (ala Gargoyles or "Buffy") and a comic supplement to an existing one (ala Young Justice or "The Batman Strikes!" that Chris used to work on).
The artists who were taking part in the panel also had some interesting things to say about art references, and how they've changed vastly in the digital age. There's a world of difference between the support that Chris got on YJ, up to and including model sheets directly from character designer Phil Bourassa, and the plights of those early "Star Trek" comic inkers who were working off photographs at best, and sometimes not even that.
Finally, there was a lengthy discussion regarding the unfortunate "kids comic ghetto" that tie-ins typically get unfairly shunted into, being placed in a separate section from "mainstream" titles for seemingly arbitrary reasons and thus often becoming difficult for their target audience to find. With tie-ins like "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" and "Adventure Time" doing so well lately, it seems an especially odd practice…especially for someone like me, who's pretty much reading nothing BUT tie-ins these days.
Greg had a funny anecdote about that, regarding an old comics shop he used to frequent. They had at one point sold "adult comics" that were placed in a special section behind a curtain, so that parents and children wouldn't be exposed to them. But later they replaced that section with their "kids comics" rack…but kept it in the same place, meaning children literally COULDN'T GET TO the comics designed for them.
And the publishers/shops wander why it's so difficult to pick up new readers these days?
FRIDAY, JULY 4
2:00 PM CDT
Greg and Chris were both scheduled to sign during the next block of time, so what proceeded at the end of the previous panel was a rather funny exodus of most of the same people to the exact same place. That would end up being a not infrequent occurrence throughout the con.
Since I'd picked up some of her prints the previous day, I asked Karine whether she'd be doing any signings that weekend; she shrugged her shoulders and said she had time if people wanted her to, so she ended up joining Greg, Greg, and Chris at the table.
So if you got something signed by her on July 4…you know who to thank! ;)
[Y'know…besides Karine herself, I mean. Man, was she nice.]
Anyway, I ended up somewhere around tenth in line or so for this signing. Karine signed the three prints I'd purchased Thursday, and while I'd already gotten what I wanted from Greg Guler I stopped by briefly to say hi and wish him a good one. But the main event here was definitely the Wise Man.
I readily concede that I went overboard, requesting a total of NINE things for him to sign at once - and since he always personalizes each autograph with a fandom-specific message, that took a while.
In addition to adding his signature to the two Greg Guler prints I'd purchased for my friends, I requested and received his John Hancock on my Season 2, Volume 2 DVD; my Clan-Building: Volume 2 trade; my Young Justice: Invasion trade; my Mecha-Nation trade; my "3x3 Eyes" Volume 1 DVD (which led to a funny exchange about what to use as the "signing quip," since he didn't actually remember any of the dialogue from that show…I half-jokingly suggested Christian Campbell's death-scream, since his character Yakumo Fuji bites it about once every 10 minutes in that anime…Greg ended up settling on "Stay alive!"); and of course, my copy of Rain of the Ghosts.
I also purchased and got signed a copy of the script for "The Last" - partially for the historical value and "cool" factor, but also because after having him do THAT MUCH for free, I would've felt quite guilty not to at least buy SOMETHING. :D
Lastly, I visited Chris Jones, who I would quickly come to discover is about the most all-around awesome guy you will ever meet. He's RIDICULOUSLY funny (oh, the tales that will come when I get to the Blue Mug on Saturday), and just has such an intense enthusiasm for having gotten to draw some of his favorite characters of all time - he singled out Ra's al Ghul in particular - that it's quite infectious.
He added his signature to my YJ: Invasion trade and the print of the Team I'd purchased on Thursday, as well as a promotional poster of Mackenzie Cartwright that I'd picked up at the "Parallel Man" panel.
After that we chatted for a while, mainly about Young Justice and his future plans for art based on such. He mentioned plans to do some "family portraits" at some point, which I'm definitely excited to see materialize; in particular, because he specifically mentioned the Marvel Family as one he'd like to depict.
I asked if he could give some details about how he envisions Earth-16's Mary and Freddy. In no particular order, he shared the following: fairly traditional looks for their "civilian" selves, a greater resonance with Captain Marvel's own uniform, stars and sashes to indicate their "ranks" as Sergeant and Lieutenant, and Mary wearing pants rather than a skirt.
Now at this point, the ongoing panels were more than halfway over, but once I was done with all the signings I hurried over to catch the tail-end of "10 Must-See Anime Movies." I'm always looking for new recommendations, and this seemed like as good a place as any to get a few.
Unfortunately, by the time I got there the actual "10" had already long since been discussed, so mostly I just got to hear various audience members share their suggestions for what HADN'T been on the list. Still, that was quite fascinating in its own right, and I picked up a few tips I likely never would've heard about otherwise.
The best part of the panel, though, was hearing from Frank Paur about which early anime had strongly affected him in his youth. Some of the oldest stuff recommended there came from his personal "list," and I definitely took note of a few.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
3:30 PM CDT
Okay…now began the time to really get into the meat of things. Starting with this panel, "Creating Gargoyles."
Of course, this particular story was one I'd heard dozens of times over. I've lost track of the number of times I've read through the original development materials, memos, pitches, etc. that are posted on Ask Greg, not to mention the video record of the (successful!) pitch on the Season 1 DVD. So very little of what Greg shared was new to me.
Nevertheless, it's also a story I greatly ENJOY, so I didn't particularly mind. Even twenty years later, in the midst of the largest conglomeration of Weismaniacs in the country, the sheer audacity of Gargoyles having gotten sold at all still blows my mind on occasion.
[Trademark pending on the term "Weismaniacs," by the way. I would very much like it to catch on.]
Every good hero needs a good origin; I'm convinced the same is true of stories. The best shows, films, games, etc. don't just HAPPEN, but rather come together in a confluence of ideas big and small - gathering to embark on a journey of adversity and challenge. I truly don't think Gargoyles could've been as special as it was and still is, were it not for the arduous process that Greg and co. went through to bring it about, and that's why the tale of its genesis still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
Now, with that being said, it wasn't ALL old information presented there (though most of the questions tended toward stuff that Ask Greg has long since covered). In particular, I've never really gotten the chance to hear Greg Guler's perspective on the whole process, and that ended up being a real treat.
I'm no artist myself (I have about as much talent for the craft as the self-admitted Wise Man), but there's something profoundly fascinating about hearing of all the nuances of character design he went through, trying to get the gargoyle species - and our leads in particular - to look JUST right.
For example, he noted that the iconic brow ridges came about because horns angled either upward or forward couldn't help but be seen as satanic by some…a problem that turned out NOT to be shared when they pointed backward. The wings, meanwhile, were envisioned as "a cross between a bat and a dragon."
The walkthrough of the show's progression from concept to final product seemed to go on longer than Greg had anticipated. He screened the original pitch, as well as the media preview used to screen for the press…but I was more preoccupied with what he DIDN'T show.
For the media preview was on a disc with such perennial favorites as the New Olympians pitch, the Dark Ages pitch, and the Bad Guys leica reel. None of which I'd ever seen before, and all of which I'd been hoping to see for over a decade. When the panel ran out of time and Greg had to put that disc back in its case, I think each and every one of my organs died a little inside.
Thankfully, this is yet another thing which worked out in the end. But once again, that'll have to wait for Saturday's report.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
5:00 PM CDT
I wasn't really interested in the panels going on in this particular block, so I made my rounds at the Dealer's Room - buying, probably stupidly, a handful of new "Yu-Gi-Oh!" packs - and Artist's Alley, before meeting up with Dragonlord and grabbing dinner at the hotel restaurant again.
I'd had either fish-and-chips or chicken tenders on Thursday (can't remember which off the top of my head, but either way I liked it), so for Friday I decided to go for something a little less "bar standard" and tried their chicken stir fry.
This, I ended up at least somewhat regretting; the meal was decent enough, but the portion size left something to be desired when compared to the price. Still, I made it work.
Since that morning, we'd all been waiting in anticipation of the cast posting for the radio play. The approximate time it was scheduled to go up was 6:00 PM, so Chip volunteered to check on it while we ate. Eventually, he met us at our table to convey that, unfortunately, neither he nor his brothers had managed to grab a role this year…but both Brainiac and I had made the cut!
Obviously, once we were done paying for our meal (it took about half an hour longer than I was hoping for us to get our check), I had to go and check the list for myself. And sure enough, there I was…and only a few names from the top, to boot!
Chip informed me that this likely meant I'd have a significant role, which basically meant I was super-super-SUPER giddy for the entire rest of the night.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
7:00 PM CDT
"Time Travel Theory." While I love a good time travel story, this is probably not a panel I would've attended on my own, were it not for two particular panelists: the Wise Man, who'd suggested it…and none other than our favorite neighborhood physics professor, Dr. James Kakalios.
When I read that name on Greg's itinerary for the weekend, I almost did a spit-take. Now of course, in retrospect, it shouldn't have been THAT much of a surprise - he teaches at the University of Minnesota, after all. Hell, his Wikipedia photo is from a CONvergence!
But I hadn't known that at the time. All I knew was that the author of one of my favorite books was going to be there, completely blindsiding me.
I'd read "Physics of Superheroes" in high school, purely because I'd heard about the concept and thought it sounded really damn cool. Plus, my high school physics teacher had spotted me reading it before class in the mornings and eventually suggested I do my final project for the year on the subject (which nabbed me an A for the class and helped secure my 4.1 GPA), so I have something of a soft spot for it.
One of my few significant regrets of the con is that I didn't get to chat with him at all after the panel. But I did get at least one thing out of it - we'd gotten there early and sat in the front row, so I took out my weathered copy of the book and held it where he could see.
Thankfully, he noticed and was delighted, asking me to hold it up so his wife in the back row could see. I whispered that I'd really enjoyed the book and his work in general, and asked if he'd be willing to sign it; he did so without missing a beat.
Soon after that the panel itself began in earnest, and I quickly became fully and totally lost.
Okay…so that's a BIT of an exaggeration. But still, while I'm an admirer of the professional sciences I'm a humanities guy by nature and by trade, and I have to admit that at times, the ACTUAL scientists on the panel went a tad beyond my caliber.
As such, this is another panel I'll admit not being able to recall too many details of, apart from that Gargoyles and Young Justice both got analyzed and compared/contrasted. All I know for sure is that I enjoyed it a lot, LOL.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
8:30 PM CDT
This was the next "big" one - "Gargoyles Q&A," featuring Greg, Greg, Frank, Chris, Karine, and Marina.
It was definitely another panel where an hour was nowhere near enough time to cover everything - especially with six guests competing for time, and a pretty much carte-blanche offering of questions.
This was the first time I'd actually seen Marina in real life, and…well, let's just say she did not disappoint. She was brash, incendiary, and deeply political. And oh, was it such a delight.
While I don't know if she's someone I'd really want to "hang" with, getting to hear her rant off about how awful Hollywood is, with the occasional aside to take a dig at George W. Bush or certain members of the Supreme Court, was too amusing for words.
She also had a few nifty insights to offer whenever the subject came to Demona, which was quite interesting; it's clear from how she speaks of our favorite gargate villainess that she's internalized the character more than any other role she's done.
She noted, for example, that one of the reasons she identifies with Demona is that she's a very "in the now" person, who doesn't really engage in worrying about the future. Demona, as she puts it, rather HAS to live "in the now," simply to function. Genuine, honest self-reflection on her past and future would pretty much destroy her.
There was also a fun moment where Brainiac tried to - lightly - get on Marina's case for her French accent in "Sanctuary"…which naturally led to groans all-around of "oh, you did NOT just go there." Then a native French speaker came up just a few questions later, and Brainiac was hilariously mortified.
"I SWEAR TO YOU, I DIDN'T PLAN THIS!"
FRIDAY, JULY 4
9:30 PM CDT
Immediately once the Q&A was over with, it was time to return to the Theater Nippon for Mamoru Hosoda's masterpiece "Summer Wars." I'd seen the film exactly once before, in the dub; this was my first time seeing it subbed, and Chip and his brothers' first time seeing it at all.
Of course, we'd all LONG since seen Hosoda's previous work for the Digimon franchise, "Our War Game" - and as many anime fans know, "Summer Wars" was largely born out of his desire to play out and expand on the best ideas from "Our War Game," without the baggage of being attached to a pre-existing franchise.
This makes the movie something of an interesting experience for Digi-fans. The basic premise (kids fighting a malevolent computer virus which has infected vast swathes of the internet via digital avatars) is fairly similar, and much of the action in the respective "digital worlds" is almost beat-for-beat the same.
But the "real world" segments, and consequently the characters and themes the film deals with, are vastly different…to its credit, as its superb quality and numerous accolades make clear.
In any event, I quite enjoyed revisiting the film. But we had to run out pretty much from the moment the credits started rolling, as we had one last appointment to keep that evening.
FRIDAY, JULY 4
11:00 PM CDT
Technically, because the movie got a late start, we arrived nearly half-an-hour late to this: the semi-official "Young Justice Meet-Up" with Greg and Chris. Fortunately, it didn't appear that we'd missed much.
UNfortunately, the reason for this was that it was just plain too loud in the Garden Court for an informal Q&A (like the one I'd been part of during WonderCon 2013), surrounded as we were on all sides by the second night of room partying.
As such, by the time we got there everyone was pretty much just hanging around in the general area, enjoying the atmosphere. Greg decided to make the most of it by at least taking some photos, and so thanks to Chip's iPhone I have the perfect image to encapsulate my CONvergence experience: myself between Greg Weisman and Chris Jones, wearing a Green Lantern shirt and holding my Kyubey. :D
The others left after a little while, though I stuck around to chat with other fans - a very nice girl in a Black Canary cosplay in particular. Eventually, when it was down to only Greg, Chris, myself, and three other fans, we all ended up heading for the hotel bar to get away from the noise.
Which means I can now officially say I've gone drinking with Greg Weisman. Well…for a given definition of "drinking," since I just had water and nobody ordered anything harder than a Sprite.
But still. IT COUNTS.
Anyway, pretty much inexplicably, this meant I'd ended up hanging in a small group with Greg two nights in a row. Considering that a mere five years ago, he'd probably have been second only to Barack Obama on my "list of people I'd love to have a private chat with someday," that's kinda mind-blowing in the grand scheme of things.
We were there at the bar for about an hour or so, mostly chatting about Young Justice with a bit of Gargoyles and general con gossip sprinkled in. I got confirmation on my theory that the Earth-16 Justice League has a charitable endowment in place, and that Bruce Wayne contributes to it; my partially tongue-in-cheek thought that Lex Luthor does as well was denied, however.
Undoubtedly, though, the best part of that night was teaming up with Chris Jones to recap "Chill of the Night" to Greg, which wasn't one of the "Brave and the Bold" episodes he'd seen. There's a certain phenomenon in these sorts of things I like to call "geek-synch," and it was very fun to be on that wavelength with a guy like Chris.
The subject came up, incidentally, because Chris mentioned he had a very particular idea of what to do with the Phantom Stranger in a hypothetical Earth-16 story…which of course, unfortunately, never came to pass. While for obvious reasons he was light on details with us, it would've involved the Stranger showing Nabu a reality where the scales had tipped too far in the direction of Order, possibly inspiring a more nuanced perspective in Doctor Fate from then on.
Chris also handed out his little "Disco Nightwing" mini-prints to us, and paid for the drinks (which probably totaled maybe 10 bucks at most, but was still a very nice gesture). But by this point it was well past midnight, so Greg called it a night at that.
After all, we all had places to be…and worlds to conquer!
Let me know if Weismaniacs catches on.