Otakon 2015: The Penultimate Year in Baltimore

Photo Credit: Keo Arts Photography (https://www.facebook.com/keo.arts?fref=ts)

Otakon, my kind, extravagant, summer Goddess. You are the epitome of life, fun, nerdiness, drama, and chaotic convention cacophony. And I love it. I love enjoy every single moment of the craziness that occurs at the Baltimore Convention Center. For those of you who are not familiar, Otakon is a fan gathering, “For the Nerds, by the Nerds,” currently based in Baltimore, Maryland. It is an annual East Coast anime convention that celebrates Japanese animation and culture, as well as comic culture, sci-fi, gaming, and fantasy. Cosplay, the theatrical art of costume play, is incredibly popular here. The amount of Narutos, Gokus, and Sailor Moons walking around taking pictures and getting pictures taken of them is not a surprising event. People come out from all over the country to show off their creative chops. There are literally a million things to do, see, and purchase at this behemoth of event, so let me break down my recap/review into sections:

Dealer’s Room

This giant hall could, according to Otakon’s Guide for Newbies, fit an F-16 into it. If you’re ever going to attend any kind of comic or anime convention, visiting the local Dealer’s Room is a must. From body pillows, to rare manga, adorable plushies, and super-expensive figurines, the Dealer’s Room is a consumer’s wet dream. It is also a prime spot to see all the awesome cosplays, but try not to clog up the walking space by trying to get a photo.

Artist’s Alley

Just like the Dealer’s Room, the Artist’s Alley is a must for anyone visiting a convention. The sheer brilliance that is found within this space is enough to knock you right on your ass. Fabric, paints, digital art, plush, and felt can be found all over this section of the convention. The skill for these creations will boggle your mind, and while the prices may hurt your wallet, it will be worth it for the unique and beautiful masterpieces you are guaranteed to come across. I also had the opportunity to interview via email an artist I came across in the Alley, whom I bought from several wonderful pieces of art. Please enjoy!

 

Jamaal Malik Clymer: Old-School Artist Extraordinaire

Age: 31

Occupation: Independent Manga Artist

Favorite Quote: Keep on fighting to go forward for your dream!

Please tell us a bit about yourself!

I'm a guy that loves Anime, Comics, old school Video Games, and loves to draw Manga. From the first time I saw Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon, I have loved Anime!

How does your creative process work?

My mind is random, but to a point. I just do a pencil sketch then use a light box to help ink then after that I color it to complete the picture.

If your art could speak, what would it say about you?

That I'm pure random and that I'm crazy, but glad that I put in the work on the paper.

What is your favorite memory about Otakon?

Relaxing and meeting new people and getting new ideas for the future, because I am working hard to become the greatest of all time!

Jamaal Clymer’s Deviant Art: http://d13mon-studios.deviantart.com/

Below is the famous Jazzmin Jolly! I actually interviewed her for another writing outlet called Black Nerd Problems! Be sure to check her out! She was awesome to meet in person.

QUICK COSPLAY DUMP:

AMV Contest

The annual AMV (Anime Music Video) went along without a hitch at this year’s Otakon. The space filled up quickly as hundreds of con-goers excitedly rushed to find seats to prepare themselves for the fun and artistic videos they were about to watch. If you don’t know, AMVs are a popular feature at many conventions. These 3-4 minute videos usually involve bits and pieces of different anime, mashed together, with occasional over-lapping music or dialogue from other movies or television shows. My personal favorite of the bunch at this particular contest, was one entitled “ The Little Prince Returns,” by YouTube user hamstar138, which was a mash-up of the Studio Ghibli movies Whisper of the Heart and The Cat Returns, as well as the world-famous novel, The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Let’s just say, it pulled at the heartstrings quite a bit.

Watch the video here.

Interview With the People Who Make Otakon a Reality

I’ve been attending Otakon for several years. I was my first-ever anime convention. It holds a very special place in my heart, and I hope for years to come, I will be able to attend and bask in the nerdy/geeky aura that encompasses this gathering. I had the opportunity to interview the people who have made Otakon a reality for years. Alyce Wilson, (Press Ops), and Leah were gracious enough to allow me to interview them. They help make sure this convention is able to run as smoothly as possible. They were fun and quirky to speak with, detailing their many years of volunteer work for this anime convention. As I was speaking with them, I realized how much love, sweat, and tears went into making Otakon what it is today. It is certainly not perfect, and many would take the decline of attendees this year as an indication of the declining quality of the convention. However, from what I have personally experienced, and from speaking with these wonderful people, as well as fellow con-goers, Otakon has remained ever dedicated to providing a safe, fun, and memorable time for its fans. Because, that’s what Otakon IS: a giant, crazy, and dramatic family. Alyce stated that, “ I think I’d be doing this when I’m a little old lady pushing a walker,” and it shows since she has been with this convention for over a decade. Not to mention, her love with her now husband, grew semi-thanks to Otakon.  Leah, has also managed to balance home life, the intense sport of water ballet, as well as this convention for the past several years. These members of staff are able to think quickly on their feet, engage in mature debates, and try to ensure that thousands of people plus guests are as safe and comfortable as possible. Even when there is conflict internally, such as mixed feelings about the move to D.C, they do their past to stand strong together as a team. I would expect nothing less from such an amazing group of staff and volunteers who have brought this amazing convention to life.

I’ll see you next year Otakon! I can’t wait. 

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