Archive for the ‘Cosplay’ Category

Heroes and Villains @ Phoenix ComiCon 2014   1 comment

 

I wasn’t going to attend this Con, but at the last moment I got some motivation, and so I did make the scene on Friday and Saturday.  Estimated attendance somewhere in the range of 100,000 people. That’s a great size for a media convention like this. Guarantees that the promoters will make enough money to put on a really good show.  Attracts a lot of creative energy.

As usual, I went mostly to take photos of brilliant hall costumes, play games, and talk to my friends.  All 3 goals were satified this weekend. I think I can get more than one blog out of it.  Let’s start off with heroes and villains.

I had a hard time getting the Black Widow's attention. Finally, her boyfriend poked her in the arm and said, "Natasha, this man wants you to kill him." Killer smile, don't you think?

I had a hard time getting the Black Widow’s attention. Finally, her boyfriend poked her in the arm and said, “Natasha, this man wants you to kill him.” Killer smile, don’t you think?

 

Batman looked suitably grim, but didn't seem to have any crime to fight, despite the plethora of supervillains wandering around. I got him to pose for me, and that opened the floodgates. Poor guy got stuck posing with people for another 5 minutes before he could move on. He loved it.

Batman looked suitably grim, but didn’t seem to have any crime to fight, despite the plethora of supervillains wandering around. I got him to pose for me, and that opened the floodgates. Poor guy got stuck posing with people for another 5 minutes before he could move on. He loved it.

 

Poison Ivy came by Steve Crompton's Carnal Comics booth and told us she could make something grow. This girl has a secret identity as a stripper at Christie's Cabaret. She made me an offer I really hated to refuse.

Poison Ivy came by Steve Crompton’s Carnal Comics booth and told us she could make something grow. This girl has a secret identity as a stripper at Christie’s Cabaret. She made me an offer I really hated to refuse.

 

Poison Ivy was the most popular costume at the Con. Here she is again with a Joker wannabe.

Poison Ivy was the most popular costume at the Con. Here she is again with a Joker wannabe.

 

Harley Quinn and her friend gave me these dazzling smiles when I told her I'd love to get hammered with her.

Harley Quinn and her friend gave me these dazzling smiles when I told her I’d love to get hammered with her.

 

Thor and Loki, female variants. If it works for guys, it works for girls too.

Thor and Loki, female variants. If it works for guys, it works for girls too.

 

The Transformers were larger than life, and kept behind a fence.

The Transformers were larger than life, and kept behind a fence.

 

If I saw this guy walking down the street, I'd get out of his way, then follow him looking for photo ops.

If I saw this guy walking down the street, I’d get out of his way, then follow him looking for photo ops.

 

Catwoman, Halle Berry style.  This is no house cat--this is a black tigress. (You know that would be a pretty great name for super character.)

Catwoman, Halle Berry style. This is no house cat–this is a black tigress. (You know that would be a pretty great name for super character.)

 

Not every larger than life character needs spandex. The Penguin makes do these days with simple opulence.

Not every larger than life character needs spandex. The Penguin makes do these days with simple opulence.

 

The Joker was looking better than he has for years and his Harley Quinn seemed pretty happy about it too.

The Joker was looking better than he has for years and his Harley Quinn seemed pretty happy about it too.

 

Green Arrow came rushing by just before I headed for the Troll Cave on Saturday afternoon.

Green Arrow came rushing by just before I headed for the Troll Cave on Saturday afternoon.

 

There were countless other supers at the convention, but I didn’t go with a plan. I simply took pix of those that came my way. Spider-Man was there in every conceivable variant of the spider suit. Deadpool must have cloned himself. He was everywhere. Poison Ivy sprouted almost everywhere I looked.  I saw Batman from several different alternate earths. Superman, however, could not be found. Actually Adam West (Batman), Burt Ward (Robin) and  Julie Newmar (Catwoman) were big attractions at ComiCon, although I did not see them. Stan Lee is supposed to be there today (I am writing this on Sunday, June 8).  Comics, and the popular culture associated with comics have never been so popular.

Comics conventions are gigantic parties, and people really seem to have a good time at them.  I salute those dedicated cosplayers who make marvelous costumes to represent the heroes, villains, and favorite characters from comics, cartoons, anime, and video gaming.  You guys and gals are indeed super in your own right, and I applaud you all.

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If you have been to a comics convention lately, why not leave a comment?

–end

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Saturday with Sailors at Samurai   Leave a comment

2014-03-08 02.15.45

Saturday, March 9, 2014 I heard there would be a Sailor convention in town at my favorite comic shop, Samurai Comics at 12th Street and Cameback.  I grabbed my camera and went down. The first thing I did was make friends with Sailor Mars and talk her into wearing my hat for a picture, and here it is: Sailor Mars wearing the Trollgod’s (newer) hat.

I have to admit that I am not a big Sailor Moon fan. I watched a few episodes 15 years ago (Time flies when you’re having fun. Sigh!), but I do enjoy cosplay, and to see all the sailors in one spot seemed like two good an opportunity to miss. I was hoping to actually get a chance to talk to several of them, but there was a much younger photographer there with a much better camera, and I really couldn’t compete.  I took the following shots from a distance, because I thought you’d still like to see all the mystic guardians of the Solar System.

The blonde in the foreground is, of course, our heroine Sailor Moon herself.  I did get to chat with her just a little bit.

The blonde in the foreground is, of course, our heroine Sailor Moon herself. I did get to chat with her just a little bit.

Like other superheroes, she has a mundane identity as a simple blonde teenager, and must change into costume before she can fight the forces of supernatural evil that theaten the world.

And here are the rest of the Sailor shots:

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It wasn’t an ideal shoot.  The girls all hung together talking to each other. The only photographer who could get them to do anything was the young guy I mentioned, and he didn’t seem to have much imagination.  A couple of other geeky photographers like me were hanging around, not doing much.  After getting these shots I went back inside the comic store to see if anything else was going on.

The usual Saturday afternoon Magic the Gathering tournament was in progress.

The usual Saturday afternoon Magic the Gathering tournament was in progress.

And there were a couple of artist types giving away 8 X 10 glossy prints of some of the girls in other costumes. They were pretty, but I passed on them since I really have no place to put a picture of Marvel's Black Cat in my bachelor pad. I'm way past that stage of fan boy.

And there were a couple of artist types giving away 8 X 10 glossy prints of some of the girls in other costumes. They were pretty, but I passed on them since I really have no place to put a picture of Marvel’s Black Cat in my bachelor pad. I’m way past that stage of fan boy.

I talked to a few people and browsed through Forever Evil #6, where it looks like Nightwing (Dick Grayson) joins the ranks of superheroes killed in action.  Dick Grayson was/is the original Robin of Batman comics. He grew up and became Nightwing–for those of you not current in D.C. Comics superhero trivia. I’m not going to have a hissy fit about him getting killed. I suspect it’s just temporary.

It is a dark time in the D.C. Comics universe right now.  They just killed the original Robin. Being Batman's sidekick is bad luck.

It is a dark time in the D.C. Comics universe right now. They just killed the original Robin. Being Batman’s sidekick is bad luck.

Then it was time to go.  On my way out I looked for the Sailors. They had relocated, but were not any more accessible. I took these two farwell shots.

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And that’s how I spent my Saturday. It wasn’t a complete waste of time. 🙂

***************

If you’ve ever talked to a Sailor, or loaned your hat to one, why not leave a comment?

–end

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2013-09-01 05.12.27The future of conventions is media cons–big ones like Phoenix ComicCon and SabotenCon.  The anime-themed party was held over the Labor Day weekend at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale Arizona.  The hotel is just across the street from the Cardinal’s football stadium, and next to a huge shopping center.

On Saturday I grabbed my camera and went to check it out.  I had a little trouble finding it and getting a parking spot, but then I just walked right in.  SabotenCon is chiefly an excuse to put on your best hall costume, and go show your stuff to both friends and strangers.  The attendees were mostly young–lots of high school kids, and I think every Asian kid in Phoenix was there.  Anime is an Asian (mostly japanese) artform, and they came out in droves to support it.

I went to take pictures.  There were plenty of great costumes that i didn’t get, but let me just show the people having fun.

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This thing came up and said "Hi, Ken!" to me.  I had no idea who recognized me.

This thing came up and said “Hi, Ken!” to me. I had no idea who recognized me.

Most of it was anime, but Nightwing showed up. This guy really looks like a superhero. The joker was also present, but I did not take his picture.  (He wouldn't hold still long enough.)

Most of it was anime, but Nightwing showed up. This guy really looks like a superhero. The joker was also present, but I did not take his picture. (He wouldn’t hold still long enough.)

Could this be Lina Inverse of the Slayers? I’m not sure.  Gorgeous costume–gotta be really hot inside all that cloth.

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This is Mia. I don't recognize the Dr. costume, but she looked half dead with all the ghastly black make-up, and she sat next to me when I played Illuminati in the Game Room.  They let me in even though I didn't have a badge for the Con.

This is Mia. I don’t recognize the Dr. costume, but she looked half dead with all the ghastly black make-up, and she sat next to me when I played Illuminati in the Game Room. They let me in even though I didn’t have a badge for the Con.

Hair colors are extreme and vivid in anime.

Hair colors are extreme and vivid in anime.

Who was that old wizard?

Who was that old wizard?

The girl in the cat costume was cute, but I was really amazed to see this old 60s version of Sorry being played at the con.

The girl in the cat costume was cute, but I was really amazed to see this old 60s version of Sorry being played at the con.

The Queen of Hearts and Alice were there. Of course, I bowed and paid my copliments to Her Majesty.

The Queen of Hearts and Alice were there. Of course, I bowed and paid my compliments to Her Majesty.

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There were a lot of horny demons at the Con. This hellish group took over a table in the gaming room.

There were a lot of horny demons at the Con. This hellish group took over a table in the gaming room.

I played Illuminati with the legendary Jesse Foster and the Men in Black.  Did not win, or even come close, but had a good time.

I played Illuminati with the legendary Jesse Foster and the Men in Black. Did not win, or even come close, but had a good time.

I would have rather played SPANC with Angie. We were all tellingher she should dress like the catgirl on the cover when she ran the game.

I would have rather played SPANC with Angie. We were all telling her she should dress like the catgirl on the cover when she ran the game.

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Cat girls! Cat girls everywhere!

And barbarians too! I wouldn't have the nerve to walk around  2/3 naked like this and carry big phallic symbols, but these guys were having fun.

And barbarians too! I wouldn’t have the nerve to walk around 2/3 naked like this and carry big phallic symbols, but these guys were having fun.

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There were a few real furries in attendance. This one was very friendly and patted my tush after I took her picture.

There were a few real furries in attendance. This one was very friendly and patted my tush after I took her picture.

This dark fairy queen stole my heart.

This dark fairy queen stole my heart.

The legendary Jesse Foster, leader of the Men in Black, also has a few Women in Black at his beck and call.

The legendary Jesse Foster, leader of the Men in Black, also has a few Women in Black at his beck and call.

I'm not sure what this uniform is for/from, but there sure were a lot of these troopers in the halls.

I’m not sure what this uniform is for/from, but there sure were a lot of these troopers in the halls.

Dangerous women lurked around every corner.

Dangerous women lurked around every corner.

my choice for Best Use of Cardboard in creating a costume.

my choice for Best Use of Cardboard in creating a costume.

A very pretty, and complicated new board game called Arena.  The playing pieces are all characters from anime.

A very pretty, and complicated new board game called Arena. The playing pieces are all super-deformed characters from anime.

I chatted with this guy for a while. He owned an Arena game and tried to explain it to me.

I chatted with this guy for a while. He owned an Arena game and tried to explain it to me.

Looks like a questing party to me.

Looks like a questing party to me.

Awww! This volunteer was working so hard at her table and too cute to pass by.

Awww! This volunteer was working so hard at her table and too cute to pass by.

Convention staff all seemed to be in costume.

Convention staff all seemed to be in costume.  Lady Thor seemed out of place in the anime world.

Friendliest furry in the hall.

Friendliest furry in the hall.

Tic Tac Toe is a very heavy game in anime circles.

Tic Tac Toe is a very heavy game in anime circles.

Many characters carried great staff weapons.  This was a fine one.

Many characters carried great staff weapons. This was a fine one.

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I don't know why she has so many tails.

I don’t know why she has so many tails.

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Actually, this was the first picture I took when I entered the hotel. You have just taken my 4 hour tour in reverse.

Actually, this was the first picture I took when I entered the hotel. You have just taken my 4 hour tour in reverse.

Everyone seemed to be having a very fine time.  The costumes were great, and I’m glad I went out to see it. I’m sure the promoters made a lot of money from it.  This is where media fandom is going today, and it’s a wild trip.

If you’ve ever indulged yourself in cosplay, whether it was anime-inspired or not, why not leave a comment?

–end

A Very Short Halloween Party   5 comments

Last Wednesday was Halloween.  The only thing I had to look forward to on Halloween was the all-day party that was supposed to be happening at Samurai Comics.  I put on my favorite (minimal) costume–that of Ken the Steampunk Adventurer and headed out to Samurai early Wednesday afternoon.

When I arrived the store was almost deserted.  I picked up my comics for the week, trick or treated them, and took these few pictures.

Kelbie was there, and looking very ferocious indeed.

Some strange horny guy was checking out the Magic.

I got my picture taken with this savage cat lady that I found in darkest Comica.

Then I looked around for a little while, paid for my addiction, and left.  I had hoped for dozens of pix of people in fabulous costumes, but you don’t always get what you want.

I did go east and play games with Rick Loomis and his sister Nancy and my son James for the rest of the afternoon.  James won 2 out of 3.  I lost.  I lost by wide margins.

I got back home after dark, and took a walk.  I hadn’t done any walking for the day.  My camera was still in my pocket, and I got this final Halloween shot for 2012.  It’s the Moon, almost full, and very bright.

It looks bigger in person.

Good night, Moon, and goodbye costumes for 2012!

If you’ve ever had a less than exciting Halloween, why not leave a comment, or just tell me what you did for fun this year.

–end

GenCon 2012, Part 3 (Friday, Saturday)   1 comment

I began Saturday with the resolve to take more pictures and do a better job of documenting GenCon.  It had rained during the night, and we overdressed in the morning because I thought it would be chilly.  I also put on my minimal steampunk costume–shiny vest, demonic badge, trollgod’s hat with goggles.  I looked like this.

Ya think the big convention badge kinda ruins the look?
But first let’s go back to late Friday afternoon.  After walking around the hall for a while, I got back to the Flying Buffalo booth to find this going on.

Stephen Conway is talking to Rick Loomis about games. I came in too late to hear much of what they said, but it made me jealous, so I talked Stephen into interviewing me also. His podcasts can be found here: http://thespiel.net/

I’m attracted to warrior women. I met this dangerous dame and got her picture.  She’s my idea of a living t & t adventuress.

I just love the look of this old Catholic church across the street from the Convention Center. I got this shot as we headed for the car Friday night after the Dealers Room closed.

Rick goes to Indiana and GenCon to sell games.  Sometimes I think I go with him just to indulge myself at Steak and Shake restaurants.  We don’t have them in Arizona.

There was a Steak and Shake restaurant right next to the Red Roof Inn where we stayed about ten miles south of downtown Indy. The food is mostly hamburgers, but the variety of shakes is exceptional and they are really good. I took this shot Saturday morning on our way into the Convention after breakfast.

The Wookies get really tall at GenCon. Half a day has gone by and another T & T adventure is behind me.

This dragon witch was one of my T & T players. When I saw her again in the convention hallway near the balloon dragon, I got her picture. She was the last survivor of my Seven Challenges adventure on Saturday morning.

On Saturday afternoon Rick Loomis did his Nuclear War tournament, in which he had some 48 competitors.  I stayed and watched the Flying Buffalo booth, and sold a ton of stuff.  Much to my delight, my most talented niece, Angela St. Andre stopped by to visit me and show me her latest work.  She is a sculptress, but she works with welding and cutting tools in metal instead of a hammer and chisel in stone.  Look at this beautiful notebook.

This awesome gaming notebook with its secret compartment for dice was created by my artistic niece, Angela St. Andre. It weighs about 20 pounds and is made of steel. It is lying in the midst of the Tunnels & Trolls material we were selling, including my largest recent solo: the Dewdrop Inn.

Angela St. Andre and her shoulder dragon. Lots of people were taking her picture. This young woman is seriously talented, and she loves gaming.

Here’s Angela with notebook and shoulder dragon. She didn’t buy these artifacts, folks. She made them.

After Angela left, Harley Quinn stopped by to see me. What a babe! Totally wasted on that Joker doofus, imho. Hey Mist-Tikk Foo-all, here’s a troll hammer for you.

Actually, Han Solo was walking around with Harley Quinn. GenCon is a very strange galaxy.

I only have about ten pictures left to go, so let’s stop the tour here.  I’m still at the Buffalo booth selling things, but Saturday was a great day for hall costumes.  In general, big gaming and sci-fi conventions are great places for cosplay.  The regular costume for such meetings is jeans and t-shirt, but the really cool people come in costume.  I’m not one of the really cool people, but even I have put together a costume for such occasions–you can see it back at the top of this picture essay.  I also bought an elven forester’s costume that I haven’t worn yet, just to have something special for the next masquerade I get to attend.

–to be continued

DarkCon 2012: A Report   43 comments

DarkCon, a Steampunk science fiction convention for Arizona.

The fannish new year of 2012 started off very well for me with DarkCon in Mesa, Arizona.  I live in west Phoenix, and it was a long drive back and forth, but still less expensive than getting a hotel room.  The Con Committee invited me to the show as a guest and were extremely nice to me.  Look at the great gifts they gave me, and the other Guests just for showing up.

This bag was packed with food, drinks, jewelry, the pocket watch you see, a treasure chest, a calendar, a special Dark Ones shot glass, and other goodies. The name tag isn't paper in a holder--it's a golden plaque. Wow! I have never been treated so nicely in my life, and other guests also got great stuff.

DarkCon ran from Thursday afternoon at about 2 p.m. until Sunday night.  They had 7 notable professional guests this year.  First was Jacqueline Carey, the Author Guest of Honor.  She has several fantasy epics to her credit, and I have to tell you all I consider her writing to be a little kinky–I like it.

Jacqueline Carey graciously took this picture with me on Sunday.  The lady in the blue sweater in the background is actress Meg Foster, and we are at the Wrigley Mansion in Biltmore.  You can see Camelback Mountain in the background.

There were 2 media guests: Ernie Hudson and Meg Foster, an actor and an actress, and they shared their experiences making such video entertainment as Stargate and Masters of the Universe.  These three people were the true stars of the convention.

Gaming guests were John Wick and Ken St. Andre.  Tod VanHooser, the master of the Laughing Moon system, was also there.  All three of us ran games for fans who wanted to play.  We also collaborated on a panel about Game Design on Friday afternoon.  The panel was well attended.  Many thoughtful questions were asked and answered.  John Wick and I wore our hats, and we advised Tod to get himself a signature hat if he wanted to make it big as  a FRP game designer.

John Wick and I are trying to look dynamic. We are good friends, and admire each other's work--at least I admire his.

Tod VanHooser in the Superman shirt is running a Laughing Moon adventure for some of his devotees. In addition to the game, there is Laughing Moon fantasy fiction available from him as well.

Artist guests were Madame M, and Mark Greenawalt.  Madame M was promoting her new book: CREEPY LITTLE BEDTIME STORIES.  Mark Greenawalt did a body painting exhibition that was most entertaining.  Alas, I had very little to do with the artists as I spent all my time gaming.

DarkCon is the brainchild of the Dark Ones, a Phoenix fan group with Steampunk and media connections.  Jeff Jennings and Nola Yergen are two of the ringleaders in that group–they are the two that I know best, although I really don’t know any of them very well.  The Dark Ones are an intensely social group, well known in Arizona for the great parties they throw.  Although there were parties every day, I really only attended the opening party on Thursday night and the Sunday Brunch at the Wrigley Mansion.  The food, drink, and conversation at both parties were truly excellent–I’d tell you more about it, but I don’t want you thinking I’m some kind of gourmand, and I don’t want you to be jealous.  (grin–but I will say I was treated to champagne with orange juice at the Wrigley Mansion–first time I’ve ever had champagne for breakfast.  Yum!).

Brunch at the Wrigley Mansion--living the good life! The empty chair in the foreground is mine. The two ladies on the extreme right are Jacqueline Carey and Nola Yergen. The man in the orange shirt is Chris Colbath, a friend of mine who helped make the con a lot of fun.

I really can’t tell you too much about the Con.  We held it in the magnificent facilities at the Marriott Hotel at 200 N. Centennial Avenue in Mesa, Arizona.  There was a huge space allotted for gaming, and we filled it up with every kind of tabletop game you can imagine.  There was computer gaming in a separate room, but I never found it, and frankly, I didn’t miss it at all.  In addition to the two games of Tunnels and Trolls that I ran,  I also got to play Ticket to Ride (Europe), Settlers of Catan, Thunderstone, Buffy the Vampire Slayer with me as the evil Master, Last Night on Earth (Zombies and Martians and Monsters, oh my!), Apples to Apples, and an ancients naval miniatures game with quinquiremes (for which Jay Nash and I made up a whole set of alternate rules–game designers tinker with everything–especially if we can see a way of doing the same thing that makes more sense.)

Jay Nash taught me how to play this game, and then I made him rewrite all the rules for it. I'm the guy in the hat.

Jay and I spent a good part of Saturday afternoon together, first playing his game, and then just hanging out during a meal at the hotel restaurant.  I showed him where the free Con goodies were at the DarkCon suite and the Green Room, but he preferred to buy something, and he bought me lunch too. Thanks, Jay.  The reason I mention this is because Jay is one of the chief organizers of Vul Con, a pure gaming convention which will be held Feb. 25-26 at the Phoenix Convention Center, and I will be a gaming Guest of Honor at that convention also.  (If you live in the Phoenix area, come say hi, and maybe game with me.)

Let me just rave about my enthusiasm for DarkCon for a moment.  Gaming!  That is what I like, and Gaming was well represented and attended at this Con.  The Arizona Men in Black (who promote Steve Jackson Games) were there, and running excellent games continuously.  I got to play The Stars Are Right, and had victory assured on my next turn when Jason Youngdale (who took most of the really good photos in this blog, and who is also setting up a gaming convention here for June called Con-Flagration) beat me to the punch.

Just one of the tables maintained by the Men in Black. This group, under the leadership of Jesse Foster, consistently runs high quality gaming events at Arizona Sci-fi and gaming conventions. Not only do they provide the games, teach people how to play, but they offer free prize support for them all. I love these guys! (in a purely platonic way)

The Arizona Guise Knights were also running games at the convention, and I played with their members more than once.  This is an indenpendent Arizona group not associated with a gaming manufacturer in the same way that the Men in Black are.  Excellent and friendly gamers however, and a credit to the gaming community.

Tiffany Branum ran the Game Room and did an excellent job of it.  Signing up for games was extremely easy.  She and her staff smoothed all obstacles.  Phoenix area gamers owe Tiffany and her husband Chris a lot for all the work they do in creating great gaming environments.

I gamed with the Guise Knights more than once, but Jason never got my photo with them.

If you look carefully at the pictures, you will see that many of us, including me are dressed oddly for a science-fiction convention where the usual attire is jeans and sf t-shirt.  The Dark Ones have an affinity for Steampunk–Nola Yergen is an expert costumer,

A beautiful young lady who I met at the Thursday night party in one of Nola's many amazing costumes.

and her work is often in the Steampunk genre.  I put together a modest steampunk outfit–vest, pocket watch, hat with goggles on it, and if you look carefully a demon-head pin that identifies me as a member of a secret magician’s society.  There were many better costumes than mine–in fact, most of the true costumes were better than mine–look at the Guise Knights picture again for an example of true elegance.  Such fannish conventions often feature costumes, and always have a masquerade in which the best of the costumes are displayed for admiration and prizes.  I’m sorry, but I missed the masquerade.  I missed the Memorial Barry Bard movie previews and free goodies dispersal also (and I really like to go to those just to keep my t-shirt collection fresh.)  I missed a ton of great stuff at DarkCon, and I was still as busy as I could be with the stuff I did.

Chris and I model the magnificent lanyard badgeholders provided by the Con Commitee for VIPs (him) and Guests (me). I am steampunk. He isn’t.

Much more happened at the Con than I am able to convey in this blog.  I spent part of my time hanging out in the Green Room–a hospitality room for volunteers and guests.  The food and friendliness in that room kept me going even when I was tired, and especially when I was hungry.  I played Texas Hold’em on Friday night with a great bunch of riverboat gamblers.  I never won a single hand, but it was fun while I lasted.  I took some weapons training from the Phoenix Society of Historical Swordsmanship–those guys really know how to use all kinds of swords, and thanks to their training, I know a bit, too.

I had a lot of fun.  I saw and talked to a lot of friends.  If you were there, you probably had a great time also.  If you weren’t, then you missed a really good time.  You can look up the Dark Ones, the Phoenix Society of Historical Swordsmanship, the Men in Black, the Arizona Guise Knights, and just about everyone else that I mentioned on Facebook, so I’m not providing any links.  This is going to be a great year for conventions in Phoenix.  I recommend that you try to attend some of them.  I will be there–you can count on that!

I like to spend time by water. It's so symbolic. (grin)

(a note about the photos and pictures used in this blog:  some of them are my own photos, others were taken by the stalwart Jason Youngdale, and a couple were lifted from Nola Yergen’s DarkCon page on Facebook–copyright and ownership of all the photos and pictures belong to the original creators.  I recommend searching DarkCon on Facebook.com to find many more pictures of the convention–it was a fantastic place and time for us.)

If you were at DarkCon this year, or wish you had gone, why not add your own comments below?

–end

GenCon 2011   4 comments

I spent most of last week–Aug. 2 through Aug. 8–at GenCon in Indianapolis.  Thirty or forty thousand gamers, dealers, exhibitors, models, musicians, and cosplayers were also there.  What a scene!  I talked to a lot of people, sold and signed a lot of Tunnels and Trolls stuff, and got some incredibly kind words and compliments from nearly everyone I met.  I had a blast.

Last year I devoted my camera work to people in costume.  The costumes were abundant this year also, but I’m not going to do that again.  This year, I just took a bunch of pictures, and each one reminds me of the fun I had.  Sit back and enjoy the show.

Rick Loomis and Corencio are having supper at Steak and Shake near the convention center.

Rick Loomis, Mr. Flying Buffalo himself, is my principal publisher and patron.  I go to big conventions like GenCon and Origins with him to help man the Buffalo booth and to promote Tunnels and Trolls.  This year I brought along my son Corencio to help with the heavy lifting.  We arrived late on Tuesday, set up the booth on Wednesday–that’s a miserable job as the convention hall is not fully air-conditioned before the show starts–and it’s 90 degrees and 200% humidity inside.  After setting up we all went over to Steak and Shake to have supper–yum!  I do love those double fudge shakes, and this is the only place I ever get them.

Three Amigos--Grimtooth, Shrek, and Trollgod.

Later in the day, I ran into my friend Steven Crompton, and Corencio took this  Three Amigos picture for us.  I didn’t expect to see Steve at the show, but he came to demonstrate his new Powers superhero trading card and sticker game.  Steve is an amazing artist–and the creator of Flying Buffalo’s Grimtooth the Troll character.  Steve is an Arizona boy from Scottsdale, and also a member of my <a href = “http://trollhalla.com&gt; Trollhalla </a> web fanclub for Tunnels & Trolls fans.  That gigantic ogre is really a foam rubber creation and lighter than it looks.  He was extremely busy taking pictures with Con attendees for the whole week.

Rick and Corencio teach retailers how to play Nuclear War.

On Wednesday night before the show we went off to demonstrate our games for retailers at Victoria Station.  We showed a few people how to play Nuclear War and Lost Worlds.  Wizards of the Coast hogged most of the visitors with their lavish spread and demonstrations of Magic ™ and their Dungeon Assault version of Dungeons and Dragons–not available for purchase, but playable by groups in game stores that sell their products.  Steve Jackson Games and Mayfair were also there in force.  I ignored the big companies pretty much–I’m there to see what the little guys are doing.

Typical of the small exhibitors was this company with their pirate miniatures game. Very nice toys they had.

Explorers back from the Center of the Earth.

When the show opened on Thursday morning I went around and talked to some of the dealers.  I most admired the ones who came in costume and wished I had more than an old Tunnels and Trolls t-shirt to wear.  Before it opened on the first day was the best time to see what was at the show–after it opened it was a shoulder to shoulder crowd scene most of the time.  That’s great for dealers, but not so good for rubber-necking game designers.

The Flying Buffalo booth number 501 just before the doors opened to the public on Thursday morning.

Flying Buffalo shared 1/8 of our booth with a small company this year that couldn’t get their own booth.  Studio 9 does small fantasy-themed card games.  Last year they released Treasures & Traps; this year they came out with Villagers and Villains.  People in the picture include Cameron and Lisa in the light green shirts, Bill who helped us in the booth, Rick in the command chair, and Corencio hanging around the back.  One of the few games I got at the con was the T&T card game.  I liked the initials.

Christian, also known in Trollhalla as Dupin, stopped by to say hi.

Death wandered around during the convention. He didn't seem to be taking anyone with him, though.

The Olde Guard was there in force. Here I am with colleagues Robin Laws and Ken Hite.

A member of Trollhalla demos my new DewDrop Inn solo adventure.

Trollhalla member Brrrennt gives A TRAVELER'S TALE a thumbs up plug.

Trollhalla member Kopfy shows off the latest two publications from Peryton Press–Elder Tunnels–Tunnels & Trolls fiction and games that don’t come from me and Flying Buffalo.  I think it is very good to have some outside support for my game.

Perrryton and Aarrra'aghaa are both members of Trollhalla.

Classic profile of a winner--later in the afternoon, Perrryton came and whupped Corencio, Brrrennt, and me in a game of Magic.

Brrrennt explains some of the finer points of the game to Corencio.

The convention center provided a couple of good places to simply sit down, eat, relax, play your games.  I spent a fair amount of time in this area gaming.  It wasn’t as noisy as the main halls, and food was close at hand in the form of small convention center cafes just out of sight.  I ran my one game of Tunnels and Trolls at this table on Friday afternoon.

I had to walk a mile for my supper on Thursday night.

When the dealer room closed on Thursday, Corencio and I joined some friends for a Mexican supper.  Afterwords, we went to their domicile for a Call of Cthulhu game–everyone died, but no one went mad.  Thursday was actually the first and the best day of the Con for me.  Flying Buffalo had a very good day for sales, and most of the friends I actually wanted to see at the Con came to see me that day.  Then we finished it all off with a game.  Can’t beat that!

Fast forward to Friday . . . We had so many helpers at the Flying Buffalo booth that I couldn’t actually stay there all the time.  In one way that was bad because some of the people who came to see and meet me actually missed me.  In another way it was good because I got out and saw more of the Con.

Friday morning found me at the Namaste booth where I went to see my friend Liz Danforth–she who is the very Goddess of Fantasy Illustration–and the creator of the classic Tunnels and Trolls 5th edition cover.

Dungeon delving is a blast.

Aaron wants to revolutionize MMORPGs. I'll help him if I can.

I’m in the picture here with John Harmon who is one of the artists at Namaste games.  He spent some time explaining their storyblocks system to me.  They brought Liz Danforth to the con for the first time in ten years, and signed her up to do concept art for the mmorpg they are creating.  I demoed their system, and I like it–very story based, and not so much twitch gaming like most of the runner/shooter computer rpgs you see these days.  I hope they succeed.

Liz Danforth (in purple) is talking to some of her fans.

It was great to see Liz out on the convention scene once again, and apparently having a good time.  On Saturday night Liz had supper with me and Rick and Corencio and Steve and Rick Roszco at the High Velocity Sports Bar in the Marriott.  That’s living the high life, folks.

Arch geekery with Steve Jackson.

Liz and I connected with the ever reclusive Steve Jackson at the Namaste booth.  Twas really good to see Steve again–it has been more than a decade since our paths last crossed.

LIfe-sized Robo Rally.

When I wasn’t in the dealers’ room trying to sell stuff or talking to people, I hung out in the convention lobby a lot.  In once place they had a life-sized Robo Rally game going for the whole convention.  It attracted a lot of attention and was beautifully produced.  Where do they get those fabulous toys?

Steve came by and talked business with Rick later in the day.

Richard Roszko is the Nuclear War apps developer for Flying Buffalo.

One of the people who helped out at the Buffalo booth was “Nomad” Rick Roszko.  He created the spinner map for Android cell phones for Nuclear War, and is working on a complete Nuclear War app.  The two Ricks think that if Apple Computing would only approve these apps, they would soar to undreamed of heights of popularity and richness.  C’mon, Apple, get off your butt, and approve the Apple I-phone version of the Nuclear War spinner.  Later you can approve the T & T cell phone interactive stories we intend to do.  Nomad took us all to dinner on Friday night at the Claddagh Pub.  Thanks, Nomad!

Saturday was Shadowfist Day!

On Saturday Corencio and I spent a lot of time playing cards at the World Championship Shadowfist tournament.  You may see me write about Magic a lot, but my real favorite collectible card game is Shadowfist–the game of Hong Kong action science fiction movies.  My son, Corencio, is currently the Arizona State Champion of the game–though I think he was lucky when he won that–and we tried our hand at the World Championship.  Now this is sort of typical of my life in gaming.  Here I was, competing for the world championship in a game, and there were only 14 other competitors.  Neither Corencio nor I even came close to winning–we didn’t even make the finals–but we had a good time, and saw some great players in action.

Do these guys look like kung-fu killers to you? The Shadowfist Championship tourney.

After the Shadowfist tournament I went back to the Buffalo booth for the afternoon.  Rick went off and ran a Nuclear War tournament at 4 p.m.–he had 30 players.  Ha!  He should bill it as the Nuclear War World Championship tournament at GenCon.  He might get 100 players if he did that.  When the hall closed a bunch of us went off and had supper at the High Velocity bar.  What  a feast!  But what will forever stick in my mind was the fact that they had television monitors in the Men’s restroom.  You could stand there doing your business and never miss a moment of whatever game was currently playing.

Sports TV heaven and the food was good too. I could not say the same for the Champions Bar in the other Marriott hotel down the street where I had lunch on Sunday.

We parked across the street from the football home of the Indianapolis Colts. The whole stadium is enclosed within this gigantic brick building with huge neon lights on the outside.

The City of Indianapolis has a lot of bizarre and impressive structures in it.  I would have a good time just riding around and photographing strange places.  The football stadium is one of them.  So is the church that follows.  I wish I had time and a local guide to get to know these places better.

Twin Towers--the top of the cathedral across the street from the convention center.

Go for baroque front facade of the church across from the convention center.

The church was so massive I couldn’t get it all into a single photograph.  Likewise for the stadium, and I didn’t even try for a photo of the power plant or the convention center itself or the state Capitol buildings a block to the north.

Some Uruks got lost in the Dealers' Room on Sunday--three of them.

Did I mention that the hall costumes were incredibly great this year?  They were spectacular and none were better, imho, than these lost uruks.  The leader, above, had this harsh rasping voice you could hear halfway across the hall, and yet he was the soul of courtesy and couth.  I tip the trollgod’s battered fedora to the Uruks of GenCon.

Looks real to me.

This fellow had an axe to grind--luckily not with me! I'd sign him up in a hearbeat to guard the trollcave at Trollhalla.

Sunday was the least eventful day of the trip.  I had lunch with my Trollhallan friends and said goodbye to them.  Perhaps we’ll meet again some time.  By 6 p.m. the Con was over, and we had packed the stuff we didn’t sell and were ready to head out.  This concludes my tale of GenCon Indy 2011.  It was the best I’ve ever attended.  All the dealers seemed to do well, and the gamers, cosplayers, etc.  all seemed pretty pumped up and pleased with it.  My congratulations to Peter Adkisson for running a great Con.  Long may it continue!

Goodbye to Indianapolis!

I know thousands of you were at GenCon with me.   There were a million other things I could have mentioned, but I’ve been working on this blog for half the day already, and I have to stop some time.  What did you enjoy most at GenCon?  I’d welcome your comments for this blog.

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