Hey guys, Brad will be doing a full wrap up of comic con later (complete with picturez ZOMG!!!) but here is something to hold you over. I actually wrote this on the plane ride home. This is me thinking y’all care what I think again 😉
As most of you know, I had the pleasure of attending Comic Con 2009 with Brad this year. My apologies for breaking off from my regular gaming reviews, but I hope that some of you would be interested in hearing a little about the experience of Comic Con.
It’s crowded, horribly crowded, and I’m sure the excessive amount of Twilight fans that decided to attend this year didn’t help. You go through over 5000 booths and sometimes you end up lodged inbetween a booth you don’t want to see and another booth you really don’t want to be caught dead even glancing at.
However, the whole experience gave me a strange sort of glimmer of hope. I saw appreciation everywhere, even in those crazy cosplayers, there was just utter appreciation. I’ve never seen any kind of celebrity act as graciously as the ones from the “interwebz”, and there are quite a few big ones. I’m sure there are a few bad seeds every now and then, but I didn’t meet one in my whole experience.
As a 24 year old sometimes it can be a bit disturbing to see what can pass off as art or as animation nowadays. When you are raised on the good ol’ 80s cartoons of yesteryear you tend to cringe at the popularity of things like SpongeBob Squarepants and . . . well . . . every single CGIed version of a cartoon that hangs around on TV nowadays. You don’t see the same talent and love for smoothness and lines or even for general beauty. It’s slap it on a lunchbox and sell it as soon as possible.
I was sorely disappointed to go to a panel and hear about how they’d released their game on everything except for maybe a box of wheaties and they reveled in it. REVELED in being total sellouts (I’m looking at YOU EpicGames). Even more disturbing were the hordes that worshipped that kind of behavior but I won’t get into that . . .
On the OTHER side of Comic Con I managed to see a completely different side to all of it.
Brad and I spent a lot of time at the Behemoth booth, anyone know Behemoth? Castle Crashers anyone? I swear if you still have no idea what I’m talking about I will give you a verbal lashing later 😉
In that whole Behemoth experience I found something that I really thought had managed to disappear. A complete and total love for doing what one loves doing. Tom Fulp and Dan Paladin, both sitting at a booth smiling and talking to fans, signing t-shirts, and even walking around and talking to those that were testing out their new venture (btw it looks awesome). Then there were the guys that had come in as exhibitors that know Tom and Dan through their well known site Newgrounds. I had the pleasure of being able to get to know these guys on a somewhat personal basis (I won’t call them my best friends, I worry if they will ever speak to me again after I write this) and I was utterly amazed. The best way I can describe this is through a personal experience that will help to relate to it.
I don’t know how many of you know, but I sing. I love music and I desperately want to perform in general, nothing will be quite like performing in front of people, knowing that you’re amazing, and making the people listening HAPPY. It’s a type of high that can’t be replaced by anything. To these guys, their art, their code, their animations are their “Music” (at least that’s how I saw it). What was even more amazing was despite how we all realize that credit is not always given where it’s due and it’s always obnoxious when we seen someone deserving get passed over because some guy who can kind of draw is related to some dude etc etc none of them seemed disillusioned at all. I only use that word or even that thought because that’s what pretty much destroyed my passion for opera. I realized if I wasn’t in the scene then I wasn’t in THE scene, and that was it. I was done. I hated seeing people doing destructive things to their voices and obviously not taking what they were doing seriously constantly getting elevated to some sort of superstar status. These guys, these flash coders, animators, and artists had managed to keep the music.
It was completely fascinating to watch them walk around with their sketchbooks attached to their hips or constantly swapping different ideas for code and they HELP each other. There is nothing cutthroat about it. In the ways of the world this is just utterly amazing to me.
I had one of the more well known animators pull a few of his fans into his own conversations. You never even saw one of them get flushed with anger of disappointment when someone would ask them where some other developer/animator was. It was always smile and point, or even give them an in depth description on where the developer/animator might be or when he/she might be returning.
When you walk into their group it’s almost like you automatically are just drawn into this blackhole of awesomeness that is their interaction. I managed to score about twenty minutes of listening in on their business conversations and they might as well be talking about the next big game being released, they are THAT excited about their work.
There are no sell outs in the group. Despite the fact that occasionally they stray off course to do a job to put some bread on the table they all have their “babies”, I’d prefer to put it as their own personal symphonies that they will never forget. They refuse to skimp out on a few notes just to save time and to put out a quick release. At that point I felt a little tinge of guilt because I’m so very impatient to see new stuff, I never complain and whine about it, but the fact that I almost forget the work put into those shorts I so love . . . It’s a bit of a humbling experience.
The most wonderful and, I believe, the most rare trait that all of these “musicians” have is not only their ability to draw inspiration from anything (including each other) but their ability to inspire those around them. I can’t tell you how many times during all of the conversations I heard, all of the sketches I saw drawn, I just wanted to go out and do something. Not for the fame, not for the bragging rights, just to create. That’s all these guys want to do and I almost feel that they (at least the ones I met) managed to be born without that horrible sell out gene that most people seem to hold close to their hearts nowadays.
Not only that, but there is this incredible humility about them. I sat down and watched an animation from one of the guys I met, REALLY watched, and listened to Brad as he told me all the work that had to go into it. It was awesome. The guy who made the animation also happens to be one of the most humble people I have ever met. After going to an art school with a bunch of hoity toity omg I am the most amazing thing ever, you really start to appreciate humility. So humble are these guys that they don’t even want to talk about what they’re working on, they want to talk about what YOU’RE working on. Even if it has nothing to do with their profession! These guys don’t tear each other down, they build each other up. I can’t tell you how many times I asked about another animator/developer and these guys would talk about how talented the other guy is. One of the guys even said of another “If that guy learns to code then we’re all out of the job.” and everyone nodded and laughed. No bitterness, just the pure joy out of having someone that talented in their group. They love new talent and they appreciate old talent.
Even better, these guys don’t expect hero worship, they don’t even really prefer it. They just like hearing that someone loves their work and their faces light up when someone tells them thank you. I loved watching them fold their arms across their chest and listen intently when a fan talked about what they loved about their work, when the fan truly KNEW the work even if they admitted to writing long critiques in the comment section. A girl told one of the animators that she tends to write long critiques and he said “Oh well those can be the best kind, I’m sure I’ve read it if you wrote it.”
Not about making themselves happy, it’s about making the fans happy. They are what I consider the truest form of the businessman and, to maybe throw out a title I don’t throw out a lot, true gentlemen.
I was happy to have a few moments to have this insight because it gave me even more of an appreciation for what they do. Thank you to all of you out there in this wide world web that spends your days placing semicolons, speaking into microphones in weird voices, or being glued to your sketchbook because there is an idea you have to get down. Thank you.
I also want to thank the guys who allowed me to spend time with them despite my crazy behavior: JohnnyUtah, Tom Fulp, Swain, AfroNinja, NegativeOne, fr0zen,EgoRaptor, HappyHarry, AlmightyHans, TomaMoto, Jonas, Mike, and so many others. Thanks guys.