May 2011

05/30/2011

The New Deal

by Matthew Hawkins

Man, I am WAY overdue for a report. So with no further adieu… first big question: how was Toronto & TCAF?

“WELCOME TO CANADA, DON’T FORGET TO GO LOONIE, EH”

After a landing on Canadian soil without incident (long story short: both myself and Katie were petrified over the possibility of being harassed by customs agents, mostly due to all the horror stories that we had heard, which included paying exorbitant tariffs and having goods withheld at the border; I had spent much of MoCCA talking with past exhibitors, gathering as much intel and advice as possible, which were all funneled into my meticulously crafted b.s. of an invoice that thankfully was not utilized), the lil? lady and I found ourselves strangers in a strange land. Thanks to a kindly old man at the airport, who was essentially the welcoming committee, we managed to comprehend the foreign currency (which wasn’t nearly as complicated as foreign Americans made it out to be… there’s just a one dollar coin and two dollar coin, no biggie) and foreign mass transit system (which included a bus ride with an old dude that kept staring at us, cuz he could tell that we were not locals and was not pleased, along with a gaggle dopey animu girls, the Canadian variety to be exact) just enough to arrive at the hotel in one piece. And with our luggage finally secured, and a chance to use the bathroom (which alas was not as exotic as, say, Japan’s), we finally hit our number one destination…

Another item on the bucket list crossed out. Though we did take a detour almost immediately, to build up energy before embarking on the second leg of our Great White North adventure; had a taste of Toronto’s pride and joy, aka poutine! It was okay I guess. Actually, pretty gross. Then it was finally time to walk down Yonge Street and retrace John Candy and Joe Flaherty’s steps… for a very long ass time. It’s like the lengthiest avenue in Toronto or something like that, with numerous sights to behold. Which I tried to capture, despite my camera’s battery running on empty (which I foolishly forgot to charge before flying out)…

… Hello Kitty dressed as a mountie! I also took a pic of Katie’s good luck charm with her dinner, some kimchi jigae, for a truly Danny Choo-inspired moment. But didn’t come out so hot, nor did the jigae. Our excursion also came to a halt once we had to ask “gee, that’s it?” as it pertained to Yonge Street. I was also dead tired from not sleeping the night before; when we arrived back at the hotel, we ran into fellow zinester Ryan with Michael Deforge, Calvin Wong, and Hellen Jo. Was really looking forward to finally meeting the later two, but thanks to my fatigue, I rambled on like an idiot with zero recollection of what was said. Immediately afterwards, I crawled into bed to enjoy the splendors of cable television, my favorite guilty pleasure at any con.

Ran into Ryan in the lobby again the next morning. After apologizing for coming off as a complete delirious goof with Calvin and Hellen, I also remarked how Yonge Street was (no offense) kinda lame. He explained that you needed a local to show you the actual cool spots, and what perfect timing, because that’s when I got an email from Zaque Coatsir! Aside from operating Steel Bananas and one of the finest Tumblrs going right now, The War Against Gygas, the guy writes for like a billion different folks; a guy after my own heart! As well as a native Torontonian, and was kind enough to show Katie and myself around proper.

During a brief coffee break at Canada’s version of Starbucks, John Green showed up out of the blue, and so it was the four of us! Zaque wanted to introduce me to the local cool indie game shop, and man, it sure as hell did not disappoint…

A & C Games felt a lot like the old St. Mark’s Games before moving two blocks and becoming VideoGamesNewYork, except all the employees here weren’t total dicks (with the sole exception of Robby Rackleff, of course). In fact, they were exceptionally friendly, especially Gar Wan Toy, one of the owners, who even bought one of my zines! That was neat. But much like the aforementioned St. Mark’s establishment, the tiny Toronto shop is one rather narrow hall with all sorts of game treasures on either side, just piled up on each top of each other…

… I believe that’s Gar Wan’s brother Chang, whose the other owner BTW. [UPDATE: wrong, it's Gar Wan after-all!] Additional highlights include this absolutely adorable custom Tails plush toy…

… And one of the boxes from the Lepos exhibition!

I was then taken next door, where A & C have also set-up an arcade of sorts…

It’s only been in operation for a month, but thus far, sounds like a good deal; it’s just a place for gamers to hang out, make some new friends, plus flex their skills in a semi-competitive yet supremely friendly and safe environment. They’ve had a few fighting tournaments thus far, like this one for Mortal Kombat that just took place.

Aside from consoles, one could also find real-deal arcade games, like The Simpsons! Not pictured, but trust me, we all geeked out upon seeing it…

Along with makeshift (and somewhat ghetto-tastic) Neo-Geo…

Plus other forms of curiosities in every which corner…

… A Japanese Virtual Boy? Wow! Anyhow, afterwards we explored the city some more. Unfortunately, this was about as close as myself and Katie got to CN Tower; we mostly stuck around the trendy part of town, the college district, just north of Chinatown…

All over the place were flyers for some Reg Hartt fellow…

We didn’t get deep into Chinatown, but enough to spot this…

Eventually Zaque took us to a gigantic store called Honest Ed’s, a fairly well known establishment in those parts for being this gigantic super store that sells all sorts of crap at dirt-cheap prices. Mostly because, well, the stuff is indeed crap. It reminded me of the B&I, this really run-down, ghetto mall from back home in Tacoma; both the selection of goods and folks who appeared to be clearly regulars of Honest Ed’s were rather depressing. But much like the place I grew up with, the place was not without its charms (or plain and simple bizarreness)…

Another similar to B&I touch were head shots and other photos from local celebrities, which in this place’s case was someone who was instantly recognizable (the biggest celeb my place back home got was Burt Ward)…

This alleyway, between the two builds that Honest Ed’s occupies, was where the very first TCAF took place!

It’s also worth mentioning that just around the corner was The Beguiling, the comic shop run by Chris Butcher, whose also the primary force behind TCAF. Ryan once noted that it’s the best comic shop in North America, and I couldn’t agree more. Was also my chance to finally meet Chris; super swell fellow. In addition to clearly knowing what my interests were, hence the recommendation that I check out the store’s impressive selection of manga and Japanese art books (if I wasn’t so strapped for cash, which is always the case before a convention, I could have easily cleared an entire shelf), Chris also made me feel welcomed at the big show, which was sincerely appreciated. As perhaps mentioned in the past, was a bit nervous about TCAF due to the fact that I was an odd-man out somewhat; even if a large deal of my video game oriented of my goods were by some of the finest talents from the world of indie comics, along with my long-felt belief that the two worlds already share common-ground, felt a degree of self-consciousness that I had never experienced at any previous show while representing Attract Mode. I guess because the show was tightly curated and a few folks had already expressed “oh really” when they heard I had gotten accepted.

Some final pictures from day two, including the big adult theater across from the Korean chicken joint where we had lunch…

After another night in which we turned in early, which meant even more cable tv in bed (whereas with Adam it’s Disney Channel, with Katie, Spike TV curiously enough), it was finally showtime: TCAF 2011!

… A shot from above of the first floor, which was always jam-packed. Whereas we were upstairs, which also got plenty of foot traffic, though not the kind I was hoping for… more on that in a moment. But yeah, the show took place at this massive library, a breath of fresh air (literally) when compared to the dingy MoCCA armory. I know, especially at this point, drawing comparisons between the two is akin to beating a dead horse’s bones, but it can’t be helped. The degree of organization demonstrated from the very beginning, including all the emails from Butcher that were chockfull of helpful details (and which remained constant throughout), the positive energy every fellow exhibitor had going in and during the show (not the self-delusional type that one must practically adopt to get through the weekend at that other thing), the immensely dedicated group of volunteers that were eager to help in any which way (they actually tried to answer the questioned you asked, which is all anyone could want), all the wonderful natural light that filled the upstairs (not to mention the air conditioning), plus so much more. Yeah, can’t really say I’ll ever be interested again in the comedy of errors that the shindig in my backyard has become.

Here’s a shot of my table…

… Not only was I happy to finally gaze upon Farel and Hilary‘s Giant Robot pieces in the flesh at long last, but Angie Wang‘s Castlevania print, which is another new edition to the Attract Mode store. Adam had everything so tightly packed that I didn’t get a chance to see them when they arrived in NYC the few days prior.

Oh, speaking of, Adam’s special delivery was in caught in the crossfire of a mental meltdown that I unintentionally triggered in the postal employee that had dropped it off. Whom I was genuinely afraid was going to destroy it, right in front of my eyes, when I said the wrong thing (which was basically “relax dude” when he showed up needlessly cranky for the umpteenth time). He also told me to fuck myself and even implied that I shouldn’t be surprised if my mail all of a sudden stopped showing up. Which led to me filing a report with the US Postal Service and two phone conversations thus far with local investigators that are also douchebags, but for different reasons. But that’s a story for another time…

Back to the show, whenever it’s your fist, it’s always nice being around friends. Behind us was Colleen, and just a few tables down to our left was Love Love Hill. Here I am with An, whom I hadn’t seen since MoCCA 2009…

And here we have what was undeniably the book of the show…

Katie’s contribution…

Was behind the table so much that I barely had a chance to walk around and take pictures (let alone give The Hand Eye Society’s Torontron 2). Though I did get this pic of a big pile of stickers for sale, right next to Angie’s table (where I got the very last of her Hausu-inspired prints)…

And I had to capture the following; the table across from us had this hanging at the side of theirs, so it was barely noticeable. Though Katie and I certainly did…

I guess the real question is how did I do? Unfortunately, not as welll as I had expected. Ultimately I made costs, which is all one could really ask for at any show, but I was honestly (and perhaps foolishly, at least for my first time being there) expecting to make bank, given that Toronto is such a hotbed for game development. There were tons of folks there and hardly ANY games people stopped by. Totally confusing. I also found the crowd not to be what I expected; given how super indie and diverse the selection of talent and work was behind the table (I’ve never been part of a show with such a high caliber of quality on both accounts, btw), has assumed the attendees to be generally the same audience. Perhaps there were those same kind of folks, but there was also a ton of folks that were definitely… more mainstream. Hey, that’s not bad, just saying. I just wasn’t expecting as many folks with Spider-Man shirts, but as it’s been pointed out, that’s what you get when its open to the public.

But perhaps as a result, lots of folks were either confused or just not into what I had to offer. What I found most shocking was the relative lack of interest in any of the prints, though as I would hear from pretty much everyone selling something similar, prints were impossible to sell at that show this year. Though I also feel stupid for waiting till the very last moment to pass along Farel his copies, since he could have had one on display to then send folks towards my table…

Remember the black and white version of the front cover his did for FORT90ZINE4ANSWER? Which I’m happy to say, btw, is far and away the most popular thing I’ve posted on Tumblr thus far. Well he was kind enough to pass along the originals to me…

Speaking of the end, what really killed my profit margin was how things were still so jam packed on Sunday downstairs that none of the exhibitors had a chance to leave their stations either; was really banking on them wanting to spend some of the money that they had earned, which is usually the case with most other shows as they wrap up. Though once more, it was the lack of game industry types that I was mostly bummed out about… which I also blame myself for not sufficiently advertising my presence, due to do a billion things at once leading up. At least Craig Adams, of Superbrothers fame, stopped by with his wife (and tweeted about it afterward)…

EDIT: My God, I can’t believe I forgot to mention him, given the extremely limited number of games folk who stopped by the table: after nearly a decade of reading each other’s stuff online, and chit-chatting back and forth via the internet as well, finally met Mike Nowak in the flesh! Without a doubt, the most mind-blowing moment of the entire shindig.

Lindsay Collins also stopped on by, who was one of the participants from my No More Heroes fan art contest…

… Now, I failed to highlight her entry because it just wasn’t my cup of tea, though it’s here for those interested. Certainly well done, but just not what I was looking for. Thankfully she took the news well (unlike one other contributor, as anyone who checked out the comments section knows already), and was kind enough to pass along some stickers she had created, featuring all the other ladies from the series. Which I told her, if she had submitted instead, would have perhaps been a strong candidate for first place…

… For those of you who still insist on seeing every single entry, I’ve finally forwarded the entire batch to Grasshopper Manufacture, who shall decide their ultimate fate. Simply keep an eye out on Facebook page for their eventual appearance (which already has a few pieces that I hadn’t seen, specifically all of Sem‘s ladies in individual pieces).

Anyhow, despite the somewhat disappointing showing, at the very least, I learned plenty for next time. And from what I understand, there is interest in having me come back; forgot to mention that I moderated a panel the morning of day one, and got quite a bit of positive feedback, enough to receive very early word of hopes of me doing a couple next time! And more importantly, got to finally experience TCAF, whose glowing reputation was completely justified and validated, so it was indeed an honor to be a part.

After the show, myself and Katie had dinner with Colleen and some pals of her… one of them ending up being a pal of mine from college WAY back in the day, so that was a pleasant surprise! Afterward, Katie and I hooked up with Ryan, Michael, Calvin, Hellen, An, and others for karaoke, which had long been talked about, and something I was afraid would never happen.

Not helping… and if I had to make one big complaint about the trip, this is it… was how keeping in touch with everyone was a nightmare. I spent the money on an international call and text plan, but didn’t blame anyone else who didn’t feel like splurging, because it was highway robbery. A few relied upon email, and given that international data packages are FAR worse (it was Adam who calculated that checking out just one blog entry on my iPhone would cost $200… no lie), it meant mooching off of free wifi whenever possible, which in most cases, was a total headache.

So with all that in mind, the rather dingy karaoke joint, with their abysmal selection of songs (seriously, there was NO Duran Duran, wtf), and super cranky staff was not enough to dampen spirits and impede an awesome evening! I just hoped I didn’t come off as too obnoxious with my Billy Joel. But yeah, I guess that’s it… till TCAF 2012? One last pic from the show: my loot…

… A modest haul, but definitely no duds in this haul, that’s for sure. My only regret was missing out on the Team Society League’s hardcover collection… next time I guess. A a big thanks to John for alerting me of their existence in the first place! And I am ashamed to admit that, alas, I have yet to dig into Mathew’s latest issue of exp. This week, I promise!

The News Ways Of Doing The Same Old

I guess the second big question is: how’s the zine going? Truth be told, wasn’t able to jump right back in upon returning from Canada. The cough I got, which I thought was allergies, turned out to be a cold! Though I’ve mostly been adjusting to my new gig at GameSetWatch! Which essentially has meant approaching familiar waters in a new manner. But before going into all that…

Not too long after TCAF was NYU, the 2nd annual No Quarter show to be exact. It marked my first local game-related social engagement in quite a while, due to me being a hermit (looking for work and putting a zine together will kill one’s social life, that’s for sure). My return was warmly received, and I felt like the prettiest girl at the dance, with tons of folks wanting to chit-chat. Many of whom I hadn’t seen in ages; old friends, colleagues, even former students! One of whom ended up taking my advice and dropping out of SVA to enter Parson’s game program instead. Which needless to say, my former place of employment was not too happy about, hence why we’re not exactly on speaking terms! Anyhow, he just graduated and has a promising road ahead of him! Which includes making Jizzmoppa 2 and Spread Bear for me, if time and other factors permit. But yeah, spent so much time talking that I didn’t have any chance to play any of the games! Including At A Distance, the latest by Terry Cavanagh…

… Tried watching others play while waiting for my turn (which never happened because it was getting late), and never did figure out what the hell was going on. At least Steve clarified it afterward.

At least I got the chance to finally give El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron a spin that same afternoon. Which I later wrote about for Guyism

Mentioned it already, but it bears repeating: I’m now writing for a new bro site! Where I post and comment upon the day’s headlines and other bits of mainstream news… or at least that’s what I’m supposed to. But instead, I generally post whatever floats my boat, provided it also falls within the demographic of the intended audience, or at least try to pitch it towards them (thankfully I’ve been told that I can assume a fairly convincing tone). Such as…

- Me bitching about how much I can’t stand video game burlesque.

- It’s both deluxe, sit-down arcade cabinet and… beer dispenser?

- Various arcade offerings that Americans will never have the pleasure of experiencing.

- How a couple months old video of the new Zelda manage to make everyone cream their pants all of a sudden, after one person’s discovery.

- Super Mario on ice.

- A most awesome mix of Metal Gear, Call of Duty, and Halo.

- Why watching other people play Tetris will never get old in my book.

- Lil B showing off his “rare” video game collection.

- A reason why every Miyazaki diehard will now need to play Minecraft.

- The awesomeness that is Gabe Newell.

- Yet another fine example of superb game playing.

- Old Genesis games spoiled, and some old SNES carts ruined.

- Why I’ve long been fascinated by the mixture of video games and basketball players.

- By far one of the best freak outs ever on Xbox Live.

- Let’s go back in time when life, and Nintendo, was far less complicated.

- And finally why video games kinda suck.

… You know, I personally wasn’t super excited with the idea of doing daily duties for yet another dude’s site, especially since that’s SO not me. But on my first day, when I noticed my boss had posted a video of a cat dressed as a dog, eating a hot dog, it quickly became clear that this Guysim thing was not half bad!

Back to what’s been happening in the Big Apple; we just had ourselves another Blip Festival! And how was it? Well, guess you’ll have to check out micro-reports for GameSetWatch for all my full rundown (night 1, night 2, and night 3). As you’ll see, I had an amazing time; more than anything, the atmosphere was intoxicating. Such a warm and friendly environment, with none of the negative vibes that had marred the last few Blips (again, hate to be a hater, but I blame Brooklyn, or at where the Bell House resides). I’m just bummed that I didn’t get a chance to hang with certain folks as much as I would have loved to, like Anthony and JC.

Though one person who was dearly missed entirely was the man formerly known as click-stick, aka my good pal Brian. A few might know him from his guest piece in the third edition of my zine, though more recently, he appeared in Boing Boing! Anyhow, dude couldn’t make it cuz he’s too busy expanding his current made out of mud abode, as well as his garden, setting up a bee hive, designing a brand new home, plus making ravioli in his also custom-built kitchen. Here’s a pic of the dude from last year, when he was in his pizza-making craze-phase. As you can see, moving all that earth around does a body good…

… Sorry ladies, but the dude is taken. BTW, for those interested in how he made his home made of mud, be sure to pick up his book! Oh, and back to Blip; in addition to my reports for GSW, I also did a pair of interviews for the Blip blog; check out what Anamanaguchi and Zen Albatross had to say when I asked about how they got involved in 8bit music, their favorite Blip memories, and thoughts about the chip scene in general!

Oh, so here’s a better pic of that totally hawt Bit Shifter shirt, which I picked up naturally…

And because the UPS guy arrived literally two seconds after I took the pic above, with Muchi Muchi Pork/Pink Sweets…

Plus the DLC card that I couldn’t redeem at first, which caused utter panic, but thankfully the fine folks at the shumps forum got it working for me…

But yeah, my new post at GameSetWatch has been the main reason why this blog has been especially quiet as of late. Mostly due to the fact that it’s now literally my job to deliver what I’ve generally produced on this end on that one. Hence why the following showed up there first and not here…

- Mushihimesama 1 just got an update! Yes… the very first one.

- Only one person can make heads or tails of the Zelda timeline, and it’s the professor from Back to the Future.

- This is how the Japanese are celebrating the 15th anniversary of Resident Evil: downing multicolored booze and shooting guns.

- Did you know that one point there was a chicken suit in New Super Mario Bros?

- For those who enjoy chiptunes, shumps, and pandas.

- Unlike all the other haters, I welcome the return of the Tokyo Game Show girl.

- So much for David O. Russell’s Uncharted.

- LOL Tumblr.

- Gradius X Busou Shinki.

- A new way to depixelize pixels (for whatever reason).

- The creator of Rez does TED.

- The director of Ichi The Killer is doing Phoenix Wright.

- The creator of Metal Gear gets all emo on Twitter.

- Ever heard of the band Edelweiss?

- Does anyone know what happened to the bad as hell Metal Gear Rex statue?

- About damn time; Harry Potter on the Genesis.

- A game in which you run around Akihabara, ripping the clothes off of women on the street to expose them as vampires.

- What the Japanese thought of early 90s hip-hop.

- Another fine example of Steel Battalion DJ-ing.

- My thoughts on sense memory as it relates to video games.

- And finally, a look at my good pal Lamar’s love for Mega Man. BTW, here’s an image I forgot to post, a more recent version of his latest stab at a Famicase…

Back to how my GSW commitment will affect the blog; let’s be honest, this place ain’t what it used to be. The primary reason for the lack of timely information and inconsistent updates was the fairly rough waters I’ve been treading as of late. So I genuinely appreciate the chance to write about what’s happening in the world of games, both the headlines and obscure stuff, for those that will in turn help me survive. The fact that the audience is definitely wider is a bonus to say the least. That’s always been the goal after-all.

In that sense, I guess you could say that this blog will be a different beast from this point forward, though the emphasis as of late has been on solely personal projects and the like anyway. Like I said last time, you can expect to see plenty of random game related nonsense even still, specifically the goods that I can’t fit elsewhere. Mostly NSFW-ish content, along with additional odds and ends, like this light novel that mixes the apocalypse and used games (which I would have posted on GSW, if not for the fact that Eric did so already… two years ago, lol).

I’ll also continue to present the best of my random images and video Tumblr, but since I’ve already hit my quote of visual aides for one blog post, that’ll have to wait. Till then, and a head’s up for those unaware as of yet: have been passing along highlights from my epic trip to Japan over at the photo dump, to coincide with its 4th anniversary.

Alright, going to use the rest of Memorial Day to actually relax before getting back to work. Not just GSW and whatever, but FORT90ZINE4ANSWER! Hopefully by next time, I’ll have pics of the finished product to share…

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So… we’re a little over 48 hours till TCAF kicks off & little less than 12 hours till myself and Katie are in Toronto, walking down Younge Street, singing this song. And since I have way too much energy inside me to get any shuteye (we have to be at JFK in about six hours), figured, why not one last, pre-show post? First off, some follow-up…

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As most have heard by now, the Kickstarter for FORT90ZINE4ANSWER was a roaring success!

Man, hitting the 100% mark in a little under a weekend was one thing, but making it past 300% in 25 days? Jesus! So once again, I have to thank everyone who parted ways with their hard earned cash for my silly little collection of video game ramblings, and especially for helping to spread the word (which is the primary reasons why I was able to surpass my fundraising goal as much as I did). As clich?d as it sounds, I genuinely don’t have the proper words to express myself!

Unfortunately… things have not exactly gone quite as planned. I’m afraid to say that I was not able to produce my latest zine in time for the big show this weekend. Words also can’t properly express how that feels, though frustrated and embarrassed as all hell are both good starts. The reason? Well, I hate to make excuses, but there are several. First and foremost, my timing could not be any worse. I was a complete idiot for trying to put FORT90ZINE4ANSWER together, while also orchestrating/overseeing/promoting the Kicsktarter to help finance its production, finally pulling the trigger on the Grasshopper fan art contest that’s also connected, figuring out all the logistical issues that comes with simple exhibiting at TCAF, and keeping up with the ever-increasing flow of freelance work that’s been steadily piling up. Which in the case of the later has been a good thing; some might recall that things were looking quite grim, but I guess you could say that my luck has turned around, with a related announcement to make in short bit!

Strange as it might sound, the whole PlayStation Network debacle has also been a HUGE headache. For those confused (like the folks on Twitter who scratched their heads at me being especially pissed about “PSNgate”), doesn’t it stand to make sense that those who would donate money for a video game zine might also have PS3s? With about 24 hours to go till deadline, I got a flurry of emails saying “sorry, but expect my pledged to bounce cuz I just cancelled my credit cards, due to fears of being hacked.” And on my own end, I was afraid of doing much, despite being a possible victim myself, since A) I was on the brink of accepting funds for a fundraising initiative, and B) I ‘m about to travel out of country to conduct business. Thankfully my bank was able to lend a hand without needing to make any changes to my account; basically my activity is being HEAVILY monitored. Perhaps admitting all… specifically how I have yet to change my credit card info, despite it potentially being in the hands of hackers… is rather foolish, but that would mean that they read this blog and that would be kinda neat. But yeah, wish I could say “Dear Sony, fuck you for having such inept security measures, because it cost me X amount of my Kickstarter!” I almost did when I was especially pissed. Thankfully, a chunk of the money that was lost (which I’m sad to say was considerable) is slowly being recovered (though I doubt all of it will). Though the process hasn’t been easy, and more than anything else, time consuming, hence another reason for the delay.

Also, even though I began principle work a good while ago, I got hit with the worst case of writer’s block in a long-ass time around late March/early April, due to various real life nonsense that only recently l’ve been able to plow through. Plus, assorted outside assets materialized far later than expected, but hey, that comes with the territory with such things. I guess the final decision came when I got word that Cory, whose doing the logo-work for the front and back covers, was getting sick. I felt so bad, him staying up all night, cranking out some amazing graphic design on my behalf. I was also stressing out something hardcore myself; as noted, bringing up books and prints to sell in Canada, as it turns out, is a very tricky thing, mostly the hard-ass customs officials that I’ve heard nothing but nightmare scenarios about. Even receiving Attract Mode goods has been a three ring circus, mostly due to how I accidentally pissed of the mail guy that handles special deliveries; he basically threatened me the other morning, going so far as to imply that the next time he handles something intended for me, that I should be shocked if something bad happens because “what goes around, comes around!” and “you are FUCKED.” For those wondering: yes, I have been dealing with US Postal investigators ever since, which is a whole different headache for another time.

Back to the zine and my stupid excuses: in order to make deadline, I also had to cut an article, on-top of having to rush in general, something that I absolutely cannot stand doing (which in many regards is why THREE did not turn out as well as I had hoped). So I’m actually happy to throw in the towel, even though I know a few folks were expecting it this weekend. Though when it does come out, which is still very soon… I get right back to work once Toronto is over with, especially since I have promises to keep amongst all the Kickstarter donators… it’ll be worth the wait, I promise! I wish I could show you the absolutely gorgeous cover artwork that Farel whipped up for me, but it’s not quite ready yet. Feel better Cory, btw! So here’s a sneak peak instead, of just the front, sans inks and colors and logo…

As for the inside, I have a Grasshopper fan art contest winner, aka this particular issue’s centerfold, to announce and reveal!

And The Winner Is…

Holly Summers by Georgina Chac?n!

Making the call was extremely tough; there were a number of truly amazing pieces to chose from, as you’ll see. Funny thing is, Georgina sent hers in literally less than 15 minutes till the deadline. She mentioned in an email that a friend of hers tipped her off to the contest, perhaps relatively recently, and thusly and quickly whipped the above up.

Great job Gina! The prize package is all yours, and deservedly so. And for those interested in checking out what else Ms. Chac? has done, simply check out her Deviant Art account

Like I said, there were a select few that I was agonizing over, as to which should win. Here are my other faves, starting off with a pair from a French artist who calls himself Sem

The level of detail is simply astounding…

Each lovely lady stands alone by herself just as well…

Here we have Shinobu by the truly amazing Jovan Velkoski, located in Japan…

Along with another, by one of my favorite artists on Tumblr, without a doubt, Mira Ongchua

I also really dig her take on Jeanne…

Though by far, Shinobu was the most popular character among all the entrants. Hardly a shock, I know! Here’s a third delectable rendition by Xavier Garcia. Sucks that he couldn’t finish it in time, but it’s awesome nonetheless…

Time for another group shot, this time courtesy of Hugo Dourado

The second most popular character, btw, was surprisingly Alice Twilight. Here’s another fave rendition of her, via Breno Girafa

There’s just something by this image of Bad Girl by Rosemary V, that’s just… mysterious I guess is the word?

From before, but totally worth sharing again; the hottie from Flower Sun Rain, by the Italian pixel pusher who calls herself Luca!

One final featured entry, by my gal pal, with a little something for the ladies out there. Or dudes who like dudes, that’s totally cool!

… I seriously mean it when I say that I really wish I could send you all something, but aside from the financial difficulties that would be involved, there just aren?t a whole lot of Grasshopper goods out there. But yeah, thank you all for your tremendous work and kick ass talent!

In the end, I received submissions from all corners of the globe; a little over 50+ plus folks entered when all was said and done, which isn’t half bad. Some truly interesting, and at times flat out bizarre stuff popped up in my inbox throughout the contest, with the definite “highlight” being a sexy drawing of Suda 51 himself. Most folks sent in a single piece, maybe two at most, though one artist in particular passed along THIRTEEN unique pieces, including one featuring the girl from Shadow of the Damned. Yes, the game that hasn’t even come out yet; Sexy Suda was from this same artist, btw. I was also shocked to see not just one, not just two, but three different people pass along depictions of a sexy Speedbuster (you know, the fat old lady with the gigantic canon). Mediums also varied quite a bit as well, covering what you see above, to scanned in charcoal drawings, even oil paints!

Ultimately, I think it was a success, and thanks to everyone who spared a little of their time and talents for this initiative! Will I do another one? Well, it entirely depends on if I’m able to top myself with the next prize package, which to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to anytime soon. I will need another pin-up for the next zine (yes, even though 4ANSWER is not even finished, I already have plans for #5, mostly stuff I couldn’t fit this time around for starters), though I will more than likely be calling up one of the runner-ups!

The Checklist

Once again, totally blows that my new thing won’t be at TCAF this weekend, but another reason why it’s not the end of the world is because I’ll have SO much awesome stuff, that it practically doesn?t matter! Basically, I’ll have…

- The first three installments of the fort90zine, including #1, which as noted last time, I will be retiring. The screen that I use to create the covers is on it’s last legs; fingers crossed that it’ll last to make enough covers for a batch of interior pages that I recently uncovered in a corner of my closet, but I somehow doubt it. Those will be sent to Attract Mode HQ as the absolute last print run, so what I’ll have this weekend will mark the debut issue’s final con showing!

- Issue #3 of Raina Lee‘s groundbreaking 1Up MegaZine will also be handy. I forget how old it is, because it’s just as fresh today as it was however many years ago! You know about Billy Mitchell, right? Sorry, Raina was all over him WAY before he was a household name. Plus tons more; basically, everything that video game writing is still trying to be was already done by Ms. Lee.

- The instruction manual to Calvin & Helen’s Bogus Journey, the ARTXGAME by Derek Yu, Hellen Jo, and Calvin Wong (which some might recall from Heavenly Symphony last fall). I will have the only three copies left! Once they’re gone, THEY ARE GONE.

- Not only will I have copies of Mar?‘s Letters To An Absent Father mini comic, but remember that beautiful image he created on the behalf of Attract Mode, for the TCAF Comics Page? I’ll have a mini print version of that as well!

- Also remember Nick Maynard‘s Game Boy zine from before as well? Well, it too has completely rocked the Tumblr-verse, and I was able to get a nice stack for the show!

- Eightbit Fighters, the wacky shmup zine that’s imported from Japan will also be present! It’s truly a one of a kind package, no joke.

- Two of Attract Mode’s prints that made their debut at Giant Robot’s Game Over 4 show a few months back (and which frankly rocked the house, if I don’t say so myself), will finally be available from us! I’ll have both Farel’s future game playing cat design, along with Hilary‘s eloquent tribute to Tetris as well!

- Plus, there will be Katie’s ode to shumps and cats print as well, along with… get this… a Castlevania print courtesy of Angie Wang?!?! I haven’t even set eyes upon it myself (Adam wrapped everything nice and tight). So come this Saturday morning, I’ll be opening it’s sleeve up like a kid on Christmas morning. Though Adam has promised me it’s epic, and the man does not lie!

… Oh, and speaking of Saturday morning, that’s when I’m moderating a panel! It’s called Beyond the Panels: A Panel on Art in Comics & Other Spaces and will include Graham Annable, Benjamin Rivers, Miguel Sternberg, and George Walker. Here’s the official description of the panel…

“Comic artists often lend their talents to more than just comics. What is is about working in different mediums that appeals to and encourages artists? Are there stories to be told in one space that wouldn’t work in another? In a discussion with four artists, this panel will look at how the comics form is shared and explored across different disciplines such as game design, animation, woodcuts, and more.”

… I’ll also be hanging out with The Hand Eye Society, giving their new Torontron High Roller cabinet a go! There will also be plenty of other awesome folks, including my zinester compadre Ryan (who, once more, is behind what will be THE book of the show, aka Thickness), and a host of others. TCAF 2011 shall be an epic show indeed… and if you can swing by, I’ll be one half of table 247 (which I’m sharing with Katie, obviously) on the second floor.

New Job(s) Get

Though as amped as I am for TCAF, I’m also excited for the week immediately following it back hom. Why? Remember me saying I had an announcement at the top of this post? Well, I’m starting a new gig later in just a few. I’ll be writing for… GameSetWatch!

Yes, the same site I’ve contributed towards for many years now. But many changes are afoot, ready to take in effect very soon, so keep your eye’s peeled on that end for the full deal. But I will say right here, right now, that I’m being added to freshly assembled, brand new daily crew! What that means is all the wacky game oriented stuff I generally post around here will be now be packaged for a much winder audience (something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS, finally realized). Can’t wait!

Needless to say, that also means changes for around here. Then again, it’s not like I’ve been passing along a ton of game oriented articles or videos that much as of late, mostly just me talking about what I’ve been up to (which has been a lot in recent months, granted). It’s hard to say what the future holds, though I say expect a steady stream of random goodness as in the past, just a bit more harder edged, the stuff I simply can’t get away with on a big-time blog that has to worry about taste and the such. Like this H comic I recently came across that involves a dude at the arcade and his horny gf; don’t worry, it’s a SFW page, the only one actually. Also, since it’s straight from Japan, don’t forget: you have to read right to left…

More on GSW later! In the meantime… Did I ever mention that I also recently started posting for another bro site? Yup, Guyism.com to be exact! I mostly touch upon mainstream/headline news, though I also post the occasional wacky vid, sorta like at Heavy.com, though I’m able to add more of my two cents. All of my stuff can be found here. Might I recommend…

- This speedrun of Family Fued for the SNES

- What happens when you combine Star Trek: The Next Generation with Angry Birds

- A look at video games mixed with religion (even if you don’t want to bother with the videos, PLEASE just check out the comments)

- And a bachelor party: the video game

… Okay, that’s it for now. Time to staple some more zines together and finally pack. Hope to see some of you later this weekend in the Great White North!

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