We're still livin'. Livin' in the eighties! We still fight! Fight in the eighties!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Time Off to Count Cajuns!! Photo Fame Wears Lovely Shirts!!

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.



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.

You think I'm kidding when I say it was hard to get info on anime back in the day?  That little bitty text was gold 'cause it was in English. Pretty good English too.  Damn sad when the best description of a television show you can find comes from the back of a freakin' sweatshirt. But, that's just the way it was.  BTW, I used that text in at least two zine articles.  Hey, you do what you have to do.

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


  1. "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),"

    Unless I'm willing to believe the common internet acronym, there were actually Fist fan-girls on the Raijin BBS back in the day. Strangely enough, one of them liked the old Kenshiro more than his uncle, even though I always thought Kasumi would hit it off better, since his look exudes the "yaoi-dar" the girls are so into nowadays. Now that I think about it, though, someone brought up continuity, and I'm wondering how his uncle knew Hokuto Shinken if Ryuken was the one who ended up adopting him. [Of course, that's probably a spoiler by now on wikipedia, so I'll probably ignore it until I at least finish the first show.]

    "when I got the Captain Harlock gig at Eternity,"

    Did you do some inking or the dreaded "tracing" or something?

  2. Sadly, Rob, I think you've become the new home of the 'I think it's funny to not put my name on a post' fool that used to clog the AWO comments.

    anyway, that's the Big Scale DX Popy (Bandai) Yamato, as sold to comic shops nationwide by Pony Toy-Go-Round. It's famous for having utterly absurd landing gear that pops out of the belly and the side hatches that launch some kind of odd looking ship. But keep it all closed and it's a fairly sweet looking toy.

    Sweatshirts? In Texas? AT A CON? Man, that sounds like sweat machine time to me, I'm impressed those aren't all...um...funky...ya know?

    And your Margaret clearly had talent. I hope that she didn't throw away that skill and ability because it was 'childish' and only focused on her career (whatever it may have ended up to be), it's always a shame to lose one's creative heart.

    Ya know, it's always possible she kinda sorta liked you a little.

  3. >Unless I'm willing to believe the common internet acronym, there were actually Fist fan-girls on the Raijin BBS back in the day.<

    I wouldn't doubt it. Strange as it seems, some of the biggest HnK fans back in when it was coming out in Japan were women. I think maybe it was the whole "men crying" thing :-)

    >"when I got the Captain Harlock gig at Eternity,"

    Did you do some inking or the dreaded "tracing" or something?<

    heh, yeah, more along the lines of "something."

    RWG (google it)

  4. >Sadly, Rob, I think you've become the new home of the 'I think it's funny to not put my name on a post' fool that used to clog the AWO comments.<

    eh, I still post on Usenet, where anarchy is the rule.

    Hmm, I think that was a little oxymoron-ish.

    Anyway, it doesn't bother me all that much, though I guess I'd like to at least be able to address a nym, if only because there may end up being multiple "anonymous" posters and it might get confusing if you can't tell one of 'em from the other five or ten.

    >Sweatshirts? In Texas? AT A CON? Man, that sounds like sweat machine time to me, I'm impressed those aren't all...um...funky...ya know?<

    Well, the whole idea of a sweatshirt is that you wear it OVER your regular shirt, so as to avoid the funk monster. That's the idea, anyway. I wonder where the name comes from? I mean, you don't think of sweaters in general being overly funked up...

    As for Margaret, I think I even googled her a couple years ago and found her name on some scientific paper or another, so she's probably happy doing experiment stuff or whatever marine biologists do. I have visions of her amongst the casts of "The Abyss" or one of other pseudo-sf/horror flicks from the '80s/90s...

    As for the other, I can't say the thought didn't cross my mind once or twice, but I've never been THAT deserving of anything so utterly awesome in my entire life...

    RWG (so the thoughts never lasted long)

  5. RWG: From what I've gathered, women were City Hunter's biggest fan-base in Japan. Kinda sad that Angel Heart's what's most likely propping Gutsoon, though, since I was hoping at least those Master Editions would take off in Japan.

  6. RWG: According to Helen McCarthy, the Fist characters were popular with proto-fujoshi. However, it was weird seeing a 20-something girl in that doc on the Raoh dvd from S23 say she was a fan. I thought that generation is into their equivalent of Twilight over there. Oh, and Raijin's PR department claimed City Hunter actually has a bigger female fan-base in Japan, because they like a guy who just leaves when he kills their "spiders" for them.

  7. Feel free to just mix and match that anonymous thing, 'cus I wasn't sure if the profile thing worked. My bad. BTW, regarding the Harlock comic, it wasn't some fly-by-night gig like that Astroboy comic they made in the 60s, right? They actually paid Toei for the rights to it this time, right? Or was it just Ziv/Macek?

  8. It doesn't surprise me at all to find a large part of City Hunter's audience is female. I'm pretty sure that's true of all of Hojo's stuff, especialy Catseye. For one thing, his women actually look (and, for the most part, act) like women and not 9-year old girls, if you know what I mean. I know that was a big draw when I was trying to get women on this side of the Pacific to watch it. In fact, some Catseye fans were women who really didn't get all that much into anime or manga at all back in the day.

    Of course, now it's a bit different, especially where manga is concerned since American companies pick and choose more appropriate stuff to release. Not so much back in the '80s...

    Still need to take a look at Angel Heart. I just haven't had the time...

    The Captain Harlock thing is something I might get into when I'm in a better place in my life. It's just too depressing to go into in any detail right now. Suffice to say, it was an example of some people who either were utterly incompetent or complacent and others who were downright unscrupulous taking advantage of a market that the Japanese rights holders didn't know about or didn't care much about.

    RWG (I mean, there are dojinshis that produce more product than Malibu did)

  9. Hai, I'm the one to blame for the pic (actually, a slightly different one than shown above) of Karen, you and the late Tommie Dunnam appearing in Animage. It was the March 1987 issue that had the photo in their story of overseas anime fandom.

    It was a Dallas Fantasy Fair that you and Jan-Scott Frazier told me about Fred needing stuff for a story, and I just happened to have that photo with me so I gave it to either you or Jan to send to Fred. A few months later, I get a letter from Sanae Mitsugi of Animage /Tokuma Shoten along with a copy of the magazine saying that they used the photo and thanked me for it. The magazine is still here, but sadly the original negatives from that NASFiC are not...long story, i'm afraid. Anyway, just wanted to embellish on the pic.

    --Jack T.

  10. Thanks Jack!

    Went back and corrected the spelling on Tommie's name. I'm really sorry to hear he's not with us anymore. Seemed like a really nice guy.

    I didn't realize it was a full two years after the pic was taken that the article appeared. I guess we should've taken a new one, huh? :-) Didn't Animage do a couple of articles on American fandom during the mid to late '80s? I seem to remember more than one...

    We still need to track down some more photos from that time period (hint, hint). Dave Merrill is doing an article on '80s zines and newsletters for a new Colony Drop mag and they could probably use some more material.


    RWG (anything you could contribute would be greatly appreciated)

  11. I can take a pretty good guess as to why girls dig City Hunter.


    I mean in the manga, Ryu was sporting his man meat every 5 or 6 panels. When it comes down to it, true women love a man's "meat".

  12. Diggin' the DFW history lesson!

    I had at least one similar sweatshirt (have no idea where it got to...) and a couple of home-brewed Sharpie and glitterpaint monstrosities that never survived the wash : /

    Looking forward to reading about Eternity and the exegesis of the whole early-mid 1990s* b&w anime/comic subgenre! I have some still, but after a while there were so many titles and variations of titles that I just couldn't keep up with them all, to say nothing of all that Manga that was coming out!

    (* Non-fiction reading took me by force somewhere around '93...)

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  14. Please come back, Robert W.G.! I've assumed you must have fallen into a swamp or been eaten by alligators. Another nostalgic post about anime fandom in the 1980s would make me so happy.

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  17. Hey, could I possibly buy your Emeraldas shirt? It looks so cool. You said you don't wear it any more so I could allow it to be worn for another decade or so. :)

    I enjoyed seeing all of these... That Cat's Eye sweater is great too. I wish I could have been going to cons during this era of anime fandom!

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