Monday, August 22, 2005

Wow. I’m beat, but I’m tickled pink by this weekend.

Where to begin? Thursday was a day of getting ready for the weekend; cleaning up the yard, doing laundry, etc. Got it pretty much all done before heading out to role-play with some friends that evening. We’re playing an SF mafia campaign in which they just managed to defend Mafia HQ against a massive invasion force made up of hovercraft and walking tanks. I had fun, at least, and I think they did, too. Got home, went to bed, and slept well despite worrying about the weekend.

Woke up the next morning to an odd sound outside. A rushing, shushing sound. Pulled the curtains to one side and saw rain pouring down on the street outside. Wonderful. This was not merely an inconvenience; I was taking two passengers to the convention, so all our bags and merchandise to sell was going to have to go in the bed of the truck. Which was now thoroughly wet.

So I got everything together, hauled a tarp into the back of the truck, put the boxes of t-shirts and posters into that, then folded the tarp over and clamped it down with bungee cords. It would have to do, I said to myself as I climbed, rather thoroughly wet, into the truck.

I found my passengers easily, then we were off to Otakon. And we stopped: The beltway was full of stop-and-go traffic, at 10:30 in the morning on a Friday. Arg. That added to our trip, but we got to Baltimore soon enough to find our hotel. I tried to park myself in the parking garage, but a thorough search of all seven levels revealed no parking spaces whatsoever, so when I found that valet parking was an extra $4 a day, I figured that I could manage that.

So we checked in, checked our bags, and hauled our boxes of merchandise to the convention (note to self: next time, bring a hand cart). In the rain. But we got there, got our badges, huffed and puffed our way to Artist’s Alley…and stood in another line, as Artist’s Alley had a huge number of artists checking in. Oh well; my companions set up our table while I got ourselves registered, then we sat down and began selling.

It was odd. People would walk by, glance at our table, and keep on walking. Which was normal, of course, but how do you break through that? We quickly realized that we needed a hook, so we started announcing to people, “We’re making our own anime.” (Not quite accurate, since anime is Japanese by definition, but “We’re making an anime-style American animation” doesn’t catch people’s attention.) Then people would do a double-take and murmur, “Cool.” And then they’d really look at the laptop on which our storyboard was playing. Then we’d point to the beautiful full-color glossy posters and explain that this was our current project.

By the end of the weekend, we had a full-scale routine. “We’re making our own anime.” A head would turn. We’d gesture at the poster, say, “This is our current project, Summer Storm,” we’d gesture at the laptop, “and this is the storyboard behind it.” We’d pause a moment as they stared at the screen, then we’d say, “Would you like to support our efforts? Design sheets are only a dollar; two dollars gets you all three. Posters are only five dollars, and t-shirts are merely ten.”

And then they’d take a business card and keep walking.

Actually, “we” didn’t say much of that; Christina (one of our artists) did almost all the talking. She switched on as soon as we started doing this; once someone was within talking distance, she’d start her speech. It was amazing; the rest of us wouldn’t even start talking that soon. She, quite simply, rocked.

And she’s the main reason we sold over $130 worth of merchandise, for an animation nobody’s even seen yet (including us). I didn’t expect to sell anything, so I’m floored that we did so well. We actually managed to pay for both the table and the cost of power, plus a little extra to cover the cost of the merchandise. Eeeexcellent.

Friday evening, I had a thoroughly pleasant surprise: my parents called me and told me that they were there, at the convention. They’d driven all the way up and paid for registrations just to watch the premiere of Matrix Experiments Lain with me. So they did. It aired at midnight, and everyone in the room was exhausted, so nobody reacted, but they didn’t react to the animation before it or the animation after. I’m content.

In any event, the weekend passed smoothly. I got a little better at engaging people and talking to them about the animation, and we each left our table at various points to see the rest of the con. I finally saw Kakurenbo, which was a fanastic thriller with a disappointing ending, the first episode of Bleach, which was very good, and a bunch of anime music videos. I also bought a couple of cels: a beautiful Kiki, a Porco Rosso, and a lovely Tenchi OVA cel. All in all, a good weekend.

So we checked out and I drove the artists home on Sunday, then immediately turned around and drove to a friend’s house for a going-away party. The guest of honor is leaving for college, so we all got her various presents. She’s a huge fan of R.O.D the TV, so I bought her the boxset, and everyone else chipped in for a Barnes & Noble gift card. And we basically had a great time chatting and eating cake.

So I got home from the convention at about 1:00 a.m. Monday morning. Fell into bed, slept late, and spent the workday doing comparatively little except catch up. Then, grocery store, home, mowed the lawn, watered the pots out back, made dinner, updated the Otherspace website, processed all my mail, and did laundry. I think. It’s a bit of a haze at this point.

I’m still not caught up yet, of course; I won’t be until at least tomorrow. But I’m well on my way.

So, now, to bed.

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