A Station Eight Fan Web Site
Hi Mr. Weisman! I recently got into your show Spectacular Spider-Man on recommendation from my friend. I've never been much of a Marvel fan, but thanks to the Amazing Spider-Man 2, LEGO Marvel, and this show, Spider-Man is my new favorite superhero. I'm really devastated that there is no season 3, and I hope that it will get picked up again someday. That being said, I have a few questions.
#1. Under what charges was Molten Man arrested?
#2. What circumstances led to Kraven moving to Africa and developing his skills as a hunter?
#3. How did Master Planner know about and contact Kraven before he came to New York?
Thank you for making such a great TV show! I hope that more seasons will eventually come!
1. I don't remember. Public endangerment? Attempted murder? Arson? (I'd have to rematch the episode.)
2. That's a question worthy of a novel-length response. I'm not going to write a novel on the subject (unless Marvel decides to pay me to do that), so I'll leave that to your imagination.
3. In certain circles, Kraven is/was famous.
If Lex was willing to reprogram SB from Queen Bee's comment that they were going to give him a few adjustments why didn't he just kidnap him when he used red sun the first time? Was he that confident that he could convince Superboy to work for him willingly?
Confidence may have been part of it, but also there was a need on THANKSGIVING for Superboy not to be absent too long, thus arousing the suspicions of his Teammates.
If Queen Bee's pheromones only work on humans who are attracted to women, do they work on Superboy because he's half-human, or do they not because he's half-kryptonian?
As of the end of Season One, Superboy hasn't been tested. In episode 25, no one wanted to take the chance that they MIGHT effect him. So the Team used subterfuge so that Queen Bee wouldn't bother trying to control him, because in theory he was (a) already subject to Lex's keyword and (b) he seemed to have been co-opted along with Artemis and Miss Martian. Before they revealed that neither (a) nor (b) was true, the girls made sure that Queen Bee had been taken out.
I realize that doesn't answer your question, but it does serve to explain why my real answer is NO SPOILERS.
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.
CONVERGENCE 2014 CON REPORT
DAY 1 AND DAY 2
After twiddling my thumbs on it for about a month, it's finally time to write up my reflections on the absolute highlight of my year thus far: CONvergence 2014. Only the third con I've ever been to in my life (discounting political ones) - but without a doubt, my favorite to date.
Admittedly, one of the reasons I've procrastinated so long on writing up this report was that SO MUCH happened that weekend that the prospect of putting it all down in words is rather daunting.
So to spread things out a bit, I'll be submitting a report on each day of the con as separate posts, with the con's handy-dandy pocket schedule to use as a guide. Which means timestamps. Yay, timestamps! :)
There's a TON to share, so let's just get right to it!
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2
12:30 PM CDT
Flying from Hawaii to a destination deep in the mainland US is never exactly fun, and being a redeye didn't make things any easier. Still, overall, this was a pretty decent flight.
Was tired as hell by the time we landed in Minneapolis/St. Paul, though. After taking off from Honolulu around 9:00 PM on Tuesday, flying for about six hours, a layover in Salt Lake for about two, and then one more leg for a little under three…yeah, I was ready to collapse for a while there.
Also wasn't happy with the hotel shuttle for the Crowne Plaza. While it advertised on their website that it came to the airport every hour on the hour, apparently the truth was more like "we come somewhere around the top of the hour…but only if you call us fifteen minutes ahead of time." Which I only learned after waiting there for about an hour-and-a-half, naturally.
In any event, I managed to get to the hotel around 2:00 PM, and after a brief scare regarding putting the cost of the room on my credit card (apparently it just barely exceeded my credit limit, though thankfully a call to Bank of America and a visit to the hotel's business center to make a payment fixed all that) I got the keys to the room.
In order to split costs for the event - and keep it within all of our budgets - I was going to be rooming with four of my "online friends," none of whom I'd ever met in person: Brainiac and Chip from the Station 8 Comment Room, along with Chip's brothers Bookwyrm and Dragonlord.
As it so happened, thanks to the numerous delays I'd had to deal with by that point, Chip and his brothers (who were driving up from Missouri) arrived at the hotel at just about the same time I did. Indeed, they actually came in while I was on the phone with BoA at the front desk, which made introductions…a little harried. But all was well in the end, and we started unpacking Chip's car and dumping stuff in the room.
The room itself was…adequate, at best. It certainly wasn't built to hold five people. The main result of this was that I spent the entire trip bunking with Brainiac, and that the whole time was spent playing "pass the parcel" with the room's constantly occupied electrical sockets.
In addition, the room's Wi-Fi was pretty terrible, meaning that my already weak laptop antenna (weak because I'd snapped the wire about a month prior while attempting to fix a broken hinge, admittedly) couldn't get a signal.
Thankfully, I at least wasn't COMPLETELY without internet, as I'd decided to bring my Wii U game system with me in case anyone wanted to play - and it has an internet browser I can use in a pinch. Still, I wasn't really able to check e-mail or Skype throughout the trip, which was a bit of a bummer.
Once everything was unpacked, the first order of business was a short exchange of gifts. As it'd been my birthday just two days prior, Chip gave me a plushie of Kyubey from the anime "Puella Magi Madoka Magica"…which, if one is familiar with the character's role in the show, is actually a rather sick and horrifying present.
Naturally, of course, I then proceeded to carry that plushie around with me for the entire convention.
In return, I gave each of the brothers some of my old Digimon toys, which I used to collect in a big way when I was a kid but haven't touched in years. As the show was a big part of all of our childhoods, I figured they would better go with people who'd appreciate them more.
Brainiac wasn't scheduled to fly in until early that evening, so we largely spent the intervening time trading "Yu-Gi-Oh!" cards and playing matches. Chip and I (and occasionally Bookwyrm) play a browser-based version of the game against each other every once in a while, but I hadn't actually touched my physical cards in years.
Suffice to say, a blast was had by all. Plus, Chip had also picked up new card sleeves for me at a hobby shop during the drive up, featuring my favorite pony Fluttershy. Which made every victory all the "yay"-er.
Anyway, several hours and many card games later, Brainiac arrived from Ohio. He'd gotten me the Blu-ray of "Superman: Unbound," to which I responded with a piece of "pixel art" featuring flowers from the Super Mario games. Then, after giving him some time to unpack, we headed out in Chip's car for dinner.
Being the only one of us with a decently comfortable income, Brainiac graciously elected to treat us to burgers at Five Guys. Over a month later, I'm still trying to figure out if that makes up for his "wonderful personality"…*shivers*…the rest of the year. ;)
Oh, and I should note that at Five Guys, I got my first compliment of the weekend on my "My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic" t-shirt. It would not be the last, proving that all is truly right with the world.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2
8:30 PM CDT
After dinner, we stopped off for the first time at the Doubletree in order to pick up our badges. The line was lengthy, but nowhere near as bad as I've seen at other cons; we were probably in it for about half-an-hour, and kept busy largely by discussing video games and "The Legend of Korra" and other geeky, geeky things.
Also got a chance to meet a few people while we were hanging in line. Ran into Greg Bishansky for the first time in real life, and he introduced me to Karine Charlebrois, both of whom were quite gracious throughout the con toward the lowly Gathering virgin that is (was?) myself.
Karine also showed off her newest piece, a gorgeous spread of the Redemption Squad fighting Falstaff's robots - a print of which is now posted on the wall next to me. But more on that at a later point.
Anyway, I had a fun chat with the girl who confirmed my registration, as she was very interested in the fact that I'd traveled all the way from Hawaii. When I told her it was because of Greg Weisman and the Gargoyles 20th Anniversary, she said that I must be a "super fan."
I definitely wasn't able to disagree with her there, LOL.
In any event, once we all had our badges and attendant materials, we headed back to the Crowne and began to outline our (tentative) schedules for the days ahead. The night was rounded off with a few hours of "Mario Kart 8" and the pilot episode of the utterly ridiculous anime "Squid Girl" because I am a weird person.
Also I won all but one of the couple dozen Mario Kart races, but that should really go without saying because I am also awesome.
Anyway, after spending approximately 34-35 hours straight awake, I finally collapsed into the warm embrace of slumber.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
12:30 PM CDT
The first "real" day of the con was probably the slowest overall, but it still definitely started up in earnest.
It was also the only day we were able to sleep in even a little bit, since there were no morning panels or events. If I remember correctly, I ended up getting up around 10:30 AM or so, with all of us heading off to the Doubletree at around noon.
With everyone else wandering to attend to other matters, I shrugged my shoulders and decided to stop in on my first panel: "Harry Potter is Alive and Well in Our Hearts." It'd been a few years since I discussed the finer points of the Wizarding World with anyone else, but it was really the first fandom I got deeply, deeply into, and I was curious as to what might be going on.
As it turned out, the event was one of the great surprises of the weekend (the first of many to follow). More or less just a panel of Harry Potter geeks shooting the breeze with a room full of Harry Potter geeks, gushing about favorite moments, scenes that made us laugh, scenes that made us cry, character deaths that destroyed us emotionally, the revelations coming out of the ongoing experiment that is Pottermore…and it was GLORIOUS.
There really isn't much else to talk about from this panel; it's not like there was any great news to share or any guests of note, so I wasn't expecting much. But sometimes just reminiscing, even with a room of complete strangers, can be a ton of fun on its own.
I definitely left my first event of the con with a smile on my face.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
2:00 PM CDT
Unfortunately, that enjoyment did have its price.
After stopping in for a quick bathroom break after the panel, I went to get in line for the Radio Play auditions being held at 2:00…only to find that about 20 minutes before the doors were opened, the line had already been cut off. As such, I'd need to come back Friday morning for the second and final round of auditions.
[Thankfully, it all still worked out quite well…but more about that in Friday's report.]
Fortunately, all four of my compatriots had been much timelier than I in getting in line that afternoon; unfortunately, this left me with a fair bit of time to kill on my own.
As such, I used the opportunity to take my first trip around the Art Auction, Artist's Alley, and the Dealer's Room. Most everything I liked in the former was WAY outside my price range, though I did pick up three of Karine's prints (the Redemption Squad, Demona, and the Trio/Angela playing "Rock Band") as well as Christopher Jones' print of the Team before/after the timeskip, so that I'd have them ready for signing later.
Those, along with all other autographs and artwork I will be mentioning throughout this con report, can be seen in the "CONvergence 2014" collection on my Flickr here:
The Dealer's Room, meanwhile - while unbelievably packed - didn't really have very many booths that were selling things I was interested in. Oh, I spent a fair bit of time (both on Thursday and during occasional downtime periods on subsequent days) perusing the great variety of old comics, DVDs, pins, cosplay gear, etc…but very little of it made a compelling case toward my poor wallet.
The sole exception was one of the only artists set up there, whose ridiculously detailed and feature-accurate fanart would've caught my eye even if he wasn't the only one peddling such wares. Steve "LOR" Raffill was another one of the con's quiet surprises, and I enjoyed both chatting with him as I looked through his wares, as well as checking back in to see how his business was doing on subsequent days. I definitely hope to run into him at more cons in the future.
Plus, in addition to being an all-around fantastic guy to meet, he was willing to offer the steepest discounts I've ever seen from someone running a fanart booth at one of these things (and I've certainly bought from my fair share of them).
So for $30 I ended up getting six prints, each of them of a quality high enough that I'd easily have paid $20 individually: Goliath; Misa Amane from the "Death Note" anime; the Rogue Titan and Female Titan from the "Attack on Titan" anime; and Liara T'Soni, Garrus Vakarian, and Tali'Zorah vas Normandy, all from the "Mass Effect" video games.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
3:30 PM CDT
By this point, I had wandered the entire con twice already, and was getting a little bored simply waiting for the more interesting stuff in the evening to get there already. But none of the panels going on during this period jumped out at me, so I shrugged and decided to just go with the one Christopher Jones was sitting on at the time.
God, am I glad I did.
The panel was all about "Parallel Man," which I'd never even heard of prior to the con but which has a premise that seems to have pretty much been written with me as the intended audience. Alternate Universes are one of my favorite concepts for sci-fi to play around with, and it looks like Jeffrey Morris and co. are going to be squeezing every last interesting nugget they can out of it.
I think what impressed me most about his presentation was that it was clear he'd given a lot of thought to the POLITICS of the story he was crafting - the element that I find most fantasy/sci-fi writers shy away from even going near. As cool as it all looks, all the neat future-tech doesn't mean much to me unless the effect they've had on the political and social history of his Alternate!Earths is explored.
Combine that depth of world-building with Chris' great art, and I am DEFINITELY looking forward to "Parallel Man" hitting shelves/airwaves.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
5:00 PM CDT
This was another hour I mainly just spent wandering around. I'd intended to visit the "Shakespeare and Fantasy" panel, but after sitting in on it for about 10 minutes without anything particularly interesting being brought up, I left to venture elsewhere.
Lots of little things happened during this period, as I recall. I stopped in to view the Charity Auction for the first time, though nothing was actually up for bid until Friday. I also ran into Bookwyrm and showed off my "Attack on Titan" artwork to him, as he is a big fan.
In addition, I briefly stopped into "The Importance of Storyboarding," which Karine was hosting. She had a ton of really interesting insights to share about her work storyboarding for a few kids shows she's worked on, including how the work has changed with advents in digital technology and the differences between the animation industries in Canada and the U.S.
Best of all, however, I discovered that while it wasn't listed in the program as a signing session, Greg Guler was doing one at CVG Central…and when I got there, there was no line to boot! One person was chatting animatedly with him, but once that guy was done I got to meet my first "big name" guest in person.
Greg was, thankfully, a ridiculously delightful guy to be around. After hearing that I was from Hawaii, he jokingly asked if we could switch places on our return flights. I then mentioned that I have a friend who helps organize for Kawaii Kon, Hawaii's biggest annual convention - at which point Greg immediately turned semi-serious and gave me his card, making it clear that he was very open to attending.
As with the other Greg (and again…more on that later), it's something I've been trying to push said friend on ever since.
Regarding Mr. Guler, I got two items signed by him: my Clan-Building: Volume 2 trade, and my Mecha-Nation: Androidology trade. We talked a lot about both properties, and in particular about how much of a shame it was that so few people checked out Mecha-Nation. It really is a ridiculously fun and creative little piece.
I also purchased prints of the "Nightwatch" and "The Journey" comic covers, getting those signed to two of my best friends back here at home. Each had given me a ride to the airport when I really needed it over the past year (one of them, so I could go to this con in the first place), and it seemed like a nice, small way to thank them.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
6:00 PM CDT
This was the first of several visits I made to CONvergence's "Theater Nippon," where they were screening various anime shows/movies throughout the weekend.
In this case, I was there for the first four episodes of Gen Urobuchi's masterwork, "Puella Magi Madoka Magica." Which…I've already seen about ten times previously. At least.
Still, it remains easily one of the best-told stories I've ever seen in any medium, PERIOD. So I wasn't about to forgo the chance to join in a "public" viewing.
It was an interesting experience, to say the least; listening in on the crowd, it was clear that it was an even mix of fans quite familiar with the emotional ride that Madoka is infamous for providing, and people who had absolutely no idea what they were getting themselves into.
I probably shouldn't enjoy the sight of people smiling at the superficial cuteness of Madoka's Magical Girl setting, not yet realizing the rather twisted subversion lying underneath…but hey, everybody has to get their kicks somehow, LOL. And if there's one story I'll never get tired of watching people experience for the first time, it's this one.
Plus, I had multiple girls (presumably, in the part of the camp that was unfamiliar with his wider role in the plot) coo over my Kyubey plushie, which I had - naturally - kept on my lap throughout the screening. Oh, the dear sweet irony… ;)
In any event, I had tons of fun revisiting my favorite anime once more, as well as chatting with various others in the audience between episodes. But we - and by "we," I mean myself, Chip, and Dragonlord - had to rush out shortly afterward to grab a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant, as we had a date with destiny just around the corner.
And that destiny…was pie.
THURSDAY, JULY 3
9:00 PM CDT
He has gone by many names. The Wise Man. The Joss Whedon of Animation. He-Who-Shall-Not-Comment-Upon-Thy-Spoiler-Requests. But on the night of July 3, 2014…he WAS the Fancy Bastard.
Funnily enough, while I'd come to the con entirely because of his presence and I'd end up spending so much time with him that weekend that I'm CERTAIN he must be sick of me by now, I hadn't actually ran into the man at all for most of Thursday.
Indeed, it was my first time seeing him face to face since we'd first met during the Young Justice meet-up at WonderCon 2013. Thankfully, he DID remember me; all my long hours dealing with the worst the Ask Greg queue has to offer paid off in that sense, at least.
The five of us had jointly entered an apple pie from Trader Joe's into the competition, though we had no real expectation to win. Chip is actually a professional chef by trade, but there was no chance of a pie retaining high quality if he baked it in Missouri and then drove up, nor did either hotel have facilities he could use to prepare it there. So Trader Joe's was the best we could do at that point.
As Brainiac, Chip, and I had all predicted, the winner was an "Elvis pie" with banana cream (Hudson would be proud) and peanut butter crust. Oh, and I think there was bacon in it too. Not sure, myself; Greg turned over the rather copious amounts of leftovers to the public, but I'm not really a pie guy myself, so I did not partake.
In any event, though, the party rooms were all in full swing by this point, and as a result the aftermath of the contest was a highlight of the day. I got to meet Patrick and Phoenician from the Comment Room, and we spent a good amount of time chatting with the latter.
Then none other than Frank Paur made a surprise appearance, and over pie we had a lot of fun discussing his history with Gargoyles, Batman, and various Marvel animated properties. He had some choice words to offer regarding the…direction that Marvel has taken its animation department lately, as well as ideas he didn't get to use for Season 3 of "Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes." Which didn't mean all that much to me (Spidey excluded, I'm not a big Marvel guy) but it's clear my compatriots enjoyed it.
After that was done with, we split up, with most everyone else heading back to our hotel room. But I was feeling wired, so I decided to do a round of the other party rooms first. I got some lemonade and cake (which was not a lie) from the Aperture Science room, and later popcorn from an anime room; they were screening "Fairy Tail" however, which I have not yet seen, so I didn't stay long.
In any event, I eventually found myself back at the GPS Clubhouse, where Greg and Frank were still chatting with fans. Greg in particular had sort of settled into a chair right outside the party room, having a rather eclectic conversation(s) with the people surrounding him in a formation that vaguely resembled a semicircle.
Since I hadn't really had time before the contest to do more than say "hi," I shuffled into a gap in said almost-semicircle and joined in the kinda-discussion. Lots of stuff got covered, all in a very casual and lighthearted manner - something I was quite thankful for, because despite regularly corresponding with Greg over e-mail for a couple years now, I still haven't quite outgrown my natural nervousness around people I admire so much.
Among the topics that came up were the Gargoyles vs. Power Rangers rating "wars" (when I admitted that I watched both shows as a kid, Greg gleefully declared that we should all totally blame me for everything), how SpecSpidey stacks up to various other Spider-Man shows before and after, and how Greg's been coping with his rather grueling con schedule this summer. We also got to chat a bit about Thom Zahler's "Love and Capes," which we're both big fans of.
I also couldn't resist asking him about the three SPOILER REQUEST questions the winner of the Fancy Bastard contest was allowed to ask. I knew there was no way he'd even hint at what they WERE, so instead I asked if any of them surprised him. Interestingly, he replied that what surprised him most was what they WEREN'T; he assumed that the first question out of the winner's mouth would be about Wally, but they didn't ask about our favorite young speedster at all.
Anyway, I wound up spending a lot more time there than I'd been expecting - especially after someone left and I ended up in the chair directly to Greg's left. In total I think we were all chatting for two hours or more, dispersing only when Greg admitted that the sleep-skimping that used to be second nature to him…err, no longer is, shall we say.
At that point, there really didn't seem to be much else to do; I considered heading back to the Theater Nippon to catch the first "Berserk" film, which I've been meaning to get to but haven't managed yet, but by that point I was feeling pretty tired myself and so decided against it.
As such, I caught the con shuttle somewhere around midnight, headed back to the room, and set the alarm for an early start the next morning.
I was NOT going to miss the next round of auditions.
Of course, I remember you. Not sick of you either. NOT YET ANYWAY!
Definitely fun to revisit these memories. Can't believe that was a year and a half ago.
Hello, Mr. Weisman. I am a huge fan of your show The Spectacular Spider-Man, and am still very upset that it was cancelled. I have wondered a few things about the series:
1) What was Mary Jane's old school like, and what was her reputation? It seemed like an easy decision for her to go to M cubed.
2) What is Gwen's new social status? I presume she isn't "Nerdette" anymore. Also, does Rand have a crush on her?
3) Why was Morris Bench a demolition expert? Did this have any significance?
4) What was Mary Jane told to get her to go to the dance with Peter? Did she want to go, or was she forced?
5) Does Peter have pheromone powers like Spider-Woman? Is this why Liz, Gwen, and Black Cat all love him?
1. I don't think Mary Jane was happy at her Staten Island school for a number of reasons. I think the idea of starting over was appealing, as was the idea of going to a magnet program for the performing arts.
2. She's still nerdette. It's hard to change people's opinions once they've stuck a label on you. I don't see any evidence that Rand has a crush on her.
3. Why was Robbie Robertson an editor? Why was the barista a barista? I'm not sure I understand the question.
4. She was probably told Peter was a nice guy her age that needed a date. She wasn't forced.
5. No. He has other qualities.
Can any of the Justice League members twerk?
I guess that Batman can do it best, or flash because he probably can do it with high speed. The answer to this question means the world to me.
I'm going to leave this to your imagination, Sam. Cuz the answer means considerably less than the world to me.
Hello, Greg, I am a fan of Gargoyles and your other work. I have questions about Oberon.
1.)Did Oberon have any affairs while he was married to Titania? You mentioned he has 4 kids. I'm not sure if two were born before his marriage or during it.
2.)Do you think Future Archmage and Jackal-Anubis(or Jackalbus) stand a chance against Oberon? Both of them seem pretty powerful.
3.)How come he isn't bothered that his wife has a daughter by a human? He doesn't seem upset about it.
1. No spoilers.
2. It's all situational.
3. You're imposing human morality on a non-human entity. He's even LESS human than he appears, btw.