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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 2018 schedule thread

    Popping in briefly to say that we looked at a number of ways to run through autographs that alleviate your concerns. One challenge is the space, which is laid out differently again. So on Saturday we sat down with the folks handling the layout -- the space is different -- and are looking at other ways to make better use of the space. (I provided some input.) So while we'll have a different setup, to some extent, than we used to (and that was always going to happen, once we had a better sense of the space and possible flows through it), the info Ethan gave out the other day has almost certainly evolved. Gotta try some new stuff, but one likely change is more booths than the 3-4 we used to typically have, which should give more flexibility on timing and queue space, which have long been issues. We simply don't have the massive queues that are becoming a staple at comic-con style shows, where the sales of autographs and photo ops basically pay for the big name guests. And we're desperately trying to preserve the possibility of free autographs -- but the industry model has been shifting for some time, and the expense has grown. (Most autograph shows collect autograph/photo op money and apply it directly against the guest's guarantee; you promise guest x will make $___ and if you don't sell enough autographs/photos, the con has to pay the difference. Guest makes more money, often, but handling money becomes a tricky thing for liability and other reasons. This is why many cons are contracting that part out to third parties.) Anyway, I would expect changes, but they WILL be announced, once the layout has been confirmed, and the relevant GR staff has finalized everything.
  2. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Kawamori's been on the list for several years, but kept having scheduling conflicts -- glad they were able to make it work for our Mecha themed year!
  3. 1. We already use that entire area extensively for panels and other programming -- there isn't space to set up another reg area. 2. We are probably at our limit for multiple entrances effectively in terms of personnel or required bag checks.
  4. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Well, yeah, sort of. Businesses and artists make such decisions based on short and long term goals. But cost is increasingly part of it, as is competition and everything else. Scheduling has always been a challenge too. There's LOTS of things that factor into those decisions. Being paid is certainly one of them. Increasingly, it makes more sense for bands to plan a tour rather than just one-off appearances. First, because the biggest expense is getting here and back in the first place, and then, because the costs of obtaining visas for performing have become quite a big deal -- they're much stricter than they used to be, and it's costlier. That part alone has been averaging $8-15k depending on how many members there are, and it's harder to get them, which means more reliance on services that add a premium. Acts are often interested but have competing offers, or plans for summer tours or recording, or they just can't make the numbers work.
  5. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    No longer my call these days, but always wise to remember that "we want them" is rarely enough to make the difference. Popular acts don't always have openings during our con, and we are batting against aggressive summer tours that are often very lucrative for the artists and their labels. (We are *cheapskates* in this country, and it is rarely profitable for Japanese acts to come here for one-off shows.)
  6. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Me too! But, though we tried a few times, it never worked out schedule wise. They did a show up in Canada, and I believe they worked with Yoshida Bros on at least one occasion.
  7. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    The question was whether a scandal might make some guests (and one in particular) easier to get, which is why I answered as I did.
  8. alabaster

    Any Chance of a Backup Panel list?

    The programming department typically keeps a limited set of panels (usually from well-established panelists, most often from our Featured Panelists) in our back pocket for emergencies. For obvious reasons, they're going to prioritize people they know and content they can rely on, from people who are already on site.
  9. alabaster

    Otakon 2018 Guest Request

    Not really. In general, Japan is far less forgiving of certain types of scandals than we are. A minor drug offense or sex scandal can destroy a thriving career in Japan, whereas in the west, it's almost expected. (Sadly) You might think "oh, they're not working now, they should be easier to get" -- but then there's this: do you want to keep talking about a scandal that damaged your career, or do you want to retreat for a while and let it blow over? It also depends on the nature of the scandal, and how that person and/or their representatives are handling it. In Hirano's case, the scandal was that she allegedly slept with band members, something that frankly is at best probably no more than a violation of company policy. Personally, I would not be too concerned by consensual naughtiness between adults, and there don't appear to be any laws broken in her case. Watsuki-sensei is, frankly, an awkward situation. While I haven't met him personally, I consider his wife a friend. I haven't talked to her much since this situation came up, and have avoided the topic. It's possible the situation is less clear than it appears from sensational headlines, but it certainly puts a damper on the chances of him coming. In the end, Mr Watsuki was fined, but his manga resumes next month, which likely means that the situation wasn't considered a career-ending mistake. Even so, it would require some careful consideration, because we aim at an all-ages market and someone known to have possessed photos of underaged girls is probably not the best choice. From a practical perspective, that sort of conviction might prove an obstacle to travel here, given how much more strict US authorities have been lately --- but even if he were completely exonerated, he is a working manga-ka and they can be incredibly hard to borrow for a week. So it's a moot point.
  10. alabaster


    I would imagine so, though we usually depict all three mascots on the shirts.
  11. I believe this is because the company is making a push for a broader audience. I do know we've actively sought a broader range of guests and our region has a huge Korean community. Also, when any event like ours offers a tightly packed group of guests and activities, you can bet that it's supplemented by industry, so no worries about that affecting our ability to support more typical guests.
  12. alabaster

    Any English va dub guests

    We just announced Robbie Daymond. Don't worry, there's plenty more coming.
  13. alabaster

    Food establishments/entertainment

    Yelp is a decent guide; I'd walk down into the chinatown/Verizon center area for better options (but still near the WEWCC). M street, P street and similar main corridors tend to have good offerings. There's a Soul Kitchen, run in the basement of a nearby church, that looks a little shady and cafeteria like, but it's damned good eats and home cooking. Walking distance from the WEWCC.
  14. alabaster

    Has it been decided what (fan) panels will be included?

    I'll fix your title and make sure it's where it belongs, but here's a little insight: Fan panel acceptance hasn't been announced yet, AFAIK, but it'll be by way of email and website announcement. It takes quite a while to go through all of them, and they won't build the schedule until some time in late June or early July. Six years ago, when I headed Programming, we had approximately 480 panel submissions to review; last I heard we were getting closer to 600 or more. Humans have read every one of them, and that takes several weeks. A group of staffers reviews panels and sorts them into groups that reflect broad types of content, so we can try to have something for everyone, and then we sort into "definitely, maybe, probably not" piles, and whittle away at that for a while until we have sufficient good content to fill up the available panels slots. Bear in mind, too, that veteran featured panelists typically bring the goods with 3-4 panels each, and a few that they can run in a pinch. There's about 100 hours of fan-driven programming, with the remainder being fixed events (opening/closing ceremonies, etc.) or guest and industry panels. TL;DR -- It'll take a while to get through all the submissions, so I wouldn't expect anything until early June, personally -- but having said that, I don't know the actual timetable this year.
  15. alabaster


    Quite correct, that's our mascot Hiroshi (his slightly older sister, Hiroko, is our girl mascot, and Crabby-chan is our animal mascot). The theme was fairy tales and legends that year, so the art evokes that. Here's where you can read about our mascots: https://www.otakon.com/info/mascots/ They've appeared in numerous comic strips, several opening animations, and plenty of commercials -- as well as in shirts and other paraphernalia. Each year we have a different theme to unify our art and programming. This year's is giant robots. Prior years have included time travel, super heroes, sports, racing, space, music, and food. Our last year in Baltimore we themed around voyages, and last year's theme was spies and espionage.