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< Piro >

"Broken Limbo"

Monday - August 18, 2008

[Piro] - 10:33:57 - [link here]

I need to apologize for the very serious delay of the past week. Most of it stems from a very difficult problem i was having with the new t-shirt printing and production that took almost 4 entire days to resolve... a problem that needed to be fixed and at times i wondered if i was ever going to overcome. It has delayed not only this comic (since i have been spending most of my time on it) but has delayed production and shipment of all the shirts that you folks have ordered from the store. The good news is that last night i was finally able to resolve and fix the issue. Subsequent testing has confirmed that the issue is indeed fixed, and the print quality of the shirts is up to what i (and you) expect them to be.

The limbo i have felt like i have been living in for the past week is now broken.

Of course, the euphoria that came with finally resolving the problem (it had to do with being able to properly print in high speed (bi-directional) mode as opposed to normal speed (unidirectional) which was more than doubling the time it took to print shirts) has now passed and i'm having to face the big catch-up with not only orders but the comic as well.

This comic is actually not too far off from being done, but i still have a few more frames to finish before i can post. On top of this, now that the printer is working properly i have to actually be there to ramp up production so we can fill all the outstanding orders.

So, that said, I would first like to apologize for the delay in shipment of your shirt orders from the Megagear store, and let you know that we are now back online and orders will start being filled and shipped as soon as i can get them printed and out the door. Thank you for your patience. As for the comic, it's coming - and now that i am past this big hurdle with this new production method and i will be switching my priorities back to that thing that i would much rather be doing - drawing comics.

I also owe you folks a rant with more info on what exactly this all is. I'll do that too in the next few days.

Ah, the joy of learning the ins and outs of new production methods, new machines... Sometimes it's learning the technical bits and tricks and ins and outs of machines that always have their own personality and quirks. Sometimes it's a question of learning what voodoo or magical incantations to recite. Sometimes it's finding that hidden little hatch on the back marked with a squiggly looking cephalopod-like creature that pops out and reveals an intake where where you can pour appropriate measures of your own blood. Finally found that hatch last night. Hopefully it will stay satisfied for a while as i try to rebuild my red blood cell count with copious amounts of coffee and wheat thins.

It's a bit of a spoiler, so if you'd rather wait for the finished comic, don't look, but here's a rather nice frame from this upcoming comic. I'll be posting the finished comic as soon as i can finish up the remaining frames later this afternoon. Thank you again for your patience - time to get back to work.

< Dom >

"Free Range Players"

Sunday - August 24, 2008

[Dom] - 21:00:33 - [link here]

Right now, I'm dogsitting at kakibell's apartment.  Her dog is pretty cute as dogs go, but I think of him more as a throw pillow.  A throw pillow who likes widdling on my futon and nibbling on my feet, yes, but a pillow nonetheless.

The past week, I was in Singapore visiting my nieces, who are indeed the most adorable girls in existence.  I have a few stories about that trip, but they're mostly for the family.  So unless you're a Nguyen, a Phan, a Tran, a Le, a Fanvu, or a Rogers (long story), you probably won't hear them.  Sorry.  Instead, you get to hear about what I promised to write last week before I ran off to Singapore - Japanese cosplay.

The life of a Japanese cosplayer at Comike possesses strange similarities to that of the free range chicken. Because Comike is an event with many times more traffic than your average American convention, they have to make sure that cosplayers don't cause gigantic snarls in foot traffic. So, there is a segment of Tokyo Big Sight designated as the Cosplay Space, where costumed attendees can wander free within a defined area. Traffic control staffers patrol the area constantly, making sure that photographers and cosplayers never stop the flow of people for long.

The last time I was in a cosplay space for Comike, it was on the roof outside the commercial space, and it was windy and cold as hell. This time, it was held in the garden area, and temperatures were pushing toward 37C. With the Otaku Sauna effect replaced by the crushing heat of the outdoors, I wandered in a general haze. Maybe it was the heat, or my general dislike of the omnipresent "lookit my legs/cleavage/belly" school of Japanese cosplay, but I didn't take very many pictures that day. Instead, I gravitated to the concession stands, where HIStory played over the loudspeaker and good ol' Coca-Cola called to me like an ex-girlfriend who'd gotten sexier after the breakup.

Shortly after I removed the Coke bottle from my face, I heard a joyous voice shouting "Dominic-san!" and was tackled by Yumicco, one of the cosplayers I'd met at Anime Expo. Rather than enjoying the moment like most people would do in that situation, I mostly felt proud that I didn't spit soda all over the crowd.

After we caught up, I settled into my favorite tourist hobby - people-watching. The social dynamics of the Comike cosplay space were like watching the Internet at work. A pretty girl flashed some leg or some skin, and the world was her oyster. It didn't matter that her costume was shabby or old or unfinished, there would be a huge gathering of photographers waiting to ask her for her picture. But, to help restore some of my faith in the general awesomeness of mankind, the most popular cosplayer I saw on the day was a chubby girl in a Mario costume who went all-out on the stupid. She jumped around, grinned like a maniac despite wearing overalls and a long-sleeved shirt in the suffocating heat, and got a lot of attention for being a dork.

From hanging out with Momo, Yumicco, and their friends, I got a lot of the same vibe from the vast majority of the costumers. They had braved exhaustion, dehydration, incredibly long lines, and heat stroke to express their love for their favorite characters in anime, movies, sports, and games. Attention was nice and all, but for many of the people I saw, it was more of a social pursuit than a thinly disguised bid for an audience, no matter how temporary. Cosplayers met old friends and took as many pictures of each other as photographers took of them.

I couldn't spend much time with my new friends, though, since I had to catch a show in the early afternoon. After I promised to see them again the next day, I spent a little more time wandering around and walked off - finding an amicable white guy with an American accent wearing a blazer in the intense heat. After seeing how much sweat was pouring his face, I had to ask - "What drives an average, possibly normal English-speaking person to thinking that he can wear a winter school uniform in this heat?"

He looked at me, smiled a little, and replied "You should've seen me yesterday. I was wearing a full woolen military uniform, and I just about died." Then his grin widened.

"I've been doing this since I was ten years old. And," he continued, looking around, "this isn't something you do when you're normal."  I could only agree as I looked around at the people dressed in bear costumes and full military regalia standing in the sun.  They looked like they had just finished a marathon. 

On Sunday, the forecast called for cloudy skies and rain. It was an absolute blessing, dropping the temperature to almost comfortable levels and bringing out so many cosplayers that they opened one or two other cosplay spaces. After meeting with Momo and Yumicco again, I got to see a whole lot more of the Japanese cosplay scene. Once again, I saw that mix of pure cheesecake and dorks out to have some silly fun. Among other things, I found a sacrilicious pair of cosplayers from Saint Onii-san, depicting modern-day versions of Buddha and Jesus (take THAT, Buddy Christ). I also found perhaps the greatest cosplayer of all time in Doala, who drew bigger crowds than anyone I'd seen before whenever he put on his creepy, fuzzy blue head and started doing the stupidest poses I've ever seen.

It was a pretty good experience in all, and I learned way more from watching these cosplayers than I thought I would. But I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to stand out in the Tokyo summer sun for more than an hour ever again. If anything I've written over the course of my nerdy travels has taught you anything, let it be this: go to Winter Comike. Your sweat glands will thank you.


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