Last week leading up to the convention was, to put it mildly, a week, but it felt good to finally return to Anime Central, despite some last-minute drama surrounding the COVID protocols at the convention.
To summarize, the staffing shortage and issues that are affecting all other areas have also affected Anime Central, and attempts to supplement with outside contractors did not go so well. However, we will give out a shout to the congoers that mask compliance appeared to be around 80-90% at any given time, so good job. We also noted that because the vaccine check was rescinded so very last minute, it would have been next to impossible for any anti-maskers outside of easy driving distance to get a hotel, so any belligerent crazies would be local. Fortunately, all we spotted was one guy in a COVID costume.
In all, the convention went well, all things considered. The setup was smooth as silk. Cosplay was lower than usual. We chalked this up to people prioritizing comfort over photo ops. We also broke our sales numbers from 2019 and got visits from new readers, returning readers who bought Volume 1 and wanted to catch up, and at least one regular. We also got to meet up with people we hadn’t seen in years, even before the pandemic separated us. We remain concerned about those beloved ACen friends that weren’t there. (If you’re reading this, drop us a line.)
Now for the observances and shout-outs.
- First, we went with two new Apprentice issues, one of which was illustrated by Fawn Szymoniak who did an absolutely beautiful job. Fawn couldn’t make it to con this year, but she was with us in spirit. We plan to take her out for a meal and get her copies of the book in a few weeks once we’re sure that our vaccinations are holding against having been at Acen.
- We welcomed Fuu’s beloved cousin Rick Block to his first Acen, who provided an extra set of hands. Also, a wave to his friends Miki and her dad who came as well.
- Our hotel was off the main drag and ultra bougie, but all the shuttle drivers were good about getting us to and fro as needed, except that last guy. Hey ho to Mark who shared that Lyft with us yesterday morning.
- Doc Mui was there with his clif bars and drink powder singles. Fuu had fun introducing our intrepid photographer and fanfic writer to the fun and educational value of Mark Twain’s essay James Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses in all its snarky glory.
- Whoot for this year’s food offerings in the convention center. Robinson Ribs, Moonshine Chocolate, Poke Bowls, and Better than Bundt. Plus, the Hyatt food trucks for burgers and Poutine. And of course, unlimited Birch Beer refills courtesy of Wild Bill’s.
- Speaking of food, Fuu needs to be very careful when ordering Poke bowls. And thanks to Alysia for falling on that spicy sword and letting her have half your tempura so she had SOME protein.
- Our neighbor across the aisle, Rick Heinz is a total sell-out. In that, he SOLD OUT all his books, 7th Age: Dawn and 7th Age: Dystopia. HEEEEYYYY!!! Well done sir! Everyone, be sure to check him out and give love to a fellow writer. Who says you can’t sell prose in the Artist Alley?
- Speaking of selling out, we sold out of nearly the entire case of Drunken Unicorn glasses we brought with us and were able to toss that stupid box we’d been tripping over for the last two years.
- Alysia got a Morgana commission from Addie. It’s always good meeting with him and his friends. Always go to Artistic Dragon Studio for your commission needs. Speaking of which…
- Thanks to Addie’s friend Matt who took some beautiful pictures of our setup.
- Shout out to Chris Deiters who we haven’t seen in forever. We missed you, dude.
- Brian Baberende, we missed you too and were happy to pick up the latest Soul Chaser Betty as it’s awesome. Everybody, go get it.
- Got to see Grant who was there with the Carolina Manga Library and about in his vintage Dr. Who finery.
- Robert Sroka, glad you got your annual con burger. It’s always a pleasure when you drop by.
- Purchases include some lovely kimono fabric, two jackets, a large stack of books and prints, some jewelry, hair ornaments, a beret, a button purse, and some now slightly melted chocolate because Fuu and Alysia forgot to get it from the car last night. Oops.
- Fuu offered to shill for the Continuing Education Department and got a few nibbles. Anybody who wants some extra cash teaching should ping her for information on who to contact.
- Even the hotel shuttle driver knows about Kopf. Just sayin’. HA!
- Finally, we want to give extra love to our regulars and repeat readers who came back for new books. People who buy a book and then come back for more are really validating for us and just make our day. Any of our regulars who didn’t make it to the convention because they had other things going on or just didn’t feel safe yet, please feel free to reach out. We worry.
So that’s it for now. Alysia has some great ideas for updating the table display as some of the banners and stuff are starting to show their age. Fuu plans to get on fixing some of the file issues to get Apprentice Volumes 2 and 3 into the Smashwords Premium catalog because we did have some people ask about e-books.
If we saw you at the con and forgot to ping you here, we apologize. It’s been a long weekend, and we have an even longer week ahead of us with a busy work week at the day jobs and the BBB4E Spring Concert on Tuesday evening.
And in conclusion, Jiji says hi.
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