Treasures of the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, Part 1

Last weekend, I attended the 2019 Portland Retro Gaming Expo. I had an awesome time there.

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo. remains a show, taking heart in the Pacific Northwest US for its 14th year now. The cultural event grows a little more every year, celebrating older video and electronic games for their history, aesthetic, social aspects, and cultural impact. Vintage games include pinball, arcade machines, console setups, handheld devices, and other related oddities, Throughout many treasures to be appreciated, purchased, played, and discovered.

Here are some pictures and notes to share of my PRGE experience, showing small parts of this grand show…

Many merchants here, with the best colors of our classy consoles on the table!

On one table, a small sampling of rare imports at this PRGE

Some cool rare oddities, including TOPO, the programmable robot from the early 1980s

Playable Atari games at one booth, with old school TVs to match

Another interesting find, an extra violent edition of the original Resident Evil for the PC!

A few cheap treasures from dealers I purchased, with my guide

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Also at PRGE, many creative artists and developers. Some with their own homebrew games, which I sadly overlooked in pictures. But also many just selling print or promoting webcomics and other creative work influenced by retro games. Here’s Spicy (Twitter @SpicySpaceDragn), one of many artists here.

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More merch!

James Rolfe, AKA the Angry Video Game Nerd was a special guest this year. Sorry for the bad picture.

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Also here…console gaming playable for every generation

Arcade gaming all day,, free to play!

Nights into Dreams, an underrated Sega Saturn classic. This beautiful lenticular poster brings back precious memories.

Many, many pinball machines here, both vintage and the newest available for free play/

The music in the free play area was off the hook, and set the mood there to an awesome 80’s arcade glory that made the show more worthwhile

The best panel I went to, a reunion of Nintendo Game Counselors who worked the glory days of Nintendo HQ’s call center. Lots of fun stories, insider tidbits, and history told. Enjoyed every minute.

At that same panel, a surprise guest in the audience… Alexey Pajitnov, the creator of Tetris!

Briefly meeting Alexey Pajitnov was a big joy for me. He also signed my show pass.

Another awesome guest at PRGE at a panel, Howard Phillips, a main spokesman and producer of Nintendo of America throughout the 8-bit era. You may remember him in cartoon form from the Howard and Nester comic strips in the early Nintendo Power magazines.

Among the best of the show, this gaming history exhibit showcasing Nintendo history focused on the anniversary of the Game Boy and Nintendo Game Counselor service. I will share more pictures on that experience, in part 2 of my PRGE adventure (posting soon!).

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San Diego Comic Con 2019, Adventures in the Exhibit Hall

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Over 1000 miles away, I look back to the San Diego Comic Convention of 2019. I wave slowly for my 25th visit to this annual pop-culture extravaganza of the universe.

Thank you for another exciting run, to the organizers and all involved with this 2019 SDCC. It’s all been wild, jumbled together joys and madness sorted through organized chaos and a maze of thing-doing and epic quests, glory for treasure and the meeting and greeting of friends old and anew along the way.

Did I have a great time? Oh yes, I did!

But this Comic-Con is never simple and no year is the same as others. One has to fight and plan and struggle and walk and rise with short hours of sleep with hard choices to truly appreciate the subtleties of this great show. Never expect anything to go smooth, and have contingencies for whatever does not happen..

Don’t overplan. Try and leave as much room as possible for the unexpected. Your entire plan can go out the window for some greater opportunity…for example, a shortcut into the Hall H line before the Marvel Comics panel, or a sudden chance to meet an admired person of creative or celebrity status, perhaps an easy way into a very exclusive friend, or running into a long-time friend.

The greater occurrence of sudden surprises at the SDCC is at the Exhibit Hall, where you you can enter empty-handed and  leave with something of value. That could be rare treasure, a one-of-a-kind custom creation, an experience unlike no other, or a new friend or history making connection.

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A small portion of the football-field sized Exhibit Hall

Navigating the convention floor is a skill mastered best by memories and past trips to this show. Have a map otherwise if you feeling unguided through this colorful, weird jungle. For this year, the usual large displays propagated by large media and collectible production companies, with those focused on show exclusives and celeb hosting being the most attracting.  Pre-show lotteries to such helped bring some of those lines down, leaving those not lucky enough, to remain hopeless or persistent enough to take part.

For the Exhibit Hall, I spent most of this Comic-Con time. Here below, are some moments and notes of my crazy adventures of treasure hunts, side-quests, joining friends and braving the crowds and potential chaos of the this wonderful show..

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just mentioning again, the Hall was very crowded. But, that’s a good thing I believe. That more interesting things can happen, and more fun is shared.

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Some random awesome in the vinyl area, now moved away from the corner and into the center.

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Sith Troopers, the main feature among the Star Wars cluster of booths, promoting the upcoming Star Wars: Episode XI.

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The Steven Universe featured at the Cartoon Network booth, with encouraged karaoke below.

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The Lego booth again impresses with life-sized Lego displays.

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The DC booth this year was sadly missed from the front and center spot, now moved to the corner back next to the Warner Studios booth. Here, booth reps offer Todd McFarlane prints in exchange for signing up for a credit card. I refused and spent little time at the DC booth this year, because of that.

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I kind of forgot which booth this was, but love the use of dinosaurs

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Here are some pricy things!

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But,  I like cheap stuff. Here is my Q-Pop Pinky and the Brain figurine. Only 15.00 and I think exclusive to the show. I dont remember, but I loved it so much that I took it out of the package!

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A much better breathe of fresh air, to one of many small press tables now in in place of where the DC booth once stood.

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Still, plenty of comic books here! I love seeing stacks of comics on back issue bins!

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Some awesome magazines I picked up, from Warren Publishing in the late 70s, early 80s.

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This is our first SDCC without Stan Lee sharing the same mortal realm. But his legacy and spirit live on. Excelsior!

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Awesome Japanese classic style art from the Ukiyo-e Heroes booth. Check out their sight at www.ukiyoeheroes.com

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Chrono Trigger artwork from the Ukiyo-e Heroes above booth.

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The Porcupine Cat, one of the GMO animal hybrid guardians o the Genesis II graphic novel, feature at this booth. Check out their graphic novel at genesisiicomics.com, where the first chapter is free to download!

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And here is Troma Entertainment President & Co-Founder, Director, Producer, Genius. Lloyd Kaufman and his long-time friend, Toxie the Toxic Avenger! I have seen them both many times here in the Exhibit Hall over three decades. 

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The Dark Horse booth saves its best space for coloring adventures!

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And that, is how you pronounce Bill Sienkiewicz!

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My favorite piece of original comic art found from Marvel Comics Journey into Mystery #99. Price is $6000, of which I could not afford.

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Original Peanuts art from Charles Schulz

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At the Udon booth (sorry, I missed the name of the artist).

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The two prize Funko pops, exclusive to the this year’s 50th show.

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Emmalee Pearson presents her comic, the Avengables..a very silly comic about evil fighting vegetables! Find out more at www.avengables.com.

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At the Toynami booth, where the Golden Girls and Robotech share the same universe!

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After 20 years later, the Matrix inspires this great group cosplay!

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The Warner Brothers booth, where fans meet those Legends of Tommorrow.

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A large Gundam presenting its 40th anniversary booth.

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The Image Comics booth, as usually impossible to capture all in one shot, so you have to pick an angle.

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Not sure where what series or movie this figure is from, but I love it!

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A vintage shirt from the 1992 San Diego Comic Con, still fraggin fresh!

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Some Jurassic cosplay here!

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Yeah, there is lots of cosplay on the floor. I will share more on that in a separate post, soon

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Unicorn on display, summons your wallet here for a purpose!  This two foot-tall Transformer is part of Hasbro’s third crowd-funding production project.

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Ghostbusters and WWE, a strange toy crossover by Mattel coming, along with the Master of the Universe and WWE, also announced during the show.

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Love the latest cartoon classic TMNT figures on display at the NECA booth.

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Peanuts figures on display at the Super & booth….good grief!

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Michael Golden, artist and co-creator of X-Men’s Rogue. Also, co-creator of Bucky O’Hare!

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Weirdly fun, very short produced artist-made figures at the DKE booth

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Inside the Dark Crystal, Age of Resistance booth, for the upcoming Netflix show.

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King of the Hill mashup parody art, from Joel Adams

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Disney fine art from Krystiano DaCosta

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Some pins and stuff I got from the Exhibit Hall.

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I met World Wrestling Entertainment RAW Women’s champion, Becky Lynch. Also, WWE legend Rey Mysterio, and current WWE World Champion, Kofi Kingston (got a cookbook signed by him, lol). All awesome in person, indeed!

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And a shot of the Artists Alley from the corner exit of the Exhibit Hall, which is a good spot to leave off. I hope you enjoyed checking out these random joys of this year’s Exhibit Hall adventure.

Check back on strangerworlds.com for more late coverage of this year’s 50th San Diego Comic-Con!

50 great things I love about the San Diego Comic-Con!

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I love that San Diego Comic-Convention.

Sometimes, I don’t shut up about it. I plan accessively over it. I have dreams about it sometimes. This leads to my attending this show again for 2019, carrying on my annual tradition for this sold-out, world famous, perhaps the grandest pop-culture show in the world. I can’t freakin wait for its 50th show (and my 25th in attending) since it started as a humble local comics convention in 1970 (held twice in that year).

So, in leading to another grand show for us nerds, here are 50 things (in no order) I personally love about this fandom converging, sequential arts celebrating, history-making, crowd-drawing, amazing thing that I shall forever be a part of…

1.  Arrival and spending time on the Exhibit Floor! It’s huge (615,000 square feet) and takes at least a full open con day to completely explore and observe.

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2. The welcoming show attendants, volunteers, dealers,  presenters, booth staff and all involved, who love the show as much as the attendees…and help make it all worthwhile.

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3. Comic Books! The SDCC is still focused on comic books, graphic novels, manga, cartoons, etc.. There are lots of other distractions, but its CCI is still focused on the sequential arts. I welcome any debate on this in the comments below.

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4. The many happy returns of my favorite companies, usually consistent but slightly updated in appearance. Image Comics puts the biggest smile on face with their own little world run by creator-owned titles.

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5. Ridiculous displays outside usually put forth by big media companies promoting whatever, but I welcome each balloon, animatronic, recreation, light show, large prop, and whatever else awaits visitors and the curious open public.

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6. Watching an admired creative person at work, especially at the DC booth. Here. famed artist Liam Sharp draws Ares (of DCU lore). I answered his trivia question and won the finished result!

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7. Outrageous and totally awesome booth displays. Nickelodeon, Lego, Cartoon Network, DC usually excels with a different theme every year, in awesomely brilliant style!

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8. You may have the chance to chat with a living legend, who could just be hanging out at a booth or signing at a table. Back in 2017, I had a great talk with artist Mike Grell as he worked on a commission piece. We talked a lot about living in Seattle (where much of his acclaimed Green Arrow comics run took place).

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9. Discovering something new, with many indie press creators looking to personally pitch your next great read. Writer Erika Lewis (at the Heavy Metal booth) sold me on this graphic novel blending modern fantasy and otherworldly magic. Loved it!

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10. Meeting an admired creator, having that person sign something unexpected. In this case, it was Yoshitaka Amano (best known for the Final Fantasy games, Vampire Hunter D original artist), who I snatched his placard during his feature panel, and got him to sign it as he was initially confused, then amused.

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11. Every fandom is welcome, and those communities often welcome you back!

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12. Cosplayers, of all crafts and everywhere! No matter how crazy crowded this show gets, there’s always room for cosplay!

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13. Looking through piles of stuff that are kind of organized in the dealer area, all for a set price. Develop fun conversations with others picking through, sharing fun finds and cracking little jokes.

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14.  Enjoying a show panel where the complete cast is present and interacting, like this one for the TV series, Community.

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15. Seeing for yourself how a well-known creator known for controversy or the subject of heavy conversation deals with the public, perhaps giving the chance to share some thoughts and ideas on controversies and how that affects creativity (in this case, Frank Miller). The SDCC recognizes such contribution very well.

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16.  Getting a huge boost of inspiration from someone that already inspires you (Ray Bradbury (on the left, Ray Harryhausen off-screen to the right) to love what you do, do what you love.

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17.  Unusual crossovers, such as this annual TV Guide panel, where a mix of talent just get together and answer questions from the audience. Let’s see what happens!

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18. Finding out there are many around who like the things you do, but sometimes in their special way (Doctor Who).

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19. The souvenir guides attendees receive each year. Each one full of fan art, writings, insights, and the usual focus on the comics!

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20. Autograph hunting!! Plenty here to fill up, and some sketches if lucky. One fan here shares his collection of Batman related artists, writers, related talent.

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21. Lots of original comic book cover and pages. Each unique and usually expensive, but much fun to look at.

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22. The love of newspaper funnies cartoonists. Jim Davis (Garfield) gives some very deep insights into this famed cat and supporting cast.

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23. Familiar faces, coming back for many repeat years. This Obi-Wan cosplayer I noticed for many of my early years, often showing up to the late-night Masquerade party.  I may not know them, but many among them have an unforgettable coolness and style.

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24. Meeting someone at the con, and becoming a good friend (met Mark cosplaying Captain Kirk many years ago, here he is Ric Flair), then blend in for further randomness!

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25. Enjoying the show with a friend or group of (Helen, you’re awesome!), as we go to a panel or just walk around and meet a Klingon.

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26. Free Swag! If persistent enough, there’s plenty to take home!

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27. Many collectibles on display, especially at the toy companies. Many of them are previews for products yet to be released!

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28. No matter how busy the show gets, many will have a second to sign a badge. If you have nothing to sign for an unexpected meeting with a person of fame and inspiration, find a marker and hand them your badge!

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29.  Stan Lee for many years and still there in spirit… Nuff Said!

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30. You can be yourself, let loose and have fun, like Burt Ward, Adam West, Julie Newmar at this small and cozy press conference as they share some hilarious moments together and with the crowd.

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31. Getting the inside scoop on your favorite series, with more insight from the creators themselves (Saga panel, with Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples)

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32. Buying some really awesome collectible exclusives, that are high quality and worth every minute of the long line and the high price paid…Cowabunga!

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33. The city of San Diego, really adds to the grandness of this Comic-Con. There’s a lot to see and do here, with some epic beaches and awesome nightlife. If visiting here, take extra time to enjoy the city outside the show.

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34. Very large building displays. Not sure how effective the advertising and wish it was more focused on comic books. Yet, still glorious!

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35.  The Comics Creator Connection (artist/writer speed pitching), portfolio reviews, pitch panels, workshops…many opportunities for new talent to show their stuff and become the potential top SDCC stars of tomorrow!

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36.  Artist Alley, an awesome mix of business professionals and indie folk, taking down commissions, selling original art, awesome prints, and so much more. There’s a lot of heart and soul in this area, and the SDCC has kept it going!

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37.  Small press section, another great area of home-grown, indie-power delights. Here, you can find as much personality in the creator as the creations themselves!

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38. Becoming a Blood Donor for the longtime annual show Blood Drive.

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39. Really weird, sometimes mashed-up collectibles, custom made by special artists sold the designer area of the convention center. Lots here for the weirdo in all of us.

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40.  Exclusives are nice, but the dealer stands have a magnificent variety of lost, very rare treasures..sometimes at a real steal of a deal.

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41.  There’s usually one unexpected panel end up going to every year, totally different and of nowhere. Bloom County’s Berkely Breathed’s hilarious panel comes to mind (2014), …showing brilliant misdirection that he may or may not be Bill Watterson.

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42.  Great finds you did not know existed. You just have to look!

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43.  Back issue bins are plenty, where all your super friends are waiting!

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44. Star Wars is everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

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45.  The annual Comic-Con Masquerade show, showcasing a mix of great and sometimes very surprising cosplay.

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46.  Finding an awesome outside event, very increased over the years. There’s plenty out there, with much not needing a badge to participate!

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37.  Venturing out into the night, checking out the side events and stumbling across some different things going on, like this live sketching event.

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48. Crashing of many parties after the con. The After Masquerade Party at the Convention Center is often fun and worthwhile.

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49. It’s never really goodbye when you hang with great friends at Comic-Con. You share memories that will last lifetimes and beyond. Here, is the flashiest back to circa 2000, with me, my dear friend Heather (who I shared many SDCC years with ever since), Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman, and Sargeant Kabukiman NYPD.

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50. The show as it is, for keeping all that is wonderful about it real and forever a part of my life.  Thank you Comic-Con (and all my friends, who I have shared this show with over the years)!

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Not the end, as I have much more to add, I will save that perhaps for the 75th, maybe the 100th anniversary.

 

Amusements of the Crypticon 2019

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It’s been a month, but the local Crypticon still feels fresh and spooky to me.

The Seattle Crypticon 2019 happened in early May, as a large horror fandom convention of the Pacific Northwest. This Crypticon has remained annual for over 10 years. but feels local and small in comparison to those big celebrity-driven Comic Cons. There are two other Crypticons held in the U.S further out in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Missouri. All dedicated to those who love horror and supernatural themes in books, movies, TV, games, and whatever else entertains the soul with elevated suspense and tingles.

I enjoyed every minute. therefore I must share a bit more with my casual go to this year, with not much in mind other than sharing time with friends old and new, some shopping, and panel-hopping. Crypticon provided and gave a bit more.

Here are some pictures I took with notes attached:

From the moment you enter, you will find many attendants getting deep in the spirit of the show, with detailed makeup and costumes. Doing such makes the character inside reach out!

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Some of that work will have spectators doing a double-take.

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And of course, some familiar friends walked around like Chucky here!

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And not everything is horror, but a touch of horror and supernatural elements inspire others to focus on those interesting elements of fandoms. Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series exemplifies that.

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Not sure what story this creepy girl is a portrayal of, or perhaps there is no need. Great makeup, costuming and accessory is all one could need to really put a story through.

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No convention is worthwhile without an exhibit floor filled with creative souls selling their custom handmade work with a variety of writings, paintings, indie movies, figurines, pins, and so much more.

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Paintdead Artworks by Jacqueline Gallagher (www.paintdead.com, @jackiepaintdead on Instagram). I purchased an awesome Alien print from her.

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Love the magnificent crochet work from Sheri Jordan of SanjiCraft (@sanjicat on Instagram, Sanjicraft on Facebook).

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A big of fan of Sanjicraft’s work here…

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Owlex (@Owlex Never sleeps on Instagram, Facebook), crafter of resin cast half-masks inspired by samurai menpo. 

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I also attended some great panels, including this X-Files TV show panel with supporting cast William B Davis, Brian Thompson, Nicholas Lea, Mitch Pileggi. Lots of fun with some revealing set stories told!

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The Twin Peaks panel with Ray Wise and Sheyl Lee, a treat for fans with more fun behind the scenes stories and thoughts on this classic cult show.

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Also scoped out many short films among two feature viewings…a great mix indeed!

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Then on my way to the fun nighttime party on the 13th floor. No formal attire needed..just be yourself!

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That’s all for now, with a huge thank you to the show organizers, cosplayers, creatives, and others who made this show a worthwhile crash. I look forward with my plan to attend again in the future, for sure!

2019’s Con Season Begins at Wondercon

Last weekend, comic book fans and cosplayers took over Anaheim, California to celebrate Wondercon, now in its 32nd year.  The sold-out show brought an estimated 66,000 attendees, making it now half the size of San Diego Comic Con.  Con season has officially begun, and here are some of our favorite moments….

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Wondercon made a return to Anaheim this year. A giant Bumblebee guarded the entrance by Harbor.

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The vendor hall was bustling on Saturday, but fairly empty Friday. DC’s booth featured Shazam costumes and Batman cowls throughout the year.

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Greg Capullo greets fans at the DC booth.

Exploding Kittens was a popular booth this year, with a puppet-based interactive game where you could buy random objects for a dollar. I watched someone walk away with an eggplant.

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Wondercon always attracts fun cosplayers and pushes the envelope for creativity.

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Just your local robots out for an evening stroll after spa day at the hotel.

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Hey look, we found her!

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Venom gets a classy tux treatment in this handcrafted creation.

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We wrapped our day at the Unnecessary Debates panel, moderated by Grand Geek Gathering’s Tyler McPhail. Our favorite part was Olivia singing as Groot.

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Jenny Jaffe (writer, Big Hero Six TV series), Tyler McPhail (host of The Grand Geek Gathering), Genevieve Cosplay, Abed Gheith (writer, Rick and Morty), and Olivia Olson (Marceline from Adventure Time)

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Wondercon is always a favorite because it has that oldschool SDCC feel to us. There’s a good balance of comics, games, sci-fi, and cosplay, and many of our favorite guests and creators. The panels are creative and thoughtful, but also full of exciting announcements. We can’t wait to go back – Wondercon 2020 will be held Easter weekend, April 10-12 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Treasures found at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo

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Back in mid-October, I attended the Portland Retro Gaming Festival, for some looks back of video games past among its dedicated fandom.

The Portland Retro Gaming Expo is a non-profit gathering since 2006, sharing the appreciation for the classic era arcade and old school physical media-based games inside a large convention center. A good amount of panels, special guests, dealers, and creative people show-up. Also, lots of restored games with a chance to relive classics and join with other fans.

My attendance was encouraged by local friends, coming back from the show in recent years. I didn’t expect much than the usual small convention. The show exceeded expectations, with a lot of surprises, and much more shopping than I intended.

The biggest highlights are some amazing treasures on display, and for sale. Some of which are featured below in pics I sporadically took.

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I have never seen a R.O.B (Robotic Operating Buddy) accessory for the original Nintendo Entertainment System until now. What a strange little relic, perfectly representing the odd mid-80s robotics craze.

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I sadly never experienced the cult hit of the early 90s that is Sega CD’s Night Trap, starring Dana Plato. But, it’s fascinating weird part of history and a turning point in gaming. Here is an original import edition, for the truly hardcore fan.

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The Nintendo Knitting Machine, perhaps the most obscure and rarest of Nintendo peripherals, allowing its user to use its gaming console to sew! This never entered the market, but some tech demos like this one does exist,

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An original copy of the classic PC game, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? here and complete with its own handy encyclopedia!

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Lots of weird handheld odds and ends, kind of cheap.

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One table full of Sega games, showing off the beautiful box art on those hard cases.

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One of many tables in the showroom. Check out Sega’s Activator, a peripheral for the short-lived Sega Mega Drive and Sega System 32, allowing very limited body- motion control for some games. Not nearly successful from its launch in August 1993, and would take another 2 decades for such an idea to truly catch on.

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My favorite waste of time, one of the tables where you take a bag and fill it with whatever for $5.00. See anything interesting?

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Lot so oddball import games of old, well-preserved.

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Another rarity, the Panasonic Q, a hybrid DVD player, and Nintendo Gamecube, sold only in Japan for a brief time.

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Some earlier treasures from the Radio Shack era of PC gaming.

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Some earlier rare consoles. Not sure on these, but I like that the old monitor had plugs in the front for connection.

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The very rare NES TMHT (!) edition for European release.

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And here is just one table part of the separate Nintendo mini-museum. Chock full of pieces of Nintendo’s golden era of game-related merchandising.

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Pre-NES era Nintendo import toys..

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More Nintendo electronic rareness, pre-NES times..

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More earlier Nintendo oddities…

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From the Nintendo World Championship 1990, including the rare and most expensive game cart. Only 90 copies exist, at a price that has gone for over $100,000 on eBay in 2014.

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A rare poster signaling the coming of Tetris…

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And that’s the last Nintendo relic goodness.

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That’s all from the show for this year in pics. Next year’s Portland Retro Gaming Fest, I plan to attend, look deeper into the aisles and presentations, searching more for cool treasures of gaming past.

Wandering through PAX West 2018

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A week passed since attending PAX West 2018 in Seattle, a grand annual event for video and tabletop gamers. The memories of this annual event remains fresh.

The show was an overall blast, yet not the best attended over the recent years. The favored part was the significant rise in indie games pushed by smaller developers, looking to gain fame through playable demos and cheap giveaways. Also, plenty of merch sold at booths, especially pins. The gaming tech seemed plentiful, with plenty to demo and purchase.

The downside was the reduction in tabletop games. No large booths or big promotional events for any card or board games. Magic: The Gathering was hardly noticeable, compared to last year where Wizards of the Coast reserved an entire theater. I didn’t see any Cards Against Humanity promotion either, which felt like a bigger part of PAX from past years. I spent nearly all of my time with the video games for this round.

Meanwhile, much of gaming space on the exhibit floor was dedicated to the new trends in the video gaming industry – e-sports, streaming, influencer personalities, and the overall attention given to spectator aspects. Little of that appealed to me and felt like space that could have been utilized better. Whatever, as I do enjoy a Let’s Play or YouTube personality at times, just not here.

The company displays were a bit disappointing. No huge and ridiculous dioramas, or overly large statues or looming creatures. Just a lot of boring logos and posters in lights. I expect more from PAX, based on past years.

But overall, I still had a lot of fun and got all these pins (some purchased, some free)…

I did wander around for much of the time and took pictures. I share below some shots with more notes on the show…

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A typical view of a PAX West game booth, between the Ubisoft and Discord booths.

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The usual sea of computers for players to game together using the most updated gear. Here, Rocket League is still a thing among the big crowds, or not. It’s hard to tell.

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I didn’t see as much cosplay for this round of PAX. But, the Darksiders booth did step things up a bit with their own.

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Mega Man aims for anyone looking to cut in line to play the Mega Man 11 demo, which was about a two-hour wait. I went through it, and have to admit…it was worth it (and not just for the free pin).

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At the EV3A booth, and here…not sure what this is.

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Some cosplayers together,  geared and badass.

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Some Pyre cosplay. Pyre is a very underrated game. You should play it.

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One large booth premiering the upcoming Gris game in playable demo form, a fresh storyline based platformer with beautiful hand-drawn graphical elements.

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A stage tournament between two pros, locked in Dragonball FighterZ combat.

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Some sweet Splatoon cosplay.

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And a truly awesome Robotic Operating Buddy (or B.O.B), is the best (and only personally seen cosplay of its kind). Well done!

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An oddity I played at the Square Enix booth, The Quiet Man….a game where you play a deaf man in some urban drama. Interesting idea, but some very corner fighting reminiscent of the PS2 era.

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The Jackbox stage, where the play is both the audience and the entertainment, as one logs into the Jackbox website to participate, and engage in silly games.

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The developer crew of another indie title with its booth, The Messenger…a cool old school ninja-gaidenesque slashy platformer indie title. The crew was very excited to personally promote and share.

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Boyfriend Dungeon, a fresh oddity that combines dating with dungeon crawling. Weird dating games with an anime appeal are a rising trend now.

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One of the many panels attended, “We’re all Frauds! PAX West Edition,” with Doctor B [Clinical Director, Take This], Callie Holmes [Web Development Engineer II, Amazon], Tanya DePass [Founder, I Need Diverse Games], Matt Dolbill [Associate Attorney, Morrison & Lee LLP], Katrina Keller [Operations Director, Take This], Katie Golden [Producer, Bungie]. All here to discuss and advise on the problems of self-doubt in creative development ventures.

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Another panel, “(Re) Introducing Escapist Magazine: We Had Issues,” with Russ Pitts [Editor-in-Chief, Escapist Magazine], Graham Stark [President, Bionic Trousers], MovieBob [Creator, Freelance], Yahtzee [Critic, Escapist Magazine]. All here to promote the relaunch of the longtime game news site. I was especially excited to see Yahtzee, one of my favorite game reviewers (Zero Punctuation) present.

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The Guild Wars 2 booth, hosted by a large Griffon mount. I think this was the only mountable creature for this event. Last year, I recall at least five mountable statues.

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My Friend Pedro, another exciting upcoming game of interest at PAX West. This one a physics-based action based platformer that feels a little like a mix of Mirror’s Edge and Hotline Miami.

Maple Story had a huge booth promoting its sequel, Maple Story 2. The original was a cult hit a decade ago, and cool to see it still going and have a huge following here.

A neato life-sized diorama at the Facebook Games booth, promoting Stormland. Take a picture with you in it, then play another game there to receive a special enamel pin of a Facebook emote…yay.

Fortnite: Battle Royale is huge, and so was there silly miniature gold course which seemed as both a promo and reward for its growing fandom. I never played the game but had a blast here (and got a set of four free pins).

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And that was all PAX, in a nutshell, just a metaphorical golf course of one thing to another, amused by visuals and play.

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And that’s all for this year. I had some fun, but hoping next year is much better.

 

The Strangest, Best SDCC 2018 Exclusives

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Ah, the show exclusives, the finest badges of geeky nonsense for the spendy collector connoisseur.

For the great annual San Diego Comic Con, these are among my favorite things on the Exhibit Floor. These special items, for which attendees can buy direct at various booths, sometimes from an artist or creator involved. Since the early 2000s, these sought attention-getters remain a central goal of consumer gratification at the show, and online usually at greater prices to the private re-seller market. The traditional hunt grows a little more each year, with more weird and unusual aspects thrown in. If you can afford and have room for such things, than resistance is futile.

I took a good look at many though the various press releases and some new sites, then handpicked some favorites. Take a look:

Hot Wheels Thanos Copter

The die-cast helicopter, featuring the evil Thanos at the controls, comes packaged in its own Cosmic Cube. Modeled after the hilarious 1979 opening pages of Super Spidey Stories #39 comics story.

Booth: Mattel, Price: $15
Thoughts: I love everything about this, especially the packaging. It’s also a reminder that many within the toy industry has a sense of humor, and big fans of comics obscurity,

No Toys 4 Us by Mr Blank Toys

We’ve all be grieving the loss of Toys R Us, but no one as much as poor, sad, out of work Geoffrey the Giraffe. Mr Blank Toys in his SDCC debut brings No Toys 4 Us. Hand cast and painted 3.75” scale carded figure. Numbered edition of 40 pieces.

Booth: DKE Toys
Price: $65
Thoughts: Yes, that’s a sculpt of the head of Watto from Star Wars: Episode 1. The paint job is awesome. DKE Toys has many other wonderfully weird artist-created pieces as good as this one (with another on this list down further). Definitely worth a look!

Laughing Prince Adam figure

 

An exclusive figure based on the Youtube viral video.

Booth: Super7
Price: #35
Thoughts: Wow!! That’s amazing

Star Trek Cats LE Patches

 

 

One of two limited edition patches base don artwork from the officially licensed Star Trek The Next Generation Cats book.

Booth: Chronicle Books
Price: $5 each
Thoughts: Adorable, and cheap!!

Ian Malcolm giclée print

11″x17″ giclée print on by artist Justin Harder. He has other prints exclusive prints for the show

Booth: CLAUS Studio (Table #O-08 in Small Press)
Price: $30
Thoughts: Seems like the perfect work of art to frame and center in the living room.

Adventure Time 7″ Vinyl

Adventure Time 7″ Vinyl, which will feature tracks “Friends Don’t Fight” (both with vocals and instrumental) and “Manlorette Party.” The vinyl cover art work is custom created by artist JJ Harrison. Supply is limited, so make sure to get them before they’re gone!

Booth: Mondo
Price: $12 plus tax
Thoughts: I love the art, but have never watched a full episode of the show. With that in mind, how many Adventure Time vinyl fans are out there? It’s cool, though.

Poop & Throne and Zombies Plush Set

The King of the Throne has come! Removable Magnetic poop king plush with a toilet that makes a flushing sound with a press of a button. Includes the 2 variant of the poopie zombies

Booth: Furry Feline Creatives
Price: $50
Thoughts: All right!!!

Funko Pop: Masters of the Universe: Stinkor

Shared exclusive from Funko. The only true to the show part aside is that it debuts here with a special SDCC sticker. But still, really something because it stinks..literally. It emits an oder, just like the original action figure of the 80s MOTU line..

Booth: DKE Funko
Price: $10-12 (not sure, that’s a guess based on the last time I went to a Funko booth to buy Pops).
Thoughts: Wow, big ups to Funko to what I think is the only smell-bad figure of its kind.

Marvel Exclusive 2018 Pin Backs

Metal backed pins of Marvel Comics characters with artwork by Skottie Young, 4 packs (different themes, but I like the above Fantastic Four one the best). To see the rest, click here.

Booth: Marvel
Price: $15 plus tax for blind packs of 2, $25 for themed sets of 4.
Thoughts: I love Skottie Young’s art, and The Fantastic Four set is a must have for me.

Two-Bad: Crust-Man Bart-Off

Very limited custom figure that’s definitely not licenses, and part of the other weird and wonderful artworks at the DKE booth. Only 20 produced!

Booth: DKE Toys
Price: $85
Thoughts: Wow and wtf!! It’s awesome, but a wondrous piece for collectors of two universes.

Patrick Ballesteros “Wakanda King Are You” Black Panther Prints

WonderCon/San Diego Comic-Con exclusive “25-Cent Wonders” Black Panther collection called, “WAKANDA KING ARE YOU”
The collection features 6″x8″ four prints, which combine to create a continuous image featuring his rendition of the movie cast.

Booth: Patrick Ballesteros
Price: $10 each of $30 for the set of 4
Thoughts: That’s the best, most adorable work ever for my favorite big of this year. The Killmonger one is my favorite.

BAIT x Wu-Tang Clan x Transformers

Transformers aint nothing to fuck with, for these 4.5 Inch special edition figures,  Megatron, Soundwave, Bumblee, and Optimus Prime.

Booth: Bait
Price: $30 Each, or $100 for the set
Thoughts: Why?!!! But love the paint jobs on these, but would have made more sense to have all Autobots or all Decepticons.

FARMHAND #1 by Rob Guillory

Variant cover comic book by Rob Guillory to the awesome new series by the artist of Chew.

Booth: Image Comics
Price: $10 +tax
Thoughts: Just finished the finished the first issue, and got a feeling the fist issue is going to be much more highly appreciated with the series progression. I love this spooky cover, and will be picking this up.

Kidrobot x Jeremyville Let Love Grow Dunny

“This one-of-a-kind SDCC exclusive Dunny collectible let’s you and grow some foliage into your urban jungle. Renowned artist Jeremyville’s take on the Chia Dunny features flower eyes straight from the 60s, a colorful, warm glaze and a message of positivity: Grow Love Daily. Like any Chia pet, it’s up to you to care for this collectible and help him grow his ‘do. Cha-cha-cha- CHIA!”

Booth: Kidrobot
Price: $40
Thoughts: Finally, a vinyl figurine made for my kitchen window!

Sailor Moon SuperS T-Shirt

Exclusive teal t-shirt featuring Helios from Sailor Moon SuperS. Shirts are available in Ladies’ and Unisex styles.

Booth: Viz
Price: $15
Thoughts: This shirt sends a powerful message for these difficult times.

25th Anniversary Hellboy Print

25th Anniversary Hellboy Print, signed by both Dave Stewart and Mike Mignola. Limited edition of 200

Booth: Mike Mignola SDCC 4901
Price: Unknown right now, but probably reasonable
Thoughts: That’s some of the best work I have seen from the legendary artist. Everything about it…colors, shading, composition, details is perfect. I want it!

Well, that’s all for now. There are many more SDCC exclusives out there, which I probably overlooked. If hunting these down at the show, by safe and plan ahead!

San Diego Comic Con 2018: Looking forward

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In just a few weeks, the annual San Diego Comic Con will happen again for the 51st time, since 1970.

The large event for geekish fandom is not the largest of its kind for population attendance, but I think the most well-known gathering of pop-culture fandoms, studio and publisher promotions, celebrities, creatives, and show exclusives. I think this, from the worldwide reactions people give and get from it, the frenzy for tickets and overall planning that goes into it. The spot where the big announcements are made, and smaller companies have a chance to grow. And the lines, bring them on.

I will be ready.

For me, it’s still an important mecca for my creative soul. I have spent over two decades, never missing a show as I filled in for press, volunteer work, exhibitor help, and as an attendant. No two years are the same, as I have crazy plans that may or may not work.

Of this year, I am a little extra excited..as a collector, a press person, a writer, observer, and more. I have some goals and plans, of which I would like to share here in my list of ten.

  1. Attend the Comic Creator Connection, a sub-event where writers and artist briefly talk to each in short sessions. I will pitch some scripts I have in mind.
  2. Avoid Hall H over-hype, and attend many small panels involving creator driven content across printed and digital platforms. Get inspired!
  3. Ask for critique from some writers on short scripts, and learn to pitch my work.
  4. Get some collectible show exclusives on my list. Dark Horse, Funko, DKE Toys, NECA, Super7 are tops on my list so far.
  5. Yoshitaka Amano (Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D, Sandman: Dream Hunters artist) will be a guest of honor for this year. I hope to meet him again (last time was in 2008) and hopefully get something signed, sketched if possible.
  6. Break into a couple good parties with friends attending the SDCC. Talk, drink and geek out. Maybe, make new friends too.
  7. Treasure hunt for deals on some out print trade paperbacks/graphic novels, and strange oddities for cheap. I am a sucker for loose, weird toys too.
  8. Give blood for the  Robert A. Heinlein Blood Drive, of which I get some cool stuff for doing, and meet some people every time.
  9. Purchase some original comic page art. Something cool and frameable, yet not too pricy. Or, pay for a really good commission sketch.
  10. Seek out new reads, and converse with creative talent.

That’s all my planning for now with more goals to add soon, including interviews and ideas on growing this Stranger Worlds site.  With that, the possibilities are endless for the San Diego Comic Con.

So, forward on!

Cosplay outside the 2018 Sakura-Con

Sakura Con 2018, Overwatch

This weekend, I spent some time around but not inside the 2018 Sakura-Con, an annual event for the fandom of Japanese style of anime, manga, gaming and its cultural influences on related modern pop-culture, held in downtown Seattle.

I sadly did not attend this year, not having enough time for the membership purchase this time. But, I did have some hours to spend outside the show, among the beautifully fresh bloomed sakura trees and colorfully dressed people.

Out of the many conventions and fandoms, the cosplay representation at the Sakura-Con (among other big anime cons) remains among the best. I took some pics of the many displaying their well-crafted attire present, with some notes below:

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The main area throughout the day held impromptu dancing set to J-Pop, along with glomp circles, meet-ups, games, and other fun.

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Cosplaying is still the big thing here as usual, always fun for geek fans of the related pop-culture varieties to express their love and appreciation by dressing in elaborate costumes.

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Group meetups among the cosplayers are often planned. Not sure, which property this is above.

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One of my favorite anime/manga series that I have been following for over 20 years now is Berserk. Not a big gathering, but wonderful to share in-jokes and discuss developments among each other.

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A group shot of the Berserk gathering here.

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Usagi Yojimbo, the samurai rabbit is ready for this Easter Weekend.

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Batman!!

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Pokemon strike a pose.

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A group of Marvelous people, ready for the Infinity War.

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Not the Pikachu, but Mimikyu, who according to Wikipedia is “dreadfully lonely and in an effort to emulate the popularity of Pikachu, wears the Pikachu-like costume in order to make friends.”

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Overwatch character Zenyatta, levitating before your very eyes.

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More Overwatch cosplay as some Junkrats and a Roadhog get together.

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Lots more Overwatch cosplay, with more than my camera can handle.

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hell yeah to the Dragonball Z cosplay

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From Voltron, Haggar the Witch

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Kairi from Kingdom Hearts.

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Deadpool seeks to blend in.

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I was told this costume is from Bendy and the Ink Machine, a cult indie game that I should check out.

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Not sure on this anime property, but her staff and pose style is awesome.

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And there was a lot of Final Fantasy game cosplay around, with a heavy focus on XV. There were two gatherings, of which I took many pictures. I personally love the Final Fantasy games, as I will dedicate the next cosplay installment to the local meetups here, soon.