By Jason S. Yadao
The second stop on our yearlong parade of local conventions, Comic Con Honolulu, is coming up on Friday, and ... okay, real talk: Just like how people keep calling the Don Quijote on Kaheka Street "Daiei" or "Holiday Mart," or people in Waipahu still think of the Don Quijote store there as the old GEM store, or a whole bunch of other "Remember when ______ was ______?" conversations that fill #ThrowbackThursday threads on social media every week, a lot of you out there still think of Comic Con Honolulu as Hoku Kon, right? Even though we went over why the name changed earlier this year? It's okay; I find myself switching between the two as well.
Whatever you prefer to call it, the convention launched as the all-the-things offspring of Kawaii Kon is ready to show con-goers what it has to offer. While it may not be as big as Kawaii Kon -- the entire show's only taking up the top floor of the Hawai 'i Convention Center --the enthusiast spirit of the long-running anime convention certainly remains a core element here. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend this year -- we're still working on taming the beast that is our new editorial computer system -- but if I could go, here are what would be some of my highlights.
The intro to Ingress panel! Hear about Niantic's free-to-play massively multiplayer augmented reality game for almost every smartphone out there (sorry, Blackberry and Windows Phone users). Learn about the convoluted back story -- something about a battle for Exotic Matter, aliens that either ought to be welcomed with a platter of cookies or repelled like con attendees who forgot to shower, and a buncha researchers, shadowy types and weird artificial intelligence constructs who have died, shattered into shards and been resurrected more times than the Hawaiian Netmender portal changes hands daily. You can also learn why the Enlightened is awesome (lovely greenish hues over everything; "think green" projects a solid environmental message; noodles) and why the Resistance is … umm … equally awesome (hey, they consistently build my portal at work to level 6-8 with a multihack and heat sink that I quietly hack, happily gearing up to go blow up their portals, links and fields elsewhere, so I'm not complaining).
If you decide to attend and subsequently begin playing, I should note two things. First, apologies in advance for all the free time and gas it ends up sucking up. Second -- and I cannot stress this enough -- please sign up for the Enlightened. You don't know how many times I've talked about these intro to Ingress panels and ended up having readers join ... only for them to become my biggest in-game rivals (*waves at agent ArcturusFlyer*). Sigh. 6:30 p.m. Friday, Panel Room.
Comic Jam Hawaii represents! Some of you may remember the Sketch Improv panel during Kawaii Kon, during which artists from Comic Jam Hawaii improvised sketches based on certain themes and ideas shouted out by the audience. It's where the world first got to see a fire-breathing Slap Chop chicken ...
... the adventures of a side job-taking samurai ...
... Winnie the Deadpool ...
... a Totoro/Fast and Furious mashup ...
... and, of course, 50 Shades of Totoro.
Sketch Improv is back for another go-round, this time with a slightly tweaked name (it's Art Improv in your programs now) and a bigger venue (the Main Events room) but likely with the same sketchy hijinks. It should be a fun morning. That's from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Several Comic Jam artists will be over in Artist Alley as well. Roy Chang, MidWeek cartoonist and Pepe the Chihuahua's kalbi handler, will set up his art board and offer free art portfolio critiques. Jon J. Murakami, Star-Advertiser "Calabash" cartoonist and creator of Gordon Rider, the Ara-Rangers, and Edamame Ninjas, will be selling a number of new items, including prints of his work from Udon's upcoming Capcom Fighting Tribute artbook, original sketches, reusable shopping bags with customized hand-drawn art, and -- assuming the books come back from the printer on time -- Ara-Rangers issue #2. (Hopefully he gets over his cold in time for con, too ... get well soon, Jon!) Kevin Sano and Michael Cannon will each have tables and will be selling prints and original artwork as well. (By the way, to the right, you can see a set of four Minions that Kevin custom-painted in the colors and outfits of various Kikaida characters, which I stuck in my new home office showcase. Clearly I love them. Bonus points to anyone who can identify the other things in the showcase at the moment.) 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Gates McFadden and Edward James Olmos! Not gonna lie; these are the only two guests I recognize straight out without having to resort to Google, one being Dr. Beverly Crusher in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the other one being an Academy Award nominee for best actor (Stand and Deliver, 1988). I'm very much a comic/sci-fi blogger in training; heck, when NPR recently released its list of top 100 sci-fi/fantasy books as voted on by listeners, I found I had read ... exactly one of them. (Animal Farm. For school. Great book, A++++++ WOULD READ ORWELL AGAIN.) That's not to say the rest of the guest list, which includes actors Adam Baldwin, Erin Gray, Mira Furlan, Sean Maher and J. August Richards and comic artist Khary Rudolph, is anything to dismiss; it's a respectable roster that any startup convention would love to have.
It should be noted that the autograph policies were released Wednesday afternoon, and for those of you accustomed to lining up for free autographs and photo ops at Kawaii Kon, there's going to be a bit of sticker shock involved -- if you want a complete collection of Year One Comic-Con Honolulu guest autographs, it's going to cost you $290. Olmos is the highest at $60, followed by McFadden at $50; Baldwin, Maher and Richards at $40 each; and Furlan and Gray at $30 each. (Rudolph will offer free autographs all weekend.) Want pictures of your experiences? It's going to cost even more. Welcome to the modern-day convention economy, folks. Strap in your wallets and prepare for the ride.
Cosplay cosplay cosplay! I'll readily admit cosplay has become the modern-day equivalent of "Hey! Manga's a thing! OMG, girls are reading comics now!" in modern-day con culture, the go-to topic mainstream media chooses whenever they want to talk about all those anime/manga/sci-fi/fantasy/comic book/whatever fans converging on Big Convention Spot for the Weekend. Heck, our paper covered that angle on Sunday (premium content; subscribers, please read that article, Mike Gordon and Jamm Aquino did a good job with the words and pictures, respectively). That said, people love to dress up, and cosplayers of all skill levels will be showing up during the weekend, from average fans all the way up to our most prominent local cosplayers (Uncanny Megan, shown above with tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. at this year's Kawaii Kon! Leah Rose!). For you do-it-yourselfers, I count at least six cosplay-related panels, from Megan and Leah's Cosplay Q&A (10-11 a.m. Saturday, Panel Room) to cosplay photography (3-4 p.m. Friday, Panel Room) and a whole variety of topics in between. And that doesn't even take into account the Cosplay Competition, running from 6-7 p.m. Saturday in Main Events.
Interested in attending? Online registration has ended, but you can buy three-day passes ($55) and single-day passes (Friday, $35; Saturday, $40; Sunday, $30) starting at 9 a.m. Friday on the fourth floor of the convention center. Pre-registered attendees can pick up their passes at the same place starting at 8 a.m. Friday; it's worth noting that unlike Kawaii Kon, passes will not be available for pickup Thursday night.