Almacon’s my annual anime-convention season kickoff, since 2013. Organized and run by students and volunteers at Alma College north of Lansing, Mich., the three-day event is small but brings in top voice-actor guests, and the panels and cosplaying community are first rate. I put together a G.I. Joe cosplay, General Hawk, with my old army pants, boots, and goggles, brown leather coat my brother gave me for Christmas, and a helmet I bought at a local military surplus store.

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I have a rubber M-16 but didn’t feel like bringing it. A shoulder holster would be cool for the next time I wear this. And maybe a fiercer expression.

Voice-actor guests Samantha Inoue-HarteDavid Vincent, and Stephanie Young Brehm were interesting and fun. David led a voice-actor panel with a contest for audience members. Cool demonstration of voice-over directing techniques. I learned what a “Standard 101” is. At least in the California voice-over industry, it’s a sharp exhalation immediately followed by inhalation, used when a character unexpectedly comes face-to-face with things like a fire-breathing dragon, murder scene, or various unicorns (based on peanut-gallery input).

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David, at left, puts a couple contestants through their paces.

Samantha talked about her experiences voice acting and producing anime shows, including Hentai. That was interesting. Spooning up yogurt makes sounds exactly like … OK, never mind about that. She’s also friends with Grumpy Cat and her owner. The cat is actually not particularly grumpy at all, she just looks that way. She’s actually very sweet, Samantha said.

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Samantha takes the standard meet-and-greet pic up a notch!
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A more conventional picture with David.

Stephanie’s panel was about how to make a living as an artist, a daunting task indeed. Her story of life as a voice-acting couple with husband David Brehm while starting a family was very inspirational. I got their music CD, Summer Moon, which is nice to listen to while driving through Michigan winter weather.

I also met Stephanie at Matsuricon in 2013, the Year I Decided to Lose a Figurative Ton of Weight, which provides an opportunity for a side-by-side comparison.

I was almost there by Matsuricon, which was in August that year. I’m a bit more slimmer now, and also taller somehow?

I saw Stephanie on Sunday because I mixed up her Saturday appearances, thinking she rescheduled morning sessions to the evening when in reality it was the other way around. Thinking I had extra time Saturday, I stopped by a couple panels I would have skipped otherwise. So it worked out OK.

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The Saturday Morning Fever panel was about the cartoons of our youth that may or may not have stood the test of time, such as Beyblade here.
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Karafuru-Dansu, two best friends who dance to Japanese and Korean songs. They handed out glow sticks to the audience for a dance number. I remember using those things in the army in the 1980s to get around in the dark. This was more fun.

I also attended local artists Comfort Love and Adam Withers’s “Let’s Make a Hero” panel. I met Comfort and Adam, who are married as well as partners in art, a few years ago but this was their first panel I’ve been to.  It was informative, inspirational, and fun! We came up with a post-apocalyptic, elvish postman-type character who wears a kilt. Discussion delved into what makes a hero, why they would do the things they do, different roles and purposes of heroes and villains in a story, and other story elements.

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Adam drew him up before our very eyes!

They also talked about what they have in mind for their comic, The Uniques, so I got a few issues.  Conspiracy and intrigue in a world full of superheroes (or used to be, at least) — very cool!

I’ve been drawing pictures, myself, of anime characters for voice actors to autograph ever since last year’s Almacon. This year, I drew a mashup for David and Stephanie, featuring their characters Arachne from Soul Eater and Gilgamesh from Fate: Zero. My technique was to photoshop their images together, then trace them. I changed Arachne’s expression, though, to reflect the situation in which she finds herself.

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“Less than thrilled” is what I was going for.

I keep the autographed drawings in a Rosario+Vampire binder I won in Tia Ballard‘s annual charity auction, last October. Tia, who plays Mizore in Rosario, offered a bunch of personalized stuff and donated all proceeds to charities of the winning bidders’ choice. I picked the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund for mine. There was quite a bidding war for this item and I’m glad I came out on top!

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Its already half full.  I have another binder for autographed photos, which I’ve been collecting since 1992, when I went to a Star Trek convention in Cincinnati to see Michael Dorn (Worf on ST: TNG).

I didn’t make it to the Almacon cosplay contest this year, but I got a few pictures of some fellow cosplayers in the hallways. Excellent work by all!

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A couple Doctors, taking a break between panels and stuff.
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Cool costume and prop design work, and very well executed!
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Team Rocket!
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A couple fellow Star Trek: the Next Generation fans, as Deanna Troi and Will Riker.
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Russia and England (with unicorn) from Hetalia.

Next up is Shutocon in Lansing, where Monica Rial is a regular guest. Lots of Fairy Tail voice actors on the guest list. I’ll draw something up for that, or just get a wall scroll.

–PhilC

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