February 2006

02/28/2006

It’s That Time Again…

by Matthew Hawkins

You know what today is? Its MK’s birthday, that’s what today is! So, let’s all scream at the computer by saying…

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MK!!!

I actually drew a stupid little drawing for the occasion, which I was going scan and upload for the world to share, but I woke up super late and totally forgot to bring it to work (along with the cover to the second Unlucky mini… oh well to the possibility of having them made in time for Staple).

So I tried seeing what “happy birthday” might bring up in Google image search, hoping for some funny drawing or something, but it didn’t bring up much. Though here’s a pic of some sock monkeys that MK might dig (since we have a little monkey in-joke between us)…

And here’s awesome pic of a random black guy, which also came up. New wallpaper anybody?

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I may as well get to the good stuff: this past weekend was the first ever New York Comic-Con.

Perhaps I shouldn’t even bother, since anyone who is in comics has probably already had their fill of show talk, bitching, and spinning from the mountain of blog reports and all the other forms of coverage that the show has produced. But since 90% of the folks reading this particular blog is into video games, I may as well give my two cents. And like everyone else, I also thought the show was both a tremendous success and a cluster-fuck of epic proportions.

Day one started when I arrived at the Jacob Javits Center around 11-ish. Going in, I was already frustrated because I had failed the number mantra of indie comic-dom, which was to get one’s book done for the show, no matter what. The previous day, I was at MK‘s to put together the second Unlucky mini, but due to a combination of being sick, technical difficulties (mainly MK’s crappy scanner), and my sometimes overly picky demeanor, I didn’t get it done. Granted, its not like I had a table or anything, I just wanted copies on-hand to trade or give out, but still… But hey, my stuff may not be much, and even though I’m never ultimately satisfied with how it ends up, if anything ever seems off and I can still do something about it, I ain’t printing it, end of story.

Anyway, by the time I got there, there literally thousands of people (now I’m finding out that it was about 4,000-6,000) waiting in line inside the convention center, which made looking for MK, who had been there for almost an hour beforehand, impossible. Though I did find her, in another line outside (which was insanely cold btw). What this second line for the con, which seemed to lead to nowhere was doing (though one would only know this if they had scoured the entire parameter like I had), and whom plus why had it been set up is beyond me, but it immediately became a moot point once I met with up MK since that was the exact same moment when the guy in the bull horn started to everyone: “The building has met its capacity. By order of the fire marshall, everyone must leave. Only pre-registered people can enter. If you have not already purchased a ticket, you must leave the building.”

MK & I went back inside, in hopes of figuring out some contingency plan, but primarily to get the hell out of the cold. It was a real mess indoors, with tons of confused and pissed folks, with others barking (literally) at them to get the hell out. I had assumed that these were con people, but later learned that they were Teamsters, and a great source of all the problems (or at least, according to some). I immediately spotted Ric Meyers standing by the huge Lego statue of Batman. He was waiting for a business associate who had his pass to show up, so we stood around and chatted for a bit, plus soaked in the mess that was unraveling. In short time, after talking with other friends, a story began to emerge, that it was the Teamsters that were calling all the shots, and who made the decision to stop letting people in. It would seem that they have no love for comics, and this goes back some 12 or 13 years ago when a similar event was shut down by the fire marshal, again due to the Teamsters (both are quite close to each other). They basically run Javits, and I guess they expect to be heavily involved or a cut of the pay in each show that runs there. I’ve been there before for various other shows, like Licensing Fair, MacWorld, and DigitalLife, which are run by some heavy duty, big money entities, and you can tell that such folks can afford the bill. And considering that comic shows are nowhere near that scale, I’m guessing they didn’t give the Teamsters their cut or whatever, and were using tactics to retaliate against the Comic Con, or so I figure (hey, I’m just repeating what I’ve been told, so don’t quote me on any of this). But hence why everyone was saying “This is why you don’t hold a show in New York City!” all around.

Ric offered the possibility that his associate might have some spare passes, and he did, but only one. It was a temporary working exhibitor pass, which I gave to MK since she had been up all night working on putting together comics, plus it was her very first “mainstream” comics show. She went to the desk and did the “I fucked up!” routine, and managed to buy a pass, but best of all, they gave back the temp pass, so I went and did my patented, pissed off “Someone at the office fucked up!!!” routine and that’s how I got in as well. This was around the time the police were blocking off the stairwells, so Teamster bullshit or not, there really were way too many people for the show. So anyway, MK & I had both luck and timing, plus the ability to bullshit on our side, which as it would turn out would be the only means to get it. And I have to admit that I did feel pretty bad as I passed a pair of girls who were crying because they had waiting over two hours for their first comic show ever, only to be told that they couldn’t go in. But things weren’t exactly smoothing sailing from that point; there was yet another line, one that led directly to the show floor, and I almost got myself in trouble when I tried to circumvent it by asking if there was a special exhibitor’s entrance, and the person I was talking to turned out to be one of those ultra proactive individuals who then had to check if I was legit, and whom I had to literally run away from. But eventually I got in… again, I was lucky. I’ve since heard that even special, advertised guests, such as Kevin Smith, as well as the show’s sponser were denied entrance.

The floor itself was insanely packed, of course. You had the big guys, Marvel and DC, and right up front, which caused a massive bottle-neck, and that was rather annoying (even though that’s what they always do at the San Diego Comic Con, that place also six different entrances). Plus there were plenty of other publishers (both big and small), plus toys, anime, and manga companies, as well as tables with assorted back issues and bootlegs. The goal was to emulate San Diego, and it pretty much was, albeit scaled down. But the mood was definitely different, which could be best described as tense. Aside from all the Teamsters getting in peoples faces and seemingly misinforming people on purpose, as well as the Comic Con folks who simply didn’t know what the hell was going on (and a few even acted as if they enjoyed the spectacle of it all), and men in uniform from the police and fire department, and how everyone was constantly arguing with each other (mostly via walkie talkies), you had attendees that were afraid to simply leave the room, even to attend a panel that was taking place right around the corner in fears of not being able to let back in (and after checking out some reports, it seems that those fears were completely valid), which really made the $35 entrance fee feel like a total gyp. So basically, everyone was trapped.

Otherwise the show was fairly decent, though certainly nothing mind-blowing. At this point, I much prefer the atmosphere and intimacy that’s found at small press events such as SPX or MOCCA, can still enjoy rummaging through old books, if only to find that one old Iron Man collection back which I’m eternally looking for (I can’t believe Marvel has reprinted almost everything in their back catalogue, except for the the Armor Wars saga). Hell, I just enjoy being around comics, and even the folks that they attract, despite how stinky they can be. It was also interesting to see MK’s reaction to it all, since again, it was her first standard comic show (she’s only been to small press events previously). She obviously wasn’t prepared for the funk that had taken over certain sections of the floor (again, primarily at the Marvel and DC booth). The best part of any comic show for myself is running into folks, and there were some familiars present. Dave and John were there, of course, in the artist alley, as were Jamie Tanner and Tim Kelly, each with a new book (and both are quite superb). Ran into Steve, and I was able to finally compliment him on his awesome Brocktoon hooded sweatshirt, along with Matt Singer with his girlfriend Mel; he was there shooting stuff for IFC earlier in the morning, but one of the crew brought his girlfriend who wanted to get the hell out, so they had all split. Mel also complained about the smell (if you haven’t figured it our by now, comic geeks sure do smell funny!). Plus Gerard Way was present. I’ve never really mentioned this online, since I’ve always been afraid how it might look, like I was name dropping or something, but yeah, I went to college and am still sorta friends with the lead singer of My Chemical Romance. He was a cartooning major as well (and was a damn good one to boot), and we’re constantly running into each other, hence why I guess there’s no need to be super secretive.

Oh, and you had folks in costumes. The best had to be Unemployed Skeletor, who was just some dude with a huge gut and dressed like He Man’s arch-nemesis. He did a killer job with the voice (it was almost better than John Green’s rendition… almost). Also up there was the Stormtrooper with the creepy Burger King mask on; I caught him getting down on one knee and offering a hamburger to some girl dressed like Slave Leia. Funny. And the creepiest has to go to this one girl who was wearing a corset REALLY fucking tight (folks who saw her will know who I’m talking about). The way it contorted her body… imagine the letter r, literally as a humany body viewed from the side is the only way I can come close to describe it.

After about four hours of just walking around, MK and I decided to take a chance and leave the confines of the show room for the panels. ADV was apparently trying to make a big splash with their release of Oh Mikey!, a.k.a. The Fuccons, and MK was interested in checking it out (perhaps due to the fact that I’ve been telling all my friends about it for the past four years). And I was curious to see how others would react to it… I still can’t believe that its being released in America. I know its popular to love all that’s “WACKY JAPPY!!!” but The Fuccons is on a whole another level. Basically, the show is about a family, the Fuccons, that hail from America and have relocated in Japan, and all the adventures they encounter. The crazy cast of crazies that they encounter includes Teacher Bob, a super shy school teacher who is too bashful to say anything, so his mom has to be by his side translate, Time Boy, a kid that is obsessed with time, and the Blueberry King, who is pretty self-explanatory. And everyone is portrayed by mannequins from the 50′s who are simply filmed just sitting there (occasionally one will spin around or go down a slide). You just have to see it. The person at ADV who’s spear-heading the project gave the presentation, and explained how super popular The Fuccons are in Japan (more so that I realized) and all the intricacies involved in it coming over here (such as re-edited everything to allow the different length of time for Japanese and America dialogue). Thankfully its in good hands, and even the American voices sound great. A few episodes were shown, and while it took a short while for its genius to sink in, MK is now an official fan. She even managed to score a free preview DVD which we watched later that night at my place, while doing laundry.

But the big highlight of the con for us was the catching the preview screening of Art School Confidential, the new film by Terry Zwigoff and Daniel Clowes. I may go into details a bit later (maybe I’ll do a full-fledged review for the new section!) but all I’ll say it is I’ve never seen a movie that has so accurately characterized the bullshit that is art school. I was a big fan of Ghost World, and I have to say, I liked this one even better, due to entirely personal reasons (when the character is dealing with all the crazy art school chicks… fucking classic). The movie also led to what I believe to be my definitive moment of the entire con, which took place shortly beforehand, while waiting in line.

I’m there, in a roped off area, and this kid comes up to me, with a blank, dumb state. He’s wearing, among other things, a Naruto headband, and a shirt that says “I Love Anime”, though the heart was actually kanji, so I really don’t know what it really said. Anyway, he’s just standing there, and asks, “What this line for?”

“Art School Confidential.”

At first he says nothing, but then asks, “What’s that?”

“It’s the new Terry Zwigoff movie.”

Again, the kid says nothing and just staring at me. Until I finally get a bit impatient and state, “Listen, its not anime.”

To that, he seems a bit taken back, almost insult, with his response of, “Well… that doesn’t automatically discounts it.”

In which I respond with, “Well, I’m afraid unless you have a pass, you can’t get in. To attend, you need a special screening pass, which are all gone.”

And to that, the kid turns around and starts walking away. But then he turns around, and with a sheepish grin, says “Promise me that you’ll throw trash at the screen if it sucks.”

Then I to that, “Ummm…. I’m pretty sure it won’t.”

Also worth noting was the girl who was right in-front of us was a girl whom I recognized, but couldn’t figure out where, until it hit me. It was a SuicideGirl. When I mentioned this to MK, I was curious how she would react to this fun fact, but wasn’t. And when I asked why, she marked that it was hardly surprising, given my tastes, and reminded me that she’s so well aware in my taste in porn that she once got me some. And I’ll save my “Why I hate SuicideGirls, because its used to be chock full of all my kind of girls, like naked nerdy chicks, but now its mostly thuggish, tattooed and pierced chicks that I find a total turn-off, and which is especially lame since the photos are all boring, ever since it stopped becoming ‘porn’ and turned into ‘art’, and that’s because now more women subscribe to the site than women” rant for a later time (unless I just did it already). Then again, its hard not to notice any girl that’s just going on and on about how “awesome” Hentai is.

MK & I were on the fence about going to the next day, but since we had spent money on a two-day pass, we almost felt obligated (plus we had to meet Robin and give him copies of our stuff before he goes off to Texas for a show there). Sunday was windier and colder, which made the sight of seeing the line of people, which had been moved outside, all the more horrifying. Though the mood was far lighter and less oppressive than the day before, which was certainly nice. Chatted with a few other folks, including Dave Keirsch and Sara Varon. But otherwise, it was the last day of a comic show, and therefore, not too exciting. Though I did stumble across the Jedi Academy panel, and discovered that much of what Jedis wear can be found at Marshall’s.

And that was the show. People are viewing it, in particular Saturday’s debacle, as an amazing testament of how much demand there is for comics in New York City, which it is, and that sense of validation is a good thing. And it could be argued that the Comic Con organizers simply underestimated said demand, plus any show its first time out is going to be a mess, but when you have folks who paid in advance being told to go home shortly after MK & I scammed our way in (again crazy rumors time: some were apparently being given refund on site, but I have since heard that people were instructed to get a refund online, and even then there was no guarantee), then that is simply bad business and severely diminishes the future of a future show.

In non-comic stuff, and going back a few days, Friday night finally saw another horror night at Joe‘s. The main feature was Uncle Sam, which shows what happens when some jarhead who’s way too into fighting and killing (and who’s just an asshole off the battle field, such as his history of beating up his sister and mom) is himself killed by friendly fire during the Desert Storm conflict. His body is recovered sometime after the war is over and is shipped back to his family, who is less than thrilled to be reminded of him, with the exception of his nephew who, not knowing of all the girl punching, viewed his uncle (named Sam btw) as a hero. Hence why he has no problem when the army literally leaves the coffin in the middle of the living room. Then the 4th of July happens, crazy uncle comes back to life, steals a cheesy Uncle Sam out-flit and goes on a killing rampage during a small town’s big 4th of July festivities. The biggest failing of the film is perhaps the idea that it sorta tries to be a serious film, which means the gruesome deaths are really not that gruesome and therefore not that much fun to watch. Then there’s the idiotic logic that the film prescribes to, such as how Uncle Sam is killed in the end by an old cannon, and how Issac Hayes. playing an old war vet who hobbles along on a fake leg, can get to his truck, drive to the middle of the town square, hitch the heavy-ass chain of the cannon to the back oh his truck, drive back to the house where he’s been about to kill the kid, get out of the truck, load the canon, then fire the deadly blows, all in such short time.

The next feature on the other-hand was simply amazing: Troll 2. LIke the best good films, the best worst films are at their apex when you just don’t know what’s going to happen next, let along what the hell is going on at the moment. Take Troll 2′s plot for example, which centers around a kid who’s constantly playing with the ghost of his dead grandfather. The family decides to take a trip to the country to switch places with another family in a small, innocuous looking farming community, but in which everyone acts sorta strange. Plus everyone’s trying to get them to eat stuff slathered in green goo. This goo is actually a substance which if a human ingests will turn them into half-human, half-vegetable thing, which is what goblins eat (not trolls it seems… in fact, never once are trolls ever brought up, just goblins), so the kid, with the help of his dead grandfather, has to prevent his family from eating the green crap the whole time (such as urinated on everyone’s meal at the dinner table early on). Also along for the fun are four geeky, and vaugely gay, teenage guys that follow the family to swoon the kid’s sister and who are the first encounter some woman who’s the head goblin. At one point, you’ve got one of the nerds who has become a potted plant thanks to said woman, the kid’s sister doing aerobics (in a scene that steals the whole film), and the most awkward skateboarding every caught on film. Troll 2 simply has the stupidest story, the worst acting, the dumbest looking goblins, and the awesomest 80′s soundtrack imaginable.

Lastly, I also found out last night from my roommate that our house is being dropped by All State. The reason? It seems that Brooklyn is now a hurricane zone. And at a time when its been so gusty that the house is starting to shake a bit. Basically, All State lost a ton over Hurricane Katrina, so they’re dropping hurricane coverage completely. Sweet.

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Well, I’m still sick. Actually, its getting worse, and I’m afraid that its going to turn into a full-blown flu. I should be taking it easy, but I really haven’t had the chance, or at least haven’t been allowing myself to.

First off was the Metal Gear Solid 3 Subsistence cluster-fuck that blew up yesterday afternoon. Long story shot, many people, including myself, have been long waiting for the Snake Eater re-release, which was to include a slew of new modes and insanely awesome extras, which many were afraid would be Japanese exclusives, so we were all relieved to discover that it would be coming State-side as well. The thing is, no one really knew what exactly we were getting, and how to get them; then came announcement that much of the content would be available as a pre-order bonus, so everyone relaxed. But many folks, including myself, didn’t realize that there were two separate packages…

In the end, there are four discs. The first contains the original game (I think). The second includes different game modes, like the online component, plus the original NES/MSX Metal Gear games (I think). There there’s a third disc which has all the cut-scenes assembled together to form an actual movie (I think). And finally, a fourth “bonus” disc which has a behind the scenes, making-off documentary (I think)

EBGames and GameStop offered two packages: the regular edition and a limited edition, the latter being $10 more. But no one really knew what was in each (the retail sites were definitely not very clear on the subject), so many simply sat back and waited for the details. But all of sudden from out of no where, its revealed that they decided to stop taking orders for the LE package online, and everyone flipped out when they learned that the third disc, which was the one that everyone wanted, was what was lost, meanwhile the fourth, again so called “bonus” disc (that no one was really excited over) was still coming out with all the other “regular” pre-order. So those who sat back and waiting, like myself, got screwed over. As for brick and mortar shops, they were still offering the LE package, but it depended on the store.

So all of a sudden, I had to make all these calls to EBs and GameStops in Manhattan (and most folks will know that I hate dealing with either place) in a desperate attempt to find a store that was still offering the LE package. But I did find one, so I had to rush on over and put my money down before they ran out. And that store in particular is one in which I’ve had some pretty big issues in the past, and now I must put my faith in them that nothing gets messed up. Instead of just putting down $5, I paid for one copy in full (not that it truly guarantees anything, but just in case it gets down to who paid for their upfront or not, which has happened I hear). Though I also put down an additional $5 for another copy, for anyone I know who isn’t getting fucked by this situation but fill find out too late.

EDIT: Sorry, but its already claimed. It?s going to Joe a.k.a Isfet!

Anyway, last night was movie night. Saw an episode of Monty Python (Can you believe that MK has hardly ever seen an episode?! Just Holy Grail I think.), Stage Beauty, a flick from 2006 starring Claire Danes and Billy Crudup, about the very first female actor ever, back when only men were in plays, even doing female parts, because it was the law, and the latest Chris Rock stand-up special, which was really good. His viewpoints on various topical items were dead-oon, especially the political ones, to the degree that I found myself getting rather depressed. Mostly because Rock, like many other public comedic figures, like Jon Stewart, do such an amazing job of enlightening the public, by pointing out everything that’s wrong with our government, yet most of the “fans” out there, so act just as outraged, actually never bother to go out there and vote.

Took a cab home so I could get to bed as soon as possible, since once again, I’m sick and all. And what time did I actually go to sleep? Close to 4 in the morning. And why? Because of my goddamn Mac, or course…

As you might recall, I wiped out the drive and got Panther back on in the morning, and everything was running super smooth. But when I tried checking my email late last night, I couldn’t. As described previously, what I normally do is back up the one preference file Mail has, plus a folder that actually contains the mailboxes, and reapply it in the spots they belong after I’ve reinstalled the OS (which I’ve done about 30 times already on my machine alone). Then when you start up Mail after the reinstall, everything’s there, like nothing even happened. But this time it didn’t work… none of my inbox messages, or sent mail was present. My archived messages (I get tons of email, and I save all the important stuff, so I back everything up) were also missing, but I was actually able to import those, via a manual process in the program. But since I back stuff up at the end of the month, all my February emails were gone.

So what I then had to do was REINSTALL TIGER YET AGAIN (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) so I could access my email (I had some really important messages to send and follow-up on). After that was done, I was pissed, and became determined to rid of Tiger as fast as possible, but since I didn’t have an extra external hard drive to back everything up (which I had borrowed from the work the day prior), I had to then put everything on my own FireWire drive, but since there wasn’t enough room, I had to then decided what non-essentail files to throw away. I ended up getting rid of a bunch of movies and some shows called Puppets Who Kill, none of which I had even gotten the chance to see, and even though I doubt I ever would have, it was still annoying. But the process of backing stuff on my FireWire drive, then making bigger files smaller so I could put them on my iPod, which I also had to erase, as well as the time it took to just wait for stuff to move, was taking forever, and before I knew it, I had to get up for work in about three hours, and I hadn’t even gotten the chance to start wiping out my Mac’s HD before installing Panther, so I said fuck it. All that time and energy wasted.

Earlier today, I posted my Mail transfer problem on six different forums, in hopes that someone out there might be able to shed some light as to why it was happening and if there are any possible solutions. And despite going to some of the best resources on the web for Mac related help… MacWorld, MacAddict, ResExcellence, GAF, YayHooray, and even the official Apple tech forums, I gotten barely any information, let alone just a response. I knew things were bad when the first response, which was almost an hour after first putting the problem out there on YayHooray, was “um, i can’t follow your post cuz i’m stoned, but have you…” and the question posed didn’t make a damn bit of sense. I got one other response on ResExcellence, and a few more on YH, and the consensus there seems to be: it seems that Apple just changed the way Mail works, and there’s no real going back. Fuck.

Also not helping today is the fact that I can’t access my webmail. God damn does 1&1 ever suck (hence why I need my Mac Mail so badly).

Anyway, its gonna be a really busy next few days, so I probably won’t get a chance to update till after theNew York ComicCon this weekend, where I’ll be on the floor with the new Unlucky mini on-hand, for selling and trading. Hopefully the indie comics folks there will fare well and not be totally drowned out by the big publishers, and all the anime, movie, video game, and toy folks. And hopefully, I’ll be in good enough shape to attend.

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