This past weekend, I attended Project A-Kon with a few of my brothers. A-Kon is a long-running anime convention in the Dallas area. I did enough stuff there to consider it ‘blog-worthy’ so here are a few blurbs and pictures of the event!
Did you know that I went to the very first A-Kon? I guess that since this is the 24th one, that makes me pretty old! There’s a story behind how I found out about the first A-Kon, so I’m going to tell it to you right now!
Back when I was a kid in elementary school and middle school, I hadn’t discovered yet how much I enjoyed writing. But I did enjoy watching and drawing cartoons, so I thought that I could be a cartoonist when I grew up. I could draw fairly well, and I still can but I’m WAY out of practice. So as a kid, one summer my mom found a just-for-fun college class about cartooning that I could take. Only problem is that I was too young to take it. But the guy who taught the class made an exception for me and let me attend it anyway!
The guy who taught the class was named William “Tex” Henson. He was originally a Disney animator and helped created Chip N Dale. He said that many other animation studios had comedy duos that were poking fun of the two main characters in Of Mice and Men (you might remember cartoons where someone says, “Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?”) Well, Disney wanted a comedy duo like that, but more subtle. Tex Henson said that it was his idea to give Dale a big red nose. Part of the reason why Chip N Dale are my favorite Disney characters is because I got to know their creator!
After working at Disney, Tex Henson went on to Fleischer Studios. He wanted to do Popeye cartoons, but since he was typecast as being a cutesy animator at Disney, they made him do Casper cartoons instead. Then he helped work on the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. He said that was his favorite thing to do. Finally, he did work on various animated ads, and worked on some of the early Trix Rabbit commercials. After that I think he settled back in Texas and taught classes.
Anyway, in his class, I didn’t learn a dang thing about cartooning. He would just sit in his chair and ramble on about the good old days. He was a bit elderly when I met him. But I still liked to hear his stories. One day, he handed out a flyer to all of us in class and said that he was going to be speaking at this Japanese cartoon convention called A-Kon. I decided to go see him there and that was the very first A-Kon ever!
Tex Henson and I kept in touch for a while after that. He even sent me a postcard once that had Darkwing Duck on it. I still have that postcard. Even though I’m not doing cartooning now, Tex Henson still had a bit of influence on me. Before he started every class, he would always say, “Back in my day, we were storytellers first and animators second.” Even though I’m not doing cartoons, I’m still writing so I guess I’m a bit of a storyteller.
Sadly, Tex Henson passed away a few years ago. I kind of lost touch with him after high school, so I regret that. I hope that Tex is in Heaven right now. And I know that it may sound silly, but I hope that he can read blogs on the Internet in Heaven, and that he could read this one right now. I’m really glad that I got to meet him and have him introduce me to the A-Kon convention.
Anyway, I attended a couple more A-Kons after that when I was in middle school and high school. Back then, anime wasn’t as well-known as it is now, so some of the guests were involved with American cartoons, too. One year I got to meet people who worked on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons and others who worked on Ren and Stimpy. My favorite was getting to meet Don Messick. He was a voice actor who did a bunch of famous Hanna Barbera characters like Scooby and Scrappy Doo, Boo-Boo, Papa Smurf, and Mutley (he said he could do Mutley’s laugh better when he used to smoke). He also did Hampton Pig on Tiny Toons. I’m glad I got to meet him, too, before he passed away.
All right, sorry to go off on a tangent there. It’s been years and years since I’ve been to an A-Kon, so when a few of my brothers were interested in going this year, I offered to join them and they thought that was a good idea! I have to say that A-Kon has grown by leaps and bounds since I used to go to it! It was SO crowded. I pre-registered online and I still had to wait in line for 3 hours just to get my badge! That was totally ridiculous, and if I go again next year, I’ll definitely plan differently.
Because registration lines were so long the first day of the show, I didn’t get to do everything I had planned to do. But that’s OK; I’m not really into anime so I wasn’t really interested in seeing much of anything there. I was mostly at A-Kon this year to spend time with my little brothers. But on Friday I did get to do one thing at the end of the day that I wanted to do, and that’s attend an autograph session with Cathy Weseluck.
She has done a lot of voices for anime cartoons like Dragon Ball Z, but she’s also worked on voices for American cartoons as well, such as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. She does the voice of my favorite character in that cartoon: Spike the Dragon. Now, before we go any further, I want to say that I’m NOT a “Brony.” I have respect for the My Little Pony cartoon as a quality cartoon for girls, but that’s it. I did write a blog about My Little Pony a while back that you can read here, though. Anyway, I had Cathy sign a couple of Spike the Dragon cards, so here’s a picture of that.
The next day I got up and went straight to the dealers’ room before it opened. I had to wait in line for that, too! The dealers’ room was a bigger draw for me back in the early days of A-Kon than it is now, though. Nowadays we have the Internet and online import stores, but back then, we didn’t have that stuff so the dealers’ room was the only way for me to get game soundtracks and other import goodies. I was looking for Animal Crossing stuff here, but I didn’t find anything. I did get a few Mega Man items fairly inexpensive, though. I got a Rush the Robodog keychain, a cute little Mega Man plush, and a Mega Man hat. I’m not modeling the hat, though. When I put it on, I look like Bad Box Art Mega Man. Here’s a pic of what I got:
I did attend a couple of panels on Saturday, too. First was a ScrewAttack panel. ScrewAttack.com is a video game Web site that seems to specialize in videos. I didn’t really know much about the site, so it was interesting to learn more about them in the panel. Especially since they are local (for me). In the panel, they talked about new videos they are making and they showed a video game they are working on or sponsoring that stars the Angry Video Game Nerd. I wish I were popular enough to get my own game! What kind of game do you think I should be in? After that, they answered questions from the audience, and before we left, they told us a way we could get free passes to the ScrewAttack convention that’s being held in a couple of weeks. If I hear back from them on that, I MIGHT just go to it!
After that I attended a panel that was more anime related. I figure if I’m at an anime convention, I should do at least one thing involved with anime, right? Anyway, in this panel they were showing a couple of episodes of a new anime that’s airing in Japan right now. It’s called Space Battleship Yamato 2199. It’s a remake of an old show from the 1970s that I used to watch when it was brought to the US as Star Blazers. So I actually knew what it was. The guy hosting the panel seemed really familiar. He reminded me of a guy on the special features of some of my MST3K DVDs. He would spout off information and knowledge about Japanese monster movies, and this guy at the panel did the same thing with Star Blazers. He kind of looked like that guy, too. Maybe he was the same guy? I should have asked him there. Anyway, I don’t know if I like the new Star Blazers cartoon or not. They added a bunch of side stories that made it seem more convoluted and confusing than it needs to be. But the space battles were really cool. When the bad guys destroyed a planet, it rivaled Hollywood special effects, I think. It may be a while before we even see this new remake in the US, if at all, but I’ll try to keep my eye on it.
And that’s all the main things I did there. When I wasn’t doing those things, I was walking around and people-watching all the crazy costumed folks. I took a lot of pictures, too, so here are some of my favorites:
Outside the hotel there were a lot of food trucks. I took a picture of this snow cone truck because I thought it looked neat. I don’t really even like snowcones, though!
There were TONS of people doing cosplay at the convention. I didn’t know who most of them were supposed to be, though, because I don’t know a whole lot about anime and comic books. So I just took pictures of the costumes I recognized. But even then, sometimes I couldn’t take pictures because the halls were so crowded! I thought about dressing up myself, but I’m probably a little too old for that! If I did dress up, I’d wear a green wig and blue sweats. I’d be a Lemming! I bet nobody would know who I was, though. Anyway, here are a few of my favorite cosplay pics:
Here’s a group dressed as Castle Crashers.
Another group was dressed as Castle Crashers also, and I got caught with them in an elevator! There were even lines waiting to use the elevators at A-Kon! They looked pretty funny crowded into the elevator, so I took a picture of that, too.
A BUNCH of people were dressed as characters from Adventure Time. I took this picture because it has BMO in it, and he’s my favorite character from that cartoon.
Pokemon was everywhere as well. People dressed as Pokemon and Pokemon in the dealers’ room! I guess it’s still popular after all these years. Here are a couple of full body Pokemon costumes I took pictures of.
That’s one crazy Pikachu!
While waiting in line, I snapped a pic of Ratatta! I bet it was hot in that costume!
There were quite a few Zelda costumes as well. Here’s Skull Kid from Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask.
And here’s Zelda and Link. I’m guessing the three girls in the middle were supposed to be the three goddesses, but I’m not sure.
I’M GONNA WRECK IT!
And finally, I think my favorite costumed group was this one. It’s Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers, with Gadget in the middle. All they needed was Monterrey Jack and Zipper. I wonder how many people besides me recognized who they were. Kind of ironic that the creator of Chip N Dale was at the very first A-Kon, and at this one I saw people dressed as them!
And that’s all I have to say about A-Kon. It would be neat to go next year, since it’ll be the 25th one, but I don’t know yet if I’ll go or not. It was fun, but the best part was spending time with my brothers. Let me know what you thought of my coverage in the comments section! Later! –Cary