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Unread 11-26-2005, 11:51 AM   #1
Derwin Mak
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Con No Baka - why I left early

I resigned as Costuming Guest of Honour at Con No Baka because the convention's organizers did not provide any of the resources or awards (i.e., ribbons) promised to the cosplayers, and therefore, I could no fulfil my duties. In addition, the convention's organizers absolved themselves of any responsibility for cosplay events and issues so that I, not they, would be blamed for cosplay problems.

There was supposed to have been a "professional photo area" set up. There was none. The plan was that there would be a photographer, he would take photos of people wanting to be judged for cosplay awards, and I would decide who got the prizes, which were memberships at other conventions. But there was no photo area, and there were no registration forms to help me match the costume to the cosplayer's name to the photo. The convention chairman said that he expected one of the convention's photographers to set up the photo area. The photographer said that nobody had told him.

I talked with the photographer, and I said I could possibly salvage this event if we could create some registration forms on-site and print them, and if we could use his personal camera and move a computer and monitor to the proposed photo area site. However, this plan too failed. Four printers were in the con office; all failed because nobody had checked to see if the printers were compatible with the PC's software before the convention. They got a printer driver from someone's home, and one PC was working to one printer, but it was being used for some urgent gaming stuff, so I couldn't use it.

I had been promised hall costume ribbons to hand out to people. I told the photographer that if I could hand these out, I could still make the cosplayers feel good and appreciated. But I found out that the hall costume ribbons were merely plain strips of ribbon, bought at a fabric shop, with a strange symbol handwritten in gold glitter ink on them (symbol resembled a "6"). In addition, only 3 such ribbons had been cut from the roll (and when you put them together, they read "666"). I said that only three lucky cosplayers could receive this ribbon, and they would be greatly disappointed to receive this.

What was especially awful, though, was that the website and the program book were updated in recent weeks to say that I was responsible for organizing all costuming events. Nobody told me that I was suddenly chief of all costuming events, and it was never anything discussed between me and the convention chair. Indeed, he had told me that I would be like a Guest, that I would judge costumes and do panels, but he never mentioned I would have to set up a photo area. I did try to organize some sort of costume contest (not a stage show, but hall costume judging) on site, but as I mention above, all my fall-back plans could not be done due to lack of materials and supplies from the convention organizers. When I walked into the con office, cons staff asked me all sorts of questions about what was being done, why wasn't this-and-that being done, etc. It was never my job, and it was never the photographer's job either. Just posting it on a website several weeks before the convention without telling me DOESN'T MAKE IT REAL.

True, the convention organizer had gotten a few complimentary memberships at other conventions to award as costuming prizes, but it would be impossible to award those given that there was no way any sort of judging could occur. And I had told him far in advance that even people who didn't get the big prizes but had good costumes should get a hall costume ribbon, and he said there would be ribbons, but there weren't, at least not any ribbon anyone would be proud to wear.

The last straw came when someone in the con office told me to stop complaining because gaming is more important that cosplaying. Now I realize why the Gaming Guest of Honour and other Guests of Honour got a badge that read "GUEST", but the Costuming Guest of Honour got a badge that read "Panelist". One of the staff told me that he had received a list of Guest of Honour badges to print, but the Costuming Guest of Honour had been omitted. I didn't think think that was important, and I was happy to wear the regular badge (because a badge is just a trifle anyway), but now I realize that the convention's organizers never cared about costumers anyway.

There was no schedule printed for any events due to the printers failing, so people found out the time and location of their panels by word of mouth, or, if they were lucky, saw a handwritten schedule for the day (but not tomorrow or Sunday) that was posted beside the con office late Friday evening (by then, the day was mostly over anyway). I did manage to do two panels, one about weird sex in anime (I was the ONLY panelist who arrived, so I turned it into a Socratic dialogue with the audience -- they loved it), and one presentation about schoolgirls in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I stayed for those because some American fans from a college in Upstate New York asked me to stay.

I knew that if I stayed at the convention, disappointed cosplayers would blame me for this disaster because the convention organizer was absolving himself for any involvement in cosplay issues. I resigned as Costuming Guest of Honour and left the convention on Saturday morning.

Sincerely,
Derwin Mak
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Unread 11-26-2005, 12:26 PM   #2
LoneWanderer
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*sigh* lol, you see I thought something like that would happen (the disorganization). That was the exact reason why I never bother to waste 45$ on a first time con, that names themselves "con no *baka*" lol

but ya I feel sorry for you that it ended up like this I can only imagine the frustation that you had to go though.
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Unread 11-26-2005, 12:54 PM   #3
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I'm with Lone Wanderer on that one. I am so glad I didn't go @_@;
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Unread 11-26-2005, 01:32 PM   #4
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Thank goodness AC3 was last weekend. I got my Con-self on last weekend in Ottawa. I agree with everyone else, any con that puts 'baka' in their name makes me ask questions..
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Unread 11-26-2005, 01:37 PM   #5
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Sad thing is this fiasco of a convention makes even Hobbystar look like saints ...

And Derwin, thank you for caring about this community enough to TELL US WHY you could not fulfill the job they didn't even tell you that you had. That is MUCH more than the CnB staff have at all since they first started advertising. And thank you for at trying to salvage the situation, but honestly CnB is a lost cause.
:: hugs for Derwin, and I'll see you at Ad Astra ::
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Unread 11-26-2005, 01:53 PM   #6
Alexia Ishtar
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Gaming is more important, pfft, that makes me angry just a 'little' bit. Anyway, I'm glad I didn't waste the $85 to go down and back. ($45 for the con pass and another $40 bus fare)

I also appreciate (even though I didn't go) that you at least explained what happened at least somebody cares about us cosplayers. *hugs for Derwin* You don't need no stinkin' badge
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Unread 11-26-2005, 07:48 PM   #7
Kohana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kia
Sad thing is this fiasco of a convention makes even Hobbystar look like saints ...

LOL LOL!!! so true!....

But I went today b/c a friend of mine wanted to go to her 1st con ever....I was just sad for her that is was this one... AN will definitely make up for it... but I had an okay time b/c I spent alot of time in the viewing rooms and some good animes were shown... and the sailor moon musical is quite hilarious....

personally I think CnB will be alot better if it wasnt 3 days long
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Unread 11-26-2005, 08:38 PM   #8
Eleryth
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Thank you for sharing, Derwin. A lot goes on behind the scenes at every convention regarding the costuming panels and contests/masquerades, and people don't usually get to know what the Masq Director (or judges) are up to behind the scenes. Especially when things go wrong.

It's really unfortunate that this new convention didn't live up to what they promised, and it's even worse when they try to look like it was your fault. Major communication problems need to be fixed if they want to try again next year.

I don't know why they didn't just go with a gaming con - I don't think the GTA has one of those yet (not that I know of, anyway).

But again, thank you, Derwin, for caring about the costume community and letting us know what went on.

I hope we see more posts from you on this forum!
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Unread 11-26-2005, 09:06 PM   #9
TribalButterfly
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I didn't go either.

I wasn't expecting it to be worth missing what other stuff I'd be doing.
Looks like i was right.
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Unread 11-26-2005, 09:38 PM   #10
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Wow, I was upset having to work kept me from the con... but after reading this maybe it did me a favor!!
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Unread 11-26-2005, 10:04 PM   #11
archangeli
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I arrived fairly late this afternoon, just in time to hear them announce that the con was being shut down after today and that it would not reopen tomorrow. And then to hear that the dealer's room was being shut down ahead of time.

Derwin, thank you for posting this. I'm glad to know what happened on your end of things - or in this case what never happened.

I feel badly for people who attended the con on Saturday and bought full weekend passes. In so many words, this was truly a Baka-Con.
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Unread 11-26-2005, 10:19 PM   #12
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I was lucky in the fact that I only went for one specific thing--the improv. When my friend (who was also in the improv) and I got to the con, there seemed to be a definite lack of communication between everyone. It took us about fifteen minutes and at least 5 staff members to figure out that we needed to go to the con office to get our badges. Once we finally got our guest badges, we went to two panels--one was the darkian arts panel (which sadly nobody showed up for,) and the Northern Anime Festival panel, which my friend was in (ditto.) After that, we did the improv, which happily went well, and I think it was a high point for many congoers.

After the improv, Aaron (the con chair) came up to the host of the 404s and basically told him that he has to get out of his room since they were no longer paying for the guests' rooms. I was lucky because I left shortly after that (after a quick stop by the dealer's room, which was actually pretty good,) because I was hungry and we getting ready to leave. We all met upstairs in what I like to call the "NAF Room" (part the NAF board was staying in it,) and the rest I gathered from friends coming upstairs--including guests Les Major and Mandy St. Jean, who had cleaned out their rooms because they expected to soon be kicked out. Apparantly there were a lot of pissed off congoers downstairs, and it was better to stay upstairs and avoid the con alltogether.

Hopefully CNB will quickly explain the situation and why they had to cut it off so early. There will be reprecussions, and I wouldn't be surprised if they weren't around next year--aside from being an annoyance to congoers, they also broke contract with the dealers (and other contracted people) which could open them up for legal problems.

Anyway, sorry this sounded kinda disjointed, I've had a long day. Thanks everyone who came to the improv!
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Unread 11-26-2005, 10:29 PM   #13
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anyone know how to get their money back??? -__- will never go to this con ever again
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Unread 11-26-2005, 10:32 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kohana
personally I think CnB will be alot better if it wasnt 3 days long
The sad thing is that when Aaron was first announcing his plans to do this, many of us tried to give him advice, like suggesting he start smaller with a 1-day con instead of expecting that thousands of people would show up for an unknown event, or expecting that a large convention would somehow magically run itself with almost no staff or organization, and he brushed us off saying he knew what he was doing.

I think a lot of us have been watching for the fallout and knowing what would happen, because good cons take a LOT of work and manpower, and arrogance alone cannot replace those elements. :P

And Derwin, kudos for choosing to cut your losses and get the hell out of Dodge. I'm actually surprised you didn't do it earlier; you're clearly a more patient person than I when it comes to putting up with stupidity. ^_^;
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Unread 11-26-2005, 10:36 PM   #15
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OMFG this was horrible! I have never been to such a worse display of organization, events and everything! Then again, I guess I'm not that much surprised. I was waiting for it to happen since they were promising all this stuff which is impossible for a new con. I don't think they'll be back and even if they are and they promise to be better, I still will not attend. It was not worth the time or effort to get there. Truthfully, they can keep my money, it might be tainted so I don't want it back. >_< to them. I hate to single anyone out, but so far there has only been one first time con that is three days to succeed, so it possible e.e;
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