A few of the Tales of the Con crew unbox the latest Lootcrate. (June 2016) The theme of this month’s crate is “Dystopia”. We found items inside from Fallout 4, Terminator, Robocop, and The Matrix. We plan to make this a monthly thing, so check back towards the end of July. We will have a couple different versions of lootcrate to open.
Chris sits down with Jake to discuss mouth lizards, the singularity, and the creepy futurist vision of tomorrow. This episode’s hosts: Chris and Jake. Recorded 05.25.16 The TOTC Podcast always contains mature language.
Yo, this article contains spoilers for The Lion King.
At some point on Saturday, I don’t remember when, the Phoenix Convention center turned into a massive blur around me. Do you remember that scene from The Lion King where Scar is dangling Mufasa over the cliff, and he’s all spouting off his rhetoric about the proper place of leadership and succession? I felt like one of the rocks in the bottom of that valley, perfectly still while the crowd pushed around me in every direction, threatening to stampede over anyone who dared get in their way.
I like to think that this moment was caused purely by the amount of exhaustion I’d managed to accrue in a short three days time before Saturday. At some point, my mind and my body just disconnected from each other for a long enough time for me to vibrate straight out of reality. I am not The Flash though, and instead of falling through the floor and ending up on the other side of the Earth, I quickly snapped back to reality and tightened my fingers around my camera, and stepped in with the crowd. I’ve been covering Phoenix Comicon now for various outlets four years running, and pretty much each year I find myself surprised by something. Whether it’s who I end up striking up a random conversation with and staying on touch with years later, or just simply what happens to me.
This year we ended up throwing back drinks with some of the staff from Fakku.net (uhhh NSFW) in a squalid, tightly packed hotel room late after the convention that same Saturday night that I seemed to slip out of reality – but that’s just an experience unique to some of us.Tales of the Con took nine journalists down to Phoenix this past weekend and each of us really ended up all covering something different. I was down in the exhibition hall, taking pictures with cosplayer and striking up conversation with creators. Of course I do what I do to see the recurring faces – I’ve hit it off with some simply amazing people through the years purely on a whim.
What you came here for is some Tales of The Con though, and though maybe none of these are from Phoenix Comicon, this is for those people who’ve never really gone to see what a wild world conventions exist in, but these tales come from somewhere special. These aren’t just Tales of the Con, they’re stories from creators who drag themselves from convention to convention.Yeah– there’s only a handful, but part of our mission at Tales of the Con is also getting to know the people at the various places we travel to. How can we relate the stories we think are interesting if we don’t get to know the people behind them? Nicky Soh (who has a very awesome comic!)
NS: So the first time I had a table was with the school – with a bunch of us. Obviously I go to SCAD so it’s a college of Art and Design. The School actually had a table at Heroes Con which is in Charleton. The cool thing as a student if you help out you get two hours of table time. So you’re at the artist alley and you get to sell your stuff.
So this was the first time for us, but one guy came over who was not supposed to be on the table, which was a student – he sat on the table. He just drew there for three hours and he did commissions and blew us all away. What he did was put a jar there (on the table) and put a sign saying like, ‘pay me however much you want and the thing i’m going to draw is like Nicholas Cage in whatever action poses’ people came there in that three hours and were dropping like sixty dollars, fifty dollars.
He made probably I think around three-hundred bucks just in that three hours. It was the most insane story I ever had and it was my first con. I was like ‘no way!’ no way someone’s gonna draw Nicholas Cage. I mean it didn’t even look like Nicholas Cage. It was so hilarious, he sat there the whole time. The pros were doing like seventy dollars, eighty dollars for a few drawings but this guy was just doing ‘pay me whatever you want’ Jorge Corona and Morgan Beem MB: So I guess our someone what crazy Comicon story was back when we were just starting out in the Savannah School of Art and Design. We decided we were all gonna go up to New York Comicon to try and like network and get our stuff out, but we’re grad students so we’re broke as hell. We’re all trying to figure out how to do this trip on like the tightest budget ever. Jen Hickman who’s also here was with us too – there was a number of us. So we decide we’re gonna take the bus, this like ghetto Chinatown bus. It picks you up in a McDonalds parking lot, no bus terminal. It was 60$ round trip to get up to new york and it’s a fifteen and a half hour bus ride. JC: Halfway through the ride, what was it like a McDonalds or a Denny’s or something? MB: Yeah somewhere in South Carolina JC: They made everyone like, step out of the bus. We were all in the middle of the street MB: It’s like the middle of the night! JC: We’re all thinking like maybe we’re going to meet but they were very specific about everyone getting off the bus. So we come out of the restroom and then the bus is gone MB: Yeah people were like wanting to eat or use the bathroom – I’m telling the bus guy that I’m going to sleep so I want to stay and he’s like “no you have to get off.” and I’m literally standing there with my blanket just watching the bus drive away thinking “They’re never coming back.” but they did! They went off, did something – I dunno like Money Laundering. They came back around and picked us up and we were off to New York, but like, they did the same thing on the way back. So a long bus ride, and then we booked a hotel in Manhattan, is that where it was? JC: Yeah, yeah. MB: We were like, ‘we’re gonna book it for two people’ and you’re thinking y’know like where we’re from it’s gonna be two beds and kind of small but not too bad. We were gonna put seven people in it to keep the cost down…and we show up to this room…and it’s like a full bed, and the room is just…built around the bed. JC: I didn’t even know how they got it in there. MB: We literally stand there It’s Jen (Hickman) and I we’re like “This…isn’t going to work.” but the broke college student determination kicks in and we’re like “WE’RE GONNA MAKE IT WORK!” So we had seven people – two of which one is David Stoll down the way there who’s a sizeable dude. There was this other dude with us who was a huge dude – we slept liked L’d into the bathroom. So you had three people on the bed, two more wedged between the wall and the bed. David slept on the floor at the foot of the bed and the other guy slept like into the bathroom which was the only way he would fit. (laughter) So it was great! That was New York Comicon on a budget you know, we got up at 6 and did portfolio reviews, got lunch for people, schlept, went out and partied. Stayed out until like one or two and then tried to sleep and do it all again. Then sunday night caught the bus back down to Savannah. JC: With the same stop on the way back! We thought like, maybe they were reloading something…but it was closer to Savannah than it was New York. Soo…on the way back it was the same spot. So it wasn’t like they were getting gas or anything – it was not like a middle point or anything. Something was happening there. Yeah…something was happening there. So it was that – and then one of the nights we went out to drink and kind of went barhopping from the different placed in New York. That was my first time in New York and I was a very big like, Seinfeld fan. We ended up having food at the diner from Seinfeld and then I just spent like most of the night waking up my friends in Venezuela sending them the picture of the diner. MB: and most of us were a little too drunk to realize where we were. JC: And only one of my friends in Venezuela woke up to be like “good for you, now leave me alone” so it was a very good trip. Kelly Sue Milano – Lisa Weber | (http://hexcomix.com/) KSM: So, this would have been at Wondercon 2015, which takes place in Anaheim. We were exhibiting there and we only had what..the first three issues of Hex 11 out. We’d been in business as a comic book creation machine for less than a year LW: Six months! KSM: Yeah six months! We’re sitting there one day and there’s droves of people coming by the booth. All of the sudden we see this girl come by the booth and we’re like ‘man, she looks so familiar!’ and then…it hits me first. This is a fan cosplaying as our lead character from our book, Eleanor. I couldn’t even find like..words. I was like “Guys it’s….look at it…her…right there!” and Lisa’s like, “What am I looking at?” and I’m like “It’s her! She’s cosplaying as Eleanor!” and we freaked out. We were so excited! LW: My eyes went completely wide and then were all crying. KSM: We all cried. We all sat and cried and mobbed her. She’s so quiet and lovely. She wasn’t probably expecting us to really lose it like that. We were so excited we took a picture with her. LW: We talked about it too, we were like “how cool will it be when we see our first cosplayer?” thinking it would be years down the road, and it’s six months after we debuted. KSM: Gotta love those fans. We love em! LW: It’s honestly the best part of the con. We meet the coolest, most awesome people.
FA: So a little while ago went to Yomacon in Detroit. Fun convention! It’s very fun – it’s in a good area of Detroit too. Awhile back they also hosted the uh, Gathering of the Juggalo’s. Not too far away from there, and y’know we made friends with some Canadian people it’s just right across the water. They said “hey! Come back to the hotel and hang out with us!” I went back there I believe Saturday night, Friday night was the last night of the Juggalo Gathering. They were staying at the same place the event was going on, and…they were all there. The ground was completely covered in syringes and empty C02 cans for whip-its. And when I say covered I mean it: there were like thousands of them across the ground. I don’t care for Juggalo’s very much. The ones that I’ve met are okay, they’re not bad…but y’know, with most other groups of people in large numbers, bad things happen. Y’know I wish I was there Friday because I’d love to see the overlap between anime fans and Juggalos. I’d love to y’know, just see a couple of huge Juggalo’s doing whip-its with a Sailor Moon Cosplayer. GG: oh my god, I think that’s like – the next great American Photo album.
Alex the Human’s Flavor of the week. Every Sunday Alex the Human will be posting a video of her “Flavor of the Week” comic book that she is reading, along with a short description of the comic and where to find it. Think of it as a sort of book club for graphic novels.
Being as it was my first ever Comicon to attend, I wasn’t quite sure what exactly I was going to be walking into. I’d figured that I was going to feel like a lost little kid in the middle of Time Square the entirety of the first day, and I wasn’t wrong. Preparing for this convention was quite overwhelming mentally, but I felt like it would be an even better first experience to get some coverage while I could. Aside from the hundreds of photos I took of cosplayers & the convention itself, I went ahead and took a stroll down ‘Food Truck Alley’ to try and cover the food trucks that leapt out at me. Out of all the amazing food I got to eat, there were three in particular that caught my attention as being especially stand out. Mustache Pretzels
The first truck that caught my eye was called Mustache Pretzels. Owned by Greg Golden, his truck originally roamed the streets of Philly before coming to Arizona a while back. Now based out of Scottsdale, his truck has attended Phoenix Comicon three years in a row. I got to speak with Greg and he seemed pretty excited about the prospect of attending for a fourth year. Greg also let me know that his truck was popular enough to have opened a physical location inside the actual Phoenix Convention center itself.
The selection of Pretzels was pretty limited, but what the menu actually offered sounded fantastic by despite the lack of variety. I don’t know if it was the price of the convention center food or just the desert heat – but it also seemed pretty reasonable for what was being offered.
I ordered the Original with Queso Cheese, which is a simple pretzel topped with sea salt. Of course with a name like Mustache Pretzel, you can figure that the pretzel was shaped into a mustache. Y’know, hence the name, but I still thought it was creative.
When I took the first bite, it was like I had melted to the consistency of my queso cheese. It was great! Lots of love was definitely put into the making of this pretzel. The dough itself has a definite flavor and consistency of being homemade. The subtle flavor of the dough with the sea salt, mixing together with each bite washes over you while the dough comes apart in your mouth. Bottom line – If you don’t have the appetite of The Incredible Hulk and just need something to hold you over through the lines and panels in the afternoon, Mustache Pretzel is one of the best choices.
Cheese, Love and Hapiness
Moving on to the next truck on my list: This truck was called Cheese, Love and Happiness. They’re based out of Scottsdale just like Mustache Pretzels, but unfortunately the owner “Sparrow” wasn’t around for me to meet him. From what I hear from his employees and the quality of the food they make, he’s a super groovy dude.
I have to say that the only thing I didn’t like was the line, but going into something like this you can generally consider that if the line is large that the food is worth it. When I finally made it up to the front after my long queue, I find out that they’re out of their famous mac-n-cheese pulled pork sandwich! After coming all that way it’s not like an empty stomach is willing to give up, so I soldiered on and ordered the Flower Power. The sandwich had tomatoes, basil leaves, mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. That’s obviously a classic ingredient combination; you really can’t go wrong with that, just by putting them together.
Of course it was a little bit more than the pretzel truck, but the size of the sandwich was well worth it. The first bite was just as good as the last and had me wanting more the entire time. Even though I wasn’t able to get what I originally wanted, I was highly impressed with the entire experience.
The girl I briefly spoke with told me it was the trucks first year at Comicon and they definitely planned to attend next year.
The third and final food truck I would like to recommend is named Queso-Good. I had heard that this truck was owned by the same guy as Cheese, Love and Happiness, but after doing some mild research, the truck is a division of Ralph’s Snack Bar Mobile Food Trucks. I couldn’t find the other truck under a list of vendors on their website, so after a little quick footed investigating I managed to find out who was actually behind this truck. Getting back, I approached the truck and a smile quickly formed on myface when I saw that there was a great selection of Mexican Food. Chicken Fajitas jumped out at me immediately over anything else, so I was putting money on the counter and yelling my order over the noise of the crowd in the tightly packed alley. The price was good and the size of the plate was enough to fill. If I had to say a time estimation, by the time my plate hit the table I’d already scarfed the Fajitas down like nothing. Listen: I’ve never eaten Fajita’s as fast as the ones I got at Comicon. I’m a big Mexican food guy so maybe it was just seeing something immediately recognizable among all of the food trucks that made Queso Good my favorite, but out of all three I can definitely say they had the most solid offering.
Leaving Food Truck Alley was difficult because I wish I could enjoy all of them daily. I was also impressed with how much cash I left with. Conventions can be quite pricey, especially with food. But to whoever is reading and plans on attending Comicon next year , don’t stress too hard about where you’re going to eat and how much money you’re going to have to part with. Food Truck Alley is where it’s at, nerds! We’ll have more reviews next con.