Q: “How/Why did you start doing these comics?”
A: I kind of fell into it by accident. Back when I first started going to anime conventions, I would keep a journal of the weekend, which I”d post on Geocities (remember, this was back before the Earth cooled) or later Facebook. Now, the first year I went to Otakon, I knew it was a big deal and wanted my journal to be extra special too. Since I had a pile of drawing implements with me anyway, I decided I’d whip up a few cartoons about the weekend, just to supplement the journal. But then a funny thing happened, everybody got really excited about the comics. I mean, while I was still drawing them. I’d finish inking a page on the van ride back, and I wouldn’t see it again for half an hour because every single person just HAD to see it. Soon, I realized that there might be a bigger audience for these things than just my Facebook friends list, so I went ahead and posted the comics where everybody could see. And it’s been spiraling out of control ever since!
Q: “What’s the deal with those little animal things that keep showing up?”
A: The Mascots are refugees from an earlier comic project I had going during college. I was drawing cartoons about the various readings we had for class, but sometimes there just wasn’t anything interesting enough to write about. Thus, I developed a cast of cute little critters who could be entertaining when I didn’t have anything better to draw. Now they serve the same purpose in Conventional Wisdom (The only exception is Miffy, who was created specifically to be on T-shirts and such)
Q: “What’s your most/least favorite convention?”
A: I have a hard time answering either version of that question, though for different reasons. I can’t pick a “most” favorite because, well, my nostalgia filter kicks in really quick where conventions are concerned. Given time, I could probably come up with a reason why every con I’ve ever attended at least deserves an honorable mention, so it’s simpler to just not say. “Least” favorite, on the other hand, is something I avoid saying on general principle. The convention world, unfortunately, is full of drama and beefs and what-have-you, and I’d prefer to avoid getting suck into any of it as much as possible. Thus, I don’t want any diehard fans of any convention deciding they hate me and starting some unpleasantness.
And besides, even if I DID offer any official opinions, they could well change at a moment’s notice. Cons are fickle beasts who can change form when you least expect. Mess with any one of the hundred of elements that go into making a convention “ move to a new location, change the staff, bring in a different batch of guests “ and the end result will be different. Thus, I just shut my mouth and let what happens happen.
Q: “Are you going to draw a comic about *insert humorous event/quote/person/sandwich here*?”
A: I very rarely know for sure what all will be in an update until it’s finished. Remember, it’s not just a matter of whether or not the specific thing you’re talking about was memorable. I also have to worry about if I can work it into comic form, if such a comic would fit in the general flow of the update, whether or not I’ve already done a comic like that one, or even if I’ve got time to finish one more page. I certainly try to cram in as much stuff as I can, but I make no promises about anything.
Q: “Are you going to go to *insert con here*?”
A: There’s very little logic to which cons I attend beyond what I can get to cheaply, which is to say “the ones I have friends at.” I do TRY to take into consideration which conventions will give me the most to write about and all that, but when I can only afford a handful anyway, such considerations are pretty low priority.
Q: “Why aren’t you in Artist Alley?”
A: I’d LIKE to be, but there’s the money thing again. Tables aren’t free, and actually making stuff to sell costs money too (unless you just do commissions, but I’m neither good nor fast enough to do that). One day I hope to have a table, but I’m not sure when it’ll happen. Also, I kind of worry that being behind a table for large chunks of the day will make it hard to find stuff to write here about, but I won’t know that for sure until I actually try it, will I?
Q: “Why don”t you have a Press badge?”
A: *psh* Have you READ this comic? Hard journalism it ain’t. Besides, I barely ever go to concerts or the masquerade or whatever, so I’m not sure what I’d really need press clearance for anyway.
Q: “I’ve never been to a convention before. What should I do to get ready?”
A: It still astounds me that people thing I’ve gained some kind of expert knowledge about how to do cons “right. Yeah, I’ve been to a bunch at this point, but all that really means is I’ve been making the same mistakes for a long time. I don”t learn very quickly. Worse, I’m kind of an odd duck, so any lessons that DID end up being important to me may be totally meaningless to you. Still, if you absolutely MUST have a few nuggets of “wisdom”:
1. Start Small. Right off the bat, this will seem silly to a lot of people, but I personally advise against making your very first convention a big one. I know folks who started off with Otakon, which I find overwhelming even NOW. If you think you can jump straight to the deep end, more power too you, but I still advise getting you “con legs” at a smaller convention first. Simply getting from point A to point B in a large con is a hassle, and I say it’s easier to do if you’ve already acquainted yourself with the basics of con life first.
2. Know The Schedule. There is always a TON of stuff going on at a convention. It’s bad enough for those of us who’ve been doing this for a while and have already seen a lot of this stuff. If it’s your first time, you REALLY need to check the schedule in advance and figure out what you’re doing and when. Also, KEEP CHECKING DURING THE CONVENTION. Disasters happen and things get changed around. Make sure the things you really want to see are still when you thought they were!
3. Don’t Go It Alone. Conventions aren’t intended for lone wolves. Not that you can’t have fun on your own, but you’ll miss out. Either bring a group with you or make some friends there. It’s what these things are designed for, after all. If a creepy loner hermit like ME can make friends at a con, you definitely can. On a related note: be sure to check the convention forums before and after so that you can find and keep in touch with folks.
4. Think About Others. Now we’re getting to the important stuff. Far too many people these days view conventions as a chance to cut loose and go hog wild for a weekend. “I’m gonna get caffeinated or drunk, glomp everything, shout ALL the memes, and if you don’t like it then it’s your own fault for being a fuddy-duddy!” No. Not it isn’t. You cannot expect everyone else at the con to bend over backwards to accommodate your fun if you aren’t willing to do the same for them. DON’T DO STUFF THAT WILL DISRUPT WHAT SOMEONE ELSE IS DOING. Your fun is NOT more important than theirs, nor is theirs more important than yours. If cons are going to work, we all need to work together and avoid stepping on each others toes. And this isn’t just a rant about memes, either. Don’t stop to take photos in the middle of a crowded hall. Don’t bug someone for a photo when they’re trying to do something else. Don’t start arguments or be obnoxious and then say it was just for fun. Let other people have a turn playing that video game. BATHE.
5. Seriously, Guys, Think About Health and Hygiene. If you’ve never been to a convention, you might not have heard of “con funk.” It’s when a whole bunch of sweaty, unwashed nerd are wedged into a crowded space and their collective bodily stank combines and forms a new, Voltron-like super stench. DON”T BE A PART OF THAT. Shower every day, especially if you’re wearing a heavy costume. Speaking of health, EAT FOOD AND DRINK WATER. Pocky and soda alone don’t count. If you can, bring real food and stash it in your hotel room. It’s usually cheaper than the local restaurants and healthier than junk food.
6. Know Where Your Towel Is. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. (But seriously, if you”re staying with more than one other person, bring as much of your own stuff as you can. Towels included)
Q: “How can I support you in this epic quest to make cartoons?”
A: BUY STUFF! See that “buy something” button? OBEY IT! There’s several T-shirt designs already, and I’m working on more all the time. Also, if you don’t WANT any of that stuff, you can always just hit the donate button and straight-up give me some money. (Actually, that can work better for the both of us, since I only get a small percentage of that inflated T-shirt price)
Q: “Um, I want to help out, but I kind of don’t have any money. Is there anything I can do?”
A: Oh, you bet there is. First and foremost, you can SPAM THE HECK OUT OF THIS SITE. Tell all your friends, link to it wherever you can, post pages on whatever social networking whatever you prefer, and so on and so forth. Also, don’t be afraid to vote for Conventional Wisdom on various comic ranking sites, add it to your SmackJeeves favorites, like it on Facebook, and other such stuff. Oh, and PLEASE set your ad blockers to allow this site. The amount of times that ad is displayed helps determine how much people are willing to bid on the space, so every little bit helps (and actually clicking on the ad REALLY helps, but let’s not get crazy now)
Q: “How many people read Conventional Wisdom?”
A: The numbers are nowhere near as steady as I’d like, so it’s hard to say. Despite my attempts to do weekly filler pages, most people just tune in for the convention updates, so it can go from a few dozen people to several hundred over the course of one week. And not all conventions bring in the same number of readers, either. Otakon, obviously, is The Big One and can bring in many thousand visitors all at once. Others, not so much.
Q: “What was your first convention?”
A: Animazement 2004, back when it was in the Sheraton Imperial in Durham. Animazement was my only con for a number of years, and I still kind of think of it as “home base”.
Q: “How did you get into anime?”
A: Very gradually. The first anime I actually saw (Superbook, The Flying House, any number of kid shows on Nick Jr.) I didn’t discover were Japanese until years later. Also, unlike most fans of my generation, I didn’t have access to Toonami when it first blew up, and never actually watched most of the stuff The Sci-Fi Channel aired (I had Looney Tunes and the Disney Afternoon to watch, thank you very much). I DID see Robot Carnival on Sci-Fi, though, and I can say with very little exaggeration that it changed my life. Beyond that, most of my exposure to anime art came from video games. I’d see character art in RPGs or import ads in the back of Electronic Gaming Monthly and think “Hey, that’s cool.” That, or I’d wander through the “animation” section at Blockbuster (You know, the one shelf they all had but never seemed to update) and wondered what the heck a “Bubblegum Crisis” was. Over time “ and occasional visits to grandparents who got Cartoon Network “ I caught enough doses of Toonami stuff (you know, Robotech, Tenchi, DBZ, Sailor Moon) to confirm my suspicions that this anime stuff was pretty cool. But I still didn”t have any regular access to it, so I wasn’t what you’d call “hardcore” or anything. It was actually a really big deal to go with my cousin to an anime club screening and see some stuff *gasp* SUBTITLED. And this was stuff like Twin Signal and Flames of Recca, things that weren’t even on Toonami! WOW! Around this time I actually started buying a few anime (My first two: Princess Mononoke and Sonic the Hedgehog: the movie. Now THERE”S a double feature), but then it happened: POKEMON. Yes, like so many others, Pokémon was a major gateway into anime addiction for me because I could actually get my fix on a regular basis rather than every so often. It was also responsible for the first manga I ever read. And better yet, it opened up the floodgates for a bunch of other shows to hit the airwaves in ways that I could actually see, including… *dramatic drumrool* DIGIMON!!! Anyone who pays attention to the comics has probably already guessed this, but Digimon was the turning point for me. That was the fist anime I really honestly went OBSESSIVE over, sending me headfirst down that long, dark tunnel towards true otakudom. Just look at me now!
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