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16 February 2009 @ 03:26 pm
Why I work at Katsucon  
I have worked Katsucon since K4. This was my 11th year, if my math is correct. In those 11 years I have been head of registration, then head of pre-registration, and usually Emcee of Opening Ceremonies. This year I was a staff suite grunt, and enjoyed myself as much as any of those other, "higher class" jobs. Not that anyone calls them that, but I suspect someone not in staff may think "head of" something means more than "not head of" something.

Sadly, it's called responsibility. Blecch.

Yeah, there were a lot of politics this year. I stayed out of most of them, but I did keep my ear to the gossip. People, people, people... we work, for free, for a convention that shows Japanese cartoons. I mean, wow. Without listing people who need to get over themselves (because that would quite definitely NOT be staying out of politics), I want to tell you why I volunteer for any convention.

The fans.

I love the fans! So sue me. Yeah, there are a few smelly, unwashed, geeky fen with no sense of humor and dim as a fencepost, but you NOTICE THEM because they STAND OUT. A overwhelming vast majority of fandom are cool and wonderful people, many of whom I am humbled and grateful who call me a friend. I love fandom. Love love love them.

To the gaggle of teenage girls with glasses, high on sugar who dress up, read manga, and carry yaoi paddles, I work the con for YOU.

To the lone guy, who had a bad childhood by finds solace in the imagery and stories of anime, I work the con for YOU.

To the new wave of African American fandom that anime brought, and DAMN, I was missing you in sci-fi fandom for all these years (I even used to have panels about it), I work the con for YOU.

To the artists who made it good by setting up a table and practicing and practicing for many years, copying other artists until they found their own unique style and honing their craft until people know their work by name as a noun ("That's a Mandolia if I ever saw one..."), I work the con for YOU.

To the college geek who brings the laptop, plays techno, and rocks to their own beat with best buds from the computer-slash-anime club, I work the con for YOU.

To the fen who took up the ancient form of making their own clothes just to become cosplayers, winning awards for elaborate costumes and stage productions, I work the con for YOU.

To the under appreciated con volunteers, who put up with complicated and unenforced rules, yet do this every anime con they can for some free food, board, and a tee-shirt, I work the con for YOU.

To the Korean girl, who is misunderstood and partially disowned by her stodgy parents because she listens to J-Pop, eats Pocky, and dresses like Digi Charat every year for Halloween, I work the con for YOU.

To the awkward guy who takes photos of cosplayers, setting up his own website, gaining deserved fame despite his desperate shyness, I work the con for YOU.

To the video gamers with callused thumbs from guitar controllers and powerful legs from years of DDR hopping, I work the con for YOU.

To the fen with the cat ears and the Totoro backpacks who work the merchant tables for extra cash, watch the newest and cutting edge stuff from Japan, and hang out with their pals in hotel party rooms, I work the con for YOU.

To the pervert who wears a furry suit to hide his erection as he stalks underage fen wearing skimpy outfits by the escalators, I ... well, actually, you guys can go to hell.

But the point is, the conventions to me have always been about the anime fandom. Always. In customer service, if you want your business to survive, you focus on the customer. I have found over the years that if a convention focuses on the fandom as a whole, while they will make some misses, the con will always survive. I have seen many cons who have the event for guests and the concom "elite" crowd, and shut themselves off from the rest of the fandom, looking at them only as donors for their lavish parties. They are all dead. Dead dead dead, and good riddance. But the cons that do it for the fans, who care about their needs, try and wrap all events not as a consideration for the them, but an HOMAGE to fandom, will live on as legacies in their own right. Katsucon, despite all its faults, is this kind of con. I know, I see it from the inside. As a KEI board member, I never hear about how annoying fandom is, or latch onto a 1-in-100 stereotype and apply it to everyone. We ALL started as fans. And while some of us get far too serious about our job at the convention to the point of screaming and yelling, growling and brooding, or just plain shutting down, these are personal faults that expose some of our inner demons. And we all have inner demons. Mine smell like burnt cookies. And there will always be hurt feelings, disillusionment, and politics, that's the human race. But we are all part of the fandom family.

Forgive us our daily sins, as we know not what we are doing; otherwise we wouldn't run these damn things, just attend them. That is FAR more sane an option.
Jesse: cj big birdruby_stevens on February 16th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
b-fest, 24 hours of bad movies at Northwestern, is a lot like this for me. It's nerd christmas, I didn't grow up celebrating holidays or having a big extending family so this is my once a year spare no expense to make it and reunite with friends thing. It's wonderful being with people who "get" you. It's funny, I'm not into anime much beyond Miyazaki but you did a great job selling this so I might try to make it next year. I've got a sister who lives in D.C.
elneclareelneclare on February 16th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
Now i want some dark chocolate Pocky
Yes, it due to the fen that I took on starting a new committee job for Balticon and go into a 2 week flare, but don't feel the pain as it takes me a week to come down from the high of seeing everyone and have a good time.

I'm going to have to make it to Katsucon with my grandkids. They been going though their parents anime collection and grandson at 7, is only interested in reading manga. He started to sing in half Japanese lately.

Now I just wish their mom had gone this year and got me some Pocky.
kaiotte on February 16th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I felt like I was correcting many attendees that were coming in because almost all of them tried to apologize for taking up my time. O.o What?? My logic has always been that the staffers are here for the attendees. And I still have many friends who don't staff (surprise).
DP Twisteddptwisted on February 18th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
Damn, wish we could have actually stayed and attended the con. Yeah, I could have found you and gotten in that way (I did think of doing that), but that wouldn't be fair to the cosplayer who showed up at 6AM (yes, people did schlep out there that early, on a Saturday no less) to be told they couldn't get a badge. Lesson learned; pre-reg, even if it's after the discount is over. We already signed up for Otakon, so we'll definitely be there.
Richard "Pocky" Kimpockyman on February 18th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
marcyumarcyu on February 23rd, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
Dude, I almost *cried*. You hit the proverbial nail on the head.
Liz: Katamari - Ballevafriedel on February 24th, 2009 04:03 am (UTC)
Jefferson Engpete_wisdom on February 26th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)

Although, my experience at "herding cats" tends to work more smoothly at sci-fi conventions...don't ask me why...