rocketbomber (Level 9)

TV Economics 101: Why you can't watch every program for free http://bit.ly/bK1dO8
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My life is a hefty dose of The Manga Guide to Statistics crossed with Thompson's Manga: the Complete Guide, mixed liberally with the worst parts of Welcome to the NHK (there is no Misaki in my version, just the soul-eroding isolation and willful withdraw from the outside world) , and a dash of Oishinbo -- in as much as I like to cook and I fancy myself a journalist.
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  With the next Dragon*Con (the 23rd) coming up in just a week, I thought I might share some posts written over the past two years about what the con is, and why a blinkered manga and/or anime fan should give a shit.  
 
Who said this was a *holiday* weekend?  I feel like I’m working my ass off.  
 
This being Atlanta, and this being Labor Day (not to be confused with Labour Day, which is Canadian and actually came first) that can only mean
 
Dragon*Con.

Ah yes, a chance to be out and amongst the geeks of my nation, to let my Geek Flag fly, to mercilessly self medicate with alcohol in an attempt to overcome my nascent demophobia

Yesterday I listened to Jake Tarbox give a panel on “How to Read Manga” — which might be more accurately described as art appreciation and an introduction to Japanese visual language, analysis of panel layout and composition, cultural differences in the pictorial depiction of time, space, and sequence, and how the arbitrary separation of art into ‘high’ and ‘low’ forms has largely been discarded by the academic art community… but that’s kind of a hard title to fit into the Pocket Program listing.

Also yesterday: 

  • a voice actor panel where George Lowe (Space Ghost) completely stole the show: an impressive feat with Vic Mignogna and James Hong (and others) on the same stage 
  • a panel discussion and Q&A on the legalities of copyright, fair use, transformative works, and literature (um. well. that is to say: fan fiction)
  • & a two hour stint @ Gibney’s (love that place) drinking Guinness self medicating and taking a break away from the crowds, while also trying to finish up the weekly (and monthly) manga charts.
 
speaking of: The manga charts should post on time, if I can find a freakin’ wifi connection at the con. Between four hotels and the Peachtree Center Mall you’d figure someone would be fronting some bandwidth, but no — “No internet for you, Fanboy!” (if only Gibney’s had free wifi…)
 
Back to it. Vic has an hour-long solo Q&A coming up if I can get to the hotel by 11:30. (Well, he’ll likely still hold the panel even if I can’t make it… but y’all know what I mean…)

##

I made it to the International Ballroom at the Hyatt downtown -- a little late -- but in time to catch at least two-thirds of Vic’s Q&A, where he answered the same 50 questions he has to answer at all the cons.

It was someone’s birthday (Amanda? I seem to remember Amanda) so the 200 or so people in attendance all got to sing Happy Birthday --led by Vic. I bet that is now a happy memory, hopefully preserved via i-phone or camcorder or the like. Vic also sang again at the very end of the session, rolling right into a karaoke version of his song “Nothing I Won’t Give” when the video and music played but for whatever reason the vocal dropped out.

Vic Mignogna is a composer and musician, if you didn’t know. If I might be permitted some fanboy gushing — he’s pretty damn good, too. At least, “Nothing I Won’t Give” has real emotional impact when paired with clips from FMA, the anime that inspired it.

##

I swapped hats following Vic’s session, switching over to my Serious Blogger persona and also changing venues, to attend a panel on Creative Commons and Legal issues for Podcasters. (Please ignore for a moment that despite repeated promises, I’m not actually a podcaster yet.)

Among the five panelists there were two regularly-updating and (one assumes) moderately famous podcasters, two musicians, two lawyers, a law professor, and a radio executive — yeah, that’s more than 5 but some folks are just that multi-talented — and they managed to cover every question I had in the first 5 minutes, then went on to discuss pertinent issues for the next hour. I could post my notes, but this being a podcast panel, of course there’s a podcast — well, this year’s recordings likely won’t be up for a while but the same panel discussed the same topic last year.

If you wanted to see a list of everything folks were talking about (into microphones) then you might want to check out the 2007 index and bookmark the rss feed for 2008

Following Podcasting I stuck with the AV track — not that Dragon*Con has an AV track but they present such a big buffet that you can pretty much program your own con from the extended offerings —

...and let me riff on that thought for a bit before getting back to how much of a loser fanboy I am:

##

As I noted last year, one of the big, big draws of Dragon Con is that they do everything — if you’re a fan, they’ve got your fandom. It’s not just a matter of “Oh we have both Star Wars & Star Trek” either. I mean everything. If elves and space pirates just aren’t your thing, there are panels on robotics, astronomy, legal issues & the internet, art, literature, YA novels — heck, they run a four-day writer’s workshop that runs parallel to the con every year. (it costs extra, but it’s there.) The con schedule runs 40-some pages [edit: in 2009 it runs about 100 pages]; there’s no way one person could do it all, let alone talk about it all: if you’re interested you should check out the pdf yourself: [link to the upcoming 2009 schedule .pdf]

The telling thing is they’ve been doing this for 22 years, drawing tens of thousands of people each year, and they only recently got around to adding an Anime & Manga programming track. (Oh, sure, they’ve always had the viewing rooms — I remember anime at the 2nd Dragon*con — but this is the first year there is a full schedule and dedicated space given over to otaku panels)

For me, it’s a long slog. I can get downtown in about 40 minutes (incl. the time it takes to link up with the mass transit system to take the train in) but travel time is incidental. Navigating the crowds (esp. on Saturday), switching buildings five or six times a day because the con is spread over four downtown hotels (adjacent hotels, but still), finding time to eat, taking time to breathe…

Incidentally, I found that a pair of sunglasses and an MP3 player turned up to a suitable volume help with my phobia of discomfort in crowds almost as well as the alcohol. Taken together it’s almost perfect — and my consumption of $7 pints of Guinness (but only $5.75 at Gibney’s) was considerably reduced yesterday compared to Friday (& last year). Perhaps it’s just a matter of psychological distance — a way to pull myself back and away from the mob & throng.

I’m sure if I were in costume (in a way, not there myself at all) there would be a similar effect, but I can count the number of awesome anime characters I’d be willing to dress up as who also share my stylish, handsome goatee on no hands. (I’m not shaving for cosplay. Without whiskers, I look like that blue muppet who was always stuck with Grover as his waiter.) (No, I’m not doing that either, even if if you can find someone willing to wear the Grover suit)

Anyway: it is possible to attend Dragon*Con, nominally a sci-fi and fantasy convention, without doing anything fantasy or fannish all weekend. Other than rubbing elbows with Oddly Dressed Folk in the lobby, you might as well be attending science or cultural seminars at a college campus all weekend.

Of course that’s no fun.

##

Following Vic & the podcast panel, I trucked it back to the basement of the Hyatt for the “Dub Your Own Anime” panel.

Before you discount this as just an amateur effort in the vein of fandubs, let me point you to Coastal Studios [flash site — as an alt here’s the wikipedia entry] and their founder, Scott Houle. Scott loaded up a spare Mac G4, a Pro Tools LE workstation, mics, script, stands, and all the assorted accoutrement and basically transported a sound booth to set up at a con panel. (He’s done this before, at Otakon and others)

There were so many attendees (starting at about 50 and growing to 75 or more as more folks kept filtering in) that Scott took a round-robin approach — having volunteers step up to the mic to record a line or two each. Besides being hilarious (both for the efforts of those brave enough to try it and for the source material — a scene in a bar that ends with a drinking contest, from the anime Miami Guns — complete with drunken characters & bad accents) it was also a very informative session. Instead of just talking about the process, folks got to see it in action, they could work (however briefly) with an actual ADR director, and the results were there for everyone to see (and hear) on the screen.

In fact, Scott promised to post the final ‘product’ when he gets back to Wilmington, after some editing and clean up (and getting the licensees permission): It’s not uploaded yet but the fan-dubbed scene should be found at http://coastal-studios.com/dragoncondub/ in about a week. 
 
[edit 2009:  not just posted but posted to YouTube] 
    
     
 I took the opportunity after the panel (and after everyone left) to sit through an interview Scott did with DragonConTV and then to ask him some pretty hard-core tech questions, discuss the nuts and bolts of the industry, where the American Anime Industry is headed, and also to get his opinion on SCAD’s Sound Design Degree Programs (his take, mostly favourable: “They certainly invested in the right equipment”) and to ask his advice (three words: Final Cut Pro)

I’m not a journalist, so I won’t post the ‘interview’ because it wasn’t an interview. (Hopefully DragonConTV will end up uploading their interview to iTunes or it’ll make the D*C 2008 highlights DVD) Still, I really enjoyed the conversation and I’d Like To Take This Opportunity To Thank Scott. Again. Very Very Much.
 
[edit: here, have some fun, but they didn't post the serious interviews to their YouTube channel.]  

I know I was acting like a otaku fanboy loser but I was really into it which isn’t a defense but there ya go.

Talking with Scott meant I completely missed the graphic novel panel over on the YA fiction track, which would have been informative and certainly on-topic and eminently more suitable for posting to this blog, but screw it. It’s my $90 and I’ll act like a fan when I feel like it.

Scott also hosted a panel early that evening on “the Anime Racket”, where he covered a lot of the same ground as the DCTV interview. (some of the points Scott Houle and various voice actors made in this panel and others I’m going to discuss in a follow-up post)

After that in the same room, there was a Toonami Panel with a lot, and I mean *a lot* of video clips and a lot of discussion (Nicolas Anderson of Tsubascon in WV was the sole panelist/moderator/emcee but he was doing a fine job getting the audience involved while simultaneously keeping everyone more-or-less in line and on topic).

(And after that I trundled home. Alas. One of these years I might muster enough scratch to get a hotel room and actually attend the con, rather than just faking it as a day-tripper.)        
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With the next Dragon*Con (the 23rd) coming up in just a week, I thought I might share some posts written over the past two years about what the con is, and why a blinkered manga and/or anime fan should give a shit.  
 
Looking Back: Dragon*Con 2007 --   Five Conversations about Dragon Con (while at Dragon Con) 

Field Report: Dragon Con (Saturday Only)

Dragon Con
31 August to 3 September 2007
Downtown Atlanta at the Hilton, Hyatt, and Marriott hotels
4 day pass: $85 at the door
Saturday only: $40 (other passes of varying duration also available)

I was sitting at the Parasol Bar at the Hyatt early Saturday afternoon when a fellow con-goer mentioned something in passing: a valid complaint, but one that seemed (to me) to be that of a squirrel suddenly noticing that his favorite tree was in fact part of a larger forest. To Wit:

“Everything is so crowded. They should split things up by interest.”

This caught my ear.

I had just spent two plus hours in line, and after the ordeal of obtaining a day pass, I’d stopped at the first hotel bar I could find and was rather studiously trying to pound back pints of Guinness (to the point where my usual fear of discomfort in crowds would fade into a comfortable background of buzzed) but even so the off-hand comment cut through both my usual indifference and my building shield and I felt obligated to respond.

“What, like 5 or 6 mini-cons, all at once?” I said.

Despite having brought up the topic, the sudden appearance of even a half-baked solution seemed to boggle my ersatz friend. He was just venting, and having me chime in on what I suppose what just the usual bitching about the con seemed to confuse him. Still and all, after I repeated myself, and then quoted what he said just seconds ago and repeated myself again, he thought about it, and said,

“Well, yeah. I mean, so much is going on, it’d be so much easier if everything was all in one place…”

From my point of view, he was kind of missing the point — but then again, he had other things going on. While I was trying to self-medicate and steel myself for the rest of a long long day, this fellow apparently had been on-site since the night before, and not only was there with friends but was also trying to pick up the young lady to my left. No wonder my comment, neh, my presence was throwing him off his game. After he got her numbers (and an appointment with her for a yet another drink later) he shot me a half-smile and a nod, and moved on while I ordered my third beer.

##

The strength of Dragon Con is not in its focus, but in its breadth. And, despite what one random guy at the bar was talking about, they actually do cater to folks with a focused interest (I’m guessing he didn’t read the program). Dragon Con runs several programming “tracks” and if all you’re interested in is, say, Dr. Who — then you’d go to the Cairo meeting room on the International level at the Hyatt and you hang out for a couple of days. You may have to sit through the occasion panel on Torchwood but it is all Brit-sci-fi, all the time.

San Diego (which is at least nominally about comics and as such supposedly isn’t a “general purpose” con but which might be cited as the sort of spectacle Dragon Con aspires to be) attracts 100K+ people (125,000, by some reckoning). Yeah, that’s impressive — but raw numbers doesn’t account for the side-show-like nature of the con, or the fact that despite the name it isn’t really about comics these days. With the proximity to Hollywood, SDCC has become something more like a film festival, ala Cannes or Venice or Sundance — that is to say, the focus is on the industry, not the fans.

(I am of course speaking out of my ass, since I’ve never been to San Diego.)

Wizard World Chicago (or should that be Rosemont?) also draws more than twice as many folks as Dragon Con (68,000 this year) — Dragon Con only draws 30,000 or so people (…only 30K. pause for a moment and consider) — but honestly, no one is in Atlanta for the glitz and glamour. While a few Hollywood stars do show up for Dragon Con, there is no glitz and glamour past what the guests bring in with them. What we do have, however, are a hell of a lot of geeks — wall-to-wall, three-deep, in multiple flavours, anime without subtitles, shown on obscure cable channels if at all, and even if you’ve never seen or even heard of it — we’ve geeks here who are geeking over it all the same. The success of the con is in the quality of the fan base. No one brings in an expensive kiosk display and a PR campaign telling you to like something,

We either like it or we don’t.
Either the fans make it happen or it goes begging.

##

Following my initial tour of the overall venue and my first assault on the dealers’ and the exhibition hall, I settled into the Casablanca Bar at the Hilton for another beer or three and a needed break.

Dragon Con takes up three downtown hotels — there is the Hyatt, which has been home to D*C for at least 10 years now, along with the neighboring Marriot Marquis and the Hilton & Towers, which due to the growth of Dragon Con in recent years have logically been drawn into the event. I understand that 2007 is the first year that the Hilton is not just an overflow hotel but a primary venue for the con.

While at the lobby bar of the Hilton I had another conversation, this time with a fanboy worried about his budget,

“It’s only the second day and I’ve already bought too much.”

It was an unsolicited opinion, out of the blue from a guy no one was talking to, (perhaps he was talking to himself, as some geeks are wont considering the usual lack of other company) but I’d had a few so I took the bait and replied,

“What, they had a special on corsets?”

Granted, I was being sarcastic. That, and actually there was something like a half-dozen (well, OK, two) dealers who, in fact, specialized in corsets. But my new friend had spent his wad on original animation cels, and I could respect that.

If one were to consider the dealers and exhibitors at Dragon Con, then there is a gap — yes, this is a national con with opportunities for some of the larger dealers, but it is also still a regional event very much open to smaller shops willing to make the time-and-travel commitment. I doubt a local comic shop like, for example Titan Comics and Games, could even manage to secure a booth at SDCC, but there they were at Dragon Con, holding down a whole wall in the basement of the Hilton and challenging hordes of Scifi Channel and Cartoon Network fans to browse the long boxes and see the special issues they chose to put on display.

My new “friend” at the bar was a comic guy buying animation cels. I suppose he should be commended. It seems to me that the dealers getting the most browsers were those handling cutlery (swords and the like). –Though, if pressed I’d have to say the ones making the most money were not those selling sharp pointed objects, but rather the folks selling clothes, particularly leather — though the t-shirt vendors also did reasonable business.

Between the Utilikilts booth and a number of others, I’d say that clothes (not costumes, necessarily, but something like everyday wear) were the real success stories of the con. The intersection of desire, demand, and availability heavily favored all the clothiers — they were smack dab in the middle of a very sympathetic audience, after all, and their goods were about as far removed from your typical Wal-Mart fare as one can get. I saw a long jacket I might describe as a “browncoat” and was sorely tempted myself.
  
##

Completely outside of whichever genre drew you out from under your metaphoric or literal rock to join the mayhem, it seems to me like there are two kinds of fans out there: the ones who are booking hotel rooms, preregister months in advance, spend the whole weekend at the con, and possibly spend quite a few hours outside of the hotel to either plan their whole con weekend –or perhaps, to work on the *killer* costume, or chat for hours online with friends on when and where they’re going to meetup…

And then there are the folk who just show up for the day. (myself included) Part of our con is The Line.

Knowing the traffic and parking situation downtown (incomprehensible, difficult and expensive) I skipped the long drive and instead pulled into a park-and-ride and took transit to the hotels, knowing that the venue is just a block or so from the Peachtree Center Marta station. You could say my con experience began when I got on a train headed inbound at 9am — Working my way from the station to the venue only took a half-hour. And then began The Wait in The Line.

I was a blogger just there for the day. She was a long time attendee of Dragon Con, and just happened to be in the same line. (disclaimer: there is no Tom & Meg dynamic here — I’m not that slick) While waiting for Dragon Con staffers to work their way through the Saturday Admissions line, we had an opportunity to talk.

We were in line and part of the other Dragon Con Parade. While storm troopers marched down Peachtree Street, we waited in a hotel ballroom for the opportunity to pay $40 just for a one day pass. Some veterans of the process were philosophical, even good natured about it all, vowing once again to either wake up earlier or just pre-register for the whole weekend. Many (particularly the kids) were simply excited to be there. The pack I was in only had to wait for 20 minutes outside, and that in the cool of the morning, so perhaps we were fortunate.

…We’d been waiting for at least an hour. Someone started passing around the registration forms. She said: “Hey, look, you can also pay now for next year; it’s only $45, I think I’ll pre-register.” I only nodded.

Heck, it had been 18 years since my last Dragon Con. I can’t be enthusiastic about next year when I haven’t even seen anything of this year’s con, and when my own experience is so far out of date — but I’ll agree with an attractive woman nine times out of ten.

Even though there was a long line we were inside and in the air conditioning. It was only a couple of hours before I got my badge.

I should have asked her for her name.

##

Late on Saturday night, I was sitting by myself at the High Velocity bar at the Marriott and considering the overall Dragon Con experience. The guy sitting next to me had obviously had too much to drink, and could only say how “cool” the whole weekend was. I didn’t care enough to get more details from him. I can in fact say from my own experience that D*C is pretty damn cool, even if (to the general public) it’s all just a geek fest.

Someone else attempted to talk to me at the bar, complaining about costumes and characters he was unfamiliar with. I must have looked like a sympathetic listener, considering I was dressed in my usual work clothes (khakis and a collared shirt) but honestly, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Do I commiserate as a fellow middle-aged geek surrounded by the new generation of fans, do I admit to not only knowing the character and series in question but also owning it in at least two formats, or do I make fun of my fellow otaku? I took a conservative path, dodging him with a series of non-committal responses while simultaneously paying my tab and beginning the extraction process, but given the late hour I was tempted to mouth off to the guy and point out that Trek dates to ‘66, Lucas to ‘77, and there have in fact been a few other things released in the interim.

It’s likely best that I let it be. Though maybe I should have bought the poor shlub a beer or something; if he can’t even deal with fan reality I hate to think how he fares in the real world.

 ##

At Dragon Con there are four main things to do, and three places to do them:

The Hyatt ballrooms had the ‘headline’ events and the art show
the Marriott played host to the autographing celebs
and the Hilton hosted the exhibitors and dealers trying to sell you stuff.

There were also the Gamers at the Marriott, and while panels were concentrated in the Hyatt they were scattered all over, and people watching was the primary attraction everywhere.

But this is my take on it. Depending on your interest, your version of Dragon Con is going to be very much different. –art, concerts, the masquerade, program tracks, whatever.

While the 3 buildings are adjacent, the con does suffer from not having everything under one roof. Each hotel is a maze by itself, but added to the confusing overall layout is the fact that the surrounding streets slope — so you are always going up or down floors to find the next ‘ground level’ entrance when translocating from one hotel to the next, to find your next event. On top of the usual mess the Marriott is renovating about half of their lobby so several common routes were inaccessible and folks were being routed (with employee help) to out-of-the-way stairwells when working their way toward the exhibitors and dealers next door.

The key would be planning, obviously. While I was trying to take it all in at once (and in a single afternoon) if you were doing the whole Dragon-Con-thing over several days, and if you were sticking with a single theme, you’d be able to spend a lot of your time in a single meeting room (or adjecent rooms) and your weekend will proceed at a much more leisurely pace. You can geek for two days, wait until Sunday to get your autographs, and then cruise the dealers on Monday and pick up your books, leather corset, swords, dice, and what-have-you — maybe even on sale.

I had actually planned to spend most of the afternoon in a meeting room, but none of the offered panels (in any of the tracks) really fit my interests — and I hate to say it, the video room has lost a lot of its draw in a world where you can download fansubs and watch them at home.

One very nice thing about the confusing layout and the hotel (as opposed to convention center) venue is that numerous small corners in all three hotels are home to lounges of one sort or another, and the nearby Peachtree Center Mall (glorified food court) also has a very nice pub called Gibney’s, just down a set of steps and a world away, where the beers are two bucks cheaper than the hotel bar and (at least at 5pm) the klingons, stormtroopers, and new goth army aren’t. (I’m typing this at Gibney’s now.)

During my two blessed peaceful hours at Gibney’s, going over notes and typing up what I could, I ran into a “civilian” who was interested (even enthusiastic) about Dragon Con but wasn’t there to attend the event.”Do they do this every year?” he asked.

I had to laugh. And I explained my own history with the event, how I was exposed at an impressionable age to all-things-geek at the second (’88) Dragon Con, and just a bit about how all that has compounded since over the ensuing 19 years. We talked about the blog, and the hobby, and the job, and being a fan in general. The best conversation I had that day about Dragon Con was with a guy who wasn’t even attending. Odd that.

##

One of the draws of Dragon Con is that they do everything — if you’re a fan, they’ve got your fandom. If you are a fan of genre fiction, then this might just be the event for you: Unlike other cons books get a special consideration at Dragon Con, where both established authors and aspirants come to participate in the writing programs. (Where else will you see Margaret Weis not only moderating panels but also manning the booth for her company in the exhibition hall? The visual media are also very well represented, from the (now nostalgic) 70s TV shows to Lost, Heroes, and BSG, with stops by every little show in between. Every since the first concert 4(?) years ago (It was GWAR, I remember that) music has also been a big part of the overall spectacle, growing to the point that concerts are now running for all three days.

We can’t forget the gamers either, from CCGs to video games to live action role playing.

OK, so maybe we’d like to forget the live action role players

D*C is a *fan* show. Doesn’t matter what your brand. It’s a melting pot.

I’m still not sure if Dragon Con is my kind of event. I think I prefer something smaller. But it’s a damn fine showing, and with current trends expected to continue, it’s only going to get bigger…

##

short takes

Overheard:
  • cell phone conversations: 1001 variations on “where are you?”
  • Torchwood
  • coffee and/or cigarette cravings, while we’re all stuck on line
  • many suggestions on “how they could do x better”
  • local restaurants
  • A Firefly tutorial for someone who had inexplicable never seen the show
 
Seen:
  • Pink Floyd bowling shirt (Album art for A Momentary Lapse of Reason) (WANT ONE)
  • T-shirts: Mooninite Remember 1/31/07, Storm Trooper Jolly Roger, various movies, various bands (incl. ac/dc, other metal, wierd al, a smattering of hip hop), Starfleet Academy, Inuyasha, Jackass, Fantastic 4, Green Lantern logo; & A pair of T-shirts labeled: “oldtype” “newtype” (cute couple; don’t know if anyone else got the joke)
  • corsets
  • a corset over a kimono
  • 1001 variations on the slutty schoolgirl thing
  • related, but not 100% overlap: vaguely goth chicks
  • mardi gras beads (WTF?)
  • utilikilts
 
Additional Costumes:
  • Pirates. What, still?
  • A League of Their Own. Yes: Girls’ Baseball Uniforms. Not sure why.
  • Superheroes — Flash, Nightwing & Robins (but no Batmen), Luke Cage! (no, really !), Emma Frost, Supergirl (the non-slutty variation)
  • a whole group doing their interpretation of some alt version of Alice in Wonderland
  • Link, Mario & Luigi, Naruto, a lot I sort of recognised, a few that were really quite impressive but that I didn’t recognise
  • Bible Black cosplay (Just the girls’ school uniform, and why? and honestly, I really shouldn’t know)    
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I came across these in the course of my own graphic novel/manga research, and while they're a tad outside both my own interests and the scope of my [other] blog, I knew there was an audience somewhere for this stuff; I'm a nice guy, so I thought I'd do a write up for you. 

Graphic-Sha -- perhaps sensing the sea change among casual fans away from Manga-style art (which is a damn lot of work) toward the cute outfits (which are also a damn lot of work but which get a much better ego-stoking-reaction at American cons) -- have started the How to Cosplay Series, announced and released to little fanfare back in the spring (ANN had the press release) (yeah, I don't remember seeing it either).

If this is anything like Graphic-Sha's How to Draw Manga series, we can look forward to many, many volumes culled from Japanese sources and translated into English.  Two volumes are currently available, vol 3 releases at the end of the month, and after that it looks like we'll be getting one new volume a month for quite a while.  The list price on these is either $19.99 or $24.99 (of course you can find them online for less) but I can't determine an overall pricing strategy here... maybe it depends on length?

 Here are the volumes I've been able to find so far.

[item descriptions from online sales sites; I'm assuming they were provided to Amazon, B&N, et al. by the publisher and such are fair game.] 

vol 1 Transformations & Special Effects Makeup, currently available.  isbn 9784766119602 
"There are a number of books out there on making the costumes for cosplaying, but until now, there have been none that specialize in cosplay make-up. Taking full advantage of the know-how amassed through its publication of various how-to books, Graphic-sha has produced a detailed and thorough book on how to do cosplay make-up. Graphic-sha has obtained the necessary authorization to use the popular (and copyrighted) anime, manga, and game characters featured in the book, and can present the actual make-up techniques needed to reproduce them accurately! Using familiar materials and items, professional make-up artists present complete lectures on such topics as Basics/Cross-dressing/Using face paint/Special wound and make-up/Covering facial faults! Also featured are exclusive reports on major cosplay events!"


vol 2 Japanese Style Costumes, currently available.  isbn 9784766119619
"Characters in Japanese-style costumes are a cosplay staple, so How to Cosplay includes in-depth tutorials on how to craft easy-to-arrange costumes, beginning with the basics of materials and sewing machines. Ninja costumes, haori and hakama for samurai costumes, one-piece kimono and casual clothes - you can also freely combine the different parts to make your own original variations! From larger pieces such as outer coats, sleeves, haori, and hakama to smaller ones such as hoods, coverings for the back of the hands, and leggings, How to Cosplay features basic designs that are easily arranged and tutorials on techinques that will allow you to produce beautiful costumes. Includes a CD-ROM containing sewing patterns for different costume parts in different sizes, complete with pattern grids to make them easy to use!"


vol 3 Manga, Anime, & Game Characters; Aug 29.  isbn 9784766119916
"Experience to the fullest the latest cosplay information from Japan, the home of cosplay!! Cosplaying - in which fans dress up as their favorite manga, anime and game characters- is exploding in popularity around the world. And the place all these fans admire is of course-Japan ! Cosplayers around the globe want to know which characters Japanese fans are interested in now, how they express that interest, and what techniques they use to bring those characters to life. How to Cosplay 3: COS*Style is the project we've developed to meet those fans' desires. The book features lots of great photos of the best cosplayers from cosplay events all over Japan. Details of costumes and weapons are shown from many different angles, and the book includes a wide variety of ideas for costume execution and hair and make-up arrangement. It's an excellent reference book. The How to Cosplay series editors and camaramen are in charge of production."


vol 4 Wigs & Contact Lenses, Sep 29.  isbn 9784766119848
"Your costume and make-up are perfect, but you find that you're still worried about one thing - WIGS! In order to thoroughly become your favorite character, wigs are indispensable, but for beginners, they're tough to handle. This book explains in detail the techniques used at a cosplay-specialty beauty salon, using both lectures and photos. The differences between wig materials, how to maintain and store wigs, how to process wigs, vertical rolls, corkscrew curls, pompadours, Japanese hairstyles and more - all will be fully explained. The second feature compares 60 different types of color contact lens, complete with lessons for beginners on how to put in and take out contact lenses safely."


vol 5 Gothic & Lolita, Oct 29.  isbn 9784766120035
"Announcing a new stylebook from Japan, the birthplace of Gothic and Lolita fashion! 'Gothic Fashion' is patterned after gothic novels set in medieval Europe and the costumes worn by nobility in the movies based on those novels, as well as the styles associated with demons, witches, and vampires. 'Lolita Fashion' takes to extremes the classical girlish tastes of young girls and women - the Lolitas made famous in Literature. This book includes Gothic and Lolita fashion zones from all across Japan, and features numerous photos from famous streets, fashion shows, and 'charisma' shops. Costumes, accessories, and tips on designing clothes, hair, and make-up are also detailed."


vol 6 Uniforms Arrangement, Nov 29.  isbn 9784766120042
"In this volume, Graphic-Sha tackles uniforms - popular costumes that appear with great frequency in anime, manga, and games. Photos and illustrations help explain clearly how to make basic uniform types, plus some of the props that complement them. Patterns for all of the uniforms are also included on the enclosed CD-ROM as PDF files."


vol 7 Props, Jan 29, 2010.  isbn 9784766120059
"Take your costume and cosplaying to the next level! No matter how much your costume looks like the real deal, no matter how perfect your hairstyle and make-up is - if the props for the character are rubbish, the effect of your costume will be ruined. In easy-to-comprehend terms, this book details how to use the same materials the pros use to create amazingly realistic props at home."

If this release schedule keeps up we can expect vol 8 in February or March (my guess is March, and with additional volumes every othe month following -- for as long as they keep up the series)
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http://www.rocketbomber.com/2009/08/09/26-weeks-with-rosetta-stone-week-zero-the-unboxing 
 
and so, it begins.
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