04/02/2012

ICON 31: “this has convinced me you can make a voltron out of hot dogs”

by Matthew Hawkins

Oh God, it’s April already. This month is gonna be CRAZY. So no time to waste; how was ICON? Well, before going into all that, an explanation and a recap for those who need one?
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We live in a time in which being a nerd is socially acceptable, almost chic. It’s not true all across the country, but in most major cities, being a media junkie is no longer the impetus for embarrassment, but instead, a cause for celebration. Hence why places like Comic Con have been able to shed most of its negative stigmas from years past.

Sure, people still like dressing up as their favorite move or comic book characters, but “geeking out” is now viewed as harmless fun instead of a desperate cry for help. As a result, most cons have become respectable, but not all; ICON is the red headed stepchild of such melting pots. It’s almost like an exaggerated stereotype of what conventions thought to be, except it’s real.

Being in the middle of nowhere, yet close to the center of universe, culturally speaking (aka Long Island), certainly lends much to its unique flavor. Though most of the charm stems from the naivet? most attendees exhibit, along with its organizers (but in the case of the latter, that’s also where much of the problems stem from). Another defining quality is its lack of definition.

Simply put: ICON covers everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Sure you have standbys like Star Trek, Harry Potter, Marvel Comics, Dungeons & Dragon, anime, zombies, etc. But you also have serious discussions regarding cybernetics, the supernatural, alchemy, even mapmaking. And don’t forget about furries! Nor video games.

I used to be a staple of that part of the show for years, which is where I developed my shtick as it pertains to spreading game related knowledge to strangers in a room. My association culminated three years ago, which is where everything came crashing down; efforts to help behind the scenes completely blew up in my face. Was so annoyed by the powers that be that I said enough was enough, it was time to move on.

But it wasn’t enough after-all; like a moth to a flame, I had to go back. My return was also encouraged by those who also have a fondness for ICON’s charms (especially Jason, who wanted to a return trip almost more than myself). Wasn’t easy though; not to say that I was the sole reason for video game programming, but when I left, they had no one else to turn to, hence video games was no longer a part of the proceedings.

My return, due to me burning my bridges upon my exit/them no longer knowing what to do with someone like myself at this point, was a test run of sorts. Which was mostly successful; despite being clumped together by pen and paper gaming guests, I think I did a fairly good job of contributing towards the conversation, yet also demonstrating how having a dedicated e-gaming speaker helps to address an underserved portion of the audience.

Which you’d think they realize existed, given all the Nintendo/Capcom/Square Enix/etc cosplay that’s all over the damn place. Anyway, there are already talks about me helping to revive the e-gaming portion of the show, but that’s a conversation for later on.
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K, wasn’t planning on spending so much time on the build up alone. Like I said, my plate are fuller than ever; tonight alone, got about 50 emails to write up. So instead, I’m just going to republish along all my tweets from this past weekend, since I was effectively live-blogging the entire time anyway (along with some clarification and non-Instagram pics):

DAY ONE

10:03 PM
ICON 31 thus far: just saw person who played Greedo speak. Really cool guy! And now, someone doing Dynasty Warriors burlesque. Good for him!

10:34 PM
Can’t pay attention to this Catherine burlesquer on stage, due to the smoking hot Hunger Games cosplayer in the audience.

10:52 PM
At the Brony NYC panel, whatever the f*ck that is…

… Yes, it was a panel about My Little Pony fandom, hosted by a very nervous looking Team Fortress cosplayer.

10:57 PM
“… And of course there was spider sex.”

11:00 PM
Wow, My Little Pony fandom is crazy deep.

DAY TWO

10:11 AM
Day two begins with a panel called “Yo Mama fight anime style.”

10:28 AM
I’ve seen lots of people have problems tuning their guitars on stage, even Game Boys. But a theremin? This is a first.

10:45 AM
C. Chris Peters, teaching a theremin clinic?

11:11 AM
Next panel is called “Kids: Do They Ruin Everything?”

11:13 AM
Oh great, it’s being run by that f*cking insane and ultra annoying fanfic lesbo from two years ago.

11:34 AM
Hmmm, which panel should I go to? “Girl Gamers” (great place to score chicks) or “The Chipmunks & Chipettes” (no explanation needed)?

1:03 PM
Why the hell is every Inuyasha cosplayer so f*cking disheveled looking?!?!

1:58 PM
Best booth at the dealers’ room…

The internet has ravaged pretty much every dealers’ room at every con, but it definitely feels worse at ICON. That being said, you still can’t get Girl Scout Cookies online!

2:23 PM
Robert Axelrod talking about his days as Lord Zed in the Power Rangers…

2:29 PM
… Though I mostly know him from Digimon and Tim & Eric’s Check It Out with Steve Brule.

2:39 PM
Jesus Christ, this dork in the audience totally dominating (and ruining) the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers panel.

2:42 PM
Man, had no idea of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ connection to 9/11. Not joking.

… People have asked what the above is all about, and here’s the story: after Thuy Trang, the original Yellow Ranger, was fired from the show (along with several other cast members, for asking too much money), she fell of the public radar. One popular theory was that she had become a porn star, something I was led to believe as well. But in fact, she was killed in an automobile accident in early September 2011.

The incident and resulting death was not widely reported at the time. After her cremation a few days later, on the 10th, Trang’s passing was to be made public the following day, via some official statement from her family or something like that. Which promptly got brushed aside due to you know what. So it’s not a huge connection per say, but one nonetheless.

2:58 PM
Btw, Lord Zed? Jewish.

3:10 PM
And now DC 52 panel is being stunk up by the same annoying fan fic woman from this morning. Wonderful.

3:20 PM
“Continuity porn”? Okay, the woman just made a really interesting point.

4:10 PM
Best cosplay (thus far)…

… Best part is how he had a portable music player inside, blasting the theme to Sonic X!

4:32 PM
At a Star Wars panel, 5 yr old boy: “Jango Fett was so useless. That’s why he had his head cut off!” Moderator: “And we love him for that.”

5:04 PM
At a panel called “How To Be A Furry (and not be creepy)”. The smell here is DEAFENING.

5:48 PM
Sorry, I beg to differ. That was NOT like an episode of The Office as directed by kawaii Tim & Eric, what the hell are you talking about.

6:01 PM
Well, that Death Note X Kiki’s Delivery Service X Pokemon X Star Wars skit at the cosplay talent show sure missed some golden opportunities.

6:32 PM
At the console gaming room. I respect anyone who is really good at Super Smash Bors Brawl using the Wiimote + nunchuck combo.

7:04 PM
Weirdest Snoppy tattoo ever.

… I SO badly wanted to take a picture, you don’t even know.

7:53 PM
“Bond Girls Exposed” was both informative and creepy.

8:34 PM
Lego Batman cosplayer at ICON 31…

8:36 PM
“It works every time!”

8:38 PM
Huge ass Voltron made out of balloons…

9:02 PM
This guy’s hentai presentation is 109 slides long. Yikes.

9:04 PM
This hentai panel is brought to you by Billy Mitchell’s anime loving cousin.

9:55 PM
Every animu panel that’s 18+ here is like any given scene from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, but everyone has Tourette’s and is a huge wimp.

9:57 PM
Not for nothing, but if ICON was to ever let me run a hentai panel, I’d be the highlight of everyone’s weekend. Just sayin’.

10:26 PM
Should I be surprised that this Homestuck panel is not the least bit informative/cohesive/entertaining?

10:55 PM
Homestuck X Rocky Horror…

DAY THREE

10:19 AM
Was going to say how great the video game soundtrack panel was until I got into an argument with panelist about WipeOut XL.

10:21 AM
Dude refuses to believe that its an original game for PSone and not a port of an Atari 2600 game.

10:43 AM
You know, not to be “that guy”, but I was expecting more Konji Kondo and less Soulja Boy’s cover of his own song in Simlish.

10:50 AM
Jesus, the dad screeching the process to a grinding halt by asking everyone if they saw this one funny car video on YouTube.

11:18 AM
The doctor running the “Science, Pseudoscience, and Outright Crap” panel is AWESOME.

11:22 AM
“Magnets! THEY WERE SH*T THEN, THEY ARE STILL SH*T TODAY!!!”

11:24 AM
“… But that doesn’t mean I’m going to graze on dandelions because I have DIARRHEA!!!”

11:31 AM
Also, “caveman blowjobs.”

… It was at ICON where I first heard of this Uncle Kage character. And for years I wondered what the hell “Furrydom’s Storyteller” (the moniker he has long gone by) is supposed to mean, but never got around to really investigating.

Well lo and behold, I got to finally witness the man in action, albeit in his real life persona, and no recounting anecdotes relating to his love for the furry lifestyle, but more about his frustration about the dumb things people believe as it retaliates to cures to maladies plus the supposed the dangers of food and medicine.

Again, dude was simply amazing.

3:13 PM
Next panel: “Special Effects and Furries”.

3:20 PM
“Lucas produced Howard the Duck, Spielberg produced Who Framed Roger Rabbit… both are CLEARLY furries!”

Here btw is one of the panelists…

3:36 PM
“It wasn’t George Clooney is the voice of Fantastic Mr Fox, it was George Clooney IS Fantastic Mr Fox… That’s furry, very furry.”

4:32 PM
Loungin’

4:55 PM
Steampunkin’

And time for some additional pics via my regular camera (with all the social networking related nonsense I was up to, my iPhone’s battery ran out of juice fairly quickly, and it was surprisingly hard to find an outlet most times, even if the convention took place at a college). First is a rather cute female Doctor Who, which was by far the most popular subject when it came to cosplay…

And a female Droog, a la Clockwork Orange…

Sorry, but I never get tired of girls cross-dressing at Link. Never…

Near the end of the show, an impromptu dance party broke out in the lawn; my favorite was easily this hula hooping cosplayer…

Holy crap, Non from Superman 2!

First off, Iron Man’s outfit was entirely homemade and it rocked. Though the Hulk is clearly the star of this trio…

Meanwhile, this guy’s Boba Fett costume is store bought, but it’s so awesome looking, that I had to take a picture anyway…

So the highlight of ICON 31 was the very final panel of weekend; an hour with Jeremy Bulloch, the guy who played Boba Fett…

First off, because it was so late in the day, the last panel of the show, the room was not nearly as packed as one would expect for the guy was friggin’ BOBA FETT. The end result was a rather intimate conversation with a kindly old British chap who was oozing with charm!

Was expecting nothing but anecdotes from the set of Empire and Jedi, and he definitely shared some of those, but what mostly transpired was an acting clinic of sorts, in which he brought up members of the audience to perform vignettes and the like.

Here we have a girl whom he had coached to perform the part he’s mostly know for (and she was quite good, especially later on, when she was asked back on stage to recite Shakespeare, when it was made clear that she’s an actress herself)…

Even I was brought up on stage! Was asked to play the role of new reporter on the scene report at ICON, and Bulloch even played along as a correspondent. Again, I actually acted with the guy who played Boba Fett! Quite the thrill!

And it was all caught on Jason’s iPhone! Unfortunately, the footage is sideways and really awkward to view. Once I figure out how to rotate it 90 degree, I’ll put it up on YouTube. So yeah, an amazing note to end the weekend on.

I guess this is the part in which I come up with some big summation, but I’m officially WAY behind on those emails I mentioned earlier. So you all try to figure out why I went to so many damn furry panels in the first place. Anyway, will be back very soon to finally spill the beans on my big pre-TCAF shindig!

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