Much like last summer, when I was in the throes of conducting my fieldwork, this summer I'm once again hitting the road to spread my love of all things anime and manga. Only this time, instead of loading up with surveys, I'll be hosting panels at a lot of my favorite cons. And even though I'e been doing this for about 8 months now, I still get excited every time I get a panel acceptance letter in my inbox.
I will admit, hosting panels was something I always thought was beyond me. I always assumed that panel hosts were a breed apart from other congoers, people who had more passion, more charisma...or more important things to say. The very first panel I ever hosted was more of a coincidence for me: I was helping my old friend Nagi run a panel on drawing bondage for fanart at Anime Boston 2007, and she tapped me more as moral support than as a true cohost. I enjoyed myself and thought nothing of it at the time, viewing Anime Boston as a one-shot deal and figuring I'd never go to a con again.
Then last year, on a complete lark, I applied to host the first iteration of "Weekend Nihonjin" (then called "Gone Connin: Anime Fandom on the Road") at Anime Next, since they had sent out an email blast saying they had a few open slots to fill. I was surprised, and a bit elated, to see my panel get accepted, and then to see it on the program schedule (but not in the program, it was a last minute addition). The panel turnout was small (I was up against the masquerade, and there was virtually no advertising for it), but I managed to pull out an interesting session of con stories, anecdotes and informative networking, and I came away feeling fulfilled.
My first real attempt to host a dedicated panel, many of you already know, was when I hosted "Modern Mythology" at Nekocon 09. Based on earlier talks given to the NY roundtable of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, I gave a two hour discussion about the mythological aspects inherent in anime and video games. I was a nervous wreck, as a lot of my friends will attest, hoping to deliver a solid, informative panel. The end result was a complete success (I have it video recorded), and then to boost my confidence, I did it again 2 weeks later at Anime USA.
So now, new year, new ideas, I'm making my summer rounds. I'm still awaiting word from 2 more conventions, but my June schedule should be up soon. Here's to an exciting summer!