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Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 3)
July 30, 2005 (continued)
After the comic book panel was finished, I got myself another Burger King dinner and gambled a little (and lost all of the little- seven dollars) before going to the con suite to hang out for a while. I chatted a bit with Kaelynn, but mostly watched the largest part of "My Brother's Keeper" followed by "Reawakening." After that, I headed back to the con area, and watched the Charity Poker Tourney. A few players were already out by the time I arrived. Marty lost shortly after I got there, and Thom did very well for a bit (despite his supposed inexperience) until he too went out. Adam followed a bit after, leaving the game between Eric "Gorebash" Tribou, Chris Rogers and Greg Weisman. Eric was the first to fall before Chris Rogers' formidable poker face, then finally Greg lost to him as well. Chris Rogers' charity won!
Greg led a bunch of us to the Ice Creamery in the casino, where we got, well, ice cream. (Chocolate chip, if you're wondering.) After that, Greg was out of ideas (food was his usual last resort), so we wandered into the arcade next door. Thom played the shooting game Namco Quick & Crash, and Greg played a rigorous game of Ms. Pac-Man. Thom took the lead after that, leading us (in theory) to the pool. Instead, we went into the Courtyards, past the pool, into the hotel lobby, and up the elevator, where everyone but Norcumi, Quindar and I (we'd all just sort of gone with the flow) left to get ready for the pool. The three of us joined up with Emambu, then went up to the con suite.
I stayed there for quite a while, as the crowd in there dwindled down to just Emambu and me. We chatted about The Gargoyles Saga (he was looking forward to Pendragon Season 4), journalism (he was taking some courses- I graduated last year with a journalism degree) and related topics. We had a few visitors in the meantime- A Fan (who left us pizza) and Brother Abe among them- but no one stayed for long. Marty arrived after a while, and engaged us in an interesting discussion on the marketing angle of the Gargoyles comic, plus some of how it came about.
When Marty first contacted Disney about the license, his contact didn't quite say no, but instead bluntly pointed out the difficulties involved. He would need, she said, a business plan (which he had) and a fairly large sum of money up front (which he didn't have) to acquire the license. It was the contact that talked to Greg Guler about the idea at a San Diego Comic-Con, and later referred Marty to SLG.
More people started flowing in at that point- first Mandolin, then Siryn and her friends, who'd just came back from hauling her to a bachelorette party. Most of them left after a bit, while a few more came in after Hudson's Rant (including Hudson himself). Kaelynn and Siryn played Super Smash Bros. Melee for a while, during which Dave Schwartz made a brief cameo, then left. After Siryn left, they put on Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. By this point, I was getting pretty tired, so after listening in on a theological discussion for a while, I headed to my room and my bed.
You'll have to do better than that!
(Just to be clear, I READ (and enjoy reading) all the conjournals, which -- as I've said before -- I asked to have posted here for the sake of the powers that be. The abbreviated responses are to save time, i.e. to help me get to the questions and catch up.)
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 2)
July 30, 2005 (continued)
After the Series Development and Production panel, I headed back to my room and lounged around for an hour or so, then headed to the Modern Martial Arts panel. An entertaining panel, featuring Flanker, Paul, Shara and Julie demonstrating various techniques. Flanker explained that there are two basic types of martial arts- striking, which focus on attack, and redirective, which focus on using the opponent's movements and momentum against them. He also noted that (in his opinion- and mine) that martial arts includes more than just the Asian fighting styles- it also includes western styles such as fencing.
After that brief introduction, Flanker and Paul sparred for us, Flanker using a freestyle sort of kung fu, and Paul using tae kwon do. Each got their share of strikes in, and fun doing it.
Flanker believed the best option for learning a martial art was to join a club or team, because they wanted you to get good and win them trophies. The other ends of the spectrum- quick and cheap, or expensive and high-end- were flawed, in his opinion. To him, it seemed, the main reason to learn martial arts was for self-defense- everything else was an extra at best or superfluous at worst. (Paul seemed to disagree, favoring practice movements like kata.) That said, Flanker didn't dismiss the value of other reasons- he just didn't feel that way himself.
We also received a demonstration of tae kwon do from Shara, and Flanker listed some interesting facts about fighting systems ranging from the Russian Special Forces' systema to the fast, brutal Israeli Special Forces' krav maga to the more traditional karate. He made an interesting statement- "professionals are predictable- amateurs are dangerous." (Referring to the fact that a professional in combat is patterned, while an amateur doesn't know when to pull back or control themselves.) Julie, a federal agent with the OSI, said her training focused on surviving a confrontation using escalation of force- you work your way up from minimal force to damaging to, if necessary, lethal. She also had an interesting piece of advice: the best deterrent against criminals could be an unloaded 12-gauge shotgun, as the intimidation factor was sufficient to scare off most bad guys.
After the panel ended, the con was interrupted briefly by a fire alarm (which turned out to have been pulled by some kid). We gathered up for the Gargoyles Comic and Creature Comics.com panel following that. While we waited, I chatted with Shan (who, unknown to me, was webcomic creator Shannon Muir) about iBooks (which, she informed me, was intended to bring comic-book properties to a wider, book-reading audience) and the state of the current comic industry in relation to different genres and manga.
The panel featured Greg Weisman, Slave Labor Graphic chief Dan Vado and Marty Lund. The facts given on the Gargoyles comic are as follows:
- It will be the third season as Greg Weisman would have done it, starting after "Hunter's Moon" Part III.
- The comic will be released bi-monthly, and each issue will be 32 pages in length. They hope the first issue will be released sometime during the first half of 2006. The license from Disney will last for three years, after which it's up for renewal.
- They didn't provide any teasers on artists. The only actual art that's been finished for Gargoyles- which was a late-comer to Slave Labor Graphics' Disney line- was the picture of Goliath and Elisa from the San Diego Comic-Con drawn by Greg Guler. Although SLG is accepting submissions, Dan Vado wasn't sure if they'll be open to hiring outside artists. Fan art might be featured on the letters page.
- The individual issues of the comic will be available through Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble's Web site. (That goes for the other SLG Disney comics as well.) Disney will publish the collected editions of the comic.
- Greg isn't 100% sure that everything he revealed over the last several years will be part of the comic, but the bigger revelations will likely be kept- mainly so as not to cheat the fans.
- Greg admitted he's a little worried about the comic- after so long a wait (almost ten years), he hopes the final product doesn't disappoint! He also still has some surprises in store.
- The comic will be set in late 1996, but Greg doesn't plan to make this explicit in the comic itself (he doesn't want to discourage new readers).
- There will be an advertising budget. They hope to make sure there are plenty of ways for people to find out about the comic.
- They're not sure if they'll have access to material from the previous Marvel comic. Even if they did, Greg would need to look the material over to decide if he wants to include it- he recalled being less than thrilled by some elements. (I imagine the character of Venus was one of those elements.)
- The title will focus on the Gargoyles thread primarily, although it will touch on elements of the spin-offs (including Timedancer). The spin-offs may become comics of their own if Gargoyles is a good enough seller to justify it.
- Vinnie will be in the comic! (Quoth Greg: "It'd be like leaving me out!")
- Greg Weisman will be the only writer.
As for SLG's Disney line and Creature Comics.com:
- The very deal itself is a bit odd- Dan Vado said there's nothing in SLG's 20-year history to suggest they'd be a good venue for Disney comics (they're best known for stuff like Milk and Cheese or Johnny the Homicidal Maniac). However, Disney chose SLG because they thought they'd be able to snag the teen demographic. Although a final contract has yet to be signed, SLG signed a letter of intent prior to the San Diego Comic-Con (and Disney promptly promoted the SLG-Disney material at their booth). This basically means it's a done deal.
- Disney will have approval on all content in the line, but Disney is also aware that the comics are aimed at an older crowd than most of their stuff.
- The entire line will be full-color, except for Haunted Mansion.
- Haunted Mansion, due out in October, is based on the ride (not the movie), and the art will be done by Roman Dirge (artist for SLG title Lenore. It will tell the tales of the 999 ghosts that unlive within the mansion.
- Wonderland is basically Alice in Wonderland without Alice, taking place after the Disney movie. Dan Vado described it as akin to one piece of sample art- the Cheshire Cat looking all strung out. The art is by Sunny Lu (and I have no idea if that's spelled right), whose style looks rather similar to Tony DiTerlizzi of Spiderwick Chronicles and Planescape fame; according to Dan, the writer was so into Wonderland that his dad dug a hole in the backyard when he was a kid so he could wait for the White Rabbit!
- Tron, due out in January or February 2006, is one of the more demanded titles- apparently Tron has quite a fandom, which has basically been telling Dan that he'd better not screw it up. It's set six months after the film, but quickly goes to times before and during the film. SLG was the second company to get the license- the previous company's license fell through. (They planned a more superheroic direction for the title.) The writer for Tron has apparently been waiting 20 years to work on it. Two scripts have been written thus far.
- When asked about making a Team Atlantis comic, they didn't have plans to do one, but "The Last" (the aforementioned episode that's a pseudo-crossover with Gargoyles) might be done in comic form.
- SLG might be involved in the 2006 Gathering- possibly sending staff or such there.
- Creature Comics.com will work on other original properties, in addition to Gargoyles. Greg has one specific one in mind (which he didn't identify), but there are time issues involved in making it.
Dan Vado was contacted by Marty Lund- who'd been referred to SLG by their mutual contact at Disney- via e-mail. After learning about Gargoyles, he discovered that his kids and three employees were all big fans of the show- then he watched some episodes for himself on DVD. Dan wasn't surprised to discover there was a fandom- after all, even he, Dan Vado, had his single fan who visits him at cons! Dan chooses comics on whether they'll be good, not if they make money. (This is in part because he tried to do some titles for profit motives, and they failed.)
Towards the end of the panel, the topic veered to the comic-book industry. In Dan's opinion, the "meltdown" in the industry began in the late 1980s, and intensified as they focused more and more on the collectors' market. Only in the last few years has the shrinkage of the direct comic market began to reverse. Dan assessed that comics were starting to reach more into the mainstream thanks to manga and graphic novels- SLG comics are even sold in Hot Topic stores (which, I assume, means we'll see the Disney ones there too).
You'll have to do better than that!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 2 (Part 1)
July 30, 2005
Got up, got another cinnamon scone, then headed for the art show again. While there, I bumped into Mandolin once more, before heading for the Series Development and Production Panel, featuring Greg Weisman and Dave Schwartz. A very interesting and informative panel!
As Greg and Dave put it, there are several stages through which one must go when creating an animated series:
1) Development. This involves getting together your core ideas- whether original or based on an existing property (in which case you often have to suffer interference from the property's owners)- and coming up with your characters and their basic designs, and at least a half-dozen basic story ideas. Put together, all these basic elements form a series bible.
2) Sale. Using the series bible as a base, you refine the elements, make them a little flashier and so forth, then create a pitch for the show to give to prospective producers. This is the hardest part of development, particularly since most of the work on the pitch has to be done "on spec" (that is, gained through favors or the promise of work if the pitch sells the show). Pitches used to involve a series of cards with production art, combined with a verbal presentation for the execs. Now, execs are far more demanding, and prefer to see DVD samples, short Flash films, focus tests and even entire pilot episodes! This is, basically, because execs are afraid of making a mistake- they don't trust their own judgment, and need to be sure that at least they can't be blamed for a show's failure. (The corollary is that if a show isn't a big hit from the get-go, the execs usually distance themselves from it. Greg added that some animation execs don't even like animation- they'd rather be in live-action (begging the question- why be an animation exec in the first place if you don't like it?).)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : Artist Paul Felix designed several of the cards in the pitch from the DVD- specifically the Manhattan vista, the Scarab robot, and the (in)famous card with the kid holding the balloon and Goliath's shadow. Dave Schwartz quipped that making a pitch to the Disney execs was akin to going before the "High Tribunal of Krypton"- where failure got you exiled to the Phantom Zone. Changes to the final pitch for Gargoyles included reducing the cards from 42 to 28 and a few minor tweaks such as a little more humor and a little more of the Elisa-Goliath relationship. Dave said that others came to them to figure out their secret- which was simply having shorter pitches, with all their pitch cards oriented the same direction and using the same baseline color!)
3) Pre-production. Once (if) the show is sold, you start creating the background materials needed to make the show. This includes a "999 packet," which includes the artwork that'll be used in most episodes (i.e. the clock tower, Castle Wyvern and so forth), and (if not written prior) the series bible. The pilot episode is usually written now, and the regular voices are also chosen at this point; guest voices from later on are usually cast rather than audtioned. At this stage, it's also crucial to have an in-depth understanding of your characters, how they think, act, walk and talk, what distinctive physical and personality quirks they have.
The voice tracks are recorded first, then the storyboards are made based on them. In the storyboarding stage, it's best to assign different sections of the story to the artists best qualified to work on them- tragic parts for artists good at portraying emotion, action scenes for artists good at action, etc. (Once this stage is underway, the idea is to have the later episodes in the works as each episode is actually produced.)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : It took three years to sell, and by the time the final designs were made at Disney Japan, the character concepts were already strongly fleshed out.)
4) Production. With all the preparation work done- voices, storyboards, and character designs- the episode is animated at the studio (often overseas).
5) Post-production. The animation comes back for review. At this point, time is scant, since an airdate has usually been selected, and missing an airdate can carry financial penalties. If an error is found in the animation, the pre-production staff needs to make sure it was the studio's mistake, rather than their own- if it can be interpreted as their mistake, they often have to live with the flawed footage. In such a case, not all is lost- clever editing of the footage can remove the worst errors. In the end, however, the finished episodes should be exactly 22 minutes in length. Then, the music is mixed in- often, the first few episodes are fully scored, with the soundtrack from those episodes edited into a music library used for later episodes. Finally, the episodes are screened by execs- at which point, you'd better hope they don't have any issues, because it's too late to fix anything major. (And don't expect compliments.)
(Tidbits about Gargoyles : "Pendragon" had about 3-4 seconds of footage cut, and replaced at the beginning with a pan shot of London from "M.I.A." The "Previously on Gargoyles sequences- often about 30 seconds in length- were created in part to allow up to 30 seconds of footage to be cut from the episode. A common animation annoyance prior to Gargoyles was that character wouldn't walk and talk at the same time- if they talked, they stopped moving. It took a while to deprogram the animators of that habit. Mark Perlman was the one who cleverly edited Carl Johnson's music for "Awakening" throughout the remainder of the series (although some new music was added later, I'm pretty sure).)
Following the overview, Greg and Dave fielded questions about the animation industry:
- Apparently Disney has closed nearly all of their overseas studios for a variety of reasons- Japan due to expense, London due to lacking quality. Disney Paris was assigned to feature animation, then closed; Disney Australia was assigned to the direct-to-video productions, and is apparently due to close down soon as well. (Boy, Disney is stupid.)
- Making a new animation studio would be difficult- not onlyu very expensive, but also requiring them to find a means of distribution.
- Studios now, more than ever before, are in the business of making maximum profit rather than making animated series. This is why so much animation now is imported from Japan and dubbed- it's much cheaper. (Been my theory for years- looks like I was right.) This also leads to the "bastardization" (as Dave put it) of existing properties- thus Cinderella II and so forth. (Dave wasn't sure how much longer that could continue.) Making pilots to show to studios is comparatively easy anymore, but selling them is much harder. The animation industry is better now than it was a few years ago, when studios were cutting back in a major kind of way, but still not as good as it was back in the mid-1990s.
- DVD technology had led to high interest in direct-to-video productions, which can also serve as pilots for series. Most 2-D animation is likely to be direct-to-video; unless a marquee character such as Batman is involved, or toys likely to be sold, studios are generally disinterested.
- Greg opined that internet piracy certainly doesn't help the animation industry.
- Dave opined that studios are less interested in 2-D animation overall- CGI is the "flavor of the month."
- Flash animation is popular for pitches, and is used on a few series, but no Flash-made series has become popular enough to gain attention for the medium.
- Serious American-made animation aimed at adults has generally failed (even Batman: The Animated Series failed in prime-time, disappointing Greg and others in the industry)- hence the disinterest by studios in making it. (Comedies like Family Guy or The Simpsons, they believed, were a different matter- a lot of humor comes from the voices themselves, and the animation is basically a gimmick.) Precisely why it failed is debatable.
I've been looking for you!
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day 1
July 29, 2005
I woke up around 8 or 9 a.m. (Vegas time), but was too drained by either the annoyances of yesterday or jetlag to will myself out of bed until about 10. At around 3 a.m., the power had gone out- I wonder if anyone's schedule was thrown off? Fortunately, it was very easy for me to request a move to a non-smoking room- they told me to come back around 1 p.m. when my new room would be ready. In the meantime, I had a cinnamon scone from Starbucks for brunch. (I don't normally favor scones, but this was particularly tasty!)
My first goal was to find the registration table, which I did after some difficulty. Soon, in rapid succession, I met with three of my best fandom friends- Garrett "Dracandros" Baumgartner, A Fan and Greg Bishansky. I also encountered Kaelynn and Hudson. Garrett invited me to hit the Star Trek Experience with a group of his friends- while they gathered up to go, I sat in on the Con Virgin panel. They did a great overview, as well as explaining some unique circumstances of this Gathering- for example, wearing masks on the casino floor was forbidden, so they would have to request a security escort to take costumed people to the Masquerade! However, I had to leave the panel early to meet up with Garrett and company. While we waited for one last guy to join us, I paid Garrett my long-overdue share of the costs of my Web site (which includes JEB's Gargoyles Page and the Multiversal Omnipedia-Atlas).
The Star Trek Experience (my second visit- I'd last been there during my 2004 Vegas vacation) was fun- I think I liked Klingon Encounter better than Borg Invasion, and the museum was just as awesome as last time! (To an ex-Trek geek like me, anyway.) Garrett and his friends were fun to hang with, and we had a nice discussion about some of the more annoying aspects of Trek and its rival Star Wars outside of Quark's Bar. At the shop, I also snagged some pins (Voyager-era combadge, movie badge, and movie captain's insignia), as well as a VHS tape of "The Doomsday Machine"- one of my dad's favorite episodes.
After returning to Palace Station, we split up. I returned to my nice, clean-smelling non-smoking room, then got myself a nice, huge, disgustingly unhealthy Burger King dinner. Then, I headed up to the Dealer's Room. As in pretty much every Gathering of the last few years, the sale of actual, official Gargoyles merchandise has basically stopped- unsurprising, since the newest items (aside from the DVD) are eight years old at this point! Maybe with the new comic out, we'll see some new stuff, but I dunno. However, there were still some neat dealers, and I picked up the Eye of Odin fanfic anthology (fanthology?). I also walked over to admire the fine art in the nearby gallery, including great production art and storyboards from the series- the episodes "Eye of the Beholder," "Vows," "The Edge" and "Avalon" were all represented. All the fan art was great, including Lynati's terrific gargoyle wing anatomy drawings and Kythera's varied and detailed art (some of which was from the Monster Encyclopedia 1, a RPG monster book I'll have to seek out now!). Greg Weisman's kids were also good- certainly much better than I was at their age (or now, for that matter). I also chatted with Mandolin and Greg B., until the Opening Ceremonies were announced.
Following the summons, I was greeted by the people running the Gargoyles Fan Web Comic (I believe Lexy and one other), who ran a dice game that presented me with my only gaming success all weekend- I scored candy and two cool T-shirts promoting the comic. They also plugged their contest (write a brief story based around an image of Bronx), but although I thought about trying, I judged that I wouldn't be able to write anything catchy enough.
As we waited for the opening ceremonies, I was greeted by Jade Griffin (who initially thought I was Robert, due to my bushy dark hair and black T-shirt), and I looked over some of A Fan's original fiction on his palm-pilot-type thing. (I've got to get me one of those- they look so neat.)
Chris Rogers opened the con with some basic administrative stuff, then a great big thanks to Marty "Kaioto" Lund, who was designated the Fan Guest of Honor due to his efforts to get the Gargoyles comic made. Marty believed the fandom deserved credit for his accomplishment, and seemed a bit embarassed when we gave him a well-deserved standing ovation. We also got a brief pitch from the Gathering 2006 staff- I look forward to L.A.!
After Chris was finished, it was time for Greg Weisman! First, he played audio greetings from the unable-to-attend Kath Soucie and Keith David ("I've been denied everything... even my convention!"), as well as video greetings from Greg Weisman, Frank Paur, Michael Reaves, Jeff Bennett, Bill Fagerbakke, Thom Adcox (who acknowledged his present self being at the con), Brigitte Bako, and most surprisingly of all, Ed Asner! A real treat!
Regarding the Season 1 DVD, Greg informed us that the sales were good, but not great (although Disney wouldn't give him hard numbers), so it's important to spread the word about Season 2 Volume 1. As the reader has probably heard, the first Season 2 set will feature all of Season 2 up through "Kingdom" in a three-disc set, and will probably be released in December. Greg wasn't allowed to say much about special features, unfortunately.
Next, the traditional video session- with a twist. Instead of the pitch to syndicated stations made by Greg (included on the Season 1 DVD), we saw an earlier version of the same, narrated by veteran voice actor Jim Cummings, with earlier, more toony versions of the clan. A neat touch was how Cummings used a rough Scottish voice for the Dark Ages stuff, and switched to a contemporary American one for the present day.
Then, back to tradition, with the media promo ("It's better than Barney!") and sci-fi con promo ("the next generation of Disney animation"), then the reconstructed pitches for The New Olympians and Gargoyles: The Dark Ages. The Bad Guys leica reel was as entertaining as ever- I hope the comic will pick up that thread. Then, an unexpected bonus- Seth "IRC Goliath" Jackson introduced another "leica reel," made by Vashkoda, featuring the audio of "The Last" (the unfinished Gargoyles-related episode of Team Atlantis) meshed with the first act's storyboard, a bit of new art, Gargoyles music and sound clips- a most impressive result. Kudos to Vashkoda! (I wish Team Atlantis had been produced- Gargoyles aside, it looked right up my alley.)
With that ended, the crowd drifted apart. I chatted with Greg B. and Kaelynn again, then headed to my room for a bit. I headed back in time to catch the end of the MSTing of "Enter Macbeth." Afterwards, I accompanied A Fan to his room, where we watched Star Trek IV with the Okudas' text commentary. After that session of amiable watching and talking, I headed back to my room for sleep.
A warning: My journal is LONG this year.
Gathering 2005 Journal - Day -1
July 28, 2005
Going directly there from work, I managed to get through the security gate at BWI in record time. In fact, everything was bizarrely easy- the e-tickets went through fast, the people in line were nice and easygoing. (Note to self- flights on weekdays are a good idea.) Just sat down and read my Doctor Who anthology (Short Trips- ironic title, as it turned out) while I waited.
Then the flight itself- Baltimore to Pittsburgh. I don't think there are many things I find more exciting than takeoff. The rush of speed, the sharp climb as the landscape below shrinks, then floating above the clouds, looking down at the world through a drifting sea of mist and a landscape of white. (I was fortunate that there wasn't anyone sitting next to me- otherwise, I would have had a lovely view of the cabin.)
After arriving in Pittsburgh, I got myself dinner from a McDonald's that evidently didn't see much business around 7 p.m. A few passengers around me at the time looked like they might also be going to the Gathering, but I stopped short of humming the Gargoyles theme to see if anyone would perk up. (I didn't recall any of those faces being at the con, so it's just as well.) It's about this point that I began to realize I was technologically behind the curve- everyone had neat cell phones or laptops- I had a years-old cell phone model that couldn't do much more than play Tetris. (This point became more apparent as the long weekend went on.)
Unfortunately, when I arrived in Las Vegas about five or six hours later, things went sour. The flight from Pittsburgh to Vegas itself was fine, if very long- finished Short Trips and moved onto the sequel, More Short Trips. Las Vegas itself was a striking sight as we approached, a cluster of stars in a vast ocean of shadow. (Kind of interesting that "Sin City" should shine so bright from a distance.) But after that... I waited for an hour in the wrong baggage claim, and when I finally did figure this out, I wasn't able to find the last hotel shuttle of the evening before it left. So, I had to wait in line for a taxi. A very, very, long line- there were literally a hundred or more people there.
When I finally got to Palace Station (tipping the cabbie far too much, my dad said when I mentioned it later), I went to the employee's floor in the main building instead of my floor in the Courtyards. I eventually found my way to my room (after passing by the Con Suite on the third floor, but I was in no mood for socializing), which- counter to the request I'd made- was a smoking roon. However, by that point I was too tired to care, so I just went to bed.
I've been looking for you!
The short of it: The cons keep getting better. This was my 3rd.
I have to say, I'm a god at planning trips. I got three one way flights from Buffalo to Vegas, Vegas to Vancouver, Vancouver to Toronto. All I have to do is get to Sarah 'The Great's place in Buffalo and we fly in together. I also volunteered to host another panel on combat, this time discussing hand to hand. I got cheap flights, but paying for hotel and registration could be an issue. Looking the Gathering forums, I found a crazy offer. Some lady would pay my hotel and registration if I helped her run a booth promoting her website. Too good to be true, but I asked anyway. She wanted me to phone her. Hey, for a few bucks, why the hell not? Apparently she's serious. OK, whatever gets me to the gathering. She also mentioned she studied Tae Kwon Do and could bring some stuff to my panel, sweet!
I have never never ever had a problem crossing the US border. Apparently there must be a biker gang or terrorist cell called 'Gargoyles' because I was interrogated by US Customs for over an hour. I was really nervous. Eventually they let me go and Sarah's mom was mad that I was late for dinner. Sarah and I made it to the airport to find that our flights were delayed which could mess up our connecting flight. But, there were no major problems, other than the fact that we were supposed to rooming with Denis but had no way of getting ahold of him in Vegas. I ended up calling his cell from the hotel room phone. Ouch.
I was going to hit a rental range to fire some machine guns, but no one showed up. There was tepid interest in doing that or some airsoft later. No biggie. Registration was scary since Shara was supposed to take care of it, but they couldnt find my con badge and I couldnt find Shara. They found me one, but Shara didnt show up for awhile, I was a little tense. I finally met her and we set up her table. She had me running a dice game that basically amounted to me giving away free gargoyles t shirts and posters. It was fun, and an easy way to earn a hotel room and registration. I dont recall anything exciting happening friday night. I was just exhausted and went to bed.
My panel was to happen at 3pm, but I still got up early and helped out with Shara's table of free giveaway madness. It was cool and I kept meeting really people like Paul and Julie. Shara let me go check out the voice acting seminar, since I constantly miss it at prior cons. It was really interesting and Greg and Thom are really good and getting alot of information across in limited time. I had to grab my martial arts stuff and start strapping it on while they wrapped up their panel. Paul came in and had mentioned earlier that he had studied alot of Tae Kwon Do and Hwrang Do and was also a veteran of Iraq. I brought two sets of sparring gear so I loaned him one and figured I'd start my panel with a bang. Martial Arts is a pretty big topic to cover in an hour so I didnt bother preparing notes to read or anything dry like that (like my panel was last year). I asked to guys to open the doors and Paul and I fought while the seats filled. It was a really good match. He got a good kick on my face, and I knocked his glasses off his face. We put on a good show and I bowed and began talking about martial arts between heavy breaths and glasses of water. After I explained a little and talked about how to pick a school and things like that, Shara displayed her Tae Kwon Do uniform and performed a Kata. Next I invited Julie, a 12 year veteran of law enforcement to speak about street combat. She's a real life Elisa Maza and she totally made the panel something special, even to the more experienced guys like Paul and I. We wrapped up and I think the panel went really good, and much better than I thought it would. And I ended it just in time because the fire alarm went off. I tried to get some info about the comic coming out but I missed the main part of that presentation. I slept friday night so I decided to go out saturday. I turned down Maui's invitation to the Rainforest Cafe, a decision I would regret the rest of the con. A bunch of us broke off to see the strip and go see 'Charlie and Chocolate' Factory. Poor Noel was driving around in someone else's HUGE van at night in an unfamiliar city full of hostile drivers. Things were rough and I ended up breaking down and eating totally overpriced tiny pizza. We DID eventually get to the theater missing the first couple minutes of the movie, but it was still a good time.
Sunday I got up and had to kill some time. I had plans with some guys on the Somethingawful.com forums to meet up and go shooting in Boulder City. But I always wanted to audition. I knew I wouldnt be back in time for the Radio Play, but maybe that just made the audition less stressful. I read for Broadway, I think I did ok, since Greg seemed surprised when I said I couldnt be in the play. I apologized and left. My buddy picked up and we went to Boulder City. I wont bore everyone with details but it was much cheaper than renting and I had good time, and hurt my hand firing guns that are too damn big. I got back to the hotel around 5pm, and found out that I couldnt get a haircut for the banquet because the shop was closed. Darn it. I shaved off my goatee and started putting together my dress uniform. I decided to wear it because I didnt bring a costume this year and there's nothing wrong with a little attention whoring at the Gathering. Plus I look like solid gold in that thing. I was late and Sarah came to my room, she went out and got osme make up and wore a nice gown and looked totally fabulous. We got there late but it was cool since nothing had really started yet. The banquet was really awesome this year. There was a weird period between the banquet and the masquerade where I couldnt find anyone. Dark Lord talked to me for a few minutes before I had to remind him that I was Flanker and that I had shaved. Dark Lord is a special individual and I wont forget him anytime soon. Desert was served during the Masquerade which was cool since I wasnt in the masquerade and got some chocolate cake. Shara totally smoked everyone in her brooklyn costume as I knew she would when I first saw it. I cant believe it was her first con. The rest of sunday I just hung out with everyone and bought Thom a beer and generally had an aweosme time. Eventually the party broke up when Greg fell asleep in his chair.
MONDAY & TUESDAY
This part of the Con was crap. You start saying goodbye to everyone and it sucks. Sarah and I formed a band of die hard cling-ons(After we got free show and dinner for listening to a time share pitch). We started stalking Chris Rogers and ended up following him into some pretty awesome buffets. Chris is the Man. Almost a dozen of us hit the Adventure Dome on tuesday and roped in a family so we could get the group discount. We all a good time even though I was feeling a little sick. We met up with Chris again who got us through a massive line up for the Buffet at the Bellagio, because Chris is the Man. I had a killer time with Sarah the Great, Liz, CKayote, Hudson, Dancer, Chris, Aaron and if I got your name wrong or forgot you just smack me in LA.
Farewell, my enemies!
Hey Greg It's Doug
Just wanted to get my gathering journal in, sadly it is a short one as I was in vegas for more reasons than just the gathering, in fact as I mentioned in your mug a guest I literally threw some cloths in a bag, left hunters moon going on the VCR, and got on a plane. I had never really been out of south texas much so it was cool to be in a different place.
I waited for two hours to register then rushed right up to the suite to talk to the mighty Greg Wiseman. I was pleased to find that the atmosphere was quite nice and I was not nervouse, even though this was my first gathering. I feel that many of the questions I had on my mind kinda drive things for a while and I was happy that they got answered one way or another. By the way did you ever check out hunters moon, I could swear he almost touches her hair on the train. I was pleased to hear about the comic and your work on the Batman.
I stuck around in the Suite to talk to Thom, man that guy is awsome one of the coolest guys I have ever spoken with in my life. He was very open and honest about working in the profession of voice acting and I learned a great many things from him, And he is just hillarious and was very helpfull in answering any questions about the industry, lex or the show. I would also like to thank both you guys for your sigs. I have to be the only person to ask Greg Wiseman "Can i be a son-of-a-bitch and ask for your autograph." HAHA and Thom signed his Lexington as well.
I then went over to the Demona debate and thought it to be a little "Over Analyzing", and many of my opinions seemed to be overlooked or ignored and I dunno... I just kinda wasn't into it after that but I did stroll over to the dealers room and found a talented artist who runs creatures of the night and bought several pieces of her work just as she was closing up shop, she was happy to sell me them at a nice rate and I was down to 5 bucks after my anthology purchase, long story short after a few hours of the gathering, and the blue man group I was good. Hope to see everyone next year in LA
Journal Thingy... Part 3
First off, let me say that if I forgot anyone, or am putting things in the wrong order, I'm sorry. The past weekend is quickly becoming BlurrCon. Which is why I want to finish this sooner rather than later.
First off, on Thursday, I saw Andrea Zucconi, and a big shout out to her about that. I never really knew her at the previous cons, I knew of her, but she friended me on LJ shortly after G2004, and I friended her back, got to know her over LJ, so it was cool seeing her this year.
Also saw Siryn, who's getting married in a few weeks I think. Another call out to her, though now I think I need to at least send a gift ;)
Saturday, July 30th
I slept in today. Was not quite enough to get me off my jet lag, but it helped. Got up, showered and dressed and once more, I went in search of breakfast. I forget what I ate, but I did end up at the Series Development panel, but it's all a great big blurr. I recall enjoying it though.
I think I spent most of the day hanging out in the art room though, just chilling with people. I bought pre-registration for Gathering 2006... the full package. Hung out with everyone, it was all cool.
Eventually, we went to the Slave Labor panel, and got to hear more about the comic. Dan Vado seems like a cool guy, and the panel gave me hope, the comic looks to be in good hands indeed. Especially since he's going to leave Greg alone to write what ever he wants.
After this I went with Revel and Spacebabie to dinner, as well as another girl, and I forget her name, and I feel really bad about it. Food was okay, we talked politics and horrible job stories.
After that, it was time for the Celebrity Poker Tournament. I was at first calling it for Thom, he's an actor, he should be able to bluff, but he was out early. In the end, Chris won the game... game, poker is a sport... Greg came in second, followed by Gore. It was a fun watch.
Revel and I headed back into the casino, he won money this time, but I lost a bit. Was still ahead from where I started though.
After that, it was time for Hudson's Rant, always fun. Pick a random topic out of a hat. I'd reproduce some of it here, but this is the PG version of the journal.
Later on, the art chicks finally returned from throwing Siryn her bachelorette party. I pointed at her veil and made a joke about her and Adam eloping. But I followed them back up, and (contrary to popular jokes at the moment, I was not stalking them ;)) so I could give Jen an animation cel I purchased for her of Goliath and Demona from "Awakening: Part Four". I wanted to get it out of the way, because, given how hectic these cons are, I wasn't sure if I'd get a chance again. I'm happy to say she loved it.
Night ended in the con suite, chips, pizza, Super Smash Bros. Hung out for a while, before returning to my room to collapse.
You'll have to do better than that!
Journal Thingy... Part 2
Friday July, 19th
Woke up, showered and dressed and went downstairs in search of food, ran into Aaron in the casino and decided to help him out, ended up watching the con suite for about fifteen minutes, since it was unlocked with no one in there, and was soon relieved and went back down to the con, and assisted a little (very little) with art room set up, hung out, then spent about 90 minutes at the registration table with Chris, Seth and a few people, had some Burger King for lunch that Revel and Spacie got me.
It was about this time that Revel gave me the art piece I commissioned from him, which would go on to be a big hit at the con and won second place in the art show. For those who weren't there, here it is.
Ended up missing the Demona Debate, which I was interested in, but aw well, been involved in so many of those, I wasn't bothered about it. Spent a good chunk of the day in the Art Room, chilling with Aaron, Revel and anyone else that happened along.
Finally it was time for Opening Ceremonies. Chris welcomed us all to Vegas, Greg got up and showed his usual videos, and some new ones. He made his speech about what a big year it's been, what with the DVD coming out, and new DVDs and comics on the way. Finally, Opening Ceremonies concluded with Seth showing the new fan made leica reel of "The Last". Basically, for those who don't know, in the cancelled "Team Atlantis" series, Greg wrote an episode set in 1920, guest starring Demona who was being hunted by Fiona Canmore. The episode was scripted, voice recorded (Marina Sirtis reprised her role), and only partially story boarded before they cancelled the series. Those were auctioned off at Gathering 2003, and Vashkoda did a wonderdul job adapting the storyboards into an animatic, lining it up with the voice tape, adding music and sound effects and color... it was very nice. Now to see if we can possibly get it finished. Vash, if you read this, you did a great job.
So, after Opening Ceremonies, Revel and Spacie and I head into the casino. I was of course adamant against gambling, but then I got board and put down $100 at the Blackjack table. I did not know what I was doing, so we stay in for a couple of hours, I get the hang of it and I walk out with $138. That was fun.
Next up was Greg and Thom's Blue Mug-A-Guest. Fun as always, and this year it was actually blue. "Are Gargoyles pink inside?", Greg also talked some more about the comic, it was good times.
Finally, it's about 1 am and we decide to call it a night, and head down to the cafe for food, Greg shares some anecdotes about the business, Aaron and Emambu are talking about soda. I have a cheeseburger. Good times.
Then we call it a night for real.
To be continued.
Good times, indeed.
Gathering 2005 Part One
I couldn't sleep, there was just no possible way I would ever fall asleep. The shuttle was supposed to pick me up at 7 AM, and here I am, not being able to sleep. So, at 5:30 am and wide awake, I do what any one would do. I go to the diner to have breakfast. Thank gods for 24 hour diners. I order the Eggs Benedict and coffee and orange juice. Eggs good, coffee tasted like chalk though. So, I come back, right in the nick of time to catch my shuttle.
So, we take a drive, pick up two more people, one of whom is flying on the same exact flight that I am. Cute girl who I spend the remainder of the trip over to Vegas flirting with. Same shuttle, same place, hell our tickets had us sitting next to each other on the plane. I never caught her name, which kinda bums me out now, but not too much.
So, we soon arrive at John F. Kennedy airport. I hate JFK and greatly prefer LaGuardia. JFK is a very hard airport to find your way around without asking directions, and the place is HUGE! JFK is it's own enclosed city, it has it's own monorail and everything.
And now it's time for my rant on Airport Security... first of all, keep in mind, I'm not wearing my trench, I'm wearing a black suit jacket (not the same one I wore later at the banquet), and Security is all over me, everything except t-shirt and pants has to come off. THey pull me to the side to further frisk me, and my Zippo Lighter is pulled out of my checked luggage and confiscated... I was pissed. But, I get everything back, and I make it to the plane. Yeah, yeah, this is my first time on an airplane post 9/11.
The flight is long and uneventful. The in-flight movie is Sahara, but I'm not interested. I try to sleep a few times, I skip the meal, but I have this curse of not being able to sleep on airplanes. The last half hour of the flight is really nice, as we fly over the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam... hmm, somehow, you'd think the Hoover Dam would have a no-fly zone. Aw well.
We land in Las Vegas, and well, Sin City wastes no time, there are slot machines in the airport, as soon as you step off the plane. I go and grab my checked luggage, and head to grab a shuttle. Unfortunatly, we end up with a lousy shuttle. AC is broken, driver doesn't know where anything is. Eventually I spot the Palace Station from the window, and point it out, and so I get dropped off, and check in.
First of all, I drop off my stuff, and go get food. I treat myself to a cheese burger and fries from the Cafe (I forget it's name). I wonder back to my room, and try to watch some TV, nothing's on, and the hotel doesn't have Comedy Central, so I can't catch the Daily Show later in the evening. So, I order myself some hotel porn... the porn wasn't very good.
I check my e-mail, and find out that Dreamie and Winterwolf are in the hotel, so I call them, get their voice mail, and leave a message. It's late, so I roll over and go to sleep. I get a call back, and it's them, naturally I invite up to my room to hang out, I haven't seen them in two years. So, we chill and get caught up. I show them some crap on the internet... most prominently the American translation of the Chinese dub for "Revenge of the Sith"... which led to this year's in joke:
Do not want!... which was the Chinese translation of Darth Vader's now, infamous Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, first day, despite some problems ended on a high note... a high note that continue on for the entire duration of my stay.
Got up, showered and dressed and went downstairs for breakfast, wondered over to the Buffet and I spotted Chris Rogers, Hudson, Seth, Kathy, Zaius and Dancer, and they invited me over to sit. So, we ate, and again got caught up, battle plans were discussed for the con, and so on, we finished and left.
Soon enough, Aaron, Revel, Spacie and Lynati showed up, and we helped them unpack their van (they drove to Vegas, all the way from Houston, TX), and since Aaron and Lynati were on con staff (AGAIN! They're masochists ;)), they had a lot to bring. So, we do that, and a group of us head out to Target, and the Home Depot to get crap that's needed for the con. I wasn't on con staff, but I did so much volunteer work, at times it did feel like being on staff again. Not that I minded, I'm always glad to help out a Gathering where I can.
So, we take two cars, Aaron and I ride in the rented van and follow Chris, unfortunatly, he knows his way around and we don't, so we lose him for a bit, lefts and rights are confused, but eventually we all end up at Target and get this stuff done.
We bring it all back, and drop the panels off at what will be the art room. Then we chill for a while, and I'm blanking a bit, but eventually we go to see the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur, which is like "Medival Times", but a little better. Food was okay, and we get to sit in the evil section and root for Lord Mordred and his Dragon Knight. It was hokey, a little lame, but hey, still fun. BTW, some people rode in a bus, and a bunch of us crammed into Aaron's rental van, I got stuck in the trunk... and unfortunatly no pictures were taken. But, I got a seat in the back on the way back, still fun.
We came back to the hotel, where more people arrived in the lobby, including Jen, Cindy and Kythera. Great to see those three again. Jen greeted me with a hug, as did Cindy. We hung out in the lobby for a while, before the art chicks called it a night, and the rest of us went back up the Con Suite... at long last, Greg Weisman and Thom Adcox arrived from a ten and a half hour flight from Los Angeles (yes, ten and a half hours to get from LA to Vegas... you heard that right), we all hang out and chat for a while, Greg tells us about why he didn't like Batman Begins, and yeah, his critisisms are valid, and he's entitled to his opinion, but I still think the movie kicked ass.
Eventually we all call it a night, and hit the sack.
To be continued...
I just think you're starved for a decent Batman movie. ;)
As I told you, it's the high quality of Batman Begins that raises expectations that ultimately I think the movie fails to meet. So...
But I really liked Kelsey Grammer as the Beast. Seriously.