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About alabaster

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    Grand Vizier
  • Birthday 07/10/1970

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    Columbia, MD
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    anime, duh.

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  1. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    With again the caveat that I'm not running things these days and the Ethan may have a different take.... That muddy ground is one reason I actively avoided giving "fan guests" the GOH (guest of honor) nod for many years. There are some fantastic folks out there doing excellent work, but there is definitely a distinction between folks who have "official" status within the industry, and those who don't. The challenge is to honor what they do without causing confusion or trouble with the pros. (And quite a few of them have crossed into pro status, at which point we might change their listed status.) It's just a cleaner distinction to make: did you go pro and legit with this? Once you have, then it's a much simpler call to make, because you're adding something significant to the whole deal. This industry has a LOT of folks in it who started in the grey area and cowboy days, but now are legit, so it's not an unassailable wall. If you're running a smaller con, you want a larger list of guests and drawing Big Name Fans can make a big difference, and just as importantly, non-GOH level guests *tend* to only get badges and similar low-cost considerations. The questions we typically ask about any potential guest are: How does this guest advance our mission? Remember, our mission is about cultural exchange, fundamentally, but certainly with a focus on pop culture. For people already actively involved in professional creation, localization, or distribution, either as production or talent, that's an easy one. For people in academic circles, pro speakers and authors like Roland Kelts and Fred Schodt, it's also an easy call to make. Because we're a nonprofit, we need to be able to justify what we spend on our guests. What's their likely draw/appeal? I've received requests for youtubers with a following in the dozens; that's an easy call. But we've also brought major voice actors and directors from Japan who draw a couple dozen folks at best. Prestige and name value really kick in here. How much content are they bringing? I've never been a fan of "guests" who do nothing but sit in the dealer or artist halls and sell and sign stuff. That's why we typically require 2 panels or the equivalent from all our GOH guests. What's the cost of bringing and supporting them? Japanese guests need bilingual interpreters to handle them, and cost a fair penny to bring. US guests (especially actors) typically have fees these days that range from bargains to tens of thousands of dollars. Each of them needs a room and food, and that all adds up disturbingly fast. OTOH, industry support can help mitigate those costs. About a third to half of all our guests come with some help from industry (not always financial); the rest are existing relationships, personal contacts, or direct offers. What special challenges do they bring? Are they known for being "difficult"? Is their management bad at responding and providing info? Do they miss their at-con obligations? Are there troubling accusations against them? Do they have annoying significant others? Have they pissed off their employer somehow? Cost is a big deal, because all things considered, if you're spending $2k minimum on travel/room/board for a guest, you'd rather spend it on a guest who has a draw, who have mission relevance, and who doesn't have a ton of "baggage" to deal with. Just a little insight.
  2. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I'm going out on a limb here and say there is still a distinction between "guest" and "panelist", which isn't always clear at some smaller events, but which has been pretty consistent at Otakon for many years. Guests are guests of honor, the names that draw folks to your con, and typically are professionals who have some direct connection to the mission or the industry; panelists typically are fans first, and are not here to support or promote their work or that of their employers. Guests get official status and their travel costs are paid (including fees, where applicable), panelists generally do not get much more than a badge and a place to chill in their downtime. Team Four Star exists in a weird place, because the work they produce is unlicensed parodies of licensed works. I'm not sure how Ethan feels about it, but I shied away from bringing them as guests because it creates unwanted tension with industry. Most of their con appearances tend to be "under the radar" -- they're panelists or have a booth someplace. We have had them at Otakon before as panelists, but spotlighting unlicensed works with full "guest of honor" status can be problematic. IIRC, Funi basically ignores the parody works (because they're clearly parody, even if they use enough content to be legally tricky to deal with), but .... The nearest analogy I can come up with is when you pack more than the allowed occupancy in a hotel room. The hotel really doesn't care too much if you have 6 people in a 4-person room so long as you don't create more work for them with endless towel demands or noise complaints. But if you draw too much attention, they have to act to protect their bread & butter.
  3. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    One challenge there is that our contacts are primarily in the animation, gaming, and music industries, and not so much in the world of modeling. The other is that they’re going to have very little motivation to come. When evaluating guests, it’s fairly routine to break down the non-adjustable costs (flights, hotel, etc.) and the negotiable ones. Appearance fees have become more of s thing in recent years, despite the complexities of taxes, payments to overseas agencies, etc. Given the same baseline costs (it costs thousands of dollars to bring a guest from Japan, regardless of status), and limited budget, the first question is whether you spend that on someone with broad appeal, or someone with narrower appeal, and the other question is how relevant that guest is to our mission. A guest with broad appeal and fantastic relevancy is going to win, but one particularly appealing, or super relevant, would also be a prime selection. There’s really not much particularly unique about scantily dressed girls posing for magazines, honestly, and little to no crossover appeal. The management and business involved isn’t pushing to broaden the audience, as is the case for music, and there isn’t really a compelling cultural argument here. And to switch hats, if I were such a model, I can’t see much sense in flying 13 hours each way to be stared at in person by foreigners who don’t buy the magazines I am paid to appear in. Not when I can make bank in Tokyo for personal appearances, during the relatively short window when I am still young and sexy. (And that’s before you consider the unsavory types that tend to be involved in those businesses. There are musical acts I was advised to avoid because of Yakuza involvement, and I am certain that would be an issue in the world of adult magazines.) If this really interests you, and you think it has broader appeal and something to teach us, start with a panel. It’s rare to see a well presented panel covering such content, though I’m sure someone out there could make a good one. Until then , I don’t see anyone making it a priority, at any broad anime con.
  4. alabaster

    Fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Tim Curry, too.
  5. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You’re quite right, brain fart on Amandas. And while i appreciate the vote of confidence, I am not the one booking guests these days...
  6. alabaster

    Special Guest Request

    Unfortunately, Otakon Vegas is on hiatus for the time being.
  7. alabaster

    Otakon 2020 / Tokyo Olympics

    Moved to Otakon Q&A. Speaking very generally: Otakon is typically held the last weekend of July or one of the first two weekends of August. However, there have been outliers over the years. We've been as early as July 4th weekend, and as late as Labor Day weekend. Exact dates vary and aren't generally releasable to the public ahead of time. However, they are generally locked down with venue and hotels long in advance. I have the dates noted somewhere myself, but don't recall. I'd forgotten this coming year (2019) was in July. As Aresef says above, we usually try to avoid the same weekend as SDCC, because it makes it tough for industry to participate. We have been held during the Olympics before, in 2008, opening the same day. Having established that I don't actually recall the dates, there's a lot more than "avoid conflict with another event" that goes into decisions about when the con is held. I wouldn't expect to hear 2020's dates until the usual time -- Sunday, end of con, 2019.
  8. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    I know her. One reason her travel was limited for a while was the age of her kid.
  9. alabaster

    Guest Request for 2019

    I'm sorry, but we announced last year that Otakon Vegas was going on hiatus for the foreseeable future.
  10. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Maile's a friend and she's been fairly often -- I think we were one of her first cons. She's a hoot! Kojima....well, he's challenging.
  11. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    You and me both, buddy. We have come fairly close once or twice -- but that's a VERY tough nut to crack for many reasons. Closest I got personally was a direct conversation with her manager while she was performing twenty feet away.
  12. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Greg's good, and I don't disagree he'd be an asset. I'll pass along to the appropriate folks.
  13. alabaster

    The Otakon 2019 Guest Request Thread

    Guys, Steve's a personal friend as well as a great guest. He likes our event. We had him at Otakon Vegas a few years back, and he snuck by the following year to surprise us. Monica Rial was one of the first guests who left me a voicemail, nearly 15 years ago. We aren't ignoring your repeated requests -- but you have to understand that it's not about the staff "coming around". It's about bringing a mix of guests who appeal to particular groups or tie into particular properties, as well as some veterans that are good value throughout. AND we're competing with production schedules and other commitments, and we're balancing cost and value. And we're competing with dozens of other shows. Wanting a guest does not guarantee the guest is available, or affordable, or in synch with what the industry is promoting or what's launching at any given moment. Staff wanting a guest doesn't make it happen either -- there are plenty of folks I consider personal friends who simply aren't the right fit for a particular year, or can't make the scheduling work. For example, we've been talking to Kawamori for years and this was the first time everything lined up properly. It happens. I'm sure all of them will be here again.
  14. alabaster

    Guest Request: 2015

    Was wondering the same thing. Alabaster - Able to shed any light on this? And or what the description of "Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection F OFFICIAL" is on the schedule? They'll be signing exclusively at the Funimation booth, as they are entirely sponsored by Funimation. We'll try to post any other info we have. As for DBZ: If we got a description, it should be posted into the schedule. That's the big show-based panel and you can expect them to be at that. Apologies, folks, it's been a roller coaster as usual and i've spent most of my waking hours at work or doing Otakon stuff, so I've left you high and dry once the guests were announced. Sorry!
  15. alabaster

    I Have Not Received My Badge In the Mail!

    Well, in this case it's also a holiday weekend.