Archive for November, 2009

Quick Reminders

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Just a couple of quick reminders to start off the week:

This weekend Amu and I will be at Nekocon. Amu will have a table in the Artist’s Alley selling handmade doll clothes and some of the usual amigurumi she sells at conventions. I’ll be there to help her out with a stack of Amu’s World promo postcards and some of our postard sets for sale. If you’re at the con be sure to look for us to say “Hi.”

Also remember our First Birthday Celebration Fan Art Contest. Click the image for the rules and instructions. Keep in mind our deadline of Friday, November 13th. We’ll announce the winner on the following Monday. Remember that your imagination is the only rule. Is your fan art drawn? AWESOME! Painted? AWESOME? Sculpted? AWESOME! Is it amigurumi? AWESOME! Is it a photo of an actual panda with a red eyepatch? HOLYCRAPAWESOME!

Take liberties. We want to see how YOU would portray our characters. The most important rule of all, however, is to HAVE FUN WITH IT!

As always, thanks for reading.

Re: All In A Name

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

So here we are embarking upon our second year. I’m pretty excited for some of the things Amu and I have talked about for the future. With our preparations for Nekocon this weekend eating up the bulk of our free time, and Giftmas right around the corner, things may seem as they have been for the past year. Once the new year hits, however, I’ll have time to start moving on my new goals. Can’t wait.

Also, remember that if you haven’t thought about entering our Fan Art Contest, please do. There’s just about a week left, so you have plenty of time to ART YOUR SOCKS OFF!

As always, thanks for reading.

Photo Phriday 51 – Beware The Tall Grass

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Today’s Photo Phriday is coming from Nekocon. Thankfully, our hotel room provided me with an interesting prop I could use.

It isn’t just Pokemon you need to worry about in the tall grass. It seems as if there are ninja there as well.

Back Home, And Sorry!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

I just noticed I broke the comic by posting the last Photo Phriday in the wrong category. So sorry about that and any confusion it may have caused. Typically Photo Phriday hits the blog section, and not the comic section. Big oops!

As I work on this week’s comic this evening I’ll be writing a Nekocon report from my perspective as someone in the Artist’s Alley who didn’t get out much to do anything else. It will be mostly Alley-centric with some general convention observations. I actually have a bit to say both positive and constructive.

Also, if you haven’t done so already please check out our Fan Art Contest. The contest ends this Friday, so make sure you get your entries in for the prize. As always, thanks so much for reading!

Re: Quite Utilitarian

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

It all started with a tweet (WARNING: my tweets tend to highlight my anxiety. Follow me at your own risk.) It was then I knew what today’s comic would be about. I’d seen the trend in astounding numbers at Balticon also, but that was a Sci-Fi/Fantasy literature convention full of SCA geeks and gamer nerds. I’d have been beside myself if I DIDN’T see a bunch of Utilikilts there. At Nekocon however, I did not expect them to show up in such abundance. But without further delay, here’s Part I of my con report.

NEKOCON REPORT PART I – OBSERVATIONS AND OPINIONS

Prelude

Before getting to the convention part I want to talk about travel, expense, and word of mouth. Typically when Amu and I do conventions we’ve got a posse with us. Really it’s just our friends and family we go to cons with, who for some reason are awesome enough to help us out with keeping us company and watching the table if we have to step away. Our posse couldn’t be with us this time. We were going to be alone at a con where we didn’t know anybody.

This seemed fine with us as we were told by several people that Nekocon was a great con and that since Amu’s shifted her focus to selling her doll knits this con would be a good test due to the number of doll collectors that show up. While the focus was on the doll clothes, we brought along promo cards and postcard sets for Amu’s World and the normal amigurumi we sell at con tables.

The expense was going to be painful. Since neither of us drive we had to take the train, which really paired down what we could bring with us. We only brought things we could easily cram into our luggage and between the train tickets and the hotel stay we were investing a lot of money on word of mouth. Since we had nobody to help split up the hotel bill we’d have to sell most of what we brought to break even.

Arrival

A late night of packing, 1 hour of sleep and a 6 hour train ride meant that when we got to the hotel we were practically dead. Amu’s better at sleeping on planes, trains, and automobiles (I totally went there) than I am and I was a bit worse off. Our hotel room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we went out to eat, get some shopping in, and back to the hotel to check in, get settled, and finish up some things that needed finishing before Friday morning.

Checking in was relatively painless, but left me confused that the Artist’s Alley badge was a different, replacement badge for the regular con badge. I’m typically used to getting a ribbon or sticker on a regular badge to denote Artist status. It just seemed odd is all, but with the exception of one minor problem that was corrected immediately checking in went without a hitch. We were ready for the con.

The Con

My first thought was “SO SMALL!” My first convention was Origins in 2000. It was pretty big. Next were Otakon in 2001 and Katsucon in 2002. Since then Katsu’s exploded and Otakon’s the biggest anime con on the East Coast. I’ve gotten used to big cons. Neko seemed tiny in comparison, chiefly due to our experience in the Artist’s Alley.

There was so much unnecessary empty room in the Alley area. They’d crammed the Art Show, Artist’s Alley, Fiber Artists, R/C Racing, Autographs, Photo Suite, and Lunch Area in the same hall of the convention center. All of these things were put in the same hall with a GIGANTIC 20-25 foot aisle running down the center. There was so much wasted room that it always felt empty, and in part it kind of was.

The hall where this hodge podge assembly of stuff was located seemed like the LAST room, out of the way, with little traffic. You’d never know the convention tiny center was full of people by looking in the Bazaar (the name given to the room full of random things that didn’t go together.) At times it felt like a ghost town, the tired and bored artists sleepy spectres looking for life of any kind. It made for long days.

Some word of mouth turned out to be true…kind of. There were a lot of doll collectors at this small convention. The problem we ran into was that while there were a lot of collectors, very few were spending money on doll items. There’s always a risk switching focus, and doing this at a con you’ve never been to is double risky. We knew this going into it and could only be a little disappointed and not totally surprised by it. We’ve worked it out that it was still a great con for us, but for different reasons than profitability.

Amu made a lot of friends and connections. This is a commodity far more valuable than the money we’d hoped to make. We lost a good bit of money working Nekocon. We made a good bit of friends though. We sat near and talked to a lot of really great, awesome people and I can’t wait to talk about them. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until Part II of the report that will go up tomorrow.

In the end I can’t entirely write off Nekocon. There’s a lot of negative I could get into from a event programming standpoint, but I’ll hold off on that. I didn’t go to any events or panels so it didn’t effect me at all. I think if we can cut down on our cost to attend the con we’ll gladly go again as Artist Alley folk. We’ll have to either find a ride and/or share a room with more people, but meeting up again with some of the folks we met would be nice.

Tune in tomorrow when I discuss AWESOME FOLKS!

Waving Myself To Death

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Finally getting around to writing the second part to my Nekocon report after almost literally tearing myself away from Google Wave. Got an invite today and it’s eaten up my entire evening. I am an unapologetic Google fanboy.

NEKOCON REPORT PART II – FOLKS

As mentioned previously, the best part of the con was meeting the people we met. Amu did more talking and networking than I did (I’d gotten into this mindset that I was just a dude at her table and didn’t go out of my way to represent myself at all), but I did make sure to talk at least partially to some of our neighbors.

OMONOMOPOEIA

Next to us was Omonomopoeia, who sold handmade classic gaming merchandise. They had super awesome LUMAS. It reminded me I stopped playing Super Mario Galaxy before completing it and I’ve got to get back to it. They were great neighbors and I hope we can hang at future cons.

MOON’S CREATIONS

Next to them was Moon’s Creations. Anything amigurumi is obviously up our alley, and these super cute bunnies kept us glancing over just to make sure the cuteness was still in view. Absolutely someone we’d be thrilled to be next to at a con in the future. If we’re dealt the right cards that could happen sooner than later. ;p

MANIFESTED DREAMS

Also adding some amigurumi into the mix was Manifested Dreams. At this table were magnetic Katamari balls, which tickled us silly considering we had Amu’s Katamari Prince amigurumi at our table. When two great tastes to great together you get something kinda awesome.

Other people we spoke to and had a blast with at the con were our OTHER neighbors A Case Of Random, who makes tribal jewelry, chainmail accessories and other shiny things. Also have to give a shout out to Monica, who does work on the The Knights of Leviathans webcomic with her crew at Tangent Artists. It was a pleasure speaking with her and I hope we can talk again at another show.

We met so many more people, including a reader whose name I did not manage to get because I was distracted by how awesome it was that someone who read the comic stopped by and said ‘Hey.’ If you see this drop a line so I can be happy at you all proper like. We’d also met some doll collectors that were very awesome, and whom I’ll let Amu mention on her doll blog. She’s very excited to have new dollie folks to talk to.

If I’ve left anybody out please don’t be upset. Let me know and I’ll make changes to the post. It’s late and I’ve had a lot to think about today so my brain meats are still not doing the remember thing too good.

Thanks again to everybody who stopped by at Nekocon. We hope to see you again in the future.

Thanks for reading.

Photo Phriday 52 – I Think He Thinks He’s One Of Us

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Thanks to yesterday evening’s distraction with Google Wave I didn’t shoot the photo until today after dinner. It’s slightly later than I’d like, but it’s still Friday.

Here we have one of the Moon’s Creations Moon Buns trying his best to fit in with the Bunny Peep Gang. I’m imagining the conversation going as follows:

WARUSAN: Pssst. Boys. Who the heck is that?
CHANCE: I haven’t figured it out yet.
OSOKUN: I think he thinks he’s one of us!

This evening marks the end of the Fan Art Contest. I’ve received some entries and it’s going to be a VERY HARD decision. Amu and I are going to be discussing it over the weekend and I may have to bring in outside consultation. This is the part I hate. On Monday I’ll post the pieces and will announce the winner. Can’t wait!

Fan Art Contest – Winningness

Monday, November 16th, 2009

PREFACE

Here we are. I was so excited to have the comic reach a year’s worth of updates I wanted to celebrate with a contest that would reward readers. I’d figured some Fan Art would reward readers by showing off the comic’s characters in a way they haven’t been seen before, and reward the contest winner with some handmade merchandise and a photo print. What I’d failed to consider was how hard this would be. Here’s a hint: IT’S HARD!

I wasn’t sure what to expect at first. If I’m honest I have to admit that lately I’ve become a very Glass Mostly Empty kind of guy and thought nobody would enter. While I’m glad I was wrong I have to admit that NONE would have made the job of selecting a winner much easier. :) This said, I look at the THREE submissions I received and am very happy to have held this contest. I’m in awe and am humbled to have such talented people read the comic and take the time to create and submit an entry. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who entered. Now onto the submissions.

THE SUBMISSIONS

Bunny Huntin’

The first entry I received was from buddy and fellow webcomics dude Jamie Noguchi. If you don’t know Jamie, here’s a list of SOME of the things he’s up to online: angryzenmaster, Erfworld (Book 1), Monster Cutie, Headline DS, Super Art Fight, and I’m sure there’s more. Here’s his entry.

My initial reaction to this was a rapid fire blown away torrent of excited curses and ill-enunciated gibberish. SO. FREAKIN’. AWESOME! From his e-mail:

Ninja and Kunoichi sharing a tender moment. And then… BUNNY STEW!!!!!

Seeing the characters (especially Chance) portrayed realistically is beyond surreal for me. I spend so much time looking at these little crocheted guys I hadn’t even imagined them in this style. I love the worried little bunny expression on Chance. It’s art like this that reminds me that if he doesn’t start to show the internet more comics soon I’m going to have to BEAT HIM UP!

Thanks, Jamie! My mind = Blown the frig up!

Crafty Ninja

Less than 20 minutes later I received the second entry from Kristie. Kristie is a reader who follows me on Twitter and who makes some precious amigurumi and plushies. In fact, you can see some of them at her Etsy Store. You should probably BUY THEM! :) She’s also a great mom. When Amu and I talk about having kids it’s always about how we won’t be. We both have a myriad reasons why this is. Kristie’s Twitter updates, so full of happy and fun times with her child, remind me some of the ways I think we may be missing out. Here’s her entry.

ADORABLE! This Kunoichi plushi is made of black fleece, felt, embroidery floss and yarn. While I’m not a crafter myself, I live with one. I see the trial and error involved in creating something in person. I see the needle stabbed and yarn welted fingers. I witness the hours of twisting wrists and hands that give ME arthritis just watching! On the few occasions I’ve helped Amu prepare for selling her handmade items at craft shows or conventions I learned how much time and concentration goes into making even the most basic of things. I nearly lost my mind attaching limbs to some of her cellphone charms.

Above all I learned to respect how much dedication goes into hand crafting a plushie, or amigurumi, or doll. It’s nothing I could ever do and I admire those who have the manual dexterity to MAKE AWESOME THINGS.

Thanks so much, Kristie! So squishy, huggably awesome.

Heroes Of Amitown

The third entry was quite the buzzer beater. Right at the end I got a nice surprise as I had yet another reason to be glad I do this comic. Ami, who does the webcomic The Glass Urchin is someone in the webcomics world I’ve only met online, via Twitter. The East Coast webcomics scene has been a nice, welcoming little family. Ami’s comic is autobiographical, cute, funny, and contains one of my favorite webcomic updates of all time. I say this because this comic is SO DANG TRUE!

There’s a lot I do to escape my day and explore new places, ideas, stories, and characters. Comics is one of those places. To be a part of that, and be part of a family that is a part of that, is amazing. Ami’s also reached a milestone in publishing her FIRST BOOK, which collects the first year of her webcomic in print form. Hooray! Here’s Ami’s entry.

SO CUTE! I love it I love it I love it! In her e-mail Ami mentions that she loves Hidalgo, Juan’s attack alpaca. In truth, I’ve had more people tell me he’s their favorite character than any other character. I think that’s HILARIOUS because he almost didn’t make it into the comic at all. It was on a whim that Amu mentioned we should add him. It’s wonderful to see him in this style. The tongue is super cute and I love the colors. I was hoping people would depict the characters in their own style, and this is why. This is so sweet my teeth have rotted away, been replaced with dentures, which have also been destroyed by the cute sweetness.

Thank you Ami for contributing MAXIMUM HIDALGO CUTENESS!

THE WINNER

This is one of the harder things I’ve had to do, and after much thought Amu and I have decided that ALL THREE HAVE WON!

Don’t think it wasn’t difficult to make this decision. I personally spent HOURS going over the entries, talking to Amu, and getting feedback and advice from people I trust. After going back and forth with myself over how to select a winner it was ultimately Amu who swayed me to this result after stressing that we got three entries, and all three are fantastic. There wasn’t any way we COULDN’T reward everybody for taking the time out to make such flattering pieces for the contest. You’re all wonderful and did an amazing job. We’re so lucky to have gotten such phenomenal art.

So Amu and I are going to be working hard to get Jamie, Kristie, AND Ami each an Amu’s World amigurumi, and a large print of THEIR CHOICE from any of the Photo Phriday pictures. If those photos weren’t enough of a selection, I’ll extend your options to a large print of ANY comic if you had a favorite instead of a Friday photo.

I’m going to hit each of you up with an e-mail for your information, and as soon as you’ve selected which photo or comic you’d like a print of I’ll make the order and Amu will get cracking on an amigurumi for you. Thank you so much for participating, and I hope it was fun for you and all the other readers. I’m humbled.

OBSERVATION

All three pieces of Fan Art for the contest featured Kunoichi. As a result, I’m soon going to be exploring a Kuno-focused story. I’m looking forward to delving into her story and fleshing out her personality.