To recap: Throughout the year, I’m going to be previewing the participants in Con-athon 2016, this year’s gauntlet of six major anime/sci-fi/fantasy/comic conventions on two islands and a whooooooole buncha smaller events in between. Kawaii Kon was first out of the gate in early April, and they set a rather impressive pace for the other shows to follow: an 11th straight year of attendance growth (11,597 unique attendees!) and three guests already announced for next year (voice actors Vic Mignogna and David Vincent, and manga publisher Vertical Comics).
Since then, the remaining participants have continued to make progress toward their start dates (well, most of them, anyway; no one’s quite sure what to make of the continued silence on the part of Anime Matsuri Hawaii, which has yet to even announce when their show’s taking place nearly half a year after their last event ended). Next up to the starting gate is the convention that made the biggest splash last year: Amazing Hawaii Comic Con.
So you know that we here at Otaku Ohana love our video games. And gamers don’t often have the greatest reputation — you know the stereotypes, which I won’t deign to repeat here. You also know we love our charity gaming events — see our past coverage of Child’s Play Charity, which helps children’s hospitals worldwide.
But the idea of using video games as a fundraiser has been around for years, and lately it’s been getting more mainstream recognition. A subgenre of this is the speedrunning category, in which gamers finish games as fast as they can — exploiting things like glitches and technical aspects of games to complete them in mere minutes to several hours instead of the, say, 80 hours we mere mortals probably spent. (Yeah, that was me with Final Fantasy III/VI. But only because I was trying my darnedest to get Economizers for everyone so they could all cast spells for a measly 1 magic point! Anyway, I digress.)
Admittedly, I’d never heard of speedrunning until just a few years ago when I stumbled across a particular video game marathon for charity. Seeing the insane skills and the vast knowledge that the gamers had to employ to effortlessly whip through these games like Simon Belmont through Dracula, the same games that I loved and sweated and cursed over and spent wayyyyy too much of my life — that got me COMPLETELY hooked. And the fact that this was being done to benefit a worthy cause was a big, big bonus.
It’s only in the past few months that I became aware of various other video game marathon charity events, both speedrunning and otherwise, and I’d like to spread the word about them by sharing them here. These broadcast live online, usually via Twitch, and they’re listed here in generally chronological order. (Please note that the months listed are only an estimate based on when they occurred last year and that they may change.) Check them out and, if you can, please donate to their cause! Remember, even a dollar is a big help. Even if you’re not able to donate, you can help by talking about them on social media and raising awareness about them and the causes they support.
With most of these events, your money goes directly to the chosen charity and is tax-deductible. But be sure to check with the charity for information for tax purposes.
Congratulations, dear otaku! You’ve managed to survive the first four months of the year. Here, have some cookies … err, comics.
Indeed, with all that’s been happening in the real world and its cascade of bad news, we’ve made it to the annual national celebration of comic book culture, Free Comic Book Day. On Saturday, various comic shops and libraries will be giving away a wide range of comic books. Some will even be hosting special events. It’s a tradition that’s run annually since 2002, and while some of the stores locally have changed over the years, the concept remains the same: give away comic books; expose readers to a wide range of series; get people into stores to peruse what’s available. Put another way, it’s like a comic Christmas.
The books this year run the gamut from summer blockbuster source material (Avengers, Suicide Squad, Captain America) to pop culture icons (Archie, Doctor Who, Strawberry Shortcake, Sonic the Hedgehog) to cool little niche titles that you might not recognize now but might just end up being the next series that you slavishly follow every month. Manga fans, the books you’ll want to look for are Kodansha Comics’ Attack on Titan Anthology preview and a pair from Viz, Pokemon Pocket Comics and the One-Punch Man/My Hero Academiacombo sampler. You can find a complete list of what’s available here; just remember that the sites celebrating Free Comic Book Day rarely, if ever, have every book in stock. Don’t forget to patronize your local stores and stick a few dollars in their cash registers, too; while the books are free to readers, they aren’t for the stores.
So where can you go? With six stores and 14 libraries on Oahu and a smattering of locations on the neighbor islands, you certainly have options this year.
Comic book stores
The biggest celebration in the state looks to be at Other Realms (1130 Nimitz Highway, suite C-140) in Iwilei, with cosplayers, gifts for children in cosplay, discounts, door prizes and a FCBD Spongebob Squarepants pin for the first 100 customers. Special guests include Free Isabelo, founder of Live Free Die Free (LFDF) Comics and creator of The Contraptor; Gary Turner, a local TV commercial producer and creator of I, Mage; and the creative team behind Kipaku Kai. Midweek cartoonist, Cacy & Kiara creator and Pepe the Chihuahua kalbi wrangler Roy Chang’s also going to be there, drawing caricatures of people as Funko Pop figures. You know, kind of like this.
… and yes, that is your friendly neighborhood otaku blogger in the upper left corner with a convention badge, funny cosplay hat and phone running Ingress at the ready. I love it.
Dragon’s Lair (95-1840 Meheula Parkway, suite E-10) in Mililani will be hosting artists Jon Murakami, Michael Cannon and Reid Kishimoto, who’ll be doing sketches throughout the day and handing out bookmarks drawn by Comic Jam Hawaii members. I don’t think I’ve ever spotlighted Reid’s artwork in this space before, so here, have some Disney Princess bookmark samples drawn by him.
Over on Hawaii island, Enjoy Comics (45-201 Pohaku St.) is teaming up with Hilo Public Library and using the day as an opportunity to promote literacy through comics. Comics will be available at the store and at the library, and the library has a special display showcasing local and national comics that will be up all month.
Also giving out comics: Choice Comics (98-1268 Kaahumanu St., suite 104) in Pearl City; Westside Comics and Games (590 Farrington Highway, #538) in Kapolei; and Collector Maniacs (3571 Waialae Ave., suite 102A) and Gecko Books (1151 12th Ave.), both in Kaimuki. Maui readers can visit Maui Comics & Collectibles (333 Dairy Road, suite 102) in Kahului.
If getting to a comic book store is too much of a haul for you, your neighborhood library might be able to help. Participating libraries include Aiea, Aina Haina, Hawaii Kai, Kailua, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Manoa, McCully-Moiliili, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waianae, Waikiki-Kapahulu, Waimanalo and Waipahu on Oahu; Princeville on Kauai; Kahului, Kihei, Lahaina and Makawao on Maui; the Lanai Library booth at the Saturday Market in Dole Park on Lanai; and Hilo, Kona and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island.
The libraries will have Comic Jam Hawaii bookmarks, and they’ll have a selection of the following comics:
Bongo Comics Free-For-All (Simpsons)
Boom! Studios Summer Blast (featuring Mouse Guard, AdventureTime and Lumberjanes)
Captain America #1
Dark Horse All-Ages Sampler (featuring The Legend of Korra, How to Train Your Dragon and Plants vs. Zombies)
Suicide Squad #1
DC Super Hero Girls
Doctor Who: Four Doctors Special
Pokemon Pocket Comics
Dark Horse Serenity/Hellboy/Aliens
Spongebob Freestyle Funnies
Strawberry Shortcake #0
In addition, cosplayers from the 501st Imperial Legion, Rebel Legion Hawaii and Hawaii Cosplayers Guild will be showing up at Aiea, Aina Haina, Kapolei, Manoa, Mililani, Salt Lake-Moanalua, Waikiki-Kapahulu, and Waipahu libraries on Oahu, Makawao on Maui and Thelma Parker on Hawaii island. Lawrence Muleh, a Maui teacher, artist, illustrator, creator, and children’s book author, will be teaching a drawing workshop at Makawao Library at 2 p.m. But the luckiest library in the state has to be Kihei, who’ll be hosting comic artist James Silvani from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Among his credits: artwork on Darkwing Duck and Animaniacs comics. Seeing as how those are two of my favorite series ever, I am so jealous of you right now, people of Kihei.
When last we visited with teen artist Joelle Lee in this space nearly two years ago, it was at the Kids Inc. Business Showcase at Windward Mall, and I had commissioned her to draw a caricature of me.
I haven’t changed my Facebook and Twitter profile pics ever since.
Joelle’s graduating from Moanalua High School in a few weeks, which makes me feel pretty old. (Also making me feel old recently: the fact that Cel Shaded ended five years ago. But I digress.) One of her final school projects, though, is pretty cool: She’s part of the Moanalua team that’s among the semifinalists in the annual Vans Custom Culture shoe design competition. According to the contest website:
Vans Custom Culture was created to inspire and empower high school students to embrace their creativity through art and design and to bring attention to diminishing arts education budgets. Vans believes everyone should be empowered to express themselves creatively and should be given the tools to do so.
Custom Culture is a national high school customization competition using blank Vans shoes to be customized around specific themes. Once your school’s designs are completed, they go through a voting process to narrow down our top 50 entries. Then, it’s up to your school and classmates to garner votes from the public to choose our top 5 that go on to compete in our final event.
The top vote-getters in each of five regions — Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest, and California, which I guess has enough entries to support itself as a region in its own right — advance to the finals in Los Angeles, and the winning team will get $50,000 for its school’s art program.
Here’s Joelle’s contribution to the competition, inspired by the theme of “Music.”
And here are the other shoe designs. Clockwise from top on the top photo are team members’ interpretations of the themes of “Local Culture,” “Action Sports” and “Art.”
The Moanalua team’s in the Southwest region, and it’s going up against a school in Arizona, a school in Oklahoma and about a hundred kajillion schools in Texas. OK, there are only seven, but it certainly looks intimidating, particularly when you consider nine states comprise the Southwest region (better luck next year, Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah!). In any case, the last time I checked, Texas had a loooooooot more people than we do, so it might be a bit of an uphill battle. But hey, we got Jasmine Trias pretty far into her American Idol season back in the day, so that probably counts for something, right?
Voting is open now at sites.vans.com/customculture. You have until 2 p.m. May 11 to vote and you can vote once per day until then, so let’s make a difference, people.