ComicCon-ing: Learning How to Be Press at Conventions

Slowly, we have been making the transition from convention attendee to convention observer.  Still, there is a lot of room for improvement in this field.  Every time I leave a con I think of a thousand things I could have done better as a reporter.

Here are a few:

  • Paying more attention to Cosplayers. This is my biggest weakness as media at cons.  I see these people work so hard and yet I don’t take nearly enough pictures of Cosplayers.  I think it goes to my natural shyness and the awkwardness of asking someone to take their picture.  I need to do a better job of that.  Also, I really need to start interviewing cosplayers.  Why did they pick that cosplay? What led them to cosplay? How did they make their costume?  I think it would enhance the blog to do this more.
  • Splitting up with Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple. OK, not that kind of splitting up.  It’s just that we often do the same things at cons.  We could double the amount of ground to cover if we split up.  We did this at Celebration, and I think it really showed in our followed up podcast since we had so much more to talk about.
  • Ask comic creators for short interviews.  This is really hard because they are there to make money. This is their livelihoo. Plus, when I do ask, I often feel imposter syndrome. I know more than I think I do, but I feel intimidated asking creators questions.
  • Attend more panels.  Panels can be hit or miss.  Panels with celebrities need to be moderated well. Fan questions sometimes venture into character/actor confusion. Still, they can give great insights into the craft.  Fan lead panels need to be well thought out and truly planned.  Getting up on a stage and talking about something is like being in a class with an unprepared teacher.  The planned out panels can be treasure mine of great information.
  • Interview independent vendors.  A lot of artists at shows are local artists selling their wares. Every con we go to we see one person who has such a unique idea that we end up spending lots of time talking to the artist…without our microphone.  Other vendors go to con to con.  They must have great convention stories that haven’t been broadcasted.

Running this blog is becoming a full-time job in the amount of hours it takes to work.  I often wake up at 5 am and write until 6, and then do the photo editing at night after work. Organizing my time was the first big move I had to make to learn how to do this blog as a news source.  Now, it’s time to work on gathering the information so I can write more interesting blogs about conventions.

ComicCon-ing: Gaming at Comicpalooza

Comicpalooza amazed us at its size.  The George R. Brown Convention Center is a large convention hall designed for the downtown area of the fourth largest city in the United States.  We had more steps walking the convention center floor on our pedometer than we did at Star Wars Celebration (and for Celebration, we had to park about a mile away…here our hotel was attached to the convention center).  We spent Friday in the main hall. Upstairs, there was an area for sports (roller derby and combat training).  Most of the panel rooms were upstairs.

Also upstairs, was the gaming area.

First, there was the electronic gaming area.  This was a bigger area than most cons gaming areas.  Some indie companies games were putting on their latest games.  There was a classic gaming space and place to learn about making games.  Then we entered the George Bush Ballroom, a massive space.  Half of it was dedicated to table top games.  Still, half of the area was actually larger than some cons we have attended.

The amount of table top games being played show how active this community is.  People were huddled in a circle playing Werewolf, a father and son were playing Destiny (and the kid is probably better than I am at the game), and groups were enjoying Settlers of Cataan.

Please click the pictures to make them larger!  If any of these pictures are of you, and you would like the original file, we can send it to you.  Also, if you would like to share your gaming experience at Comicpalooza with us, we would love to post your story!

The Nola Nerd Couple Podcast Episode 13: Podcasting from the Comicpalooza Floor!

This weekend we had the amazing opportunity to be part of the Comicpalooza Podcast Program.  Comicpalooza sets up a booth in the middle of its showroom floor and selects applicants to do a podcast from the floor.  We did ours from noon to one on Saturday, after a very successful Friday at the con.  We talk about meeting comic creators David Finch, Chad Hardin, Tony Harris, and James Robinson.  Our friend, Jessica Raney, from the BFE Podcast (and you can listen to the BFE episode we were on here if you so choose to) stopped by to promote her new short story collection, Oddballs.  We talked more about Comicpalooza and convinced her to buy the Harris and Robinson Star Wars one off, C3PO.  We had a fantastic time doing the podcast and have to do another one to talk about the fun that we had after our broadcast! Big thanks to Comicpalooza for giving us this opportunity!

ComicCon-ing: Comicpalooza Kicks Off This Friday!

Texas’s largest comic con starts this week!  Great guests such as Chuck Norris, Charlie Cox, Anthony Mackie, and the newly added Shannon Elizabeth will be just a few of the celebrity guests that will be there.

The event schedule for the con can be found here.  One of the great things that Comicpalooza does is that it includes autographing and photo ops in its list.  This actually allows you to plan your days.

We will be getting to Houston around 6-7 on Friday, so I’m not sure if we will make any activities even though they go on into the night. So, here are a few events we love to go to on Saturday and Sunday (of course we might have to split up to achieve a few of these, lol):

Saturday

Comics in Academia – Room 351C – 10:30am

Lance Henriksen Q&A – Room 332A – 10:30am

 

Star Wars Enthusiasts of Houston Mega Cosplay Photo Shoot – Hall B3 – 1-2pm

Valiant 101: The Story Starts Here Room – 371C – 1:30-2:30pm

Anthony Mackie Q&A – General Assembly – 4:30 to 5:30

Sunday

Daredevil Q&A -General Assembly – 11:00-11:45

SpongeBob SquarePants Q&A – Room 332A – 12:00-1:00pm

Technology of The Expanse: How NASA Operates in Space in the Present and in the Future – Room 381A – 1:00pm-2:00 pm

Remembering Carrie Fisher – Room 351C – 4:30-5:30 pm

You can see all of our coverage of Comicpalooaza here.

Star Wars-ing: Exploring the Canon with DelRey Books and Marvel Comics

Of course, Star Wars is more than the movies. Since Disney purchased Star Wars, they created a new canon that includes the new Marvel Comics and DelRey Books. While invalidating the old canon angered some, it freed Disney to make the new films according to how they want to make them.  It was, truly, the only sensible business move.  That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the old canon (known as the expanded universe or Legends as Disney calls it).  I just read Scoundrels by Timothy Zahn from the Legends universe and loved it.

At Star Wars Celebration, I attended the authors’ panel and the Marvel panel.

Here are some tidbits from the authors’ panel:

  • Chuck Wendig didn’t really know where some characters would go in Aftermath.  He let some plot lines play out and became convinced as he wrote them.
  • Mr. Wendig definitely had some moments where he thought Lucasfilm would cut it, but they didn’t. One in particular involved Jar Jar.
  • Timothy Zahn usually just gets some “tweak” comments. In fact, the arguments he lost to the story group he is glad he lost.  He further states that if they were horrible to work with, he would have just made three novels (Legend’s Heir to the Empire series) instead of 11.
  • Mr. Zahn created one of the characters in Thrawn to serve as the intermediary between Thrawn and the audience.  (I haven’t read the book yet, so I didn’t catch the name)
  • To keep the tension in novels in which you know that the main characters survive, you have to put the audience on their toes by putting other characters in jeopardy, according to Mr. Zahn.
  • Delilah Dawson pointed out that the moderator alluded to Captain Phasma’s back story…Ms. Dawson’s Phasma book comes out later this year. Spoiler?
  • Christie Golden discussed how most villains have some good in them.  She advises young writers “to make sure their heroes have flaws, and their villains have virtues.” Now, sometimes a character is so evil, and you have to enjoy it.

Marvel

This panel was hosted by Amy Ratcliffe of StarWars.com and featured Jordan White (editor of all Star Wars comics at Marvel), Charles Soule (writer for Lando, the upcoming Darth Vader, Poe Dameron), Phil Noto (artist for Poe Dameron and Chewbacca), Heather Antos (assistant editor for the Star Wars line), Matt Martin (LucasFilm Story Group), and John Tyler Christoper (cover artists that does the action figure variants). The panel focused on previous releases and future ones.  Ms. Ratcliffe did a fantastic job of moderating making sure each person was given time to speak.  That is a hard thing to do with a group this big.

Some of the things I learned:

  • John Tyler Christopher designs his variants not like they looked, but as the 5-year-old he remembers them looking.
  • Captain Phasma, who was indeed over-hyped for the Force Awakens, will have her own comic book.  This, along with the upcoming novel by Ms. Dawson, will hopefully fulfill the promise of this character. And of course, The Last Jedi.
  • The next Darth Vader begins seconds after he screams “NOOOOOOO” in Revenge of the Sith.  He is now half man and half machine with lots of rage, and according to Mr. Soule, he will in indulge in his dark side.  Marvel is letting him make it as dark as he envisioned it.
  • Also, Mr. Soule says we will find out how a red lightsaber gets made.  Plus, not every Jedi was killed by Order 66.  We will meet some of them.
  • Poe Dameron deals with a funeral of a character.  Mr. Soule wrote it right before Carrie Fisher’s death and rewrote it as a tribute to her.
  • Mr. Soule writes out BB8’s words.  He is mostly positive with a few salty phrases.  Ms. Antos then translates it into droid speak and has gone so far as to make a notebook of translations.
  • Mr. Soule, a lawyer, actually enjoys writing Palpatine and uses that to help write him.
  • Mr. Soule and Mr. Noto got to read the Force Awakes script before it came out to help write Poe Dameron.

Really, if you haven’t read any Star Wars comics, you should.  They are well done.  They don’t have earth shattering revelations, the movies kind of prohibit that right now, but they do flesh out each character they touch.  In Leia, we got to see a strong leader allow a few cracks to show through.  In Lando, we saw that for a scoundrel, he actually love his friends.  Darth Vader reminds us that he is, for most of the saga, a villain.

I know the Extended Universe has its fans, but for me it became intimidating.  I didn’t really know where to start.  Having the books and comics come out at the same time as the movies allow for some depth to be allowed to the universe.  Again, because of the films, there will not be any earth-shattering developments, but enough to drive the story along and maybe fill in some blanks.  They also allow us to see Star Wars away from the Skywalker family.  I, personally, think this is a good thing.  To me, Star Wars is just that: tales of war a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away that is part of the living force.  The Skywalker story is the most important in this saga, but everyone’s life is affected in this universe, and their stories deserved to be told as well.

ComicCon-ing: MegaCon Attempts and Succeeds at Taking All Our Money!

But first…The cast of the classic Sailor Moon will headline the anime programming at Megacon! That’s right Linda Ballantyne, Susan Roman, Katie Griffin and Jill Frappier will in Orlando for the con.

In other news, MegaCon knows how to take all our money.  Just last week we were talking about how we would love to meet the voice actors of some of our favorite Disney films.  I swear MegaCon has tapped our phones. The somehow heard us and announced that Paige O’Hara (Belle), Irene Bedard (Pocahontas), Linda Larkin (Jasmine), and Christopher Daniel Barnes (Prince Eric) will be appearing in Orlando for Memorial Day weekend.

I guess I know what I’m getting Mrs. Nola Nerd Couple for our anniversary since it’s on last day for the con. Shhh! Don’t tell her.

 

ComicCon-ing: Comicpalooza Literary Panels

One my favorite types of panels at any con is the writer panels. Comicpalooza has tons of these roundtables, which is a great thing for those that go to cons to learn.  There are quite a few people who attend cons for these types of panels.

Comicpalooza has tons of these panels, but here is a few that we would love to attend.

Friday

11:30-12:30 – Beyond Hogwarts: What’s New In Potterverse featuring H.C.H. Ritz, Cornelia G. Amiri, and Fern Brady

11:30 – 12:30 – The Writer’s Guide to Crossing Genres featuring Jim Butcher, C. Stuart Hardwick, Tex Thompson, Michelle Muenzler

5:30 – 6:30 – Folklore and Mythology for Writers featuring Jim Butcher, Michael Wilson, Carrie Patel, and C. Robert Cargill

Saturday

10-11 – Mental Illness in Speculative Fiction featuring Deborah L. Davitt, K. M. Tolan, Paige E. Ewing, Arylias Nova, and Kate Pentecost

11:30-12:30 QA with Doctor Strange Writer C. Robert Cargill

1-2 Working on Novels vs. Comics featuring Jim Butcher, Mat Johnson, and Michael Ashleigh Finn

4-5 Meet Lev Grossman: Author of The Magicians Trilogy

Sunday

11:30-12:30 Writing in the Fantasy Genre featuring Lev Grossman, Jim Butcher, Tex Thompson, Martha Wells, and Carrie Patel

2:30-3:30 Featured Guest Q&A with Jim Butcher

4-5 The Rise of AI in Science Fiction featuring C. M. Bratton, C. Stuart Hardwick, William Ledbetter, John Moore.

Again, this is just a few of the literary panels at Comicpalooza.  The full list is listed here.

Can’t wait to see you at Comicpalooza!