This month is gonna be slow. I'm driving all over southwest Louisiana taking head counts for Uncle Sam so the state can figure out how many Representatives it stands to lose because of all the hurricanes. Assuming I don't fall into a swamp or get bitten by a rabid dog, everything should pick up come April.
The (badly reproduced) photo above is from Nasfic '85 in Austin Texas. As explained in the recent post about Wicked City, a Nasfic is the consolation prize America gets when the World Science Fiction Convention is awarded to the furriners "somewheres else" in the world. Suffice to say, it wasn't out of snobbery that I somehow managed to make both the Nasfics during the '80s while managing to miss every Worldcon, that's just the way it worked out. Flanking yours truly are Karen Helmer and Tommie Dunnam from the late, lamented SDF-Fort Worth, although the SDF-Forth worth didn't actually exist when the photo was taken. It was supposed to be an EDC (Earth Defense Command) panel on anime fandom, but none of the officers from Dallas could make it, so we pinch-hit for Derek, Meri and the rest. We were all technically members at the time, so I guess that made it okay.
The SDF-1 Super Fortress toy on the table is the original Japanese release and not the Matchbox Robotech version that came out later in the decade. This one had the (gasp) dangerous missiles that could hunt down your young child and force themselves down his or her throat until the tyke choked to death so of course it became public enemy number one on the Japanese PTA hit list. Or something. Anyway, there weren't a whole lot of them making the fan rounds on this side of the Pacific, so Tommy had to keep his eye on this puppy lest it find its way into some toy hoarder's collection and never be seen again. I don't think he ever let it out of arm's reach. I dunno much about the Yamato toy, that's more Steve Harrison's department...
The picture itself was printed in an issue of the Japanese Animage monthy anime magazine sometime in either late '85 or early 1986 (actually March '87, per Jack Thielepape in the Comments below). Fred Patten sent notes around to the various anime clubs letting us know that Animage was soliciting pictures for an article on American anime fandom and this was our contribution. Well, my contribution. The picture was taken by Jack Thielepape. I don't even know if Karen or Tommie knew about it until the picture was printed in Japan. Animage was hard to come by over here at the time, so I know I never got a copy myself, though I did see someone else's later, which is how I knew they actually used it.
When looking at the picture, I couldn't help but notice I was wearing my Return of the Jedi tee. Sigh. What a way to be remembered, huh? I had the chance to buy a Revenge of the Jedi tee at a convention in Houston in the early '80s but didn't want to spend the outrageous amount they were asking for a so-called "collector's item." For all of you young 'uns who weren't around back then, the scuttlebutt was that Lucas was really using the latter as a working title. Well, you can see how creative George got, he just moved the "revenge" thing to the third film (which is actually the sixth) because "revenge" just isn't a jedi thing. But before he changed the title, there were people out there who probably made a fortune on bootleg t-shirts with the red, Revenge of the Jedi logo on it. Silly fanboys.
Anyway, I was still too young to care what the hell I looked like at comic book conventions back in the '80s, so I ran the gamut from geek to geekier to downright obnoxious. Most of that shit is loooooong gone now, but I still have a few.
NERD CONVENTION FORMALWEAR, 1987
Now, normally, a sweatshirt is not something that immediately comes to mind when you think about stuff you wear at a convention. Unless, of course, you ran all-night video rooms at cons back in the '80s. Let me tell you, it was really, REALLY difficult to track down hotel personnel capable of and willing to adjust a thermostat at 3am in the morning. Luckily I had the Kasugi sisters to keep me warm.
Not to mention Kei and Yuri.
I remember when Mitsuyoshi sent me these. The price wasn't bad and I'd worn sweatshirts like forever, but man, I really didn't want to get these puppies dirty, 'cause I knew the washing machine would cause havoc, especially on the small Catseye text synopsis on the back. But there comes a time in every geek's life when you have to decide between the collector mentality and the sheer awesomeness that is walking into a room and having everyone try to read the microscopic crap on the back of your shirt without you catching them.
One of the great joys of making a regular convention circuit was seeing familar faces every four or five months. In Texas, we had regular groups from all the larger cities show up at most of the major cons. The group from Texas A&M/College Station/Bryan in the '80s mainly orbited around Alex Botello, who sold models and such and thus bought at least one dealer's table at most of Larry Lankford's conventions. Since just about everyone from that area knew Alex (he'd been setting up at cons for years), they'd use his tables as kind of a "home base" to store their stuff and take a seat when tired of wandering around. Among them was an exceptionally lovely woman named Margaret, who was majoring in marine geology at A&M, but also did some absolutely amazing t-shirt artwork on the side. From talking to her at length, I discovered she loved Hokuto no Ken (gorgeous, smart, talented, AND with exquisite taste in anime - yes, boys, they ARE out there), and one con she totally surprised me with a white shirt with Kenshiro on it. I can't exactly remember what I did to deserve them - seriously, I can't recall doing anything more for the folks at A&M than I did for anyone else back then - but she'd show up at just about every convention with another shirt. Kumo no Juuza, Ein, and Kenshiro, from Hokuto no Ken. Ai-chan, from Catseye. And this beauty:
Man, these bring back memories. I don't know or remember what I did to get on your good side and probably didn't thank you nearly enough, Margaret, but if you're reading this, you totally rock.
Of course, when I got the Captain Harlock gig at Eternity, they tried to launch the title with a big push at San Diego one year and part of that was printing up a lot of Tees with Ben Dunn's version on the back. I remember one day at the con, the entire Malibu Graphics gang was wearing 'em, though I dunno if that's exactly a good thing. But the shirts themselves were really nice and after almost ten years of use, mine never totally wore out, though I retired it a decade back.
Again, because you simply can not get too much Emeraldas