After the spring season of conventions ended, the only other con I was considering this year was Oni-Con, since it’s local and since I thought all other Texas cons had already passed (Ikkicon, Anime Matsuri, A-kon). Looking into it though, I found out about Anime Overload, Delta H Con, and Anime Fest. All were relatively small, but the former two were reasonably convenient and I knew a few local SCAD folks attending AFest. AFest, which is early next month, ended up not working out because it took management too long to get back to me about a table; similarly, I’ve decided to drop Oni-Con because their incredible lack of organization and information really turned me off. But after a bit of pestering, I was set for Anime Overload and Delta H Con.
Are you tired of seeing pictures of my table yet?
Anime Overload took place at the North Austin Events Center in Austin, TX, and was weird/interesting for a variety of reasons. It was the first convention I worked alone since I didn’t know anyone else going at all. Every other con I’ve worked I attended with a slew of schoolmates, so even when I was tabling alone, like at Kami-Con, there were still plenty of people around that I knew and that I was staying/traveling with. Also, after hitting the Southeastern US conventions for two years or so, there were usually a bunch of artists I knew from other cons. But while AO wasn’t my first con in Texas, it was the first one I was working, so I wasn’t familiar with any of the other artists. AO was also the first con that I traveled to alone, the first that didn’t take place at either a hotel or a college campus, and the first where I was crashing at a friend’s place rather than a hotel.
Without other people to keep track of, a hotel to check into, and a very long drive, Thursday was remarkably uneventful. I left Houston around 3pm. It was a straight and very boring shot to Austin because the CD player in the car was broken and I recognize probably 5% of the songs that play on the radio. Once I was able to switch to Austin’s radio stations, the selection got better, but it was still incredibly boring for the most part. After circling around for twenty minutes and continually missing the necessary turns to find my friends Dom and Erica’s co-op, I got there, unloaded my stuff, and we went to dinner at a delicious Thai place, followed by a delicious coffee place before going back home and doing nothing in particular and getting in bed around one.
See? Remarkably uneventful, but this is preferable in many ways!
Since I didn’t want to have to navigate Austin every night in my after-con exhaustion, Dom and Erica drove me to the con around nine. We got really confused looking for the place because the building did not look like much of a convention hall… in fact, initially, the GPS wanted us to turn into a small, empty lot that contained nothing but a dumpster. We spotted a small string of people lined up outside a building though, and as we got closer, it was easy to tell they were con-goers. The cop at the door said they weren’t open yet, but told us to go around the side/back if we were exhibitors. So we did.
My friends left after helping me dump all my stuff on my assigned table. Shortly afterward, I realized, rather suddenly, that the entire convention was in a single room. Seriously. The “events center” was basically a gigantic garage/hanger-like space with a tiny attached lobby. The Dealers were lined up against one wall with Artist Alley forming two weird squares of tables next to it. The panels were temporary rooms set up against another wall. There was a stage against the opposite wall. And the third wall was the loading area with all the big doors.
This was the view from behind my table. The Art Institute and Ikkicon both had a table set up directly across from me. Behind them, you can see the temporary walls set up to separate the panel and video rooms from each other. You can also kind of see special guest Matt Herms’s table behind the Ai table.
The right side view from my table, you can see the edge of the Dealer’s “room.” Further left from this picture was the small entrance to the lobby area where all the con-goers entered.
View directly behind my table. Here you can see the backs of other people’s AA tables and the stage way over there.
It was incredibly disorienting having a convention set up this way. I mean, I’ve been in open Artist Alleys before, set up in hallways and such, but never has every single event of the convention taken place in the same room. The Ikkicon table across from me played techno all Friday. It wasn’t terribly loud, but I definitely wasn’t used to the noise being there. As the con-goers slowly trickled into the room starting at 10 am, I noted various other things that were different from most other cons I’ve attended.
It was very busy for a Friday, which are usually slow because con-goers like to browse their options before making purchases. However, with such an incredibly small number of dealers and artists, many more people made purchases on Friday. Also, I noticed that a huge number of con-goers had one-day passes, which I almost never see, especially Friday-only. Everyone gets three-day passes, and if they don’t, they come Saturday-only. Not so at Anime Overload! Obviously, folks only there for a day will make their purchases on that day.
I also got a lot more commissions than usual, especially for a Friday. The above trio of siblings stopped by a few times and ended up commissioning a series of sketch portraits (above), as well as a group portrait; the middle brother also returned later for another solo portrait. They were all super nice and I really enjoy doing real person-to-anime character drawings, haha.
There were shockingly few cosplayers all weekend, but Friday was especially sparse. Normally, people without costumes stood out much more than those with, but this weekend, the few dressed up were very noticeable and this lovely satyr was among them. Of those in costume, there was a much larger percentage of kigurumi, though this might have been because one of, what… like ten dealers?, had a lot of kigurumi for sale.
The lack of cosplayers didn’t stop me from getting pictures of Pokemon-related people though. :3 I think I’ve seen an Ampharos gijinka before, but Tangela is definitely new!
I have only seen Durarara!! cosplays of Izaya and Shizuo, and while they are both quite awesome characters, I’d really love to see cosplays of Shinra, Celty, and Kida. They’re all pretty easy, right?
This is a girl with a teacup on her head! The teacup apparently broke later and she came back around with some desserts on her head instead.
Another observation: a majority of the artists in the Alley were craft artists rather than print artists. The table to my right was empty for most of the weekend, but the woman to my left was a jeweler and most of her wares were necklaces and bracelets. There was a fleece hat booth, a lolita hat booth, a lolita ribbon/hair accessory booth, a steampunk group encompassing four or five tables, and various others whose main product was derived from a flat drawing. There’s definitely been an increase in these artists in recent years, but this was the first time I’ve seen them make up the concrete majority.
A BW conbadge commission I did of a character from D.Gray-man. As I’m not familiar with the series, the commissioner provided a keychain for reference. Hurray for people with references!
Despite being much busier than I was used to, Friday seemed to go on forever. Since there was no one else that could really man the table, I did not get up much at all and spent a lot of time drawing ACEOs when I didn’t have commissions. The AO con staff was wonderful though! No other con has spoiled me this much. The Artist Alley coordinator, Mel, brought me food and hung out occasionally at the empty table next to me. Random other staff members would periodically come by with water and offer to watch the table for a while if I needed a break. Even though I never really took them up on the latter, I really appreciated it. It was almost weird that the staff was so crazy nice and helpful when the actual convention still felt pretty haphazard to me.
The “everyone in one room” thing became most obviously problematic as evening set in.
At seven, there was a dance competition on the stage. This was weird and distracting since it took place behind me, but it wasn’t that big a deal. Buuuuuut, one of the musical guests, One-Eyed Doll, was to have a concert starting at eight. Artist Alley wasn’t supposed to close down until ten. But they couldn’t start a concert without all the lights out, and there’s no point in hanging out in the Alley if you can’t see anything. Plus, concerts are loud, and there’s no talking to customers over the screaming guitars, y’know?
So when One-Eyed Doll started, I packed up. I wasn’t happy about not getting the full hours of table time I was expecting, but I was exhausted anyway, so whatever! Had Erica pick me up, ate something, showered, and slept!
Friday was busy for a Friday, but Saturday was slow for a Saturday. As far as physical merch went, I probably moved about the same amount on both days, but I did get a lot more commissions on Saturday — so many, in fact, that I was out of pre-cut paper for sketch cards by the end of the day. A lot of people were also commissioning con badges, and since no office supply store near me seems to sell 3×4″ badge holders, I was running ridiculously low on those as well. I had to start taking badge holders from my premade badges to give to people who commissioned custom badges. x_x In between the commissions, I drew a ton more ACEOs, so it’s no wonder that by the end of the day, my shoulder was killing me.
I think this is probably the third Horo badge I’ve done, but they all manage to look different somehow and Horo is fun to draw, so whatever!
And there’s the lovely commissioner with the badge! :3
This and the next one are probably my two favorite commissions from the weekend. I like cartooning real people, especially in this silly bobblehead style, so this was ridiculously fun.
The commissioners are cute in real life too! C: And they were super sweet and brought their friends over, who commissioned the following!
This drawing is totally accurate because the girl on the right was wearing crazy boots with her yukata, yup.
Oops, drew the fan in the wrong hand. Oh well!
This was also a super fun commission because Reno = Axel = always a good time. Not being a big Final Fantasy person, I don’t know Reno nearly as well as I do Axel, but the commissioner worked with me to figure out his details since she didn’t have a reference. She said there was a cosplayer around, but I didn’t see her until after I’d snapped this picture. Upon seeing said cosplayer, I colored the goggles black. :3
After the infestation at Nashi-Con, I can’t help but want to snap pictures of every Rocket Grunt I encounter. Aside from this girl, there was another, but I didn’t manage to get her attention. There were more cosplayers on Saturday, including a pretty awesome Kyuubi quadsuit, but I was too busy to get many pictures, sadly.
Hitachiin twins are hard to resist though.
This was one of the many awesome steampunk people manning the steampunk booth. Her wings were retractable and pretty much made of awesome. I’m not really sure how this crazy steampunk trend factors in with anime since I don’t think there are nearly enough anime with steampunk settings, but there darn well should be.
Saturday evening, there was a cosplay contest on the main stage. I guess one plus side of having everyone in the same room was that I actually got to see/hear some of these other events. I mean, as long as it isn’t a full-blown concert, it wasn’t hard to work and be entertained at the same time. The con’s second musical guest, Descendants of Erdrick, played their show Saturday evening, I think around seven. Being a video game cover band, their concert was not as intense as One-Eyed Doll and so half the lights were left on, effectively enabling Artist Alley to stay open while they played. Buuut One-Eyed Doll was playing another show after them, so in the time in between, I packed up to go. Another early night, but it had been another exhausting day.
Sunday was kind of like Friday. There were lots of single-day passes, an average amount of merchandise purchases, and a bunch of random commissions, but the mood of the con was considerably subdued. There wasn’t a lot going on and a lot of people looked bored. There were a series of small shows/events on the stage, but most were poorly attended and the panel hosts spent a lot of time talking to themselves.
Chibi commission of someone’s OC.
A character from Negima, I think? Hurray for iPhone references!
I had a lot of people ask me about the name of my table this weekend and I suddenly remembered why it is what it is. At some point, I had started answering that Fake Lemonade Stand was what we got after somehow combining CitrusFish.net (Cat’s website) with DEADEND-DETOUR.com, but it’s really named such because I always felt like tabling in Artist Alleys was similar to manning those lemonade stands of youth. Except you aren’t selling lemonade. Not sure how I managed to forget that.
The Alley wasn’t supposed to close until four or so, but around three, it was already exceedingly obvious that most of the people still around were either staff or exhibitors — another advantage of the entire convention being in the same room! So I went ahead and packed up to go.
Overall, I think AO was a pretty all right con. There seemed to be a lack of things to do for the average con-goer, but as an artist attending, that wasn’t that big of a deal. I really, really wish the concerts could be held in a different room since their presence basically shuts down the entire rest of the convention, but other than that, the fact that everything was in the same room wasn’t that bad. I mean — it made visiting the dealers easier, and it was kind of nice being able to hear the panels taking place on stage and the smallish dance and cosplay contests. I think they’re in the same location next year, so this aspect isn’t likely to change.
Not being in a hotel or a college campus also seemed to invite a younger demographic, which was probably the reason for all the single-day passes. Like the college con, it was probably a lot of people’s first convention, but unlike the college con, few of the first-timers were of college age. MomoCon has a lot of younger first-timers and parents since it’s free, but AO wasn’t free, so I think the expectation is a bit different. Not really sure though. Regardless, I’m signed on for next year and will probably attend unless I go through another geographical move that makes it financially unfeasible. And as Mel is apparently double-dipping as Ikkicon’s AA coordinator as well, I’m on the wait list for Ikkicon, which is over New Years. Really hope I can make it, if only for another excuse to hang in Austin!
Next up! Delta H Con! Which is in… like ten hours, lol. D;