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My Gathering reports tend to be very detailed, in the sense that I take notes on what's been said in the seminars/panels. As it stands, the total for G2003 is 5452 words. What follows here is a slightly abridged version.
Day 1: Friday 6/27/03
It was a hot and muggy Friday afternoon when Sean (NoBrandHero) and I left my Bronx apartment to take the bus and 2 train down to Penn Station. Having mugged Victor Cook before, and been to enough cons that we felt we didn't need to mug Thom or Greg, we decided that the first 'must-see' event of the day would be the voice acting seminar at 2:30, so we took our time.
We had scoped out the hotel a few months prior when we were in the neighborhood, and had been a little worried, not having spotted any big convention rooms on the first floor. It turns out all the big suite rooms are on the upper levels, so during the convention we would constantly be going back and forth between the 6th, 10th and 18th floors.
Anyways, the registration desk was easy to find. I was embarrassed that Greg Bishansky recognized me before I did him (he just doesn't look the same without a trench coat). We flashed our badges to the elevator guard and decided to first check out the con suite. When we got there, they had huge bags of food, but no videos running, so we left soon after to go to the Voice Acting workshop. We got lost for a short while before finally finding the London Suite. We opened the door and were surprised to see that Thom was still talking with his Mug-a-Guest group. Unlike the groups from '01, Thom was speaking before a room of people instead of a small group seated at a table. We snuck in and caught the tail end of the discussion (something about Thom voicing an Irish rabbit). Sadly, we missed him flashing his new tattoo. When Greg Weisman walked in, there was some playful banter about whose Mug-a-Guest had been better, and then we all settled down to listen.
Greg passed out scripts from three different scenes in Gargoyles for fans to have a go at. I would have liked to volunteer, but as luck would have it, I'd been suffering from bad allergies all week long on my trip abroad, and was only just recovering. I would occasionally break into fits of coughing and had practically no voice. A girl volunteered, and Greg asked for her name. She told him "Jill", quickly adding--with only the smallest bit of hesitation--"but my online name is Leopard". At that moment, I was struck by how odd all us fans must seem to a normal person. Of course, Greg took it all in stride, having grown accustomed to this sort of thing over the years. I can only imagine how scary it must have been for him at the first convention!
After the workshop were the Radio Play tryouts. I was debating whether or not to bother, with my croaky voice, so I put off the decision until later and went to the "History, Myths and Legends" panel, which this time around was hosted by Greg B., Lynati, Batya and Kathy. Most of them looked exhausted, being on the con staff and having worked hard to make everything run smoothly. Every now and then, Kathy would lose track of what she was saying and stare at her water bottle and go, "ooo, shiny!"
The topic can be summed up as: "how not to repeat what everyone else has written about and still make it interesting". The examples they used were mostly fairy tales, and we enjoyed making comparisons between the original stories and the way they've been altered over time.
Afterwards, we saw that there were still people grouped around the door for the auditions. Despite my protests that I had no voice, Seth (IRC Goliath) and Lanny finally convinced me (at least this time I could blame my voice for not getting selected. I'd tried in '99 and '01 and didn't get picked). I'd read Hudson and Angela for the audition those times, so I picked Goliath this time (because he had the fewest lines). Greg and Thom told me to project more (as usual), and I somehow managed to almost sound normal. After I went, only a few others were left, and then the group filed out en masse to the opening ceremonies. I hovered around Greg for a moment, then lost my nerve and used the excuse to grab the pitcher off his desk and refill my water bottle. I find Greg nice and all, but also somewhat unnerving. You never know what he's thinking. He smiles when he's talking to a large audience, but when he's sitting there alone at a table, his eyes begin to narrow dangerously, like he's just waiting for some foolish fan to dare interrupt his musings and ask him a question.
Then again, maybe his eyes look that way because he's tired. Or maybe I'm just paranoid.
The Ceremonies began in the usual way, with introductions and the 'how many here have been to this many cons' poll. Then the 2004 group came up, promoting the next con (and doing a pretty good job of it. Kanthara made a lengthy description of their classy yet affordable menu, which I'm sure was only intended to promote their con, yet to me, also sounded like a jab at this year's banquet (which was sort of mean, considering we hadn't even tasted this year's banquet yet. Well, I wouldn't taste it anyway since I didn't sign up, but still...). Their mascot is a blue and white Bronx-like gargoyle beast (Quebec's colors), and the con is slated to run from August 6th-8th. They mentioned the usual pre-registration discount and some new package deals, as well as a raffle with prizes like a free banquet and registration.
Then Greg repeated his original Gargoyles pitch (which most con-goers are familiar with by now), plus his videos. He reminded us that Disney still appreciates the cons (pointing out that they lent to us a beautiful spread of production art this year). Afterwards, Sean and I followed Seth, Wingless and Gorebash back to their room and hung out for a while before we finally decided on getting pizza down the street. After much picture taking and mosquito swatting and nebulous discussions about webpage design, we decided to check out the OtherCon Mug-a-Guest. Thom was as shameless as ever, and the questions drifted to the expected topics. I kept falling asleep--not because it was boring, but because I was still on European time and was incredibly jetlagged. Lanny and Sean had fun poking me awake every five minutes. One big revelation: as some people have suspected, Greg plans for Lexington to be homosexual, but he hasn't yet figured out how it will be introduced. This explains why in "Turf", he gave up so easily on chasing Angela. His mate will not be someone we know from the show.
We finally left around 1:30 AM, and from what I hear, everyone was thrown out of the room soon after. After a long subway ride through the Bronx, we were home by 2:30 and quickly fell asleep.
Day 2: Saturday 6/28/03
I'm a little grateful I auditioned for the Radio Play the day before, as I didn't need to feel guilty over missing the morning auditions on Saturday. Unfortunately, sleeping in did mean that I would miss the TGS premiere of Season 4 Pendragon (which I had been looking forward to, but told myself the premiere would make it out on the web soon enough). The first panel we made it to, therefore, was the two o'clock "Writing for Animation and Series Development" workshop.
Greg and Vic headed the session. Paul Lacy was supposed to show up, but never did (it seemed from the schedule that he was only going to be at the con for this one seminar, which I thought was a little bizarre, but I guess might explain why he didn't bother coming. Greg did not look happy though, and I wonder what kind of hot water Paul's going to find himself in later). Anyways, they started by discussing Gargoyles, and the lessons they've discovered about the industry since then. As an example, Greg once more showed the videos for the spin-offs he tried to pitch: "Dark Ages" and "New Olympians". Originally, Greg Kline (Greg Weisman's boss) seemed ready to approve the spin-offs. Unfortunately, Kline was soon replaced with Dean Valentine, who decided Disney didn't need any more action cartoons. Dean was then replaced by Charles, who got replaced by David, who got replaced by Barry. Now Disney is back to wanting action cartoons. Greg and Vic showed us a video of the show they're trying to sell. I'm not sure I'm allowed to discuss it, so all I will say is that it has potential. On the surface, it looks much like the other cartoons Disney's released in the last few years. But there is an added plot element that you can immediately recognize as Greg's style, adding another layer of complexity to the story that promises a progressive storyline. Oh, and another thing I'll say is that Crispin Freeman voiced the main character in the pitch, which was really cool. ;)
After the workshop was the radio play rehearsal. I was excited that I could finally stick around and see what happened during one of these closed-door events. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention--I actually got cast as Elisa. It figures that the one time my voice goes bad, I get picked. Of course, I only had a line and a half, so I think Greg was taking pity on me. The doors were shut, and then the rest of the cast... well, they just stood around in little clusters and talked. I nudged Seth and asked what was going on, and being a veteran of many previous radio plays, he just shrugged and said this was the way it typically started.
Finally, Greg started calling out our names and directed us to certain seats. Hearing people's names called out and associating each name with a face actually allowed me to figure out who a lot of fans were (and I think some people finally figured out who I was). I must admit that the con badges were done well this year in that only your online name was printed, and in big letters. The only problem was that they dangled from a string, which meant they were more often than not hanging down at waist level where your eyes don't immediately drift to, and oftentimes that tags flipped over, making a discreet peek at the name of the person waving to you all but impossible. We picked up our scripts and discovered that we'd be acting out "The Reckoning". It was one of the episodes Greg Sperling worked on, and as Greg explained to us, this year's radio play was being dedicated to his memory. We could have also performed "Golem" or "Bushido" for that same reason, but since Lexington wasn't in either one and Thom would be acting in the play with us, Greg wanted to give him the option to do Lex. As it turned out, Thom wanted to play Sevarius instead. Which turned out for the best, I think, especially since Gabriel can do a pretty good Lex impersonation. In fact, I was very impressed with this year's cast. Batya "The Toon" Levin was amazing as Demona--I mean, her voice was just dripping with venom and cynicism. Stephen Sobotka stumbled a bit during the first read through, but the next time around and during the actual play, he was great as Goliath--he had the emotions down pat, with a nice, deep voice that I could easily picture was Goliath's. Alex Wittenberg cracked me up with his Fang impersonation. Emambu did a fairly good Scottish accent for Hudson, even if he refused to believe it. Sarah the Great was a great Brooklyn, successfully imitating his sarcastic style. I forget who did Thailog, but when he and Thom began chuckling maniacally at each other, I wanted to die laughing. All the others were great at their roles too, and I felt particularly sympathetic to the ones who voiced the clones, because more than half their lines were just growls and grunts, which really are hard to do (especially when Greg keeps telling you to project, even though you know you'll sound silly). And Seth deserves special mention for tolerating being cast as Claw (though he was also technically our one understudy). The audience did get a big kick out of seeing him play his part, though (which consisted of standing up as his action line was read by Greg, and then sitting right back down).
The Radio Play went smoothly, though as usual, there was a lot of waiting involved (this time, due to the kitchen staff wanting to take over the room to set up for the banquet, which followed right after). Not having signed up for the banquet, Sean and I went to a nice Malaysian restaurant on the upper west side, then took our time getting back, taking pictures along the way. We headed back to the banquet room for the masquerade. Nichelle Nichols had already left, but apparently she had indeed been there and expressed gratitude towards the fandom (she still charged $20 for her autograph, though....) The masquerade was fun, especially the Cosplay between Kanthara and Patrick (dressed as Fox and Anastasia Renard, respectively). As usual, there were several Owens and a garg or two. Revel was amazing as Vinnie, and we had a nice Gruoch and Robyn the Hunter, as well as escapees from The Matrix.
The awards ceremony was dedicated entirely to artwork, so I suppose no one entered the other contests this year, which is a real shame. Thom continued the yearly tradition of dropping his pants, before Dreamie awarded him with a belt and a padlock (there was mention of auctioning the key). Siryn was named the fan guest of honor, with loud applause from the audience (you deserve it, Si!). Before the dancing began, Sean and I escaped to take the express bus home. Sadly, I left my bag of leftovers on the table. Hopefully it made some poor custodian very happy.
Day 3: Sunday 6/29/03
The worst thing about the last day of the con was that everything started and ended early, forcing us out of bed when we really could have used several more hours of sleep (the downside to commuting to the con, I guess). We wanted to be there for the auction, since we had agreed to join a pool with Seth and others for the combined Team Atlantis: "The Last" script, tape and storyboards. The autograph signing was also supposed to happen concurrently, and I wanted to get my Radio Play script and calendar signed. Of course, I needed to get my calendar, first. I had been dodging in and out of the Dealer's Room/Art Room all weekend, wondering how I was going to go about getting one. I was supposed to get one for free, since my pic of Brooklyn on the subway actually made it into the calendar, but I hadn't received one with the rest of my con materials. It seemed a bit rude to just go up to the desk and demand one (and the con probably needed the money, and here I was, asking one for free). I was kind of hoping that Dreamie would act as an intermediary for me, since I know her from online and she was part of the staff, but whenever I saw her she had that same tired and dazed expression as the rest of the con staff.
I retreated back to the auction, which seemed to take forever. Seth was getting antsy, but we all clung to the hope that the more items auctioned first, the poorer the rest of the fans would be, and the less competition we'd have for the Team Atlantis combo. Finally it was Greg who prompted the sale of the package, since he had to take the stuff to the Team Atlantis Q&A downstairs. We watched the bids go up slowly, starting at close to $150 and rising by small increments. Initially we thought we could get away with it for $300, but somewhere along the way, the bid jumped to $500, then hovered around $650. "Going once...going twice...". Seth groaned when Kat and Aaron began offering more incentives to raise the bid. At last he was forced to announce a bid, drawing surprise from the audience. Maybe they had heard stories of him and were scared off...maybe they felt like being nice because he had explained to the room all the different kinds of Skybox Gargoyles cards in existence...or maybe they really had run out of money. Whatever the reason, Seth finally got it...for $750. Having chipped in the most for it, none of us would begrudge him the honor of keeping the originals. But first they would be used in the Q&A, so we followed Greg and Vic to the panel.
Greg began by telling us a bit of the history of the show, which Tadd Stones produced. Apparently, they had ten episodes ready to ship for animation ("The Kraken" was #6. "The Last" wasn't yet far enough along), and in the end, the execs picked three of these to turn into a made-for-video movie, adding a framing sequence between the episodes so that it all made sense (which was almost the equivalent to a fourth episode). The "movie" introduces a new character, the 'lava-whale' Obie, voiced by Frank Welker so that it sounds almost exactly like Bronx. Greg mentioned that originally there had been a pilot planned (which didn't get made) that shows how Atlantis is causing magical disturbances on the surface, and when Milo and Kida go up to investigate, the passage back gets blocked up, trapping them there. The goal of the characters throughout the series is finding a new way back down to Atlantis. The series would span twenty years (1920's-1940's), but thanks to their Atlantean crystals, none of the cast would age (but secondary characters like Andre's nephew would).
When the Q&A finished, I realized it was 'now or never', and rushed to the Art Room. I managed to convince the person manning the table that I was supposed to get one, and ran with it back to the banquet room. There, I got Greg and Vic Cook to sign it and my script (both remarked that they really liked my pic, which totally made my day). I found the courage at last to ask Greg a question Denis had asked that I pass on, and to ask a question of my own. There had been a discussion in the S8 CR about where and how the Gargoyles and Team Atlantis universes intersected because of "The Last". Greg confirmed that it would only be for that episode, and that the differences would have been more clear had the other episodes been made. For instance, they had their own version of the Loch Ness monster, and even Puck would make an appearance (but in a different guise, though this wouldn't necessarily distinguish the two universes, since the show takes place in the 1920-1940 era, when for all we know Puck could have decided to take that form). I asked Greg if he had tried to influence the way the other eps were written to try to keep the universe rules similar to Gargoyles, but Greg said absolutely not--it was Tadd's show.
I then signed up for G2004 since it was just $20, though there's a chance I'll be on the wards then and won't be able to go. I think I am fated to only make the odd-year cons.
The Gathering ended with Closing Ceremonies (well, there was also the Coney Island trip and the New York tour led by A Fan, but we didn't go). The exhausted staff thanked everyone, some announcements were made, and then Greg said a word or two. We then said our goodbyes, taking a final picture before exiting the hotel. We walked past several Wonder Women going up the elevators, which told us that however odd our little fandom might appear, the hotel staff had seen far, far more bizarre things.
We had a fun time, and it's great to see new material every year, both from the fans and the cast/staff. We are lucky to have such an amazing fandom, which is truly a reflection of the quality of the show. I hope our numbers keep growing, and that Disney continues to support us, and perhaps one day allow Greg to continue the "Gargoyles" story.
Great report Vash, but I have to respond to a few things...
*Can I just say that I have narrow eyes. My daughter has them too. It's genetic. I may zone out when I'm not "on". But I'm rarely thinking about how I'm going to pounce on the next fan that "disturbs" me. Truth is, I'm fairly shy. I have no fear of public speaking. But I'm lousy at small talk and intimate conversation isn't my strong suit unless or until I know the other person very well.
In general, however, I'd like all Gathering attendees to feel free to approach me to conversate. I may not be good at it, but I'm game, so TRY me!
*I can't remember why Paul didn't show. I'm sure I was disappointed, but Paul was never in trouble. (Gee, you must think I pull the wings off butterflies in my spare time.) Paul lives in NJ, so although he was welcome to come for as much of the con as he wanted, we thought that particular seminar made the most sense.
*Greg Kline. Greg Kline is a good guy. He's a free-lance writer and editor who's partnered with Tom Pugsley. But he wasn't my boss at Disney. That was Gary Krisel and/or Bruce Cranston.
*Tad Stones. One d there.