09/29/2010

PAX Prime, SPX 2010, Wrestling Rings, & Broken Arcade Sticks Part 3

by Matthew Hawkins

Hope everyone enjoyed all the pics from PAX Prime (which can be caught here and here btw)! Cuz there’s plenty more to come, this time from…

SPX 2010

So, the question is posed again: how was it? Pretty decent, all things considered. After skipping out on last year’s shindig, Katie and I were eager to get back in the swing of things. Though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I had butterflies in my stomach leading up. In the end, I blame Etsy; SPX (along with MoCCA) used to be the place for handcrafted, DIY goods, like screen-printed shirts, silkscreened prints, and the such. All of which has since become scarce, thanks to the aforementioned website (same could be said for NYC’s small press show as well). Attract Mode’s offerings, which was somewhat of a throwback in that regard, would either stick out in a good way or bad. Never-mind how we’re also talking about video game oriented goods; there’s a definite crossover, indie comics & indie gaming, but it’s not as wide as mainstream comics & mainstream games. Not helping much was the email that everyone got a few months prior that stated “Listen, this is a comic show ultimately, so we had better see comics from each of you vendors.” A sentiment that I could certainly appreciate, yet also fond… unnecessary? Why not let the audience decide who is fit or not?

In the end, I was mostly interested in hanging with friends that I rarely get to see (namely, Pat, Ed, and Lamar) and maybe make some new acquaintances. So mission accomplished on both fronts! BTW, don’t expect nearly as many pictures here as in my PAX breakdown; the camera I had, coupled with the yellow-ish walls plus not exactly dark, yet not quite bright either lighting that made up most of that weekend, left most pics a mess. Still, this one of myself and the gf came out alright…

… Not only did Katie have one new issue of Nurse Nurse to promote, but two! And if you want to get technical, since we were again absent at SPX 2009, this year saw three brand spanking new issues starring Genma. As for myself, THREE made its first appearance at the same show where I first debuted the FORT90ZINE period. Plus SPX is where I first sold my very own comic, aka #1 of UNLUCKY, hence why I have such fondness for the show. Which I was positively shocked to hear people bring up. All I can say is, for the time being, the project is on-hold. But it’s not dead! Yet.

Oh, so one of the highlights of SPX was most definitely this person…

… Her name was Michele and she mentioned how she had stumbled across my second zine in the jungle that is the mini comics and zine section at Forbidden Planet. Michel said some of the nicest, most sweetest things ever, it seriously blew me away! I always love hearing from folks who are happy that someone else has such fond memories of the game scene that once was and took the time to actually make an account of it. Anyhow, as we spoke, she casually made mention of how awesome it was that we both shared the same friends, specifically “Dave and Hilary.” So all of a sudden it hit me, and I asked, “Excuse me… Michela? Are you otherwise known as Hamlet Machine?” And indeed it was! Was also a thrill to tell her how much I enjoy her comic (even though yaoi and dudes kissing each other in general is totally not my thing, the story and art are simply top notch) and how much I talk it up with folks (who ended up feeling the same exact way). And pretty much anyone who meets her agrees that she’s the nicest, the most gentlest soul ever. One who also happens to draw comics about dudes biting each other’s penises in space.

UPDATE: Once again, easily the nicest, sweetest person ever!

Another reason for the relative lack of pics was how I was actually way too busy to explore! Business was good, far better to a certain degree than PAX, believe it or not. So next thing you know, day one was done and over with. Here I am striking a pose with Colleen, post day one, on our way back to our hotel rooms…

Like I said, taking pictures in that space was a real pain in the ass, at least sans flash, so we had to hold poses while Katie attempted retake after retake. Which I’m guessing with a bit uncomfortable for some…

BTW, check out Travis….

Afterwards was dinner at Arby’s, which was awesome (also had lunch at Arby’s earlier that day, cuz, you know, Arby’s is once again awesome). Then it was off to the Ignatz; truth be told, since both Lamar and myself are so out of the loop, we were far too engrossed in Dragon Quest 9 to pay too much attention (though congrats to the winners and all that jazz). Sucks that he didn’t do his Kanye West shtick for the whole room (and too bad I can’t say “I wish he had said such-and-such had the best mini comic, again due to not being so tied into the indie comics world as of late)…

The ceremony was immediately followed by the usual hunt for the dude with all the drink tickets and contemplating all the fun that one could have with the chocolate fondue fountain. I totally would have tried to dip one of the sliders in the coco fountain (and then attempted to digest it) if not for the fact that I was way too full from Arby’s. Anyway, me with Chris Duffy, who looks like this only 36% of the time…

For whatever reason, Colleen was hiding in the palm tree, from someone, something…

Here’s Pat and Travis, talkin’ comics (I’m guessing). As Katie sez: “check out Pat’s lazer gaze”

The night as a whole was a blur. I recall watching Lamar and Mar? (who made it out to the east coast, specifically for his first taste of the show, and I was super happy to see him two weekends in a row) go at it via dueling drawings of Vegeta. Also, almost fell down a flight of stairs and breaking a leg cuz I stepped on some dude’s haphazardly placed pair of crutches.

Onto day two: while waiting for folks to accompany us for breakfast, we discovered the hotel lobby PCs had zero restrictions whatsoever (usually you can only go to MSN, Yahoo, or Gmail). Which Katie was more than happy to take advantage of…

… Breakfast was at the dinner btw, and NOT Arby’s. Only cuz it wasn’t open by then! I forget where I got lunch; I think it was Arby’s again, no joke.

Anyway, decided to finally do a little walking around on day two. First stop, the Comics Bakery of course; here’s Raina and Dave

Right next door was Travis and Toby

Here’s Nate Powell totally loving his cinnamon roll….

Yo Gia-Bao Tran in da house!

The always dapper Mr. Piskor…

John and Jen (as you can, at this point I said “fuck it” and decided to use the flash, red eyes be damned)…

Here’s Sally Bloodbath, who was right next to us. Whereas I barely left the table, she was behind hers maybe 5 minutes for the entire weekend. Which sucked cuz she’s a blast to be around!

Though I’m super glad I made it to the Ad House table, where Lamar was stationed. He had various drawings, including this famous image from Ninja Gaiden 2….

… Did I pick it up? Does the Pope crap in the woods? And this is easily the best picture I have ever taken of Katie…

And next thing you know, SPX 2010 was in the history books. Overall a fun show! My chief complaint is that it just seemed to go by so fast; didn’t get a chance to hang and band with nearly as many folks as I had hoped. Though everyone was ultimately way busy, doing their things; from what I gathered, at least from my pals at least, business was great all around, which is obviously great news for the normally volatile world of small press. Best of all, there was none of drama that I was expecting, which was unfortunately one of the reasons why we didn’t go last year. But we soon realized that haters gonna hate, and no need to let them rain on our parade. So expect Katie and I next year!

What SPX wrap-up would be complete without a look at the haul? Which keeps getting smaller and smaller…

… I guess the real stand-out would have to be Bear Fight, an anthology that’s all about bears! Speaking of which, really need to find out if Bear Bear 2 ever got produced. But regarding why this year’s assortment is so tiny; again, not enough time to look around, plus the knowledge that I have about seven Container Store bins filled with comics from past shows that I have yet to touch. First and foremost, I really need to get organized, cuz I’m no longer making the mistake of buying the same book (as awesome as it might be) for the second or third time.

And The Rest Of September

May as well pass along pics from the rest of this past month. Why the hell not, right? Let’s kick things off with… and speaking of kick, as in Kickstarter… you guys did hear that Babycastles Manhattan met its fund raising goal, right? But once again, we still need help!!! Though also again, there’s still plenty of awesome incentives still up for grabs, like the signed copies of Katamari from the creator himself! And here’s everyone’s first look at such awesomeness; I was there when Kunal picked them up from a pal of his who just came back from Japan. Isn’t it beautiful?

Some might also recall an image of me posing with a pair of masked Mexican wrestlers. Here’s a few more from that same affair, which again was a celebration of the upcoming Lucha Libre game, along with the 200 year anniversary of the Mexico’s independence…

… The all-Mexican spread was, not surprisingly, quite amazing. And I made two new friends to boot; a dude that acted as video editor and his girlfriend who apparently helps run a coffee shop in Williamsburg…

… Though the ones that had the most fun were most definitely El Elegido and La Parka…

Here’s La Parka beforehand, watching the behind the scenes short for the game. As Katie sez: “Anything La Parka does is funny!”

As for the game itself?

… It’s not half bad! A fairly strong effort for a bunch of first timers. Also, enthusiasm counts for a lot in my book, and you can tell that everyone involved absolutely loves lucha to death. It’s actually quite the historic release as well; the game marks the very first mainstream release from Central and South America. Previously, any games to come from those regions (and make no mistake, gaming is BIG down there), it’s always been rom hacks or freeware titles at best. Though it should be noted that I’m fairly biased; I love Mexican wrestling, to a blind degree, and therefore had more than enough fun just mashing buttons. How it all comes together as a complete package is what’s ultimately most important, and the jury is still out on that one. I’m just glad there’s an alternative to the beyond tired Raw Vs. Smackdown offerings we get year after year (and now more than ever I’m bummed by the recent draught in Japanese wrestling games; still not sure what the exact reason for that might be).

The following Friday was Travis’s birthday, which went down at Barcade, a place that everyone knows I love to make fun of, including the birthday boy! Bottom-line: it has a nice selection of old games, along with a decent selection of beer, and provided you’re in and out before the annoying drunken hipster rush around 1am, it’s not a half bad place. Plus any place is all right with the right group of friends. Unfortunately, Katie wasn’t feeling so hot so we couldn’t stay long, and I therefore wasn’t able to snap too many pics; was hoping to get some of Colleen rocking Crystal Castles! Instead, here’s a fairly crappy Super Pac-Man clone (yeah, I know) that Katie gave a spin…

… At least the accompanying artwork was rather keen. And that following Sunday was a Chikara show with Kotaku’s Stephen Totilo! Their first NYC show proper, in Brooklyn. We had both gotten our first taste of the promotion at the Dragon Gate USA show last summer, and even though he was less than impressed by their performance (he’s not into the Mexican style), Steve was still up for seeing the total package. The verdict? It was alright. There was just a bunch of minor issues which I guess one should come to expect with any indie show (wasn’t as rough as your average WUW show at the very least). Again, perhaps its my bias, or maybe because it’s simply exotic, but I’m far more forgiving when in Mexico they execute one powerhouse move after another, stuff that should logically end a match, yet does not, to the point that nothing makes sense. Though the star attraction, the main event, more than made up for any deficiencies. It was the United States debut of Manami Toyota, widely acknowledged as the greatest female wrestler in the entire world…

… Despite pushing 40, she sure as hell lived up to her legendary status. The power of pro wrestling is watching a five foot something Japanese woman beat up a close to seven foot musclebound dude and have it seem completely plausible. And it totally was. Here’s part one and part two of a match of hers, circa the early 90s, which many agree is one of the best female wrestling matches of all time. Even if you could give a rat’s ass about wraslin’, I implore everyone to give it a whirl (especially those that love to see chicks kick legitimate ass).

From pics featuring pro wrestling, to someone playing an arcade game, the cycle repeats: last week was Hilary‘s belated birthday dinner and drink-fest, which primarily consisted of sake (of course). Afterwards we got hit with the drunk munchies and made our way to Crif Dogs; aside from making fun of the douchebags that showed up for the “hidden bar” inside, we decided to play a few rounds Double Dragon (they have an old arcade cab of it, and more like Hilary wanted to play and demanded that I join in)…

… Pro-tip, don’t bother: you can’t go down with the player one stick, and I forget Hilary’s issue was, but that side is busted too.

I guess that’s it? Next time I’m gonna try to address all the stuff that’s been going on in the world of gaming, since it’s been way too long! First and foremost, will explain why I believe Tetsuya Mizuguchi is starting to remind me of Stephen Spielberg. You know, how basically Rez is to Child of Eden as Jaws is to Schindler’s List. Though (and this is reminder), the grand opening of Babycastles Manhattan is just around the corner, as is the New York Comic Con where I’ll be presenting! October is going be the craziest month eva…

  • http://samehat.blogspot.com ryan

    great picture post! sad to have missed SPX but cool to live vicariously through your recap. i have major crushes on Lamar and HamletMachine (DUH) so I love hearing what they are up to!

    glad you and Katie had fun :)

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