It’s a week since I returned to California from my adventure out to Oahu for the 2015 Amazing Hawaii Comic Con and, to be honest, I still haven’t completely recovered. Aside from the FANTASTIC time I had spending 8 days in paradise with my family…(shield your eyes)
Paaaart of your woooooooorld!
I also had the pleasure of being one of the special guests at the aforementioned Amazing Hawaii Comic Con. Now, like a lot of people, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show. While the Amazing cons are generally killer shows for me (as my continuous lines of 600-1000 fans will attest), this was a new area for them…and one that is a bit of an unknown. There haven’t really been any solid comic book conventions in Hawaii since…well…since the ones I ran back in the mid/late 80s and early 90s. There are some really cool little anime events and things like that, but nothing like what the Amazing guys had in mind. I was definitely hopeful going in…at the same time, though, I had no clue what to expect.
What happened with the show blew me away beyond anything I (or anyone else could have expected). Now, before I get into that, I’m going to go over the day or so before the first day of the show because I want to highlight the comic community of Hawaii…a community which I will not hesitate to proclaim as one of the best, friendliest, and most awesome communities in the world. The people of Hawaii are kind, open, and just plain great.
The day before the show was a bit busy for me. That Thursday morning I rushed out to do a quick session at my old school, Roosevelt High School. I hadn’t been back since I graduated in 1990 and it was a pleasure being back. My classmate (and Roosevelt teacher), Reggie De La Cruz, gave me a tour of the campus that gave me weird flashbacks to 1986 and my first days walking through the hallowed halls of RHS. After the tour, I had the honor to meet with and sketch for Reggie’s class…the experience had me smiling as widely as the kids were when I showed up.
Some quick shots of my few hours back at Roosevelt High School on Oahu
After my high school trip, I took a drive out to the lovely city of Mililani to visit local comic shop, Dragon’s Lair. DL is a cool little shop that is warm, friendly, and clean. It is the perfect shop for kids, families, or hardcore nerds, and its owners, Lucas and Randee, were very hospitable…even when I wound up attracting a crowd of Phineas & Ferb fans and spent an hour or so abusing the front of the store while I sketched. If you’re in Hawaii then I highly recommend checking out their shop.
Blue Steel with Randee and Lucas at Dragon’s Lair in Mililani.
Leaving Dragon’s Lair, I had to hurry because I was running late for the Amazing Hawaii Comic Con VIP party. Jimmy Jay and his crew had set up an gathering at a place called the Mai Tai Bar for guests and fans who had purchased VIP badges for the show. In addition to the great gab of stuff and early access to the con a VIP normally gets, in Hawaii Amazing treated fans to drinks and hanging out with the special guests of the convention. Nowhere else could a fan grab a lava flow and hang out with the likes of Kevin Eastman, John Romita jr, Devin Roth, or me! A good time was had by all…even if a large number of us only remember the evening in the most hazy of fashions.
Who do I have to kill to get a drink around here?!
Drunk fans find me funniest.
Luckily, the first day of the convention didn’t start until 3pm, giving us all time to recover AND to have some of the delicious cocoa puffs from Liliha Bakery. I cannot begin to describe how good those things are. To show just how great the Hawaii fans are, every time I tweeted how much I loved the pastries, some fan would show up with another box of them for me. At the end of the weekend, I had almost 75 sitting in my room!
They taste of heaven.
What greeted me as I walked into the front of the Convention Center was a line that wrapped around the block. Outside of the San Diego Comic Con, I’d never seen so many fans lined up in one place. Unlike SDCC, all of the fans waiting to get into the Amazing Hawaii Con were smiling and truly excited to be there. The estimate I was given later in the day was that more than 12,000 fans passed through the convention doors that first day. I was busier on Day One of the Amazing Hawaii Con than I have ever been at any other day of any other con ever. I did well over 600 sketches on Friday. Here are a few of them:
If I had thought the first day was insane, Saturday proved to be even crazier. Lines of a length (and girth) I had only seen at the height of a Kids’ Day event formed every single time I sat down at my table. I’d sit down to sketch and five seconds later my line would be wrapping around the exhibit hall. Even with an hour break for lunch, and two more hour long breaks for my panels, I still did well over 750 sketches for fans that day. Man, did my shoulder hurt!
Speaking of panels, the two I did on Saturday were as crazy as everything else at the con. First up, I moderated a panel for comic book superstar, Adam Kubert. Adam was a great guy and a HUGE talent. It was a blast to get to sit down and talk with him in front of an “intimate” crowd of about 500 people. Lots of fun was had by all and I look forward to running into Adam again down the road.
The only thing bigger than the display behind us was my ego.
That first panel may have been crazy but what came next was mind-blowing: the animation panel featuring me and my buddy, Bob’s Burgers Devin Roth. The main theater room of the Amazing Con is big…HUGE. It probably holds room for a good 700 people, maybe more. When we walked out onto stage, the roar that greeted us was like thunder. The theater was packed–there were people in every seat. There were peopl crowded around the front of the stage, sitting on the floors. There were people standing in every clear space that could be found. We had 900 or more people in the room and it was spectacular. Rarely have I ever seen a turnout like that for a couple of hairy nerds who weren’t Kevin Smith. The panel was a lot of fun.
Devin and I showing off our best “O” faces for the crowd.
Here are some more quick shots from over the course of the con:
For most people, having such a busy con on Friday & Saturday is a relief. I mean, you go to the shows hope to meet fans, do sketches, and shell some comics. For me, it was terrifying. You see, as the headliner for Kids’ Day at the Amazing Cons, Friday and Saturday are my slowest days. That’s right, I knew that I’d already done more sketches than I ever had at a convention (including at my San Diego Con appearances for the show) and I was well aware that it was only the beginning. I knew that Sunday was D-Day. Ragnarok. Possibly the end of my existence. A man smarter than I would have turned in early and to rest and prepare. Being neither smart nor wise, I went out to a bar called NOCTURNE with crew, other guests, and fans. My body is still paying for that decision.
Sitting with Emma Fyffe, trying to convince her that I’m someone cool…it didn’t work.
Showing up at the con floor on the last day, I was greeted by something I had always dreamed of but never expected to actually experience: beautiful women wearing my face. For some reason known only to Uncanny Megan, Dallas Nagata White, and possibly Cthulhu, masks were made of my face. The ladies showed up at my table looking like younger, slightly prettier versions of me. I’d attempt to describe the experience, but words fail me. Instead, I’ll just show you what I saw:
Is it wrong to admit that I was excited by this particular turn of events?
Dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
Cosplay Queen, Leah Rose, gets in on the Nastos act.
As I feared, Sunday at the Amazing Con was as crowded as I expected. I think final count was 15,000 or so people through the door on the last day of the show…and it seemed like every single one of them was waiting in line for me.
The line wrapped nearly around the entire hall.
My only break for the day was a the GIANT ROBOTS VS KAIJU panel that I was appearing on with Mike Vasquez, Jon Murakami, and Emma Fyffe. Having expected it to be a lightly attended panel (one none of us had ever done before), I was shocked to find another standing-room-only appearance. 150+ fans packed into a small meeting room to listen to the four of us to spout off on monsters, mech, and whatever other inappropriate things popped into my head. It was pure awesomesauce.
Mike and Jon were wizards with the fans, and Emma Fyffe is one of the most captivating speakers I’ve ever had the privilege of spending time with. She knows cartoons and has a love of Transformers that borders on obscene. The best part of the panel, at least for my ego, was the entire crowd rushing forward to get one of the free SHOGUN KNIGHT prints I was giving away. Hawaii was good for the old ego.
That brings me to the end of my 2015 Amazing Hawaii Con wrap-up. The show was packed, and was easily to most successful convention I’ve done in my 25 or so years as a professional. If you weren’t there, then you missed out on a once in a lifetime experience. I have no idea how Jimmy Jay is going to top the show for year two, but if anyone can do it, he can.
Before I sign off, I want to throw shouts out to some of the folks who made Amazing Hawaii Comic Con 2015 so perfect for me: Jimmy Jay, Holly Jensen & the Jensen Sisters, Tony Adorno, Mark & Pattie Bagley, Devin Roth & Dave Otterby, Uncanny Megan, Dallas Nagata White, Mike Vasquez, Jon Murakami & his beloved Gwen, John ‘Hollywood’ Huyler (he’s the man!), Eric Osaki (for the Leonard’s Malasadas…you are a GOD among men), Emma Fyffe, and the fans of Hawaii. Most importantly, though, I want to thanks my family and, in particular, my wife, Athena. She put up with a lot!
Athena stealing a few minutes at the con to show off her Joker costume!
-Mat Nastos, Super Genius