Monday, November 21, 2016

DCon 2016

Over the weekend, I attended DesignerCon 2016 in Pasadena at the same venue used by PMX the week before. Both cons were established at roughly the same time (PMX, 2004 vs DCon, 2005), but there was a huge difference in attendance numbers.

It was a rainy day, so from the outside the event did not look very crowded, but it was a very different story inside.

DCon used the ballroom and three exhibit halls, whereas I think that PMX probably used only the ballroom.

There was a good turnout to give the event a lively atmosphere, but it was not crowded to the point where movement and photography became difficult. The con was also still small enough where you could spend some time to talk to vendors and artists without feeling too rushed.

Hip Hop Trooper at the DJ booth

The original reason I wanted to to attend DCon was because Junko Mizuno was going to be there. I was a fan of her work when it first came out in the U.S., but hadn't been keeping up with what she was doing of late.

An announcer on the PA informed us that Junko would be at the Poposition Press booth for signings.

I purchased a standalone blad page from her new TRIAD pop-up book, and got her to sign my copy of Pure Trance.

DCon is akin to a giant artist's alley, but the one thing that I noticed (compared to the AX Artist's Alley) was that these artists were more than happy if people took pictures of their creations. I found this particularly ironic since most of the DCon artists presented original work, whereas the AX artists typically make unauthorized derivative works based on the IP of other people.

One of the artists who I spent some time talking with was GMONIK who has started to move from paintings into more 3D work.

Trojan City

This booth was interesting as well, but nobody was around at the time.

Some cool toys that I found included World War Robot Rothchild Bertie Mk1s

Desert Rat

Dirty Deeds

Candidates for 2.5" gaming from Blizzard...

There was a huge display of Mechatro WeGo... In 1/35...

As well as some fantastic 1/12 DIY WeGo

Tyree Dillihay, director on the Bob's Burgers TV show mugging for the camera.

Rancor costume used at last years SDCC at the Adam Savage booth.

I really enjoyed DCon. I did not even know about the event prior to seeing their advertisement banners on the lamp posts outside the convention center during PMX the week before, but I think that this is an event that I will attend fairly regularly in the future.

Monday, November 14, 2016

PMX 2016

I went to the Pacific Media Expo for the first time over the weekend, and I have to say that it was a lot smaller than I imagined for a con that's been around for 12 years.

Despite billing itself as bringing "the cutting edge of Asian entertainment to America", the focus was still primarily on Japanese properties. There were panels on Filipino, Indonesian, and Western martial arts; one panel on K-Pop vs J-Pop, and that was about it for the non-Japanese stuff.

Because of the low density of attendees and the small number of cosplayers, it felt odd to approach people to ask for photos. I still did get a few cosplay pictures though.

Not having much to do, we went to an idol panel. Most of the five or so people who were attending this panel arrived early, so we were sitting in a room that probably could have held ~100 people while the presenters were setting up. Then just before the panel was to start, staff arrived to tell us that we had to line up outside and then come back in. It was pretty silly since there was nobody else waiting to get into the panel.

It was still an interesting panel, and I ended up receiving a free AKB48 CD at the end for asking a [pointless] question.

Koko ga Rhodes da, Koko de Tobe! (ここがロドスだ、ここで跳べ!)
AKB Theater only edition

Later, we went to the Mamoru Yokota panel. It was actually rather interesting, since Yokota-san seems to be somewhat of a curmudgeon and has a very practical and unromantic outlook on the anime industry in general.

I was only there for Saturday, but from what I understand, it was probably the most busy day of the event. I won't say it was a bad con, but it wasn't really for me.

I probably won't be going to PMX again, but a friend mentioned that this would probably be a good event if you went with a large group of friends, and just wanted to hang out at the venue.

Here are some suggestions that I would make to the con organizers:

1. Be more proactive in seeking out presenters for programming to fulfill the mission statement. Even if the panels need to remain tangential to Japanese properties for recognition, there are a lot of possibilities for interesting topics. Just off the top of my head, I could suggest:
  • The entry of Chinese studios into the animation business: Haoliners Animation League has been producing titles from TenCent Holdings for both Chinese and Japanese audiences.
  • The use of marionettes in [Asian] media: Gen Urobochi and Chris Huang collaborated recently on Thunderbolt Fantasy. Other titles include Thunderbirds, Pili, etc.
  • Martial arts panel/demo pitting different styles against each other.

2. Do not schedule panels for the same genre in conflicting time slots. This is not a problem if overall attendance is huge, but frankly, for PMX this results in having super tiny audiences.

3. Combine the artist's alley, fashion boutique, and exhibit hall.

4. Consider making the event run for two days instead of three.