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< Piro >

No, i don't make this stuff up :)

"moving"

Sunday - April 15, 2007

[Piro] - 16:15:41 - [link here]

Today's rant is kind of a long one, so here's a few of the things i'll touch on: the MegaGear Warehouse Move, Recent Cons and our Convention Schedule for 2007, The perception that i'm puffed up and full of myself (??) and comments on the the latest Seraphim Check. Now you can decide if you want to read this thing or not :P

Last week we started the long dreaded move of the MegaGear warehouse to a new location. When we started MegaGear three years ago, we opted to get a location with office/studio space attached to a warehouse. About a year and a half later we found that that we were spending 20 hours a day at the warehouse and decided to move the studio/office to our home. Since then, we haven't really needed the extra office space, so we are now moving to a smaller warehouse space that will better suit our needs.

Of course, the problem with having lots of extra space is that you tend to fill it with stuff. :) I'm a terrible pack rat, and when i moved my office to our home i just left all the stuff i wasn't using there, occasionally going back to find things i decided i needed later on. Now I have to take the time to go through it all, pack what i need and pitch what needs to be pitched. The movers are coming towards the end of the week, so i have to have everything packed and ready by then. Whee.

Luckily, Sarah isn't such a pack rat. :) The MegaGear warehouse itself is in good shape, and it shouldn't be too hard to get everything moved to boxes and relocated to the new space. I have some system changes i need to take care of (rebuilding the shipping computer, for instance) but it shouldn't be too bad. The best thing about moving is that it gives you a chance to rework your setup to better suit your needs. We've learned a lot about how to ship things efficiently, and our new setup will reflect some changes that will make our lives a lot easier. Also, the new location is much prettier, with a little bit of nature right out the front door :)

We will not be closing down the online MegaGear store for the move, since we will only be down for a few days for the move, and should be up and running by Monday the 23rd. If you do place any orders, it will just be a few more days before we ship. Thank you for your patience.

As you may have noticed, most of our Dye Sub products have been offline since January (some mugs, license plates, etc). In October i replaced our dye sub printer, and it worked fine until the end of December when it started fouling up and not printing properly. After many tries at cleaning and adjusting the thing, i finally decided that we had to cut our losses and replace the printer and bulk ink system. The new system is much, much nicer and should serve us well for the next few years. Look for some of the dye sub products, including some new ones to come online in the next few weeks.

Hard to believe that last weekend i was in Seattle at Sakuracon. It was a little crazy because we didn't have a booth and i also think that people didn't recognize me (shorter hair, not quite so fat). Also, it didn't help that my signing time was scheduled for Sunday at a point when i was going to be somewhere in the air between Seattle and Detroit. ^^;; Luckily, we were able to squeeze in a signing session after my panel on Saturday, and i'd like to say a big thank you to all the fans who came and were happy enough with the quick Boo sketches i did for everyone. Thank you :)

While it sucked for fans who were trying to find me, being there almost incognito gave me the opportunity to do something i am almost never able to do at conventions - visit and hang out with people. I know it's a problem that most people would love to have, but my typical experience at conventions is having to deal with readers wanting autographs and signatures for every minute of the con that i can squeeze it in. I miss being able to sit back in artist alley and hang out with friends and other creators. At Sakuracon this year i was able to meet and hang out a bit with several other webcomic folk, like Sam Logan from Sam and Fuzzy, Jeph Jacques and Cristi from Questionable Content, Claire Barry from Kittybot and Shawn Handyside from Stacato. Thank you for letting me hide at your booth on Saturday :) I should try to sneak around more often.

Of course, it was also good to catch up with Tycho and Gabe from Penny Arcade, like we do every year at Sakuracon :P. Just like Sarah and I did three years ago, they recently opened up their own online store. Being able to directly serve your fans and readers is one of the best things about being an independent webcomic :)

Oh, and speaking of that, blatant plug to go and buy stuff at our MegaGear store. :) We won't have anything new up for a few weeks, but now is a good time to buy stuff and support us while we're making this move to a new location. Yep. :)

The other thing i wanted to touch on was our convention schedule for 2007. As you may have noticed, we are not really planning to do a lot of conventions. We went to Sakuracon because it was their 10th year anniversary. A Big thanks and 10th year congratulations are also due to the Anime Central folks. I was invited to attend but wasn't able to commit because we were originally scheduled to move at the end of this month and DC Comics is scheduling a small book tour at the beginning of next month. :) More info on that next week. The only other domestic convention we are planning to attend this year is Otakon, so be sure to look for us there.

Oh, and i understand that there was a bit of a flap over the announcement on ANN that I was announced as a "Guest of Honor" at this year's Otakon. First off, i feel and have always felt privileged to be invited as a simple guest to Otakon (or any convention, honestly). Secondly, ANN just used the term "Guest of Honor" a little loosely in its report (i do very much appreciate the news item, my attendance to cons is not always reported on :). Otakon has invited me as a "Guest," not as a "Guest of Honor." Some conventions call all guests 'guests of honor', and others Call all guests "Guests". To me, the label 'Guest of Honor' is really something that is reserved for really big guests, like Koge Donbo or Akamatsu Ken or someone like that. I don't fall into that category by any stretch :) I can guarantee that there will be far more interesting and notable guests at Otakon this year than me. :P Besides, You could hardly call me a 'guest of honor' at a convention i've been attending off and on for the past six years :P

The part of this whole flap that annoys me is not the people who say i suck and think Megatokyo is horrible wanabee "manga" crap, it is the assertion that some people make about how I am puffed up and full of myself, touting myself as a big manga artist and whatnot.

Uh... hello?

Where the hell do people get the impression that i represent myself that way? It's not may fault that there are fans who tout Megatokyo as a great webcomic and a pretty decent example of "manga" made by an American manga-influenced creator. You can bitch and moan about the undeserved good things that others say about me and argue that you think they are wrong, that's perfectly natural. Don't accuse me of being full of myself. Some people seem to assume that successful people are full of themselves, especially if you feel that their success is undeserved. I think that's an unfair assumption.

If anything, i downplay the success of Megatokyo. The times that i do exhibit a tiny little bit of pride in how well Megatokyo has done are based on real facts, like this very interesting article by Brian Hibbs on Newsarama on the Bookscan numbers from 2006. When looking at the bookstore sales numbers for DC Comics as a whole "...DC's #4 book is one I actually have over in the manga category – the 4th volume of Megatokyo." (Note that is for DC Comics as a whole, not just CMX.)

Yeah, i know they probably sell a hell of a lot more monthlies for their main properties, as well as a different sent of sales numbers to the direct market... but I don't think the performance of Megatokyo in the book market is something I should be ashamed of. -_-

Anyways, enough of that :)

As for other conventions this year, I have two more that I'm scheduled to attend - and these are way over on the other side of the world. The first is in Conspiracy II in Wellington, New Zealand on June 1-3, 2007. The following weekend i will be in Melbourne, Australia at Convergence 2 from June 8-11, 2007. While i do have to say i'm not looking forward to the flights involved, i am really looking forward to seeing New Zealand and Australia. I know there are a lot of MT readers in these two countries, so hopefully i'll have a chance to meet some of you :) More information on this as we get closer to the conventions.

Finally, i wanted to make a quick note about the last Seraphim Check. First thing you should know is that we know people who participate in beauty pageants, and Seraphim's commentary is really aimed at the kinds of participants and people who's hypocrisy and shallow nature have given pageants such bad press in recent years. It IS challenging to look your best and perform under the stress in any sort of competition (and i personally find some of the excesses in fashion like extremely high heels to be kind of tragic in what they make girls suffer through, IMHO). I also find the ability that some people have to smile brightly when inside they are feeling anything but bright and happy to be kind of sad. Not that i've touched on that in the story or anything. :)

That said, I have heard from some readers who have regularly participated in pageants, and i would like to apologize if they felt offended in any way. It was not directed at you, the honest hard working participants, it was directed at those who have won such pageants and have disgraced them by their behavior, making people like you look bad. It's like i said before, I only make fun of people we respect. Remember the Raver jokes we used to make? same thing :)

The story of Megatokyo itself paints a bleak and negative picture of otaku and fanboys. I don't make all this stuff up, either, as this and this recent post on AkibaBlog illustrate. I consider myself a 'fanboy', as do many of my friends. I am often discouraged by the deplorable behavior exhibited by some fans of this medium. I've spoken many times about how i abhor the abusive rape doujinshi that victimizes favorite characters in order to satisfy sick fantasies. We've all heard the blanket statement that "anime is cartoon porn" right? One of the more fascinating things about anime and manga is the range it has, that in the same way anime and manga can be uplifting and touch the human heart across language barriers, it can also be used to reach deep, dark and disturbing parts of the human psyche. It just bothers me that this kind of work often, by mere association, threatens to ruin all of it for those of us who enjoy manga and anime for the more subtle and meaningful things that most of us garner from it.

(yes, i know there are no direct links between what he read and what he did - we are talking about perception here.)

Yet even while i worry about the impact that negative influences have on the culture i feel a part of, I can point to a lot of remarkable fans who have done some amazing work that inspires and touches other fans. It is sad that often the perception of an entire group of people is based on the bad behavior of a few. Too bad that the few who go out of their way to ruin things tend to get more attention than the ones who work their asses off to build it and make it better.

< Dom >

Jump World is like Spice World, but with fewer fake boobs.

"Weaned off of formula"

Wednesday - April 11, 2007

[Dom] - 23:00:00 - [link here]

There've been a lot of factors contributing to my lack of rantage, including tax time (I owe the Internal Revenue Service a truly disgusting amount of money, what with my paychecks being ungarnished and all), Guitar Hero coming out for the Xbox, work (both freelance and office), and the ever-present spectre of WoW.

I've also started watching anime again with the advent of the spring season, which has drawn me in more than any of the winter season's offerings. I'm not going to talk about what I'm watching right now - that's a topic for another rant, especially because of my policy of watching 3-4 episodes before passing judgment. What I am going to talk about is a topic that was common in responses to my "Ebb and Flow of Interest" rant. More than a few people, who I imagine are a little bit newer to the hobby than I am, suggested that I watch such shows as Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece to renew my interest in anime.

Now, a lot of you out there are guffawing to yourselves "Lawl, what Narutards!" I won't, because these people were earnest and don't deserve the same mockery as people who go to classes with ninjer headbands on or run around stabbing palm trees (long story - it makes more sense if you are staff for Anime Expo). Besides, there was a brief period of the late 20th century where I actually read and enjoyed the first few chapters of Naruto as part of my subscription to weekly Shounen Jump. God, 2000 seems like so long ago, doesn't it?

So anyway, here is a simplified version of why Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece in anime form have not, do not, and will not float my boat.

I've been reading Shounen Jump since around 2000. It's a fine, respectable magazine to read, with plenty of readers from all demographics. However, it also has a distinct formula, which most of its fans are well aware of. My friend Shimapan recently told me about the "fourth saying," which is a fan joke about other parts of the Jump formula.

The "fourth saying" is a reference to the three-part Jump motto 「努力、友情、勝利」 (something akin to "Hard work, friendship, and victory"). These themes run pretty strong through every Jump manga ever printed, even in the comedy and romance stuff. Over time, fans have developed a fourth one that goes something like 「悪そうな奴は大体友達」 ("The villainous-looking dude is usually a friend."), which is pretty light-hearted as modified mottos go. The more cynical Jump fans have modified the motto to be 「努力、友情、勝利、アニメ化」 ("Hard work, friendship, victory, and an anime adaptation").

What does this mean? Well, it means that once you've read a couple of Jump manga, you have a very good idea of where the rest of them are going, ESPECIALLY out of the ones which get turned into anime. As any casual reader of Harlequin romances or Hardy Boy mysteries can tell you, you get really tired of the formula after a while. The Bleach anime, One Piece anime, Naruto anime, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, and so on, they're all part of the same formula Jump has been encouraging for decades. I won't insult you for enjoying them, but I don't enjoy them myself.

I hope this clears up any questions people may have had about me not watching formulaic anime based on Jump manga. And just in case, I'd like to let everyone know that I love reading Eyeshield 21 because it's football and makes me laugh, and I like reading M Zero because Yasuhiro Kanou's art and writing amuses me (something you may remember from my long-past Pretty Face phase). So it's not like I hate randomly on any Jump stuff out there - it's just that I've read more than enough of it and have become picky in my old age.

As a note, Shimapan also told me that Eyeshield 21 may get converted into a stage musical soon. If this happens, I will HAVE to go to Japan to see it, as it will be Football: the Musical.

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